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Posts Tagged ‘dipper’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  The golf course is closed at the moment so he is going for walks and he passed one of my favourite trees  a day or two ago.  He thinks that it is a bit like us, just hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

tree above whitshiels

It was colder today and the wind was stronger so when the sun stopped shining, it didn’t feel like spring at all.

But when the sun was shining in the morning, nothing could have looked more cheerful than this delicately outlined beauty.

outline primrose

Slightly less elegant is the comfrey but any flowers are welcome.

comfrey

There were even one or two chaffinches at the feeder…

male chaffinch

…though they wouldn’t visit when I was looking.

female chaffinch

There was tidying up work in the garden again as Mrs Tootlepedal did more work on the log store and I attacked an innocent bush with the hedge trimmer.  There was a lot of shredding too.  Then I did some shopping but failed to see any interesting waterside birds on my way home.

Mrs Tootlepedal knocked up some lentil soup for lunch and afterwards I went for a walk.

I had ambitious plans to walk over some rough country and up a steep hill (and on my way to see some interesting things).

I did see a distant dipper at the Sawmill Brig…

fuzzy dipper

…but it flew off before I could get a clear shot.

And I noticed that the peltigera lichen on the wall had got white edges which looked interesting so I looked closer.  They were interesting.

peltgera lichen

I walked along the track north, admiring the trees and looking at the grey clouds…

tree and grey clouds

…and wondered whether, in view of the very strong and chilly north wind, a walk up a steep hill was a good idea.  I had just decided that it was a really good idea when I got a stroke of luck.

One of the minor deities in charge of the Celestial Department for Making Sure that Old People Don’t Make a Fool of Themselves (SOPPYDATES) sent a short but very savage hailstorm towards me accompanied by very heavy gusts of extra chilly wind.

It didn’t take me long to change my mind and head back towards more sheltered and level paths.  To reward my good sense, the minor deities then arranged for some blue sky to arrive and make me feel good about the choice.

blue sky

It wasn’t long before the sun came out, and sheltered from the cruel wind, I enjoyed a stroll through the woods…

sunshine above hlmhead

…taking a track which I had not followed before…

path in woods

…though I stopped when I got to the bottom of this hill and left this to be explored on another day…

track in woods

…while I dropped back down to the track above the river which I had followed on my last outing.

veiw from Longfauld

I had to be careful to look where I was treading as I took that picture of the view up the valley.

fuzz

I have had some discussion with my Somerset correspondent as to whether the bird in the plum tree in yesterday’s post, which we thought might be a meadow pipit, was in fact a song thrush.  As a result, I was interested to see some birds in a field today which looked like meadow pipits to me as they seemed too small to be thrushes.

meadow pipit 2

I was carrying two cameras and took a picture with both of them as the Lumix could see closer but not so clearly as the Nikon.

meadow pipit 1

Perhaps they were thrushes too, I find it hard to tell.

I followed the track round the pheasant hatchery….

tree at tip of castleholm

…and dropped down to the riverside to enjoy the clear water running over the stones in the river bed.

clear water dowies pool

The minor deities intervened again at this stage, as they thought that I had been out long enough.  A smattering of hail was sent down to encourage me to get home without wasting any more time.

I did see the nuthatch on the Castleholm again but it was too far up the tree for me to get a photograph and I didn’t want to hang about on the off chance of a better view in case of more hail.

I got home after a much more pleasant three and a half mile walk than I would have had if I had been battling the winds on the open hill.

I was looking at last year’s posts for this month and saw that we had our first tulip out on the 30th March in 2019.  It is going to be a close run thing but as it is going to be cold again tomorrow, I don’t think that these are going to be out by Monday this year.

potential tulips

I will be happy to be proved wrong.

Once I was safely indoors, the sun came out again.

sunlit evening flowers

Our resident blackbird stood on our fence to take up his position as non flying bird of the day.

resident blackbird

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Today’s guest picture comes from East Wemyss where our son Tony tells us that his dogs found the sea a bit too rough for their liking.

wemyss waves

It was another windy here again, and once again it was very grey too.  The threatened frost didn’t arrive but it wasn’t far above zero at breakfast time.

I cycled round to the shop and checked on the oyster catchers on my way back.

two oyster catchers

Then I walked up to see Sandy.  Trapped in his house for six weeks after his operation, he doesn’t see what all the fuss about a tiny bit of self isolation for the virus is about.  His main worry is that the hospital may be too busy to take his plaster off when his six weeks is up.  That would be hard to bear.

I was very sympathetic and even more so when he plied me with chocolate ginger biscuits to go with good coffee.

When I left him, the rain was holding off so I went home via the track to the Becks Burn.  If you chose your view carefully, the day didn’t look too bad….

view over field topwards warbla

…and there were signs of spring to be seen…

bud becks track

…along the way…

early primroses

…but in general, it was still a pretty miserable day with grey views to match the grey weather.

wintery view becks burn

Still, a nice show of lichen on a gate cheered me up…

lichen on gate

…and when I got to the road, instead of going straight home, I went along Gaskell’s Walk, enjoying the long stemmed moss which carpets the banks in places.

moss

When I got to the Stubholm, I rather felt that the moles had been working so hard that they had made mountains out of their molehills.

molehills

Encouraged by the continuing absence of any persistent rain (there had been one or two opportunist little showers), I extended my stroll to take in Easton’s Walk and was rewarded by a fleeting glimpse of a dipper in a little stream at the far end if the Beechy Plains….

dipper murtholm

…and seeing no less than two grey squirrels as I walked back along the river.  If you look with the eye of faith, you may just see one of them scampering up a tree in the picture below.

grey squirrel eastons

They are trying to keep grey squirrels out of the  area to protect the resident red squirrels but I fear that they are fighting a losing battle.

It started to rain seriously as I walked through the park and the sight of blossom dangling from a tree seemed very incongruous as by this time it didn’t feel like a spring day at all.

early blossom park

When I got home, it was lunch time and Mrs Tootlepedal called on all her haute cuisine skills and prepared a dish of baked beans on toast for our delectation.  It went down well.

After lunch, the weather remained very depressing and I gave up thoughts of the great outdoors and settled down to watch Cheltenham races on the telly.  Views on whether the meeting should have taken place at all are divided but the racing was excellent and the sun even shone.

Although the light was too poor for good pictures, I watched the birds when the rain eased off.

A goldfinch and a greenfinch had joined the siskins on the lower level of the feeder.  This was because….

mixed birds on feeder

…there was no seed available at the top level, thanks to dereliction of duty on the part of the feeder filler.

siskin checking on seed

A dereliction of which the greenfinch took a dim view.  He didn’t care to be mixing with impertinent siskins.

greenfinch on feeder

In a quiet moment, a chaffinch sneaked in.

flying goldfinch

I had to look twice to see what sort of bird this was, perched on the feeder.  It turned out to be  greenfinch, probably a juvenile.

young greenfinch

I made a sausage stew for our evening meal and when we had eaten it,  I joined Mrs Tootlepedal who was organising an envelope stuffing event at the Day Centre for the community buy out group.  This is for a mass posting to give everyone in the town a chance to see the prospectus for the proposal and add their support to the group if they wish.

Seven stuffers were in action but as there were 1400 envelopes to stuff with five separate pieces of paper and a brochure for each one, it was not the work of a moment.  We got finished though and the envelopes are sitting in our front room as I write this, ready for distribution over the weekend.

envelope stuffing

If any local reader would like to help with the big task of distribution of the brochures in their street or area, Mrs Tootlepedal would be very happy to hear from them tomorrow.

Flying birds were hard to spot in the gloom so this goldfinch was the best that I could do.

_20S7837

Footnote: I just manged 10,000 steps for the day.  If I can’t get a cycle ride in, I am at least trying to get a good walk if I can.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s visit to Amsterdam.

amsterdam

It was another wet and windy morning here, so I was happy to continue in my peaceful resting mode while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to her monthly coffee morning with ex work colleagues.

I wasn’t left on my own though as Dropscone arrived with some extra delicious treacle scones.  He had put more treacle in than usual, I think.

His golfing has been limited both by the bad weather and the helicopter trips to the pylon at the top of the golf course, but he told me that the crows are still stealing golf balls.  You would think that they would have got bored with that by now.

I had seen a few siskins on the feeder before he came…

siskins on feeder

…but when he left, the birds disappeared too.  I walked slowly round to our corner shop to get some milk and an eclair, and they were still absent when I got back.  I didn’t see any more until the afternoon, when a small flock of siskins arrived in the walnut tree.

siskins in walnut tree

They were reluctant to descend to my level though…

lone siskin

…and it took them ten minutes to lower themselves to the feeder in any numbers.

siskin arriving

But once they had started, they took it seriously…

siskin quarrel

…and soon we had a full house with a queue.

sis siskins

The rain had stopped by now, so I thought that I would test the state of my health by going for a short walk.

It was still pretty gloomy and I don’t think that the helicopter would have been visiting the pylons today, as the pylons had their heads in the low clouds.

clouds over pylons

I did see a dipper as I crossed the Langholm Bridge…

dipper swimming

…but it lived up to its name and dipped under water and disappeared before I could get a good shot.

There were no ducks or gulls at all to be seen at the Meeting of the Waters…

timpen in cloud

…so I took a picture of the part of the Jubilee Bridge  that can be seen in the winter…

jubilee bridge

…and some lichen on the parapet of the Sawmill Brig…

lichen on sawmill bridge

…and strolled up the Lodge  Walks.

It wasn’t a day for photographs and I was trying to keep my head steady so I didn’t look around a lot, but when I got to Holmhead, I could hardly miss the early promise of a really good show of snowdrops to come.

snowdrops january holmhead

There were people shooting pheasants nearby but they missed me and I walked on round the pheasant hatchery.

There were no views available.

mist on hills

I did have to pause for a moment on my walk but as the Duchess had kindly caused a bridge to be built at that exact spot, I had something solid to lean against, and I was soon on my way again.  In the end, I put two miles in and enjoyed the fresh, if damp air.

As I had my camera in pocket when I got home, I took a quick walk round the garden.

The first daffodil is definitely out.  The others are nowhere near as advanced so why this one has got so far ahead is a bit of a mystery.  I haven’t taken a picture of a daffodil in flower in the garden in January very often before.

open daffodil january

The hellebores are showing promise.

hellebores

Mrs Tootlepedal had a meeting regarding the proposed community land purchase in the afternoon which took some time so I had a quiet sit down while I waited for her to return.

We had a light evening meal and then opened a bottle of economically priced fizzy wine when Mike and Alison came round.  We drank a sombre toast to the future and then Alison and I played an enjoyable selection of undemanding pieces, selected carefully not to make me dizzy.  They went well.

Next time Mike and Alison arrive, we will be a lonely island state at the mercy of the buffeting winds of global trade.  We hope that they blow in a more friendly way than the winds that have been buffeting Langholm over recent days.

A flying chaffinch at least helped me out.  This is the last united European flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  It is a horrible evening here so I was pleased to find his cheerful picture of life on the river at Chester last week.

chester

We were promised a visit from Storm Brendan later in the day so it was good to find a quiet, dry morning when we got up.

The birds didn’t seem very interested in getting some food in before the storm came though and all that was to be seen was a goldfinch on the feeder and a crow in the walnut tree.

goldfinch and crow

I cycled up to the town to do some Archive Group business and called in at our not so near corner shop of the way home to stock up on a few necessities.  Then it was time for a coffee and finally, I got out for a walk.

I did think about a cycle ride but the prospect of a strengthening wind made a 5 mile walk more attractive.

I had only got as far as the back wall of the house when I had to stop to note snowdrops almost out beside the dam.

dam snowdrops

I hadn’t got much further before I was detained by a dipper which was living up to its name by doing some vigorous dipping in the Wauchope above the Kirk Brig.

dipping dipper

They can stay under water for an amazingly long time.

In the end, I had to go on and I walked through the town and along to the track to the oak woods and the Moorland Project bird hide.

It was muddy and slippery, so I had to keep more of an eye on where I was walking than interesting things but this fallen tree was large enough to attract my attention.

felled tree with fungus

And the oak trees are hard to miss when you get to them.

oak tree near jenny noble

I didn’t want to hang about too much in case the threatened rain came in before schedule so I pressed on to the bird hide.  I had heard at second hand that the hide was closed as a result of the larch disease which will lead to the trees at the hide being felled soon.  I wondered if this meant that the trees had already been felled but when I got there, the hide and trees were still there and the notice on the hide door read as follows:

laverock hide notice

I was in time, the hide was still open and the feeders had been filled by one of the volunteers.

I sat in the hide for a few minutes and was rewarded with a good supply of peanut eaters.

Among the crowd, there were two coal tits….

two coal tits

…two blue tits…

two blue tits

…and a great tit with a chaffinch with other things on its mind.

great tit and chaffinch

A green finch arrived and checked to see if the peanuts on the other side of the feeder were any tastier.

inquisitive greenfinch

There were plenty of puddles about and a pheasant was happy to use one as a drinking fountain.

drinking pheasant

There had been some sunshine om my walk out but the clouds were coming up from the west so I didn’t stop long and was soon on my way home along the road.

It is hard to convey the sheer pleasure that can be got from contemplating our hills while out on a walk and I don’t have the camera or the skills to do them full justice but even in the middle of winter, this is a very pleasant prospect.

view from Broomholmshiels

In hot weather, the sheep that you can see in the field in the foreground of the picture above often make use of the shade of a tree beside the road.  Looking at the exposed roots of the tree, I wondered if the sheep were responsible for these scratches.

sheep scraped root

On my side of the fence there was a good show of xanthoria parietina lichen.

xanthoria parietina lichen

I set off down the hill at a good pace and I wasn’t intending to stop again but when a cladonia lichen winks at you from a wall across the road, it would be rude not to stop.  This one was so big and bright that it looked like a flower.

british soldier lichen

The river had dropped enough to let me take a picture of Skippers Bridge when I got there.  As the light was dull, I thought that it would make a change to show the bridge at work instead of the usual still life portrait.

I feel slightly nervous when I see lorries of this size crossing the bridge as they seem vastly too big for it….

skippers bridge with lorry

…but the bridge has stood up well to fairly constant traffic for over 300 years and will doubtless outlast us all.

I got home before the weather broke and had lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She went out on business in the afternoon and was not as lucky as me, as it was raining very heavily by the time that she bicycled home.

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and my flute pupil came in the early evening.  Mike got wet but Luke was lucky to find a gap in the rain when he came.

As I write this in the late evening, the wind is soughing round the house but the rain has stopped, temporarily at least.  Weather reports show severe gales on exposed western coasts but we are on the very edge of the storm so we are quite lucky so far.  Long may this continue.

The flying bird of the day is that dipper, pushing off low over the river to find more food.

flying dipper

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She was impressed by Mary Sibande’s exhibition ‘I Came Apart at the Seams’ on a visit to Somerset House.  If this picture is anything to go by, I can see why she liked it.

Mary Sibande, Somerset House

We had another grey and drizzly morning here and I had to put my umbrella up as I walked to church.  Mrs Tootlepedal is more carefree than I, so she cycled as usual. I enjoyed singing in the choir as the hymns were provided with nice straightforward bass parts which I could sing without worrying.  We had 10 in the choir today and our organist is hoping to start practising from next week with a view to an anthem or two.

We had coffee when we got home and then I checked on the birds.  Once again, there was very little light but at least there quite a few birds about today, both waiting on the walnut tree….

goldfinches in walnut tree

…and feeding on the feeder. In fact there were enough birds on the feeder for queues to form…

full feeder goldfinches

…though I was often not quite quick enough with my shutter finger to catch them in the air.

goldfinchlanding

I have lent my tripod to a friend who has gone off in the hope of seeing the Northern Lights so I am hand holding the camera.  This means that every time I look up from the viewfinder to see if a bird is coming, I just miss the one that has sneaked in.

late landers

I had more luck with a dunnock on the ground.

dunnock on tray

It was still drizzling and I thought that this pair of slightly bedraggled goldfinches summed up the day well.

two gloomy goldfinches

As regular readers will know, I have got a new coat (with pockets) so I thought that this dreich day might the ideal time to take it for a walk and try it out.

It really was a miserable day with absolutely no gap at all between the clouds and the ground.

mist on the hill scotts knowe

I walked along the track to the Becks Burn and noticed that there was still a lot of fruit on this tree…

fruit on tree january

…while the nearby apples had shed all theirs.

fruit on ground january

The apples must be very sour to have been left in peace by birds and animals.

People in towns and cities are often vexed by CCTV surveillance.  We have other methods of observation in the country.

sheep with horns becks

I was hoping to see fungi but these two small outbreaks on a pile of logs were all that I noticed.

siggy fungus becks

I crossed the Becks Burn by the bridge and took the road home.  In the hedgerow there was any amount of lichen…

mossy hedge

…and some haws as well.

wet hawthorn

As I got near to Pool Corner, the loud singing of a bird made me stop and look at the river.  As I thought, it was a dipper marking out its territory in song.

dipper inw auchope

A little further on, I found a patch of peltigera lichen on the wall looking very healthy.

peltigera lichen

My new coat kept the drizzle out very well and the pockets kept my camera and phone dry, so it passed the test.  In fact its only fault was that, if anything, it was too warm and I got gently cooked on my walk.  That is a fault on the right side, as they say.

After lunch, we set off for Carlisle where the Carlisle community Choir was having its first meeting of 2020.   During the last few months, the committee have been putting a lot of effort into encouraging more men to come and sing, and this paid off today in the shape of two new recruits to the tenor section.  We hope that they both enjoyed themselves enough to keep coming back.

We have a good range of music to sing in the forthcoming months and I am looking forward to learning new songs.

The forecast for the next two days is terrible so patient readers might have to wait a bit for some cheerful pictures.

The flying bird of the day is a  goldfinch battling through wind and rain to get to the feeder.

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mike and Alison’s recent trip to New Zealand to visit their son and his family.  Knowing that I like a bridge, Alison showed me this picture to prove that they have bridges in New Zealand too.

NX bridge

I am pleased to have a little sunshine in the guest picture because there wasn’t a hint of  sunshine here today.  It was grey, very windy (45 mph gusts) and often very rainy too.

The birds weren’t keen to fly in to the feeder but our resident dunnocks pottered about on the ground in the shelter of the hedge behind the feeder…

dunnock

…and a lone goldfinch appeared.

goldfinch

When I was taking the picture of the goldfinch, I realised that it had stopped raining for a while at least, so I put on every waterproof I could find just in case and went out for a short walk to stretch my legs.

There was a fair bit of water going down the river but that didn’t put off a dipper from doing a little dipping…

dipper in Esk

…and two crows found rocks to stand on as the water rushed by.

two crows in the water

I crossed the Town bridge and went on to the Kilngreen where there were a few gulls about. The wind was so strong that when they tried to fly into it, they went slowly enough for even my pocket camera with the zoom well zoomed to catch them in the air.

flying gull lumix 2

I couldn’t do much about the light though so the results are far from perfect.  I took the pictures  just to show how strong the wind was.

flying gull lumix 3

Looking at the Meeting of the Waters where the Ewes coming from the right joins the Esk, it was easy to see where it had been raining the hardest.

meeting of the waters

The Sawmill Brig was getting its feet wet today.

sawmill brig with water

And I got my feet a bit wet as I puddled along the path round the bottom of the Castleholm.

puddles on path

Sheep were astonished at the sheer beauty of my rainy day get up (woolly hat with cap underneath, scarf, big coat, waterproof trousers and a grumpy expression).

inquisitive sheep castleholm

But it was quite warm and it wasn’t raining so after admiring some artistic lichen on a gate…

lic hen on gate

…and some more on the gatepost..

lichen on gatepost

…I decided not to cross the Jubilee Bridge…

jubilee bridge

…but to walk a little further up river and cross the Duchess Bridge.

I was just admiring a fern garden on a tree and thinking how much rain is needed to get a result like that….

ferns on tree

…when it started to rain very heavily.

I was grateful for my ample clothing and for the shelter from the wind that walking along the river bank provided, but the last few hundred yards of my walk through the town got me and my gear thoroughly soaked.  The wind was so strong at one point that my legs were going  forwards but my body was going backwards.

I got home safely though and enjoyed cold beef and fried bubble and squeak for lunch.

After lunch, the weather settled down to being constantly beastly so I settled down to putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Database.

I then tidied up the front room a bit for the most important gathering of the year, The Langholm Archive Group Annual General Meeting. (Drum roll and fanfare.)

Eight members were present and we congratulated ourselves on having extended the newspaper index from 1848 to 1901 and past the death of Queen Victoria and the end of the South African war.  The photographic collection has increased too, thanks to the work of Sandy and as we get a continuous trickle of inquiries and many remarks about the usefulness and interest of the website, we decided to keep our work going for yet another year.

Thanks go to all the volunteers who make it happen.

In spite of its great importance, the meeting was over in twenty five minutes and I was soon able to sit down to an evening meal of baked potatoes followed by baked apples, a warming treat on a miserable day.

I couldn’t get a flying bird in the garden so the flying bird of the day is one of gulls at the Kilngreen battling into the wind.

flying gull lumix 1

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Alistair who went up on to Calton Hill with his wife and daughter to see the lights of Edinburgh.

edinburgh night

We had another grey and rather miserable day here today but it was dry enough for a while to let my step mother Patricia and me get out for a short three bridges walk while Mrs Tootlepedal was off on a fir cone hunt.

Pictures from the walk follow but news on the fir cones will have to wait for a later date.

Patricia and I crossed the Town Bridge and walked along the Kilngreen, passing this fine tree on the way…

berry at kilngreen

..until we came to the Sawmill Brig…

sawmill brig late november

As we approached the bridge, I said to Patricia that on occasion one could lean on the parapet and watch a dipper on the rocks below.

As it happened, today was one such occasion, although the dipper was on a branch and not a rock.

dipper at sawmill brig 1

As a treat for Patricia, the dipper flew off (to a nearby rock) and was almost immediately replaced by another.

dipper at sawmill brig 2

I felt very sagacious.

There was a very fine drizzle so we didn’t hang around and managed to get home before it started to rain more seriously.

During the morning, I kept an eye on the feeder and was pleased to see that it was quite busy.

A greenfinch took advantage of one of the old sunflower stalks to weigh up the situation.

greenfinch on stalk

A goldfinch was kept waiting by other goldfinches who had got there first.

goldfinches at feeder

A blue tit stood up very straight…

blue tit straight

…but a chaffinch stood up even straighter.

chaffinch straight

Mrs Tootlepedal made some soup (with croutons)  and we enjoyed that with some biscuits and cheese for our lunch.

Then we piled into the car and drove through some steady but light rain to Tweedbank where we caught the train to Edinburgh.  Patricia had organised a get together at a restaurant in Edinburgh to celebrate her recent ninetieth birthday with our two sons and their families and we caught a train which would leave us half an hour to walk down to the restaurant.

And indeed it would have left us half an hour for our walk if it hadn’t been half an hour late.  On a 35 mile journey, this was quite a feat.

Even so, the taxi from the station would have got us there only a moment or two late, if it hadn’t got stuck in desperate traffic several times on the short  journey to the restaurant.  Still we eventually all arrived and met and had our meal.

Tony and Alistair sat beside Patricia…

Pat's party edinburgh

…and unfortunately a party of about twenty cheery people squished onto a rather small space behind them so our meal wasn’t quite as peaceful and orderly as we might have wished.  The party behind had booked as eight people so the restaurant was rather overwhelmed when more than double the number turned up but they battled on and we got our meal.

All  this meant that we were a bit rushed by the end but Tony kindly gave us a lift back to the station and we caught our train back to Tweedbank with minutes to spare.  There were more minutes to spare as the train’s guard and driver spent about ten of them persuading a drunk man to get off (and stay off) the train at a station down the line.  It just wasn’t our day for trains.

Still, we got back to Tweedbank and drove home through a very light drizzle, relieved that forecasts of continuous heavy rain had proved to be alarmist.

These unexpected events were a bit disappointing for Patricia but she took them in a very good spirit.  We hope that her train back to London tomorrow runs smoothly.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

I would like to thank all the readers who took the time to wish me a happy birthday.  I did indeed have a happy birthday and would have answered all the comments individually if I hadn’t been quite tired by the time that I came to write this post for some  mysterious reason (perhaps old age).

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