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Posts Tagged ‘dipper’

Today’s guest picture is rather small but that is how it was sent to me by my friend Sandra.  I have put it in because it shows some of her regular flock of long tail tits visiting her feeder.  It is a great benefit to live right on the edge of town if you want a better class of bird visitor.

long tailed tits

There is still a distinct lack of perkiness in the Tootlepedal household.  I am up and about but not at all active and Mrs Tootlepedal is still mostly in bed having lost all her get up and go.  We are both doing a lot of coughing.

This makes the house a somewhat gloomy place and the succession of grey days isn’t helping.   It looked for a while as thought we might get some sunshine this morning but by the time that I looked out at the birds, the skies were heavy with cloud again.

The robin was in a stand offish mood….

robin

…and the goldfinches were too busy eating to wave at me.

goldfinches

The chaffinches always seem to be getting a chilly welcome from…..

chaffinch and goldfinch

….goldfinch or siskin.

chaffinch and siskin

Although I had occasional visits to make with a hot drink or a slice of toast for Mrs Tootlepedal, I was getting increasingly bored and restless with sitting around doing crosswords and listening to the radio so I realised that this might be a good moment to get back to putting copies of the 1960s Langholm Parish Church newsletters into the Archive Group website.  We have a collection of these newsletters given to us by the widow of the minister of the time and I put a lot onto the website  at one time but I have neglected them over the last few years.

This seemed the right moment to get back to work on them.  It requires scanning, OCR and HTML formatting and as they are not very well printed in places, the scanning and OCR requires attention and time.   If you wish, you can see one of the months that I put in today here.  I don’t guarantee that it will be error free.

It is interesting to me that 20 years after the end of the war, the minister still drew a lot of his examples from the war experience.  You get little feeling from the newsletter that the cultural stirrings that were rippling through the country in the mid 60s were affecting life in Langholm, though I am sure that they must have been making themselves felt even here.

This task proved a very good decision as it was interesting in its own right and as it required a lot of concentration, I didn’t have so much time to feel sorry for myself and I ended up a good deal more rested and cheerful than when I started.

To give myself a break between editions, I went for a very slow walk across three bridges.  The light was very poor by this time but I was still pleased to see some old waterside friends.

waterside birds

And the moss once again offered a bit of colour on a grey day.

The parapet of the Sawmill Brig was home to a mossy contrast.

moss

moss

And there was more to see as I went round the new path.

moss

It wasn’t a day for colourful views….

Lodge

….so I kept an eye out for other points of interest.

ferny tree

catkin and seed head

I had plenty of time to look about because I was walking very slowly indeed.  In fact I was going so slowly at one point that I thought that I might even have been going backwards.

Still, I managed to cross the Duchess Bridge and combine moss and bridge in one shot.

mossy tree and Duchess bridge

This part of the river in is shade for most of the year and it is no surprise to find a lot of moss covered trees on its banks.

The most colourful moss of the outing was this fine curtain on the wall at the end of the Scholars’ Field.

moss on Scholars Wall

Mike Tinker was working in his garden when I passed and kindly offered me a cup of coffee but I had done more than enough by this time and headed home for a sit down.

I thought that it was about time to eat a more or less proper meal for my tea but in retrospect, this wasn’t a brilliant idea and a boiled egg and a finger of toast would have been better.

The quality of the flying bird of the day continues to be appalling.

flying chaffinch

We are promised our next sunny day on Saturday week so things may not improve until then.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He has been out and about enjoying the bright lights of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh

We had no bright lights here this morning.  In fact it was hard to discern any light at all as it was the gloomiest day imaginable, cold and wet and very miserable.

As we are on a break from our Carlisle choir, I decided to join Mrs Tootlepedal and sing with the church choir here.  The organist and choirmaster had extended an invitation to go and sing with them on an ad hoc basis so I was sure of a welcome.

Getting to church proved a tricky business as the cold rain on top of some very cold ground had made our roads and pavements into a sheet of ice and we tottered along very delicately, holding on to anything we could find for support as we went.

The church choir was very enjoyable, though trying to sight read a tenor part while following the words on the opposite page of the hymn book was testing.  Luckily, Mike, my cello playing friend, was standing beside me  and being a very sound singer, he kept me right.

After we got home, I peered through the rain to see if there were any birds at the feeder.

_DSC0069

They looked pretty fed up and who can blame them.

siskin

blackbird

Of course, there is one bird that never seems to be weighed down by life.

robin

I made some soup for lunch and kept an eye out for more birds.

There was a steady stream of chaffinches coming….

siskin, goldfinch and chaffinch

…and sometimes receiving an unfriendly welcome.

siskin and chaffinch

I very much liked a little cameo performance by a robin and a siskin.

siskin and robin

My turn………………………………..your turn…………………………..er….whose turn now?

We have blackbirds with yellow beaks and blackbirds with black beaks.

blackbird

I don’t think that our cat scarer is much good at cat scaring but it does make a nice perch for you know who.

robin

After lunch, I waited for the rain to stop and then got ready to go for a walk.  The rain had started again by the time that I got to the back door but I needed some exercise so I took a brolly in hand and set out anyway.

The weather had warmed up quite a bit and the roads were free from ice but a test walk on a rough path showed that every puddle concealed a skating rink so I turned back and stuck to the roads.

It was very misty when I got to the river…

misty church

…and there was no sign at all of any hills behind the town.

Whita in cloud

As I crossed the town bridge, a ripple in a pool below spread out and in the middle of it, a dipper suddenly appeared.  I spent a minute or two watching it live up to its name and dive down and reappear after a surprisingly long spell under water.

dipper

I saw it fly off and walked over the bridge and on to the Kilngreen where I was delighted to find the dipper again, this time perched on a rock and serenading me with full voice.

dipper

On a second glance, I found that I was probably not its intended audience.

P1060102

Whether it was trying to woo the second dipper or telling it to get out of its space, I am not qualified to say.

Nearby, the mallards were lined up on the river bank…..

mallards

…though there is always one who can’t obey simple instructions.

mallards

As I walked over the Sawmill Brig, the clouds began to lift from the hills and as the rain stopped too, I had a quietly enjoyable walk.

misty hill

The light was still rotten so there wasn’t much of a chance to take pictures…

tree

…though just as I was getting near the end of the stroll, a little blue sky appeared over the trees.

P1060111

Too late.

I walked home via the High Street and took the opportunity to show you the fine Christmas tree in front of our town hall.

P1060112

By the time that I got home, the light had almost faded and that concluded the action for the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal is continuing to try out new recipes so we ate baked squash stuffed with fruit and vegetables for our tea.  It was a curious but not unpalatable dish but the combination of flavours took me by surprise and it will take another go before I feel comfortable with it.

There was a little sticky toffee sauce left over and we disposed of it with some ice cream for afters.  I was very comfortable with that.

A flying bird of the day was hard to come by in the gloom and rain.

goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone and shows one of the greens on the golf course he was visiting last week in Spain.  Tough conditions out there.

golf course

We had far from Spanish weather here today.  It had rained heavily over night and it was still raining heavily when we got up.  It continued to rain all morning and only stopped in the middle of the afternoon.

Under these circumstances, I was very fortunate to have the company of both Dropscone and Sandy for coffee.  An additional bonus was the treacle scones that Dropscone provided for the occasion.   Dropscone has been on holiday in Spain and Sandy in Portugal and they had both enjoyed excellent weather so the rain was a bit of a shock to their systems but they were bearing up bravely.

I put on some stout waterproof clothing after they had left and walked down to see how much of the rain had got into the rivers.

Wauchope and turtle

The Wauchope was flowing freely and the turtle in the Esk was learning how to swim.

Waterside birds were to be seen in spite of the rain.

gull and dipper

The dipper was very busy but taking care not to be washed away and the gull was standing very still on its rather precarious rock perch.

I looked down the River Esk from the suspension bridge.

River esk

To say that our weather is changeable at the moment is a bit of an understatement.

I didn’t stay out long and went home and did the crossword.

Once the rain had eased off to a drizzle after lunch, I went out for a second look.  The water had risen but we were far from a big flood…

Esk and turtle

…although the turtle’s need for swimming lessons seemed pressing.

I took the opportunity to visit a large crop of fungus on the bank of the Wauchope by the church wall.

fungus beside church

They are related to a tree that had to be felled because it had become dangerous.

Nearby, seven goosanders were resting on the bank of the Esk.  I couldn’t get them all in one shot so I settled for these three…

goosanders

…and this one which had gone for a swim.

goosander

I had a look up the Wauchope from the Park Bridge…

Wauchope in flood

…and then went home again and did some work on songs for both my choirs.  I was concentrating hard on the music and was surprised when I turned to the window and saw that the sun was shining and the sky was blue.  I shot out into the garden.

Crown princess margareta

Crown Princess Margareta is getting special care from the gardener and we hope that it will do really well next year.

Nasturtiums

A splash of colour against the wall of the house

poppy

A battered poppy doing its best

A young blackbird was taking advantage of the sunshine to have a bath in our pond…

blackbird

…watched from on high by a starling.

starling

I tried to contact Sandy with a view to going for a walk but when he didn’t reply (I found out later that he was busy at the Archive Centre), I went off by myself.

The sun went in almost as soon as I started out.

I visited the riverside.  Just where the dam comes out into the Esk, I came across a dipper busy in the long grass beside the Esk.

dipper

I walked along to the Town Bridge and once again marvelled at the sound construction which has let it withstand this sort of pressure…

Langholm Bridge in flood

… since 1775.

I looked back down river from the bridge…

River esk in Autumn

…and then walked over the bridge and onto the Kilngreen.

The Esk and the Ewes looked quite full when I got down to their level…

Esk and Ewes

…but they were safely contained within their banks.

As I walked towards the Sawmill Brig, a heron flew past me and when I was on the bridge, I could see another dipper on the rocks below.

Heron and dipper

By the this time, the clouds had come back but I walked on, hoping that all the rain that was in the clouds had already been discharged.

I walked up the Lodge Walks and enjoyed the trees lining the walks and those on the Castleholm and lower slopes of the hill beyond the river.

Lodge walks

Meikleholm hill treesMeikleholm hill treesMeikleholm hill trees

I crossed the raging river by the Duchess Bridge…

Duchess bridge in Autumn

…and got home without seeing a drop of rain.

In the evening, I went out to a Langholm Sings choir practice and enjoyed myself more than I thought that I would when I found that the songs were a bit easier to get right than I had feared.  The “getting right” is still more potential than actual but then that is what practices are for.

I am hoping that the recent progression of rainy, sunny, rainy days will lead to tomorrow being sunny.  It would be only fair.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my neighbour Liz.  She enjoyed this misty view on one of her morning walks recently.

Mist on Whita

There were no views at all when we woke up this morning, as the hills were shrouded in clouds and a fine drizzle was falling.  Luckily I had a stint in the Welcome to Langholm office to do so the miserable weather didn’t trouble me.

I was kept very busy putting  data into the Archive Group database while entertaining Dropscone, who had news of a recent golfing triumph to pass on and John, another friend, who was recovering from a visit to the physiotherapist nearby.  What with golf and creaking joint talk and two visits from tourists seeking a welcome and the computer work as well, the two hours passed in a flash.

It had stopped raining by the time that I got home but  I found Mrs Tootlepedal engrossed in the tricky matter of balancing some accounts rather than gardening.  After we had had a cup of coffee with our neighbour Liz, I foolishly offered to lend Mrs Tootlepedal a hand with her accounts and the afternoon was well under way by the time that the figures on both sides of the ledger had obediently fallen into place.  Although it is very annoying when columns don’t add up, it is very satisfying when they finally do.

Still, a lot of quite good weather had gone by unused which was a pity.  We went out into the garden and while Mrs Tootlepedal got down to work, I looked around.

nasturtiums

A couple of cheery nasturtiums beside the front gate

Cardoon

A last look at a cardoon before Attila the gardener gives them the chop soon

I did a little much needed dead heading and upset a good number of bees and hoverflies who were looking for pollen.  At one moment, almost all of them chose the same poppy.

poppy with hoverflies and bees

We stood for some time watching the crowd, our mouths open in astonishment.

poppy with hoverflies and bees

After all, it was quite an astonishing sight.

Because my flute pupil Luke was due in the early evening, I didn’t have time to go for a cycle ride but it was such a pleasantly warm and calm day by now that I left Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work and went off for a short walk.

Beside the river I stopped to enjoy a wagtail wagging its tail and a dipper dipping.

Wagtail

The dipper was in all action mode, disappearing under the water for ages at a time and dabbing about vigorously when it emerged.

dipper dipping

It did pose for me for a brief moment though.

dipper

At the Kilngreen, I saw a lonely herring gull….

herring gull

…and some restful ducks.

ducks in the grass

This was my favourite.

duck

Occasional sunshine brought out the colours which are beginning to appear all around.

Esk

Although there are plenty of fallen autumnal looking leaves about….

autumn leaves

…there are still many more on the trees.

leaves

The combination of many greens and some red and yellow meant that there was always a delight for the eye as I walked along.

early autumn on the castleholmearly autumn on the castleholmearly autumn on the castleholm

I kept my eyes open for other smaller things.  This fungus on a tree stump interested me greatly.  I don’t think that I have seen anything like it before.

tree stump fungus

They growths are tiny and I thought that they were sprinkled crumbs when I first saw them

It was a really pleasant walk and I was sorry that I didn’t have the time to be out longer.

When I got back to the house, I reflected that it was lucky that we don’t shut the front gate very often…

nasturtiums on front gate

Our friend Mike Tinker was chatting to Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden and she was telling him of great plans for improvements for next year.  I look forward to photographing the results.

I had a last look round…

fuchsia

…and was pleased to spot a red admiral butterfly on a rudbeckia.

red admiral butterfly

We read in the paper this morning that it has been an exceptionally good year for red admiral butterflies and we have certainly seen a great many in our garden in the last few weeks.

Then I had to go in to get ready for the flute lesson which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I was quite pleased to have no further obligations for the day as I am feeling a little tired after dashing from end to end of the continent last week.  Somehow sitting in down in trains, although it is very enjoyable, is also quite tiring.

An early night won’t do me any harm.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tom in South Africa and, appropriately enough since he is a great rugby man, it shows some springboks.

springbok

The first named storm of the year was visiting Britain overnight and we were warned that Aileen would bring heavy and persistent rain overnight and well into the morning so it was no surprise to find the sun shining when we got up.

It turned out that Aileen had stayed well to the south of us.

I went up to the town to do some business and then walked round the garden.  The variety of Mrs Tootlepedal’s poppies never fails to delight me.

poppies

And they continue to attract bees in numbers.

poppies with bees

And of course, some of them are simply beautiful.

poppy

As well as some good weather, the morning brought Dropscone, complete with a batch of excellent scones for coffee.  He has recently been to Aberdeen on golfing business so it was good to see that he had got back without losing another wheel on the way.  He had crossed over the new Forth bridge on his trip but told us that it was far less exciting to drive over than to look at from a distance as it has tall panels each side of the roadway which severely restrict the driver’s view.

When he left, I got the mower out and mowed the middle lawn.  After the overnight rain, the lawn was fairly squelchy and the mowing involved quite a lot of worm cast squashing as Mrs Tootlepedal kindly pointed out to me when I had finished.  All the same, if you didn’t look too closely, which I didn’t, things looked quite cheerful.

Middle lawn

Rudbeckia, lilies, cosmos, nasturtium and poppies are still giving the lawn a colourful border.

There are three colours of potentilla in the garden.  They are not all flowering freely but if you look hard, you can find them.

potentilla

All through the day, sudden heavy rain showers interrupted the better weather….

clouds

The next shower lining up

…..and the gardening was a very on and off business.  In spite of quite a lot of sunshine, the rain was heavy enough when it came to make the garden soggier at the end of the day than it had been at the start.

Even so, the nerines round the chimney pot are doing very well.

nerines

We managed to repair the wires on the espalier apples and turn all the compost from Bin B into Bin C and then from Bin A into Bin B so we are ready to start the whole composting cycle again.

The wet roads and the constant threat of a shower put me off proper cycling but I did go out on the slow bike later in the day to see if I could see a dipper by the river.

I could.

dipper

It was on the same rock as last time.

I saw another even more patient bird while I was out.

carved owl

As the rain was holding off, I cycled along to Pool Corner and watched the Wauchope flowing over the caul there.

Pool Corner

It is very soothing watching running water but the road out of the town…..

Pool Corner

…looked inviting so I pedalled up the Manse Brae and along the road at the top….

Springhill

…just far enough to be able to turn off and get a good view of Warbla and the Auld Stane Brig.

Warbla

Those are grey clouds and not blue skies behind the hill so I didn’t push my luck and turned and pedalled back down the hill while it was still sunny.  I was not best pleased therefore when it started to rain quite hard out of a blue sky and I scuttled back home as fast as I could.

But……every cloud has a silver lining they say and this rain had a multicoloured bonus for me.

rainbow over Henry Street

I was happy.

After tea, I went off to the first meeting of the new season of the Langholm Community Choir.  There was quite a good turnout and some new music that I liked so it was an enjoyable evening and a good start to the new session.

Instead of a flying bird of the day, I am showing two pictures of butterflies.  There were plenty of them about today between showers.  I don’t know where they go in the rain but it can’t be far away because they appeared almost immediately after the sun came out. It was  day for red admirals.

This one may have been drying its wings after a shower.  The symmetry is astonishing (to me at least).

red admiral

This one was getting stuck in.

red admiral butterfly

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Today’s guest picture comes from Lucie, one of my Canadian correspondents, who took this fine view of  Lake Athapapaskow, a glacial lake in Manitoba, while on holiday.

Lake Athapapaskow

It took us some time to come to terms with the fact that it wasn’t raining when we woke up but I recovered from the shock and got the fairly speedy bike out for the first time in September.  I wasn’t sure how my legs would be feeling after a week off and as it was quite breezy with a threat of light rain, I rather cravenly decided to do a turn in my ‘outside gym’ and cycle up and down the four and a bit miles to Cleughfoot three times.  This would give me the chance to bail out if the going got too tough.

It looked like a good decision when it started to rain just as I got to Cleughfoot on the first lap but I decided not to put on my rain jacket as that sort of thing only encourages bad weather and I was rewarded when the rain stopped before I started the second lap.

In the end, I managed the 27 miles quite happily and got home dry.

I didn’t take my pocket camera with me on the bike because of the threat of rain and although I took some pictures with my phone, they came out so badly that I couldn’t use them.  I walked round the garden when I got back to make up for this.

There was plenty to look at.

nerines

The nerines were enjoying the drier weather

More big lilies are coming out

More big lilies are coming out

poppy

The smaller poppies are surviving the wet weather the best

poppy

Though some of the bigger ones were open for business

poppy

And some were just open

Salvia

The Salvia is surviving well

astrantia

And the late astrantia is doing very well though I haven’t seen many bees on it at all

clematis

The clematis in the philadelphus is thriving

I had a shower and some lunch and then we went out into the garden and I mowed the middle lawn but as it had started to rain, this wasn’t as much fun as it might have been and we went back in and sat down to watch a chunk of the Tour of Britain bike race.

When it stopped raining, I went out again and sieved some compost and dead headed some poppies but it started to rain again so I went back in.

After the bike stage finished, I checked the weather and headed out to the riverside for a short walk.

A dipper posed for me on the banks of the Esk…

dipper

…and Mr Grumpy gave me a stare at the Meeting of the Waters.

heron

I spotted a goosander among the many ducks on the Ewes Water…..

goosander

…and another dipper below the Sawmill Brig.

dipper

In between watching all the birds, a good crop on a tree in the Clinthead garden made me stop and look.

Clinthead crop

I don’t know what they are.  Some sort of crab apple perhaps?  I found a variety called Malus Royalty which looked a possibility.

I would have taken many more really interesting pictures if the battery on my Lumix had not given up but I had my phone in my pocket and pointed it hopefully at a few more things as I went along the new path on the Castleholm.

Autumn leave

Early colour

fungus

Tiny fungus on a log end

umbellifer

Pretty as a picture

chestnut

The horse chestnuts seem to change colour earlier than any other trees.

I looked over the hedge into our garden as I got back.  There is still quite a lot of colour but the leaves on the lawn make it look autumnal.

n in September 2017

I had timed my walk well as I just had enough time to dead head the calendula before it started to rain again.

To be fair, the evening cleared up well and the day finished on a thoroughly good note when Mike and Alison appeared and Alison and I had a very cheerful time playing a selection of pieces, several of which sounded as though the composer would have recognised them without any difficulty.

No flying bird of the day or any substitute at all this evening.  I will try to do better tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my South African correspondent, Langholm exile Tom.  He has passed on a picture of a Strelitzia taken by a friend of his.

strelitzia

I started the day by going up to the Archive Centre and meeting with Sandy and Nancy.  Recent work by a plumber required access to a little used cupboard filled with ‘stuff’ and as this ‘stuff’ was now spread all over the place, it looked like an ideal opportunity to sort the ‘stuff’ out and throw most of it away.

Quite a lot of it went into the back of my car and I drove off with it while Nancy did some heroic work with a hoover and a damp cloth.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy with a paint pot and brush when I got home so I had time to have a coffee, do the crossword and, since it was dry for a while, walk round the garden.

As usual, the poppies caught my eye.  Some have had their centres battered by the bee onslaught….

poppies with bee

…but new pollen providers are always coming on stream.

I sieved some compost while I was out.

It was a changeable day and having checked out the weather, I hung some washing out to dry.

Then I took it in again as it started to rain.

After lunch, we took the Archive Centre ‘stuff’ to the council dump near Annan.  It was sunny when we went out to the car so we walked round the garden before setting off.

There were less bees than usual today, perhaps because it had been chilly and wet again but other insects were available.

poppies with hoverflies and flies

They had visited the sedum and dahlias too.

sedum and dahlia with flies

A touch of colour caught my eye just as we were getting into the car.

red admiral butterflies

Red admiral butterflies were visiting.

I took a close look at one.

red admiral butterfly

You can’t tell me that it doesn’t have little electric light bulbs built into the ends of its antennae.

Leaving the butterflies to feed, we set off to the dump and passed through a heavy shower of rain almost immediately after we had left the town.  It had poured down on our last visit to the dump but we were luckier this time and it had faired up by the time that we arrived.

The drive back was very pleasant and I had a quick walk round the garden….

sweet peas

…..but it started to rain again not long afterwards so I abandoned any thoughts of cycling and waited until a promising gap in the clouds appeared and went for a short walk instead.

I admired a striking dahlia on my way out of the garden.

dahlia

It was sunny when I started out and in spite of any amount of threatening clouds….

Langholm and Kirk Wynd

…it remained dry for my two mile outing.

I had hoped to find some fine photographical fungi on my way but others had got there first…

nibbled fungi

Yellow flowers proved a good substitute.

yellow flowers

I liked this yellow flower in particular.

yellow flower

It seemed to float rather than to be attached to its plant.

I walked through the park on my way to the Stubholm and saw what looked like a flock of ominous birds perched on top of a tree….

noble fir

…but a closer look revealed that it was some birds and a lot of noble fir cones.

My walk took me along a picturesque track….

stubholm

…and past a slightly ramshackle set of stable buildings which I thought might look better as an oil painting.

stubholm stables

I arrived at Skippers Bridge and paused for the obligatory photo op…

Langholm Distillery

…and noticed that Colin, one of our neighbours, was indulging in his favourite occupation down below me.

colin fishing

A man of great patience.

Walking back from the bridge on the road side of the river is less interesting than the walk down but there were more yellow flowers to be seen….

yellow flowers

…along with some vivid red berries….

red berries

…and a dipper below the suspension bridge.

dipper

When I got back, I put the some of the accompaniment for the new piece which Luke and I are learning onto the computer and that largely concluded the business of the day.

It had started to rain again after I got back from my walk so my timing was good.  I had met a friend while out walking and conversation naturally turned to our miserable summer weather but in light of events in Houston and the Caribbean, we agreed that it was definitely better to be permanently mildly distressed than to be overcome by a catastrophe.  We counted our blessings.

The flying bird of the day is Mrs Tootlepedal’s completed butterfly.

embroidered butterfly

 

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