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Posts Tagged ‘dipper’

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Marianne, our son Tony’s partner.  It shows Tony getting some sausage making tips at the ‘Bowhouse Food Weekend’ in St Monans yesterday.  Marianne tells me that they intend to eat the sausages that he made.  They are very brave.

Tony at St Monans

After two days of miserable rain and wind, the weather gods relented and laid on a calm, fairly warm and dry day today, ideal for cycling.  Of course they knew that I had choirs to go to both in the morning and the afternoon with no time for serious cycling in between so they must have laughed themselves silly.

Still, the choirs were very enjoyable so I had no complaints.

After the church choir,  I had time to walk round the garden.

We have a little horizontal cotoneaster against the house with bright red berries and colourful leaves.

berries and leaves

Wet flowers were to be found. The striking clematis in the top row is is the only flower that the plant has produced all year.

Octcober flowers

We have our own autumn colour provided by the climbing hydrangea and one of the azaleas.

hydrangea and azalea in autumn

I looked at the birds while I attended to the tricky culinary task of preparing baked beans on toast for my lunch.

A collared dove appeared and didn’t start a fight.  This was possibly because it was the only dove there.

Collared dove at rest

There were several goldfinches only too ready to argue.

goldfinches sparring

I got the chance to catch  welcome visits from a dunnock…

dunnock Oct

…and a robin.

october robin

After my baked beans, I had just enough time to go for an amble round Easton’s Walk.

As I got to the Wauchope Water, I found that it had gone down enough to allow a dipper to do some dipping in the calmer current near the bank.

dipper dipping

The recent rain has encouraged the moss on the park wall.

spangles moss

I came down the track to the edge of the Murtholm fields….

Easton's Walk in autumn

…and enjoyed the colourful trees behind the farmhouse at the far end.

Murtholm in autumn

As I walked back along the river to the park, I spotted two ghostly fungi, one on a fallen tree…

white fungus

…and one unusually white one, part of a small bunch of fungi on the banking in the shadow of old tree roots.

very white gungus

The thorny hedge round the war memorial provided a resting place for water droplets.

thorn hedge with raindrops

When I got home, the sight of the winter jasmine in full flower at the back door  was a reminder of the march of the seasons.

winter jasmine

The weather gods had one last little joke to play.  The sun came out just as I was preparing to go to Carlisle for the afternoon choir so I only had time for a glance out of the kitchen window to watch a siskin hanging about…

siskin depending

…and a chaffinch weighing up his options …

flying chaffinch in sun

…before I went off to Carlisle to sing, driving down the road in beautiful weather and muttering under my breath as I went.

Our new musical director continues to be very lively and amusing so we all worked hard for her in return and as a result, we had a useful practice.

I am hoping for some kindly cycling weather tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow in torpedo mode as it heads for the feeder.

flying sparrow missile

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent, who visited Forde Abbey recently in the company of my sister Mary.

Forde Abbey

It was a very changeable day today with constant rain showers interspersed with occasion brief dry spells and even the odd bit of sunshine.  The addition of a very brisk wind to the weather mix made it a day that was unsuitable for serious outdoor activity.

I therefore lurked indoors for the most part, except when Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to sing in the church choir. I spent a fair amount of time cooking.  I made a lamb stew with a plum and red wine gravy for the slow cooker after breakfast and a potato and carrot soup for our lunch.

Then I put a so called ciabatta mixture into the breakd making machine and watched the birds for a bit.

Things were quiet, perhaps because of the brisk wind.

A lone jackdaw surveyed the scene for a while…

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When I started watching, there were no sparrows about and a single siskin and a goldfinch commanded the feeder.

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A sparrow and a chaffinch tried to move in…

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…and after that, chaffinches….

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…and sparrows….

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…flew in at regular intervals…

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…sometimes at the same time.

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All the same, there were long periods when the feeder was unattended.

Goldfinches returned and this one was not happy about an impending chaffinch.

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A hungry blue tit didn’t cause as much distress.

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We had a quiet afternoon watching the cyclists of the Tour of Britain going round n circles in the middle of London and then as the rain had stopped for a moment, I went out into the garden and did a little dead heading and picked up windfall apples.

The dahlias, as I have remarked before, seem to be pretty weather proof and were still smiling.

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But for once, there were no bees on the Michaelmas daisies…

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…and no butterflies about at all.

As the weather seemed to be quite good, I cycled off to do some shopping.

The path along the riverside looked inviting…

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…and I pedalled a bit further in search of fungus.  I  didn’t see fungus and had to be content with some flowers.

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As I came out of the shop and headed for home, the weather had taken a gloomy turn again…

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…but it hadn’t started to rain so I paused for a moment beside the Esk and watched a stream of riders, who had been out on a charity event, crossing the Langholm Bridge…

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…and a dipper living up to its name.

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The delay meant that the rain was coming down before I got home but it did provide a rainbow for me, although it was only half a rainbow when I looked at it closely.

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We had the slow cooked stew for our tea and the  ‘ciabbata’ came out of the bread machine.   Say what you like about bread machines (I am a devotee) but they make a good looking loaf.

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The result is nothing like a hand made ciabatta loaf but it tastes delicious and that is what matters.

In keeping with the day, the evening was spent very quietly doing nothing more exciting than making a couple more jars of apple jelly.  I didn’t rush the job this time and it set properly first go.

The flying bird of the day is a distant goldfinch.

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There may be serious concern about the lack of insects in general but today’s guest picture from Venetia shows that there is no shortage of them just now in Somerset.

somerset flies

We had a typical April day here today, breezy, cool and occasionally rainy but it was just warm enough to allow for gardening and the breeze was just steady enough to allow for a little cycling so in the morning, Mrs Tootlepedal gardened and I went for a cycle ride.

Before I left, Mrs Tootlepedal drew my attention to a small patch of violets tucked away against a fence in a corner of the garden.

violet

Although the theoretical temperature was not too bad, the wind seemed to carry the chill of winter in its wings and I was well wrapped up again as I battled into the breeze.  When the sun was out…..

Wauchope road

…I was in a green and pleasant land, with the fresh green of the new larch growth…

larch

…very prominent.

But mostly, I was in the shadow over here and the sun was over there in the distance.

View from the Bloch

I looked more closely at one of my favourite trees.

Bloch tree

There were masses of flowers to be seen on my way.

flowers

By lurking about in the valley bottom for the most part, I kept out of the worst of the wind but even so, cycling back down to Langholm with the wind behind me was enough to make the slow bike feel like Pegasus.  I fairly flew along.

The twenty miles that I managed brought up my target mileage for the month and as it has all been done on the slow bike, that was very satisfactory.

I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden on my return and mowed the drying green.  This was a painful experience as it has almost as much moss as Mary Jo’s Danish lawn.

I had a look round and tried to get a better euphorbia picture but only succeeded in catching a fly.

fly on euphorbia

The tulips are growing all the time but still keeping themselves to themselves.

tulips

And I found a daffodil of the day standing still enough to photograph.

daff

Then  it was time for lunch, the crossword and a look at the birds.

I very much enjoyed a little action sequence that took place over two seconds.

A chaffinch approached the feeder quietly…

busy feeder

…suddenly there was pandemonium as birds flew off in all directions and a lone redpoll was left to wonder what all the fuss was about.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off on business and I stayed in to greet the gas man who came to give our boiler its annual safety check.  In a sign of the crazy way businesses are organised these days, it turned out that he had come all the way from Glasgow to do our check, which was already well behind its scheduled time, because the local engineers were too busy.  Having finished, he was ready to drive back to Glasgow (90 miles away).  It must make sense to someone.

While the engineer was busy, it started to rain and it looked well set in for the rest of the day.    Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea though and he must have had some good vibes in his pocket because when he got up to, the rain went too.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked round the garden.

There was plenty to see.  A bee was buzzing about in the pulmonaria…

bee on pulmonaria

…and a blackbird was busy collecting more  worms….

blackbird with worms

…and things were busy growing.  Flowers on the gooseberry and on the silver pear.

gooseberry and silver pear

I look forward to eating gooseberries (if we can avoid the sawfly) but the silver pear fruit is inedible.

The rain looked as though it might hold off so I went for a walk.

I hoped to see waterside birds and I did but the light was pretty gloomy and the birds were far away so although it was a pleasure to see the birds, it was  a problem to get good shots of them.

oyster catcher, dipper, wagtail and goosander

From top left clockwise: Oyster catcher, dipper, goosander and pied wagtail.

I also saw a grey wagtail and I took a wonderful picture of the rock from which it had just taken off.  I haven’t posted it here to avoid excessive excitement among sensitive readers.

I was doing the three bridges walk and I passed a lot of ladies’ smock which has appeared like magic on the banks of the Esk near the suspension bridge….

Ladies smock

…a grand show of colour in the Clinthead gardens…

redflowers

…some striking male flowers on the noble firs on the Castleholm….

male noble fir flowers

….a very colourful tree (which I can’t identify.  Is there a helpful reader out there?)…

Castleholm tree

…and the first broom flower I have seen this year.  It was in the minister’s garden.

broom flower

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was back out in the garden so I took a look round and was struck by this jewel on a leaf.

raindrop

I had a little Archive business to catch up on as one of our members is kindly helping out a lady who wishes to visit the town for some ancestral research and then it was time to sit down and have a tasty curry for my tea.

The weather is set to continue in the present cool, showery mode for several days but if we can make as good use of the days as we did today, it won’t be too bad.  Those three magically warm and sunny days last week have spoiled us though.  Everything looks and feels dull by contrast.

The flying bird of the day is a reliable chaffinch.  They should give hovering lessons to the other birds.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  He has been on holiday for a few days beside the sea in Lincolnshire.  He sent me this picture of definite cheating in the children’s sandcastle building competition.

Dropscone's digger

We were the victim of a meteorological prank today.  The weather got warmer as forecast but as it was blowing a gale and raining heavily, we weren’t able to enjoy the warmth very much….and it didn’t get a lot warmer anyway.

I had to spend time indoors as it happened because it took a lot of time and some  intemperate language to get my computer up and running.  Yesterday’s problem was caused by one of the uninvited upgrades that Windows puts onto a computer behind your back and the solution was to activate a ‘system restore’.

This is hard to manage when you can’t get access to the computer settings but somewhat mysteriously a QR code appeared on my screen while I was struggling without success and I quickly snapped it with my phone.   Then, without any more prompting, the phone issued me with a set of useful instructions.  A miracle of technology.

It is always a nervous matter to embark on a system restore but this one went like clockwork and you can see the result.

Still, it was Friday and my morning was brightened by the arrival of Dropscone, back from his brief break and bearing treacle scones.

When he left, the rain stopped and I had time for a quick look round the garden.

hellebore

I can photograph some of the hellebores without lying on my back and looking up but others need a helping hand to keep me off the wet grass.

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In the pond, some frogs maintained an air of mystery in the dark under the bridge…

frog

…while others let it all hang out.

frog and spawn

The hawk made a couple of appearances without catching anything and in between times, the feeder was in demand, with chaffinches approaching…

chaffinch

…and landing (with a bit of difficulty in the strong breeze)…

chaffinch

…and sometimes having to put up with a torrent of abuse from passing siskins.

busy feeder

The main business of the day was a trip with Mrs Tootlepedal to a garden centre near Carlisle to buy this and that and to have lunch.  Unfortunately two coachloads of shoppers arrived just before us so we had to do quite a bit of window shopping before there was a spare table to have our lunch.

However, the meal was worth waiting for and Mrs Tootlepedal found all the things that she wanted so the trip was very satisfactory.

Amusingly, the weather gods had not finished their joke at our expense and  having driven through pleasant sunshine on our way home, it started to rain a mile or so outside Langholm.  How we laughed.

I had hoped for a late afternoon cycle ride but even when the rain stopped, it was still cold and gloomy so I went for a short walk instead.

The rain had put a bit of pep into the Esk…

raging river

..and a couple of oyster catchers were looking a bit disgruntled at the Meeting of the Waters.

oyster catchers

The very local nature of our weather was well shown by the literal meeting of the waters…

meeting of the waters

…with the Ewes in the foreground and the Esk in the background looking as different as they could possibly be.  In spite of appearances, it was the Esk that was carrying by far the more water.  It had obviously rained a lot more up the Esk valley than it had up the Ewes valley.

It was too dark to take good bird pictures but I was pleased to see that Mr Grumpy had survived the snow…

heron

…and I did spot a dipper but as you can see….

dipper

…it was too far away and had its back turned to me so I didn’t bother to take a picture of it.

I looked at a bit of moss instead…

moss

…probably the only thing round here actually to welcome the rain.

I passed by this elegant gate…

gate

…and made my way home in the gathering gloom without finding anything else interesting to look at.

Among other bits of business today, I put down the deposit on my new bike, having finally made my mind up.  It will take four weeks to arrive so there will be a lot of huffing and puffing on the slow bike in the meantime (if the weather is suitable for cycling).

Why will the bike take four weeks to arrive?  Because it is being hand made in Holland.

We are promised a bit of warm sunshine tomorrow.  I hope that this doesn’t turn out to be another joke.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch who sneaked in among the chaffinches and siskins.

flying goldfinch

I don’t usually put pictures in a post which I didn’t take on the posting day but the computer failure meant that I couldn’t use this little lamb…

first lamb

…and as it was the first of the year, I have popped it in today.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s American adventure.  No prizes for guessing the name of this animal.

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We woke to an unexpected scene this morning….

snowy garden

…though it was only unexpected as it had arrived sooner than I was expecting.

There wasn’t that much of a snowy scene though when I walked down to the river after breakfast….

River Esk snow

…and although it was only just above freezing all day, the snow tended to fade away as quickly as it had come.

While it was there, it made a good background for a greenfinch on the feeder….

greenfinch

…and the brighter light showed off the rich colours on the back of a dunnock which often looks like a rather dowdy bird.

dunnock

It is one of my favourite garden birds.

 

I also like blue tits so I was pleased to see one in one of the sunny patches that interspersed the day.   You can see the nippy wind ruffling its  feathers.

blue tit

Because the wind was blowing briskly from the ‘wrong’ direction, the birds couldn’t hover when visiting the side of the feeder where I usually catch my flying visitors and there were very few birds today anyway, not surprising when this sort of thing happened.

snow

I stopped trying to get a FBotD shot and went off to have lunch at the Buccleuch Centre with Mrs Tootlepedal in an effort to forget the weather.  It worked well as we had an excellent meal.

After lunch, I settled down to work at my computer and time fairly flew by.  When I looked up, the sun was out again so I put on my coat and went for a short walk.  I was hoping to see river side birds and I wasn’t disappointed.

Mr Grumpy was catching some late afternoon rays…

heron

…and the ducks were doing likewise.

mallard

Crossing the Sawmill Brig, I looked down in the hope of seeing a dipper.

dipper

The Lumix did exceedingly well considering that it was quite far below me and in shadow.

The moss on the wall had survived the snow….

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…and I was impressed by the enthusiasm of this clump which had managed to find a place to grow between two cut logs.

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On the side of one of the logs, I could see the the seed holding cups of another moss.  The brown ones are empty (I think) and….

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…the green ones are still in business.

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In spite of the low sunshine, it was very nippy and the clouds behind Whita were beginning to look threatening…

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…so I took a picture of some fine pines…

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…put my camera in my pocket and headed home without stopping again.

I got in just as it started to snow.

It is promising to be colder and to snow more tomorrow.  What fun.  All the same, there are many parts of the country both to the south and north who are having a harder time than us so we mustn’t grumble.

Under the circumstances there is no flying bird of the day so the dunnock creeps into the frame instead.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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