Posts Tagged ‘dog tooth violet’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dylan, the son of Marianne, our son Tony’s partner.  He spotted a big bee among some fine blossom.

dylan's bee

We had a day of wall to wall sunshine here.  Once again the wind was brisk and somewhat chilly, but if you could get out of the wind, it was very pleasant.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day hunched over the computer doing rather dull administrative work for the community buy out group, and that left me at a loose end as far as the garden went.

I did go out into the garden a lot and I did do some rather unfocused and desultory work but my chief interest was to see if I could spot a butterfly or two in the sunshine.

Not a single butterfly fluttered by, but I did see some other things, like this first dog tooth violet flower of the year…

first trout lily

…and lots of tulips wide open to the sun…

tulips panel

…and an almost complete drumstick primula and some cheerful lamium flowers.

primula and lamium

I went round to the (corner) shop and on my way back I didn’t see any oyster catchers but I did see a profusion of Lady’s Smock which has sprung up on the bank of the river.

lady's mantle esk

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is another Cardamine or cuckoo flower but we still haven’t heard any cuckoos.

I noticed that the heron which keeps watch over our pond seemed to have its spring plumage on today…

painted heron

…and I suspect that Mrs Tootlepedal has been been busy with her paint brush.

One thing that you can say about our handsome heron is that it won’t be a threat to this frog which appeared in the pond this morning.

frog april

Although our feeder is not at all busy, there are quite a lot of birds about.  This jackdaw looked as though it was holding on tight in the brisk breeze…

plum[p jackdaw

…but a sparrow on a stalk looked much more stable.

sparrow on stalk

There were a lot of sparrows about and this was my favourite of the day.

sparrow on branch

I made some tomato soup for lunch and then managed to get myself organised to take my permitted exercise in the shape of a walk.

Because we are not supposed to drive to somewhere to walk, I am following in my own footsteps a lot these days but when the weather is as nice as it was today, that is no great hardship.

I went up the road to the Auld Stane Brig and popped down to look at the Wauchope Water on my way.  It was very peaceful in the shelter there…

peaceful wauchope

…and the water was rippling gently over the stones.

stones underwater

Up on the hill past the bridge, it was a different matter which this tree summed up rather well.

balsted tree

As I walked back down the track, I saw a bird.  If anyone tells me that this is a thrush and not a meadow pipit, I shall be very disappointed as it really does look like a meadow pipit to me.

meadow pipit

I walked through the Kernigal wood again

four walk views

…but this time, I kept going and took the track down to the river at Skippers Bridge and then walked back along the Murtholm and up the track to the Stubholm. I had hoped to see bluebells but I didn’t spot any and had to make do with other welcome signs of spring on my way.

four sping branches

A reader asked me if the new larch needles were soft or bristly and I can report that they are very soft at this stage of their development.

I came down through the park and walked along to the bank of the Esk to see if the oyster catchers were back.

There were no oyster catchers but I enjoyed these sculptural buds….

blossom buds

…and a pair of goosanders fishing in the river.

two goosanders

I met my friends Bob and Nancy out for their walk beside the river and they told me that I must have just missed bluebells on my stroll as they had seen some very near to where I had walked. I will go back soon and have another look.

When I got home, I had a cup of tea and a toasted tea cake, and followed that with a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She saw the thing that I had been looking for all day, a peacock butterfly.

peacock butterfly

The butterfly flew off, Mrs Tootlepedal went back in to do some more computer work and I checked on some more birds.  A jackdaw flew up on to our roof and revealed that it was the bird with the white wing feather.

flying jackdaw white

A dunnock stopped racing and chasing round the garden for long enough for me to take a portrait…

dunnock on hedge

…and then set off again.

I don’t lead a wildly exciting life at the best of times but the present situation is even less exciting than usual and there seems to be nothing to think about that offers pleasing prospects so I apologise if the run of posts at the moment are a bit lacking in zest.  Like toilet paper and yeast, zest is in short supply just now.

But I did get a very handsome starling for the flying bird of the day with its wings catching the evening sun.

flying starling

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s African trip.  She met a number of alarming animals as she went along.

Nile crocodile

My day started with a visit to the doctor to inquire about the possibility of a miracle cure and consult about the blood test results following my mild anaemia.  The blood results could not have been better as all my levels were just about as good as they could be.  The doctor declared that I was in perfect health and I was almost embarrassed to mention my foot trouble and show her my swollen foot.

Her diagnosis was osteoarthritis due to wear and tear and the miracle cure was thus not available.  She has sent me off for an x-ray though in case I have got some other damage in my foot.  As that will probably take two weeks to happen, I shall continue to hobble around muttering balefully meanwhile.

It was a lovely day though so that cheered me up when I got back into the garden, especially when I found out that Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy putting a neat edge on the middle lawn.

edged lawn

Nothing makes a lawn look better than a neat edge.

I did the edges of the front lawn and then took a look round.  In the pond, the tadpoles are still in a heap but they are looking quite healthy and should start swimming around soon.


It was such a perfect day that I thought that I might test out the idea that had been put into my head by Stan at our last camera club meeting and try what a mirror could do.

The dog tooth violet seemed like a good subject as it hangs its head down so I stuck the mirror underneath it and had a go with my little Lumix.

violet with mirror

The result was very satisfactory in that I got a shot which I don’t think that I could have got by any other method without picking the flower.

violet in mirror (2)

I got my Nikon out, put the macro lens on and tried a few other flowers with the mirror technique.

A hellebore…

hellebore in mirror

…a scylla…

scylla in mirror

…and back to the violet again.

violet in mirror

I am grateful to Stan as it is obviously a really promising idea….though if I am seen walking through the woods with a shaving mirror in my hand, I may get some odd looks.

While I had the macro lens on, I peered at the euphorbia…

euphorbia in sunshine

…the doronicum…


…and the nameless little white flowers.

two little white flowers

I noticed the very first dicentra of the year…

first dicentra

…and Mrs Tootlepedal noticed that there were several ladybirds about too.

ladybird in garden

Mrs Tootlepedal went in to cook some sticky toffee pudding and I stayed out in the garden and was very pleased to get a visit from a man from the power company who had come to inspect our wobbly electricity pole,  He gave the bottom of the pole some savage whacks with a hammer and decided that the telephone men had been wise not to climb up it.  It has to go and after some consideration of the possibility of digging trenches through three gardens (as the pole serves three houses), he decided that putting up a new pole would be the way to go.  To avoid wrecking Mrs Tootlepedal’s garden, the hole for the pole will be hand dug.  This will make for interesting work for the apprentices whose job it will be to dig the hole.

In the end, as we were going to Edinburgh as usual to visit Matilda, I had to leave the garden reluctantly and make a little lunch.  I watched the birds as the soup heated.

In spite of a free perch on the other side of the feeder, a lady chaffinch thought that it was quite all right to trample on an innocent goldfinch.

chaffinch stamping goldfinch

To try to tempt some different birds to come to the feeders, I have put out some peanuts.  Mrs Tootlepedal saw a blue tit visit but the only bird I saw nibbling on the nuts was this siskin.

siskin on peanuts

On the whole, the sunflower hearts seem much more attractive than the peanuts and the birds were jumping at the chance to get a seed.

siskin landing

The trip to Edinburgh was delightful, with the train on time and the countryside looking at its best in the sun.

When we got there, Matilda was away from home practising a dance routine for a forthcoming competition so I had a moment to take a very short stroll through the nearby Botanic gardens.

It was a good place to be.


Matilda returned and we had time for a chat before a meal of asparagus and lemon linguine cooked by Al and Mrs Tootlepedal’s sticky toffee pudding.  Al and Clare are in the middle of moving to their new house and we hope to be able to see it with the furniture and floors in soon.

The journey home went well so apart from still having a sore foot, it was a very satisfactory day.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my neighbour Gavin, who is on a trip to see family in the USA.  They have been been visiting Yosemite.


There was some every nice sunny weather when we got up but the wind soon got up too and if you weren’t in the sun, it was decidedly cool.

Being Sunday, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir and I made a lamb stew for the slow cooker.  I didn’t go cycling when I had finished though as there were more important things to do today.

Needless to say I had my mind on turning compost so that I could start getting my new bins installed.  By going very carefully, using a small fork and taking frequent rests, I managed to empty Bin D, turn Bin C into Bin D and then turn Bin B into Bin C.

In the rests between turning, I looked into tulips.



It’s wonderful to get such a variety  of shades and styles but I notice that they all have six stamens.  There’s probably some tulip rule about that.

I had the occasional sit down inside as well which let me watch the birds for a bit. Female chaffinches were to the fore…

female chaffinches

…and a siskin wisely bailed out before being run into by a determined male chaffinch.

siskin and chaffinch

Out in the garden, the dog tooth violets are in full swing.

dog tooth violets

I even saw a butterfly but as I didn’t have my camera with me, you’ll have to take my word for that.  I saw a couple of butterflies while I was out cycling yesterday so I am hoping to see a few more in the garden soon.

When Mrs Tootlepedal came home, we had some lunch and then we loaded up the car with clippings from the yew and two box balls which had been savaged by Attila the Gardener and took them off to the council dump near Annan.

When we got back, Mrs Tootlepedal suggested that we should take a trip up to the Langholm Moor and see if we could see the goats that people keep tell us we are missing. We had hopes of perhaps seeing a hen harrier too, although it had clouded over by this time.

It was very hazy so there were no views to be had and as we drove over the hill to the county boundary, there were no goats either.   We did see a buzzard high in the sky above us but we turned for home feeling that once again, we had missed the goats.

 I stopped the car as we came down into the Tarras valley in order to take a rather gloomy shot of one of my favourite bridges…..

Tarras Bridge

…and while we were stopped, the sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal thought that she saw a goat on the far side of the river.  When I looked, I saw another two so we drove over the bridge and looked around.

We didn’t have to be very sharp eyed to see a lot more goats.

Tarras goats

There were goats and kids all over the place.  I don’t how we had missed them on our way out.

One of the kids was bleating furiously and I could hear an answering bleat from some distance away.  When I looked down the bank, I could see a goat sprinting along the far bank of the river.

Tarras goats

It came to the bridge and went tip tapping over it with no regard for trolls at all….

Tarras goats

…and was soon reunited with the kid.

The goats weren’t at all bothered by us and I was able to walk along the road side snapping away without disturbing them.

Tarras goats

I don’t often get a chance like this so I overindulged a bit.

Tarras goats

These are genuinely wild goats but they were very calm today.

Tarras goats

Tarras goats

Tarras goats

They were as curious about me as i was about them.

Tarras goats

Tarras goats

Tarras goats

Although we could have happily stayed and watched them for quite a lot longer,, we left the goats in the hope of seeing a hen harrier before the light faded…

Tarras goats

…and drove on.

Before we left, I did take a picture of a sheep which was standing nearby so that anyone who is having trouble in separating their goats from their sheep can tell the difference.

tarras sheep

We didn’t see a harrier, just another buzzard circling in the sky but we did see several grouse.  Sadly, the light had gone too far to take a picture by this time.

When we got home, I took some advice from Mrs Tootlepedal, borrowed her spirit level and set about demolishing the old compost Bin B and installing the bottom layers of the new bin.

I got the bottom section level….

spirit level

…installed the next layer and started turning Bin A into the new Bin B.  It was a pleasure to use such a handsome new bin.

compost bins

…and we soon had three layers of the new bin filled.

compost bins

Here are Bins A to D in a row.

It just remains to finish turning Bin A into Bin B (which has two more layers to put on if needed) and then build the new Bin A.  With a little good weather, that should happen tomorrow.  The beauty of the modular bins is that I never have to lean in deeply to dig out the compost and I never have to lift the compost any higher than is absolutely necessary.  These are important considerations for a man with a bad back.

We settled down to eat our lamb stew and watch the Masters golf tournament with a feeling of a day well spent.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch catching the morning sun..

flying chaffinch

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After yesterday’s railway bridge over the new Borders Railway, Dropscone’s guest picture of the day shows the shiny new railway itself as seen from the bridge.

Borders Railway

It was another fine day today but it was quite crisp in the early morning so I was happy to arrange to have  a cup of coffee with Sandy rather than have to wrap up in many layers and go for a pedal.

While I was waiting, I went to the shop and on my way back, I noticed that the aubretia that overhangs the dam at the back of the house was looking good…


….but I was surprised to see that the potentilla beside it had an additional feature…


…but at least it wasn’t chasing birds in the garden.

I am finding it very hard at the moment to pass the magnolia at the front gate without my shutter finger twitching.


The very first plum blossom is out.

pied wagtail

Sandy arrived and we were joined by our fellow archivist Nancy.  She came round not only for the pleasure of our charming and sophisticated company but also to get a fiver from each of us as we had sponsored her on a recent charity walk.  She raised £100 for the Archive Group so we were very happy to put in our contributions.

After coffee, it had warmed up a bit and in spite of a cool wind, I might have gone for a pedal but Sandy and I went for a walk instead.  He had been asked to provide some shots of efforts to enhance the natural beauty of the town so we focused on daffodils.

We went to see the daffs at Pool Corner first….

Pool Corner daffs

…and on our way we passed some fungus and lichen which detained us for a moment or two…

fungus and lichen

…and while we were there, we checked to see if the slow worms had been attracted by the warmth of the sun.  They had.

slow worm

Pool Corner itself, being well sheltered from the wind, was looking very peaceful.

Pool Corner

Our next stop was the stretch of daffodils along the Wauchope at Caroline Street.

Caroline Street daffodils

Then we walked along the grassy bank beside the Esk.

As well as more daffodils….

Elizabeth Street daffodils

…there were more delicate wild flowers…

cuckoo flower

As far as I am concerned, this was the first cuckoo of spring.

…and a wagtail to see as well.

pied wagtail

Our next stop was the Kilngreen where we met a very grey duck….

kilngreen duck

….though if we could have seen them, it would probably have had red feet like this other duck nearby….

duck feet

…and then we admired more daffodils leading up to the Sawmill Bridge.

duck feet

A dedicated band of volunteers have made great efforts over the years to make the town seem welcoming to visitors and residents alike.

A fine rock garden has been created at Clinthead.

Clinthead gardens

We had nutchtaches at the back of our minds so we walked along the path round the Castleholm, stopping once or twice….

Castleholm things

..or even three times, when things caught our eye.

We didn’t see the nuthatches but as we didn’t wait very long, this was not too surprising.  The call of lunch drove us home.

After lunch, I once again consider a pedal but the call of the front lawn demanded to be answered first…

Front lawn

Who knew that you can get stripes on moss?

…and when I had done that and sieved a little compost too, all thoughts of cycling were subordinated to the pressing need for a cup of tea and a sit down.  Mowing a very mossy lawn with a push mower is hard work.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very busy in the garden so I was able to do some light supervising after my rest and I combined this with some plant snapping…

euphorbia, dog tooth violet, daffodil

A developing euphorbia, our first dog tooth violet of the year and a smart, daffodil

…mixed in with a bit of bird staring.


Who needs a perch? A chaffinch pays the seed a flying visit.


Goldfinches working on a shift system, one in and one out

busy feeders

The feeders were as busy as ever.

The evenings are drawing out now and there was still plenty of time for a pedal in the early evening but by now, not cycling had become an ingrained habit and I didn’t cycle yet again.

It doesn’t need much of a chilly north westerly breeze to make me find other things to do these days.  I will try to be a bit more courageous tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin




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Today’s guest picture is from my brother Andrew and is another canal shot from his recent visit to Amsterdam.  I take the view that you can’t have too many canal shots.

Amsterdam canal

It was another dry day but with some cloud cover and a brisk north easterly wind, it felt quite chilly and I didn’t set out on the bike straight after breakfast but waited for a while.  I headed north up to Mosspaul with the intention of getting the benefit of the wind on the way home and things worked out as planned.  I took a laboured 55 minutes to puff steadily up the hill and a brisk 29 minutes to scoot the ten and a half miles back down.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had come back from singing in the church choir.  She had been thinking of going for a pedal herself but the lure of a dry day and the garden proved too strong and she spent most of the day toiling and tilling and transplanting.

I acted as official tulip photographer.  There were large clumps…


….small clumps….


…and inside workings.


She has got quite a lot of tulips about and there are still other varieties to come out.

I had to put a bit of blue in to balance the reds and yellows.

grape hyacinths

In the afternoon, I went to fetch our friend Jean who is a bit limited in her mobility at the moment but who wanted to come and see the garden.

Jean in the garden

After an extensive tour, she settled down for a nice cup of tea and a biscuit.

We were well sheltered from the wind in this corner of the garden and it was very pleasant to be able to sit outside and chat as we drank our tea.

While Jean was walking around the garden, I took a couple more flower shots.

Dog tooth violets

Dog tooth violets

Silver pear blossom

Silver pear blossom. We can’t look forward to eating silver pears as it is ornamental only.

I didn’t spend my whole time snapping flowers.


As Jean was getting ready to go, Sandy arrived, ready for a walk.  Mrs Tootlepedal drove Jean home and I got organised to go out with Sandy.  We decided on another nuthatch hunt and went back to the Castleholm.  At our first stop we caught a fleeting glimpse of a nuthatch…


…but when we looked at the nesting hole, we didn’t see a nuthatch in residence but a blue tit.

blue tit at nuthatch nest

It was busy taking nest material in and out.

blue tit at nuthatch nest

blue tit at nuthatch nest

We will follow events here with interest.

We walked on to another couple of possibles nests but saw nothing at either, not even a blue tit.

We had to console ourselves by admiring the wonderful lime trees.

limes on Castleholm

Sandy dropped me off and almost as soon as I had got in the door, Mrs Tootlepedal suggested a trip to the moor to look for  hen  harriers.  I agreed on the condition that she would drive and off we went.  We parked in the best spot for viewing harriers and didn’t have to wait long before one appeared low over the horizon.


It was too far away for my camera so Mrs Tootlepedal watched it with her binoculars as it skimmed first just above and then below the top of the hill.

I snoozed gently until woken by cries of, “There it is!”


“Over there, to the right….oh it’s gone behind the hill again.”


“No there it is….to the left now….no it’s gone behind the hill again.”

When we had had enough fun playing this game, we drove down the hill again, stopping to watch a buzzard hunting near the road.


When it soared away…


…we drove on.

The spell of sunny days seems to be coming to an end soon according to the forecast but it has been a real treat and we have tried to make the best of it with gardening, walking, cycling, bird watching and smiling.

The flying bird of day is a little siskin making for the feeder and passing the rather rusty pole that holds it up.

flying siskin




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