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Posts Tagged ‘dunnock’

Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to The Newt.  They have made good use of an old tree trunk there, though I don’t think that anyone has cycled far on the bike in the picture.

the newt bike rack

Owing to being a bit dozy when I wrote last night’s post, I didn’t notice that my camera had recorded some garden pictures on its second card, so just to show that there is a bit of life in the garden even in January, here are the pictures that I took before going to Edinburgh yesterday.

garden yesterday

There may have been no birds at the feeder, but once again there were pairs of jackdaws in the walnut tree….

jackdaws in walnut

…whereas today saw the return of a small flock of goldfinches.

goldfinches in walnut

There was not much feeder activity though, partly because there was a good deal of coming and going from the house and partly because of the arrival of the sparrowhawk.

It sat in the plum tree for a moment before flying off empty handed.

sparrowhawk in plum tree

I had spotted the hawk through the kitchen window while I was sipping coffee with Dropscone, one of those responsible for the coming and going.

He arrived bringing not the traditional Friday treacle scones but a large pile of drop scones instead.  We managed to survive the shock.  He had had some eggs which needed using up, he told me.  I would have taken a picture of the large pile of scones but before I could get my camera out, some person or persons unknown had eaten them all.

Dropscone reported that the crows were still stealing golf balls on the golf course..

When he left, I tried to catch a bird at the feeder, but even when one or two did appear, they were so nervous that they flew off as soon as I approached the window.

It was a relatively calm day with a hint of blue sky and when Mrs Tootlepedal returned from the shops with some bananas, I took two of them, put them in my back pocket with some guava jelly cubes and went out for a cycle ride.

I wasn’t feeling particularly bright when I set off but the great Dr Velo soon put me to rights and I decided on a slightly more adventurous route than usual, heading onwards due west when I had got  over Callister, adding a bit more climbing than customary to my journey.

This is the view as I set out into the wide blue yonder on the far side of Callister.

tree at Falford

I stopped after ten miles and ate half a banana and a small cube of guava jelly and reflected on the subsidy regime which led to the planting of many small clumps of commercial conifers in the middle of pastureland.

view at Grange

My ride today was a story of rivers and streams, large and small.  Once I had climbed out of Wauchopedale by going over Callister, I dropped down into the valley of the Water of Milk…

Water of Milk

…home to two wind farms.  This is the Ewe Hill farm….

Ewe hill wind farm

…and some rolling countryside.

water of mile curves

I love the way the river curves along the valley floor but I am slightly less enamoured by the way that the road goes up and down as it winds along the hillside above.

I reached the top of the last little hill and stopped to note the pretty little church at Tundergarth.

Tundergarth church

I was following the hilly road to Lockerbie, home of the most unreliable station in Scotland, but I didn’t go as far as the town but turned off three miles earlier and followed the Water of Milk down this quiet back road.

road to castlemilk

I liked this back lit tree on the way.

tree near old A74

I was getting near to the major road and rail routes between Carlisle and Glasgow by this time.

This is the railway going over the Water of Milk on a modest viaduct…

railway viaduct water of milk

and this is my back road going under the motorway.

motorway bridge old A74

I followed the old main road to the south as it runs alongside the motorway and railway and saw the railway crossing another viaduct, this time over the Mein Water, which like the Water of Milk, joins the River Annan a few miles to the west.

railway viaduct near eaglesfiled

After a run down the old road, I came to Kirkpatrick Fleming and took the the road back towards Langholm.  It is a gently undulating road and I crossed the Logan Burn, the Cadgill Burn, the River Sark and the Glenzier Burn before dropping into Eskdale and following the course of the Esk for the last five miles north to Langholm

I couldn’t stop to take many more pictures on this section as I was running short of time to get home before it became too dark to cycle safely without lights, but I did have a pause with ten miles to go for a last half banana at Half Morton church.  There is a Korean Pine in the churchyard there.  The cones do not fall off the tree and the seeds are spread by birds or animals which feed on them.  This crop had been well eaten but there were still some cones relatively untouched.

korean pine in winter

I was helped by the wind to get home and the road was much less hilly than the first half of my trip.  This was reflected by the fact that the twenty miles out, over the hills and into the wind, took me 1 hour 47 minutes and the second twenty miles back only needed 1 hour 26 minutes.  That’s what I call a well chosen route.

The house was empty when I got home because Mrs Tootlepedal was at the Buccleuch Centre enjoying a tip top tip toe experience at a screening of the Sleeping Beauty by the Royal Ballet.  With the accompanying chat and two long intervals, this screening took her longer to sit through than it had taken me to cycle 40 miles.  We both considered that our time was well spent.

As I was splattered with grit from a passing gritting lorry as I cycled up the A7 back into Langholm, I expect that it will be a frosty morning tomorrow, so it will be touch and go whether I get another cycle ride or have to go for a walk instead.

I completely failed again and two collared doves looking down at the feeder from the electricity wires are acting as flying birds of the day today.

two collared doves

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A birthday and a puzzle

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony and shows the sun shining in East Wemyss.  He tells us that it does rain too and you can indeed see a puddle in the picture.  He tells me that his phone does the rather dramatic editing without being asked.

wemyss teasels

A brief blog today as there was little opportunity for taking photographs in the continued absence of any birds in the garden.  This is very strange.

We went to Edinburgh as we usually do on a Thursday but this time, we added another family member to our collection and had lunch with our elder son Tony and his partner Marianne.

We were very pleased to get to Edinburgh at all as the railway company that runs the trains through Lockerbie reached new depths of incompetence today and having cancelled two early trains through a train fault and driver shortage, then had to close the line entirely south of Carlisle because the overhead lines had collapsed.

We drove the forty miles to Tweedbank instead and caught a slow (but more reliable) train to Edinburgh from there.  Luckily the weather stayed calm and dry and the traffic was light so the drive up was  a pleasure and the drive back in the dark was no great hardship.

It was Tony’s birthday today so we stood him lunch and bought him a nice steak for a birthday meal when he got home. He wants to point out that he is not fifty yet.

Our transport woes for the day weren’t quite over because after our meal with Tony, the bus we were travelling on to get to Matilda’s broke down and we had to change to another one.  We got there in the end though and enjoyed lending a helping hand in the completion of not one but two jigsaw puzzles.

matilda jigsaw

Matilda had taken part in the annual show put on by her dancing school last Sunday and someone kindly took this lovely picture of the dancer prepared for action.

matilda ballerina

The show went very well and Matilda was presented with a rose for being the most improved pupil in the ballet class.  She was modestly proud.  We were very proud.

The forecast says that we might see some sunshine tomorrow so I am hoping that it will be warm enough for a bicycle ride.,

The only bird in the garden that I saw before we left for Edinburgh was one of our resident dunnocks.  This is the second day running that a dunnock has had to stand in fro the flying bird of the day.

dunnock on wire

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset corespondent, Venetia.  She visited the wonderfully named ‘The Newt’ estate where she came across this excellent sinuous bridge.

bridge the newt

Although we are not completely free from the threat of wet and windy weather yet, we awoke to a grey but dry day today.  The wind was still too brisk to make cycling fun though.

After breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal had some business to attend to and I went to our shop for supplies.  We had a cup of coffee when we had both returned and then we went for a walk.

Mrs Tootlepedal likes a bit of novelty in a walk if she can get it, so we drove three miles out of town and embarked on a walk up the track alongside the Esk from the Burnfoot Bridge to the Bentpath bridge and back again.

burnfoot and benty bridges

Burnfoot Bridge on the left and Bentpath Bridge on the right.

It was a well chosen route as it was sheltered from the brisk and chilly wind for the most part.

Although we were not far from Langholm, it was noticeable that the walls were built in a different style to the ones round us, using smaller stones probably collected from the river.

burnfoot track wall

The end of one of the walls gave a neat demonstration of their sloping construction.

wall end westerhall track

We didn’t see much of the river itself as there are trees along the bank all the way, but we did get some very pleasant views of the rolling country on the other side of the track.

Burnfoot track view

As we walked on, the rough track became a smooth road and we entered the grounds of the Westerhall estate, which has impressive stone gateposts at each end.

westerhall estate gates

A little sunshine at this point made the walk even more enjoyable.

westerhall road 2

Westerhall has some lovely woods and interesting buildings among them.

westerhall buildings

The grounds are well looked after and a broad grass avenue leads up the hill away from the house. The sharp eyed will be able to spot another little building in the distance at the top of the hill.

westerhall ride

In fact several grassy paths lead through the woodland with some rather grand steps on the way.

westerhall steps

We stuck to the road though…

westerhall road

…and walked on until we got to the church and churchyard at the village of Bentpath.

westerkirk mausoleum and church

Among the graves, some bearing the names of many different members of the same family, there is a mausoleum designed by Robert Adams which was built for John Johnstone.  The mausoleum is a fine example of the use of the Greek Doric Order in a building. It actually contains the remains of John’s father, Sir James Johnstone of Westerhall (1726-94). The mausoleum is built in ashlar, with a prominent lead covered dome. The front features two pairs of columns supporting a pediment and frieze decorated with ox-skulls.

You can still see the ox skull decorations and one of the gravestones beside the mausoleum has a spectacular show of moss and algae.

Westerkirk churchyard

On our way through the estate, we had seen a good looking example of an orange witch hazel….

westerhall witch hazel

…and when we got to the bridge at Bentpath, there was an even finer yellow variety.

witch hazel at bridge

It was just behind a very nicely situated bench…

seat at benty bridge

…where we had a sit down and a snack as it was one o’clock and lunchtime.  I had bought some dates with me but Mrs Tootlepedal had gone for a banana.  To make things perfect, we only needed a glass of wine and a loaf of bread but we hadn’t brought those.

We didn’t stop for long and were soon on our way back to the car.

We stopped to admire the very unusual semicircular bridge over the Kirk Burn…

kirk burn bridge westerhall

…and the Kirk Burn itself which was splashing down towards the Esk in fine style.

westerhall kirk burn

The grounds of Westerhall have a lot of good looking rhododendrons and azaleas and we intend to come back when they are out in the spring.  In the meantime, a big patch of dogwood was giving a little winter colour.

westerhall dogwood

I had taken nearly fifty pictures on the outward leg so we didn’t stop for many on the way back.  We did stop to look at buzzards circling too high in the sky to be within camera range.  Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a hen harrier hunting over the hill as we drove towards Burnfoot on our way to the walk and she thought that she might have spotted it again as we walked, but it flew out of range before she could get her binoculars on it so it may just have been another buzzard.

The sight of Burnfoot House tucked in below Douglen Hill…

 

burnfoot and dowglen hill

…signalled that we were nearly at the end of our walk.

We had covered just under four and half miles and thanks to taking many photos and watching many buzzards, we had spent almost exactly two very rewarding hours in going the distance.

By the time that we had had a bowl of soup and a cracker with cheese when we got home to add to our very light lunch at Bentpath, the light was beginning to fail.  Mrs Tootlepedal did go out into the garden with a view to doing something useful but it was too gloomy and too chilly and too windy so she came back in.

Perhaps because of the stiff breeze, gusting up to 40 mph according to the Met Office, there were no birds on the feeder at all today when I looked.  The only bird that I did see was this dunnock in the mirk of the late afternoon, and so it is the non flying bird of the day.

dunnock

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s visit to Liverpool.  He bumped into a bunch of lads on the street but they  gave him the cold shoulder.

beatles

Just as I was going to bed (rather late) last night, I was tempted to look out of the window and a bright and almost full moon made me go and get my camera.

moon nearly full

It is a pity that the skies are not clear tonight as not only is the moon full but there is a lunar eclipse which would have been fun to watch.

Still, you can’t have everything and I did start the day off with coffee and treacle scones as Dropscone arrived bearing gifts.  He also brought a very sad tale with him.

He told me that he had lost nine balls in one round while playing golf recently.  I was shocked and worried that he had forgotten how to play properly.  However, it turned out that it wasn’t incompetence but a thieving crow (or crows) that was responsible for the mayhem.  The Langholm Golf Club has been plagued by crows brazenly stealing golf balls from the middle of the fairway for the last couple of weeks.

Dropscone estimates that as many as 100 balls may have been pilfered.  Somewhere around the town, there must be a huge stash but no-one has been able to pinpoint its whereabouts yet.

I checked some of my informants.

This goldfinch claimed that it knows nothing.

goldfinch close up

And a green finch was insulted by even being asked about it.

greenfinch staring

And a dunnock ignored my questions entirely.

dunnock on kerb

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I decided on a walk.  It had been freezing in the early morning but the temperature had got up to 4 degrees C, too cold for worry free cycling but fine for a winter walk.  I had a stroll round the garden before we went, and liked the droplets on the perennial nasturtium.

nasturtium with droplets

Many of the hills round the town had low cloud down on them as we drove off in the car but when we parked near the top of Callister five miles away, there was sunshine to greet our walk along the forestry track.

westwater walk

We last walked along this track three months ago and this second visit was well worth while as the track is home to all sorts of interesting things, such as pixie cup lichen growing on flat ground, not a common sight…

pixie cup lichen on ground

…and self seeded Christmas trees along the verge…

self seeded xmas tree

….as well as some very bright red moss sporangia.

red moss sporanges

We had to look where we were going when we got to a shady section of the track higher up the hill as there was still some snow lying…

snow on westwater track

…but at least we were in the sunshine while neighbouring hills still had their heads in the clouds.

clouds on hills

We could see the Ewe Hill Wind farm on the horizon at our turning point…

ewes windfarm from westwater track

…where we paused for a moment and wondered whether we should go down a steep hill in the hope of finding a different way back to the road.

clouds and blue sky

As you can see from the picture above, there was plenty of blue sky about but you had to look straight up to see it.  We decided against going down the hill and retraced our steps.

There was a nippy wind blowing in our faces as we went back towards the car and I was pleased to have my new jacket with a capacious hood to protect me from the chill.   Mrs Tootlepedal kindly took a picture of the jacket in action in reply to request for a picture from a couple of readers.

new jacket

Although my ankles may look a bit exposed, they are well covered by water and windproof socks which do a good job of keeping my feet warm, and my shoes are waterproof too so I was very snug

Another wind farm at the Craig came into view on our way home and as the sun had down a good job of clearing snow from the track….

viw of craig windfarm from westwater track

…I was able to have a good look for lichen…

three sorts of lichen

…as we walked back into the sun towards the car.

Mrs Tootlepedal had her big coat on too.Mrs T westwater track

Although it wasn’t a long walk, it had felt very good to be out and about and we enjoyed it thoroughly, especially as the weather tomorrow looks as though it is going to be quite bad with rain and a gale, and not suitable for outdoor life at all.

After our long day yesterday, we were happy to have a quiet time once we got home and we let the rest of the day drift away peacefully.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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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 my nephew Dan who is in Tromsø in Norway.  It rained so much that he and his companion had to take refuge in the Tromsdalen Church, sometimes called the Arctic Cathedral.

Tromsø Tromsdalen Church or the Arctic Cathedral

The forecast, which had suggested a sunny day and a temperature of five degrees by lunchtime, was partially right.  We did have a beautifully sunny day but the temperature  was still below two degrees at lunchtime, and the lawn was still covered in frost.

frozen lawn

Any thoughts of cycling had had to be abandoned.

Circumstances have not been kind to my cycling ambitions in November and December and after doing sixteen hundred miles in the four months from July to October, I have barely done three hundred miles in the last two months of the year.  I am hoping for no injuries and better weather next year.  I started this year hoping to do 4000 miles and have had to settle for a little bit over 3000 instead, but I have done more walking recently so I am reasonably content.

The roads were a bit icy in the morning so I did the crossword, had coffee and watched the birds.

They were looking cheerful in the sun.

sunny chaffinch

A dunnock tried to look like a heron…

sunny dunnock

…and a siskin tried to find someone to argue with…

sunny siskin

…while the robin made a welcome re-appearance after a few days of being invisible.

sunny robin

The bird that I was most pleased to see was this lesser redpoll, the first one that I have seen this winter.

first redpoll of winter

After lunch, I set out to make some use of the sunshine.  I still had to tread carefully while I was in the town as there were icy spots here and there, but once I got onto the track up Warbla, the going was good.

It was easy to see where the fields had been in shadow during the morning.

sheep in sunshine

Looking across the Wauchope valley,  I could see a favourite little ridge, Naze Hill, which is pleasingly symmetrical.

naze hill

I had to pay some attention to where I was walking as well as looking at the view because there were icy puddles on the track.

ice on warbla

I tried to avoid taking too many pictures because I posted quite a few shots of this walk not long ago when I came the same hill with Mrs Tootlepedal, but it was such a lovely day that I had to take one or two when I got to the summit.

view up esk valley from warbla

Holmwood and the Esk Valley

langholm from warbla

Langholm and the Ewes Valley

On this occasion, I did not go back home by walking down the way that I had come up.  I headed on down the far side of the hill, roughly following the line of the electricity poles which would take me down to Skippers Bridge in the end.

view of way south from warbla

It was rough ground but the frost kept things firm and made the moss look very festive.

frozen moss

Towards the bottom of the hill, I was on the shady side of the ridge and there was a distinct chill about.

two warbla trees

As I walked down to the main road, I was surprised to see some hair ice beside the path, but as I went on, I could see that there was a lot of it about.

hair ice

Wikipedia tells me:

In the year 2015, German and Swiss scientists identified the fungus Exidiopsis effusa as key to the formation of hair ice. The fungus was found on every hair ice sample examined by the researchers, and disabling the fungus with fungicide or hot water prevented hair ice formation.  The fungus shapes the ice into fine hairs through an uncertain mechanism and likely stabilizes it by providing a recrystallization inhibitor similar to antifreeze proteins.

The fungus must be spreading round Langholm because I see more hair ice every year.

I crossed Skippers Bridge and walked back to the town along the river bank.  There is a fine tree beside the river at the Co-op store.  It has some good fungus and a mysterious tag which has been nailed on to it.

tree at Co-op

I have noticed several trees round the town with these little tags on them and would welcome help from any reader who can shed light on what they are for.

The sun was still high enough to shine on me when I got back to the town so instead of crossing the suspension  bridge, I continued on to the Kilngreen and had a word with the gulls.  They were also enjoying the sun.

gulls on grass

I crossed the Sawmill Brig and walked round the bottom of the Castleholm, where the castle was doing a little basking in the  sun too…

Langholm castle in sun

…and went home via the Jubilee Bridge and our corner shop.  Our neighbour Liz was doing a little shopping there too so we walked home together.

I had done five miles and that proved quite enough exercise for me for the day.  I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening doing some creative sofa slumping.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has taken the time to read the blog over the past year, and in particular those who have added the always polite and often informative comments that make writing the blog feel worthwhile for me.

I hope that 2020 brings readers all that they might wish and a little bit more.

I personally am keeping my fingers crossed that our National Health Service can weather the storms ahead.  Our church organist Henry, who drives a bus for a living, recently had to wait three minutes to get an emergency call answered when a passenger had an epileptic fit on his bus.  When his call was finally answered, the call handler told him that as his passenger wasn’t actually dying, no ambulance would be sent out.  This is not very satisfactory.  Voters will have to learn that there is a crucial link between paying taxes and having a good health service and politicians will need to learn that leaving sick people lying beside roads at night is a matter of great shame in a civilised country. (Henry took the patient home in his bus.)

On that cheerful note, I end by wishing all and sundry a very happy new year.  I hope to meet you all again next year.

The flying bird of the day is a gull, disturbed by an elderly walker and heading for a fence post.

gull landing on post

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He recently found himself on top of Bosley Cloud, a 1125ft eminence on the Staffordshire- Cheshire border with, according to to the Visit Cheshire website, stunning views over the surrounding countryside.  It lived up to its name when my brother was there though, and there was a marked absence of views, stunning or otherwise.

Bosley Cloud

We had plenty of clouds here today as well.  In fact it was so gloomy that when I threw open the curtains to welcome the day, the room actually got darker.

Still, we sang some cheerful Christmas carols when we got to church.  Our new minister takes the view that Christmas is too good to be wasted on just one Sunday in the year.   I agree.  We returned home for coffee and a mince pie and as I added a modicum of brandy butter to mine, all was well with the world in spite of the dark clouds.

After lunch, we considered our options.  It was dry and warm (7°C) so I considered a bike ride but checking on the wind, I found that gusts of up to 30 mph were expected. Mrs Tootlepedal fancied some exercise so she and I went off for another walk instead.

After yesterday’s tramp up hill and over rough terrain, Mrs Tootlepedal called for a flatter route on dry roads today so we drove down to the Hollows Bridge and walked the three mile Canonbie circle along to the village by the top road and back by the old main road beside the river.

Mrs Tootlepedal stopped to read an historical information board by the Hollows bridge and I checked to see if there were still stone statues in the wood there.

hollows sculptures

We crossed the bridge and stopped to talk to the owner of the Archimedes screw who was just setting off for a family walk and then we took the top road to Canonbie.

I was very impressed by the neat appearance of a hedge in a field beside the road.

hollows hedge

Purists may think that it is a bit too sparse to be effective as a hedge but as it has a wire fence right behind it, that doesn’t matter too much.

As is often the case, the weather had got much better once we had got south of Langholm and out of the hills.  Looking back as we went up the top road, we could see the impressive gloom over the town behind us.

looking back to langholm

Even without the dark clouds overhead, it wasn’t sunny and as we walked along a stretch of road between a conifer wood and a tall beech hedge, the camera was unimpressed by the amount of light available.

hollws road hedge

It was able to pick up a crop of catkins though, a reminder that we are on our way towards spring now.

catkins

We passed a lot of good trees along our route but this one was my choice for tree of the day.

hollws road tree

The road to the village took us along the top of a steep escarpment above the river and I could look down on Canonbie church, which almost seemed to be catching a hint of sunshine.

Canonbie Church

Mrs Tootlepedal called my attention to a dunnock.  As a dunnock is also called a hedge sparrow, it was good to see one living up to its name by posing on a hedge for me.

dunnokc on hedge Canonbie

(It turns out that a dunnock is not a sparrow at all but an accentor.)

Although we weren’t in sunshine, there was blue sky above our heads, we were sheltered from any wind and we had left the black Langholm cloud behind us so walking was very comfortable.

cloud front

We passed a fir tree in a garden before we got to the village.  It was covered in smallish upright cones and looked very like a Korean pine but with brown not blue cones.

pine tree canonbie

As we walked down the path to the village, Mrs Tootlepedal noticed this bracket fungus on the fence rail.  It is unusual to see them on treated wood like this.

bracket fungus on fence canonbie

Canonbie’s Public Hall has a fine clock which celebrates the centenary of the hall in 2012.

canonbie hall clock

We crossed the river Esk by the newly resurfaced Canonbie bridge and walked along the old main road back to the Hollows Bridge.  There was a moment when the sun actually shone on us and we could see our chadows…

shadows on old A7

…but it didn’t last and the sun was so low anyway that the trees on the far bank of the river were looking very sombre.

trees on Esk escarpment Canonbie

It wasn’t a day for sitting at the fine new bench at the lay-by and having a picnic.

Canonbie bench

Rather worryingly, the back cloud over Langholm seemed to be slipping south and was getting nearer and nearer to us.

cloud front canonbie

This lent a bit of urgency to the last half mile of our journey but I still had time to admire a monkey puzzle tree in a garden at Byreburnfoot.

I liked the way that its bottom branches pointed down, its top branches pointed up and the ones in the middle were absolutely pointing neither up nor down.

monkey puzzle byreburn

I was considering the habits of walls on our walk last Saturday and this wall at the Byreburnfoot Bridge was another example of the curious behaviour of nature. The wall is more or less totally black until it gets to the bridge itself when it suddenly becomes covered with pale lichen.

byreburn bridge with Mrs t

It’s another mystery.

It didn’t rain and we got back to the car after three miles of gentle exercise.  The weather looked very black as we drove back to Langholm but even there, it wasn’t raining.  The Met Office says that the humidity today has been around 95% so I have no idea why it hasn’t rained.  I am not complaining though.

It was too dark to get a satisfactory flying bird today so the best that I can do is to show one of our resident garden dunnocks standing in for the absent fliers.

dunnock in garden

 

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