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Posts Tagged ‘dunnock’

Today’s guest picture(s) shows the wonderful flowers organised by Valeria, Joe’s sister-in-law, for Joe and Annie’s recent ceremony …..

cake

….some of which turned out to be entirely edible, pot and all.  There were made by the Botanical Baker.

cake cut

We had another fine day here and we are in danger of getting so used to good weather that it will come as a nasty shock when it starts raining again.

In the meantime, we are enjoying it.

We spent the morning in the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal working, and I wandering  about.  It was she who spotted the visitors though.

We usually have to wait until next month before we see a small tortoiseshell or….

small totoiseshell butterfly on chionodoxa

…a peacock butterfly…

peacock butterfly on chionodoxa

…so I don’t think that I can have ever taken a picture of a butterfly visiting scillas before.

And although the sight of a small tortoiseshell butterfly warming its wings in the sun on a paving stone is quite familiar…

small totoiseshell butterfly sunning

…I am pretty sure that this is my first ever shot of a peacock on a daffodil.

peacock butterfly on daff

To add to the garden of delights, a little flock of blue tits passed through and one sat one enough to get its picture taken.

bue tit in garden

At different times I took my pocket camera out to admire the flowers….

pulmonaria, buttercup, fritillary, scilla

…and my bird camera to do the same, though on this occasion my shot of the scillas was photobombed by a butterfly.

daffs, primrose and tortoiseshell

I spent some fruitless time trying to catch any of the many bees that were buzzing about but they would visit the hellebores and disappear into the down facing flowers.

The tidying up bug was in evidence again today, and we added a second shelf to our library of logs…

log library

…I finished the transfer of Bin B to Bin C (and an overflow to Bin D)…

compost in progress

…and Mrs Tootlepedal tidied up the greenhouse sufficiently to give her somewhere to have a rest after all the activity.

Mrs T resting

For the first time this year, it was positively warm in the garden and there was no need for a coat.

Once again, birds didn’t come to the feeder but the garden wasn’t entirely birdless by any means.  We have resident blackbirds and dunnocks.

blackbird and dunnock on fence

I made some brown lentil soup for lunch.  This was a triumph because to make brown lentil soup you both have to remember to soak the lentils over night, and then crucially, to remember that you have got soaked lentils ready for soup making the next day.

After lunch and a bit of a rest, I went out for my permitted exercise of the day.  (Mrs Tootlepedal is taking her exercise in the garden.)

As I had cycled yesterday, I walked today, and was quite happy to do so as by this time, the wind had got up and, coming from the north as it was, there was a distinct nip in the air at times.

Still, in sheltered spots, it was warm and I chose a few sheltered spots to pass through on my way.

Walk 2 Duchess Bridge

I was following the route of Walk 2 of the Langholm Walks, though in the ‘wrong’ direction.

wood at Breckonwrae

When I got out of the woods and onto the road to Potholm, the views of the woods…

Potholm hill ridge

…and hills on the far side of the river…

Potholm Hill

…..were quite good enough to make me ignore the breeze.

And if I got bored with the views, the famous two headed lambs of Milnholm were always a distraction.

milnholm lambs

I crossed the river by Potholm Bridge and and walked up the hill to the track back to Langholm,

This seat came in handy after the climb up the hill from the river and I rested there for a moment.

bench above potholm

There were plenty of clumps of wild primroses beside the track…

primroses Langfauld

…and views back towards the road that I had walked along earlier…

Looking back over Milnholm

…and I got back to the Castleholm in good order.  I spent some time there trying to see if I could spot the nuthatch that I saw the other day, but it wasn’t playing today so I went home.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy while I was out and had made another shelf for the log library.  We will fill it up tomorrow.

We had baked potatoes for tea followed by the forced rhubarb, glazed and roasted and served with custard for afters.

Once again a standing bird is standing in for the flying bird of the day.  In saw this lone oyster catcher as I came along the Esk  at the end of my afternoon exercise.

evening oyster catcher

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  He has discovered a fresh treacle mine.  Unfortunately, the discovery comes right at the time that Friday coffee and treacle scones might have to be put on hold, but that is life as it is just now.

treacle mine

We woke to some very welcome sunshine.  Apart from the usual brisk wind, it was definitely a day when you could think that it might be spring.

All the same, it took me a bit of time to get going.  I certainly didn’t spring into action after breakfast, so I didn’t make the best use of the sunshine.

I did pop round to the shop to do more some panic buying (another bottle of milk and some bananas) and then I watched the birds.

A dunnock was trying out the fake tree….

dunnock in fake tree

…and a redpoll was sampling the seed.

redpoll staring

For once the feeder wasn’t full of siskins and the chaffinches were making the most of their day in the sun…

chaffinches busy

…though concentration was still needed to make a safe landing on a feeder which was rocking in the wind.

chaffinch landing

After coffee, I went out into the garden and was pleased to find the ‘maincrop’ daffodils had come out…

three daffodils garden

…and the first of the chionodoxas was looking very fresh and cheerful.

chionodoxa

The tree peony is developing…

tree peony developing

…and the crocuses had stopped lying down and crying, and had opened their arms to the warmth.

crocuses open

Altogether, it was a pleasure to be in the garden amid the smiling faces.

daffodil garden

I did think of a bike ride but it was too windy for my taste.  Mrs Tootlepedal was still busy with her work so I went out for a walk while she went off to deliver the very last of the brochures in the town.

I checked on the daffodils at Pool Corner and was surprised but delighted to see the first bee of the year in action.

bumble bee

There seemed to be enough pollen about to make waking up worthwhile for it.   I think that this is a tree bumble bee.

Although the forecast had promised rain in the afternoon,  there were enough clouds about at midday to make me think that a brisk walk might be a good idea.  I was right.  As I went on, the sky clouded over and it was raining lightly by the time that I got home.

I took a picture or two on my way.  The moss on the wall at Pool Corner was looking very perky, and the lichen continues to enjoy the weather.  There was not much to see in the way of fungus but a fallen branch offered a little taste.

moss, lichen, fungus

I was looking for signs of spring, but I had to look pretty hard to see any.  The tree trunk pattern has nothing to do with spring but I liked it, so I have put it in regardless.

four things on Gaskells

As you can see, any flower, leaf or bud has to poke through moss or lichen to be seen

When I got back home, I checked on the pond.  There were no frogs to be seen but in spite of some chilly mornings, some potential tadpoles were about.  I will keep an eye on them.

tadpole potential

With a final glance at these encouraging flowers…

primroses garden

..I went in and combined watching some rather depressing news conferences and parliamentary committees with occasional looks at the birds before the serious rain started.

There are different ways of approaching the feeder.  A goldfinch took the high road….

high flying goldfinch

…while a chaffinch zoomed in low from behind.

stylish chaffinch

The kung fu siskin was back again…

kung fu siskin

…but the light got very bad so I stopped looking out of the window.

The day was punctuated by calls and texts cancelling our social life in the weeks ahead and now, like everyone else, I daresay, we have a calendar with nothing on it for the foreseeable future.  I should have been playing recorders with our group this evening but that was cancelled too.

On the plus side, the weather forecast is looking decidedly more cheerful over the next few days so I may be able to get a few cycling miles in, and that might take my mind off the rather gloomy prospects that stretch ahead.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Footnote:  I would like to take this opportunity to express the hope that all the readers of the blog come through the days, weeks or months of the life of this virus without taking any hurt.  It is a worrying time but I am going to try not to dwell on the negatives too much in future posts.  There is enough gloom about without me adding to it.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia,  She has gone to Morocco for a wild life holiday and is staying in this Ecolodge hotel, the Atlas Kasbah at Agadir.

Atlas Kasbah, Agadir

It was a grey day here with rain on and off in the morning.  Mrs Tootlepedal had to drive to Carlisle  to acquire clipboards, and as I thought that this might be a bit too exciting for me, I stayed at home and practised getting up very, very slowly.

Practice made perfect and I had just got fully up by the time that Mrs Tootlepedal returned.

I roused myself sufficiently to check the pond….

lone frog in pond

…look round the garden…

euphorbia march

…and cycle off to the shop to get some milk.

When I got back, I found that a second frog had appeared.

frog in pond with leg

Mrs Tootlepedal has called for some more peaceful bird pictures.  She has found the constant flurry of birds round the feeder can get a little exhausting for the viewer.

As a result, I kept an eye out for birds having a quiet moment like this dunnock…

dunnock on fake tree

…and I will try to intersperse today’s post with sitting bird images.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s project involves communication with the public at the moment, so there are envelopes to print, letters to be folded and brochures to be stuffed, all time consuming tasks.  I lent a hand at the envelope printing as our printer can only cope with ten envelopes at a time and Mrs Tootlepedal had already done several hundred.

A siskin in one of the rain showers.

siskin in rain

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do letter folding and I settled into to putting a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database,  I would have been happier about the progress that I was making at this task if I hadn’t discovered two more weeks waiting to be put in that I had somehow overlooked.

A chaffinch at rest.

chaffinch looking up

By the time that I had finished the archiving, the rain seemed to have stopped.  Although the forecast said it might rain some more, the percentage chance seemed low enough to risk a pedal.

The roads were swimming with water in places….

puddle at bessie bell's

…as we have had another  two inches of rain lately, but it was the wind that was the toughest thing to face.  Gusting up to 35 mph at times, there were moments when I thought that I might have just to give up and go home so slow did my progress become.

A redpoll.  (The camera finds it very hard to get a redpoll fully focussed for some reason.)

redpoll opn feeder

After three miles of battling into the wind, I turned off up the Cleuchfoot road just to get a crosswind instead of a straight buffeting.  As I came back down to Wauchope Schoolhouse, I could that Bloch Farm on the opposite side of the valley was enjoying some sunshine.

boch farm from cleuchfoot

A chaffinch thinking of lunch.

chaffinch on fake tree

This seemed hopeful and sure enough, I was soon pedalling along in sunshine too.  It didn’t make the wind any less pushy though, and it took me an hour to do the eight miles that took me to the far end of Callister.

Turning for home was nice!

I whizzed back down the hill, stopping to enjoy the view down Wauchopedale.

wauchope view evening

Goldfinches tend to look as though they might have indigestion.

goldfinch on feeder

Despite the sunshine, a large puddle in a field showed how much rain there had been.

puddle blochburnfoot

A chaffinch, lightly ruffled by the breeze.

standing chaffinch

But by the time that I had got back to the shelter of the town, the day looked as though butter wouldn’t melt in its mouth.

kirk bridge evening

Ooops, a flying goldfinch sneaked in unbeknownst to me.

hunched flying goldfinch

And there’s another!  Dreadful.

goldfinch near to feeder

Ah that’s better, a peaceful oyster catcher standing at the water’s edge in the evening shadows as I finished my ride.

oyster catcher two legs

I looked round the garden when I got home but no more frogs had arrived. I settled for some hellebore flowers.

hellebore

Mrs Tootlepedal came back with some letters that still needed folding so while I got the evening meal ready, I lent a hand with that task too.  The community land group are doing a vast amount of work.

The temperature crept up to 50° today but the rain and the strong wind didn’t make it feel very springlike.  We are being offered warnings of snow and ice for tomorrow!

In spite of Mrs Tootlepedal’s plea for quiet birds, the flying bird of the day is a flying siskin.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture once again arises from my brother Andrew taking his son on vigorous hill walks to help Nick prepare for a trek in Nepal.  Ignoring Storm Jorge’s strong winds, they battled up to the top of Bunster Hill and enjoyed this splendid view of the junction of the Rivers Dove and Manifold (and some traces of the recent flooding).

Manifold and Dove rivers

I did no hill climbing today, or indeed any exercise of note at all, apart from walking to church in the morning.  To be truthful, I walked back too, but that still didn’t amount to much.

I had felt so much better after my restful day yesterday that I decided that some more of the same would be a good idea.

I wasn’t entirely idle as I made a beef stew with carrots, turnip and parsnip for the slow cooker in the morning and a loaf of bread in the bread maker in the afternoon.

In between, I did some archive group work on the computer and watched the birds.

We have a small but select supply of redpolls at the moment…

redpoll looking round

…of which I approve, though I am not sure that this siskin is so keen on them.

redpoll and siskin

We had a good few chaffinches around and the siskins definitely didn’t approve of them…

siskin and chaffinch

…and any chaffinch approaching got a dusty welcome…

siskin blasting chaffinch

…and was quite likely to be blown away by the ferocity of the welcome.

siskin shouting at chaffinch

These goldfinches were more relaxed when a siskin approached them.

siskin threatening two goldfinches

I had a look round the garden before lunch but it was very cold in the brisk wind so I didn’t loiter and this encouraging azalea bud was the most exciting thing that I saw.

azalea bud 1 March

I was soon back inside, drinking coffee and watching the birds again.  A dunnock lurked among the flower stems…

dunnock among the plants

…and a pigeon arrived for some fallen seed…

pigeon head and shoulders

…while up above a goldfinch checked the feeder for aggressive siskins before venturing down.

quizzical goldfinch

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to sing with the community choir there.  We were early so I had time for another look round the garden with my phone camera in hand before we left.  This time some flowers caught my eye.

Mrs Tootlepedal has cleared some old dead stems from around the pink hellebores to give us a better view of them from the kitchen window.  They looked unusually cheerful about this, I thought.

hellebore

The first pulmonaria flowers have also appeared.

pulomonaria

When we got to the choir, we found that our usual conductor Ellen was not there and we were inclined to be a bit disappointed, but she had sent down a really excellent substitute, Andy.  He was in tremendously energetic form and passed on some very useful techniques for improving our singing at various points in our pieces as well as jollying us along to produce some really whole-hearted choral efforts.   We all left the practice feeling uplifted by the warmth of his personality on a cold day.

The drive home had two good points about it.  Firstly, it was still light the whole way home, and secondly, the starlings were in fine form overhead as we drove through Longtown.

The stew turned out well and it rounded off a day which was a great improvement on the one which dire forecasts of the malevolence of Storm Jorge had led us to expect. The forecast for next week suggests that we will have nothing more than a mild breeze until next weekend.  Some relief from strong winds will be very welcome.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Footnote: After my two quiet days, I am feeling pretty well, so I hope to be more active tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo on her visit to Australia.  She found that King Parrots are very partial to an offer of a snack.

IMG-2671

We had a bit of a contrast to Mary Jo’s sunny Queensland weather here, as the hills were covered in mist and the ground was white with sleety slush when we woke up.

Even the colours on the redpoll…

_20S7399

…and goldfinch seemed subdued.

_20S7404

It was raining in a persistent and mean minded way (when it wasn’t sleeting, that is) and going outside was not an attractive option.

So I stayed in and watched the birds.

Until I got bored and walked round to the shop to get milk.  I was protected from the worst of the wind and rain by a large umbrella.

After the delight of yesterday’s sunshine, it was not a colourful day….

P1030496

…but the route to the shop takes me along the waterside so there is always the chance of seeing something interesting.  Today it was a pair of oyster catchers keeping as snug as they could in the horrible conditions.

P1030498

Perhaps their posture is an example of keeping a weather eye open.

I took the milk home and then took myself off to visit Sandy, who is still housebound.

He was very cheerful and entertained me to coffee and excellent ginger cake.  On my way home, I stopped to look over the town to see if the prospects for the day had improved at all.

They hadn’t.

IMG_20200224_112622

When I got back, I put the bread maker to work and made some soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I had another look at the birds.  There was no shortage of customers for seeds…

_20S7403

…and the redpolls got into some keen competition for perches.

_20S7411

The winner returned to the perch, although it didn’t look very happy about it…

_20S7413

…while the loser sat on a pole and pretended that it didn’t care.

_20S7419

Down below, a dunnock merged into the background.

_20S7420

The wind dropped and after lunch, it stopped raining for long enough for me to put on my cycling gear.  Then, of course,  it started again.  I wasn’t going to take my gear off though, after all the bother of putting on what seemed like several hundred layers of warm clothing so I got my bike out and went off with hope in my heart and rain on my cycling glasses.

I was worried that the morning sleet might still be lying on the road in slushy patches but it was well above freezing and the rain had done its work so the road was clear.  It was running with water in many places and I was very glad to have a stout pair of waterproof socks to keep my feet warm and dry.

I had an unusual experience when a lorry coming the other way met me at one of these puddly spots.  As it approached me, and absolutely on purpose, it slowed down and passed me without splashing me.  I was so shocked that I nearly fell off my bike.

After three and a half miles when I got to Wauchope Schoolhouse and began to feel the wind in my face as I left the shelter of the valley, I considered the way ahead…

P1190535

…and went back to Langholm.

A bull in the field opposite was not impressed by my lack of get up and go.

P1190536

I took this picture on the way back and despite what you may think, it is a full colour shot.

P1190537

When I put it into my photo editor in the evening, I changed it into greyscale mode. It summed up the day when as far as I could see, nothing changed in the picture at all.  Truly a grey day.

I got back to Langholm and since the rain had stopped, I went round the town and pedalled back up to Wauchope Schoolhouse again. In the end, I squeezed sixteen miles out of a miserable afternoon but as it was my first cycle ride for two weeks, I was grateful to get any miles in at all.  And I felt a lot better for the exercise.

I put my bike away and went in to watch the birds again.  I had put a second feeder out in the morning as there seemed to be quite a lot of birds about, and both feeders were getting well used before I left with a selection of goldfinches, siskins and redpolls in action.

_20S7422

By the time that I got back, a lot of the seed had disappeared.  The redpolls and goldfinches had disappeared too and the siskins had taken over completely.

_20S7423

They were everywhere, under the feeders, on top of the feeders…

_20S7424

…all over the walnut tree…

_20S7425

…and on the feeders themselves.

_20S7426

I counted over a hundred of them in the garden.  I just wish that the light had been better so that I could have done them justice.  As it was, the rain started again and I went off to have a shower, leaving the skins to it.

_20S7429

When I came downstairs, I found that Mike Tinker had dropped in for a cup of tea so I joined him and Mrs Tootlepedal for a chat and some serious biscuit consumption.

When Mike left, it was time for my flute playing friend Luke to come round for our weekly burst of duets.  He told me that is going for a job interview tomorrow so I wished him luck.  I would employ him as he is a very sound lad.

The active day ended with a plate of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pie, always a good way to end a day.

Looking at the forecast, there seems to be no end to our run of cold, wet weather for the next week with only a very occasional glimpse of sunshine promised, so I am more pleased than ever to have sneaked a few miles in today.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch who arrived before the siskin invasion.

_20S7397

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My brother Andrew passed on this guest picture of the day from his son Nick.  The River Soar has burst its banks and Nick’s garden near Nottingham was in this state when he woke up this morning.

Nick's flood

We had another grey but dry day here today but the forecast is offering us a lot more rain to come.  I couldn’t take advantage of the weather to get out for a walk as I had a visit from a man looking for photographs in the morning.

We had a good look through eight years of pictures, courtesy of the excellent media search system on WordPress and selected ten possibilities.  That took time but was relatively easy.   Then I had to try to find the originals as the pictures I use on the blog are too small to be useful elsewhere,  This took a lot of time but I did find not only an old external hard drive but the connecting lead too so I was able to get originals of most of the selection.

This didn’t leave me a lot of time to look at birds, although my visitor kindly pointed out this resting blackbird as he passed by the window.

blackbird resting on hedge

It was a day of few birds but there were enough chaffinches about to annoy one of our resident dunnocks.

dunnock and chaffinch

One chaffinch is enough to annoy a dunncok.

Some birds did turn up in the end…

goldfinches

…but this one preferred to remain anonymous…

flying chaffinch hiding

…and reflections in the window spoiled this one’s efforts to become FBotD.

flying chaffinch with streaks

I walked round the garden but it has got colder again and crocuses, whether singly…

closed crocus with raindrops

…or in clumps, were sulking.

closed crocuses with raindrops

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to collect our daughter Annie and her daughter Evie from the London train.

They had survived the journey very well and Annie was full of praise for the station staff at Euston who had gone out of their way to get her on to the train with her pushchair before the other passengers boarded and had found her a suitable seat.

The only drawback to the Zoe is that the battery takes up a lot of room and as a result our boot is very small.  We just managed to squeeze Evie, Annie, the pushchair and a big case in and drove back to Langholm safely.

Evie has settled down well and is sleeping quietly as I write this.  She was undisturbed by a gang of recorder players who came in the evening and played music in the front room.

I am quite tired at the moment and will try to write more fully tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is another chaffinch who avoided the worst of the reflections in the window.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia.  Knowing that I like trees, she sent me this sunlit picture from Margery Fish’s East Lambrook Manor Garden which she recently visited.  She tells me that it has excellent plant sales.

Margery Fish’s East Lambrook Manor Garden

I could hear some heavy rain in the night so I woke up expecting to see that the snow in our garden had disappeared.  It had hung on so it appears that the rain must have been rather sleety.

The lawn covering is more ice than snow but it had survived yesterday’s sunshine and the overnight showers so it get prizes for pertinacity even if it doesn’t look very sparkly.

snowy lawns

The poor crocuses have been sitting around for ages now,  waiting for a warm and sunny day to open their petals…

drippy crocuses

…but the honeysuckles are getting their spring leaves out regardless…

honeysuckle leaves

…and the snowdrops continue to shine.

snowdrops front lawn

While I was out in the garden, I noticed a reflective chaffinch pondering on life, the universe and everything.

cross chaffinch

We should have been going to Edinburgh today to see Matilda but an appalling weather forecast had persuaded us to tell her parents that we would probably not be coming.  It tuned out that the morning wasn’t too bad and we could have driven to Lockerbie without too much difficulty.  All the same, the gloom of the forecast had pervaded our minds and left us unwilling to risk a long journey, so we rang to confirm that we wouldn’t be going.

The day improved as it went along and in the end we decided that we ought to got to Carlisle to buy a baby car seat as our other granddaughter is coming to visit us next week.  We felt a bit guilty about this but our guilt was assuaged when we checked the railway company’s app and found that trains to Edinburgh from Lockerbie had being cancelled anyway as a result of overhead line difficulties.    We had made a good decision.

I spent some time before lunch watching the birds.

There was a good deal of posing going on.

A chaffinch was being cautions and quizzical on the feeder pole…

quizziczl chaffinch

…a blackbird was checking to see if the seed was too his taste…

hungry blackbird

…a siskin was out on a limb…

siskin out on a limb

…while another was having a snack.

happy siskin

On the ground, a dunnock was pretending to be a rock..

dunnock being a rock

…while up above, a chaffinch was obeying her mother’s instruction to sit up straight.

chaffinch sitting up straight

We were visited by five pigeons today…

pigeon strut

…and two doves.

collared dove

When it came to approaching the feeder, different techniques were in operation,

There was sneaking in from the back….

siskin sneaking

..putting your best feet forward…

goldfinch putting its feet up

…and using no feet at all.

siskin feet tucked in

After lunch, we drove to Carlisle in amazingly friendly road conditions and when we got there, the friendliness continued.  A very helpful man at Halfords met our wish for a car baby seat by installing the showroom model in the car, checking that it fitted and that it was what we wanted, taking it out again, selling us a new one in a box, taking it out of the box and fitting that one in the car and finally waving us on our way.  Amazon can’t do that.

As regular readers will know, we suffered a disappointment on our wedding anniversary  in January when we drove all the way to Carlisle to go to the pictures only to find that the cinema was unexpectedly closed because of a problem with the water supply.  We were more lucky today.

The cinema was open, the  film which we wanted to see was still on and there were plenty of seats available.  We took two of them and watched The Private Life of David Copperfield.  It was a very interesting film.  Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed it without reservation.  I enjoyed it too but would have enjoyed it more if the camerawork and editing had been a bit more restful.

The drive home went without trouble, although we passed a large sign warning of of impending heavy rain.

We have had quite enough rain already and when I looked at Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge this morning…

rain gauge

…I found that it was full to the brim, showing over six inches of recent rain.  I emptied it and I hope that it will take some time before it is filled up again.

The flying bird of the day is an expansive siskin.

flying siskin

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