Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘dunnock’

Today’s guest picture is a lupin in the wild taken by our son Tony on one of his walks….

Tony's lupin

…and as a change from my usual practice, I have put another guest picture in the post today to show Tony’s lupin in context.

tony's lupins

I had hoped to go on a longer and slower bike ride today because when I looked at it yesterday, the forecast was quite promising.  However, when I looked at the forecast today, it was only promising rain and on this occasion it was right and it started to rain quite heavily during the morning.  I was glad not to be some miles from home getting soaked.

I passed the morning in traditional fashion, doing the crossword, reading the papers, going to our corner shop before the rain started, drinking coffee and putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database.

From time to time I glanced out of the window at the re-positioned feeder and was encouraged.  A dunnock may have sat on the hedge…

nf dunnock on hedge

…but sparrows were not backward in coming forward….

nf sparrow landing

…and siskins arrived with the determination…

nf siskin approaching

…to shout at anyone and everyone.

nf siskin and sparrow

As the time got near to three o’clock in the afternoon, the rain stopped and I put my cycling clothes on and peered out of the back door.  I prayed that the black clouds that I could see were going rather than coming…

gloomy outlook

…and set off up the road.

It was dull but there is a lot of clover about which brightens up the verges.

clover by road

It was still pretty grey by the time that I got to Wauchope Schoolhouse so I considered skulking about in the valley bottom, ready to dash for home if it started to rain heavily again but in the end, I plucked up my courage and headed over the hill and down to Canonbie.

The many thousands of tubes which appear when old commercial woods are felled and replanted contain deciduous trees as part of the conditions for replanting.  I don’t know what the overall success rate for them is, but this batch at the Kerr wood, seem to be pretty fruitful.

trees coming out of tubes

The grass is growing strongly now that we have had a bit of rain and this belted Galloway was enjoying a good graze, too busy to look up as I went past.

belted galloway grazing

As the clouds continued to look threatening and the light got worse as I went along, I didn’t stop for many pictures but I thought that I would show that the rain has put a bit of life back into the Esk with this shot from Hollows Bridge…

water in river hollows

..and while I was on the bridge, I couldn’t miss this fruitful twig just beside the parapet.

beech tree

I was brought up short when I went through Hollows village to see the Tower wrapped up like a Christmas present.

hollows tower gift wrapped

It looks as though some serious repairs are contemplated.

My final stop was forced on me as I had to wait for the traffic on the main road to clear when I left the bike path so I took a look across the road while i was standing there.

rododendron and dasies by A7

Although the ride was shorter than I had hoped, I was still pleased to have got twenty miles in without getting rained on.  There were a few spots of rain just when I got back to Langholm but they came to nothing and I could have gone a bit further.

Instead I had a cup of tea and some toast, put a new loaf to cook in the bread maker and walked round the garden before having my shower.

The bees were as busy as ever on the cotoneaster horizontalis.

bee on cotoneaster again

The new lupins are developing well even if there aren’t as many as them as in the crop that Tony saw.

new lupins june

The roses would like to come out but they would like more sun and less rain….

wet rose june

…as would we all. After several weeks with no rain, we have now had four inches in a week and a half and we think that this is quite enough to be going on with.

The philadelphus bushes are enjoying the weather more than we are.

thriving philadelphus

Following a recipe suggestion, Mrs Tootlepedal made chicken breasts stuffed with soft cheese and spinach for our tea and unusually, the result looked exactly like, the illustration that went with the recipe.  It tasted jolly good too.

Since I had two guest pictures to start the post, I am going to have two flying birds of the day to finish it.

nf flying siskin

I think that the new feeder position is very promising for flying bird opportunities.

nf flying sparrow

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who knows that I like a neat lawn.  She found this one near a well known large house.

Buck house gardens

It was one of those days when it might have rained at any time and there was evidence that it had rained…

rain on hosta

…but in the end, it kept reasonably dry until the late afternoon and I was able to wander round the garden after breakfast looking to see what was going on.

There was the familiar:  the purple stemmed cow parsley is going from strength to strength…

purple cow parsley

…and there was the fresh: the nectaroscordum has started to flower.

nectaroscordum

There was old: the pulsatilla seed heads  are having fun…

pulsatilla

…and there was new: a fourth geum has joined in with the others…

four geums

…and a second astrantia has arrived as well.

pale astrantia

There was plenty of bright colour but sadly a rose had come out and been knocked about by a rain shower before I had a chance to get a good shot of it.

four reds

There were a good number of bumble bees about…

bee on allium

…and the alliums were on their visiting list.

I like the geometry of the alliums….

bees eye view of allium

…and of the sweet rocket too.

sweet rocket head

I was still pottering around the garden when a guest arrived for a garden tour and a cup of coffee.  Sue has recently come to live in Langholm and while she was searching online for information about the town, she happened upon my blog and has since become a regular reader.  It was very nice of her to take the time to come and visit us and Mrs Tootlepedal and I enjoyed a good chat with her.

She lives on the edge of town and has many interesting visitors to her garden.  She has invited us up to see woodpeckers, nuthatches and squirrels so I hope to take up her offer soon.

When  she left, I mowed the middle lawn and then took some time to watch our own birds.  Just the usual suspects were about…

three birds

…though I was pleased to see a chaffinch.  They are normally our most common visitor but they have almost entirely disappeared from our garden lately for some unknown reason.

chaffinch and siskin

After lunch, I went up to the town to keep an appointment but as the person whom I was supposed to meet wasn’t there, I came home again and set to work with Mrs Tootlepedal on some lawn improvement.

The front edge of the middle lawn has lifted up over time and Mrs Tootlepedal wanted it lowered so it looked better and was easier to step off.  This involved raising the turfs, removing soil from underneath and replacing the turfs.

A straightforward task which we approached methodically.  First cut the turfs…

lawn renovation 1

…then remove them and lay them on the drive in the right order…

lawn renovation 2

…then shoogle and level the soil underneath, removing quite a lot of earth and three  buckets of stones…

lawn renovation 3

…before raking the soil flat and putting some compost in…

lawn renovation 4

…and then the turfs that have been removed are sliced to a uniform thinness using a turf box and a knife and replaced in position….

lawn renovation 5

…until it starts to pour with rain and we have to break off and have a cup of tea.

As it was then the tome when my flute pupil Luke came, I left Mrs Tootlepedal replacing the last of the turfs between showers and when Luke left, I helped her to finish off the task. Then we gave the replaced lawn a thorough watering and generally tidied up a bit.

lawn renovation 6

As well as the three buckets of stones, we had removed about two wheelbarrow loads of soil so although it may not look much in the photos, we made quite a difference.  Everything will take a few days to settle, but we were very pleased with the result of the afternoon’s work. The lawn will never be bowling green flat but it is much more level than it was.

Luke has been practicing so the lesson went well too.

Tomorrow will tell whether a couple of hours of vigorous bending and stretching was a good idea.  At the moment, all is well.

The flying bird of the day is one of our sparrows.

flying sparrow

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He lives in Derby and the local football team has a very important match tomorrow so this large football has been placed so that supporters can write encouraging comments on it.  I asked Andrew if he had written anything but he said that hadn’t because he was lost for words.

Derby football

My feet are still not made for walking at the moment so it was lucky that I had two choirs to go to today to help me pass the time,

We started with the church choir.  It was a children’s service today and all the hymns were in unison.  This was good as I hadn’t sung for some time so I welcomed the chance to do some uninhibited warbling to get my voice back in action.

When we got home, Mrs Tootlepedal got busy in the garden and I mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass and pottered about taking more garden pictures.

I especially liked an azalea with teeth.

azalea with teeth

The rowan has come out and it looks as though there should be enough berries for all the birds when the time comes.

rowan blossom

I looked in the greenhouse as I went past with the mower and had to go back in later with the camera later to record the wonderful flower power of the fuchsia which is still waiting to find a home in the garden.

fuchsia in green hiuse

Outside the greenhouse, the lupins are reaching for the sky.

lupins

We have had some measurable rain at last and Mrs Tootlepedal’s green manure mustard looks grateful.

mustard

The overnight rain had rather beaten down the cow parsley stems but they soon recovered and made a pretty picture with the sweet rocket in the back border.

cowparsley and sweet rocket

I noticed that a good many exhausted male flowers had fallen onto the lawns from the walnut tree and looking up, I could see potential nuts in the making.

walnuts

Elsewhere, there were more signs of fruits to come, with both apples and plums looking promising.

apple plum apple

Mrs Tootlepedal was very pleased to see  that a ranunculus had survived from last year.  It is a challenge for me though, as I find it very had to get a good picture of it.

ranunculus

The hostas are looking very healthy.

hostas

I made some potato soup to go with bread and cheese for lunch and while I was inside, I watched the birds.

The sparrows have almost taken over the feeder at the moment, although there is a redpoll lurking round the back in this picture…

sparrows on feeder

…and a blue tit enjoyed the peanuts without any competition.

blue tit

Down below, a dunnock considered tucking in to the fat balls.

dunnock consider ingfat balls

In the plum tree, the reason for the sparrow keenness for food was being demonstrated.

sparrow feeding young

You have probably heard of the goose step and the turkey trot, but we got a pigeon strut today.

strutting pigeon

When I wasn’t watching the birds, the flowers around the feeder seen through the kitchen window gave me plenty to look at.

geums through wndow

I went briefly back into the garden after lunch and took a close look at the wonderful complexity of one of the euphorbias.

euphorbia in flower

Among all the colour, there is still a world of white out there.

white flowers

Hidden away in a shady corner of the garden, the doronicum is flowering away.  It has been in flower since mid march and shows no sign of stopping.

doronicum

In the afternoon, we went down to Carlisle to sing with the Carlisle community Choir.  We have been meeting in the same church for six years but we are changing to a new venue (hopefully with better lighting) so this was our last sing from the familiar pews.  We spent the time practising two delightful songs so it was a good way to say goodbye.  We have one more meeting before our summer concert so there will have to be some serious home practice in the coming days.

The flying bird of the day is a young sparrow, grown up enough to feed itself now.

flying baby sparrow

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from learned reader Edward from Sheffield.  He has tree peonies in his garden with flowers a foot wide.

Edards tree peonies

We had timed our holiday well.  After several dry weeks, the weather turned gloomy today and it rained in the afternoon.  According to the forecast, there is a good deal more rain to come which will be welcome from a gardening point of view.

The morning was dry though and this gave us a chance to get busy in the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal doing useful things and I wandering about with a camera in hand.

New flowers have arrived during our absence and there is no shortage of bright colours.

The first iris has come out…

first iris

…and several more geraniums have joined the blue ones which arrived first.

geraniums

They are excellent value and should keep flowering all through the summer.

four geraniums

Lupins have arrived….

first lupins

…and aquilegias are popping up all over the garden.

aquilegias

A favourite flower for peering at closely with the camera is this anemone.  I love its strong colours and busy centre.

anemone close up

But probably, the stars of the show are the red peonies….

two red peonies

…even though they are too red for the camera to really enjoy.

The established flowers are enjoying the weather in spite of the lack of rain…

azaleas and rhodidendrons

…although the azaleas are going over rather quickly.  Perhaps the new rain will help them last.

The clematis at the front and back doors have increased in number while we have been away…

two white clematis

…and the front door variety is fast becoming a favourite of mine.

clematis centre

Potentillas, both salmon pink and yellow are thriving…

yellow and orange flowers

…and the poached egg plant is getting more white edges every day.  The first roses are appearing with the yellow one above joining the the rosa moyesii below.

Our poppies are becoming more international and an oriental poppy has joined the Welsh and Icelandic ones which were out before we left.

four flowrrs

A geum and an astrantia complete today’s collection.

I put down the camera and mowed the middle lawn.  It had been badly pecked while I was away but once I had mowed over the loose moss, I found a lot of reasonably green grass about underneath.  Mrs Tootlepedal intends to carry on a methodical feeding programme so I have every confidence that it will be in good order soon.

I mowed the front lawn too and found that it is still in poor condition, although the feed that I gave it before we went away has encouraged the occasional blade of grass to appear among the moss.  I will keep trying.

As I was working at a very gentle pace, and we took a break to entertain Mike Tinker to a cup of coffee, all this took me up to lunchtime.

I had the opportunity to check on the birds when I got in.  Usual suspects such as siskins and redpolls were in evidence but sparrows are obviously feeding young as they turned up on the seed feeder…

sparrow on feeder

…as well as feeding on peanuts and fat balls as well.

The siskins and redpolls haven’t learned about peaceful coexistence while we have been away.

redpoll being shouted at

Dunnocks were busy on the ground under the feeders.

dunnock

I had a quiet afternoon watching the racing on the telly, a very undemanding activity.  Most of the enjoyment comes from listening to the expert commentators telling us why their chosen horses have not won the race that we have just watched.

I even felt a bit sorry for them when their unanimous pick of a heavily odds-on favourite trotted in third in five horse race.  There was not a lot that they could say.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent the afternoon with her Embroiderers’ Guild group and when she returned, I roused myself to drink a cup of tea and check the kitchen window again.  A jackdaw, fed up with pecking at my lawn, had come to try the peanuts….

jackdaw on feeder

…and it was joined by a starling…

starling on feeder

…but sadly, it and its friends preferred to start in the lawn pecking business themselves instead of eating bird food.

starlings on lawn

If they are eating leatherjacket grubs though, they are probably doing me a good turn as I read that the grubs eat grass roots and can destroy a lawn.  This may explain why the birds always peck at the worst bit of the lawn and leave the bits with good grass growth alone.

I hope to catch up on my blog reading now that I am home.

Meanwhile, the flying (or perhaps diving) bird of the day is a pigeon.

flying pigeon

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s expedition to Wales.  Having left Chester, he headed for Anglesey but found Snowdon in his way….so he walked up it.

snowdon

I wasn’t very happy with the colour that my pocket camera found in the lithodora’s blue flower or in the mystic Van Eijk pink tulips so I took my Nikon out today and shot them in RAW to stop the camera’s software making decisions that I didn’t agree with.  I think that the results are more true to what the eye sees.

raw lithodora

mystic Van Eijk poppies in sun

And while I was there, I took the real Van Eijks….

Van Eijk poppies in bed

…some very pale grape hyacinths…

pale grape hyacinths

…and a stream of standard blue ones.

row of grape hyacinths

The main business of the morning though was not footling about with cameras, but putting in the second of the two new veg beds.  Mrs Tootlepedal likes to have things right so this involved not just digging and shifting soil, but using gardener’s string and a spirit level too.

After the bed was levelled and settled, I left her to sort out the soil and mowed the middle lawn.  This involved stamping on a lot of moss but there was enough grass growing there to fill the lawn mower’s collecting box.

Mrs Tootlepedal called me over when I had finished as she had come across something unusual.  It was very green.

green caterpillar

I am not at all knowledgeable about caterpillars but some research says that this might be an angle shade caterpillar.  I would be happy if a reader can put me right.

I went in to make some potato and onion soup for lunch and had a look at the birds while it was cooking.

goldfinches on feeder

The plum tree is making a very picturesque background for birds waiting to visit the feeder.

two chaffinch with plum blossom

After lunch, I inspected the tulips.  It had been a sunny morning, although it hadn’t felt very warm because of a chilly east wind, and the sun had been enough to open a few petals.

pale yellow poppy heart

yellow poppy heartred poppy heart

I deadheaded the first of the daffodils to go over.  This was the first of many dead heading activities to come.  It is a bit tedious but it keeps the garden looking neat and it encourages the daffodils to come again.

I checked out the veg beds.  They are both the same size although the camera angle makes one look a lot shorter. Mrs Tootlepedal likes the slightly wider paths between the beds that the new layout had created.  The wire netting covering is to protect the soil from cats.

two veg beds

I will have to sieve more compost as there has been quite a lot used lately.

I had time to spot a dunnock lurking in the shadows below the feeder…

dunnock in shadow

…before I got my bike out and went for a pedal.

It was a lovely day as far as the sun went….

Wauchope valley tree

…but the wind was hard work when I was pedalling back into it so I was pleased to stop and admire a couple of oyster catchers on a wall at Bigholms.

oyster catchers on wall

When I looked across the wall, I could see the windfarm on the horizon and I reckoned that this must have been an ideal day for ‘green’ energy with the combination of bright sun and a stiff breeze.

view of windfarm

Now they need to get busy on working out the best way to store it so we can have some to hand when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

I had enough personal energy left to cycle through the town when I got back to it and go a couple of miles out along the road north.  I was very surprised by the colour of the soil in this field beside the Ewes Water.

ewes valley field

You can see the edge of the field in the bottom of the picture that I took looking up the valley.

Ewes valley April

I managed to add a couple of miles to yesterday’s trip and got home after 16 miles.  If the weather permits, I will try to add two miles to my journey every time that I go out for the next few days until I have got back some of the fitness that I lost in an almost cycle free March.

I am taking things steadily as my foot is still tender but the gel insoles for my shoes have been very successful and I would like to thank those who advised me to get them.  I haven’t tried a walk of any length since I got them, but the ordinary walking round the house and garden is very satisfactory and limp free.

The slow cooked lamb stew made its third and final mealtime appearance tonight, this time in the form of a light curry with rice.

The dry cool weather with sunny periods seems set to last for a good few days so I hope to be able to continue to get out and about (as long as my foot continues to be co-operative).

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who found herself, with a crowd of other musicians, singing the European National Anthem very loudly outside the Houses of Parliament to indicate their support for free movement for  musicians after any Brexit.  This is niche protesting brought to a fine art.

20181210_121726_007_01

There were no protests here today and the temperature was comfortably above freezing at 4°C when I walked up to the health centre after an early breakfast to give a thimbleful of blood for testing.  This is to check my iron levels which were a bit low a few months ago.

In a way, I would be obscurely pleased if the levels were  still a bit low as it would give me a medical excuse for being frequently tired as opposed to a well founded suspicion that this might be down to a general dilapidation of mind and body on account of having had too many birthdays in the past.  Mind you, it might just be the onset of winter.

It was  grey day and when I got home the light meter on my camera told me that it wasn’t just grey, it was really grey so while Mrs Tootlepedal put in some time on her bike to nowhere, I did the crossword and occasionally looked out of the window, hoping that the temperature might rise a degree or two and that things  might brighten up.

In the gloom, I could pick out a dunnock scavenging for fallen seed..

_DSC9056

…and a party of greenfinches, peacefully munching away on the feeer.

_DSC9054

The peace didn’t last long….

_DSC9053

…as chaffinches and sparrows barged in.

_DSC9049

It is always fun to see the concentration needed for landing safely on a perch.

_DSC9050

I don’t know whether the gloomy weather makes it harder for birds to judge the landing but this chaffinch looks as though he is working hard.

_DSC9048

I was frustrated to find that although the temperature had gone up a degree or two before lunchtime, it had also started to rain in a morose but persistent way so I gave up thoughts of cycling or walking, had some soup and turned to music practice and preparation to fill my day.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy on some errands but when she got back, she thought the day was good enough to plant out the last of her tulips.  I went out to offer her some light supervision and was delighted to find that one of the perennial wallflowers still had a flower or two on show…

P1150928

…though it was so dark that I had to use my flash to capture it.

Our ever patient heron was on guard at the pond and I liked the pattern that the perennial nasturtium’s leaves made on the yew behind it.

P1150929

(I had an appalling panto thought: It’s a behind yew.)

Next to the greenhouse, the rosemary bush is in very perky form…

P1150933

…and one or two enterprising shoots have pushed through the ventilator into the greenhouse itself where they are putting out a few flowers.

P1150930

In the early evening, seven members of the Archive Group assembled in our front room for our AGM.  You may think that AGM stands for Annual General Meeting but I have been taking lesson from you know who and can tell you that AGM stands for A Great Meeting …and not just a great meeting but a really great meeting, a really, really great meeting….probably the best meeting in the world.

At any rate, we were happy with it as we have once again done a lot of work and met with appreciation for our efforts.

After our evening meal, I pulled myself together and spent a gentle half hour on my bike to nowhere in the garage and that rounded off a quiet but useful day.

The flying bird of the day can be seen pushing through the miserable drizzle.

_DSC9057

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony and shows his efforts to teach his dogs to appreciate a fine sunset over the Forth last night.

wemyss dogs at sunset

We got a frosty morning without the benefit of any sunshine here and the temperature hardly rose at all for the rest of the day.  Still, as everyone remarked, at least it wasn’t raining.

The chilly weather was encouraging birds to come to the feeder…

chilly feeder

….and I poked my nose out into the garden after breakfast to enjoy Jack Frost’s work.

garden frost

Sandy came round for coffee and we discussed Archive Group business.  He is busy cleaning and scanning a large set of photographic glass plates which are more than 100 years old and he is finding the results very interesting.  They will appear on our website in due course.

While we were chatting, an unexpected flash of colour caught my eye and I leapt up to see a brambling in the plum tree,

brambling in Plum tree december

This is the second one of the season but like the first, it seemed to be a lone bird and didn’t stay long.

Unlike the brambling, the dunnocks are permanent fixtures at the moment and are obviously managing to avoid the marauding cats which haunt our garden.

dunnock on chair

Otherwise the traffic was much as usual.

chaffinch and goldfinch frosty day

After coffee, I gave my spare laptop and the Archive Group projector a trial run and then went along to the Buccleuch Centre with them where I was able to prove that there is such a thing as a free lunch.  Not only did I get some excellent soup and sandwiches at the patrons’ lunch but I was allowed the privilege of showing the other patrons 100 of my photographs.  They put up with this without any complaint and I enjoyed showing a selection taken from every month from December 2017 to December 2018.

Mrs Tootlepedal was helping with the catering both for our lunch and the other customers in the coffee bar and she had a very busy time.  She was still working hard when I went home.

The afternoon was very still and I would dearly have liked to have gone for a quick cycle ride, as days with little wind are at a premium.  However, the thermometer was still only showing 2 degrees C so I allowed good sense to take control.  I really do not want to hit a patch of ice on my bike this winter and even if the road is 99% ice free, it is the other 1% that can do the damage.

I went for a walk.

It turned out to be a good decision because although the going underfoot was good, not only were there plenty of icy puddles…

icy puddle

…but there was also a rawness in the air that made it feel very cold so cycling would not have been fun at all.

When I got to the park, I found that someone had been improving on nature…

baubles in park tree

…and when I had passed through the park, I found that others had gone to the trouble of sweeping (or blowing) all the leaves off the path through the Beechy Plains.

swept beechy plains

This is the sort of thing that brings a smile to your face even when your nose and ears are tingling with the cold.

I walked along the Murtholm track, looking for points of interest on a grey day, such as a bright bramble leaf

winter bramble leaf

…and drops of water suspended on every square of the sheep fencing the whole way along the track….

droplets on sheep wire

…and evidence of the recent strong winds…

fallen branches

…and a very fresh and green looking shrub.   I am open to suggestions as to what it might be.  Some sort of ivy perhaps?

ivy

I looked up at Warbla where I had been standing in the beautiful sunshine yesterday…

Warbla on a frosty day

…and was very glad that I wasn’t up there today.

It was growing increasingly misty as I went towards Skippers Bridge and when I got to it, the view downstream from the bridge was gloomy.

misty from skippers

Where there is a bridge parapet or a wall, there is always lichen and there was a good selection on the bridge itself and the wall along the main road as I walked back.

skippers brodge lichen

There as lichen of a different sort on a wooden fence beside the path further on and one or two defiant daisies to add a touch of colour to my walk.

lichen adn saisy

I was surprised to see a very healthy looking fungus up a tree outside the back entrance to the Co-op store….

co-op fungus high

…and some more lower down the tree.

co-op fungus low

I was pleased to have managed to get a two mile walk in before the light completely faded but I was even more pleased to get home and into the warmth with a cup of tea and a slice of toast.

Waiting on my doorstep when I got back was a bottle of red wine. It turned out to be a present from Bob, the organiser of the patron’s lunch.  I found a good home for it while I was eating my evening meal and I am writing this post in a consequently very cheerful mood.  (Mrs Tootlepedal had a glass too.)

It is supposed to get progressively warmer over the next two days but as it is going to rain as well, this is not much consolation.

The flying bird of the day is outlined against the frosty lawn.

flying chffinch frosty

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »