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Posts Tagged ‘frog spawn’

Today’s guest picture is another from the Derby shopping centre insect infestation.  My brother tells me that you can talk to the insects but I wouldn’t know what to say to a stag beetle.

stag beetle derby

I didn’t have much confidence in a weather forecast that said that it wasn’t going to rain today but I was proved wrong and the weather stayed fair until  well into the evening.

It was only just above freezing when I set off on my slow bike to see our local vampire at the Health Centre and give a little blood.  This was a check to see if my anaemia is under control.  The process was prompt and painless as usual but the health centre computer server was on the blink so I wasn’t able to make a follow up appointment.  The poor staff were absolutely flummoxed as hardly anything is written down these days and they had no idea who was coming in for appointments.  Fortunately it was soon fixed and I made my appointment later in the day without trouble.

After coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal, and with the thermometer showing 4°C, I plucked up my courage, donned as many layers of clothing as I could and set off on my new bike to see how my legs were feeling.

I hadn’t been out on my bike this month so it was a bit of a shock to the system but the sun was out….

cleuchfoot valley

…my legs were very cheerful and the snow had retreated to distant hills so it wasn’t too bad to be out and about.

The wind was strong enough to make life hard when pedalling into it but the forecast gales hadn’t arrived.  I stopped to take a picture of one of those little corners that make cycling round here so visually interesting.

three cleuchfoot trees

And then I cycled to the top of Callister to see if there was any sign of the turbines arriving at the new wind farm.  There wasn’t and as the road was very muddy from quarry lorry traffic, I turned back and pedalled down to Langholm, through the town and out of the other side.  The snow was on distant hills there too.

ewes valley with diostant snow

On my way back through the town, I checked to see if the big gull was standing on its favourite rock.

It was.

gull on rock

I was pleased to manage 20 miles at a modest pace and after a walk round the garden when I got back…

three spring garden flowera

…where the forsythia is just coming out…

forsythia

…and some of the frogs spawn seems to have survived the frosty mornings…

frogs spawn

…I went in to find Mrs Tootlepedal making a nourishing pan of bean and vegetable soup for lunch.

It went down well.

After lunch I watched the birds for a while.  Goldfinches had got in early today under the watchful eye of a chaffinch…

goldfinches on feeder

…and there was no visit from the sparrow hawk to disturb them or this chaffinch’s moment of reflection beside a puddle in our drive.

reflective chaffinch

Against my expectations, the weather stayed fine in the afternoon so I went for a walk.  The wind was still nagging but otherwise it was a good day for sauntering about looking for signs of spring…

view from scotts knowe

…which weren’t hard to find.

dandelion march

There were signs of life on the larches…

larch

…and fresh flowers on the banks beside the track…

P1170432

…and best of all, many clumps of primroses on every side once I got near the Becks Burn.

primroses

I walked through the felled wood, across the burn and up onto the road on the other side of the little valley, where I found incipient honeysuckle…

honeysuckle leaf

…curious sheep looking down on me…

curious sheep

…and any amount of lichen on different stones on the same one metre  length of wall.

lichen on wall becks road

I visited the old curling pond and wished that it could be developed into a wild life area like the one near Lockerbie which we have visited before. It needs a real enthusiast with time and knowledge to a job like that though.

curling pond

I didn’t linger for long as my foot was starting to feel sore and I soon headed down the road back to the town.

I passed this fungus on a fallen tree trunk…..

fungus becks road

…and got right out of the way as this huge lorry passed me.  It had been delivering sheep to the farm at the end of the road.

big lorry becks road

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal at work in the garden and together we put in the new blackcurrant bush and, having exhausted my gardening skills, I gave her moral support while she planted out a new lupin and pruned a rose.

Then it seemed like a good time to have a cup of tea and a slice of toast so we did.

The day was rounded off by a visit from my flute pupil, Luke and we had a productive half hour showing that practice makes you, if not quite perfect, then certainly a lot better.  This is most satisfactory.

I don’t often watch Master Chef on the TV but this season, a young lady from Langholm is one of the contestants and it was very pleasing to see her do well and get through to the next round.  We will follow her progress with interest.

The forecast for the next couple of days is for 50 mph winds so it was a good thing that we got as much out of today as we did.  There are some sunny intervals promised so it might not be a total write off.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch with a determined air about it.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Irving who has been fishing in the Highlands.  He doesn’t tell me if he caught any fish but at least he made this very nice capture of the old bridge over the River Oykel.

oykel bridge

I had a varied day today including cycling, walking and singing and among the skills required was an ability to work out when it was going to rain and then to avoid being caught out when it had started.

It looked as though a morning bike ride would be best so I set off to go round my familiar Canonbie twenty mile route while hoping for the best.  It was not warm at about 6°C and a brisk north westerly wind made it feel cooler still but I was well wrapped up and enjoyed the ride, especially the bit that was downhill with the wind behind.

While I was at the highest point of the circuit, I remembered that my neighbour Liz had seen a ditch full of frog spawn on the hill while she was on one of her recent morning walks so I stopped to look at a water filled ditch beside the road and found that this too was filled with frog spawn.

frogs spawn

Sadly for the prospect of tadpoles, it looked as though the morning frosts may have been too harsh but there were certainly a lot of possibilities as the ditch was full of spawn for about twenty yards.

I didn’t stop again until my legs called for a break at Irvine House.  Cycling downhill and downwind may be fun but the reverse is hard work.

I had time to admire the walls on both sides of the road while I got my breath back.

mossmoss

Once I got home, I wasn’t surprised to find Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work on her new bench area project and after a quick look at some cheerful flowers…

bright flowers

…I made a record of the work in progress.

new bench

Over lunch, I had a look for some bird action but there wasn’t a lot going on and this blackbird was the only good shot that I had.

blackbird

Rain showers came and went and then it seemed dry enough to go out so Mrs Tootlepedal went back to the bench project and I took a little walk to look for riverside birds.

Almost as soon as I had set out, the clouds thickened and light rain appeared as if by magic so although I could see the welcome sight of the first daffodils along the river bank…

daffs by Esk

…the fidgety ducks, gulls and oyster catchers didn’t make good subjects and I had to look for something that was closer and standing still.  Regular readers will know that I find it hard to walk past a wall.

spleenwort

moss

I walked up to the Lodge and was impressed as I always am by this fine hedge.

Robbie's hedge

 

The rain had stopped but it was still cloudy although there was some sun catching a hill over there…

sun on Clark Fell

…and catching a branch down there…

mossy branch

…but not where I was walking.

The path along the river to the north looked deceptively inviting with the promise of sunshine…

Pheasant hatchery path

…but I went the other way into the clouds because I was on a mission to look for these….

hazel catkin

…and having found them to look for these too.

hazel flower

This is a female hazel flower and it is tiny so I was pleased to see not one but two…

hazel flower

…but these were the only two that I could find.  There are very few catkins at the moment so maybe there won’t be many flowers this year either.

It soon started raining again and I found a damp blackbird looking a bit fed up when I got back to the house.

wet blackbird

As it was raining, even Mrs Tootlepedal could be tempted into the house for a cup of tea and a biscuit and while we were inside, I set up the camera at the kitchen window.  The RSPB had published the results of their garden bird watch this morning and there had been a lot of talk about how well goldfinches had done in the count as they have become adept at using garden feeders.  I was therefore hoping to some on our garden today and I wasn’t disappointed.

goldfinch

They were not backward in coming forward to have words with any siskins in their way…

goldfinch and siskin

…but a siskin doesn’t take kindly to this sort of thing…

goldfinch and siskin

…and one of them soon resorted to violence to make the point.

goldfinch and siskin

The rain stopped and Mrs Tootlepedal went out again and not ,long afterwards, I went out too to record very satisfactory progress.

new bench

This is only a preliminary sketch as the paving has to be completed and a new bench is on order to replace the old one which has come to the end of its time.  All we will need then is some good weather to let us sit out on the bench and look at the garden.

I had an appointment at the health centre and it rather summed up the day that I cycled up to the town in bright sunshine and cycled back in a combination of bright sunshine and quite heavy rain.

And there was no rainbow.

In the evening I went to a Langholm Sings practice and had a very enjoyable time going over some familiar songs which we are digging  out for our summer concerts.

It wasn’t raining as I walked up and it wasn’t raining as I walked back but the oyster catchers who had been too quick for me in the afternoon were flying overhead and laughing loudly at me.

The flying bird of the day is not a goldfinch but a chaffinch wearing an identification ring.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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