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Posts Tagged ‘frogs’

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 comes from my brother Andrew.  He visited Kedlestone Hall in Derbyshire on one of the better recent days.

kedlestone hall

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to yet another meeting after breakfast and inspired by her vigour, I managed to get myself into my cycling gear and out of the house before coffee time.  Admittedly, I was helped in this by the knowledge that the forecast for the afternoon was very poor and it was now or never as far as comfortable cycling went.

There are now some definite signs of spring as I go round my customary 20 mile Canonbie route with daffodils out beside the road in several places.

daffs on cycle tour

Rather annoyingly, the brisk breeze was back again but one of the reasons that I like my Canonbie route so much is that it protects from the worst of a westerly wind and I get some help going home.  All the same, I had to keep my head down and pedal quite hard at times so I didn’t stop a lot.

When I did stop, the Canonbie cows were too busy to look up.

two canonbie cows

The sun came out as I was pedalling home, and with the wind behind me there were moments when it almost felt warm.

The sun picked out this dramatic tree near Irvine House.

tree a Irvine house

Mrs Tootlepedal was still out when I got home so after a quick check on the pond…

frogs

…and an inventory of growth in the garden…

garden growth

…I went off to cadge a cup of coffee and a ginger biscuit or two from Sandy.

He is remaining remarkably cheerful in spite of the tedium of being housebound for several weeks.  He has some entertainment though, as a pair of blue tits have settled into the nest box on his shed.  I caught a glimpse of one them today.

sandy's blue tit

On my way home, I was struck by these dark shapes in a tree.  They turned out to be a pair of rooks considering  redecorating the sitting room in their nest in the rookery.

two rooks holmwood

I got home in time for lunch and was joined by Mrs Tootlepedal.  Her meeting had extended itself into taking important visitors up on to the moor, where they had seen two hen harriers and several goats and kids.  Everyone had enjoyed this a lot.

After lunch, I had a moment to watch the birds.

Unlike yesterday’s neat eater, today’s siskin shows much more typical behaviour.

siskin dropping food

Goldfinches flew in from every angle…

flying goldfinches

…and once ensconced on the feeder, they looked both this way and that.

goldfinch contrast

Having checked the forecast again, I discovered that I might just have enough time for a walk before the rain started so I set out for a short walk over three bridges.

I had had the best of the day on my cycle ride. The cold was now colder, the sky was greyer and the wind was stronger but there were still definite signs of spring along the waterside on both sides of the Langholm Bridge.

signs of spring by the river

And a good supply of birds posing for the camera.

riverside birds march

The ducks have paired off for spring and these two were getting their heads together over some tasty snack just under the surface as I went over the Sawmill Brig.

ducks getting heads together

I walked up past the Estate Offices and admired the wall beside the road.  It is the stone wall with everything: ivy, peltigera lichen, hart’s tongue fern and any amount of moss.

growths on wall above ewesbank

In fact, I was quite surprised to be able to see some stones at one point.

wall above ewesbank

You see a lot more colourful sheep in the fields these days than you did when white wool was a big source of the sheep farmer’s income.

grey sheep

I went along the top of the wood and then dropped down through the snowdrops at Holmhead.  They are still looking good.

snwodrops holmhead

On my way back to the lodge, I passed a couple of sawn off tree stumps.  I imagine that recent rain and strong winds had made them unsafe so that they were cut off before they fell down completely.  The inside of the trunks didn’t look too healthy, I thought.

felled trees

The forecast had been right.  I didn’t have too much time before the rain came.  Unfortunately, because I had stopped to take so many pictures, my time ran out and the rain came on well before I got home.  I stopped taking pictures, put up the hood on my new coat which I had prudently worn, crossed the Duchess Bridge and hurried home….

…stopping only for this lovely burst of blossom beside the river behind the school.

blossom behind school

Mrs Tootlepedal had gone out for another meeting so once again, I took the hint from her industriousness and settled down at the computer to tax our car (cost £0 thanks to it being electric) and catch up on some correspondence with two old friends who had  written to me out of the blue.  As I had promised to reply in a couple of days to the one who wrote to me in January , it was none too soon to get to work.  Still, as I hadn’t seen him for nearly fifty years, a few weeks probably wouldn’t make a lot of difference.

Mike Tinker dropped in for tea and Mrs Tootlepedal returned (soaked) from her business and joined us.

Then it was time for flute playing with Luke.  He is between jobs at the moment so he has had time to practise and this has had a very good result.  I will be taking lessons from him soon.

After tea, I put most of a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database before turning to the production of this post.  It has been a full day.

The flying bird of the day is an angry goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from our neighbour Liz’s walk with Riley,  As well as the waterfall, she saw some very early primroses, sheltering beside the stream.

liz's primroses

We saw the return of grey and windy weather today which was a disappointment after our dry week, but at least the forecast rain didn’t arrive until after dark.  This meant that I was able to walk to the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre without getting wet.

Mrs Tootlepedal was already there when I arrived, as she and her fellow worker Margaret had set up a stall and were canvassing support of the community land buy out  They were being successful at enrolling more supporters and I purchased meat and fish so we were all quite happy.

When I left, they were still working hard and I thought that I should follow their example and do some work too when I got home, so I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

Then I made some lentil soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I had time to watch the birds.

The feeder was quite busy…

busy feeder siskins

…although the strong winds were making life hard for this goldfinch on its stalk.

ruffled goldfinch

Heading straight into the wind, another goldfinch aimed for aerodynamic perfection.

determined goldfinch

The bright red breast on this redpoll was another sign that spring is definitely here in spite of the gloomy weather.

redpoll in mating colour

I took this picture to show that the redpoll is a tiny bird, the size of a siskin and much smaller than a goldfinch.

redpoll goldfinch siskin

There was the usual amount of siskin squabbling going on and I liked the pained expression on the face of this chaffinch as he had to put up with more gratuitous abuse…

shocked chaffinch

…though I suppose that bad manners and tweets are no novelty these days.

For lunch I enjoyed some haggis from the market with my soup and Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed some somosas.  Then, as it had still not started to rain, we got into the car and drove up to the Laverock bird hide.  The larch glade at the hide has been threatened with felling because of larch disease, but it is still standing and while Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the cloudy sky for raptors (in vain), I went in to look at smaller birds.

I could hardly hear myself think because of loud noises and when I checked, I could see that frogs were busy in the small pond beside the hide.

two frogs laverock

The peanut feeder had been freshly filled and I was entertained by a steady stream of great tits, blue tits and coal tits.

great tit, coal tit, blue tit laverock

A greater spotted woodpecker landed on a nearby pole and started giving it a good pecking.

woodpecker laverock hide

I could easily have sat there longer with so much to look at…

tits at laverock hide

…but I had promised Mrs Tootlepedal a walk, so we left the car at the hide and walked off along the road down to the river.road from laverock hide

Even at this time of year, there are subtle colours in the trees to enjoy…

tints on trees in winter

…and the road soon enters a wooded section with a fresh set of colours…

woods beside rashiel road

…and tantalising glimpses of old walls across the valley.

view across tarras

And where there are trees, banks and walls, there are interesting things to look at…

lichen, moss, fern rashiel road

…so even on a grey and windy day, it was not a dull stroll.

The Tarras water was very calm when we got to it.

Tarras wter near Rashiel

When the road got to the bridge across the river, we kept to the same bank and walked along the track towards Rashiel.

There is a curious mound near the house which might be an esker, left after the ice age…

mound at rashiel

…or might be a man made construction.  It is hard to tell.

It is in the middle of an otherwise flat area.

tree at Rashiel

We retraced our steps to the hide where I showed Mrs Tootlepdal the frogs.  The light on the ruffled water made it look as though the frog had been frozen in plastic and was struggling to get out.

frog in rough water

Mrs Tootlepedal was much struck by the endless procession of small birds to the feeder…

laverock feeder

…but in the absence of any more obliging woodpeckers, we didn’t stay too long and got home in time for a nice cup of tea.

The recent windy weather has battered our little fruit cages quite a lot, so Mrs Tootlepedal, with some help from me, went out to stiffen their resolve with a screwdriver.

After that, there was nothing for me to do but practice hymns and songs for the choirs tomorrow and try not to get too upset while watching snatches of the rugby on the telly.

The wind is howling and the rain is hammering down as I write this, but it is supposed to stop before tomorrow morning so I am hoping that the forecast is right this time.

A chaffinch, keeping its head up in case of a rude siskins, is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by our friend Gavin.  Last week when we were enjoying wet and grey conditions here, he was over on the east coast basking in the sun on Tynemouth beach, a mere 80 miles away.   But it was chilly there too in the brisk wind in spite of the sun.

tynemouth beach

We enjoyed a pleasant day of warm spring weather here today.  The shock was so great that I nearly had to go back to bed for a lie down to recover.  In the end though, I pulled myself together, turned down an offer of treacle scones, nodded at the goldfinches on the feeder…

goldfinches

…and set off for a pedal.  I didn’t rush out as it was only 5°C after breakfast and I didn’t want to have to put on a lot of cold weather gear only to have to take it off again as the day warmed up.  I compromised and waited until it hit 8° and only had to shed a few garments as I went round.  (I have a handy pannier to store them in.)

As I was hoping for a longer ride than usual, I stopped from time to time to have a drink and a snack and make sure that my legs got a rest.

I enjoyed this bank of snowdrops near Gair at my first stop.

snopwdrops at gair

I didn’t enjoy having to take my front wheel off and clear a lot of mud from my front mudguard which I had picked up when I cycled past the new windfarm  site entrance on the top of Callister.  The potholes there have been mended but the mud is a continuing problem for cyclists.

The wind was not strong but it was in my face for most of the outward journey so I made slow progress down to the village of Rockcliffe, which sits on the bank of the River Eden.

I parked my bike just before I got to the village and walked down a short track to the riverside and enjoyed the peaceful scene.

rockcliffe and eden

I had just turned away from the river when a loud noise made me look back.

I was amazed to see a tidal bore rolling up the river towards me and struggled to get my phone out to record the scene as my camera was having one of those Lumix moments when the zoom won’t extend.

I have seen bores on the news before but I have never seen one in real life so this was a treat. It was surprisingly loud and although it was only about a foot high, it looked very powerful as it swept past me…

sdr

…with the front of the bore not being a straight line as I expected but an elegant curve.

sdr

My camera started working again at this point and I used it to record the contrast between the calm water ahead of the wave and the turbulent movement behind it.

bore on eden 3

Three canoeists were paddling along behind the bore.  Whether they had been riding it earlier and had got left behind, I don’t know.

canoeists follwoing bore

I reclaimed my bike and went on my way very cheerfully, having seen a sight that I had never expected to see.

As I got back on the road, I enjoyed a black and white view of horses.

rockcliffe horses

The direct route that I wanted to take from Rockcliffe was closed for resurfacing so I had to go round by the cycle lane along the new northern by-pass.  This led me past a newly constructed pond and I was pleased to see that what could just have been a utilitarian run off pool had been carefully sculpted and planted with reeds.

pond near asda

I turned for home and crossed the A7 at Blackdyke, and on my way, I passed this, the first dandelion of spring.

first dandelion of spring

From there I headed onto the Brampton Road, joining it opposite this  fine row of trees..

three trees brampton road

…and then I stopped for a sit on a bench below the Longtown bridge for a final snack and drink.

burst

I was hoping for some waterside bird life but there was none, so I took a shot through one of the arches…

longtown brodge arch

…and, with the wind now behind me,  I cycled home up the hill a good deal faster than I had come down.

The day was so well adjusted for cycling that I might well have gone further but my legs, which are a bit out of practice, objected so I settled for 53 miles at a modest pace and was very pleased to have had the opportunity to do that.

I said a day or two ago that the flowers in the garden were just waiting for a bit of sun to come out.  They got a bit of sun  today and they came out.

clump of blue crocus

single crocus

creamy crocus

I was interested to see a lot of insects about.

pale crocus

 

yellow crocus

Mrs Tootlepedal reported that she had seen a bee early in the afternoon but it had left before I arrived.  We are going to refer to it as Bee A as it is the first that we have seen this year.

She did some gardening while I checked on the frogs….

two frogs in pond

They were not seeing eye to eye today

…and then I went in to make a cup of tea and watch the birds.  There were not many about.

chaffinch head down

A second helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pie round off a good day very well.  We had some marrow on the side.  We have had a big marrow on the go for several weeks and it has provided many side dishes for meals and shows no sign of going over at all.  It is the only one of our own vegetables left as the fish pie had used the last of our home grown potatoes. Still, we have been eating our own potatoes since August so we can’t complain. They kept very well thanks to the good summer.

Birds were very few and far between when I was watching today but I did find a flying chaffinch of the day.

flying chaffinch

Those interested can click on the map below for more details of the ride.
Garmin route 22 Feb 19

A final note: the traction on my back seems to have helped my foot problem a lot and it is much less painful than it has been.  I hope that this progress continues.

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Today’s guest picture come from ex-archivist Ken who tells me that this odd structure is designed to filter pollutants to the  equivalence of up to 300 trees. It is situated at Haymarket at a busy junction close to the bus station.

mechanical tree

Spring arrived  today and even if it is, as they used to say on the posters outside theatres, “For Two Days Only”, it was very welcome.

There was sun all day, no wind at all in the garden, no hint or threat of rain and a reasonable temperature.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very happy and got a power of work done in the garden and I was pretty cheerful too.   There had been a light frost overnight so I waited for the temperature to hit eight degrees before I set out on my slow bicycle.

This gave me time to admire a goldfinch on the feeder….

goldfinch

…and walk round the garden.

There were bees on the crocuses…

bees

… and frogs in the pond…

frogs

…getting ready for the start of a handicap race (though one contestant may have got distracted).

This was my individual pick of the day.

frog

Talking of crocuses, I noticed that the camera had recorded two quite different colours on a set of crocuses growing side by side…

crocus

…even though they are exactly the same colour.  Light is a funny thing.

And of course, if I ever get bored there is always plenty of moss to look at in the garden.

garden moss

Just a small sample.

I was quite happy to delay setting off on my slow bike as I wasn’t aiming for a long ride because pushing the slow bike along is hard work and my knees are feeling the recent efforts a bit.

It was a grand day for a slow pedal though and I enjoyed my thirty miles a lot.   I had noticed a sign regarding road improvements near the end of the Winterhope road so I took a short diversion to investigate.  Things looked promising as I found a brand new pothole free surface but sadly, it didn’t go on for long…

Winterhope road

The end of the road

…and I was soon on the old road again.  I went far enough to take a picture….

Winterhope road

….and then turned back and joined the Callister road again where I stopped to take a picture of the bridge at Falford which I often cross.

As it is at the bottom of a steep hill, I am usually going too fast to think about stopping but after my diversion today, I was going at a more suitable stopping speed.

Falford bridge

The gorse along the road to Gair is always out early and it is looking good already this year.

gorse

I went up to Kennedy’s Corner where I enjoyed the variable geometry of these three roofs.

red roofs

From there my route was downhill onto the Solway plain and I could look over the Solway Firth to the Lake District hills beyond as I came over the top of the hill.

view of skiddaw

On my way down to Chapelknowe, I passed a unusual lamb.  I think that these two are Jacob sheep.

lamb

Once through Chapelknowe, I headed down to Corries Mill and on my way, I met a rush of traffic.

pony cart

I was happy to pause while it passed my by.

Mrs Tootlepedal has been reading an interesting book about our end of the border between Scotland and England called ‘The Debatable Land: The Lost World Between Scotland and England’ written by Graham Robb, so I was happy to sneak over the border into England on my way and get a picture of the tower and church at Kirkandrews-on-cycEsk  in part of the Debatable Lands.

Kirkandrews tower and church

It was still a lovely day when I got home and unsurprisingly, I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden.  I took a look round and was very pleased to see that the hellebores were still looking good,  the fancy primroses had more or less survived the frosty nights and the sun had brought the winter aconites out.

flowers march

I think that the crocuses look at their best in the late afternoon sunshine…

crocus

…and I like a semi circle of them which Mrs Tootlepedal has arranged round the foot of the silver pear.

crocus

Our friends Mike and Alison have returned from seeing their grandchildren in New Zealand and Mrs Tootlepedal laid on a pot of tea and a fancy iced cake or two to welcome them back.  They had gone through a rather alarming experience when a cyclone had pushed a high tide under the floor of the beach house where they were staying but other than that, they had had a wonderful time.

I will have to practise my flute now as regular Friday night music should resume.

We are hoping for another sunny day tomorrow and perhaps on Monday too but after that we are back to cool weather with the threat of rain and even snow again.  Ah well, it was nice while it lasted.

A goldfinch, the flying bird of the day, is rather different from the usual chaffinch.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo from Manitoba.  From Manitoba but not in Manitoba as she has taken a break from endless winter to catch a ray or two in Antigua.  It looks like a good decision as more snow has arrived at home.

Mary Jo's holiday

We had a generally sunny, almost totally dry day here which was very welcome.  A nippy wind kept us from discarding many layers of outdoor clothing though.

I started the day by going to a warehouse on the banks of the Wauchope to collect some bags of potting compost for Mrs Tootlepedal and I admired one of the many little Wauchope cascades as I waited for  the compost treasure house to be opened.

Wauchope cascade

When  I got back to the garden, a song thrush was living up to its name by giving a recital from a branch of the walnut tree.

thrush

Down below a blackbird was engaged in a worm hunt.

blackbird

And in the pond, frogs were being shiny.

frog

Dropscone dropped in (with scones) for a cup of coffee and I got an update on a Scottish Golf meeting which he had attended where revolting members had gone against the wishes of the executive.  That is par for the course these days.

While we sipped and chatted, a robin flew in.

robin

After Dropscone left (to go and play golf), I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden only to be greeted by some rain.  Luckily, it didn’t last long and after this shock, the day behaved itself admirably.

All our neighbours were out in their gardens too and Mrs Tootlepedal took the opportunity to pass a surplus rhubarb plant across a fence to Irving and Libby who are establishing their new garden.

I wandered around counting bees….

bees on crocus

…and finding that there were a lot to count.  I was trying to catch them while they were still flying with variable success…

bees on crocus

…this one seems to be flying with one wing and resting with the other.

Still, it was very encouraging to see so many bees among the crocuses.

The frogs were providing a musical background for the bee hunt and I went to visit them too.

Some were getting together….

frogs

…and some were just thinking about it.

frog

After lunch, I put on some cycling clothes, went outside and tested the wind and then went back in and put another layer on. Then I got the slow bike out and went off for a gentle pedal with pictures in mind.

I didn’t go along the Wauchope road as I usually do but went up the Esk valley towards Bentpath.  This route is very up and down and luckily gives me plenty of excuses to stop for a photo as I go along.

It was a glorious day for being out and about but in spite of the sunshine, there were still traces of snow about….

breckonwrae

Just before I reached the village of Bentpath, I passed a hare which had been run over by a car and got a bit of a shock when there was a tremendous flapping of wings and crying and mewing as two buzzards rose up and flew above my head.  Usually buzzards just fly off quietly when anyone approaches but the reason for their agitation became clear when I saw this:

buzzard on road

I take it that is a young buzzard and the cause of its parent’s excitement.  I passed it by and went on for a good few yards before looking back, expecting to see the parents swoop down and go off with the youngster but nothing happened.

There was no sign of the other two birds and the buzzard on the road stayed stock still even when a car could be heard approaching.  I waved the car down and it slowed and passed within a few feet of the bird which didn’t move an inch.

I was considering my options when another car approached.  Once again, I waved it down and its driver summed up the situation very well.  He drove up to the buzzard, stopped and sounded his car horn gently.  At this, the buzzard flew off and normal service was resumed.

I pedalled on but not before admiring a tree, wall and gate composition on the other side of the road.

Benty gate

I crossed the bridge over the Esk at Bentpath…

Benty bridge

…but couldn’t get a good view of the bridge because of the scrub beside the river.  I couldn’t get a very good view of the church beside the bridge either because the powers that be have thought it best to put as many posts, wires and road signs in front of it as possible.

Westerkirk Church with poles

It would be nice if they could all be made to disappear but the camera never lies…

Westerkirk Church without poles

…or does it?

I pedalled on and just as I was wondering if they still kept alpacas at Georgefield, I got the answer in the middle of the road.

alpaca on road

As I didn’t want to chase it along the road, I was worried about not being able to get past the animal but the alpaca took the matter into its own hands and trotted past me into its own farmyard.

Having been delayed by a bird and and an animal, I was expecting to be waylaid by a fish later in the journey but they kept themselves to themselves and I managed to get home with no more alarums and excursions.

I recrossed the Esk by the Enzieholm bridge and headed back down the valley.  I got a better view of the Benty bridge…

Benty bridge

…and spotted a pair of oyster catchers beside the river nearby.

oyster catchers Benty
I have cycled over the bridge across the Boyken Burn at Old Hopsrig many times but never stopped to take its picture before.

Boyken Burn bridge

As usual, I had a look at the bridge parapet to see if there was any interesting lichen or moss there and was very surprised to find a tiny but perfectly formed tree growing in a gap between stones.

Boyken Burn bridge tree

The route I was taking has been used for many hundreds of years and I could see the site of a hill top iron age fort at Craig.

Iron age fort

When I got home, needless to say I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden.  She had planted out her primroses but hadn’t been able to put them all where she had planned because, rather unexpectedly, some winter aconites had poked their heads above the soil.

winter aconite and primrose

Still, that is welcome problem to have and she found a home for the primroses elsewhere.

By this time, even on a fine day, the light was beginning to fade and the temperature drop so we went in for a cup of tea and a slice of toast.

We are expecting a light frost tonight but we are keeping our fingers crossed that it is light enough to do no harm.  It is the price to pay for a bit of fine weather at this time of year.  (A quick look at our local weather station tells me that it is zero degrees C  as I write this.)

In spite of the fine weather, I didn’t manage to get a picture of a flying bird today so I have had to make do with this big bird scraping the roof tiles of our neighbour.

low flying plane

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Bruce.  He had ventured as far as Aberdeen where he saw this pillar box.  Reading the crest on the front which says Edward VII,  he reckons that it has been standing there for over 100 years.

aberdeen postbox

After some slightly warmer weather, we reverted to type and it  struggled to get over 5°C and because the air was quite damp and the wind was coming from the north east, it felt quite chilly all day.

But it was dry and the wind was light so I got out the fairly speedy bike to have a last ride on it before it went in for its service.  We had plans for the afternoon so I rather boringly went round my customary short 20 mile run through Canonbie.  Since the route was familiar and the skies were leaden, I didn’t intend to stop to take pictures but I almost always carry my camera and I couldn’t pass these characters at Canonbie without stopping for a snap.

canonbie cow

canonbie cow

And my favourite….

canonbie cow

…there is an eye there if you look very closely.

I had just arrived home when the minister, with his coffee radar in perfect working order, arrived.  He told us that he had done a 60 mile sportive in Yorkshire on Saturday and considering that he has done hardly any miles on his bike this winter, he was very pleased to have got round in good shape and at a decent speed.  Kudos to him.

When he left, I had to clean my bike to make it respectable enough to go to the bike shop and then I cleaned the bird feeders and then took a moment or two to look around.

However, the light was so poor and the flowers in such a sulk that there was nothing to see so we went off for our outing.  We combined dropping off the bike at the bike shop with a visit to a garden centre for lunch and then a bird feed emporium to buy more seed.

I took the opportunity to buy a new helmet when I was in the bike shop.  I tried many helmets on but they didn’t fit at all well and woggled about on my pointy head.  In the end, the only one that fitted well and was light and comfortable was also among the most expensive.  I bought it anyway because a comfortable and light helmet is worth a lot

When we got home, I had another look around and this time there were many frogs to be seen.

frog

And a lot of frogs spawn.

frogs

Mrs Tootlepedal embarked on some gardening work and I tested the compost in Bin D to see if it would sieve.  It did and I was able to spread a little about on one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new beds.

Mrs Tootlepedal reported that the sparrowhawk had paid three visits to the garden in the morning so it was not surprising that there weren’t a lot of birds about today.  One blackbird caused a stir when it flew up on to the kitchen windowsill and stuck there, frozen into immobility.  Even the arrival of the window cleaners couldn’t persuade it to move and in the end Mrs Tootlepedal went out and shifted it by hand.

blackbird on windowsill

On a nearby bench, another blackbird expressed concern.

blackbird

I don’t know what had happened to it.  It wasn’t trembling and I wonder if it had seen its own reflection in the window and was baffled about what was happening and where to go.  It flew out of Mrs Tootlepedal’s hand so it wasn’t fatally injured.

The few male chaffinches which came to the feeders were looking very bright.

chaffinch and siskin

chaffinch

But they were not as bright as some gaudy primroses which Mrs Tootlepedal purchased the other day and which are waiting to go into the garden.

primroses

The colour will be very welcome.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and we had a good time playing a Haydn sonata.

After tea, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and although as Isabel put it, we had some room for improvement, we enjoyed the playing a lot.

The absence of birds and the gloomy light made finding a flying bird of the day very hard and this was the best that I could manage.

chaffinch and siskin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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