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Posts Tagged ‘fungi’

Today’s guest picture from my South African correspondent, Tom, shows a jackal.  Not something we see round here at all!

jackal

My day was conditioned by an awful warning of heavy rain;  one of those warnings that comes with a little yellow triangle with an exclamation mark in the centre.  We were to expect rain so I expected rain.

It was a pleasant sunny and dry morning,  a little breezy to be sure and not warm by any means but fine for cycling so I cycled; but I expected rain by lunchtime and when I saw some very dark clouds looming up, I took the hint and cut a putative 35 mile ride down to 25 miles.  Some cows took a dim view of my cowardice (or prudence).

tarcoon cows

I stopped on the Hollows Bridge to record the first turning of the leaves….

hollows bridge view

…but my camera misinterpreting my wishes, kindly slid the incipient yellows back to light greens so the effect was less impressive than I had hoped.

Still, I got home dry and warm;  but still expecting rain….the forecast had put it back to three o’clock by this time.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre and I had a slice of bread and raspberry jam and went out to mow the drying green grass before the rain came.

Bees, butter and hover flies were having fun on the Michaelmas daisies beside me as I mowed…

insects on daisies

…and the the poppies looked gorgeous as always.

poppies

The large lilies are developing and I wondered if they would attract a butterfly or two.

They did.

peacock butterfly on lily

I saw an odd thing at the other side of the garden….

peacock butterfly

…a peacock butterfly with only one pair of eyes.  It must have had its second wing tucked under its first.  I have never seen this before.

After I had finished my cycle ride, I had arranged with Sandy to go for a walk (before the rain came) and he arrived on cue and drove us to the top of Callister where we intended to walk round the forestry plantation.  We were discouraged when we found that there were fierce signs telling us not to enter on account of forestry operations but a queue of cars emerged through the gate and one of the drivers kindly told us that there were no operations going on today and that we could proceed with care.

We proceeded with care.

Although we were in the sun, there were dark clouds about….

Callister walk

…and depending on which way you looked, sometimes very dark clouds.

Callister walk

We walked on expecting rain.

I led Sandy down the middle of a wide forest ride.  It was very tussocky and hard going and if you lifted your head to see if there was anything interesting to see, you tended to fall over.   We therefore didn’t see much until we went into the forest beside the ride to see if the going was better.  There we saw fungus…

fungus

…and when we emerged back on to the ride, we saw a very unusual set of fungi, pressed like buttons on a sofa in the peaty side of a drainage ditch.

fungus

We battled on to the end of the ride and joined a track.  It is fair to say that I enjoyed plunging through the heavy going a good deal more than Sandy did.  I used to do a lot of orienteering and ground like this was second nature to me.

We came to a pond beside the road….

callister pond

…which would have looked better, I thought, without the telephone pole at the end of it.

callister pond

And it started to rain.  I was so appalled by this that it soon stopped and disappeared apologetically.

We continued our walk expecting rain.

We were walking round a small valley and crossed the stream that flowed out of it.  It dropped into a dark and mysterious pool as it flowed under the track.

callister pool

Strange spirits might dwell in a pool like that.

It was a lot brighter at the dark pool than it used to be because they are going to build another windfarm to add to our local collection at the far side of the forest and to that end, a lot of tree felling has been taking place.

tree felling callister

…which leaves a bit of a mess to say the least.  It is amazing though how the ground recovers as a look at a new plantation nearby shows.

callister plantation

There were three existing wind farms visible as we walked and we could see the offices for the soon to be built farm beside our track.

windfarms

I welcome these wind farms as we have a tremendous amount of wind round here doing nothing but annoying innocent cyclists so it is good to see it being put to good use.  Each turbine must take a little energy out of the wind and this should make it easier for me to pedal about…..though I do realise that we might need a whole lot more turbines before any noticeable effect could be felt.

The tree felling led to some impressive piles of logs beside the track.

callister logs

Like this heap, quite a few of the piles had ‘chip’ written on them and we wondered of they were going to be chipped for use in the wood fired power station at Lockerbie.

There were some plants to be seen as we walked.

callister plants

callister plants

As we got near to the end of our walk, black clouds over Callisterhall looked threatening.

Callisterhall

It is a pity that this is no longer an inn as our two and a half mile walk had been quite tiring with tough going at the start and some hills on our way back.  A light refreshment would have gone down well.

We had to wait until we got home until we got a much needed cup of tea and a Jaffa cake or two to restore our energy levels.

When Sandy left, I set about sieving the rest of the compost in Bin D and while Mrs Tootlepedal distributed the results around the vegeatble beds, I turned most of Bin C into the now empty Bin D.  When I flagged, Mrs Tootlepedal lent a hand.  As a special treat for those pining for compost bin illustrations, I photographed the result.

compost bins

The contents of Bin C had rotted down well.

We didn’t stay out in the garden too long as we were expecting rain but we did have time to look at some flowers before we went in.

I have picked three favourites.  Mrs Tootlepedal likes the dahlia on the left for its colour, the big bumble bee likes the dahlia in the middle for its pollen and I like the new hellenium on the right for its shape and pattern.

dahlias and hellenium

Everyone was happy.

Dropscone had dropped in before I went cycling this morning with a generous gift of a sea bream which he had acquired on his recent travels and Mrs Tootlepedal cooked it for our tea.  I don’t think that I have ever knowingly eaten sea bream before and I thought it tasted very good.  Dropscone says he will tell me all about where he found it when he comes for coffee tomorrow.

As I sat down to write tonight’s post, the rain finally arrived.  I had been expecting it.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my older son Tony and shows a view of Oban, where he was having a short break with his partner Marianne this last weekend.

ObanWe had another lovely day here today and I was in a much better state to enjoy it than I was yesterday.  Happily, most of the aches and pains have disappeared as swiftly as they had arrived and after breakfast, I was able to potter about doing some useful tasks in the garden.  I dug up a couple of rows of quite productive potatoes and shredded some of the obstinate decorative grass that takes an age to compost of you put it in untouched.

I took a few pictures too of course.

poppiesinsects

clematis

Yet another clematis has appeared.

My good humour was further bolstered by some excellent scones which Dropsocne brought round to go with a cup of coffee or two.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been at a church choir practice while we sipped and chatted and when she returned, she cast a weather eye out and decided to cycle to The Hub in Eskdalemuir for a cup of tea and a bacon butty.   I was not feeling quite confident enough about my own fitness to go with her so I waved her on her way.

This turned out to be a good decision because I was just getting organised to go out on a little ride of my own, when my watch alarm went off, reminding me that it was time to go and do my stint in the Information Hub on the High Street as the tourist office is now called.  I had completely forgotten about this.

I had time to set the tripod up and watch the birds for a moment or two before I went.

flying chaffinch

Two rapid exposures caught this chaffinch sticking on the brakes as it approached the feeder

siskin and sparrow

Two separate exposures caught a siskin and sparrow manouevering for position

My afternoon at the Information Hub was not busy but also not entirely wasted as I was able to offer some information to a couple of tourists and I received visits from Ken, the data miner, and Sandy which both helped pass the time.

When I had locked up, I went off for a short walk with Sandy.  We drove to Whitshiels and walked up one of our favourite tracks.  I was hoping for fungus.

fungiWe found fungus.

fungiWe peered into the hidden world of insect life…

soldier beetles

These are soldier beetles but I don’t know what the very tiny one at the bottom of the picture is.

We peered at plants…

plantAnd we peered at the fantastical world of lichens.

lichensWhen we emerged from the woods, we were able to enjoy the view as ever….

Ewes valley…and among the grasses, we could see the tiny moths that fluttered about….

moth

Hardly bigger than a stalk of grass

….and the much more visible stock pens….

stock pen…and once again, we marvelled at the three trees just beyond the pens.

three treesThese trees have the slenderest connection to the ground imaginable.  I always expect to find that they have upped sticks and walked away but they seem to thrive.  All three have only half a trunk and are completely hollow near the ground.

We didn’t have the time or energy to complete our usual circular walk and when we had enjoyed the sunshine and the views, we walked back down the track.

I got home just before Mrs Tootlepedal.  She returned from her 29 mile cycle ride in good order and in very good spirits.  She had chosen an excellent day for the outing with warm sunshine and light winds but the road to Eskdalemuir is hilly all the way and it is not a doddle by any means, even on a good day.  My admiration for her is unbounded.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and considering that we have not met for a few weeks, he played very well.  I am looking forward to a productive autumn  with him.

After a nourishing fish cake for my tea, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  I didn’t take my flute as my hands are not entirely ache free and holding and playing the recorder is much less hard work than puffing away at a heavy flute.  As a result, I enjoyed the hour’s playing a great deal.  Because I make many less mistakes on the recorder than on the flute, I think the other two enjoyed themselves as well.

I am hoping to feel even better tomorrow and I have a cycle ride planned for the afternoon.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s sister Liz.  She saw this deadly nightshade on a visit to the Solway shore.

Deadly nightshadeThe day started pretty well and then improved.

I got up reasonably early and went up to the Moorland Project bird feeders.  I was filling in for fillers who were otherwise engaged.  The feeders all needed refilling and after that was done, I settled down in the hide to see if the birds would be grateful.  They were.  This was good but less good was the fact the light was poorer than I had hoped.  As usual though, I just snapped away regardless.

chaffinches

Two chaffinches

greenfinch and siskin

Greenfinch and siskin

woodpeckers

Woodpeckers on nuts and seed

The feeders kept busy but there was a complete absence of any of the tit family, no blue tits, no great tits and no coal tits.  They seem to have been badly affected by the poor weather at their breeding time.

The pheasants were wisely keeping a low profile and practising lurking in the undergrowth.

pheasantWhen I had packed the camera away, I was looking at an umbellifera near the hide to see if I could get a good picture of a red beetle on it.  However when I put the photo to the computer in the evening, I thought that the flower itself was more interesting than the insect.

umbelliferaI got home in time for a late breakfast and after some really first class moaning about this and that, I was vigorously encouraged by Mrs Tootlepedal to pack it in and go cycling.  I did just that.

I had only gone half a mile up the road when it started to rain but I had a rain jacket and a cap in my back pocket so I put them on and pedalled on, hoping to come through the rain and out of the other side.  After seven or eight miles, I did just that and for the rest of the trip, the weather was kind.  It was a bit breezy and quite chilly but the breeze was behind me on my return and I had dried out by the time I got home.

Because of the gloomy weather, I hadn’t packed my camera but I had my phone with me and a patch of colour by the roadside brought me to to a halt.

Grange QuarryIt was worth coming out just to see that.  I wasn’t in any hurry today and the twenty five miles took me almost two hours but as my knees where quite happy about the whole thing, I was happy too.

I had just finished a nourishing lunch of a sardine on toast with a selection of good cheeses when I was visited by Scott, the minister, who had returned from taking part in the London 100 mile bike sportive with 25,000 other keen pedallers.

He had enjoyed himself and got round at 15 mph without incident and even managed the 12 mile cycle ride back to his car after the finish of the event.  He loves swooshing down steep hills and his only disappointment had been that there were so many other cyclists about all the time that he couldn’t go down the hills at his normal speed.

After he left, I caught a glimpse of white going past the window and rushed out with my camera to catch a very rare shot of a butterfly visiting our garden.

butterfly and tailess sparrowI have combined it with a picture of a tailless sparrow which often comes to the feeder and seems to be able to fly with no problems.

As you can see, a little sunshine had appeared by this time.  I had to spend some time preparing cards to sell for Archive Group funds but I was able to get  into the garden and mow the drying green and then look at a few flowers while I was out.  It was quite colourful.

knautia and weiglea

Red:  weigela and knautia

courgette and rose

Yellow: courgette and rose

blue(ish): Hosta and lobelia

Blue(ish): Hosta and lobelia

I went round the back of the house to try to capture the fine floral display along the dam.  Our neighbour Kenny had just cut the grass there and it was looking very neat.

damsideI was just thinking about going for a walk when the second cyclist of the day appeared.  This was Dropscone.  I was surprised, as he is a man of habit and his usual routine is to cycle in the morning and golf in the afternoon.  Today, he had not only done exactly the opposite but had scored well at the golf and gone quite quickly on the bike so he was in a very cheerful mood.

When he left after a cup of tea and a bsicuit, I got my walk in.  I chose to walk along the same route that I was following when I fell in the hole last month.  This time, I kept my eyes peeled and stopped when I saw anything interesting.  I didn’t fall into any holes even though there was quite a lot to look at.

There were fungi along the way.

fungiThere was a quite a substantial number of the ones on the right but they had either been kicked over by some enterprising dog or heavily eaten as they were all uprooted and damaged.

I saw another batch growing at the foot of a tree and I have combined them with a close up of some meadowsweet.

meadowsweet and fungiI went to take a picture of a very pretty pink flower and ended up by taking a flying bee of the day as well.

flying beeAs I walked through the bluebell wood, the foxgloves showed that they are nearly over….

foxglove and bluebell…and I imagine that the seed heads on the left are all that remains of the bluebells.

It is not a walk with views but occasionally, a gap in the trees lets you see a hill.

whitaI was very pleased to finally take a picture of a nettle covered in tiny flowers.  I have tried this shot often this year with no success so even this not very good shot cheered me up a lot.

nettleThe camera finds it hard to know what to focus on.

As I added a honeysuckle picture too..

honeysuckle…the walk would have been worth it just for those two shots.  As it was, the warm, sunny evening was a pleasure in itself…though it did make me think of how many evenings like it we have been missing this summer.

I came back along the path beside the park wall and took a final shot of the jungle that can be found on its stones.

park wallMrs Tootlepedal had been at a meeting in Newcastleton during the afternoon but she got stuck into the garden when she got back and I did a little compost sieving

The lamb stew made another appearance for our tea and then it was time for me to settle down and look through the day’s pictures.

I found a very compact siskin for the flying bird of the day.

siskin

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My brother saw the Thames in flood when he visited Oxford recently.

The Thames appeared about ten times wider than on my last visit.

We had a break from the gloomy weather today and very welcome it was too.  I had to take the car to the garage for its annual service first thing in the morning and walking back through the town, everyone I met had a spring in their step.

The forecast was for a windy start to the day so I kindly let Dropscone go round the morning run by himself and entertained him to coffee and biscuits when he returned.  He told me that he had been in sunshine for almost the whole twenty miles.  He helped me make some serious inroads into the sweet biscuit mountain left over from generous Christmas gifts.

When he left, I put a little of the special bird food that I had bought in Carlisle yesterday onto the lawn.  It was designed to attract blackbirds but the chaffinches had scoffed the lot within minutes.   This blackbird showed what she thought of the whole affair.

blackbird

garmin 8 Jan 14The wind had dropped a little by the time that I got my cycling gear on but to compensate, the sun had gone behind some thin clouds.  It was still very pleasantly warm for the time of year so I enjoyed my visit to Eaglesfield.

There was very little traffic about and although the road surface is not as good as I would like it to be, I had little to complain about, especially as by the time that I got to Waterbeck, the sun had come out and the countryside was looking as good as it could in the middle of winter.

I stopped to take a picture or two just after I left Waterbeck.

Waterbeck village

Waterbeck village

Fields round waterbeck

The long shadows of the trees show how low the sun is even in the middle of the day at this time of year.

I passed through Eaglesfield and stopped to take a picture of the bridge over the Kirtle Water just outside the village.

Bridge over Kirtle water

I went on through Gair and stopped to take a picture of the bridge over the Kirtle Water at the bottom of the hill there too.

Bridge over Kirtle water

Then I got to Falford, where I stopped to take a picture of the bridge over the Kirtle water there.

Bridge over Kirtle water

Then there were no more bridges over the Kirtle Water to photograph so I cycled home without stopping.  Thanks to the kindly effects of gravity and a following wind, I did the last five and a half miles at an average speed of over 23 mph.  All life should be like that.

I did pass a tree or two as well as all these bridges.

tree

In spite of the speedy finish, my average was very moderate but the ride was a bonus after so much wind and rain.

When I got back, I discovered that Mrs Tootlepedal had not been idle either and had put in some very good work in the garden. She drew my attention to a large but rather revolting fungus (I think) which she had spotted on the stump of an old silver birch.

fungus on silver birch

It was too nice  a day to be indoors so when Mrs Tootlepedal said she was going to continue to garden, I rang up Sandy and we went for a short walk round Gaskells.

Full of the spirit of adventure, we went round in the opposite direction to our usual route.

catkins

There were catkins on every side.

Wauchope and becks

And plenty of water in the Wauchope and the Becks Burn

The fungi seem to be thriving too.

fungi

When we reached the Auld Stane Brig, the lichens were in very fine fettle.  Every patch seemed to be breaking out.

lichens

I said to Sandy that I had never seen them like this before and he suggested that this was probably because I had never looked properly before.  He may be right.  Mrs Tootlepedal agrees with him but I have a sneaking suspicion that if they had been so three dimensional in previous years, even I might have noticed.

The light was fading by the time we had finished admiring the lichens and the low sun was reflected in the Wauchope as we looked up stream from the bridge.

wauchope

Up above our heads, the moon was smiling back at the sun.

moon

One final growth caught my eye as we got back to the town.

growth

I have no idea what this is at all.

When we got home, Sandy helped me to diminish the biscuit mountain a bit more and then headed off.  I settled down to catch up with my correspondence and then put a week of the newspaper index into the database as the data miners have restarted their researches after the break.

Talking of the Archive Group, a notable land reform campaigner called Andy Wightman has used some of our pictures in a very interesting discussion about the Kilngreen.  It gives a picture of how so much common land has disappeared from common ownership over the years.  You can find it at his blog here.  He is a very interesting chap and I went to a talk which he gave in Langholm last year.  If he ever decides to stand for election as king, I will be voting for him.  By coincidence, a TV programme, ‘Who owns Scotland?’ is on as I am writing this.  Mrs Tootlepedal is recording it.

I managed to find a moment to catch a flying chaffinch during the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my Newcastle correspondent and shows what heights a grown man can reach when  the weather is bad.menger tower

As far as our weather went today, the forecasters seemed to have been a bit over exuberant in their threats of gale force winds and lashing rain and we got a breezy day with occasional showers.

It is still noticeably warm for the time of year but because it is generally so grey overhead, this is not giving us a great deal of joy.  We would pay good money for a nice crisp frosty day with some blue skies.   I realise that it is a bit mean to complain when our west coast is being lashed by 27 foot waves and most of the USA is suffering from life threatening chill but nevertheless, miserable weather is still miserable weather.

The wind is not encouraging me to take my bike out and the grey clouds are making photo taking difficult.

While Mrs Tootlepedal  was out at a church choir practice, my daughter Annie and I set about making some tea cakes using a time heavy method that managed to pass most of the morning very pleasantly.

I did find time to peer at passing birds in the gloom.

formation chaffinches

The formation chaffinches were out practising.

chaffinch

A member of the team heading for a rest.

 

robin

A robin sneaked onto the feeder in the middle of a crowd of chaffinches and goldfinches.

The grey light means that sharp pictures are impossible as I am shooting with an ISO of 4000 just to catch a moving bird at all but it sometimes produces quite an atmospheric shot.

flying chaffinch

When Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her practice, we noticed a gap in the drizzle and nipped out for a quick turn round Gaskell’s Walk.   Annie had not been along the path since the trees were all cut down so she enjoyed seeing the path literally in a new light.

I was looking for mosses,  lichens and fungi as we went along.  Mrs Tootlepedal and Annie helped.

mossy hedge

Annie’s pick:  It would be hard to get a hedge with more moss on it than this.

lichen pods

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted these impressive lichens on the Auld Stane Brig

Exidia plana

I have got a little book of fungi. This may be exidia plana

These are tiny excrescences on a dead trunk.

These are tiny excrescences on a dead trunk.  My book was no help.

Trametes versicolor

I am going for Trametes versicolor here but only tentatively.

Because we were sheltered from the wind and it only rained for a short while soon after we started, the walk was very enjoyable in a slightly morose and damp sort of way.

The high spot of the walk for me was seeing this elegant gate with a diamond shape in it.  Not at all typical of our local gates.

gate with diamond

The high spot for the gardeners was seeing a snowdrop in the wood at Stubholm.

December

This may not look much to a non gardener but it it is truly surprising to see one out so early in the year here.  Equally amazing are the two wallflowers that we saw in our own garden when we got home.

wallflowers

Not very photogenic I admit.

It has, as they say, been a funny winter so far.

It was time for a late lunch when we got home but it quickly got so dark outside that it felt as though it was tea time already.  Fortunately, we soon had a ready supply of freshly cooked tea cakes to hand so staying indoors was no hardship.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and we enjoyed playing a duet and later on I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel for the first time this year.  It was good to be back tootling again after the Christmas break.

The flying bird of the day is a rather vague goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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