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Posts Tagged ‘fungus’

Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony and the kingdom of everlasting sunshine, East Wemyss.  If you look closely, you might see a seal on the rock in the foreground and perhaps a cormorant too.

wemyss seascape

After our recent sunny spell, we went back to rather grey and gloomy today, but the silver lining in the clouds was a rise in the temperature to above zero.  It was a curious day because in spite of the higher temperature, the dampness in the air made it feel colder and rawer than the recent much colder but drier days.

And although the thermometer had only gone up to two degrees, by lunchtime the roads and paths were miraculously cleared of frost and ice.

It was still slippery in spots in the morning so Mrs Tootlepedal had to take care when she cycled off to a meeting about the community land buy out and I had to go cannily when I cycled to our ex-corner shop for milk and a cauliflower.

I got back safely though and was able to welcome a determined goldfinch to the feeder.

goldfinch december

It stood its ground while chaffinches circled around.

busy feeder

We seem to have a pair of dunnocks in the garden at the moment, this one…

one of dunnock pair

…and this one.

other of dunnock pair

I think they must be a pair becuase I read that they are quite fractious birds and if it was two males, then they would be trying to chase each other away.

I couldn’t find any reliable guide to tell me how to distinguish a male from a female.

A blackbird made a face at me when I asked it to pose prettily.

blackbird making facw

I have had a sore back and have not been sleeping quite as well as I would wish so I had a very quiet morning, doing nothing more active than my visit to the shop and making some dull soup for lunch.  A toasted tea cake with my coffee kept me cheerful though.
(If you like tea cakes, I can thoroughly recommend Dan Lepard’s Top Tea Cake recipe from his book ‘Short and Sweet’.  His kneading method is brilliant for people with arthritic hands)

After a bowl of the dull soup (which was enhanced by some onion gravy granules to good effect), I went off for a walk.  Although I enjoy walking up hills, coming down them again doesn’t suit my feet at the moment so I stuck to the flat today, and did an extended three bridges.

I had it in mind to take a portrait of the handsome white duck that hangs about with the mallards at the Kilngreen if it was there.

It was there but it wasn’t co-operating.

diving white duck

However, after some preparatory preening…

preening white duck

…it finally posed for a portrait.

posing white duck

Mr Grumpy was not amused to find that he wasn’t the star of the show today.

grumpy heron

Then I focussed on trees.

This one looks green enough but the green is entirely moss and lichen with not a leaf in sight…

castleholm mossy tree

…whereas this one still had a great many leaves hanging on.

castleholm leafy tree

My final one, standing between the pheasant rearing houses, had neither moss nor leaves.

pheasant pen tree

Although there was no ice or white frost left on the track that I was walking along, there was still plenty to be seen on the branches of trees that had not seen the sun lately…

frosty branches

…and this little tree trunk looked as though it had been iced by a pâtissier

iced gtree trunk

…and a fungus beside the path was fully iced too.  Very curious.

iced fungus

I had thought that going along this track might put me in danger of slipping and falling but as it was, I could stride out with some confidence.  This was lucky because it was remarkably raw and I didn’t stop a lot for pictures, although hair ice is always a temptation.

haor ice Lodge

As I got near home, I could see that Whita had retained its own little cloud for the afternoon…

Whita in low cloud

…with the monument peeping shyly through.

monument in low cloud

On my way past his house, I called in at Mike Tinker’s to collect some photographs which he had been given to pass on to the Archive Group, and he returned the compliment an hour later when he joined Mrs Tootlepedal and me for a cup of tea and a toasted tea cake. (Tea cakes have a habit of mysteriously disappearing.  I made twelve on Saturday and the last one is going to a good home as I write this.)

Then Luke came round and we played a sonata by Hadyn and worked at a little Bach partita.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre to see a screening from the Old Vic of a performance by the National Theatre of Present Laughter by Noel Coward .  She enjoyed it thoroughly and I must say that this new idea of screening these London plays nationally is a very good one.

I found several moments during the day to practise choir songs but was left with a strong feeling that more practice is still needed.

The temperature is due to rise a little more tomorrow, so the prospect of a bicycle ride may not be too far off.

A chaffinch is the flying bird of the day again.

flying chaffinch

 

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Looking through my files. I found that I had overlooked this guest picture sent to me by my sister Susan last month.  It shows the good work of a guerrilla gardener who is brightening up her neighbourhood.

guerilla gardener

After spending some time devoted to the essentials of life, reading the papers and doing the crossword, I felt the need for some novelty and went off to visit our corner shop to buy milk.

“Where is the novelty in that?” I hear the attentive reader cry.

Well, in a deeply unsettling event, our corner shop, which has been on a corner about 100 yards from our door for decades, has suddenly upped and moved 150 yards further away, round a corner and down the road.  It is now a quarter of a mile away and not on a corner any more.  The world has shaken on its foundation.

I managed to find it without too much of a problem.

When I got back though, I needed a coffee to settle my nerves.

After coffee and a few ginger biscuits, I felt that the lack of actual rain outside on a very grey day justified the putting on of cycling gear and getting out my bike.

As I was going out of the door, I passed Mrs Tootlepedal coming in.  “It’s just starting to rain,” she said.

Was I discouraged?  Well, I was a little discouraged but the rain was light and the day was reasonably warm so I pedalled off in good spirits, helped by having a friendly wind pushing me along.

I managed to last for twenty miles, pedalling up the top of Callister and back down to the town, and then up as far as  Wauchope Schoolhouse and back so that I was never too far from home in case the day turned nasty.  It rained pretty well all the time, but generally so lightly that it wasn’t a drawback to enjoyment.  It was wet enough for me to keep my camera in my pocket until just outside Langholm, I came across a small river of fungus flowing down a bank beside the road.

river of fungus

I had never seen fungus there before so I stopped for a look.

Springhill fungus

When I got home, I was just about to have some soup which Mrs Tootlepedal had made while I was out, when I thought that I saw two robins in the plum tree.

I took two pictures with my cycling camera.  Whether they were of two different birds or the same one on two different branches, I cannot say for sure.  This one looks familiar…

robin in plum tree

…but this one has been ringed and is certainly not our usual friend.

ringed robin

The day got greyer and greyer, if that was possible, so photographing birds through the window was a bit of a thankless task, made harder by a distinct lack of birds. (I blame encroaching cats among other things.)

I did see some birds enjoying our sunflower hearts, among them this chaffinch, who like me had been getting a little wet…

chaffinch eating seed

…and this goldfinch who apparently wasn’t enjoying the meal as much as it might.

goldfinch eating seed

I did catch another glimpse of a robin, this time lurking under a hedge.

shy robin

I put a grey afternoon to good use by practising some of our Carlisle choir songs and Mrs Tootlepedal and I were singing away when Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea.

When he left, I lit a fire in the front room and got ready for the arrival of my flute pupil Luke.  He has been practising a bit in a most satisfactory way and I will definitely have to work hard to keep up with him.

I thought that today might be as grey as it could get but it looks as though it is going to be even greyer tomorrow.  Flying birds might be in short supply.  This ‘just landed’ flying bird was the best that I could do today.

nearly flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tony on a walk in East Wemyss, the land of eternal sunshine.

east wemyss sunset

Our weather got warmer today but there was not a hint of sunshine here as Mrs Tootlepedal and I cycled to church to hear our potential new minister preach a sermon before the congregation voted on whether to accept his nomination for the position.

There was a good turnout and the choir was in the middle of singing an anthem when the lights suddenly went out.  We battled on gamely, peering at the music in the ecclesiastical gloom but it was all in vain because a few seconds later the organ gave up as its wind ran out with a sigh.

With great presence of mind, our organist zipped downstairs from the gallery and accompanied the last hymn of the service from a handy upright piano near the lectern.

Was it an omen?  We don’t know because the queue of church members to vote was so long that we had to leave long before the result was announced.

We got home in time for a cup of coffee before taking my stepmother Patricia for a final walk before she caught the train home.

Although it hasn’t rained a lot lately, the lack of sun has meant that things are generally rather damp and we had to mind our heads when walking under dangling conifer branches.

dripping conifet

We walked up the river to the Duchess Bridge…

duchess bridge through mossy tree

…where Patricia and Mrs Tootlepedal paused to check on the river below.

pat and Mrs t on duchess bridge

We crossed the bridge and I noted a very pale fungus beside the Lodge Walks…

white fungus

…down which we walked  towards the Sawmill Brig…

walkers on lodge walks

…noting a late leafy tree…

late autumn leaves lodge walks

…and a profusion of bright red berries at the gate…

red berries lodge walks

…before we got to the bridge and leaned over it in the hope of seeing a dipper or two.

There were no dippers to be seen today so I took a picture, staring straight down at the water below, of a sapling growing out of the cutwater of the bridge.

tree on butress sawmill brig

We introduced Patricia to Mr Grumpy who was standing on one leg today…

heron

…and noted a rook who was taking advantage of the free parking provided by our local authority on the Kilngreen.

rook parking

Looking down the High Street as we got to the Town Bridge, we could see the fine Christmas tree, freshly installed in front of the Town Hall.

town christmas tree 2019

As you can see from the Town hall clock, it was nearly one o’clock and we had time for a bowl of Mrs Tootlepedal’s leek and potato soup before driving off to Carlisle where we put Patricia on to the London train and then, having waved her goodbye, we went on to a practice with the Carlisle Community choir.

We worked hard at the practice as we have a concert in two weeks and by the time that we got home, we were ready for a sit down.  It has been a couple of busy weeks.

I didn’t have a chance to catch a flying bird at the feeder today so a rook making use of a bench on the Kilngreen is standing in for the flying bird of the day.

rook on becnh

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Today’s guest picture comes from Stephen, my Australian correspondent.  He says that it is easy to see the effects of the bush fires raging in the Blue Mountains while walking the streets of Sydney, especially as the sun comes up behind the haze at dawn.

sydney ash

We were hoping for some sun here today and we did get a slightly warmer day but sunshine was strictly rationed and we got only a very small glimmer now and again.  In spite of the grey skies, our visitor Patricia thought that a walk would be useful after her long sit on the train yesterday so we got in the car and drove down to the Hollows where we set out on foot to visit the Fairy Loup.

This 1.7 mile circular walk starts by going along the old A7, which was closed to traffic after a landslip about 40 years ago. One half of the carriageway remains and it is used occasionally by a local farmer as you can see from the tracks between the layer of beech mast which covered the rest of the road.

old a7 Byreburn Mrs t and Pat

There was interest along the way, with a flourishing crop of vetch and some colourful bramble leaves…

vetch and bramble

…as well as a selection of mosses on a wall….

moss on A7 wall

…and ferns and script lichens as well.

fern and script lichen

The winter months are the best for actually seeing the waterfall at the Fairy Loup but even without the leaves on them, the tree branches are growing so much that a clear view is impossible.

fairy loup November

We have had a dry spell lately and there was really very little water going down the Byreburn.

above the fairy loup

We passed a sensational crop of fungus on a pile of wood chippings.

fungus beside byreburn

Our direction of travel round the walk was well chosen because when we came out of the shelter offered by the Byreburn valley, we found that the nippy wind was behind us as we walked back down the road to our car.

There was even a little sunshine to light up the gates that we passed…

two gates gilnockie

….though it came and went and the clouds were back as we walked through these well clipped beech hedges near the old station.

neat hedge gilnockie

The sun came back to light up the last few yards of our walk and picked out some broom…

broom Gilnockie

…and the trunks of the trees beside the road…

trees byreburn wood

…as well as a thin string of ivy climbing a substantial tree…

ivy byreburn

…and the white lichen making a twisted tree trunk positively shine.

tree byreburn

We didn’t go directly home after our walk but stopped at the Buccleuch Centre for a light lunch in their excellent foyer coffee bar.

I had a look at the bird feeder when we got back after lunch, but there was very little avian traffic and the light was poor again, so I put my bird camera in the bag on the back of my slow bike and pedalled down to the river to see if I could see a bird or two there.

I saw several gulls perched on the electricity wires beside the Esk but they stayed stubbornly put as I watched so I left them to it and cycled over the bridge and on to the Kilngreen.

gulls on wire

There was  more movement here.  A large flock of ducks came rushing down the river towards me as soon as i got near the river, mistaking me perhaps for someone with bread in his pocket.  When no bread was forthcoming, they circled around and headed back up river muttering morosely.

ducks hoping for bread

One late-coming duck flew up at great speed.

swift duck

There were plenty of gulls about and they lifted themselves off the rocks where they were perched and took to the air from time to time.

two gulls

It was chilly so I didn’t spend too long watching them.

When I got home, I put on my cycling gear and went out into the cold garage and cycled on the bike to nowhere for half and hour.  Listening to the radio helped to lessen the tedium of looking at this view.

garage view

In the evening, I took Patricia and Mrs Tootlepedal out for a meal as a premature celebration of my birthday which is tomorrow.

As I have had a persistent feeling all year that I am a year older than I actually am, tomorrow is not going to be a big day as nothing will change….except of course that I might then start to think that I am another year older than I actually will be. For the record, I will be 78 tomorrow and I only hope that if I live to be 90, I will still be able to walk round the Fairy Loup with as much zest as our 90 year old guest Patrica demonstrated today.  She is a wonder.

The flying bird of the day is one of those Kilngreen gulls looking for a handy rock.

gull landing

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Mary Jo from Manitoba has answered my request for guest pictures and has sent me one not from Manitoba but from London.  It shows Abney Park in Stoke Newington, one of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ garden cemeteries of London.  It is a woodland memorial park and a local nature reserve.

Abney Park

It was another chilly day here with the wind coming from the north east, but at least it was dry.  Our electric car allows us to plug it into the household supply so that we can get the car nice and warm before we set off on a cold day, so I was quite snug as I drove south to have a final singing lesson from Mary, the former conductor of our Langholm choir.

This was my final lesson because Mary has made great improvements in my singing but even she cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.  As I will never be a solo singer, what I have to do now is try to remember all that she has taught me when I sing innthe choir rather than load my brain up with more instructions that I couldn’t follow anyway.

I am very grateful to her for her patience and skill.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepdal had just about finished her first section of hall decoration so I made some lentil soup and we had a celebration lunch.

After lunch, I had a look to see if the new feeder was still pulling in customers.

It was attracting goldfinches again…

goldfinches chatting

…but it didn’t please a jackdaw who took a grumpy look and flew off.

jackdaw

The feeder got busier as I watched it…

busy feeder

..but it had quiet moments too and this goldfinch took the opportunity in one of these peaceful intervals to hone its Napoleon impression.

straight goldfinch

C’est Magnifique.

I did think of cycling as it was six degrees C in the afternoon but the north wind was gusting up to 20 mph and the ‘feels like’ temperature was a measly 2 degrees so I went for a walk instead.

I had my cycling camera with me once again as Pocket Camera has remained stubbornly dead and the replacement hadn’t come yet.

I pointed it at some tiny but bright lichen on a wall at the top of the golf course…

lichen with red

…and a few yards later, when I had got onto the open hill, I spotted a gorse flower.

november gorse flower

Gorse seems to be able to bloom in almost every month of the year.

I turned left and strolled along this grassy path among the dead bracken…

 

bracken track whita

…passing trees…

two trees whita

…of different types…

 

pine tree Copshaw road

…on my way to the road to Newcastleton and a grey view up the Ewes Valley.

ewes valley

I crossed the road and follwed a track across the hillside, past this trio of remarkable trees…

three old trees

…which continue to grow in spite of only just touching the ground and not having a lot of trunk.

old hollow tree

As I came back down the hill towards Whitshiels, I could see a river of larch running through the spruces on the far side of the valley.river of larch

…and many fungi growing in the grass at my feet.

fungus at whitshiels track

I followed the track down through the woods and walked over a carpet of larch needles as I got near to the main road.

larcgh covered whitshiels track

On the seltered bank of the Ewes Water there are still some autumn leaves.

colour by the river

Instead of heading straight home when I got back to the town, I crossed the Sawmill Brig and walked round the new path on the Castleholm.

There were dozens and dozens of large cones on the noble firs beside the  when I took this picture in August….

noble fir cones castleholm

…but they must be very tasty because this is all that is left now.

eaten noble fir cone

It hasn’t snowed here yet but there was storm of snow berries beside the Esk as I walked along the river on my way home.

snowberry storm

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal told me that the replacement camera had arrived.  I used it to take a picture of Mrs Tootlepedal contemplating a repair job its predecessor.

camera repair

….whihc, after contemplation, was left for another day as we couldn’t find a good online guide to the job.

I nipped out in the fading loight to show that while almost every other flower in the garden has given up, Rosy Cheeks is still smiling (after a fashion).

rosy cheeks

I hope for some good weather to use the new camera tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a traditional chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s recent holiday.  As well as waterfalls and wonderful views, he and Marianne also saw this.

alpaca from Tony

We had the coldest night of the year so far and woke to a frosty scene.

frosty leaves

It was chilly but the birds were active.  A dunnock looked in soon after breakfast.

dunnock

The ground was pretty hard but that didn’t discourage a small group of jackdaws from pecking vigorously at the middle lawn.

two jackdaws pecking

We left the jackdaws to it and went off to take part in the Remembrance Day service in the church.  It was an unusual day for the choir as the hymns were accompanied by the town band and not our organist but we had some rousing hymns to sing so we didn’t mind.

After the service, we watched for a while as wreaths were laid at the war memorial and then headed home.

After a cup of coffee, I went out for a short walk to see how my feet would behave.  I was a bit shocked by how sore they were yesterday so I hoped to find out that that was just an aberration…and take in some nice weather at the same time.

It really was a lovely day and the calm state of the Wauchope as it passed under the Kirk Brig shows how lucky we have been here when there has been so much rain not very far away.

kirk brig reflective

I passed the war memorial with its wreaths….

war memorial remembrance day

…and some tough minded wild flowers and an interesting stick…

two wild flowers

…on my way up to the track at the Stubholm.

The sun made the best of what autumn colour is left…

stubholm track november

…and picked out some very red berries on a mature holly tree beside the track.

holly berries

A little further along, a combination of very yellow leaves and the direct sunshine produced a dazzling display which was a delight to me but which completely threw the processor in my camera which couldn’t cope with it at all.

stubholm tracj dazzle

As my current pocket camera had resisted all entreaties to behave and continued to be very stubborn when it came to taking any pictures at all, I was carrying my old Lumix with me.  It is in poor condition and I only use it on cycle trips now. Still, it did its best today even if it couldn’t cope with the leaf/sun combination.

It noted a small crop of fungus on an old log on the ground…

fungus on old log

…and a curious flaky growth on a branch above my head.  I don’t know whether this is a fungus or a lichen.

fungus on branch

And it enjoyed looking back over the town from a vantage point.

view from stubholm bank

I walked along this very autumnal path…

top path at end of stubholm

…which took me down to the river bank and back home.  My feet behaved very well.  This was a relief.

When I got home, I ordered a new camera.  It may be possible to live without champagne and caviar, but it is impossible to live without a good quality pocket camera.   (The camera on my phone is not great at all unless conditions are perfect.)

After this, I had a little time to watch the birds and was pleased to see that the/a blue tit had visited again…

blue tit looking up

…and that a mixed bag of finches and sparrows was on the feeder (I had replaced the missing perch).

full feeder

I didn’t have time for a longer walk, a short bike ride or more bird watching as we went off to Carlisle straight after lunch because we wanted to do some shopping before going to our Carlisle choir.

Our choir conductor has just won a prestigious singing prize in a competition in London so she was in a very cheerful mood.  She communicated this cheeriness to us and we had a very enjoyable and progressive practice.

Among the things that I bought on our shopping trip was a swish new feeder for the birds.  I have put it out already so I will be very interested to see what they make of it tomorrow.  The store where I bought it is having a closing down sale so I got it at an advantageous price.

I didn’t have enough standing around time today to catch a flying bird so this one, which was flying half a second before I took the picture, will have to do as the nearly flying bird of the day.

nearly flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He and his partner Marianne celebrated her birthday with a weekend in Argyll on the banks of Loch Awe, where they visited the multi layered Arvich falls.

falls of avich

We had a cold and chilly morning here today.  It was not freezing but it was cold enough to persuade me that a really idle morning would be good thing.  To tell the truth, I didn’t need much persuading.  If I was the sort of person who might complain about minor aches and niggles, I would have had an embarrassment of choices today.  However as regular readers will know I am the strong silent type so I merely did the crossword and drank coffee until getting up could no longer be avoided.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy decorating so I wouldn’t have had anyone to complain to even if I had wanted to.

I spent some time watching the birds when I was fully dressed.

There were two types of goldfinch available, the old and wrinkly and the young and smooth.

contrasting goldfinches

But luckily there were plenty of both about….

four goldfinches on feeder

..so there was plenty of action too.

Inquisitive chaffinches challenged the sitting tenants…

chaffinch challenging

…and goldfinches faced off against each other with zest.

goldfinches spat

An old and wrinkled type put the wind up a smooth fellow in a big way…

goldfinch shock

…while a greenfinch watched from above with a magisterial air.

greenfinch on pole

Putting down my bird camera, I made some lentil soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I made a quick record of some autumn colour in the garden…

autumn colour in the garden

…welcomed a robin…

robin on grey day

…and then ate the soup.

After lunch, I considered the weather forecast.  The general view was that things could only get worse so now seemed as good a time to go for a walk as any other.

I took my brolly with me for insurance and set out to walk up through a wood before coming back down to the river at Skippers Bridge and following the river bank home.

The wood was varied…

kernigal wood

…and the path was reasonably dry…

kernigal wood 2

….and there was lichen to be seen on a wall on the way and a little fungus among the trees.

fungus and lichen november

I had been well sheltered in the wood but when I got to the track at the top, it began to drizzle and I was glad that I had my brolly with me.  It was a very still day so I was able to keep quite dry in spite of the fact that it rained all the way home.

The track down the hill was covered with larch needles and this made me feel a little like a film star walking down the red carpet at a ceremony.

path to skipperscleuch

A newly felled area beside the track is regrowing with a mixture of spruce, larch and birch and even on a  gloomy day, it glowed.

young wood in autumn

When I looked back up the track, I could see the larches which had provided my carpet.

path from kernigal looking back

Out of interest, I took the same shot with the camera on my phone…

path from kernigal looking back phone

…and nothing could make clearer the amount of work the processors in your cameras do before they give you a picture to look at (unless you shoot in RAW which I only do occasionally).

I stopped for a chat in the light rain with a local resident who was walking his dog and then made my way down to Skippers Bridge.  I usually take pictures there when the sun is shining but today I took one when the weather was grey and the rain was falling just to show that it is a picturesque spot at any time.

distillery in the riain

There is a wooden fence a few hundred yards up the river from the bridge where my favourite lichen can be found if the conditions are right. They were right today.  I think that it is a lecanora or rim lichen.  They are very tiny.

lichen at lands end

The daisies that grow in profusion along the river bank at this point were still showing a bit of life…

daisies beside the river

…and further up river, I found a dipper perched on a stone, a bit too far out for me to get a good shot.  This was my pocket camera zoom at full stretch and I would have needed somewhere to rest the camera to get a sharp shot.  Juggling with an umbrella while trying to keep the camera dry made things harder.

dipper november

In spite of the persistent drizzle, the windless conditions meant that I got home both dry and warm so I enjoyed my gloomy walk a lot.

I had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal when I got home as she had finished her decorating for the day and then I caught up with my correspondence and discarded a lot of very fuzzy pictures from my walk.

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm community choir and as we had both a conductor and an accompanist, we had a productive time.

The flying bird of the day is the greenfinch in dive , dive, dive mode when a perch became vacant at the feeders.

greenfinch flying

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