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Posts Tagged ‘fungus’

Today’s guest picture is a fine Welsh tree spotted by my fine welsh correspondent Keiron.

keiron's tree

Finally we got some steady rain here overnight, and although it wasn’t a downpour, there was enough rain to leave the ground looking definitely damp when we got up in the morning.

It was deemed to be too cold and windy for an enjoyable outside coffee morning so we had to eat our chocolate biscuits and drink our coffee by ourselves indoors.

I did go out into the garden to see if the rain had sparked huge new growth but things were much as they had been yesterday, only a bit damper.

garden after rain

There didn’t seem much point in staying out so I went back in, waving at a hellebore as I did so.

hellebore

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy with work for the proposed community land buy out * and I found inessential ways to pass the time until lunch.

It was technically a cycling day, but it was grey, with a vigorous and blustery wind, and as there was also a promise of rain in the forecast, I thought that a walk with Mrs Tootlepedal would be a much better bet.

We took the path up the river past the Duchess Bridge.  Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t been along this path for some time and was impressed by its mossy trees with lichen covered trunks surrounded by wild garlic.

duchess bridge walk

We emerged out of the woods and followed the road towards Potholm.

There was plenty to catch our interest along the way, a romantic tree, copious stitchwort and crosswort….

milnholm road

…two men planting trees in a felled area on the opposite bank of the river, lichen on the wall beside the road and a great heap of lambs.

The star of the show to me was some fresh hawthorn flowers in a hedge.

hawthorn flowers

Passing Milnholm farm we saw a potato field and more lichen on a branch…

milnholm hedge and field

…and signs of the recent frost in the shape of damage to a beech hedge on our left and then more damage all along the hedge to our right.

As we got near to the bridge over the Esk at Potholm, an oyster catcher tiptoed through a field, trying to avoid our scrutiny

oyster catcher potholm

Once across the bridge, we walked up the track into the woods…

climb past potholm

…passing fresh  ferns, poppies growing in wall and ajuga growing beside the track.

potholm wild flowerrs

At the top of the hill, we left the main track and walked up a minor track through the woods.

forest track longfauld wood

This was the track I had followed on a  recent walk but it was new to Mrs Tootlepedal who enjoyed the woods and the wild flowers in them.

wild flowers longfauld wood

We were interested to see that the recent frost had pretty well put paid the the yellow pimpernel but had left the tormentil unscathed.

We passed two very green spots, first what Mrs Tootlepedal thought was a moss like liverwort on a bank….

liverwort

…and then a grassy clearing at the end of the forestry track.

green in wood

We followed a bluebell lined path back to Holmhead…

path above north lodge

…and walked down to the road  through the snowdrop wood where we were brought up short by this magnificent soup plate sized fungus on a tree stump.

huge fungus holmhead

The road itself, with bluebells shimmering through the woods to our  left…

holmhead road

…brought us down to the Lodge Walks where we were happy (but a bit jealous) to find a fine azalea which had escaped frostmageddon.

azalea lodge walks

We walked across the dandelion covered football pitch…

soggy dandelion head

…crossed the Jubilee Bridge (after Mrs Tootlepedal had spotted a nuthatch) and made our way round the Scholars’ Field.  There I stopped to take a picture of the most common wild flower that we had seen almost all the way round out walk.

red campion

Mrs Tootlepedal was moved by the sight of the children’s play area, unused and neglected because of the virus.

deserted playground

We were both ready to polish of what was left of the boiled fruit cake with a cup of tea when we got home after a very varied and enjoyable five miles.  Although it had threatened to rain more than once as we walked, an added bonus was the fact that we got round dry, with even an occasional hint of sunshine.  In fact it didn’t start raining until quite a bit later in the day and I had plenty of time to watch the birds after the tea and cake.

Pairs of siskins (dropping food as usual) and goldfinches were joined by a lone siskin and a curious redpoll.

siskin, redpoll and goldfinch

Siskins and redpolls continued to appear…

flying siskins and redpolls

…and I watched them until it was time for us to Zoom with my siblings.

When she had first got up, Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a lot of birds feeding their young in the garden, but they were never there when I was looking, so I was pleased to see a young thrush in the plum tree right at the end of the day.

thrush in plum

It is due to be warmer and wetter tomorrow, with a fine warm day to follow on Wednesday, so I hope that things will really start growing in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is not a siskin or a redpoll but a traditional chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

*If you haven’t looked at it before and are interested, details of the proposed community land buy out can be found here, and Mrs Tootlepedal wants me to add that any contribution to the scheme, however modest, will be very warmly welcomed and much appreciated.  Our thanks go to those readers who have already helped us.

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Today’s guest post comes from our son Alistair. He found a welcome visitor in his garden and took this splendid picture of it.

alistair's bee

We had two unusual things to contend with when we got up. It had rained overnight and there was a greenfinch and a goldfinch on the feeder.

greenfinch and goldfinch

I was able to cope quite well though, as it had hardly rained at all, just enough to wet the ground, and the birds didn’t stay long on the feeder either.

It was cool and very windy so although a tulip looked as though it wanted to open up…

nearly tulip

…it looked exactly the same at the end of the day.

We had occasional little bursts of sunshine and the hellebores looked up expectantly to get the benefit of the warmth while they could.

hellebore looking up

The little primroses liked the sun too…

cheery primroses

…but living near to the soil as they do, they find things that like them, and they tend to get a bit chewed up.

two eaten primroses

A potential pulsatilla had retained a drop or two of rain among its furry foliage.

early pulsatilla

The main gardening business of the morning was more work on the tidying up of the paving stones around the woodshed.

cleared paving stones

It will be interesting to see how long we can keep the grass at bay once life gets back to normal. But it looks neat just now.

Contact with our distant families is virtual so I downloaded a handy app called Zoom on to my phone and we had a chat with Annie, Joe and and our granddaughter Evie through this medium during the morning. This stuff is very clever.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a WhatsApp conversation with our son Tony too.

It should have been a bicycling day but at 30 to 35 mph the wind was too strong for me to enjoy a pedal so I went for a walk after lunch.

In site of the chilly wind, a little sunshine at the start of the walk made things seem quite springlike….

first leaves

…and I enjoyed the views and the fresh larch trees as I walked along the track towards the Becks Burn.

becks track panel

I had a look at the little waterfall above the bridge when I got there, but the lack of recent rain has reduced it to a trickle.

becks burn cascade trickle

As a consolation, a very pretty primrose was growing in a crack between moss covered rocks beside the stream.

primroses becks burn

I crossed the bridge over the Becks Burn and as I walked down the road on the other side, I looked across the valley and decided it was nice enough to walk up to the track that climbs the lower slopes of Warbla.

track up wabla from hallcrofts

I don’t take the road from the bottom but go down to the left, cross the Auld Stane Brig and walk up the grassy slope beside that line of trees and join the road half way up.

One of the trees had some colourful fungus on a branch.

warbla fungus

The sky had clouded over by the time that I had got to the track and the sun was wasting its bounty on hills three miles away.

veiw from warbla far sun

As I walked down the track towards the town, the wind got up, the temperature dropped and a few drops of rain made me fear the worst so I dived into the Kernigal woods for some cover. I kept my head down and enjoyed a lichen covered tree stump and a mossy bank…

kernigal moss and lichen

…but when I lifted my head, I found that the clouds had cleared and the sun was out again.

kernigal wood view

One benefit of a brisk wind is that it brings quick changes to the weather.

I had met my friend Ada at the start of yesterday’s walk and she told me that if I looked very carefully when I came down the path from the wood, I might just see the first bluebell of the year.

I looked very carefully and, hey presto, there it was.

first bluebell

It is miles ahead of any other bluebell as the other plants are not even showing flower stalks yet. Some knowledgeable person will probably tell me that it is not a bluebell at all but if it is, it is remarkably early.

I had a look at the park wall when I got there, and a casual glance might make you believe that there was nothing very interesting there….

park wall

…but put your nose closer and peer hard and there, right in the middle of the picture above, are delights to be found.

soldier lichen

After I got home, I used Zoom to chat with my brother Andrew and my sister Susan. It is very smart to be able to see all three of us on the screen of my phone at the same time but it is tricky to get used to the fact that only one person can speak at the one time.

Later on we enjoyed a WhatsApp chat with Alistair, Clare and our other granddaughter Matilda. They were in good form. By the end of the day we had done a lot of family catching up. It will still be better when we can see our grandchildren in person though.

In the evening, we were able to watch a streaming of a very amusing play from the National Theatre archives for free, a kind gesture to help people put up with the boredom of having to stay in fro night after night. It was definitely preferable to watching never ending news bulletins of the spread of the pandemic.

The non-flying bird of the day is a jackdaw. Fed up with pecking the lawn, it was pecking the plum tree instead.

jackdaw

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s Northumbrian holiday.  It shows Bamburgh Castle, which he visited with his daughters and granddaughter even though he had to pay to get in.  His granddaughter got in free in her pushchair though.

bamburgh castle dennis

As Mrs Tootlepedal had an assignation to have coffee with her ex-work colleagues, I walked up the hill to have coffee with Sandy.  With Dropscone being away, there has been a scone drought so I was very happy to find that through the good wishes of an earlier visitor, Sandy had a supply of unlicensed scones to go with our coffee.  They went down well with some raspberry jam.

After our recent sunny days, it was back to normal today and it rained from morning until after dark.  When I left Sandy’s, the rain had eased back to a gentle drizzle so I took the opportunity to stretch my legs with a walk across the Becks Burn.

A horse and and I had a meeting of minds on the state of the weather.

horse giving me the eye

There has still been no demand for the fallen crab apples beside the track.

fallen apples becks track

A sheep posed nicely for me and showed off how wet the ground is now.

sheep becks track

When I got to the Becks Burn, I was able to see the law of unintended consequences in action.    The stream used to flow straight on when it was flooded making access to the bottom of the steps on the far bank very difficult if not impossible.  Someone created a serviceable dam out of natural materials and now the stream stays in its bed and it is possible to get to the steps on dry ground.

bank dammed becks burn

However, the strength of the stream as it is forced to go round a corner instead of going straight on has eaten away at the opposite bank so that support for a walkway has been undermined and getting down to the bridge is getting more difficult all the time.

bank collapsed becks burn

It is still passable though so I crossed the bridge and walked up the steps to get to the road home.

There were several crops of fungus, bright enough to catch the eye on the way.

fungi becks trackfungi becks burn 2fungi becks burn 1

As I walked back down the hill to the town, I could see that the snowdrops are nearing the end of their flowering life…

snowdrop becks road

…but there is never any shortage of lichen on the hedge plants…

lichen on hedge becks road

…or moss.

mossy hedge pool corner

The trees by the river are mossy too.

mossy branches pool corner

Mrs Tootlepedal was still out when I got back so I did the crossword, had a light lunch and occasionally watched birds.

There hadn’t been many about after breakfast…

birds on feeder

…but I had changed the feeder before I went to Sandy’s and two greenfinches were enjoying the new feeder.  They were managing to waste a lot of my expensive seed.  I will have to offer the birds lessons in neat feeding.

two greenfinches dropping food

On the whole, the birds were a bit shy…

shy chaffinch

….and as the light was poor, I didn’t do a lot of bird watching.

Mrs Tootlepedal got back thoroughly soaked from bicycling around the town on business but the heavier rain didn’t discourage the siskins who arrived later…

siksin on feeder

…and instantly…

ill bred siskin behaviour 2

…started arguing.

ill bred siskin behaviour 1

A blackbird kept well out of the way.

balckbird crocus

I spent some useful time practising songs for the Carlisle Choir and looking at hymns for Sunday’s church service and managed not to get too depressed by the return of the rain.

Mrs Tootlepedal watched a news item which said that Scotland has had twice the normal rainfall this February. February is usually the driest winter month apparently, but with it being a leap year so the month has an extra day and another named storm arriving tomorrow, this month is going out in whatever the opposite of a blaze of glory is.

For our tea, Mrs Tootlepedal made a delicious toad in the hole with some sausages lightly flavoured with chillis and perfect batter.  The evening was further brightened by a visit from Mike and Alison who were pleased to find that the rain had stopped by the time that they came round for their usual Friday evening visit.  I enjoyed the duets with Alison.

It hadn’t stopped when I took the flying bird of the day picture earlier on. The chaffinch was expertly avoiding the heavier raindrops.

flying chaffinch

Welly boot note: The Norwegian weather forecast says that we are not going to be too oppressed by Storm Jorge tomorrow.   I hope that they are right.  The BBC was more gloomy.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  She felt that as I had been a bit lacking of flying birds recently, she should help me out.  She visited RSPB West Sedgmoor on Saturday and saw a great many teal.

RSPB West Sedgemoor teal

My first picture of the day was taken very early in the morning indeed.  As I went to bed last night,  I was surprised to see that the moon was out and although it was lightly covered by a very thin cloud, I thought that I should celebrate being able to see it at all in the midst of our bad weather. This was six minutes after midnight.

full moon February

When I woke up this morning, the day was remarkably peaceful and dry.  After breakfast I got a call from fellow archivist Nancy to say that one of our microfiche readers wasn’t working and I was able to walk up to the Archive Centre without getting wet.

The Wauchope was unrecognisable from the river that we had seen on our way to church just a day ago and Mr Grumpy had found a quiet pool to stand in behind a bush.

calm after storm

After some head scratching and with a bit of a “let’s try that” technique, we got the reader to read again and I left Nancy to her work and walked home.  In spite of the improved weather conditions, the continuing brisk wind made me grateful for the warmth of my new coat.

In the garden I found the (small) host of daffodils had survived, a starling was doing some supervision…

in the garden after storm

…a first flower had appeared on the winter honeysuckle and Mary Jo’s rain gauge showed that quite a bit of rain had fallen.

The wind was no discouragement to the birds today though and enough goldfinches arrived to start a fight…

squabbling goldfinches

…though experience has led me to believe that sometimes two goldfinches are all you need to have a scrap.

Peace did break out and we got a collection of siskins and goldfinches that swapped places from time to time.

two triples on the feeder

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some business and shopping  and I made some lentil soup for lunch.

Fortified by the soup, eaten with bread and cheese, we drove down to Canonbie to have a walk.  There were spots of rain as we drove down but luckily, the rain stopped when we got to the Byreburn Woods, and so we started our walk.

Our plan was to keep among the trees for as much of our walk as possible because the wind was very cold and the excellent path took us along in the shelter of some very tall conifers.

Byreburn Wood walk 1

Here is Mrs Tootlepedal giving a sense of scale.

Byreburn Wood walk 2

When we came out of the trees, some well constructed steps took us the steepest part of the hill….

Byreburn Wood walk 3

…and a handy bench provided us with a resting place at the top.

Byreburn Wood walk 4

The path is part of the Council’s Core Path Network and is well signposted and well maintained.

As we got to the most exposed part of the walk, there was a hint of sunshine…

Byreburn Wood walk 5

…which was fully realised as we came out of the wood and walked down the road…

Going down to Byre Burn

…to the modest bridge over the Byre Burn.

bridge at top of Byre Burn

We crossed the bridge and took the track which goes back down the hill alongside the Byre Burn itself.

fairy loup track

Here we spotted the only fungus we saw all walk…

fungus fairy loup track

…enjoyed the glowing moss on the bank above the track being picked out by the sun…

moss in sun fairy loup track

…and listened to the music of the burn…

cascade fairy loup track

…as it chattered over the little cascades on its way to the Fairy Loup and the River Esk.

cascade fairy loup track 2

We had to stop to take the obligatory picture of the Fairy Loup when we came to it, although the view would be greatly improved if someone would come along and trim the trees in front of it.

fairy loup february

When we got to the road at the bottom of the track,  we crossed this much more impressive bridge.  It carries the road which used to be the main Carlisle to Edinburgh trunk route.

Byreburn bridge A7

We had done two miles by the time that we got back to the car.  Although this was not a long walk, it had had a lot of variety on the way which had made it most rewarding.

When we got back to Langholm on our way home, it was obvious  that it had been raining in the town while we had been away.  This greatly added to the pleasure that we felt from our walk through the woods.

In the garden, there were signs of things to come.

crocus and hellebore promise

Mike Tinker’s tea radar was finely honed and he arrived just as the teapot was put on the table and we a good chat.  The Langholm Walks Group is planning to add a route from Canonbie to Langholm to its collection of waymarked walks and he told us that one section of this will go through the Byreburn Wood.

In the evening, my friend Luke came round with his flute and we had a go at a Quantz sonata.  We haven’t played it for some time and although we played a couple of movements, it was clear that we will need to practise a bit harder if it is to go smoothly.

Storm Ciara has treated us very lightly considering what happened not far from us.  There were damaging floods in Hawick and Appleby, Carlisle had floods again and the west coast main line railway was closed because of floods.  Meanwhile, I have been able to get out for a walk every day even if it has been too windy to cycle so I can’t complain.

This may change though, as the forecast for the week ahead is very uninviting and next weekend is due to bring us another very deep Atlantic depression.  The Norwegian forecast for our area is once again slightly better than the BBC’s so I think we will settle for the Norwegian arrangement and keep our fingers crossed.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, probably looking for a fight.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my South African correspondent, Langholm exile Tom.  He was looking for something to send me from his archives and found this lofty view of Worcester in the Western Cape, taken from 6000 ft up.

view of Worcester SA

We had a calm day before the advertised arrival late tomorrow of storm Ciara, which the experts think might be the worst storm to hit the country since 2013.  We are not looking forward to it.

In the meantime, I had an enjoyable day today.  In the morning, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do useful things around the town and I entertained Dropscone to coffee and ate two of his excellent treacle scones.  A Friday wouldn’t be the same without treacle scones.

When he left, I had a look to see if there were any birds at our feeder and found remarkably few.

A chaffinch was weighing up its options…

chaffinch on stalk

…and a sparrow was complaining about Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree..,.

sparrow shouting

…while a rook posed at the very top of the walnut.

rook on walnut tree top

Mrs Tootlepedal has put up the robin nest box and we are waiting to see if the robin also knows that it is a nest box.

new robin box

As there were no birds to watch, and it was still a bit cold for cycling (it had been freezing when we woke up), I went for a walk.

A little bit of  hair ice showed that it had been cold…

new hir ice

…and it certainly looked like winter as I walked along the beechy plains…

winter on the beechy plains

…but the sun was out and when I got into the open, it was very pleasant.

The battery had run out on my camera so I used my phone to take a few pictures as I went along.  I was delighted by how well it picked out these catkins.

sunny catkins murtholm

I took a view of Warbla just so that I would have something bright to remind me of better days when the storm comes.

view of warbla before storm

I crossed Skippers Bridge….

distillery on arthur's leaving day

…and walked home along the river.  The daisies on the bank still had something to show…

diasies by esk

…but there was not much else to look at today.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to buy seed potatoes and I went for a cycle ride.  All traces of the morning frost had gone and the wind wasn’t too unkind so I added a few more miles to my last outing and pedalled the twenty miles it takes to get round my familiar Canonbie circuit.

Two fine fungi beside the Wauchope road caught my eye…

fungus wauchope road

…and I liked the view of the lake District hills on the far side of the Solway Firth.

view of skiddaw

There were some clouds about…

cloudscape

…but they conveniently cleared away by the time that I got to Canonbie, where the church was looking at its best.

canonbie church

Beside the church, a row of pylons reminded me of how much work there will be to do before all our pylons are upgraded.  It is a major task as we live on a electricity highway from Carlisle to the north..

pylons at canonbie

Work is going full steam ahead on the new Canonbie sewage system.  There were people hard at work in the village, with another group digging a trench in the old road past the school, and then more workers at this site in the field below the Byreburn Wood.

The incontinent of Canonbie will be well catered for when all this is finished.

new sewage works canonbie

The low sun picked out the new balcony round the top of Hollows Tower.  I had a chance to go out on it when we visited the tower last year but it was too alarming for me.

hollows tower

My final picture was a peer through the branches at Irvine House, still standing empty after many years.

irvine house

I got home in good order, very pleased to find that I can bicycle normally again although I am still taking care and not going down the hills too fast.

Looking around the garden, I saw that we now have four daffodils.  When we get another one out, we will declare that the clump is an official host of golden daffodils and start writing poetry.

four daffodils

There hadn’t been quite enough warmth in the day to persuade the crocuses to open.

crocuses

Following a report of a male hen harrier sighting on the moor, Mrs Tootlepedal had driven up to have a look after her potato expedition, but she had not seen anything.  She consoled herself with a cup of tea and a bite of my chocolate eclair.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round, and Alison and I played duets while the other two chatted.   We had a go at a sonata which we haven’t played for several years and came to the conclusion that some practice might be a good thing before we try it again.

If no post arrives tomorrow, you will know we have been blown away but in the meantime, two peacefully swimming ducks are the flying birds of the day.

two ducks

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  His walking group took him on an eight mile  hilly and windy walk near Ashbourne.  As an additional hazard, he had to cross this very narrow bridge.

A windy walk near Ashbourne

After a night when my sleep was often interrupted by the theatrical sighing and moaning of the wind round the house, we woke to another grey and windy day.  Mrs Tootlepedal was up and about early on, as she and her co-worker Margaret were (wo)manning a stall at the Producers’ Market in the Buccleuch Centre as part of the public consultation on the proposed purchase of the Langholm Moor.

She and Margaret had a very good day, enrolling considerable support for the project and having interesting conversations with interested people.

I went along later to buy honey, venison, fish and lamb.  I got the fish and some lamb for the slow cooker but the honey man and venison lady were not at the market, one through the illness of his wife and the other because she was too busy selling venison elsewhere.

This was a disappointment as the local honey is very tasty and the venison goes very well in the slow cooker.

I was perked up by the sight of an apparently well stocked cheese stall from a new supplier but then was dashed to find that it was all basically one sort of cheese but with many different things stuck in it.  I am not a fan of ‘cheese with bits’, being of the opinion that nothing can improve good cheese.  I bought a portion of his cheese without bits but as I thought that it was a little dull, I could see why he thought that it might be a good idea to put things in it.

When I got home, I had a coffee and did the crossword.  It told me that there was a 95% chance of heavy rain all afternoon so I went out while it was still dry.

In the garden I saw an early harbinger of many crocuses to come, the sarcococca….

crocus, sarcoccoca, rhubarb and rain gauge

….an indication of why everything is so soggy and an exciting hint of many crumbles to come.

Then  I went for a walk.

There were very few birds in the garden but when I left the house, I saw a blackbird having a bath in the dam…

blackbird bathing

…and when I got to the park, I saw a jackdaw on the wall…

jackdaw on park wall

…and another on a bench.

jackdaw on park bench

I often take pictures of individual lichens on walls but I thought that this corner of the Kirk wall deserved a picture of its own as it would be hard to find a stone with more lichen on than this.

lichen on church wall

I have taken pictures of the park monsters before but I don’t think that I have shown how they are cleverly carved out of two branches of a fallen tree.

park monsters

Looking at the bank behind the monsters, it seems probable that it won’t belong before more trees fall down beside them.

dangerous bank at park

Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t like to walk along the riverside path here because of the instability of the banking.  There are always little landslips going on and some of the trees look quite alarming.

dangerous tree Eastons

I like the walk, in spite of the conditions, because there is always plenty to look at as you go along.

moss and lichen eastons

I could even see the tops of the hills today as I walked back along the top track.

view of castle Hill from stubholm

My short walk brought me back down to the park and the wall was as full of fun as it always is.

lichen, spleenwort, moss park wall

While I had been walking along the river, the peace of the day was disturbed by the raucous calls of a pair of oyster catchers, the first I have heard this year, so instead of going straight home, I walked along the river to see if I could catch them at rest.

They were nowhere to be seen, so I settled for catching a very fine birch polypore on a tall tree stump in Mary Street.

birch polypore

It wasn’t hard to find as the whole stump was covered in them.

fungus on birch stump Mary St

I decided to call in at the Buccleuch Centre to see how Mrs Tootlepedal and Margaret were doing, and found them just ready to pack up  after a good morning’s work.  I was admiring some excellent woodwork on a stall when Mrs Tootlepedal turned up and bought a robin bird box.  Or to be more precise, she pointed it out and I bought it.  It will be interesting to see if our robin takes to it.

Mrs Tootlepedal gave me a lift home and I had some haggis for my lunch while she went for a pulled pork and chicken pie, both purchased from the market.

I took a picture of this very unusual house next to the Centre.  Langholm goes in for grey stone with the occasional white or grey rendered walls so this house really stands out.

BLUE HOUSE

Once home, I settled down, prepared for a very rainy afternoon alleviated by watching international rugby matches.

This was not a great decision as the Wales-Italy game was rather boring and the Ireland-Scotland match was the usual crushing disappointment.  To make matters worse, it didn’t rain heavily, if at all, and at one  point there was even blue sky.  I would have been better off going for another walk.

blue sky

Still, I fried a nice fillet of sea bass for my tea and no day with a lot of lichen in it is a wasted day.  And I didn’t have a dizzy spell.  One of the credit side of the great ledger of life in spite of any disappointments.

There were a lot of rooks applying to fill the post of flying bird of the day.

flying rooks

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Today’s guest picture comes from a Welsh correspondent Keiron.  He saw this fine tree in Ystradgynlais a day or two ago and thought that I might like it as I am fond of trees.

Ystradgynlais tree

It was a sunny day here today, but as it was also freezing when we got up, we were in no hurry to get the active part of the day going and sat and read the papers after breakfast until it was time for coffee.

The birds were not very active either, and the only birds that came near the feeder in the morning were a pair of chaffinches.

frosty chaffinch

Stimulated by our cup of coffee, we leapt gently into action and went for a walk.  We did think of a drive to a start point but we couldn’t think of one which we both fancied so we settled for the walk from the town up the River Esk to Potholm and back again.

We had done this walk three weeks ago an a very gloomy day so this time we decided to go round it in the opposite direction, starting by crossing the river by the Langholm Bridge.

There were plenty of gulls to be seen on the river when we looked from the bridge….

view from Langholm Bridge

…and I had my bird camera with me, so we stopped for a moment to enjoy the black headed gulls in flight and on the ground.

four gull panel

It was a grand day for a walk, and if you could get out of the chilly wind, there was even a hint of warmth from the sun.

Although we were walking a familiar route, it didn’t stop us enjoying the sights as we went along through the woods…

road to Holmhead

…over culverts….

bridge on Longfauld track

…and past tree plantations.

young spruce in winter

The views up the valley were delightful in the sunshine.

view of Milnholm

Rather to her surprise, Mrs Tootlepedal had read recently that beech tree leaf litter is slow to rot and does not contain much in the way of useful nutrients  and with that in mind, the clear ground under the beech trees which we passed was explained.

beech wood longfauld

I have always liked the openness of beech woods but I had never understood that the beech leaves themselves were probably suppressing the competition on the forest floor.

There was not a lot of fungus to be seen but I liked this colourful clump on a tree stump at Potholm..

tree stump fungus

…and this pale outbreak on a growing sapling near by.

fungus on sapling

As I had my bird camera with me, we kept an eye out for buzzards on the way.  The sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted quite a few, but they were circling high in the sky and my 300mm lens could not get very close to them.

two high buzzards

At one time, we could see five at the same time, but all them out of range.

A robin in a tree at Potholm as we came down to the bridge was more co-operative and sang loudly to make sure that we didn’t miss it.

robin at Potholm

On the bank below the robin, snowdrops were talking about spring.

snowdrops at Potholm

We stopped at the bridge for a small snack…

potholm bridge

…and then we headed homewards along the road.  The fields were astonishingly green.

green fields milnholm

A  young cow regarded us with curiosity.

cow on potholm road

And the wall beside the road offered a feast of lichen.

six lichen on potholm road wall

At the end of the Potholm road, we joined the main road back into Langholm.  It is lined with concrete posts which hold the metal bars which stop errant cars falling down the steep slope into the river below.  Two of the posts caught my eye.

two concrete fence posts B709

We got home after 5.4 miles, quite ready for a cup of tea.  Mrs Tootlepedal had enough strength left to cycle down to the Co-op to do some shopping so that she could make a dahl for our evening meal and I had enough strength left to eat it.  It was very good and rounded off a peacefully pleasant day very well.

One of the Kilngreen gulls is the flying bird of the day,

flying gull

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