Posts Tagged ‘geese’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who has been in Glasgow getting a knee checked out.  He took the opportunity to sample the Glasgow underground train service, popularly known as the ‘Clockwork Orange’.

Glasgow underground

We woke to a beautiful sunny morning today but the late September downside was in evidence in the form of a layer of ice on the car window with the temperature at 2°C.  That was too cold for me to go cycling as I have already had one bad experience with a patch of ice on a sunny day this and I definitely don’t want another.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a fund raising coffee morning with friends and I hung about until the temperature hit 5°, finally getting going a bit later than was intended.

The wait was worth it though as it was a perfect morning for cycling, with light winds and hardly a cloud in the sky.

Callister road new lines

The newly surfaced road at Callister has got a sparkling fresh white line and was looking at its best.

I cycled through Gair and Eaglesfield and joined the old A74, going north through Ecclefechan…


..which is notable both as the birthplace of Thomas Carlyle, the sage of Ecclefechan, and the home of the world famous Ecclefechan Tart.

I kept going north until I passed the biggest wood burning stove in Dumfriesshire…

Wood burning power station

…where I turned west to cross the River Annan, passing the delightful Applegarth Church…

Applegarth Church

…and a charming cottage with its own clock tower at Millhousebridge just before I crossed the river.


I must say that if I had a clock tower on my house, I would keep the clock running on time.

Once over the river, I turned south and had a stop for a roll and a banana beside the Mill Loch in Lochmaben.

Mill Loch Lochmaben

I found a bench in a sheltered spot beside the loch…


…and ate my roll beside Weigela and Himalayan balsam flowers.

wiegela and balasam

I pedalled on southwards  to the little village of Dalton where they had a really good idea in 2000….

Dalton handprints

…though the tiles are getting a bit discoloured with age.

My tour continued as I passed beneath the Repentance Tower at Hoddom…

Repentance Tower

…and then I followed the course of the river Annan down to the town of Annan.

Having crossed the fine bridge there, I was blown home by a friendly wind, stopping only to admire a fireless engine at the Devil’s Porridge museum at Eastriggs….

Fireless engine Eastriggs

A fireless engine is a very good idea in a large munitions factory.

…and an even larger quantity of migrating geese than last time in a field near the border..

geese in field

The noise was ferocious.

…with a few swans  keeping themselves to themselves at the other end of the field.

swans in field

Those interested may find further details of the ride by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 28 Sept 2018

The skies clouded over for the last part of the ride and I was glad to have been well wrapped up to counter the chill at the beginning of the outing. I was able to shed a few layers as I went round though.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy day with the coffee morning followed by some serious gardening in the afternoon.  This involved a lot of digging as part of the new plan for the top of the vegetable garden.

After a cup of tea and a look at the feeder, which I had to fill as it had obviously been busy during the day…

busy feeder

..I went out to inspect the works and take a picture or two of things that had survived the chilly morning.

floodlit fuchsia

The fuchsias continue to shine.

triple special grandma

More Special Grandmas have come out

late september flowers

The last of the yellow crocosmia, a small rudbeckia and a late burst of phlox.

Mrs Tootlepedal made herself some very good looking courgette fritters for her evening meal and I cooked up a calorie heavy dish of macaroni cheese to make sure that I didn’t fade away after my cycling efforts.  (In fact, there is no chance of that as I am at my winter weight already and winter hasn’t even begun.)

The TV provided Gardener’s World and highlights from an exciting day of golf in France to give us both a good excuse to sit down and put our feet up in the evening.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow





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Today’s guest picture shows a wonderful sunrise over the Forth captured by our older son Tony as he walked his dogs near his new house on the shore.

wemyss sunrise

We had a sunny day here but after a clear night, it was only 2°C when Mrs Tootlepedal got up and she was worried about the garden.  The cold had done for the courgettes which had collapsed but a lot was untouched by the chilly hand of autumn and she was able to garden usefully through the day and into the early evening.

After a leisurely breakfast, I cycled up to the Archive Centre to take a meter reading  and then cycled home again to collect the key which I had forgotten.  The second journey was uneventful and the meter got read.

In spite of the cold start to the day and the fact that it never got very warm out of the direct sun, the butterflies were not discouraged.

The buddleias are fading so a red admiral tried a cosmos.

red admiral butterfly on cosmos

On the red buddleia, the flowers are now so scarce that multi occupancy was the order of the day.

red admiral butterfly groups on buddleia

I watched the birds when I went in.

There were a good number of goldfinches about….

goldfinch group

…and some rough sparrows too.  A hefty one footed kick soon dislodged the bird on the right.

sparrow stamping

I had an early lunch and got my new bicycle out and set off to see how strong the wind was.

It was gusty at times but after a slow first 14 miles over Callister and out to Eaglesfield, I had chosen a route that made it more of a friend than a foe and I enjoyed a peaceful ride back to Langholm by way of Gretna.

Although it was sunny when I set out, there were some dark clouds about…

dark cloud over callister

…and I had to stop and put my rain jacket on for a few miles between Gair and Eaglesfield.  It was unfortunate that a buzzard should have chosen some poor light to pose for me on a telegraph pole….

buzzard pn pole

….because they usually fly off long before I can get my camera focused so this would have been a rare opportunity.

My bike routes often taken me along rivers and over their bridges but today’s route took me to the motorway….

M74 from bridge

…which I crossed by a bridge.  Then I pedalled against the stream of traffic down the old road which runs beside this new road before crossing under the motorway this time on my way home.

I stopped to take my rain jacket off while I was on the bridge because as you can see, the sun was out by this time.  For the rest of my trip I was often cycling on wet roads  but in broad sunshine as the rain clouds were pushed just ahead of me by the wind….

windmills in the sun

…which was very busy making electricity as it shoved the clouds along.

The sound of honking caught my attention as I approached Englishtown near the border and looking through a gate in the hedge, I could see a flock of geese in the field…

geese at Englishtown

…another sign that autumn is here to stay.

I added 37 miles to my total for the year and now I am at just under 300 miles for September.

Before I had my shower after cycling, I went out into the garden to help Mrs Tootlepedal chop up some of the rhubarb roots which have come out of the new back bed.  Then as Mrs Tootlepedal was rather gloomy about prospects for the garden if the cold nights continue, I made a quick record of just some of the flowers left standing.

I thought that they might be saying, “Nos morituri, te salutumas” to the readers….

garden flowers 24 Sept (3)

From top left clockwise: potentilla, verbascum, niocotiana and Japanese anemone

garden flowers 24 Sept (2)

From top left clockwise: geranium, fancy primrose, nasturtium and fuchsia

garden flowers 24 Sept

From top left clockwise: euphorbia, lamium, potentilla and dahlia

special grandma

Special Grandma with buds still hoping for some more warm weather.

…but I hope that Mrs Tootlepedal’s gloom is unjustified as the forecast is offering us some generally warmer weather to come over the next few days.  Fingers crossed.

My flute pupil Luke came and we did more work on a Quantz trio sonata with my computer supplying the continuo.

There was no trio playing with Mike and Isabel tonight so I had a quiet evening at home.

There is another gender balanced flying bird of the day scenario today with male and female chaffinches sharing the duty.

flying chaffinchflying chaffinch (2)



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Today’s guest picture comes from my ex colleague Marjorie who is on holiday in Yorkshire.  It shows a pub at Robin Hood’s bay than which you can go no further.

Robin Hood's Bay pub

Ophelia passed up by in the night, huffing and puffing but not blowing the house down….or anything else much.

There wasn’t even a lot of rain so this was one event where we were more than happy to find out that it didn’t live up to its advance billing.

It was still grey and pretty windy in the morning so after a quick visit to the High Street, I was happy to stay in and drink coffee with Sandy.

Mrs Tootlepedal signalled a step in the direction of a full recovery by cleaning the oven.

When Sandy left, I got out my new lens and pointed it out of the kitchen window in the hope of seeing some visitors to the feeder.  I was not disappointed.

The first arrivals were a small flock of goldfinches…


…which monopolised the feeder for a while.

When a gap appeared it was filled by a pair of blue tits…

blue tits

…and a house sparrow who bit off more than he could chew.


There was a good deal of coming and going…

goldfinch and sparrow flying

…though the chaffinches were holding back.

This one sat in the plum tree watching. When he turned, you could see the force of the wind.


On the ground below the feeder, a dunnock or hedge sparrow inspected the new tray and a robin took advantage of some fallen seed which had collected in it.

dunnock and robin

It was just like old times and I spent a happy hour staring out of the window in between making some lentil, carrot and red pepper soup for lunch.

It was still pretty breezy after lunch so Mrs Tootlepedal and I sat and watched an interesting programme about the painters Peter Lely and Mary Beale before we ventured out into the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal got to work on tidying up the vegetable garden while I looked about.  The strong winds in the night had left plenty of flowers in full bloom.


The poppies were still in fine form

Lilian Austin

And Lilian Austin was looking lovely

Time was getting on and as the forecast was for the wind to continue to drop as the afternoon went on, I popped out for a quick walk before going for a short bike ride.

I walked down to the river where I was delighted both by finding Mr Grumpy standing on one leg and seeing a luminous willow nearby.

willow and Mr Grumpy

The fungi on the bank of the Wauchope below the church wall are getting ever more various.


The grey ones may well be oyster mushrooms and edible but I will leave that for others to test out.

I walked through the park and along the river side.  In spite of a good layer of fallen leaves on the path….

Beechy Plains

…there are still a lot of leaves on the trees in every shade of green, yellow and brown.

autumn colour leaves

I walked to the end of the beechy plains and turned back up the hill along Easton’s walk.

The sun came out as I got to the top of the hill and the town looked very peaceful below me.

Langholm view

In fact, everything looked very mellow and we have been very lucky to avoid the worst of Ophelia which seems to have tracked past to the north of us, though a football stadium was damaged in Cumbria to the south of us.

View of Meikleholm Hill

It was a delightful day for a walk.

Eastons Walk

I came down to the path beside the mossy park wall….

Park wall

…but I ignored the moss when I saw a good crop of what I think is some more cladonia lichen on top of the wall.

Pin lichen

When I got home, I was very impressed by the growing power of Mrs Tootlepedal’s green manure in the beds which had potatoes in them earlier in the summer.

green manure

I left Mrs Tootlepedal talking to out neighbour Ken.  He overtook me yesterday when I was out bicycling on his way to clocking up his 5000th mile of the year.  As he is the same age and weight as I am, I can only doff my chapeau and admire his prodigious energy.

I  haven’t got to 4000 miles yet but I got twenty miles closer today as I pedalled up and down the road three times in a mix of light rain, crisp breeze and a little sunshine every now and again.  I was pushed for time as the light was fading so I didn’t stop for any more pictures on my way and in the end, I just got back in before the time when I would have needed lights on my bike.

I have a choice of flying bird of the day today, either a traditional flying chaffinch…

flying chaffinch

…or a skein of geese which flew overhead this afternoon.






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The weather was very good yesterday so my sister Mary went down the Thames and paid another visit to Greenwich.  Today’s guest picture shows her view of the planetarium there.

The Planetarium

It was a miserable wet and colourless day here as our mini spell of good new year weather ran into the buffers.   It was hardly worth looking out of the window as there were no birds about and if there had been, they would have been hard to see.

no birds

A typical scene

Luckily we had better things to do than sit at home and feel gloomy so we got into the car and drove to Carlisle.    We were after good things and it wasn’t too long after we arrived there that many good things fell into our shopping bag.  I am talking about dates and prunes, cheese and more cheese, tea leaves and coffee beans.

The rain had stopped by the time we parked below the mediaeval city walls…

Carlisle city walls

We had to stop and watch some blackbirds picking berries off trees in the car park…


…but luckily we didn’t have to stop at the old Sally Port and pay our tithes as the notice on the wall tells us that former visitors had to.

Sally Port

The centre of the town was quiet and the amusements in the Market Place were locked and silent…

Carlisle helter skelter

…but this did mean that the elegant old town hall was easy to see for once.

Carlisle Town hall

As well as edible goodies, we were in the city to pick up our daughter Annie from the London train.

In the car park outside the station, waiting buses reminded us that the line from Carlisle to Settle has still not been fully repaired after a landslide during last winter’s storms.

Buses rail replacement

The winter has been so gentle this year that it is sometimes hard to remember the devastation that was caused in Cumbria a year ago.

The Citadel Station roof has been wrapped up so thoroughly while it is being replaced that it looks like a giant Christmas present.

Carlisle Station

But our train arrived bang on time…

Virgin train on time at Carlisle

…and deposited our daughter safely onto the platform…

Annie and Ally

…where she was warmly greeted by Mrs Tootlepedal.

Although the most valuable package had been picked up, we hadn’t finished our raids on the Carlisle shops yet and with guidance from Annie, we bought a new washing machine and a sound bar for our telly.

Laden with good things we returned home.

While Annie and I had been acquiring the sound bar, Mrs Tootlepedal had been watching long tailed tits in the car park trees.  She had seen a flock of waxwings on a rowan tree in the centre of Edinburgh yesterday so she has seen a lot more interesting birds over the last couple of days than I have.  It’s not fair.

Some shop bought crumpets might have found their way into our bag among the other good things and we enjoyed these with a cup of tea when we got home.  Buying them was certainly a lot easier than making them.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a good music session.  Neither of us has been practising so it was just as well that we were able to stop between movements for a glass of fizzy white wine.

During the evening, the skies above the house were filled with the sounds of geese calling to each other….

It was extremely misty and there were some bright lights on at the sports pitch and we think that the geese had got disorientated and were circling round waiting for the night to end before heading onwards.  It was rather distressing to hear their plaintive calls.

They have been circling and calling for several hours already.

The calling geese are the flying birds of the day.


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The guest picture of the day is a fine crab apple tree, her pride and joy, sent to me by my Somerset correspondent Venetia.   I can see why she likes it.

crab appleBy all accounts, today is to be the last of our recent sunny spell with the temperature set to drop, the wind to rise and even talk of snow at the weekend.  In these circumstances, it seemed like a good idea to put the good weather to work.

After a quick whizz round the garden….


Mrs Tootlepedal likes this combination of colours

…and a little time spent cleaning the chain and gears, it was off up the Wauchope road on the fairly speedy bike.

garmin 23 Apr 15For once the Garmin website has reported the weather pretty accurately.  It was warm, it was sunny and the wind was conspicuous by its absence.

After the hilly pedal with Dropscone on Tuesday, I was after a much more gentle effort today.  My legs were even more insistent about this and at one stage fairly early on, were even wondering whether going home might  be a good idea.  It is never a good plan to listen to your legs so I spoke to them severely and after about seven miles, they started to play ball and I enjoyed the rest of the ride.

I had Pocketcam with me and was able to record the complete clearing of the bank below Wauchope Schoolhouse.

Wauchope SchoolhouseIt has changed the character of the road entirely.  My favourite plan on very windy days of riding up and down to Wauchope Schoolhouse in the sheltered valley looks as though it won’t work any more.

I picked up speed as I went along after a very slow start and soon found myself on the old A74, once the main artery between England and Scotland and now a mere back road beside the new motorway.  The verges were blazing with dandelions.

A 74I pedalled down to Gretna where I found that the installers of the Armco have made special provision of a nice flat bit for an old man to sit and eat a banana.

armcoI made a brief diversion into England and then headed back north, stopping to eat my second banana beside a pretty stream near Corries Mill.

StreamJust round the corner was a large field of rape.

rape fieldThis was beautiful to look at but very bad for my breathing so I held my breath for as long as possible and got by with no harm done.   My legs held up very well, helped by the marked absence of any hills and I got home in good style.

The garden was looking good in the sun.

tulipMrs Tootlepedal has been making good progress with her work on the floor and is in the process of reintroducing some furniture.  She has been working non stop for several days and I thought that an outing would be just the thing for her on such a lovely day. By fortunate co-incidence, Sandy rang up and suggested a trip to the Eskrigg Nature Reserve at Lockerbie and this is just what Mrs Tootlepedal enjoys so Sandy came down and off we went.

The reserve was looking at its best…Eskrigg

…and tempted me into taking far too many pictures.

There was a lot to watch on the pond.  There were ducks diving….

duck diver…and geese watching.

geeseOne of the geese did a duck impersonation….

goose diving…but ended up looking more like a faceless but demented rabbit.

A rough gang of mallards swept across in front of us….

mallards…in pursuit of a lone female.

This is wonderful place for seeing greater spotted woodpeckers….

greater spotted woodpeckergreater spotted woodpecker…and red squirrels.

red squirrelI took about fifty squirrel pictures but I have forced myself to reduce the number of these shots used in this post of these wonderful creatures to only two.

red squirrel…oh all right….three.

red squirrel…oh go on….just one more.

red squirreland definitely the last one.

red squirrelWe met two ladies who had driven ninety miles just to watch the squirrels.  They were very happy people.

While Sandy and I snapped away, Mrs Tootlepedal had her sketch pad with her.

Eskrigg sketchIn the end, time ran out out on us and we reluctantly left the squirrels scampering about and headed for home.

After a short break for tea, I met up with Sandy again and we went off to the Archive Centre for our usual Thursday evening session.  Mrs Tootlepedal continued to work away in the front room.  For some reason, both Sandy and I were suffering from a little tiredness and we didn’t work for too long before retiring to the  Eskdale for refreshment.

All in all, I think between us, we made the very best we could of a superb spring day and I hope that the memory of it will let us laugh at the snow if it  comes on Saturday.

The flying bird of the day is one of the Eskrigg mallards.

flying Mallard

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Today’s guest picture is another one of Regent’s Park on a glorious day early in this month.  It was taken by my sister Mary when she was either on her way to or back from a game of tennis there.

Regent's Park 01.11.14 013We had a bright but slightly hazy day for my second trip to Dumfries Infirmary in two days.  This time I was accompanied by Mrs Tootlepedal.  The hospital had asked participants in their joint school to bring a friend or family member with them and I was lucky to be able to bring both in the one package.

The school started at ten o’clock so we had no time to meander about on the way there and took the direct route.  Apart from a tendency on the part of the ward nurse to rather harp on about how painful the operation would be, the joint school was informative and at times entertaining.  We went home armed with crutches to practise with and special drinks to take before we come back in again.  They were very thorough.

The school lasted a couple of hours so we did have time to meander about on our way home and drove back by the long way along the banks of the Nith estuary.  We stopped at Glencaple to enjoy the rather mysterious light on the water.

GlencapleIt was odd.  It was sunny but cloudy at the same time.  Looking straight across the river, I couldn’t see Criffel at all today though I did see a small flock of lapwings making their way down river.


Old ship

An elderly vessel seems to be permanently moored there.

We drove on past Caerlaverock castle and turned down to the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust visitor centre where we enjoyed a light lunch..  After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal, who is still coughing a bit, retired to read the paper in the car while I walked down the avenue…..

avenue at caerlaverock…stopping off at the swan pond….

swan pondswan pond….and peering at fungus and lichen as I went along….

fungus and lichen

lichen….until I got to the tower at the end of the avenue….tower…and was able to watch the thousands of barnacle geese spread over the ponds and fields.  I only had Pocketcam with me so photographic opportunities were very limited….

geese…but the geese weren’t hard to spot with the naked eye.

lapwingsAnd I think that the picture above shows another flock of lapwings taking flight.  I was really sorry that I hadn’t brought my long lens with me.

There are many ponds on both sides of the avenue with little hides to lurk in.

caerlaverock pondsYou can see what an odd day it was with a blue reflection in the pond from the sky straight above but an absolutely grey day behind it.

caerlaverock pondsIt really was very hazy at eye level.

The marsh fields are grazed by long horned cattle….

caerlaverock cattle…but they were taking a break when I passed them.

I stopped at the swan pond again on my way back and found a little bird spotting scope there for the use of visitors.   As there was no one else there, I had a go to see if Pocketcam could manage a little digiscoping….


The swans would keep moving after I had just got them in focus but I was quite pleased with this result for a first go.

I must make an effort to come back on a clearer day with the long lens while the geese are still here.

We stopped off at Gretna on the way home, not to watch starlings as we were too early in the day, but to got to the shopping vlllage and buy some suitable slippers and loose trousers for a man with a new knee to wander about the house in.

We got home just in time to catch a little garden colour….

poppy, wallflower and daisy…before the light faded away entirely.  The wallflower in the centre of the triptych has no right to be flowering at all as it is two and a bit years old and should have given up the ghost long ago let alone not be flowering in November ever.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a play performed by our local dramatic group and I went up to the Archive Centre with Sandy in a vain attempt to catch up with the mound of data produced by our eager data miners.  At least I will have plenty to do while I am waiting to get back on the bike again after the operation.

Talking of cycling, the nurse at the joint school said this morning that those of us who wanted to cycle with our new knees should keep a keen look out for potholes and take care not to fall off and wreck our expensive replacements.  As I had hit a pothole and fallen off earlier this year, I thought that this was a good moment to nod my head silently but sagaciously and try to look sensible.

There was not enough light at the garden feeders before we left or after we got home today so the flying bird of the day is the third from the right in this final picture from Caerlaverock.


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