Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘goldfinch’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who noticed these sculptures of  full stop on a recent visit to the South Bank of the Thames.

full stop sculpture

Our day looked like this when I got up…

burst

…but it had become rather cloudy by the time that we got to church….

sunday cloud

…and it had disappeared entirely by the time that we got out.

sunday mist

Rather disappointingly, the foggy conditions remained in place for the rest of the day and the temperature hardly rose above freezing.

At the church, the minister remarked during his sermon that it might be a good idea to pray for the church choir.  We didn’t entirely know how to take this.

When we had got back from church and a cup of coffee had found a good home, I set out for a short misty walk with the intention of taking some moody pictures.  This plan would have gone better if I had put a card in my camera.

The short walk became a very short walk and I arrived home in a disgruntled mood which was not helped by the continuing absence of birds at the feeder.

quiet feeder

However, on this occasion things did improve, and a couple of minutes later the first birds of the day arrived…

feeder visitors

…and it was not long…

busy feeder

…until enough had arrived to cause queues to form.

chaffinch queueing

There was soon quite a rush…

goldfmnch queueing

…and even a hint of arguments developing….

siskin and chaffinch

…but the rush soon evaporated and a few lonely chaffinches were left…

hanging on by toenails

…practising landings.

chaffinch nearly landinf

Still, the thing about chaffinches is that they like spreading their wings and thus make good subjects for a feeder photographer.

four chaffinch anel;

After lunch, we went off through the chilly mist to Carlisle for the weekly meeting of our Carlisle choir.  At one stage the mist threatened to become thick fog but it relented and by the time we got to Carlisle, it was brighter and there was no mist.

Our musical director had suffered a tyre blow-out on the motorway in Glasgow on her way to lead the practice.  She hadn’t come to any harm but was unable to get to us so our accompanist took the task on, playing and conducting simultaneously with great verve.

We worked hard for her and as a result, we had a most enjoyable sing.

I was a bit worried that we might have to face freezing fog on the way home but although the temperature was hovering around zero, there was only one small patch of mist and the drive back was not too bad at all.

We are going away tomorrow for a few days to visit Evie, our younger granddaughter, so posts will be potluck from the phone.

In the meantime, I was happy to find a genuine flying bird of the day today, even though the misty conditions didn’t let me get a crisp picture.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my fellow veteran cyclist Paul.  He likes the Lake District and visited this very fine looking vegetable garden at Lingholm in the summer a couple of years ago.

veg garden Lingholm

It was much calmer when we got up than we had feared it might be, and it soon became apparent that the storm had passed us by.  In fact, I was just thinking that I perhaps ought to have gone for an early cycle ride rather than inviting Sandy round for coffee when a sudden very heavy shower persuaded me that I had made the right decision.

The shower had stopped by the time that Sandy came and we had a pleasant chat over coffee and biscuits.  It started to rain again just as he left and it kept raining, with occasional  short breaks, for the rest of the daylight hours.  I stayed indoors.

The birds didn’t like the weather much and there was no sign of them until a small flock of goldfinches suddenly settled in the walnut tree around midday.

goldfinches in walnut

Even then they were reluctant to come to the feeder and it took a couple of minutes until the first one flew down.

goldfinch in rain

But it soon got onto the feeder…

goldfinchon feeder in rain

…and within another minute, it was all action…

busy feeder in rain

…with queues.

busy feeder and pole

It was still a miserable day though.

siskin in rain

I made some soup for lunch and then spent a happy afternoon at my computer  transposing some trios down a fourth to suit a different set of recorders.

The reason for the transposition was that that one of the usual recorder quartet was poorly and there were only three of us at our monthly tootle tonight.  With due respect for the missing member, it was quite a treat to play some different music and the three of us had a most enjoyable time.  As a result, it didn’t feel like a wasted day in spite of the rain.

All the same, we are badly in need of a spell of settled reasonable weather.  Sadly, the forecast is for more changeable windy and wet weather so I don’t know when another cycle ride will take place.  I just can’t summon up much enthusiasm for cycling when it is cold, wet and windy.

I hope to squeeze a walk in between showers tomorrow.

I did manage to catch a rather gloomy goldfinch as flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  It is a horrible evening here so I was pleased to find his cheerful picture of life on the river at Chester last week.

chester

We were promised a visit from Storm Brendan later in the day so it was good to find a quiet, dry morning when we got up.

The birds didn’t seem very interested in getting some food in before the storm came though and all that was to be seen was a goldfinch on the feeder and a crow in the walnut tree.

goldfinch and crow

I cycled up to the town to do some Archive Group business and called in at our not so near corner shop of the way home to stock up on a few necessities.  Then it was time for a coffee and finally, I got out for a walk.

I did think about a cycle ride but the prospect of a strengthening wind made a 5 mile walk more attractive.

I had only got as far as the back wall of the house when I had to stop to note snowdrops almost out beside the dam.

dam snowdrops

I hadn’t got much further before I was detained by a dipper which was living up to its name by doing some vigorous dipping in the Wauchope above the Kirk Brig.

dipping dipper

They can stay under water for an amazingly long time.

In the end, I had to go on and I walked through the town and along to the track to the oak woods and the Moorland Project bird hide.

It was muddy and slippery, so I had to keep more of an eye on where I was walking than interesting things but this fallen tree was large enough to attract my attention.

felled tree with fungus

And the oak trees are hard to miss when you get to them.

oak tree near jenny noble

I didn’t want to hang about too much in case the threatened rain came in before schedule so I pressed on to the bird hide.  I had heard at second hand that the hide was closed as a result of the larch disease which will lead to the trees at the hide being felled soon.  I wondered if this meant that the trees had already been felled but when I got there, the hide and trees were still there and the notice on the hide door read as follows:

laverock hide notice

I was in time, the hide was still open and the feeders had been filled by one of the volunteers.

I sat in the hide for a few minutes and was rewarded with a good supply of peanut eaters.

Among the crowd, there were two coal tits….

two coal tits

…two blue tits…

two blue tits

…and a great tit with a chaffinch with other things on its mind.

great tit and chaffinch

A green finch arrived and checked to see if the peanuts on the other side of the feeder were any tastier.

inquisitive greenfinch

There were plenty of puddles about and a pheasant was happy to use one as a drinking fountain.

drinking pheasant

There had been some sunshine om my walk out but the clouds were coming up from the west so I didn’t stop long and was soon on my way home along the road.

It is hard to convey the sheer pleasure that can be got from contemplating our hills while out on a walk and I don’t have the camera or the skills to do them full justice but even in the middle of winter, this is a very pleasant prospect.

view from Broomholmshiels

In hot weather, the sheep that you can see in the field in the foreground of the picture above often make use of the shade of a tree beside the road.  Looking at the exposed roots of the tree, I wondered if the sheep were responsible for these scratches.

sheep scraped root

On my side of the fence there was a good show of xanthoria parietina lichen.

xanthoria parietina lichen

I set off down the hill at a good pace and I wasn’t intending to stop again but when a cladonia lichen winks at you from a wall across the road, it would be rude not to stop.  This one was so big and bright that it looked like a flower.

british soldier lichen

The river had dropped enough to let me take a picture of Skippers Bridge when I got there.  As the light was dull, I thought that it would make a change to show the bridge at work instead of the usual still life portrait.

I feel slightly nervous when I see lorries of this size crossing the bridge as they seem vastly too big for it….

skippers bridge with lorry

…but the bridge has stood up well to fairly constant traffic for over 300 years and will doubtless outlast us all.

I got home before the weather broke and had lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She went out on business in the afternoon and was not as lucky as me, as it was raining very heavily by the time that she bicycled home.

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and my flute pupil came in the early evening.  Mike got wet but Luke was lucky to find a gap in the rain when he came.

As I write this in the late evening, the wind is soughing round the house but the rain has stopped, temporarily at least.  Weather reports show severe gales on exposed western coasts but we are on the very edge of the storm so we are quite lucky so far.  Long may this continue.

The flying bird of the day is that dipper, pushing off low over the river to find more food.

flying dipper

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my Sydney correspondent Stephen.  As he came out of the Sydney Opera House after a performance of Carmen yesterday, he saw this striking tribute to the many volunteer firemen who have been battling the blazes in Australia.

sydney opera house firefighters

After a restless night disturbed by strong wind and heavy rain,  we got up to a continuing gale and more rain.

It was so dark at midday that this was the best that the camera could do when peering out of the window.  The fact that the feeder was swaying madly didn’t help.

siskin in gale

It was a day fit for nothing outside but perfect for making marmalade indoors.

I made marmalade.  If it turns out well, a picture may follow tomorrow.

The wind calmed down as the afternoon went on and the light improved enough to enable the camera to get a glimpse of some hardy birds who had defied the conditions and made it to the feeder.

feeder afetr gale

But making marmalade is a lengthy business so I wasn’t bored.

Our friend Gavin ventured out while there was still some light and took this picture of the Wauchope Water just sneaking under the Kirk Brig to join the Esk.

gavin's wauchope in flood

Luckily, the rivers didn’t get any higher than this and the rain stopped in the evening.

Mrs Tootlepedal made an excellent fry up of black pudding, liver, mushrooms and tomatoes with a side order of mashed potato for our tea, a suitably cheerful meal for a rotten day.

And then the day got better.

It was warm and dry as we walked along the road to the Buccleuch Centre for our annual treat, the appearance of the RNSO, Scotland’s national orchestra.  This is not some mini outreach programme  for the provinces but the full orchestra of 60 players on the last leg of their national (Perth, Inverness, Dumfermline, Langholm) new year tour with a Viennese Gala.

RNSO 2020

You can take it from me that getting to hear a 60 piece symphony orchestra in a packed 300 seater hall  is quite something and I sat in the back row beside Mrs Tootlepedal with tears of joy running down my cheeks as they played Suppé’s Overture to Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna to get the concert rolling.

And roll on the concert did, with popular orchestral favourites interspersed with songs from the Richard Tauber repertoire sung by a very pleasing tenor.  As he sang “You are my heart’s delight” while I was sitting beside Mrs Tootlepedal, the programming couldn’t have been better planned.

Tinayi Lu, the conductor, took some of the pieces along at such a speed that you feared that the whole hall might explode with the accumulated energy generated.  I am not a great fan of the modern tendency to play everything as fast as possible but the acoustic in the Buccleuch Hall is so clean that you can hear every note no matter how fast they are played.  And it was decidedly exciting.

She also introduced the audience to an ingenious Chinese pun and a very delightful musical dialogue between Chinese  tunes and western orchestral style by a composer called Bao Yuankai.

By the time that we came out of the concert and strolled home, the terrible weather of the day was just a fading memory and all was peace and harmony.

No flying bird of the day today for obvious reasons but I wonder if this goldfinch was as happy as we were by the end of the day.

soggy goldfinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s visit to Liverpool.  He bumped into a bunch of lads on the street but they  gave him the cold shoulder.

beatles

Just as I was going to bed (rather late) last night, I was tempted to look out of the window and a bright and almost full moon made me go and get my camera.

moon nearly full

It is a pity that the skies are not clear tonight as not only is the moon full but there is a lunar eclipse which would have been fun to watch.

Still, you can’t have everything and I did start the day off with coffee and treacle scones as Dropscone arrived bearing gifts.  He also brought a very sad tale with him.

He told me that he had lost nine balls in one round while playing golf recently.  I was shocked and worried that he had forgotten how to play properly.  However, it turned out that it wasn’t incompetence but a thieving crow (or crows) that was responsible for the mayhem.  The Langholm Golf Club has been plagued by crows brazenly stealing golf balls from the middle of the fairway for the last couple of weeks.

Dropscone estimates that as many as 100 balls may have been pilfered.  Somewhere around the town, there must be a huge stash but no-one has been able to pinpoint its whereabouts yet.

I checked some of my informants.

This goldfinch claimed that it knows nothing.

goldfinch close up

And a green finch was insulted by even being asked about it.

greenfinch staring

And a dunnock ignored my questions entirely.

dunnock on kerb

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I decided on a walk.  It had been freezing in the early morning but the temperature had got up to 4 degrees C, too cold for worry free cycling but fine for a winter walk.  I had a stroll round the garden before we went, and liked the droplets on the perennial nasturtium.

nasturtium with droplets

Many of the hills round the town had low cloud down on them as we drove off in the car but when we parked near the top of Callister five miles away, there was sunshine to greet our walk along the forestry track.

westwater walk

We last walked along this track three months ago and this second visit was well worth while as the track is home to all sorts of interesting things, such as pixie cup lichen growing on flat ground, not a common sight…

pixie cup lichen on ground

…and self seeded Christmas trees along the verge…

self seeded xmas tree

….as well as some very bright red moss sporangia.

red moss sporanges

We had to look where we were going when we got to a shady section of the track higher up the hill as there was still some snow lying…

snow on westwater track

…but at least we were in the sunshine while neighbouring hills still had their heads in the clouds.

clouds on hills

We could see the Ewe Hill Wind farm on the horizon at our turning point…

ewes windfarm from westwater track

…where we paused for a moment and wondered whether we should go down a steep hill in the hope of finding a different way back to the road.

clouds and blue sky

As you can see from the picture above, there was plenty of blue sky about but you had to look straight up to see it.  We decided against going down the hill and retraced our steps.

There was a nippy wind blowing in our faces as we went back towards the car and I was pleased to have my new jacket with a capacious hood to protect me from the chill.   Mrs Tootlepedal kindly took a picture of the jacket in action in reply to request for a picture from a couple of readers.

new jacket

Although my ankles may look a bit exposed, they are well covered by water and windproof socks which do a good job of keeping my feet warm, and my shoes are waterproof too so I was very snug

Another wind farm at the Craig came into view on our way home and as the sun had down a good job of clearing snow from the track….

viw of craig windfarm from westwater track

…I was able to have a good look for lichen…

three sorts of lichen

…as we walked back into the sun towards the car.

Mrs Tootlepedal had her big coat on too.Mrs T westwater track

Although it wasn’t a long walk, it had felt very good to be out and about and we enjoyed it thoroughly, especially as the weather tomorrow looks as though it is going to be quite bad with rain and a gale, and not suitable for outdoor life at all.

After our long day yesterday, we were happy to have a quiet time once we got home and we let the rest of the day drift away peacefully.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from Gunta, who sent me this charming photo of snowy plovers resting in horse hoofprints on a beach.

snowy_plovers-5753

We had a day with plenty of birds about and some dry and occasionally sunny weather…

plum tree of birds

…which came with the first sign of snow of the year when I looked out of an upstairs window.

monument with light snow

As it was our day to go to Edinburgh and the recent timetable changes require us to leave home shortly after coffee, I had no time to explore the snow and stuck to a quick tour of the garden where I saw the winter jasmine and..

winter jasmine january

…that first daffodil bud that Mrs Tootlepedal had noticed yesterday..

first daffodil bud

I noticed that there were quite a few blackbirds about too but they were shy and I only just caught this one before it disappeared.

blackbird january

A jackdaw hung about for a bit longer.

jackdaw chaecking things out

By the time that we got to Lockerbie Station, the sky was blue…

lockerbie town hall

…but a pile of snow on the platform bore witness to a heavy shower of sleet earlier in the day…

snow lockerbie station

…and there was plenty more snow to be seen when the train got into the hills.

snow on train to edinburgh

We had had time to admire the pile of snow on the platform before we left as the train was quarter of an hour late.  However, it bustled up the line and got to Edinburgh only a few minutes behind schedule.

We popped across the road from the station and enjoyed a light lunch in an art gallery cafe and, having lunched, we enjoyed three free exhibitions in the gallery itself.  The best of the the three was of the work of Mary Cameron.  She was quite unknown to us but we really enjoyed her work and felt that we should have known about her earlier.

burst

She had a wonderful range of subjects in the exhibition, including such a harrowing picture of horses after a bull fight that the French government made a postcard of it which it then used in its public campaign to discourage bull fighting in France.

We went back across the station to do a little shopping and catch the bus to Matilda’s.

The station was busy and we watched the London train roll into the platform to pick up passengers for the trip south.

burst

Matilda was in good form and we were joined by her other grandparents and her aunt and cousin for our evening meal.  Alistair cooked a delicious feast, this time a lentil and dahl, and we all tucked in.

After the meal, we caught the bus back to the station.  Knowing the railway comany’s unreliable habits, I had carefully checked that the incoming service from Lockerbie was running and would arrive in time to take us back to Lockerbie.  We were pleased to see it roll into the platform as we got to the station.

To say that we were therefore a bit stunned to see on the departure board that our train south had been cancelled is a bit of an understatement.

It turned out, as far as anyone could tell, that they were going to keep this train to act as the next train two hours later and if we wanted to get to Lockerbie meanwhile, there was a bus waiting outside the station to take us there.

We took the bus.  And arrived at Lockerbie an hour behind schedule which is why this post is hurried, I haven’t answered yesterday’s comments and I am not going to read any posts tonight.  I will try to make up for these omissions tomorrow.

On the plus side, the bus was remarkably smooth and comfortable, the driver competent and cheerful and motorway traffic light, so the actual bus journey, though long, was not too bad at all.

I took a flying goldfinch picture which didn’t come through the editor quite as it should have, but I liked it all the same so it has sneaked in…

flying goldfinch

…but the official flying bird of the day is this chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from a recent visit to Liverpool by my brother Andrew.  He found it in a colourful mood.

liverpool

After some very grey days, we had a much more colourful day here today.  The sun shone and the wind dropped and it looked liked a good day to go outside.

As usual, I found a number of things to do indoors before getting organised, and of course, the birds needed watching.

I hadn’t had to fill the feeder for a couple of days, and although it was getting near the bottom today, it was still of interest to the chaffinches.

chaffinch panel

Seeing these two pecking at the last of the seed made me go out and change the feeders over.

two chaffinch little seed

The new feeder, well filled, proved attractive to chaffinches too.

chaffinches at full feeder

I finally ran out of excuses and got my bike out and set off up the Wauchope road.  I passed a man with a tractor with a flail attached, and found out that he had been doing quite a lot of violence to anything that he could reach beside the road.  It was lucky that he was on one side of the road and I was on the other as I might have had some difficulty getting past the debris that he left behind.

flailings on road

I decided to turn off at the first opportunity and I was soon heading uphill, away from the carnage and with my favourite view behind me.

Blocxh view january

Although the 40 mph winds of yesterday had subsided, there was still a brisk breeze left behind and I had to battle my way down the hill to Gretna Green where I was happy to take a rest and look at the clasped hands sculpture at the Old Blacksmith’s Shop tourist centre.

gretna handshake

There wasn’t a tourist to be seen today as I took a picture of the art work.  I can see what it is supposed to symbolise and newly married couples often have their picture taken under its arch, but it always looks rather creepy to me as though someone has been buried under ground and is praying to be let out.

But there are some very decorative berries in the hedge at the entrance.

gretna berries

Ignoring the cross winds, I pedalled down the new road beside the motorway into England and when I reached the outskirts of Carlisle, I turned and headed back towards Greta, going through Rockliffe.

The wind was still across but now it was marginally behind me so I made good progress.

This tree in a field at Rockcliffe looks as though it has had some battles with strong winds itself.

rockliffe tree

The wind was certainly ruffling the waters of the Esk as it flowed under the railway bridge before it meets the Solway.

troubled esk at metal bridge

Once I had reached Gretna, the way home was plain sailing as I cycled up the main roads to Canonbie with the very helpful wind pushing me along.

I turned off onto the old main road to Canonbie which has triple delights, like these three trees at Grainstonehead…

three trees grainstonehead

…and the three shaggy cows in the field, two of whom were more interested in eating than having their picture taken…

two cows at canonbie

..but one was in a more accommodating mood.

one cow at canonbie

I took one last stop for a drink and snack before getting back to Langholm and noticed some healthy peltigera lichen on the wall against which I had propped my bike.

peltigera lichen irvine house

I saw that I had done 43 miles by the time that I got back to the town and was pedalling on up the main road, thinking happily that 50 was a nice round number when we had a vote and my legs voted for stopping.  I am a democrat so I turned back and ended up with a satisfactory 45 miles for the outing.

Mrs Tootlepedal had also made good use of the better weather by going for a good walk and getting some light gardening done while I was out.  She was very cheered by seeing an actual bud forming on a daffodil in the garden.  There may be light at the end of the tunnel.

Still, we needed to replace a little of the energy expended and very fortunately she had bought some cream which, when whipped up, went perfectly with meringues.

A goldfinch arrived at the new feeder.

goldfinch at full feeder

I had a shower and then went out to investigate a claim from a blog reader that there is a small murmuration of starlings in Langholm.  The claim turned out to be quite true.

starlings over esk

By some murmuration standards, it is a small flock but it still had about a couple of hundred birds in it at its busiest.

starlings over esk 2

The starlings circled round above the Esk at the Town Bridge and from time to time, other things caught me eye.

Ducks and gulls took to the air, Mr Grumpy supervised more ducks on the river and the moon shone in the background.

duck, gull, heron and moon

In order to capture the moon, I had to make the sky dark but as you can see in the picture below, it wasn’t really as dark as that.

After they had finished murmuring, the starlings fell out of the sky in dramatic fashion and disappeared into a remarkably small bush in front of Greenbank.

starlings landing

I got home in perfect time to have a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal.  Our friend Mike dropped in for a cup and helped us out by eating one of the remaining meringues.

There is talk of snow on the hills tomorrow morning but I will only believe that when I see it.

The flying bird of the day is one of the chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »