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Posts Tagged ‘goldfinch’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Sheffield correspondent, Edward.  He and his wife went to Singapore for the FI Grand Prix and stopped off at Phuket in Thailand where he was very impressed by the wiring.

Wiring in Southern Phuket

I footered away a fine morning, firstly through a failure of communication with Dropscone about the availability of scones and secondly through indolence when the scones turned out to be a mirage.

I didn’t really do anything…

….though I must have gone out into the garden fro at least a moment or two as I did some shredding of fallen sunflowers and noticed a butterfly on the bench…

red admiral butterfly on bench

…and a bee on a lamium.

bee visiting lamium

They were obviously tucked up snugly during yesterday’s gales.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to visit Matilda in Edinburgh, catching the first train to run from Manchester to Edinburgh after the line had been cleared of fallen trees.

I watched the birds.

A blackbird boogied on the lawn….

blackbird dancing on lawn

…a chaffinch put a hex on a goldfinch…

chaffinch putting the hex on goldfinch

…a male chaffinch told a female where the really good berries are….

chaffinch showing the way

…while a determined goldfinch practised its breaststroke…

Goldfinch swimming to the feeder

…and a sparrow kept an eye out for new arrivals.

sparrow checking out a chaffinch

From time to time a jackdaw dropped in to supervise.

jackdaw swing on the fat balls

I had an appointment with the dentist as I had carelessly bashed one of my teeth and I needed to know if I had broken it.  He took an x-ray and reassured me that it was sound.  However, if it is still sore after a few days, it might have to come out so I am hoping for the best and eating very soft food.

On my way to the dentist, I saw many bunches of bright red berries….

red berries by river

…and on my way back, I looked at the foliage that I had seen stuck under the town bridge yesterday.  It turned out to be quite a substantial tree, with its head on one side of the bridge….

tree under bridge top

…and its foot caught on the cutwater on the other side.

tree under bridge bottom

On the bank of the river beside the bridge, I was amused by this little family group of fungi with mother sheltering her two affectionate children.

riverside fungus group

I looked at the forecast when I got home and as it said, ‘rain later’, I decided to go cycling ‘now’.

It started to rain just as I got onto my bike.

However, the rain was very light so I decided to chance it and go anyway.  The rain stayed light as I cycled to the top of Callister and back (13 miles) and faded away as I got back to the town so I pedalled on over the river and went a few miles up the main road. This let me get to the magic twenty miles which is the minimum trip I like to do when I have gone to the trouble of getting the bike out.

After several very windy bike rides this month, it was a treat to find that the wind had dropped entirely and in spite of the light rain, cycling was a real pleasure.

The country is getting browner every day…

brown bracken

…so I looked for a bit of colour in the garden when I got back.  A lot of flowers got blown over yesterday but the verbascum just bent with the breeze rather than breaking…

verbascum leaning

…but the tall cosmos, which should be standing up and looking over the front lawn, is now leaning perilously low over the pond.

cosmos drooping

The Japanese anemone is small and tough enough to have survived quite well.

Tired Japanese anemone

After a nourishing meal of fish cakes, I was picked up by Susan, who was driving her very smart new red car, and driven to Carlisle where we played with our recorder group for the first time for a couple of months.  Roy, our librarian, had picked out a fine selection of music for our delight so we had a very good evening.

It was pouring with rain as we drove home.

I was pleased to find that Mrs Tootlepedal had got home safely in spite of her train being delayed a bit on both the up and down trips.  She had had a good time in Edinburgh.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch yet again.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  Her cat brought in a most unexpected visitor not long ago.  Luckily it wasn’t an adder but a harmless grass snake and it survived.

grass snake

We were promised some rough and windy weather  from Storm Ali and we got some rough and windy weather with gusts between 50 and 60 mph in the middle of the day.  Luckily the rain stayed away for the most part and we got off lightly.  30 miles to our west, Dumfries declared a major emergency such was the strength of the wind there and 100 miles to the north, winds of over 100 mph were recorded so on the whole, we can’t complain.

We were distracted from the weather by the arrival of an old university friend for coffee and lunch and catching up with his news gave us plenty to do while we ignored the roaring sounds outside.

We walked along to the Buccleuch Centre to lunch in a comparatively calm moment and then watched as twigs, leaves and small branches whistled past the windows propelled by a savage gust.

The strongest gusts had gone by the time that Murray left to go back to Carlisle so Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked round the garden and shook our heads at fallen plants but also picked up a great number of walnuts which had descended from above.

I filled the bird feeder and wondered whether the birds had enough strength to battle the winds.

They had, though they could only approach the feeder into the wind at the start and had to fly round the feeder to get the correct landing path.

goldfinches

goldfinches and chaffunch

As the winds continued to gradually ease off, the birds filled up the perches….

chaffinch approaching goldfinch

…though the ones waiting higher up in the plum tree still had to hold on tight and keep their heads into the wind.

windy goldfinch in plum tree

It started to rain again so we went inside but after a while, it stopped and I took the opportunity to stretch my legs with a walk down one side of the river to the Skippers Bridge with a return up the other bank.

There had been a good deal of wind assisted leaf fall…

leafy path in park

…and acorns littered the paths and tracks.

acorns fallen

There are definite signs that the equinox is nearly upon us.

fist autumn colour

fallen leaf

I stopped to admire the Skippers Bridge, looking at it from below….

skippers at the equinox from downstream

…and above….

skippers at the equinox from upstream

…before walking along the newly repaired leaf and twig strewn pavement back towards the town.

fallen twigs and leaves

I had to brush this branch aside as I went along the riverside path…

branch across path

…and was also stopped in my tracks by this lovely show of clematis in the hedge.

sewage works clematis

I would like to see this in our garden but Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is ‘rampageous’ and more trouble than it would be worth.

When I got to the suspension bridge, I noticed that the regular gull was standing in its regular spot on the edge of the river.

gull in Esk on rock

It seems as if it is waiting for a friend and I imagine it humming the gull equivalent of “I’m leaning on a lamppost at the corner of the street until a certain little lady comes by.”

There was evidence of the brisk breeze under the town bridge.

tree washed up

There was a very short shower when I was at the far end of my walk but having had their little joke, the weather gods relented and turned off the rain again.  Gradually the clouds lifted, the wind died down and it morphed into a fairly calm and pleasant day by the evening.

The forecast is for improving weather over the next few days so I am hoping that my bicycle may see the light of day again.

I had a look round the garden when I came back and picked up more walnuts and took a couple of pictures.

veg garden seedswhite pansies

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm Community Choir but had to come home without singing.  The session had been cancelled as our conductor had been warned that too many fallen trees on her route had made the journey unsafe.

Ah well, you can’t have everything and it was a small price to pay for escaping the worst of the storm.

Today’s flying bird is a diagonal chaffinch, sneaking up under the wind.

diagonal flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent, Fiona.  She travelled as far as Durham, took a trip on the river and looked up at the cathedral as she drew near.

Durham

It was a dull, often rainy and always windy day today so I wasn’t unhappy to spend most of the morning going off with Mrs Tootlepedal to get our eyes tested in Longtown and following that with a trip to buy bird food and a visit to a local garden centre to look at but not buy decorative bark chippings.

The eye tests went well and Mrs Tootlepedal received the thumbs up for her cataract operation and is now just waiting for her new  glasses to arrive.  I was much the same as ever and my old glasses will do for another year so we were both happy.

While we were not buying decorative bark chippings, we had a toasted tea cake and a cup of coffee in the garden centre cafe so it was a morning well spent.

Mrs Tootlepedal had business to do on the computer when we got home as part of the very bureaucratic administration for her Embroiderers’ Guild group so I set up the tripod in the kitchen, made some soup and watched the birds.

Feeling that our old bird feeders were getting on a bit, I had bought a shiny new feeder at the bird food shop.  I put it out and waited for visitors.

goldfinch on new feeder

A goldfinch was among the first but it was soon joined by a chaffinch…

chaffinch approaching new feeder

…a blue tit…

blue tit on new feeder

…another chaffinch….

another chaffinch and the new feeder

…and another blue tit…

blue tit coming to new feeder

…and another chaffinch!

flying chaffinch at new feeder

It had passed the bird magnet test.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s admin took some time and when she had finished, I settled down to do some admin of my own for the Archive Group.

When I had finished, it was time for a cup of tea and we were joined by Mike Tinker who had kindly brought round some more liquid fertiliser from his wormery for the benefit of our garden.

The day had always been warm for the time of year and since it wasn’t raining, we went out to do a bit after gardening when Mike left.

I was looking around at one point and saw a green blob on the ground.  C;loser inspection showed that it was a fallen walnut and more inspection found many more fallen walnuts.  The walnuts don’t always contain much in the way of a kernel as we live too far to the north for reliable development but this year, after the warm summer, we may be luckier.

walnuts in the garden

I hope we will be as Mrs Tootlepedal likes walnuts a lot.

I noticed other things too.

Mrs Tootlepedal was keen for me to take a picture of the Virginia creeper on the fence as it is now at its best, even on a gloomy day like today…

vigini creeper

…and it tends to disappear very quickly once it is over.

We dead headed the dahlias but even they are beginning to show a little wear and tear.

sunny reggae dahlia

The rose mallows made a great show when they came out in July but they have faded away and now only one or two are left.

rose mallow

Two surprises were to be seen, one rather late – a fresh foxglove in the back of a bed…

late foxglove

…and one very early – a wallflower which has lost its internal clock altogether.

early wallflower

It shouldn’t have come out until next spring.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to act as a volunteer front-of-house person at the Buccleuch Centre and after a while, I went along to buy a ticket and watch the show there.  It was a screening of a concert by Jonas Kaufmann, the celebrated tenor,

He is a wonderful singer and he was joined by a sensational mezzo soprano called Anita Rachvelishvili and they sang a selection from Cavalleria Rusticana (which I could take or leave) followed by numerous well known Italian songs which were absolutely delightful.

Anita Rachvelishvili’s ability to switch from a full blown operatic style to a much more intimate style for the songs and excel at both bowled our audience over and as Jonas is a great treat whatever he sings, we had a really good evening.  What put the icing on the concert for me was that the members of the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, who were providing the accompaniment, seemed to be enjoying the music as much as the audience.

We are promised heavy wind and rain from our first named storm of the autumn tomorrow so we are keeping our fingers crossed that the reality turns out to be not as bad as the warning.

“Much of Scotland is due to be battered by high winds and heavy rain as the first named storm of the season sweeps in. The Met Office has issued weather warnings and said Storm Ali could bring winds of 80mph and a danger to life from flying debris. An amber warning is in place for large parts of the country between 08:00 and 17:00 on Wednesday. Travel disruption and huge waves in coastal areas are also expected.”

The storm is named after Mrs Tootlepedal so it might well be quite impressive.

Meantime, the flying bird of the day is a tiny coal tit who will have to keep out of harm’s way tomorrow.

flying coal tit

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Sharon’s visit to Berlin.

20180907_181837

In spite of the gloomy forecast at the beginning of the week, we had another dry day here today with a decent amount of sunshine.  Unfortunately the wind continued to blow vigorously so it took me quite a long time to get up the energy to go out on my bike.

I had several good wheezes to distract me before I got going and of course, I always have to have a look at the garden first.

I am very attached to the papery poppies that have come out of the seed packet this year.

P1140268

They have a subdued elegance.

And in spite of the brisk breeze, there were butterflies everywhere in the garden today.

P1140273

Indeed, you had to look sharp to avoid being knocked over by them as they flitted from flower to flower.

I did get going in the end and found it a hard battle.  I was pleased to stop to admire a small clump of traditional toadstools…

P1140276

…and in an effort to get some gender balance into the blog, I refrained from taking any more outstanding cows and took two sitting bulls instead.

P1140278

Near the end of the ride (my usual 20 mile Canonbie circle), I parked the bike behind a fence and walked down through the woods…

P1140279

…to get a view of the river Esk near Broonholm.

P1140281

I thought that I might see a lot of fungus under the trees but this little clump was the only fungus that I saw.

P1140286

I managed to make it home and found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work on the computer.

It was fine enough for Mrs Tootlepedal to take her lunch out to the new bench and I joined her later on.  Out of the wind and sensibly clothed, it was a good day to test the bench.

The afternoon was given over to gardening.  I was in poetic form:

 There was mowing, dead heading
And sieving and shredding.

Mrs Tootlepedal is still in full Attila the Gardener mode so there was plenty of shredding to do.  The good summer has speeded up the compost process and there are now two big buckets of sieved compost waiting to find a home.

While we were sitting on the bench having our lunch, I noticed that a second flowering of a polemonium has come out to join the late flowering delphinium.

_DSC7062

As they are in the same bed as the reliable golden wedding rose and the perennial wallflower…

_DSC7064

…there was no shortage of colour in that corner of the garden.

I noticed a young blackbird sitting quietly on the fence and went in to get a camera.  I was surprised to find it still there when I came out.

_DSC7059

Then Mike Tinker came to bring Mrs Tootlepedal a gift of some liquid worm compost from his wormery as it  produces more than he needs for his own garden.  He joined us for a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit and his visit was well timed as it began to rain lightly just at that moment.

I took a picture of a leycesteria before I went in.

P1140287

Although the rain stopped, we didn’t go back out to the garden when Mike left as I had to have an early evening meal because it was the first meeting of Langholm Sings, our Community Choir in the evening.

I did find time to take a few bird pictures though.

I like the shiny black feet that jackdaws have.

_DSC7072

This goldfinch has been very badly painted!

_DSC7054

I hope it gets some better feathers before the cold weather arrives.

Not all of our bird visitors are smart.  A sparrow had bitten more off a fat ball than it could chew and a coal tit was parked on a perch with no seed.

_DSC7076

The first meeting of the choir was well attended with a couple of new members and Mary, our director had brought some new music for us to tackle.  Two of the pieces were good to sing and quite easy but the third piece looks as though it will keep us busy for some time.  This seems like a good balance and I thoroughly enjoyed the singing, especially as my voice lasted reasonably well.

The flying bird of the day is another of the chaffinches which fly up to the feeder and conveniently hover for a moment before landing just so that I can snap them.

_DSC7074

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent, who visited Forde Abbey recently in the company of my sister Mary.

Forde Abbey

It was a very changeable day today with constant rain showers interspersed with occasion brief dry spells and even the odd bit of sunshine.  The addition of a very brisk wind to the weather mix made it a day that was unsuitable for serious outdoor activity.

I therefore lurked indoors for the most part, except when Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to sing in the church choir. I spent a fair amount of time cooking.  I made a lamb stew with a plum and red wine gravy for the slow cooker after breakfast and a potato and carrot soup for our lunch.

Then I put a so called ciabatta mixture into the breakd making machine and watched the birds for a bit.

Things were quiet, perhaps because of the brisk wind.

A lone jackdaw surveyed the scene for a while…

_DSC6978

When I started watching, there were no sparrows about and a single siskin and a goldfinch commanded the feeder.

_DSC6983

A sparrow and a chaffinch tried to move in…

_DSC6984

…and after that, chaffinches….

_DSC6985

…and sparrows….

_DSC6987

…flew in at regular intervals…

_DSC6989

…sometimes at the same time.

_DSC6991

All the same, there were long periods when the feeder was unattended.

Goldfinches returned and this one was not happy about an impending chaffinch.

_DSC6988

A hungry blue tit didn’t cause as much distress.

_DSC6993

We had a quiet afternoon watching the cyclists of the Tour of Britain going round n circles in the middle of London and then as the rain had stopped for a moment, I went out into the garden and did a little dead heading and picked up windfall apples.

The dahlias, as I have remarked before, seem to be pretty weather proof and were still smiling.

P1140184

But for once, there were no bees on the Michaelmas daisies…

P1140185

…and no butterflies about at all.

As the weather seemed to be quite good, I cycled off to do some shopping.

The path along the riverside looked inviting…

P1140186

…and I pedalled a bit further in search of fungus.  I  didn’t see fungus and had to be content with some flowers.

P1140187

As I came out of the shop and headed for home, the weather had taken a gloomy turn again…

P1140192

…but it hadn’t started to rain so I paused for a moment beside the Esk and watched a stream of riders, who had been out on a charity event, crossing the Langholm Bridge…

P1140199

…and a dipper living up to its name.

P1140203

The delay meant that the rain was coming down before I got home but it did provide a rainbow for me, although it was only half a rainbow when I looked at it closely.

P1140208

We had the slow cooked stew for our tea and the  ‘ciabbata’ came out of the bread machine.   Say what you like about bread machines (I am a devotee) but they make a good looking loaf.

P1140210

The result is nothing like a hand made ciabatta loaf but it tastes delicious and that is what matters.

In keeping with the day, the evening was spent very quietly doing nothing more exciting than making a couple more jars of apple jelly.  I didn’t rush the job this time and it set properly first go.

The flying bird of the day is a distant goldfinch.

_DSC6981

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Today’s guest picture shows a curiously cloudy South African sky spotted by my South African correspondent Tom.

SA cloudy sky

We had a cloudy day here too but there was nothing curious about it.  It was was just grey…

…and drizzly all day.  The rain didn’t come to anything, it was just that sort of annoying stuff that stops you doing interesting things outside.

In general though, we have had a very dry week and Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge only recorded 1 cm for the last seven days.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I cycled through the light drizzle to attend the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre.  I stocked up on my usual supplies of meat, fish cheese and honey and then I turned my back for a moment and Mrs Tootlepedal bought a small forest.

She said it was going cheap.

This picture shows her cycling home with two thirds of it.

cycling forest

I had the other third on the back of my bike.

Once we had unloaded the forest, we set about unblocking a drain.

Mike Tinker had noticed that it was overflowing when he visited us on Friday.  At great personal sacrifice, Mrs Tootlepedal stuck her arm down the narrow drain and cleared it out while I offered all sorts of helpful advice from the sidelines. ( I would like to say that had the drain been wider, I would have been doing the arm sticking down work and Mrs Tootlepedal the advising.)  Still, working as a team, we got the drain cleared and I had a walk about the garden.

I had had plenty of time while we were working at the drain to admire the clematis beside it.

front ddor clematis

And I have remarked before that the dahlias seem impervious to sogginess…

big red dahlia

…though some of the ‘Sunny Reggae’ were looking a bit nibbled.

holey dahlia

The poppies were looking positively glum.

sad poppies

Such is the power of suggestion that I thought I saw pools of water at the centre of this poppy because of the raindrops on its petals…

damp red poppy

…but a second look revealed that it was just white patches on the petals.

The fuschias are flowering but tend to look a bit depressed at the moment.

crushed fuchsia

I noticed that there are many little moisture spangled webs around the garden and took a picture of one of them.

wet web close

It looked very striking in close up.

wet web

After that, we went indoors and basically didn’t come out for the rest of the day, though we did do some more shopping in the evening.

I had a brief look at the birds and found some goldfinches which looked as though they were enjoying the day as much as me…

two wet goldfinches

…or even less…

wet goldfinch

…though one did summon up the energy to wave at the cameraman….

wet goldfinches waving

…shortly before being chased off its perch by an incoming greenfinch…

wet goldfinches and greenfinch

…which didn’t look very happy either.

wet goldfinches and greenfinch 2

The only dry looking bird about was a chaffinch perched under the shelter of the sunflower leaves beside the feeder.

chaffinch on sunflower

I spent an afternoon getting to know a new programme which I have purchased for my computer and buyers of new programs will know that this entails a world of pain.  I have more or less worked out its quirks.

I used some of the fish that I bought at the market this morning to make kedgeree for our tea and then we settled down to watch the highlights of La Vuelta.  This took place in such dry heat that we were quite grateful for our damp day here.

After its summer break, the church choir resumes full activity tomorrow so I will find out if my voice is working well or not.  It will certainly be rusty.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch complaining loudly about the rain.

flying chaffinch shouting

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from our older son Tony’s morning dog walking.   You don’t see sights like this in Langholm.  I shall expect porpoises next.

wemyss seals

We woke to another rather chilly and damp morning and things hadn’t got any drier or brighter by lunch time when I took this picture while doing some dead heading.

soggy calendula

A visit from Sandy for coffee and conversation brought a little metaphorical light into the day but otherwise it was a morning for getting Archive Group business done on the computer and making some potato and courgette soup. (The supply of courgettes is endless.)

Sandy helped me take the new bench, which I had treated with decking oil yesterday,  out into the garden and we put it back in its place.

oiled bench

In spite of the drizzle, it looked very cheerful surrounded by flowers.

I set the bird watching camera up over lunch in the hope of seeing a return of the nuthatch but had to make do with birds just failing to hit the perches at the first attempt instead.

blue tit landing

greenfinch missing

The feeder was intermittently busy…

busy feeder

…with sparrows and greenfinches but the nuthatch didn’t come back.

Jackdaws did.

jackdaw on fat balls

When we a have been out in the garden recently, we are occasionally startled by great whooshing of wings as large flocks of sparrows rise up and fly from one spot to another.

They are very fond of the seed feeder….

two sparrows with seed

…and the fat balls….

sparrows on fat balls

…but today when I was upstairs, I looked out of the window and saw that the philadelphus at the front gate had become the preferred perch for a while.

sparrows on philadelphus

The drizzle gave up and down in the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal was preparing the ground for a transplant of a spirea while I cut up a huge amount of green waste for composting.  The waste had come from the work that Mrs Tootlepedal with the help of our neighbour Liz had done on Saturday as part of cleaning up the bushes at the far end of our hedge along the road.

neat hedge

They had acquired two wheelbarrow loads of soft clippings that needed cutting up before being put into the compost bin.  I would have shredded them but our shredder has not been working well lately so I laboriously cut the stuff up with secateurs and shears.

Then I wandered round with the camera for a while.

There was life in the garden.

cosmos and hoverflywhite dicentra and bee august

Mrs Tootlepedal found this woolly bear caterpillar in some long grass and it wriggled about on her glove as I tried to take its picture.

woolly bear caterpillar

There is still plenty of colour in spite of the gloomy clouds above.

four colourful flowers august

And there were even one or two butterflies.  This is a red admiral, looking a little part worn I thought.

red admiral butterfly

Beside the buddleia, the Michaelmas daisies are in full flow.

Michaelmas daisies

At this point, we were visited by Mike Tinker.  This was very fortunate as I know that he has a taste for repairing machinery so I suggested that he have a look at our shredder and before you could say “Jack Robinson”, he had the front plate off, the insides cleaned out and the thing back in full working order.  This is just the sort of visitor that you need in the garden.  We went inside and had a nice cup of tea.

After he went, my flute pupil Luke arrived and we had a very worthwhile session.  Luke guiltily admitted to practising again.  Where will this all end?

Late in the day, I spotted a couple of goldfinches at the feeder.

two goldfinches

They are infrequent visitors at the moment.

I am hoping that the weather gets either warmer or drier, or preferably both, as I would like to get another pedal or two in before the end of the month and it has not been attractive cycling weather for the last two days.

Meantime, here is the flying chaffinch of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

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