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Posts Tagged ‘goldfinch’

Today’s guest picture comes from Tom in South Africa and shows the calm before the storm.

Tom's calm before the storm

I managed to get up quite promptly and had time for a quick look round the garden after breakfast…

lilian austin group

All four stages of the development of a Lilian Austin rose on one stem

the wren rose

And it is hard to believe that the young Wren rose….

the wren rose older

…will very soon look like this

sweet william close up

A Sweet William repaid a close look

…and then I  got going on my new bike before it got too hot (it was a mere 73°F when I started) and went round my customary 20 mile Canonbie circuit.  With a light wind again, it was a good day for a pedal  and my legs were recovered from Tuesdays efforts.  I didn’t have a lot of time to spare so I only stopped twice for pictures.

The first time was for this wonderful stand of long grass, rising to well over the top of my head in height.

tall grass

It was covered with seed when I took a closer look.

tall grass seed

(Feeble joke alert) I had a quick look to see if there were any brexit plans hidden here which the government had kicked into the long grass but I couldn’t see any. This was not entirely a surprise as nobody has been able to see any government brexit plans in or out of the long grass.

Further along, I stopped for a fine display of knapweed.

knapweed

This ride, though short was significant as it took me over 2000 miles for the year and over 500 miles for the month, the longest distance for a single month for me since September 2014.  It is amazing what a spell of good weather can do.

There was just time for another look round the garden when I got back…

lamium

The lamiums are in good shape

butter and sugar iris

The last of the butter and sugar irises

pale astrantia

A third variety of astrantia has joined the show

pink sweet william

And I looked closely at another Sweet William

feverfew

Mrs Tootlepedal has a fine clump of feverfew in one of her old chimney pots.

another philadelphus

And yet another Philadelphus

…before it was time for lunch, a quick look at a beady eyed goldfinch…

goldfinch

….and then a trip to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

There had been some trouble on the West Coast line yesterday because of rails bending in the hot weather so we drove to Tweedbank to catch the train to Edinburgh from there and were pleased to find ourselves on one of their newer trains.

The journey, passing through lovely countryside, was a treat and we had a thoroughly good time with Matilda and her family and Rosa, a nursery friend of Matilda, who was visiting.

After a good meal, we went back to the station and saw that many of the trains were delayed by speed limits on overheated tracks.  We found our train, took our seats and were just congratulating ourselves on our acumen  when the announcer came on and told us that although the train was ready, the driver had been held up on one of the delayed trains on other parts of the network and we would therefore have to get out of our train and go and catch the next one which would leave in half an hour from a different platform.

Luckily it was one of the new ones too so our anguish was somewhat assuaged.

We got home safely and I was able to catch a flying bird (or two) as the rooks fidgeted around above their roost at Holmwood before settling down for the night.

rooks at sunset

Note: The train that we would normally have caught was indeed delayed…but only by seven minutes.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who was on a bus crossing Waterloo Bridge when she came over all Wordsworth and admired the view.  (I know, I know; he was crossing Westminster Bridge but that is not far away).

View from bus window while crossing Waterloo Bridge

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:

After rain overnight, we had a fine and occasionally sunny day today so Mrs Tootlepedal made the most of it and toiled away in the garden morning and afternoon with a break for a committee meeting after lunch.

I went out for a look around after breakfast and saw Mrs Tootlepedal’s least favourite bird sighting , a sparrow in the vegetable garden looking for vegetables to destroy.

sparrow in veg garden

Sometimes when we got out there are twenty or more sparrows lurking about among the plants.  This one didn’t stop long though.

flying sparrow

I noticed that a young bird was lost in the greenhouse and looking pensive….

sparrow in greenhouse

…but it found its own way out in the end.

It was quite damp as you can see but it soon dried out and I mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass rather carefully.  We keep the grass there quite long so I even took the trouble to get the grass rake out first and make sure the grass was standing up to meet the mower.  In an uncooperative way though, quite a lot of the grass lay down again between me putting the  rake away and getting the mower out.

I had a look at the gooseberry bush to check for sawfly….

gooseberry bush

…and was pleased to find that there were none about.  The Solomon’s seal is being eaten by sawfly so the gooseberry may well be next.

I then got some lawn feed out and finished feeding the middle lawn.

While I was at work, our neighbours Liz and Ken walked over to see what was going on and I was telling them about my fern walk yesterday.  I lifted up the leaves of one of the ferns in our garden and they were impressed by what lay behind.

fern

So was I.

After all this excitement, I went in and watched the birds.

I saw a blue tit, an infrequent visitor…

blue tit…and several regulars too.

goldfinch and siskin

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went to her committee meeting and I got the new bike out and pedalled round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

I checked to see if all the recent rain had put a bit more water into the Wauchope….

Wauchope Water cascade

…and found the little cascade was busy but not overflowing.

The grass beside the river was full of these little yellow spikes.

yellow wild flower

I need help in identifying them

Not long after I set off,  I became a bit worried about the weather, both behind me…

bloch view

..and in front…

bloch road view

…but the grey clouds passed me by and I had an enjoyable ride with the brisk breeze being more helpful than not.

When I got into the Esk valley, it was easy to see by the river that it had been raining quite a lot.

River esk at hollows

I said confidently to a reader the other day that there was lots of yellow rattle about but since then it has been hard to find so I was pleased to find a good sprinkling about beside the old A7 today.

P1110652

And there was a lot of knapweed there too…

knapweed

…and a mini meadow of daisies, knapweed and meadow vetchling as well.

wild flowers old A7

Thanks to the helpful wind, I got home in good time and found Mrs Tootlepedal back from her meeting and busy improving the back border.

I mowed the front lawn.  It is showing the benefit from the feed that I gave it last week and now definitely has more grass than moss on it.  I regard this as a minor triumph considering that earlier in our very wet and cold spring, I was seriously thinking about digging the whole thing up and starting again .

Then I went to sieve compost as Mrs Tootlepedal is using it by the bucket to improve the soil in the back border.

I checked and found that the bees are still finding pollen on the astrantias.

bee on astrantia

This concluded my outdoor activity for the day except for a few minutes of thinning out the gooseberries.  I stewed the thinnings and had them with cream in the evening.

Following my new schedule, I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database before tea.  I am trying not to take too many photographs so I don’t have to spend so much time looking through them but it is hard.

The flower of the day is a Martagon Lily, taken in the morning when things were still damp.

martagon lily

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Mary Jo from Manitoba.  It was sent to her by a friend and was taken by her friend’s nephew, James Greig .  James farms near Melita, MB and is the third generation to work that land.  He has a good eye for a photo and those interested can find a lot more of his work here.

james fieldscape

Thanks to the long spell of good weather, I have got well behind schedule when it comes to putting the data miners’ work into the newspaper index database on the Archive Group website so I am going to have to cut down on words and pictures in the blog posts for a bit while I catch up.  (Enormous sigh of relief, politely masked, from beleaguered blog readers.)

Looking back, it is eight years since I started this on-line diary on June 16th 2010 with a post of 45 words and one picture.  Things have gone downhill since then.  I have had 2921 posts and I think that my sister Susan has read every one!

Anyway, here is briefer than usual summary of my day.

I got up early, had breakfast and got on my bike for the 20 mile Canonbie circuit.  I stopped twice.

Canonbie umbellifer

Umbellifer at Canonbie Bridge (Hogweed Heraculeum sphondylium?)

view from hollows bridge

The view from Hollows Bridge

The combination of the early start and a brisk breeze caught my legs napping and I found it hard work but I got home in time for coffee and a walk round the garden.

Two shrubs which had Mrs Tootlepedal worried earlier in the year have done better than expected.

weigela

The Weigela is flourishing

cotoneaster

And the Cotoneaster is producing flowers

The bad weather has hit the lupins badly.  They were doing so well in the good weather, it is sad to see them now.

bent lupins

 

There is plenty of white about

jacobite rose

Jacobite rose with visitor.

philadelphus

Yet another Philadelphus coming out

I like this Euphorbia.  It gives me the impression that it is the result of a potato print by a competent child in the school art class.

euphorbia

 

The espalier apples are showing the benefit of some hand pollinating during our cold and beeless spring.

young apples

I went in and made some soup for lunch and watched the birds.

siskin at feeder

A young siskin works out how to land on a perch

goldfinch

It makes a man cry when a fine flying bird of the day hides behind a pole

After lunch, I mowed the middle and front lawns and then gained extra credit with the gardener by going round with the lawn edger.  A little compost sieving followed and that completed the energetic part of the day.  It was really windy which made taking flower pictures difficult and it was grey and chilly which made a walk unattractive so I did what I needed to and went inside and put a week of the newspaper index into the database.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came and we had a productive session.  Onwards and upwards.

I watched the first half of the England world cup football match but watching England trying to play the ball out of defence always makes me nervous so I wrote the blog during the second half.  I noticed that they won so well done England.

The flower of the day is the lamium, which after a slow start, is going great guns.

lamium

And a FBotD too.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our older son Tony.  As he was busy house hunting, he sent me this charming squirrel portrait in lieu of a Father’s Day card.

ant's squirrel

The Muckletoon Adventure Festival had a better day for their events today.  The road cyclists were offered 30, 60 or 90 mile sportives and I would have liked to have had a go at either the 60 or the 90 but there were too many steep hills involved for the well being of my tin knee so I got up promptly and went for a gentle 45 mile ride instead.

I chose quiet and gently contoured roads for my trip…

road near KPF

…and once again slipped into England before crossing the border on my way home.

welcome to Scotland

It was a grey, cool and breezy day and I needed to be home for cooking duties so I didn’t stop to take any more pictures on the way.

Mrs Tootlepedal was home from church when I got back and needless to say, was hard at work in the garden.

I had a look round and the sun came out to brighten up the roses.

P1110484

I went in to make a stew for the slow cooker and kept an eye on the birds while I did so.

Once again, the feeder was busy….

goldfinches at feeder

…and there was keen competition for perches.

goldfinch and siskin

After lunch, a small flock of greenfinches turned up.

greenfinch posing

It may have been a family because there was certainly at least one youngster in the plum tree looking for food.

greenfinch and young

…and occasionally getting it.

greenfinch feeding young

Mrs Tootlepedal did a little more work in the garden while I looked for new flowers…

P1110500

…and found this blue campanula.

 

The hydrangea seems to have an endless supply of pollen because it was still buzzing with bees today.

P1110507

This one has a stripy jumper on.

We didn’t spend much time in the garden though as I wanted a walk and Mrs Tootlepedal wanted to go somewhere different so we got into the car and drove over the hill to Newcastleton.  We went through the village and up the hill on the opposite side of the river where we found a Forestry Commission car park.  We parked the car and went for a walk in the forest there.

There was a selection of routes to choose from and having made out choice, we strode bravely off along this track…

Newcastleton forest

…which turned out to be the wrong direction.

However, more by luck than good judgement, we managed to finally get back on the right track and had a most enjoyable stroll.

We passed spacious forest planting…

Newcastleton forest (2)

…some very impressive ferns…

P1110512

…and any amount of wild flowers.

P1110514

Ragged robin, tormentil. marsh thistle and ajuga

P1110518

Foxglove, dock, red clover and birds-foot trefoil

Many interesting creatures

P1110529

A slug, an unknown moth on a grass and another on Mrs Tootlepedal’s boot which Anna Marett tells me is appropriately called a Red-necked Footman.

And several mountain bikers.

mountain biker

The two in the background were pushing their bikes up the hill.

There are some well used mountain bike routes in the forest and the Forestry Commission has gone to some lengths to provide good facilities for cyclists and walkers, planned so that they don’t get in each others’ way.

The second half of our walk, once we had found the right way to go, was on a neatly mown grass path.

P1110531

And this led us safely back to the car.

We will definitely return to this area as it was a pleasure to walk there.

Our timing was good too as we got back to Newcastleton village in time for a cup of tea and a fancy at the Olive Tee cafe.  Our more usual outing policy is to arrive at cafes just after they have shut.

The drive home over the hill wasn’t quite as good as the rest of the outing though as it was raining and the cloud was so low that we had to put on our fog lights on the single track road.  No chance of any scenic views.

Still, we made it home and the slow cooked stew went down very well so it was a good day all round.

The flower of the day is a Martagon Lily, still carrying a little of yesterday’s rain.

P1110502

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Today’s guest picture shows an elegant little lighthouse at Fleetwood on the Irish Sea coast.  My brother Andrew was visiting the town.

fleetwood

After several weeks of good weather, it was very unfortunate that for the weekend of the Muckeltoon Adventure Festival, a feast of mountain biking and trail running today, we should have got a miserable day of rain.

I was hoping to go and get some good action pictures but it was raining too heavily to make that any fun.

wet goldfinch

The goldfinches took badly to the rain too.

As a result, I spent a very quiet day inside until the rain stopped in the afternoon and I didn’t do much after that either.

The wet weather gave me a chance to watch the birds during the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s windowsill treats are still drawing in  sparrows….

sparrow on windowsill

…and the seeds were going down regularly on the feeder.

goldfinch

A stylish goldfinch keeping things tight to avoid the raindrops

busy feeder

More birds than perches leads to arguments

redpoll and siskin

Wet redpoll, wet siskin, bad temper all round.

incoming siskin

There was almost always a siskin in the offing

 

I got some Archive Group work done in the morning which was a bonus and I went out to check on the flowers when the rain stopped.

The roses were soggy but surviving…

wet roses

…and when the sun came out, the low lying plants looked positively cheerful

sunny flowers

…and I was happy to see that the Ooh La La clematis had stayed together.

clematis ooh

After some time to dry, things were looking good again….

wet flowers

…and I went for a very short walk to stretch my legs before any more rain came along.

You wouldn’t know that it had been such a miserable morning.

parish church

River Esk between bridges

Although the river was up a little bit, there was still plenty of gravel for the oyster catchers  and their chicks to patrol.

oyster catchers

young oyster catchers

young oyster catcher

It was such a dull day that I even found myself watching a bit of a World Cup football match.  The game seemed to consist of muscular Danes barging over skilful Peruvians and I was sorry to see that the Peruvians squandered every good chance that they got and let the Danes win.

I looked out of the window as I was writing this post in the evening and was impressed enough by a new(ish) moon to get my tripod out and as a reward to get bitten by a thousand midges.

new moon

The flower of the day is one of the durable peonies.

peony

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Today’s guest picture is the last from Venetia’s trip to Madeira and shows a local flower.  It is an echium known as ‘The Pride of Madeira’.  As you can see, it is popular with the locals.

Madeira flower

The forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning is pretty gloomy with strong winds and rain predicted.  As I write this, I can hear the wind sighing round the house and the rain pattering on the windows and I can only hope that the forecasters are being excessively pessimistic as they often are and we will avoid any storm damage.

The last day of our good spell of weather was grey but still warm and with gentle winds in the morning.  We couldn’t make the best of it though as I had an early appointment at the new hospital in Dumfries to see a surgeon about my low iron count.

The drive was smooth and uneventful,  the newly planted meadows round the hospital were as interesting as before…

DGRI meadow

…and since I was seen promptly and sent home with no need for further investigations, the trip was very satisfactory.  The advice was to keep taking the tablets and eat more greens.  I shall do both.

While we were in the vicinity, we went to have coffee at the very good garden centre we visited last week and while we were there, three plants, some more lawn feed and a new garden hose reel insinuated themselves unobtrusively into our shopping trolley and we had to pay for them before we could get out.  Since we had just gone for coffee, this was very odd.

When we got home, there was a lot to do in the garden before the rain came.  During the afternoon, I mowed the drying green and sieved some compost for Mrs Tootlepedal to use in her planting out work.

Because it is a great deal easier to shift compost when it is dry, I also took the opportunity to shift the contents of Bin B into Bin C and I know that discerning readers will never forgive me if I don’t record this event.

compost bin c and d

The warm dry weather has speeded up the composting process a lot and made sieving and shifting an easy task.

I also wound on the front garden hose on to the new reel…

new hose reel

…though of course, the weather will now be so bad for the rest of the summer that we will never have to use it.

In  between times, I wandered round the garden to take as many pictures as I could to record the end of our good spell.   (I apologise for the number of pictures in today’s post.)

The vegetable garden is looking very well organised….

vegetable garden

…and I was able to have a good helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s cut and come again salad leaves with my lunch.

Of particular interest to me was this…

strawberry fruit

…as I haven’t  netted the strawberries this year and I am hoping to pick as many as I can before….

blackbird

…the blackbirds notice them.

There are new flowers about.

day lilly, loosestrife and goldfinch rose

Day lily, loosestrife and the first Rosa Goldfinch

…and old friends are doing well.

astrantias

I tend to show close ups of astrantias so I thought I ought to show you the two colours on a broader scale.

At the top of the front lawn, the two box balls are in full colour…

golden box

…and all round the garden, the Sweet Williams that Mrs Tootlepedal has planted out are bringing some zing to the flower beds.

sweet william

On the house wall, the climbing hydrangea is looking healthy…

hydrangea

…and there is a constant buzz as you walk past it.

hydrangea with bee

The ‘ooh la la’ clematis is thriving….

ooh la la clematis

…and as it is in a very sheltered spot, I hope it survives the wind and the rain.

When I went in for lunch, I took the opportunity to watch the birds.

We have had daily visits from pigeons and collared doves recently….

pigeon

…and the supply of siskins and goldfinches seems endless.

goldfinch and siksin

I got the composting and mowing done before the rain started and then after a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal, who had been busy on a task in the town, I decided to go for a walk as it was too windy for enjoyable cycling.

There was some occasional drizzle but not enough to discourage me.  We could certainly do with some rain as the ground is very dry and the rivers are extremely low.

River Esk low

Somewhere along the gravel at the left hand side of the river in the picture above are five oyster catchers but I had to walk along the grass to see them.

The five were two parents….

oyster catcher parents

…clucking away and watching anxiously over three youngsters.

oyster catcher young

I know that there are four pictures but there are only three birds.

On the other side of the town bridge, I caught up with a pied wagtail…

pied wagtail

…standing unusually still for such a fidgety bird.

I looked back from the Sawmill Brig…

Ewes Water Island

…and wondered if there would be enough rain to turn the green mound that you can see back into an island again.  It is covered with roses, knapweed and umbellifers.

The light wasn’t very good and the threat of rain ever present so I didn’t dilly dally though I stopped for long enough to look at some docks…

dock

…admire the treescape on the Castleholm…

Castleholm tree view

…and check on the wild flowers along the Scholars’ Field wall…

nettle and umbellifer

……before calling in on my fern expert Mike to talk about going on a fern walk soon…

…and then going home to cook the tea.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went out to practise with the church organist’s summer choir and I rested my voice again.

I only went to the doctor in the first place because I was having trouble with a little hoarseness and after being thoroughly checked and cleared of any other problems, the hoarseness is still there.  I have another week of rest and then I will go back to the doctor again to see what is what if things haven’t improved.  I am missing singing more than I expected.

The flower of the day is the butter and sugar iris.  I am not sure that it will survive the night’s weather.

butter and sugar iris

I may possibly have run out of guest pictures.  Just mentioning it.

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s visit to the misty mountains of Madeira.

madeira

As I am still resting my singing voice under doctor’s orders, Mrs Tootlepedal went by herself to sing in the church choir while I kept myself busy at home.

I may have occasionally glanced about as I went about my business…

butter and sugar iris

more butter and sugar irises are out

…but there was washing to be hung out….

yellow onion

and a handsome yellow oniony sort of thing has come out too

…lawns to be mowed…

lupins

the kindly weather has meant that the lupins are out from bottom to top of their stems

…and watered…

lupin close up

.and worth a closer look as well

…the car windscreen to be cleared of huge amounts of squashed insects (we had hardly any insects last year bit this year numbers seem to have recovered)….

philadelphus with roses

a large philadelphus with a scattering of roses in the back corner of the front lawn

…a second load of washing to be hung out…

astrantia

a garden in a single flower

…a sausage stew to be prepared for the slow cooker…

foxgloves

foxgloves are popping up everywhere

…and quite a bit of watering to be done too….

spirea bridal wreath

a better look at the tiny spirea flowers

…in spite of a forecast of thunderstorms later in the day (after yesterday’s disappointments, we weren’t taking the forecast seriously)…

lamium

and the lamium has burst in flower too

…so there was hardly any time to look at flowers at all.

hawkweed and white flowers

 

Mrs Tootlepedal is considering scattering more of the white flowers among the orange hawkweed for next year.  I think that that would be a good idea.

I did take a look at the hydrangea on the wall of the house.  Uninstructed people like me might imagine that the big white things are the important part of the flowers….

hydrangea

…but bees know better where the real interest lies.

bee on hydrangea

A blackbird took advantage of the lawn watering to have a quick shower.

blackbird having shower

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from church and got busy in the garden.

After lunch, we spent the afternoon waiting for the rain to come.  We were entertained by some prolonged rumbles of thunder but the lightning that caused them must have been a good distance away as we saw no evidence of it at all.

monument from garden

In spite of some very dark skies to the north of the town, the monument stayed bathed in sunshine and only a few drops of rain came with the thunder.

I had taken a camera upsatirs in the hope of some lightning shots but had to make do with looking at the birds instead.  They came to the feeder below the window, apparently quite unworried by the rumbling overhead.

goldfinch

goldfinch (2)

Two siskins felt the need to quarrel.

fighting siskins

It did start to rain more heavily eventually and for a while, it looked as though it was going to take things seriously but in the end, we only got a couple of short showers, enough to wet the garden which was welcome but not enough to store up some moisture on the ground for the future.

Now the threat of thunder and lightning has receded, I hope to get out on the bike again next week.

The flower of the day is the  Ooh La La Clematis, a pretty flower with an awful name.

Ooh La La clematis

 

 

 

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