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Posts Tagged ‘goldfinches’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He was watching this team of rowers battling into a very strong wind during the recent storm when he heard unsympathetic onlookers on the bank shouting, “Faster!”

nottingham rowers

The wind had dropped here today but it was still raining when we got up.  I looked at Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge in the evening and found that there has been three inches of rain this week.

I went along to the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre after breakfast and replenished our supplies of cheese, honey and fish and meat.  There were plenty of stalls and a good crowd of buyers so every one seemed happy.

When I got home, I peered at the birds and found that most of our visitors were goldfinches again…

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…with the now familiar coal tits in evidence…

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…and the jackdaw with the white feathers too.

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The rain persisted all morning but I had a stubborn crossword to struggle with so the time passed and after lunch, the rain eased off and I got ready to go out for a cycle ride.

I was just leaving when my neighbour Liz phoned and told me to look at her garage roof.

I looked and saw two partridges.  The partridges are birds that are put out for shooting parties to take pot shots at so these two had sensibly got out of the woods and into the town where they will only be subject to people shooting them with a camera.

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I hoped that when I got back from my cycle ride that I would find them in the pear tree in our garden and thus solve the Christmas present question.

There were still a few drops of rain about when I set off up the road but it wasn’t too cold, the rain soon stopped and the wind was behind me so I was contented enough.

The light didn’t improve though and I only stopped once on my 12 mile ride.

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A quick walk round the garden when I got back also only produced a single shot. The snowberries seemed appropriate for the first official day of winter.

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The partridges were in our garden when I cycled in, but I alarmed them and they scurried off so I didn’t get a chance to put out seed to tempt them into the pear tree.

I didn’t have long to get changed.

The town’s Christmas lights were due to be switched on and our choir had been asked to go and sing carols with a group of players from the Langholm Town Band.  Mrs Tootlepedal came with me and we squeezed onto this little platform outside the Town Hall, looking for all the world like a Punch and Judy show.

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We sang twice and in between efforts, I sneaked along the road to see the reindeer in the yard of the Buck Hotel, regular visitors to his event.

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This one was getting a feed of lichen.

The High Street was very festive with a good crowd out to welcome Mrs and Mrs Santa Claus, listen to the band and see a variety of entertaining turns as they gathered outside the Eskdale Hotel waiting for the  big switch on.

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The lights came on right on schedule and the Christmas tree looked very fine.

mde

Cars had to make their way carefully between the throng…

sdr

…and there was some of the fun of the fair for younger people.

sdr

There was even a flurry of snow but it has to be said that this came from two ingenious snow guns.

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It was a very cheerful event.

I enjoyed a small fillet of sea bass for my tea, a fish that I had never cooked before.  I will certainly cook it again as it extremely easy to cook and it turned out to be very tasty.

The varied activities, combined with unusually interesting programmes on the telly in the evening, left me feeling that winter hasn’t been bad so far.  Long may this happy state of affairs continue.

The flying bird of the day wasn’t available so a posing partridge is standing in.

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Today’s guest picture is from my sister Mary who visited the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.

Tragalgar Square

It was a sunny day here when we got up but far too cold to be able to risk a cycle ride with frost about so I pottered about until Sandy arrived with some Archive Group documents and we had a cup of coffee.  He and Nancy did a great job in moving Archive Group to their new premises with the help of a very obliging pair of ‘moving men’ and we hope that our data miners will soon get used to the new surroundings.

Dropscone has been  our landlord in our old premises for many years and we hope that he will be able find a good use for them now that we are gone.

When Sandy left, he took the sunshine with him and the day got progressively gloomier as it went on.  I decided to cook some tea cakes, using a method that is easy but time consuming in  the preparation of the dough so I had time to look out of the window at the passing show.

It was perching time for the goldfinches.

goldfinches perching

goldfinch on feeder

Once again, the old sunflower stalk was a handy staging post.

goldfinch on sunflower

Sometimes goldfinches waited for sparrows to move….

goldfinch and sparrow

…and sometimes sparrows encouraged goldfinches to move….

goldfinches and sparrow

…and sometimes chaffinches managed to get a look in too.

chaffinces staring at goldfinch

The tea cake method involves very light stretching of the dough rather than heavy kneading but it has gaps of a quarter of an hour between stretches so I had many looks out of the window while waiting for the next stretch and as well as birds at the feeder, I saw a dunnock…

dunnock

…and a blackbird scavenging for fallen seeds on the ground.

blackbird below

After a while, the dough was ready for its first rising so I had lunch and then while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to see a screening of a Degas exhibition at the Buccleuch Centre, I went off to collect my new bicycle from the bike shop where it had been having a service.  Although I had taken it in to the Carlisle branch, they had kindly brought it back to the shop in Longtown for me to collect it so I didn’t have far to go.

When I got home, I divided the tea cake dough into balls for the second rise and considered my options.

The day had got very gloomy by this time, with a brisk breeze and a hint of rain so once again I neither walked nor pedalled but went to work on my computer until Mrs Tootlepedal got back from her screening when we had a cup of tea.

Then it was time to bake the tea cakes and since the recipe is generally fool proof, they came out quite well.

dav

They enlivened with currants and raisins and spiced with cinnamon and ginger.

In the evening, one of the tenors from Langholm Sings came round and we did a little practising.  We shall see if it pays off when we meet tomorrow for our next rehearsal.

The forecast for tomorrow is appalling so I don’t think that there will be any chance of a pedal on my newly serviced bike.

In fact, November has not been kind to me from a cycling point of view recently.  I see that I only did 58 miles last year in the whole month because the weather was very poor and I had a persistent cold and so far I have only done half that distance this year with three days to go.  I might have to take issue with the poet who thought that April is the cruellest month.

The flying bird of the day is two goldfinches showing off their flying skills.

Flying goldfinches

 

 

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Today’s guest pictures is another from Venetia’s visit to Marseille.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I have had two very good visits to Marseille with my siblings so I make no apologies for another picture of a place of which I have happy memories.

Marseille sailing

Last night I foolishly let my thoughts stray to the idea of having  a short test ride on my slow bike this morning to see how my leg took to it.  The weather gods, who are ever alert to the slightest whim, promptly turned off the sunshine and got the rain back and all in all it was a very gloomy day and I gave up any thoughts of a ride.

Luckily Dropscone was alert to the weather too and knowing that I was stuck at home, he kindly came round with supplies of rescue scones which we ate with our coffee.

He was in a very cheerful mood as he had recently produced a good round of golf after several months of indifferent form.  And it was not just a fairly good round, it was good enough to win a competition with over 60 players.  Of course, the question now is: can he do it again?  I hope so.

After he left, I looked out of the window into the rain.  There were goldfinches about…

goldfinches in the rain

…and as you can see, some had taken more trouble getting dressed than others.

scruffy goldfinch

The smarter looking ones were giving each other the hard stare….

goldfinches staring

…and a green finch was keeping an eye out for incoming goldfinches.

greenfinch on goldfinch alert

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal went off on an excursion to Longtown and I settled down to some computer work, a late lunch and a walk to the Archive Centre.

The walk went reasonably well as I managed to stop limping but it was still a slightly painful experience.

The reason for the visit was a meeting between Sandy, Nancy and myself to decide what we need to keep and what we can discard when we move to new premises next month.  Hard choices will have to made as we can’t take everything with us but we found it quite easy to pick some obvious items for the discard pile.  Other items are going to take more thinking about.  We paused for thought after about an hour.

Sandy gave me a lift home and we had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from her outing.

It was still damp and grey so I headed back to m computer when Sandy went home and worked away while Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a delicious tea of baked marrow stuffed with mince and covered by a cheese sauce, the marrow grower’s version of lasagne.  It was so good that I am going to cook it again tomorrow for myself.

After tea, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir and tried to put all the advice from singing teacher and speech therapist to good use.

The flying bird of the day is another chaffinch further from the feeder than yesterday’s capture and duller too.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother who walked though five villages the other day and looked at one of them across a valley. This is Holbrook seen from Horsley.

Holbrook from Horsley

I was expecting a wet day today but after some heavy rain overnight, it was quite dry and calm in the morning and Dropscone was able to cycle round with treacle scones at coffee time.

I had a quick look round the garden before he came.

A couple of frosty mornings while I was away have done for a lot of the flowers but the nasturtiums under the protection of the front wall of the house are still looking excellent.

nasturtium

Sadly, only a very few fuchsias are left standing…or more accurately, hanging.

fuchsia

Dropscone has been checking on the well being of his tin knees which are now ten and twelve years old.  He got them put in at different hospitals and as a result, he had to go to two different places to get them x-rayed as one hospital couldn’t possibly x-ray another hospital’s knee.  This was rather annoying but he is pleased that the check has been completed.

I put the camera on its tripod at the kitchen window and took a variety of shots during the morning, while the weather was still dry.

A small flock of goldfinches were keeping the usual chaffinches at bay today…

goldfinch and chaffinch

…although one chaffinch at least made it to the feeder.

landing chaffinch

The birds have been complaining to their agents that I do not do them justice with my obsession with grainy shots of them in flight so I took some grainy head and shoulder shots today instead.

portrait goldfinch

Goldfinch

portrait greenfincj

Greenfinch

portrait sparrow

Sparrow

They are all very handsome.

It was still dry when Dropscone left after coffee so I had another look round the garden…

delphinium october

veg garden flower

…and then I took a chance and went for a short ‘three bridges’ walk to seek out autumn colour.

As I approached my first bridge, the pedestrian suspension bridge across the Esk, I couldn’t fail to be struck by the poplars beside the church.

river esk oct 12

And as I walked along towards my second bridge, this colourful garden hit me in the eye.

bar brae garden

I didn’t cross the town bridge today but I did look back at it from the Kilngreen…

autumn over the town bridge

…and I looked up the Esk from the same point.

esk from meeting of waters

I was pleased to see that for once I had all my ducks in a row.

ducks in a row

The Sawmill Brig over the Ewes Water was my second crossing.

sawmill brig october

And once across, I could admire the Langholm Castle ruins on the Castleholm…

castle in autumn

..and the glow of the trees at the start of the Lodge walks.

lodge walks oct

Across the playing fields, the trees on the far bank of the Esk were well worth a glance…

Castleholm trees oct

…or two.

castleholm trees oct (2)

Although not as brilliant as the maples that draw the tourists to New England in the fall, they give me a lot of quiet pleasure.

As the rain was threatening to come, I crossed the Duchess Bridge as my third bridge…

duchess brig in autumn

…and scuttled home as quickly as I could, propelled onward by a short but sharp little shower that encouraged me not to linger and look for fungi.

I did see this little specimen as I went through a gate on the Castleholm…

fungus on gatepost

…but mostly I had eyes only for yew deciduous trees on my walk today.

I got home in good time for lunch and shortly afterwards, the rain started in earnest….

feeder in the rain

…and kept going for several hours.

It has stopped as I write this but if the forecast is to be believed, it will start again in the early hours of the morning and rain until tea time tomorrow.

I will have a quiet day in.

Mike Tinker braved the rain and dropped in for a cup of tea and he told me that there has been an invasion of chaffinches from the continent.  I should recognise them if they arrive in the garden as they are more colourful than the natives.

Mrs Tootlepedal is doing well in the south but is looking forward to coming home next week and getting to work on preparing the garden for the winter.

I tried to catch a flying goldfinch but only managed another chaffinch today to be the flying bird of the day. They hover very obligingly.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Sharon, world famous as the mother of flute playing Luke, who has been spending a few days in Germany.  She didn’t tell me where she was staying.

Berlin wall

We had a grey, gloomy morning and I was very happy to put it to use with some creative lounging about, a little coffee, some computer work and the occasional look out of the window.

A coal tit was a welcome sight.

coal tit

There were very few sparrows today and we got a good crop of goldfinches instead.  Some of them were not fully developed…

bald goldfinch

…but were quite capable of unseemly rowdiness….

goldfinches arguing

…but mostly, co-operative behaviour was the order of the day.

peaceful feeder

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went out to the first Embroiderers’ Guild meeting of the season and I did a little harmless gardening…and looking around.

I dead headed the dahlias…

dahlia with many petals

…and was pleasantly surprised to see a good number of red admiral butterflies on the small buddleia.

red admiral on red buddleia

The red admirals have taken over from the peacocks as our most frequent butterfly visitors.

The new bench under the kitchen window has proved very attractive to some nasturtiums needing a sit down.

bench with nasturtiums

When I checked Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge this evening, it had registered 4 cm or 1.5 inches which reflected the mixture of sunshine and showers through the week.  The garden has kept its colour and the fruit is being very fruitful.  We are keeping our fingers crossed that the first frost doesn’t come too soon.

The weather looked as though it might not be too bad and it was warm at 15° C so I put my cycling gear on and went for a pedal.  It was quite breezy and with the threat of more rain, I was prepared to skulk about in the valley bottom going up and down to Wauchope Schoolhouse three times.  However, when I got to the schoolhouse for the first time, the sky had brightened up a lot so instead of turning back, I kept on and did the 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

Looking back from the top of the hill, I could see the discouraging black clouds over Whita…

clouds over whita

…but ahead of me, all was sunny.

sunny view from tarcoon

On my trip, I saw two fine toadstools…

red toadstools

…new trees coming out of tubes (landowners have to plant a few deciduous trees when they put in monoculture  coniferous plantations)….

trees in tubes

…another outstanding cow…

outstanding cow

…and much else which I didn’t photograph.

When I got home, the sun was still out and it looked like too good and evening to waste so while Mrs Tootlepedal did the accounts arising from her meeting (she is the treasurer), I went for a walk.

My intention was to go up the road past Pool Corner…

Pool Corner

…walk past Wauchope Graveyard…

Wauchope graveyard

…where the trees are winning the long term battle against the stones….

stones vs trees

…and then cross the Auld Stane Brig and walk back through the woods along Gaskell’s Walk.  For the second time today, I altered my route plan because it was such a nice evening and turned up the hill before crossing the Auld Stane Brig so that I could look back down on it….

Auld strane bridge in the evening sun

…and then I crossed the Becks Burn instead.

I walked through the wood that was felled earlier this year.

Becks wood felling

The scene in February

…but already new growth is to be seen on every side…

Becks Burn Sept 18

…and from being an airless, dark and fairly sterile wood, it is now a green and pleasant place for a walk on a sunny September evening.

Bridge oberr Becks Burn after felling

The Estate have reinstated the path and made sure that the old wooden bridge is still accessible to cross the burn.

I saw a few patches of colour in the verges and in the old wood as I walked along.

three wild flowers

Soon after I had crossed the bridge, my camera battery expired so I resorted to my phone for the last picture from my second delightful evening walk on successive days.  We can put up with gloomy mornings if we get evenings like this.

view of Whita

Some of the plums from our tree have been magicked into a plum crumble by Mrs Tootlepedal and we ate that for afters at our evening meal, garnished with custard.  It rounded off a day that ended a lot better than it began.

A different flying bird of the day picture today with a sparrow trying to get a look in among the goldfinches.

flying birds

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s visit to Fleetwood.  The port for the town is on the south side of the river Wyre estuary and can be reached by the ferry which can be seen in his picture.

fleetwood

It was the longest day today and the weather was fine and frequently sunny so a good bicycle ride should have been on the menu.  A very brisk wind and the total absence of any get up and go persuaded me that a short walk round the garden would be a good alternative to a long bike ride.

There was plenty to keep me interested.

The sawfly caterpillars were still to be found on the Solomon’s seal.

sawfly caterpillars

And the light was right to take a picture of the Rodgersia flowers, which are a tricky subject.

rodgersia

There are plenty of flowers about in the garden but it is not a time of year when there are great swathes of colour.  The daffodils, tulips and azaleas are all gone.  All the same, green is a colour and it has many shades.

front lawn june 2018

middle lawnfern

There is a patch of bright colour.

orange hawkweed

There was a bee or two interested in the orange hawkweed.

bee on orange hawkweed

I finished my walk round the garden in good time to get the coffee on for a visit from Dropscone.  It was not Friday so there were no treacle scones but he brought an enormous pile of drop scones instead.  We managed to get through them (with some help from Mrs Tootlepedal) with no trouble at all.

While we were eating and chatting, a large rook appeared outside the window.

rook

They are impressive birds.

Dropscone went off with some rhubarb and on his way home, he passed an auction taking place at a local building  firm which has just gone into liquidation.  Many vans were clustered round the entry to the works, eager to pick up a bargain.

Langholm has lost many jobs over recent years and it was an irony that on the same day as this auction, the town appeared in the pages of a national newspaper  under a headline saying that it was reckoned to be the best market town in Scotland as a place to live.  You may be able to find the article here.

After coffee, I went out and mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green.  I am trying to take advantage of the good weather to get the grass short enough so that mowing it takes no time at all and the cuttings don’t have to be collected.

Then  I went back in for a sit down and some bird watching.

The feeder is keeping busy.

goldfinches quarrelling

flying goldfinch and siskin

But my favourite moment was looking up and seeing a goldfinch attached to the feeder pole by its beak.

goldfinch and pole

After another walk round, this time to the back of the house to look at the potentillas there…

potentilla

..I sieved some compost for Mrs Tootlepdal’s soil improvement programme and was just tidying up when the phone rang.

It was Scott, the minister, who was out on a bike run.  His gear changing mechanism had failed and he was hoping that we could come and rescue him.  He was able to describe the signpost at the road junction where he was marooned and it was apparent that he was in some deep back country in the wilds of North Cumbria.  I pinned down where he was on my map and  Mrs Tootlepedal offered to act as navigator and do the map reading to get us to the spot.

It was a beautiful day to be out rescuing and the drive was a great pleasure in itself, including this wonderful view over the Solway plain…

view from shawhill

… to which my camera completely fails to do justice.

We found Scott and put him and his bike in the back of the Kangoo and drove home.  His gear failure had been so abrupt that he had been pitched off his bike but luckily he had landed on a soft verge.  Not so luckily, the verge had been full of nettles.  He was very cheerful, all things considered.

We had a late lunch when we got back and Mrs Tootlepedal went back out into the garden.  I considered a bike ride but it was still very windy and my get up and go had still not made an appearance so I mowed the front lawn instead and did quite a lot of wandering about and muttering.

I did my muttering with camera in hand of course.  The pinks are at their best.

pink

The first calendula has made an appearance.

calendula

And some delightful small campanulas have arrived as well.

campanula

Keeping to my good resolution, I tried not to take too many pictures and went inside and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  I have another nine weeks still to put in so this will test my resolution to the full.

Mrs Tootlepedal made a delicious pizza for our tea and I followed that up with some more stewed gooseberries.  My thinning doesn’t seem to have made much of an impression on the overloaded gooseberry bush so it is lucky that I like stewed gooseberries a lot.

I hope to make better use of some good weather and long daylight tomorrow.

The flower of the day is a moss rose in the evening light.

moss rose

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is a cheery looking cottage with a rather mournful sign.  My friend Bruce visited it in the village of Eyam in the Derbyshire dales.

plague cottage

Our spell of grey, cold and windy weather continued today and as I woke up with a pain in my side which had come from who knows where and wouldn’t go away, I got progressively gloomier as the day went on.

I started with a stroll round the garden to find the daffodil of the day…

daffodil…and then tested out the ability of the Lumix to take a bird picture through the kitchen window…

goldfinch

…and followed that by brief walk with Patricia to stretch her legs before catching the train back to London.  We walked along the river between the suspension bridge and the town bridge and then walked back along the other side.

I had hoped for some bird life to show our visitor and was pleased to see a dipper flitting about the river.  It did so much flitting that I couldn’t get a picture of it and once again had to settle for a more obliging oyster catcher.

oyster catcher

After coffee, we went off to Carlisle where Patricia caught her London train and Mrs Tootlepedal, after a brief burst of shopping and a light lunch, caught the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.  Meanwhile, I visited the bike shop to organise the pedal specification for my new bike (still two weeks away) and then went home, passing the cathedral….

Carlisle cathedral

…and a splendid bank of municipal daffodils on my way back to the car.

carlisle daffs

Once home, I had time for a light lunch of soup and cheese before an old friend came round to get my help in booking flights to and from Barcelona.   As she has no access to a computer, she finds it impossible to do this for herself.   With a bit of a struggle, we managed to find suitable flights and booked them but as I don’t fly, it was all new and sometimes baffling to me.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that it all turns out right.

I gave my friend a lift home and then took a walk round the garden, looking both down…

scilla

…and up…

forsythia

..and managing to avoid the outstretched grasp of the silver pear in between.

silver pear

I did think about a cycle ride but my ribs were sore and the wind was biting so I went back indoors and watched the birds in a glum sort of way.

Once again, there were plenty to watch in spite of occasional (unsuccessful) fly throughs from the sparrowhawk.

busy feeder

The siskins were not here today but there were a lot of goldfinches so the seed still went down at a good speed…

busy feeder

…and the regular chaffinches were as anxious to make their feelings known as ever…

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…either behind the back or face to face.

_DSC3172

We have been getting visits from quite a few pigeons lately.  They always seem to have slightly pursed lips and a disapproving air about them.

pigeon

Having discarded thoughts of cycling, my gloomy mood kept me from walking too and I just slouched about the house looking mean, moody but far from magnificent for the rest of the afternoon.

In the evening, I picked up Susan and we drove to Carlisle where the healing properties of playing recorder music with a sympathetic group came to the fore and cheered me up enormously.

I was cheered even more by going to the station after finishing playing, to collect Mrs Tootlepedal from the Edinburgh train before coming back to Langholm

We are going to have a quiet day tomorrow.

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

flying goldfinch

 

 

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