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Posts Tagged ‘goosander’

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce.  His terrier sums up precisely that  evening feeling on Christmas day.

christmas day terrier

Many readers kindly wished that Mrs Tootlepedal and I should have a happy Christmas and their wishes must carry great force, because we did.

For a start, the sun shone properly for the first time for a week…

christmas day walnut

…and indoors, the house was warmed by Matilda who was in turn, cool….

matilda christmas 1

…and hot.

matilda christmas

After the presents had been opened, Al, Clare, Matilda and I went for a short walk while the cook worked her magic undisturbed.

In spite of the sun, low clouds still concealed Whita’s crest from view…

christmas day whita cloud

…but it was still a grand day for a walk.  The Edinburgh contingent were on a Pokemon hunt (don’t ask me) and….

christmas day matilda, clare and al

…while I saw trees in the sunshine….

christmas day trees

…and a goosander….

christmas day goosander 1

 

…they stared at their phones with great intent, ignoring the views.

christmas day pokemon hunt

I couldn’t even interest them in an exciting fungus…

christmas day fungus

…or the clearing mist…

christmas day clouds lifting

…or even a crow on top of a noble fir.

christmas day noble fir

Though to be fair, they were impressed by the huge cones right at the top of the tree.

Still, we all enjoyed the walk and the  fresh air and we had a good appetite when it came to eating our Christmas lunch.  Mrs Tootlepedal provided a feast.

After lunch, we followed those Christmas traditions of lying around recovering from eating too much and watching the Strictly Christmas Special.  This was very good this year, with a lot of excellent dancing.

Al and Clare shook down some food with a little afternoon walk and while Matilda was keeping Mrs Tootlepedal occupied, I nipped out to walk the two and a half miles down to Skippers…

christmas day langholm distiilery

…and back as fast as I could.

It was too dark to take pictures on the way so I rested the camera on the bridge parapet and took the traditional shot of the distillery just to prove that I had been there.

We ate a very light evening meal, though I did manage a helping of Christmas pudding and brandy butter, and then we subsided into a contented peace.

No time for looking out of the window today, so no flying bird.

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Mary Jo.  This one is from Manitoba and shows a tree that took to autumn in stages.

Mary Jo's tree

We were greeted by frosty weather when we got up today, but once again it was dry so we weren’t complaining too much.  It was too cold for cycling and I was very happy to welcome Dropscone for coffee and scones.  He had been away for a golfing weekend having received a bargain offer from a hotel chain that was too good to resist.

When he left, I spent a little time watching the birds.  Once again,there were plenty to watch, especially goldfinches.

busy feeder goldfinches

In fact the number of goldfinches led to some slight altercations.

goldfinches action

I managed to while away the rest of the morning until midday without doing anything of note but then I thought that in spite of still being pretty chilly, it might be the time to take my new camera out for a walk.  It was rather grey but the camera was able to recognise one old friend on the near side of the river…

gull with new camera

…though the gloomy conditions were almost too much for it when it came to a goosander on the far side of the Esk.

goosander out of range

It had no trouble at all with another old friend once I had crossed the river by the Town Bridge.

heron

I crossed the Sawmill Brig and took the upper track to the North Lodge.

The leaves are in three minds about autumn.  These ones on a beech hedge are only just turning…

leaf turning

…while a hundred yards or so further along my walk, there were only a few left on the trees.

Pathhead tarck

I interrupted a sheep having its lunch while I was on this section of track.

sheep having lunch

I noticed that the light seemed to be getting better and as I walked on, the sun came out. The effect was quite magical.

Holmhead wood

It wasn’t just the leaves that were affected by the sun.  When I got to the North Lodge, where  had intended to turn and head for home, the splendid view up the valley and a bit of warmth on my back persuaded me to give my feet a good test and I continued up the Longfauld track.

voew from north lodge

Not long ago, this track was lined with tall conifers on both sides and there were no views.  Now the felling of the woods has transformed the walk and there are fine views to be had…

golf and bauchle hill

…and the track is light and airy.

longfauld tarck

The track follows the east bank of the Esk and I could look across the river and see the road that I would take on my way home on the other side.

 

 

 

At the end of the track, kindly people, foreseeing the needs of elderly walkers, have placed a handy bench upon which I paused for a while…

seat above potholm

…before following the road downhill…

track down to potholm

…to the river which I crossed by Potholm Bridge.

potholm brodge

There was very little wind and it felt pleasantly warm in the sunshine as I ambled along the road, admiring trees as I went.

The trees came in small and neat…

tree above milnholm road

…and bigger and untidy.

tree at breconwrae

I liked both.

By the time that I had got to the end of the road, the sun had sunk behind the hill even though it was still early afternoon, so I kept my camera in my pocket for the most part of the last mile of my walk.

I did take it out for the door in a wall.  Time has passed this door by…

gate at breckonwrae

…and so did I.

There is now a convenient gap in the wall a few yards further on and I used this to gain access to the woodland path that took me back to Langholm.

My last picture is of one of the many little culverts which help to keep the paths round here in good condition for walkers.

culvert near duchess bridge

I got home in a very contented frame of mind.  Both the camera and my feet had behaved well.  I had walked about five and a half miles, my longest distance for some months.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day with a business meeting over lunch followed by a visit to the hairdresser.  She got home again in time to welcome our friends Mike and Alison for a cup to tea to celebrate their return from several weeks visiting family in New Zealand.

They were still recovering from jet lag but we had a good conversation about their travels.

I hope to be able to recommence playing Friday evening sonatas with Alison soon.

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir.  I enjoyed that too so all in all, it has been  a very good day.

The flying bird of the day is a horizontal goldfinch emerging from behind a plant.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s who visited Oslo on his Scandinavian  cruise.  He tells me that She Lies (Norwegian: hun ligger) is a public sculpture by Monica Bonvicini made of stainless steel and glass panels.  It is a permanent installation, floating on the water in the fjord and turns on its axis in line with the tide and wind, offering changing experiences through reflections from the water and its transparent surfaces.  I would add that it is not often that you see a window cleaner at work on a sculpture.

P1000870

I had a quiet morning in as although it was dry again, I wasn’t attracted to the idea of going for a cycle ride in very strong winds.  I did walk round the garden where thanks to the continuing mild mornings, there are plenty of flowers still blooming.  The panel below doesn’t show everything that’s out by any means.

garden flowers late october

Mrs Tootlepedal made some delicious ginger biscuits and then we cracked open some of our walnut crop and she made a walnut and banana loaf.  The biscuits have been well tested but the loaf is waiting for tomorrow for a try out.

After lunch, I practised songs for our Glasgow trip and then went off for a walk. Mrs Tootlepedal, having checked my proposed route and tested the wind, decided that gardening would be more fun.

I walked up through the town and onto the golf course.  My plan was to look for toadstools which often flourish there.

I think that i was too late this year and most of the fungus has flown.  What was left was a bit tattered.

golf course fungus

Still, it was a pleasure to be on the well maintained course and the views always are available to console a golfer after a poor shot and me after a fruitless fungus hunt.

golf course

This was my favourite view from the course today.

trees from golf course

I walked up to the top of the course and took the track onto the open hill, passing this fine wall…

whita wall

…which was rich with interest.

whita moss amnd lichen

I was soon high enough up to get good views back down over the town…Langholm from whita

….and away to the south over the Gretna windmills and the Solway Firth to the Lake District Hills which were nudging the clouds as they passed over.

skiddaw from whita

I took closer looks at the town…

dye house chimney

…where the poplars beside the church was very prominent…

poplars from whita

…and looking at the New Town, I could see our walnut tree in the middle of the picture.  (It is behind the much darker tree.)

new town from whita

I walked along the old track towards the quarry and leapt nimbly over the stile at the wall (that might not be an entirely true statement) before going down the hill on the far side of the wall.

The hill is not grazed intensively these days and young trees are able to grow without being nibbled before they can established themselves.

birch on whita

Going down the hill on a rough path requires all my concentration these days and if I try to look at the views as I descend, I am likely to fall over.  I didn’t fall over today but I had to stop if I wanted to look at the river below.

river esk from whita

The sun came out as I  walked through a newly established birch thicket…

new wood on whita

…and I had one last stop for a view…

looking over langholm

…before I came to the woods on the lower slopes of the hill and walked down to the river to take the obligatory shot of Skippers Bridge.

skippers arch in autumn

This shot had added interest today, because when I looked at the picture later, I noticed something which  I hadn’t seen at the time, a cormorant doing a little fishing under the bridge.

cormorant at skippers

I crossed the bridge, clambered down the bank on the far side and looked back.

skppers from up river

A quick check on the camera at this point showed me that I had already taken over 100 pictures, so I stuck it firmly in my pocket and resolved to take no more before I got home….

…but who can resist a goosander?

goosander

My walk was about three and a half miles long and I was very pleased with the co-operation that my feet offered as I went along. My new insoles are doing a good job.

Mrs Tootlepedal had just finished her gardening when I arrived back but she had enough energy left to cook a dish of smoked sausage and spinach with a cream cheese sauce served with penne.  I needed it to give me strength as it was soon time to go out to my Langholm choir practice.

Our regular conductor was not there but our accompanist did a very good job of directing us and playing at the same time so we had a useful session.

On my way home from my walk in the afternoon, I came across a gang of jackdaws finding something interesting to do in the middle of  Henry Street.  They wisely took off when a vehicle approached, allowing me to capture a double (low) flying bird of the day.

two flying jackdaws

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Today’s appropriate guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who came across this ‘brolly art’ on a visit to Banbury.

banbury brollies

Mrs Tootlepedal bought some sunflower seed this year which promised low growing multi stemmed flowers.  There was obviously a ringer in the packet though, as one plant is about nine foot high….

sunflower from above

…and can only be appreciated by leaning out of an upstairs window.

tall sunflower

It was a very wet day with persistent rain, so I was happy to welcome Dropscone for coffee, especially as he came with a heap of his excellent Friday treacle scones.  In spite of the wet weather, he told me that he had found a dry day during the week to go to play in the seniors’ golf competition at Hawick.  Although his golf score had not threatened the leaders, he had won a raffle prize and had enjoyed the outing.

It was frankly a rather depressing day and the only thing that got me out of the house in the afternoon was a check on the dam…

dam getting bigger

…which was beginning to rise.

We thought it prudent to have a look at the new sluice gate at Pool Corner so I went up and was relieved to find it looking very reliable.

nes sluice woking well

It is set slightly open to avoid the swollen river putting too much pressure on the retaining wall so there was a steady flow down the dam…

full dam

…and the wall was holding back a lot of water…

wauchope at Pool Corner

…though nothing much as it was last Saturday when the river was so high that you couldn’t see the caul at all.  It was clearly to be seen today.

wauchope at Pool Corner downstream

This was all reassuring.

I followed the Wauchope down to the spot where it flows under the Kirk Brig and joins the Esk.  The Wauchope has  shifted a considerable amount of over the past week, and it is now flowing over a small cascade to join the bigger river.

wauchope flooding under kirk brig

…and on this occasion, it was adding more than its fair share of water to the Esk.

wauchope meeting esk

On the other side of the Wauchope, I could see a family of goosanders having a quiet sit down.

qgoosanders at church

The rain eased off enough as I went home to let me walk round the garden without getting too wet.

I saw a promising plum.

ripening plum

In fact, I didn’t just see it, I picked it and ate it.  It tasted very promising.  I hope that we get enough good weather to ripen the plums properly before they all split in the rain.

As well as being wet, it was also windy and three phloxes which Mrs Tootlepedal has recently transplanted needed every bit of help from their supporting canes that they could get.  You can see the salvias being bent by the breeze in the background.

transplanted phlox

The dahlias have had a hard time.  As well as being seriously nibbled, the weather has been poor ever since they came out and I am surprised whenever I see a flower looking half decent.

three rainy dahlias

The argyranthemums smile though their tears.

wet argyranthemum

Another excursion was a quick drive to the Co-op to do some shopping for our tea, not a very exciting prospect.  However, as  we combined shopping with cheerful conversation with several friends we met in the store, it did brighten our day a bit.

In the early evening, I took my entries for the Canonbie Flower Show up to Sandy.  He has a friend who always does well in the photographic section of the show staying with him, and she and her husband very kindly agreed to take both his and my pictures down to the hall and get them properly entered.  I hope to go down tomorrow and see how they have done.

Further day brightening was applied by the arrival of Mike and Alison later in the evening, and Alison and I tinkled and tootled away to provide a musical end to a very dull day.

There were no flying birds today but at least the goosanders got up and did a bit of walking.

goosanders at church alert

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who visited the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway which runs (rather smokey) heritage trains between Duffield and Wirksworth, in the Derbyshire Peak District.  By the way, Henry Ellison was built in 1947 so it may be heritage but it is still younger than me.

Ecclesbourne Valley Railway

Easter Sunday was another day of splendid weather, with sun from dawn till dusk and it would have been possible to sit out in the garden all day if we had wanted to.

But we had other things to do, starting with a visit to church to sing with our choir.

We had some guest singers with us today as we sang the Hallelujah Chorus as our anthem and with six sopranos, five altos, four basses and two tenors we made a very reasonable sound.  We are between ministers at the moment and the services are being run by a sort of works committee.  They are making a very good job of it so it was an excellent start to the day.

We had a cup of coffee when we got home and then Mrs Tootlepedal planted some potatoes in the new bed.  When she had done that, she set about making a Swiss roll with lemon curd.  My Achilles tendon was still very tender so apart from wandering gently about the garden dead heading daffodils and taking occasional pictures of both delicate…

pulmonaria, lamium

…and ostentatious flowers…

end of drive colour april

…I was happy to have a particularly complicated crossword to spend time puzzling over.

After lunch, it seemed like too good a day to spend at home so we went on a small expedition by bicycle.  Our mission was to see how the repairs on the Tarras road had progressed since we last saw them two months ago, when they looked like  this…

tarras roadworks scene

Our route took us along the bank of the river Esk where we were entertained by a pair of male goosanders on a fishing trip and Mr Grumpy poising on a rock.

goosander and heron

There are definitely less attractive roads to pedal along in springtime than this one.

Broomholm road out

We saw lots of wild flowers on our trip…

violet, anemone, primrose and celandine

…so we had to stop a number of times before we got to the works.  When we finally arrived, it looked as though the re-building of the road was nearly complete…

new tarras road top

…and when we took a closer look, it was plain that a substantial embankment had been built complete with landscaping and drainage and the road put back on top of it.  The workers had been busy and it shouldn’t be too long before the road is surfaced and open to traffic again.

new tarras road banking

Instead of cycling straight home, we turned right past this tree…

tree broomholmshiels

..waved to some Easter lambs…

lambs broomholmshiels

…and puffed up the hill to the Laverock Hide bird feeders which are now being run by a new project called Wild Eskdale.

There wasn’t much wildlife about today though.  Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies in vain for any glimpse of a raptor while I sat in the hide and watched a number of chaffinches and siskins.

I did get one good march past though…

pheasant at laverock hide

…and saw a great tit too.

great tit at laverock hide

I wasn’t complaining though as it was very pleasant just to be sitting there on a beautiful warm day.

I had a look at one of the larches before we set off home.

larch tree at Laverock hide

The trip home, involving some serious downhill work…

Broomholm road back

….was over a good deal more quickly than the trip out and it wasn’t long before we were sitting down to a cup of tea and two slices of Mrs Tootlepedal’s Swiss roll which was so delicious that it took iron self control to stop at just two slices.

The six mile cycle ride had actually helped my Achilles tendon problem to ease off a lot and I was able to walk round the garden with no pain at all when I went out to look at the tulips.

pink tulip

Which were well worth a look…

orange tulip sun

…as a little late afternoon sun enhances everything in general but tulips in particular…

red tulip sun

…either singly or in a clump.

cloud of tulips

I admired a bergenia…

bergenia in sun

…and was delighted to note that the first apple blossoms are beginning to come out…

apple blossom

…before picking some rhubarb for stewing and going in to have a second helping of yesterday’s fish pie for my tea, followed by stewed rhubarb and ice cream.

As both my feet feel not too bad tonight, I am hoping to get out for some exercise tomorrow but the trick will be to take some but not too much.  The forecast is offering us two more lovely days before rain arrives so I hope to make the best of them that I can.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch approaching the feeder with care and attention.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  On his way back from his Welsh outing, he visited Nantwich and had a cup of coffee in this wonderful building next to the Crown Hotel.  As everyone knows, the present Crown Hotel was built on the site of an earlier inn of the same name, destroyed in the Great Fire of Nantwich of 1583.

caffe nero nantwich

We had another dry and sunny day today but it was not of much use as it came with an even meaner wind than recent days and my eyes were running with tears as I cycled up to the town after breakfast to collect the key for the camera club meeting in the evening.

I had a look round the garden when I got back and the tulips had decided to ignore the wind and pay attention to the sunshine…

tulips and narcissus

…and among them, the very last of the daffodils was making an appearance.

There are blossoms on the silver pear tree and it is a pity that it does not produce edible fruits.

pear tree blossom

Sandy came round for coffee and when he left, I checked the birds and found a single siskin on the feeder.   Why he has stayed while the others have gone is a mystery.

lonely siskin

We have a lot of sparrows in the garden but they don’t come to the feeder very much.  Perhaps this hostile stare from a chaffinch gives a clue as to why they stay away.

chaffinch abusing sparrow

Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree is quite popular with our visitors and thoroughly repays the effort of nailing it together.

chaffunch in fake tree

The chaffinches and goldfinches were very busy again scrapping for seed.

busy feeder

After a morning  spent hammering bits of tack onto the rocking horse, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the garden and I went out to see what she was up to.

She was mostly hoeing and didn’t need my help so I took a speculative shot of a trout lily, holding the came in my stretched out hand under the flower and hoping for the best.  It came out well. Who needs a mirror?…

trout lily flower

…and then I went off for a walk.  (It was too windy for a comfortable bike ride.)

It was a cap and gloves day but if you could get out of the wind, it was quite pleasant and I even saw a bee visiting some laurel flowers beside the Town Bridge.

bee on laurel

When I got to the Kilngreen, I met Grace, one of our camera club members and taking care to sit on her leeward side, I enjoyed a chat with her on this bench beside the river.

Grace

She told me that she had seen a dipper and when I left her to walk on, I too saw one as I leaned over the parapet of the Sawmill Brig.

dipper above sawmill bridge

I spent so long watching it dip and dive that Grace caught me up and we watched a pair of goosanders cruise up and down…

gossander pair

…before once again, I left her and walked onward.  There was the merest hint of green among the trees on the Lodge walks….

Lodge walks april

…but it didn’t come from leaves.

catkins

The first race meeting of the season will take place next weekend and the course is looking in good condition.

racetrack

Wild flowers are spreading on all sides…

dandelions

…though at the moment, dandelions and celandines are by far the most prominent.

celandines

I crossed the Duchess Bridge…

duchess bridge framed

…and walked back to the town, passing this fine crop of lichen on a tree stump beside the path.

lichen on fallen tree stump

I had a last look at a tulip trying its best to come out in the garden…

yellow tulip

…before I went in to prepare pictures for the camera club meeting in the evening.

Then Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and when he left, Mrs Tootlepedal gave me a hair cut.  To round off a full afternoon, the next visitor was my flute pupil Luke, who has been practising again to good effect.

After tea, I went off to the camera club meeting.  Ten members and a guest turned up and we had a very entertaining selection of pictures to look at.  Of course there were some of Langholm, its surroundings and its wild life but they were mixed in with shots of beautiful highland scenery, amazing wild life from South Africa, shimmering deserts in Australia and hot mud springs in New Zealand.  Come to the camera club and see the world.

There was a slight hiatus while I scurried home to fetch the milk for our half time refreshments but otherwise, everything went very smoothly.

The ruffled feathers of the flying chaffinch of the day, gives an idea of the strength of the wind.

flying chaffinch with ruffles

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Today’s guest post comes from our son Tony who has been having wonderful weather lately on the shores of the Firth of Forth.

East wemyss Riviera

Our day started brightly….

sunny fritallaries

…after another frosty morning but as the day went on, the clouds came over.

Dropscone dropped in for coffee, bringing treacle scones with him.  He is very excited because it is the first day of the official golfing season at Langholm tomorrow and he is the club captain this year.  It looks as though he is going to have a lovely sunny day as he sets the season  going when he drives off the first tee.

Apart from the coffee and scones, I had a very quiet morning with the occasional stroll round the garden.  The cloudy weather made it easier to photograph pale flowers and there were a number about.

Our first pulsatilla flower opened this morning.  It is an amazingly furry flower.

furry pulsatilla

The drumstick primulas are having a race to see which can produce a fully spherical flower head first.

drumstick primulas

This is my favourite of the white daffodils.

pale daffodil

The feeder was doing brisk business.  I had filled it after breakfast and it was half empty by lunchtime when a female redpoll arrived for a snack…

redpoll

…and I had to fill it again in the late afternoon.

I was very excited to receive a much anticipated parcel at lunchtime, but a great deal less excited when I found that I had been sent the wrong thing. It was my fault entirely.  I needed ‘type 2  to type 2’ and had ordered ‘type 2 to type 1’, a small but crucial error.

It was little consolation when I rang up to ask about exchanging it, to be told that lots of people had made the same mistake.  If that was true and not just said in a kindly spirit to cheer me up, then the seller’s website should be altered to make it less easy to make the mistake.

I took the parcel up to our post office and made it through the door just in time to catch the post before the office closed.  We have an outreach post office from a branch near Carlisle now because our post office closed a few months ago.  It only has limited hours and won’t open again until Wednesday, so I was pleased not to have missed out.

When I got home, I pulled myself together and went off to do twenty miles on my bike. My last ride of 20 miles, two days ago, left me with a very sore foot so I pedalled gently up and down the road a couple of times today, avoiding any steep hills and not cycling into the wind for any length of time and I only went 200 yards further than the last ride.

This seems to have been successful as my foot is not complaining as I write this.

I was limited for views but saw some life in passing.

A traditional spring family scene…

ewe with two lambs

…our resident gull looking downstream…

upstanding gull

…a goosander looking for fish…

goosander fishing

…and an oyster catcher not looking at anything.

oyster catcher snoozing

When I got back, the feeder was empty so I filled it and on the principle of, “If you fill it, they will come,”  the goldfinches  came.

They were anxious about infiltrating chaffinches….

fierce goldfinches

…but were soon able to check that they had complete control.

goldfinch gang

I had a final wander round the garden and saw more pale flowers….

pale tulips

…the very first of the trout lilies had appeared…

triout lily

…and the pulsatilla, which had opened out from this morning, stuck its tongue out at me as I passed.

pulsatilla

Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the afternoon working on the rocking horse,  She bought a little hammer this morning and I can report that she hammered in the morning and she hammered in the afternoon but fortunately she laid down her hammer and cooked a delicious meal of roast chicken in the evening.

We are promised another frosty morning tomorrow so although the weather has been very dry and generally sunny, it has been a bit nervous making for the gardener.

The flying chaffinch of the day, although enjoying the early sunshine, looked a bit nervous too, I thought.

worried flying chaffinch

 

 

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