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Posts Tagged ‘goosanders’

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend and former colleague, Marjorie.  She came upon these stunning fungi on a walk a few days ago.

blue fungus

It was a dry but grey morning and the forecast was not too bad for the rest of the day so my mind turned to cycling.

Before I set off, I had coffee and a slice of toast to think about and the birds to to watch as well.

They must have been reading the blog because after yesterday’s complaint about not enough birds, they came in better numbers today and the feeder was soon filled with goldfinches…

full feeder goldfinches

…with more anxious to join in.

This made for photo opportunities…

attacking goldfinch

…and bad tempered exchanges…

two goldfinches sparring

…and curious chaffinches.

chaffinch approac hing

The goldfinches in possession of a perch tried to ignore outside distractions and kept their heads well down while they could for the most part.

goldfinches tucking in

In the end, I put down the bird watching camera and packed my cycling camera into the pocket of a stout waterproof bright yellow jacket and got out my bicycle, noting two particoloured jackdaws at the apples as I set off.

two spotty jackdaws

There was a brisk north easterly wind blowing and it pushed me over Callister and along the newly surfaced road past the quarry to Paddockhole.  I stopped there for half a banana and a look at the bridge.

The bridge has a bright red metal plate screwed to the parapet and when I looked at the parapet, I could see that turning lorries may have been knocking into it a bit, hence the need for the warning and protective plate…

paddockhole brodge medley

…but the parapet was sound enough to be home to a nice pixie cup lichen among the moss and  a fallen beech nut.

The reason for the lorry traffic over the bridge is a new windfarm in the area so the narrow road after the bridge is being widened and lay-bys are being put in to cope with the construction vehicles.

Luckily there was very little traffic on the road as I battled up the hill alongside the Water of Milk straight into the brisk wind.  I was heading for the watershed between the Water of Milk and the River Esk and it took me some time.

It was lucky that I had my stout rainproof jacket on as it was drizzling at this point.  It was a bit annoying to look to my right and see the Ewe Hill wind farm bathed in sunshine.

ewe hill windfarm in sun

I pressed on, crossing little bridges over little streams…

bridge on crossdykes road

…until I got to the sunlit uplands on the top of the hill.  I love this section of road.

sunlit uplands baillieghill

To my right I could see more wind turbines making good use of the enthusiastic breeze…

new turnbines bailiehill

…and once I had got over the hill, I could see the Esk valley stretching in front of me.  The road follows that line of trees along the right side of the valley.

esk valley from bailliehill

The rain had blown over by now and I enjoyed a sunny trip back down the river into Langholm.  Larches stood out in the sunshine.

larch plantation

With seven miles to go, I stopped for the other half of my banana and a drink at the Enzieholm bridge.  Naturally, I had a look at the parapet while I was there.

enzieholm bridge medley

There was some good autumn colour on a hedge at Bentpath village…

colour at bentpath

…and I stopped to take a close up of a larch beside the road further on just to show that they really are golden at this time of year.

a golden larch

I had a look back at the Douglen Cleuch…

view of douglen

..before climbing the last hill of the day and swooping down into the town.  It was only a 26 miles ride but because of the wind and several hills to climb, it had seemed like more and I was very satisfied as it had felt like a proper outing.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy painting the hall while I was away.  It is looking very exciting already.

I had a look round the garden when I got home and was impressed by the staying power of the Rosy Cheeks rose and the very late phlox but the most arresting thing was the sudden appearance of a cowslip among the expected clematis, potentilla and wallflower.

six november flowers

I had a shower and than went for a walk.  I am supposed to keep exercising my feet and there was a little sunshine left so I headed off to see if I could find the fungi that Marjorie had photographed.

My usual friend was standing on the usual rock in the Esk…

gull on same rock

…and two goosanders were swimming up the river nearby.

two goodsanders

I should have been quicker to go walking as the sun was already sinking behind the hill and this was the last sunny view I got…

river esk november evening

…before crossing the Sawmill Brig and walking round the pheasant pens.  I didn’t find Marjorie’s fungi but I saw other varieties…

three fungi castleholm

… before I crossed the Duchess Bridge and made my way home.

duchess bridge november

As you can see, the bridge is in need of some TLC.

The slow cooked venison stew made a third and final appearance for our evening meal and it was followed by some tarte tatin which I had made when I got back from my walk.  I may need therapeutic help as I think that I have become addicted to tarte tatin.

When I checked, I discovered that the forecast for the next week is for some inclement and wintery weather with a maximum temperature of 7 degrees and plenty of rain so that made today’s ride and stroll even more pleasant in retrospect.

I apologise for an excessive number of pictures but it was an interesting day and here is a FBotD to round it off.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my brother.  He took while he was waiting for a few stragglers to catch up at the end of a recent group walk.  As they had been going for nine miles, I am not surprised that there was a bit of straggling.

heart group walk

It will be a bit of a rushed post as I was in Carlisle for a concert with out Carlisle choir and I got back quite late.

It was a generally sunny and pleasant day with the pleasure slightly moderated by a brisk and chilly wind again.

The was enough sun to persuade the tulips to open and to illuminate an advantageously priced bargain from a garden centre.

april garden flowers

While I was having coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone, Steve delivered two new vegetable garden bed frames.  Mrs Tootlepedal was not well today as she is suffering from a persistent cold so the beds have not been put in place yet.

new bed frames

Whereas it was early chaffinches yesterday, it was siskins first today…

sisins at home

…and the chaffinches didn’t get much of a look in.

siskins on feeder

When the siskins left, the chaffinches piled in.

chaffinches landing

A goldfinch found a quiet moment to think deeply about food.

goldfinch concentrating

And later on, some greenfinches turned up.

two greendfinches

And a single redpoll dropped in.

redpoll on tio of feeder

I sieved a bit of compost and  made some soup for lunch and then went for a short walk to stretch my legs.

I did a three bridges to keep on the flat today.

The lady’s smock on the banks of the river has come out.

lady's smock

The two sets of oyster catchers were in their usual positions.  They are creatures of habit.

There was a pair of goosanders there too but they slipped away as soon as they noticed me and I could only catch the female.

oystercatcher and goosander

Some non standard ducks were lying about.

two odd ducks

I went round the new path at the bottom of the Castleholm and saw spiky things, both new and old.

pine blossom

The noble fir at the corner was showing very bright new growth and some fresh fir cones.

noble fir cone

Signs of life on the deciduous trees were to be seen.

new growth

And the coming of spring and summer was heralded by the arrival of the posts and rails ready to be put up for the race track. (Flat racing obviously.)

flat racecourse

I walked up to the Duchess Bridge and down the path on the far bank of the river.  I was only able to do this because someone with a big saw had come along and sawed off a tree which had fallen across the path in the recent storm.

fallen tree

There were wild flowers to see on my way.

wildflowers early april

And a large bumble bee was enjoying the blossom on Mike’s cherry tree as I went past.

bee on cherry

I left Mrs Tootlepedal recuperating at home and went to Carlisle in the early evening for a benefit concert in a church for a local ‘hospice at home’ charity.  The full choir was singing three songs and the rest of the concert was made up of turns by groups of choir members and their friends and solos from our conductor and accompanist.  It was a mixed programme with a capella singing, a violinist playing the mediation from Thais (very beautifully), a ukulele group and other cheerful singing groups.  Our accompanist played a Bach fugue on the church organ and our conductor sang a Jerome Kern song which brought the house down.

The choir sang their songs well and all in all, it was a good evening with the size of the audience the only mild disappointment.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

Footnote:  During the day, my doctor rang up to say that my recent x-ray showed that I do not have a stress fracture in my foot.  However, the x-ray did show that I had serious arthritis in my big toe joint and other arthritic joints elsewhere on the foot so it was no wonder that it has been a bit sore.  The fact that there is no bone damage is good though, as it means that I can go back to cycling (if the weather permits) without fear of making things worse.  Grinning and bearing it is the prescription, allied to the hope that the arthritis may go away as it often does (and using spongy insoles for my shoes).

Finger crossed.  I would cross my toes too but I can’t.  🙂

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Today’s guest picture comes from Jim and Sandra who are used to their bird feeder being visited by woodpeckers and nuthatches but got quite a surprise when this fellow turned. up.

whitaside pheasant

Owing to the impending return home of Mrs Tootlepedal, I had a busy morning of tidying up, hoovering  and floor sweeping.  The weather was much better outside than it has been but the housework and my sore foot kept me firmly anchored at home.

The birds were also pretty busy and I had to fill the feeders as there was a steady stream of chaffinches…

chaffinch shouting

…followed by a flurry of siskins and goldfinches.

sisikins overwhelm a chaffinch

After a cup of coffee, I stretched my legs to the extent of walking round the garden.  The crocuses have not really enjoyed the very variable weather this spring , coming out early and then being battered by rain and wind, but here and there one can be found looking quite cheerful.

open crocus

And the rosemary is busy  flowering.  It is a tricky plant to photograph so I was pleased to find a still moment with enough (but not too much) light to take a picture of it.

rosemary flower

When I got back inside and looked out, a chaffinch and a siskin obligingly posed for me above the feeder…

chaffinch on feeder pole

…while they were waiting for a free perch…

siskin on feeder pole

…and a collared dove looked for fallen seed below.

collared dove under feeder

I made some potato soup for lunch and after getting things sorted out for the evening’s camera club meeting, I tested my foot out on a very short three bridges walk.

I was hoping for some waterside bird life and spotted two oyster catchers on the gull’s usual posts.  They were very vocal as I got near and flew off before I could get close.

two oyster catchers on posts

Just below the sawmill brig, I saw a pair of goosanders and managed to get a fuzzy shot with the zoom well extended before they too…

two goosanders

…scooted off before I could get a good shot.

gosander going off

In the absence of co-operative birds, I had to be content with more static subjects like this script lichen on a tree…

script lichen

…and these handsome bracket fungi on a fallen tree.  They have withstood frost, snow, rain and wind without looking any the worse for wear.

polypore fungus

The hazels were in full flower….

hazel flowers omn twig

…and the willows at the Jubilee Bridge  are breaking out too.

willow flowers

The wild strawberries which are growing out of a crack in the wall at the end of the Scholars’ Field are doing very well.

wild strawberry

Just before I got back to our garden, I had to stop to record the flourishing flowering currant of our neighbours.

flowering currant

I had a final look round and then set off to Carlisle to pick Mrs Tootlepedal up from the London train.  I was very surprised and pleased in equal measure to find that the station can now boast some very smart new seats for those waiting for trains to arrive.  They are padded and very comfortable.  I hope that they get treated with the respect that they deserve.

dav

I didn’t have long to enjoy the comfortable seating as Mrs Tootlepedal’s train arrived bang on time and we were soon heading home.

When we got back, she pointed out this new daffodil whihc has just come out.  It is called Rip van Winkle.  I hope that we can get some nicer weather for it to show off its charms more fully.

Rip van Winkle daffodil

After tea, I went off to the camera club meeting.  There was a good attendance with the welcome addition of a new member and as usual, we got an interesting selection of images to enjoy, with nine members contributing.  One good idea which was demonstrated was the use of a mirror to enable the photographer to take pictures of snowdrop flowers without having to lie on the ground.  I shall definitely try that next year.

It was decided that we should make an effort to have a summer club outing this year and we shall have to think of where to go.  We have a promising suggestion already and I hope that it actually comes off.

A female chaffinch makes for a neat flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

I should add that all is well with the world in spite of bad news in every continent and continuing sore feet because any day is greatly improved by the addition of a Mrs Tootlepedal.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Andy Little, one of our camera club members.  He very kindly sent me this picture of an unusual bird which he saw when visiting New Lanark.

New lanark perching bird

I had a steadily busy but not frantic day today.  Encouraged by Mrs Tootlepedal, I got up reasonably early and went out for a bike ride after breakfast without even pausing to look round the garden.

The reason for the snappy start was a dire forecast of wind and rain to come later in the day.  Anxious not to be caught out, I pedalled the whole way round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit without stopping at all, most unusual for me.  As a result there are no pictures but I made up for this by looking round the garden when I got home.

The butterflies have slowed down a bit and I was able to take a few close up shots.

butterfly head

It may not be the bee’s knees but it definitely is the butterfly’s proboscis.

butterfly head 2

There was a lot of nectar quaffing going on.

white butterfly on daisy

This shot does include the bee’s knees.

bee on cosmos

The newly sprung up nerines are looking better every day…

nerine flowering

…and the Michaelmas daisies are set to take over the world.

michaelmas daisies

It is berry time and the birds have eaten almost all our rowan berries without letting me catch them in the act.  This is most unfair.

Other berries are available…

snowberry and raspberry

…some more edible than others.

Then I took some postcards and photo cards up to our local newsagent, who sells them and makes a contribution to the Archive Group in return, and pedalled back home for lunch.

I kept an eye on the birds while I was in the kitchen and was pleased to see a coal tit in motion…

flying coal tit

…and at rest.

coal tit on feeder

The seeds are too big for them to eat on the feeder so they flit about in a restless way between the feeder and the plum tree behind.

After lunch, since the forecast rain and wind had not yet made an appearance, Sandy arrived and we drove down to Canonbie for as much of a walk as we could get in before the weather broke.

We parked at the church and walked along the river bank below it….

Canonbie church

…looking out for hints of autumn…

Esk at canonbie

..and noticing the scar in the red sandstone cliff where there has been a rockfall.

In the foreground you can see a fisherman moving along the river to try his luck.

Sandstone cliff at Canonbie

His chances may be affected by the number of other fisherfolk around.

family of goosanders at canonbie

Goosanders like eating fish a lot.

Looking across the river, I could see the hedge that marks the road along which I had pedalled  earlier in the day.  The bank behind is covered with the seed heads of rosebay willowherb.

Old A7 banking

We walked south along the river following a local signposted walk…

Esk below canonbie

…stopping to look at wild flowers on out way….

wild flowers beside esk

…and got as far as this little wood before the rain started to come down seriously enough to make us head back to the car.

riversie walk canonbie

We didn’t get a soaking but we got wet enough to persuade us not to dally taking pictures….except this one….

autumn colour

…and drove home to have a cup of tea.

We were joined by Mike Tinker, who has been enjoying having the company of both of his children and their spouses and all four of his grandchildren in recent days and thus was extremely happy but also in need of a quiet sit down and some refreshment.

In the evening, more rain and some gusty wind arrived in perfect time to welcome Luke for his flute lesson.  It always seems to rain on Monday when he comes.  As he was playing better than me today, I had no complaints.

In the evening, I went off with Sandy to the first Camera Club meeting of the season and with the attendance in double figures (11) and an excellent range of photos  for the members to enjoy, the meeting was very satisfactory.  There were biscuits too.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow getting an unfriendly welcome from a siskin.

flying chaffinch (2)

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s recent trip south and shows a public sculpture in Sheffield.  The sculpture is called ‘Double Helix’.   I like the sculpture but don’t know how it got its name as it looks more like a contorted screw eye than a double helix.

sheffield sculpture

Our slightly warmer weather continued today but so did large quantities of rain which fell from the sky with gusto during the morning, making everything soggy again.

As the rain was accompanied by a very brisk wind, even when the rain stopped the day didn’t feel a great deal better.

Happily, while the rain was at its worst….

puddle

…I had the pleasure of Dropscone and Sandy’s company for a cup of coffee and a scone.  They are both off to southern European sunshine islands for holidays shortly and so they didn’t mind the weather here as much as I did.  It makes going abroad more fun if the weather is horrible at home.

The rain stopped after lunch and I was able to go out into the garden to capture the daffodil of the day….

daffodil

…but it was too wet to wander about or do any lawn care so I came back in and watched the birds.

They were very busy again today but you can have too much activity so I settled for some quieter portraits of our regulars today.

siskin

repoll

goldfinch

A greenfinch turned up and was probably quite surprised to be treated with an unusual lack of respect by both siskins and chaffinches.

greenfinch being hounded

The siskin flew away and the chaffinch just bounced off so the greenfinch continued feeding quite unruffled.

Mrs Tootlepedal was helping at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop over lunchtime and when she came back, the weather was too unsympathetic to garden so she went for a rest and after doing some computer work, I went for a walk.

It was still very windy but it was warm enough to make walking a pleasure if you could get out of the wind.

I walked along the park wall to see if the red tipped lichens were enjoying the warmer weather….

cladonia

…and found that they were thriving.

I thought that it would be better to walk along the top of the bank at Stubholm rather than along the rather soggy riverside path so I went up the track and along the top of the wood.   I am impressed by the fact that only some of the trees on this steep bank have fallen over so far.

tree on bank at Stubholm

When I got down to the Murtholm fields, I could see that quite a bit of rain had fallen….

puddle at Murtholm

…so it was no surprise to find an oyster catcher in one of the fields (in a rare moment of sunshine)…

oyster catcher and lambs

…as well as traditional sheep and lambs.

The willows are starting to show along both banks of the river.

willow

And there was plenty of water coming down the river past the old distillery building.

Langholm Distillery from Skippers

As it got near Skippers, it was foaming and boiling…

Esk at Skippers in spate

…but the new bridge repairs are holding up well and the bridge is still standing.

Although the river was quite high, it wasn’t high enough to need all three arches of the bridge.

skippers in April

I entertained myself by looking at lichen on the bridge parapet (right frame in the picture below)…

lichen

…and a very pretty sort on the fence at Land’s End (in the left frame).

I stopped off at the Co-op to acquire some fish cakes for my tea and then walked back to the suspension bridge.  Looking  up river from the suspension bridge, I could see that the Langholm Bridge was using all three arches…

Langholm Bridge in april

…and looking downstream, I could see three goosanders on the gravel bank beside the Wauchope.

goosanders

I was expecting them to get up and swim away when I got close but obviously they thought about swimming much as I had thought about cycling in these conditions and they were fast asleep and going nowhere.

The garden continues to show a little more colour each day…

spring flowers

…and I was happy to see the dicentras coming out as they are great bee magnets.

dicentra

It was far too wet and windy for bees today though.

When I got in, I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that it was warm enough to be out in the garden in spite of the wind and we spread a little manure about in a helpful way and then she stayed outside doing useful tasks for a while before the wind blew her back inside.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal settled down to some serious sock darning while I looked through my pictures and tapped away at the keyboard for this post.  In this throwaway age, it is rather reassuring to be able to wear well darned socks.

We are told that it is going to get suddenly very warm for the time of year tomorrow afternoon and then stay quite nice, if a bit cooler, for the next three or four days.  I hope that this turns out to be true.

Following my success in thinking about things and then seeing the things that I had thought about appear, I bought a lottery ticket along with my fish fingers this afternoon.

I am going to have to think a bit harder it seems.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is a pair of regal pelicans in a royal park in London.  My sister Mary enjoyed their company.

PelicansAfter yesterday’s grand tour, I had a gentle morning which was enhanced by a couple of scones and the presence of Dropscone himself at coffee time.  He has been away acting as an official at the Scottish Boys Golf Championship for a few days so I have been living in a scone free zone.

After he left, I got the lawn mower out and squashed some moss in a rather pointless way on the middle lawn.  In an effort to improve things, I got out a garden fork and tested my new knee’s ability to spike the lawn.  It stood up to the task well but I only did a small piece not wanting to push my luck too far.

I laid down the fork and picked up the camera instead.

daffodils

Mrs Tootlepedal has a nice selection of daffodils on the go.

Other colours are available too.

primulasThere was a bee about which is always good to see.

beeIt was enjoying the pulmonaria.  I tried to take a flying bee of the day.

flying bee

They move their wings much faster than a chaffinch!

The chance of catching a flying bird at the feeder was very slim as the good weather has taken the small birds out of the garden to treats in the field and forest.

We were left with the occasional blackbird…

blackbird…with a shifty looking jackdaw and a plump pigeon.

jackdaw and pigeonAfter lunch, we went off to Longtown to get our eyes tested as there is no optician in Langholm.  Mrs Tootlepedal went in first and then disappeared on a shopping jaunt while I got my eyes seen to.  I have a good eye and a bad eye and it turned out that my good eye has got better and my bad eye has g.  This should speed up blog production by a huge amount.

When I had finished, I went for a walk round the Longtown ponds.

Longtown pondsI saw a pair of Canada geese…

canada geese…and what I thought was a tufted duck…

tufted duck…and a goosander….

goosander…among other water birds too far away fro me to recognise.

The ponds are lined with willows and they caught the slightly hazy sun.

willowsThe ponds were the fullest that I have seen them…

Longtown ponds…although the river is not very high.

River EskI couldn’t walk this way without taking a picture of the Longtown bridge.

Longtown bridgeIn spite of the slightly hazy conditions, it was warm enough to walk around without a jacket on and I thoroughly enjoyed my walk.  I met Mrs Tootlepedal as I got near the town on my return.

Mrs Tootlepedal at LongtownWe strolled back together, admiring the wild flowers beside the path.

celandine and butterbur

Celandine and butterbur

We are heading back to wet and windy weather at the weekend but this mini spell of warm and sunny weather has been most welcome.

My mobile phone had stopped working yesterday afternoon and when we got home, I spent a frustrating amount of time trying to find a reason for the breakdown by searching my provider’s website.  This is the sort of thing that induces blinding headaches, broken crockery and stamping of feet.  The peak rage moment was holding a phone with a numeric dialling pad and being asked to by a robot to enter the sixth letter of my password on the keypad.  “If it is A B or C or 2, just press 2.”

I finally found a real person to talk to and rather anti-climatically, the solution to my problem was to take my SIM card out and put it back again.  I should have guessed.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a meeting of the Ewes WRI and Sandy and I went to the Archive Centre where an impeccably behaved internet connection allowed us to put two weeks of the newspaper index into the database.

In the absence of obliging chaffinches, a Longtown goosander comes in as flying bird of the day.

goosander

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