Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘greater spotted woodpecker’

As well as looking for fossils, my Newcastle correspondent Fiona likes to take her family to interesting places and today’s guest picture shows the ruins of Finchdale Priory which she visited with them a week or two ago.

Finchdale Priory

We had a warm and calm day today, ideal for cycling.  Hmmm.  I didn’t even have company for coffee as both Dropscone and Sandy were away from home.

As a result, I had a lot of time to watch the birds and fortunately, there were a lot of birds to watch.

Although we mostly had the usual suspects seen here hanging around in the plum tree…

birds in plum tree

Finches on the top branches.

great tit in plum tree

A great tit further down.

dunnock on ground

And a rather fierce dunnock on the ground below.

…we did get some unusual visitors too.

A small brown bird with an unremarkable back view….

redpoll from behind

…revealed itself as a redpoll when it turned round.  They are winter visitors and cheer the gloomy days up.

redpoll on feeder

There were a few of them around and while some sat in the plum tree looking demure…

redpoll in plum tree

…others got on with the business of terrifying chaffinches…

redpoll attacking

…which are much bigger than them.

However the real surprise of the morning was a visit from a greater spotted woodpecker which suddenly appeared in the plum tree as if by magic.

greater spotted woodpecker in tree

Although I often see them up at the Moorland feeders, we hardly ever see one in the garden and especially not one so happy to pose for me.

greater spotted woodpecker in garden

However, it didn’t pose for long and soon flew off, not to be seen again.

A curiosity of looking at pictures of the birds when the feeder is busy is to see flying seeds everywhere.  How did the seed in the top of the picture below get there?

flying food

I got a visit from my part time neighbour Ken, a fellow cyclist.  He is in the opposite situation to me and after being poorly earlier in the year, he is now getting some good miles in.  I was very envious of him as he had been of me in the spring.

The morning drifted away but after lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal set to work in the garden and that galvanised me into action, or at least into as much as I could manage without flexing my leg.

I took a leisurely photographic tour in search of colour.  There are flowers about if you look hard enough.

november flowers

The perennial wallflowers in the bottom left frame above started flowering in April and been in bloom ever since.  That is what I call value for money.

The warm summer has encouraged roses to produce hips this year.  Although the rosa Gallica (on the left) always produces some rather subdued hips, we have never seen hips on the Goldfinch (on the right) before.

november rose hips

In the absence of flowers, the spireas are a source of pleasure at this time of year.

november spirea

I did a little shredding and sieved some more of the compost from Bin D as Mrs Tootlepedal is planting out bulbs and needs compost.  I know that readers have been eagerly awaiting compost pictures so here is the result of sieving Bin D.

bucket of sieved compost

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, I also turned a very full Bin A into Bin B and took a picture of Bins A to D.

compost bins a to d

Mrs Tootlepedal is responsible for the plastic bin on the left of Bin A and I have no idea what is in it.  It is a closely guarded secret.

The next task will be to finish the little bit of sieving left in Bin D and turn Bin C into it.  It is good for a man to have a purpose in life.

While I was having fun, Mrs Tootlepedal was preparing for next year.

fern dug up

She removed a fern from a spot where, if all goes well, a fine display of tulips will appear in spring.

I had made a lamb stew in the slow cooker in the morning and while I played duets with my flute pupil Luke,  I left the sous-chef to fettle up the gravy.  She did an excellent job and we had a tasty evening meal.

To end the day, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  We played Mozart, Telemann and Quantz and that was the perfect way to forget the many little inconveniences that come to all of us with advancing years.

The flying bird of the day is another ‘just-in-time’ chaffinch.

just flying chaffinch

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who came upon a horde of ladybirds on one of her visits.  This picture shows just a few of the insects that she saw.

Ladybirds

It was a bright but chilly morning here and I had to scrape ice off the car windscreen after breakfast before I could drive up to the Moorland bird hide to fill the feeders as a substitute for Sandy who is still on holiday.

There was a lot of mist about along the river and enough of it had spread up the hill to the hide to give me a rare treat when I got out of the car, a mistbow.

mistbow

It soon faded away and I set about filling the feeders and then lurking in the hide to watch the residents emptying them again.

I did a brisk business with tits.  Here are a blue tit and a coal tit taking in some peanuts…

blue tit and coal tit

…and here is a great tit waiting to take its turn.

great tit

I had to wait a while for a greater spotted woodpecker to arrive but when one did, it posed very graciously for me.

woodpecker

There is almost always fungus on the ground near the feeders at this time of year.

Laverock fungus

Coming out of the hide to go home, I found that the hide was in sunshine and the valley below in mist.

mist from Laverock

I plunged bravely into the valley and the mist and headed for home.

mist from laverock 2

Although the temperature was only 3°, the day was very calm and it felt much warmer than it should have done.  In the circumstances, it seemed too good a day to waste indoors so in spite of it being nearly coffee time, Mrs Tootlepedal agreed to come for a drive up the hill road on Whita.

We were soon back above the mist and looking down.

mist from hill road

It was well worth the effort.

misty trees hillhead

We drove up to the White Yett and looked back over the Esk and Ewes valleys.

mist from white yett

We parked in the car park at the MacDiarmid Memorial and  I walked a little further up the hill, passing this delight on the way.

dewy spiders web

From there, I could see the mist lying over the rivers below.

mist from whita

I would have liked to have stayed longer and to have taken innumerable shots in pursuit of the perfect mist picture but it really was coffee time by now so we headed back down the hill.

We stopped for a moment at the Kilngreen where Mrs Tootlepedal had been asked to say what she thought some bright red small fruits were in the garden there (amazingly deep red crab apples most probably was the verdict).

I took the opportunity to look around.  It really was the most perfect day.

kilngrren sunny morning

And we were now….

mist on Timpen

…looking back up at the mist.

mist on Castle Hill

Coffee and ‘things to be done’ called us and all too soon we were back in the car after a light lunch and heading for Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.

Matilda, her mother Clare and I went to the Botanical Gardens to feed the ducks…

Matilda feeding ducks

…but we were a bit slow off the mark and bells were ringing for the closure of the park almost as soon as we had got there.

Still the ducks got their rice and we had our fun and it was still a good day for a walk so we weren’t too unhappy.

Alistair, Matilda’s dad, is a dab hand at making tasty pizzas so we had an excellent evening meal before catching the train home with a tricky crossword to while away the time.

In all the going up and down, I had little time for the birds in our own garden but I did catch a flying chaffinch while the feeder was still in the morning shadows.

flying chaffinch

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is a swan which was spotted by my Somerset correspondent, Venetia while on a walk.  She notes that the magnifying effect of the water gives it enormous feet.

Venetia's swan

My day started not with swans but geese, as a large skein flew over the garden just after breakfast with a lot of honking to make me pay attention.

flying geese

A short while later, I took an impressionistic  picture of my favourite poppies…

poppies

…and went off to the Laverock Hide to fill the Moorland Project feeders for Sandy.  He is still in foreign parts and feeding elephants rather than chaffinches.

The light was very grey but it is almost always a pleasure to sit in the hide and watch the birds so I stayed for a while.

There were plenty of the usual suspects: chaffinches…

chaffinch moorland

…coal tits….

coal tit moorland

…great tits…

great tit moorland

…woodpeckers…

woodpecker moorland

…and of course, pheasants both males, in an argument….

pheasant debate

…and a female above such uncouth behaviour.

female pheasant moorland

When I got home, I had a cup of coffee and did some business on the computer but I found time to pick some raspberries, which are in fine form, and have a quick look round some flowers.

poppyastantialilian austin october

The garden is looking bedraggled.

A man came round to clean our gutters and I hope that he has done a thorough job because we have a couple of inches of rain forecast for tomorrow and Saturday.  This should give the gutters a good test.

I didn’t have long to hang about at home though as it was my day to go to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.  Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that the train was late but I managed to walk down to the park near her nursery school in time to find Matilda playing with friends.

She was in a very sunny mood and gave me a big hello…

Matilda at Pilrig posing

…and made good use of the playground slide…

Matilda at Pilrig on slide

…and the death defying ‘Flying Fox’…

Matilda at Pilrig on flying fox

Wheeeee!

…before we went home for some snap, Pelmanism and railway building.

Alistair made a delicious  pasta with mushroom sauce for our evening meal and I caught the bus back up to Princes Street in a very satisfied mood.

I was early for the train so I took a picture or two.

My Lumix is very caring and if I get it out at night it says, “I know that you are old with a wobbly hand so I will see what I can do to help.”

I thought that it did quite well for hand held night shots.

national gallery edinburgh at night

The National Gallery

Bank of scotland edinburgh at night

The bank of Scotland building on The Mound

Walter Scott edinburgh at night

Sir Walter Scott looking rather ghostly as he sits under his monument.

The train back was late too but only by a few minutes so I got home in good time.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch at our own feeder.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture shows that Mary Jo has not been wasting her entire time in London going to concerts and seeing the sights.  She has looked at interesting things as well.

Mary Jo's moss

We had another grey, cold and windy day today.  To be fair, it has been pretty dry recently and if it hadn’t been for the very chilly wind, we would probably have been celebrating a good spell of weather.

I went up to the Moorland bird hide after breakfast to fill the feeders for Sandy who is still on holiday in the sun and it was so cold that even sitting in the protection of the hide was not much fun.

There weren’t that many birds to take my mind off the chill either.

blackbirds

Different blackbirds were in evidence

robin, tit and siskin

And a shy robin, a bold great tit and a tiny siskin

unknown bird

And this bird, unknown to me, which stopped for a very brief moment.  I welcome identification from knowledgeable readers.  It might be a chiffchaff.

woodpecker

A woodpecker was very busy flitting between trees and feeders…

woodpecker

…until it finally came near to me and made sure that I got its good side.

As I say, I didn’t stop long and was pleased to get back to the town and get a  little shelter from the cruel wind.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden of course so I lent a little hand here and there and wandered around as well.

New flowers are coming out, some from the soil ….

tulips

….and some from handy boxes bought from a garden centre to temporarily fill a bare patch in a bed.

pansies

Amazingly, there are still one or two daffodils waiting for the moment to burst into flower…

unopened daffodil May

…while others, like these daffodils of the day, are nearing the end of the road.

daffodil

Dozens and dozens of daffodils have been dead headed already.

There is almost always something to see.  Today it was a pulsatilla, the first of many I hope….

pulsatilla

…with some pretty ferns unfolding in the back border….

fern

..near the first Solomon’s seal of the year…

solomon's seal

…and on the other side of the garden, a fuzzy willow bud, defying the cameramen to take a sharp picture.

willow bud

And if there are no bees about, there is usually a fly on the euphorbia,

fly on euphorbia

If you get really fed up with the chilly wind, you can get your camera to take silly pictures…

tulip picture

…and go inside for a cup of coffee.

tulip picture

Once inside, you can look out of the window and see that the goldfinches have taken over the feeder…

goldfinches

…with such total domination that you can see a chaffinch banging its head against the pole in frustration in the picture above.

A pigeon cast a beady eye on proceedings from the plum tree.

pigeon

When I went out to tell Mrs Tootlepedal that coffee was ready, a blackbird demanded to have its picture taken.

blackbird

We were rather alarmed to see a man up the telephone pole behind the house as the last time that this happened, he accidentally disconnected our internet.  All was well today though as you can tell from the fact that this post has been posted.

After lunch, we went off to see Matilda and her parents in Edinburgh and had a constructive afternoon making scones, getting nails painted (some of us), playing a very non competitive form of snap and some Pelmanism.

We had a delightful evening meal and tested the scones (very good) before we walked up to the station to catch the train home.  Slightly unnervingly, both the up and down trains were precisely on time.

Mercifully, the forecast says it is going to get warmer over the next few days and as my thumb is now nearly cured and my new bike should appear either tomorrow or Saturday, things are really looking up.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches, losing a bit of seed in its anxiety to shout abuse at a friend.

goldfinch

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s striking guest picture is another from Gavin’s Spanish holiday.  It shows the Funicular Railway above the Montserrat Monastery and Basilica. To reach the Monastery, he had to go up in a cable car first so I am glad that it was Gavin who was doing the visiting and not me.

Montserrat Monastery

We didn’t have anything so vertiginous to tackle today but we did drive up a gentle hill to visit the Moorland bird feeders as I was acting as a substitute feeder filler again.

I filled up our own feeders before I left as they were quite busy all day, with siskins flying in from the right…

siskin and goldfinches

…and goldfinches from the left…

goldfinch, chaffinch and siskin

…and I had a chance to select the daffodil of the day…

daffodil

…admire a freshly blooming primrose…

primrose

…and look with anticipation of meals to come at the rhubarb.

rhubarb

Our visitor, my stepmother Patricia, came with us to the Moorland feeders and she and Mrs Tootlepedal sat in the car and scanned the skies for raptors while I filled the feeders and then sat in the hide for a while.

The ladies did well, seeing a female hen harrier, a merlin and a kestrel….

kestrel

…which I saw when I came out of the hide.  It was hunting over the moor but it was too far away even for my big lens.

Traffic in the feeder area was brisk…

chaffinches moorland

…but there were some quiet moments too, letting me get a good look at a great tit….

great tit

…a siskin…

siskin moorland

…and a chaffinch.

chaffinch moorland

I was very pleased to see a woodpecker which approached one of the feeders with care, settling on a tree first to see if the coast was clear…

woodpecker

…before popping onto the feeder itself.

_DSC3140

It didn’t get long to peck at the seeds before a second woodpecker arrived and drove it off.

They then both settled on separate trees and waited to see who would blink first.

_DSC3151

I am not entirely certain but I think that it was the the original woodpecker which came back to the seeds.

woodpecker

We didn’t stay too long because as you can see from the ruffled plumage of this chaffinch…

blowy chaffinch

…it was another day with an uncharitable wind blowing.  As it was cold even out of the wind, you can imagine that it was pretty chilly with the wind factored in.

We went home for a cup of coffee and then in a brighter moment, I walked round the garden and took a picture of one of a small outbreak of grape hyacinths which have poked their heads up today.

muscari

This is the first of what should be a ribbon of blue round the front lawn.  These floral plans are in the lap of the gods as always though.

Mrs Tootlepedal made some nourishing lentil soup for lunch and we ate it with a good selection of bread, biscuits and cheese.

Buoyed up by this, I put on many layers and ventured out into the wind for fifteen miles on my slow bicycle.  I had the wind behind me on the way out but it was a real battle to make any headway on the return journey, even though it was mostly downhill.  I was pleased to get in.  I was so intent on keeping going that I left my camera in my pocket and didn’t take any pictures at all.

While I was pedalling, Mrs Tootlepedal and Patricia ventured out for the three bridges walk.

In the evening, I went off to a Langholm community choir practice and we put in a fair bit of work towards the forthcoming joint concert with our local orchestra.

The flying bird of the day is not the standard chaffinch.  It is one of the Moorland feeders’ woodpeckers.  It is a slight cheat as the bird was jumping more than flying but I liked  the result.

woodpecker

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She saw these de-icers at work at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on her way to America.  They would make me very nervous if I was flying.

20180212_114951

We had a day out today.  One of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fellow sopranos from our Carlisle choir had invited us for a walk and lunch so we set off for the south after an early coffee.

Google may come in for some well justified criticism but the ability of Google Maps to predict how long it will take us to get from A to B by car is uncanny. It suggested that it might take us 45 minutes and it took us 44.

We had a second cup of coffee when we arrived and I was pleased to find that Melanie and Bill have bird feeders outside their kitchen window so we felt at home straight away.

They have more varied visitors than us.

Mistle Thrush

A Cumbrian mistle thrush wonders who the intrusive photographer is.

After chatting for a while, we donned our wellies and coats and set out for a three mile walk.

We started by passing the very square church in the village….

P1070424

…and walked down the road, passing this fine house set among mature trees…

Raughton head dwelling

… on our way to crossing the River Caldew on the handsome Rose Bridge.

rose bridge

It is not only a good looking bridge but has convenient steps down for pedestrians to join the Cumbrian Way which runs along the river Bank here.  They have even cut down a tree which would otherwise have blocked my view.

The Rose Bridge gets its name from Rose Castle, the erstwhile home of the Bishop of Carlisle, which overlooks the river.

Rose Castle

The castle was much battered about during the English Civil War and has been extensively rebuilt in succeeding years.

Those interested may find out a bit more about the history of this building here.

We were walking through the Castle’s parkland and there were any amount of excellent trees to enjoy as we went along.

Some by the river.

Rose Castle tree

Some with added castle.

P1070440

And some with reflections in the storm channel of the river.

P1070441

I found one view of the castle without any trees in the way.  the original building is the Peel tower on the right.  Two wings of the main building are missing

Rose Castle

The River Caldew takes a lot of water from the Lake District hills in heavy rain and we passed several channels created by floods in the past.  It is  still shifting its course on a regular basis and I was impressed by the way it had disposed of half a wood here.

River Caldew

I was also impressed that two new trees had been planted to maintain a row of trees on the skyline.

trees

We passed another fine house, many centuries old, on the far bank of the river…

River Caldew

… but as I went to take the picture, I was even more delighted to find a good crop of lichen on a riverside tree branch.

lichen

After a last look back at the parkland…

Rose castle estate

….we crossed the river on a new bridge built to replace a previous bridge which had been damaged by a falling tree.

new bridge over Caldew

The rest of the party posed for a picture.

The final section of the walk took us back to the village up farm track and back roads.  There were many clumps of snowdrops to be seen….

cumbrian snowdrops

…but the pick of the late winter flowers were several sensational spreads of winter aconites.

winter aconites

We have had extreme difficulty in getting any aconites to grow in our garden and the ones that do show were nothing like as strengthy as these.  It was a real treat to see them.

We finished out circular walk by arriving back at the square church.  Melanie told us that when there are weddings at the church, string is put across the gate and wedding guests may be encouraged to disburse coins to the local children before the string is lowered and they can go in.

raughton head church

We were treated to an appetising meal of ham shank and vegetable soup followed by parsnip cake.  They were both delicious.

After more conversation, we had a final cup of tea and then drove home while there was still daylight to see by.  Excellent food, two interesting birds, a new and very enjoyable walk, good weather and good conversation….who could ask for anything more?  It qualified as a Grade A, Grand Day Out.

We got home safely and settled down for a quiet night in.

Although I didn’t have my flying bird camera with me, I was able to take a good static bird of the day shot when an obliging greater spotted woodpecker  perched on Melanie’s feeder for me.

woodpecker

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture shows a regular visitor to Irving’s feeder.

squirrel

I start today’s post with an item from yesterday.  Just after I had put the blog to bed, there were loud noises outside.  It was a very misty night and the pink footed geese might well have been lost and checking where the rest of the gang was.

It is rather upsetting to hear them as the geese sound really unhappy.  They were still making a noise early in the morning but they had safely gone on their way by breakfast time.

Just to join in with the rest of the town, Mrs Tootlepedal now has a cold so she didn’t come with me when I went up to the Laverock Hide to act as a fill-in feeder filler for the Moorland project.  It was just as well that she didn’t come as she likes to sit and look out for raptors but today all she would have seen today was this….

mist at Laverock

Looking west

…or this.

mist at Laverock

Looking east.

I filled the feeders, fighting off the army of pheasants around my feet, and admired the king of the castle…

pheasant

…before going into the hide to spend a little time watching the birds.

There was plenty of action….

great tit and blue tit

…but not enough light to see all of it very well.   I could see that both the blue tit and the great tit are probably long term residents of the glade as they both have rings and the birds here have been ringed fairly regularly.

great tit

The tits don’t have very large beaks and the great tit picked out a lump of peanut and flew off to a handy branch to deal with it.  It clamped it firmly under one foot and pecked at it until it was small enough to eat in one go.

great tit

I was delighted when a woodpecker arrived at the nuts…

woodpecker

I think this is the same one a little later.

woodpecker

The woodpeckers get ringed as well as the small birds.

woodpecker

I came back into the town and picked up a prescription for puffers which I need a lot in the cold and damp weather which we have been enjoying.

Mrs Tootlepedal cycled up and gave me some much needed guidance in the matter of purchasing her Christmas present and then we went home.

After coffee, we went out to see about digging up the Christmas tree from the garden.

Thanks to Mrs Tootlepedal’s expertise with the spade, it was soon resting in a pot in the garage, waiting to come in to the house  later in the week.

Christmas tree

I had time for a quick look at our own birds…

chaffinch and goldfinch

…before getting the fairly speedy bike out to take advantage of a marked improvement in the weather.  It was warm (9°C) and relatively windless and the mist was beginning to lift so I set off up the Wauchope road hoping to remember how to pedal a bike.  It had been 15 days since I last went cycling.

The legs were soon back in the old routine and as I got to Callister, the last of the mist was clearing away….

Callister mist

…so my timing was perfect.  I wasn’t in a very adventurous mood though and I turned back at the end of the straight and cycled back to Langholm.

It was a lovely day by the time that I got there….

Whita in sun

….so I turned round again and headed back to Callister to do another ten miles.

There were still patches of mist on the way….

mist on Wauchope road

…but the sun was doing its best and lit up this fine Christmas tree which needed no artificial decoration.  At about 30ft high, it might be a little too big for most front rooms though.

conifer with cones

By the time that I was on the last leg, the mist had cleared entirely and it was as nice a day as you could hope for at this time of year.

blochburnfoot

But with the solstice only a day or two away, even a really nice day doesn’t last long and when I got home, I only had time for a quick goldfinch shot….

goldfinches

…and a cup of tea before the light had faded so much that the only thing the camera could see when a blackbird walked past was its beak.

blackbird

The evening was a bit subdued because Mrs Tootlepedal’s cold hadn’t improved at all and I have got a hint of one coming back as well.

We might have gone to a screening of The Nutcracker Suite but the three piece suite seemed a better bet.

(We don’t actually have a three piece suite, just a sofa and two chairs but I couldn’t resist the joke.)

The flying bird of the day is a helicopter which was buzzing around in the afternoon.

helicopter

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »