Posts Tagged ‘greater spotted woodpecker’

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.


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….


…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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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


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…


…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…


I think this is the same one a little later.


The woodpeckers get ringed as well as the small birds.


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.


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….


…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.


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.



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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who was in Edinburgh yesterday and was comforted by the up to date police protection afforded to its citizens.

Edinburgh Police

I had much better weather for my trip to the Moorland Feeders today and it was only a pity that the birds stayed away in great numbers.  I suspect that a sparrow hawk must have been in the vicinity.

The pheasants aren’t frightened of anyone or anything, being hand reared.


…and occasional chaffinches popped up here and there.


A  single woodpecker paid a flying visit…


…and that was about it so I didn’t stay long.

I saw a crow on the top of the walnut tree when I got home and my new lens made light of the distance.

crow in walnut tree

I didn’t have long to look round the garden but I was happy to see that the sunshine had brought the bees back…

bees on poppy

..in force…

bees on poppy

…and a butterfly or two too.

red admiral butterfly

This one was looking a bit ‘end of season’.

The reason that I didn’t have long to garden wander was that I wanted to get a quick pedal in before lunch.

The wind was a bit lighter today so I went over the hill…

View from tarcoon

The view from Tarcoon

…and down to Canonbie and then back along the banks of the Esk….

Esk at Byreburnfoot

…which had plenty of water in it after yesterday’s rain.

I chose this spot to take the river picture because in previous years I have seen a lot of fungus there…

fungus at Byreburnfoot

…and they have come back again this year.  There were dozens of these fungi sprouting on a plain patch of mown grass.

I had been blown down to the bottom of the by-pass by a friendly breeze so the journey back to Langholm was a bit more like hard work and as I was under some time pressure, I didn’t stop for more pictures.

I went  fast enough to have left time for another quick look round the garden after a shower and lunch.

Crown Princess Margareta

Crown Princess Margareta has made a welcome reappearance


This poppy had given the bees all it could give.

I saw another butterfly…or perhaps the same one revisiting,  It was hard to tell at this angle.

red admiral butterfly

Then I drove off to Lockerbie with Mrs Tootlepedal to catch the train to Edinburgh.

I admired a fine set of faintly nautical looking hinges on a doorway in Lockerbie opposite the spot where we parked our car.

Lockerbie hinges

Lockerbie station has two just platforms, up and down, with a passing line behind the down platform but looking south from the bridge, It must have been busier at one time.

Lockerbie station

The train was late again but only mildly and the countryside looked lovely as we swept past so all was forgiven.

When we got to Edinburgh, Matilda was in splendid form and gave me a very even match at Pelmanism before trouncing me at Snap.  There was more fun before tea time when we were terrorised by a monster….

matilda monster

…who surely can’t have been related to this studious little girl studying her miniature cow.


All too soon it was time to catch the train back to Lockerbie.  The bus arrived so promptly and drove so swiftly that I had time to look around at Waverley Station and enjoyed this circle of ornamental youngsters round the skylight in the waiting room.

Waverley station

Our drive home from Lockerbie was illuminated by a brilliant moon.  I tried my new lens out on it when I got home and was pleased with a quick hand held shot from an upstairs window.


There was not much choice but I managed to get a flying bird of the day at the Moorland Feeders this morning….just.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  She is working in Zurich this week and took a picture of the sunset there this evening.

Zurich sunset

There was no chance of a sunset here today…or a sunrise…or a sun anything as the sun was conspicuous by its absence all day.  The forecast told me that if I was up sharp, I might be able to get up to the Moorland Feeders, where I was filling in for absent friends, before the rain started for the day.

I took them at their word and they were quite right so I filled the feeders and sat in the hide for a while  before the rain started.  It might not have been raining but it was very gloomy so only brightly coloured birds which came close were available to snap.  It was my lucky day.

Greater spotted woodpecker

A greater spotted woodpecker coming close

Greater spotted woodpecker

And a greater spotted woodpecker coming closer…

Greater spotted woodpecker

…and then going away again

When it flew off, I took the hint and went away too.  I was glad to have got a brief glimpse of a goldfinch, the first of the autumn while I was there.


It was still raining when I got home and it rained on and off in a half hearted way for the rest of the day.  It was that annoying sort of rain which kept looking as though it had stopped but by the time that I had got outside to check, it had started again.

Under the circumstances, Mrs Tootlepedal got on with repainting the doors in the hall and I put a week and a bit of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group’s database.

You can learn a lot from the newspaper index.  In 1854 there were only 12 advertisements for food in the whole year but by 1874, there were 116.  There were 140 by 1894 but the biggest item advertised by far was tea, which was obviously a big seller by then.

I went out to our corner shop to buy food (but not tea) and noticed an unusually long array of collared doves on the wire by the dam as I left the house.

collared doves

I don’t know enough about collared doves to say whether this might be one happy family or just a gathering of friends.

At lunch time, I noticed that Mrs Tootlepedal had brought a couple of nasturtium flowers into the kitchen…


Their cheerful colour brightened the day up a bit and made me look closer too.


I did go out to check the rain.  It was light but persistent.  Flowers looked a bit depressed.


mint and chives

There is some colour in the vegetable garden though


and a very low flying clematis

We picked some runner and French beans and ate them for our lunch.  Even if the rain had stopped, it would have been too soggy for gardening.

It was one of those days which felt colder than the thermometer said that it should be so after lunch, I lit a fire in the front room and settled down to put music into the computer for practice purposes.  With about sixteen new songs on hand for Christmas concerts with my two choirs, I have plenty to get on with.

I kept on thinking about going for a walk in the rain but settled for making rolls with the help of the bread making machine instead.  They turned out well.


When they had come out of the oven, I had another look out into the garden at four o’clock.

colourful corner

In spite of the efforts of the flowers to persuade me that it wasn’t too bad….


…I wasn’t tempted to stay out as it was too gloomy for a photographic walk by now so I took a picture of a crow on the roof…


…and came back in and made a sausage stew for my tea.

It too turned out well and I was in a good mood in spite of some heavier rain when I went off for a Langholm Sings choir practice.  The attendance was a bit thin, possibly because of a showing of La La Land at the Buccleuch Centre at the same time.  I was happy to miss the film, which we have already seen and judged pretty dull, and very much enjoyed the practice.  All the songs and carols that we are preparing have their charms.

I am going back to the Moorland Feeders tomorrow morning, this time as a substitute for Sandy, who is sunning himself elsewhere, and I hope for better weather.



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Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Gavin.  He was walking in Edinburgh when he came upon this recently restored lift bridge on the Union Canal there.

Leamington Lift Bridge

Thanks to another depression coming off the Atlantic, the day started with a light frizzle and developed into some steady rain which lasted until late in the evening.  This gave us plenty of time to watch the telly and follow the devastation wreaked by hurricane Irma (and count our blessings again).

I was acting as fill-in feeder filler for Sandy who had gone off to visit his son and I was lucky that the rain was still at light drizzle setting when I went up.  The views when I got to the hide weren’t up to much though.

View from Laverock Hide

Once again, the glade was full of chaffinches but there were great tits…

great tit

….a blackbird and a single robin…

blackbird and robin

…as well as the usual phlock of pheasants.


They became very excited when a woodpecker visited a seed feeder as it was a messy eater and let them have ample seeds to glean.

I was excited when the woodpecker flew across to the peanut feeder as this let me get a shot of it.

greater spotted woodpecker

I didn’t stay long in the gloom and when I got home, the rain was still light enough to allow a quick walk round the garden.

The cosmos is beginning to make a show at last.


The tropaeolum, having looked as though it was over and producing nothing but berries, has decide to bloom again.


The white Japanese anemone seems unaffected by wind or rain but it is well sheltered by the walnut tree.

Japanese anemone

Mrs Tootlepedal’s recently purchased pink Japanese anemone is also doing well…

Japanese anemone

…with plenty of flowers still to come but it is a bit shorter than she had hoped. Perhaps it will grow a bit more next year.

The Hellenium, which I find is also called sneezeweed, is doing its best but looks a little cast down by the rain.



The bed at the end of the drive continues to shine even on the gloomiest of days…

flower bed

….though I didn’t see a butterfly there today.

And that was it for the outdoor segment of the day.

Luckily, the Tour of Britain is being shown live and in full on the telly so there was always something to watch when I wasn’t doing the crossword, drinking coffee, eating lunch, putting a little music into the computer and practising songs for the choir concert.

The day brightened up metaphorically at least when Susan came in the evening and drove me to Carlisle for a meeting of our recorder group.  We have recently changed from many years of meeting weekly to meeting monthly and it is surprising how much more concentration is needed when you are not playing every week.  I might even have to start practising recorder playing as well as singing. It certainly won’t do me any harm.

I am beginning to get quite anxious to get out on my bike but the forecast for tomorrow is horrible too.

The flying bird of the day is not this gloomy tadpole in our pond….


…but an equally gloomy and fuzzy chaffinch at the bird feeders.

flying chaffinch


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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by my friend Bruce, shows an impasse between dog and grandchild.  The grandchild would like the dog to come in and the dog would like to come in….but only if the excessively affectionate grandchild wasn’t there.


I would have liked,  in theory at least, to have gone out cycling today as it was dry, fairly calm and even occasionally sunny.  It wasn’t warm but it wasn’t too cold.  What was there to stop me?


I was acting as a fill-in feeder filler at the Moorland Feeders for friends who were away from town on grandparenting duties so my first excuse of the day was a visit to the feeders with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She had a good time watching buzzards, a hen harrier and a kestrel from the car while I filled the feeders and then sat in the hide.

After seeing very few on my last visit, I hardly saw anything else but chaffinches today.


There were no siskins, no greenfinches, no blue tits, few blackbirds and only one or two great tits…

great tit and woodpecker

…and one woodpecker.

The pheasants have been put out from the hatchery on the Castleholm in readiness for the shooting season so there were a lot of pheasants about.  In fact, I had to be careful not to stand on one of them while I was filling the feeders.

pheasant and feet

One came close to the hide for a drink while I was sitting there.


I waited for some time in the hope of seeing something interesting but after a while there must have been a raptor nearby because even the chaffinches made themselves scarce and the glade fell eerily silent.    We went home.

I might have gone cycling when I got home but there was coffee to be drunk, a crossword to be done and many poppies to admire.


The poppies were not just beautiful to look at but they were also hotching with bees and I took so many pictures of them that I am putting a selection of them into a separate poppy post today and those with an inclination can look at it without everyone having to wade through them all.

There were a great many butterflies about too, enjoying the better weather…

peacock and red admiral butterflies

Peacock and red admiral butterflies

…and as usual, the buddleia was drawing them in.

I am still waiting to see a painted lady or a small tortoiseshell but we have had a good supply of red admirals and peacocks.

I enjoyed a sweet pea which has grown so strongly that it is sticking out of the top of Mrs Tootlepedal’s sweet pea fortress.

sweet pea

And I saw a red admiral sitting on the unopened flower of a lily in the flower garden….

lily and butterfly

A butterfly kiss from the lily. It should look spectacular when (if) it opens

Then  it was time for lunch.

I might have gone cycling after lunch but Sandy suggested a walk at three o’clock and as I wanted to mow the front lawn, there wasn’t time to do both before the walk. I chose the lawn.

Front lawn mowing

You can see the poppies surrounding three side of the lawn.

When Sandy came, we went off in his car along the road to the bird feeders but stopped beside the river at the bottom of the hill and walked up the hill through oak woods and fields to Broomholmshiels before coming back to the car down the road.

It was a short walk but full if interest.

There is a mossy wall beside where we parked the car.

mossy wall

And fine trees in the field at Longwood.

Longwood tree

Longwood tree

The walk through the wood is always a delight but it is even better when the sun comes out for a moment or two.

Oak wood

The oaks here didn’t seem to be suffering from galls in the leaves but only one tree that we saw had any acorns on it…

oak tree

…and we were surprised to see the leaves turning so early on another tree that we passed.

The wood is a sea of green and it is a wonder that the power people have managed to sneak power lines through the heart of it.

oak woods

We saw quite a bit of fungus on our walk, some old and some new.


The thistles have turned to fluff.


Once we were clear of the trees, there were views to enjoy, especially when the sun made one of its brief appearances.


Looking over the Esk valley

Whita heather

Patches of heather among the pylons on Whita

There was still time for a cycle ride after the walk but it seemed a good idea to invite Sandy in for a cup of tea and a slice or two of the oat, plum and ginger bake.  We made sure that he didn’t get away without taking several courgettes with him.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s two courgette plants are producing more than we can eat.

There might still have been time for a short pedal after Sandy left but it suddenly started to rain lightly and so I mowed the green house grass and waited to see whether it would stop.  It got heavier and I took the hint and went inside and looked at my pictures.

It brightened up later but by that time, I had lost any inclination to put foot to pedal at all.   I have done 470 miles this month so there is no compulsion to do more in these final two days.  I did a lot of eating instead today.

I did manage to catch a flying chaffinch while I was at the Moorland feeders so there is a rather fuzzy but genuine flying bird of the day today.

flying chaffinch

You can click here for the poppies if you wish.

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Wirksworth.  As well as the train to the museum, there was another connection to Derby and Sheffield by the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway.


We had been expecting a very rainy day today but it was surprisingly dry if rather chilly when we got up.

The day continued dry and got quite warm and although the sun was mostly absent and a few individual drops of rain fell from time to time, it ranks as one of the better days of the summer.  It would have been a great day for a good long pedal but I had been so adjusted to the possibility of rain and a day indoors that it took me ages to realise that I should be outside.

In the end, I had a look round the garden.

A lot of the dahlias are very spiky this year.


The poppies are not.

poppies with no pollen

Many poppies had been visited by bees and abandoned.

poppies with bees

And bees were flying around looking for fresh pollen

Occasionally a poppy was to be found with pollen but no bees.  This was my favourite.


There were butterflies to be seen too.  We have two buddleias and both were in the butterfly business today.

peacock butterfly

Red Admiral butterfly

I did get my act together in the end and after coffee, I went off down to Canonbie on my customary 20 mile route.  There was only a light wind today and my legs felt quite cheerful so I applied myself to bicycling and only stopped for one cow…

horn cow

…which was too busy chewing to pose for a proper picture.

I got back at a good speed and had a quick look for butterflies on the Michaelmas daises….

bee on Michaelmas daisy

…but there was only a bee

I noticed that the Virginia creeper has some little flowers…

fox and cubs virginia creeper

…and the cubs have come to join the fox in the orange hawkweed.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hosting a committee meeting of her Embroiderers’ Guild group in the afternoon so after a quick lunch and a shower, I packed myself and my new lens into the car and went up to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland Project bird feeders to see what I could see, although the day had got a bit gloomy by this time.

The first thing that I saw was two other other enthusiasts already ensconced in the hide with big lenses at the ready.  I filled an empty feeder and sat down beside them as they clicked away furiously.

There were a lot of small birds to see…



Great tit

Great tit



Coal tit

Coal tit

Blue tit

Blue tit

…and some bigger ones too.


Greenfinches looking as fierce as ever


A pheasant not in full feather yet


And a greater spotted woodpecker

The other two bird watchers had left before the woodpeckers came so I sat quietly and enjoyed three woodpeckers chasing each other about the trees.

I had thought of a walk while I was up there but a spell of very light rain for a while persuaded me that a cup of tea at home would be the best thing.

It had got quite warm enough by this time to make it feel quite like summer so Mrs Tootlepedal and I went out into the garden.  She did some heavy tidying up and mulching while I sieved some compost and trimmed one more of the box balls…and admired the combination of crocosmia, cornflower and poppies which the gardener had planned and which has finally arrived.  The camera can’t do it justice.

poppies, crocosmia and cornflower

I’ll try again if we get some sunshine.

I had a look for late butterflies or bees on the daisies again but there were none to be seen. The daisies were quite attractive in their own right though.

Michaelmas Daisies

I have pulled a muscle (even though I didn’t know that I had any) in my left arm and that combined with a nagging back is making me feel my age a bit at the moment so I went in and had a sit down before my flute pupil Luke came.

He tells me that he has passed his Higher music exam which involved  playing two instruments  and written work.  He didn’t get any help from me with his exam pieces so I can’t take any credit for this. He just worked very hard with his grandad and the teachers at the school.  I am very proud of him.

I tried very hard to get a flying bird this afternoon but the light wasn’t good enough so a head and shoulders of a woodpecker will have to do instead.

greater spotted woodpecker


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