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Posts Tagged ‘greater spotted woodpecker’

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

 

 

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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

 

 

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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

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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

 

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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.

pheasant

…and occasional chaffinches popped up here and there.

chaffinch

A  single woodpecker paid a flying visit…

woodpecker

…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

poppy

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.

matilda

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.

moon

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.

goldfinch

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…

nasturtiums

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

nasturtiums

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

P1030684

mint and chives

There is some colour in the vegetable garden though

clematis

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.

rolls

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….

dahlia

…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…

crow

…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.

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.

cosmos

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

tropaeolum

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.

hellenium

hellenium

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….

tadpole

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

flying chaffinch

 

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