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Posts Tagged ‘greenfinch’

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who was heading to Oban on  the west coast today when he came upon this overfull river at Callander.

floods at callander

We got a better day here today with occasional brief sunny spells and no rain so we were grateful for that.  We didn’t make much use of it though as Mrs Tootlepedal had to do a lot of internet research into a costume she is making for our local pantomime and I was resting my leg.

As a result, the morning passed with very little discernible activity and even the birds were pretty quiet in sympathy.

There was a lot of posing from a pigeon…

lofty pigeon

…a blackbird…

blackbird

…and a chaffinch.

sunlit chaffinch

Even the feeding was rather sedate with a chaffinch being at the bottom of the pecking order today.

pecking order

The coal tits were back again…

hungry coal tit

…and rather to my surprise, they tended to chase each other.

sparring coal tits

I made some potato soup for lunch and then decided to test my leg with a short flat walk.

The sun was out when I started and gulls….

lonely gull

…were gleaming in its rays.

two black headed gulls

I crossed the town bridge and met an old friend on the Kilngreen.

standing heron

I don’t blame Mr Grumpy for being well tucked because as soon as the sun went in, a brisk wind made it feel quite chilly.

Among our ordinary mallards, there is one white duck.  I was hoping to shoot a sitting duck but it saw me coming and popped into the water before I could catch it.

sitting duck

The leaves are pretty well off all the trees now and the Lodge Walks are bare.  This does let the sun through to brighten things up though.

Lodge Walks december

With no leaves on the trees, the casual passer by can admire the moss….

moss on tree branch

…and the lichen which festoon many of the branches.

lichen on tree branch

As always, I paid attention to walls on my walk and the one at the head of the Scholars’ Field had wild flowers and ferns growing out of it in a very satisfactory way.

wild corydalis

little wild flower

harts tongue fern

My plan to have a gentle, flat walk and mildly exercise my stiff leg was a complete failure and I was back into heavy limping mode long before I got home.   Considering that I had done this walk a few days ago with no trouble, this was discouraging and tomorrow will have to be a serious day of doing nothing.  I have got plenty of useful things that I can do so I will do them and resist the temptation of a little walk ‘just to see how my leg is’.

I spent quite a lot of time when I got home choosing some pictures for a short presentation of images from Eskdale which I am giving next month.  I limited myself to those that I have taken in the last 12 months and have managed to make a preliminary selection of 100 with no flying chaffinches in at all.  This was quite hard.

The flying bird of the day today isn’t a chaffinch either.

flying gull

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It was so gloomy today that I have looked back to Venetia’s Marseille trip for some sunshine to lighten up the post.  This fine boat is called Sherakhan.  It is registered in Rotterdam, and you can charter her with its 19-strong crew and space for 26 guests, for a mere half million dollars per week;  Mrs T and I are thinking of hiring it next week for a bit of a change and some sea air.

marseille charter

It was Remembrance Day today and it was a pity that an already sombre day should have been made much greyer by persistent rain in the morning.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to sing with the church choir.  The choir was only 11 strong and as the music for the service was provided by the Town Band, it probably didn’t make much difference to the total sound whether we sang or not.  However, we did sing a short unaccompanied hymn as an anthem so we did contribute our bit to the service.

I had made a pasta sauce in the slow cooker after breakfast and when we got back home, I made some lentil and vegetable soup for lunch and watched the birds.  A sparrow hawk had made an unavailing fly past down our drive just before I got the camera set up so I had to wait a while for the small birds to come back.  When they did arrive, it turned out to be goldfinch time.

goldfinches on two feeders

There were other birds too.  I can just see a chaffinch hiding behind the feeder here.

set of goldfinches

…and a coal tit was not afraid to share with bigger birds.

goldfinches with coal tit

The goldfinches came in scruffy…

scruffy goldfinch

…and smart turnouts.

smart goldfinch

This one looked very secure while waiting its turn on the feeder pole….

goldfinch perching

…but for coal tits with smaller feet, the wet and breezy weather made hanging on a trickier matter.

coal tits hanging on

A greenfinch looked as fed up with the weather as we were.

damp greenfinch

We didn’t have long to look at the birds though and after lunch, we went off to Carlisle to stock up with cheese and dates (and other necessities of life) and sing with the Carlisle Community Choir.

We set off in pouring rain but fortunately, the day brightened up a bit and the rain had stopped by the time that we got to Carlisle.

We are in full Christmas concert mode with the choir so we had a cheery couple of hours with tinkling bells and general good news.

The singing lessons and the speech therapist’s exercises are paying off and my voice stood up to a heavy day of warbling very well.  I hope to get back to exercising my leg tomorrow but looking at the forecast, the indoor bike may be as far as I can travel.

Among the mass of goldfinches, a chaffinch once again managed to capture the honour of being the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  When he isn’t digging up roots in his garden, he is admiring the many fine views from his front door.

east wemyss view

After yesterday’s incessant rain, we got a kinder day today and I was able to take a walk round the garden after breakfast to see what flowers had survived the cold and the rain.

As the man who sold the evening paper in Carlisle used to shout, there are not many left but there were some whites about…

white flowers november

…although they were not in show condition.

The bird feeder was busy from the start of the day after a very quiet day yesterday.

sparrows and grernfiches

Sparrows and greenfinches made up the bulk of the early visitors.

flying greenfinch

And roses provided some colour in their own way.

rose hips

I didn’t have long to enjoy nature as it was soon time to hobble along the road to sing in the church choir.  After the departure of our regular minister, Scott to a new parish, we got a temporary minister, also called Scott, but he has now been recalled to serve in America so the service was led by a group from the congregation, none of whom are called Scott.  They did an excellent job….and chose cheerful hymns.

The weather was still mellow when we got home after the service and a short choir practice so Mrs Tootlepedal set about some more tidying up work in the garden combined with some bulb planting and I wafted about trying to look like someone who really would be helping if his leg would let him.  I took pictures instead.

We are very near the end of the road

calendula and potentilla november

I filled the feeders and checked how long it would take the jackdaws to notice than I had put out some fat balls.

One minute.

two jackdaws

I don’t know how they do it.

There were ever more members of the tit family flying about the garden today, great tits, blue tits….

perching blue tit

….and enough coal tits  to start an argument.

sparrow coal tits

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a sparrow hawk in the plum tree but the small birds’ early warning system was functioning well and they got away unscathed.  The sparrow hawk flew off before I could pick up my camera.

After lunch we went off to Carlisle to sing with the choir there and during the tea break I was approached by a lady who had just joined the choir.  She told me her name and when and where we had met before and armed with this information, I recognised her immediately.  Everyone should be as helpful as this.

We had a good sing and the day was still dry and warm as we drove home, although the choir ends in darkness now that the clocks have gone back.  We were held up when we got to Langholm by a large procession led by the pipe band which was marching down the High Street.  They were going to the Kilngreen to enjoy a bonfire and a firework display.

I got home, got a couple of cameras out and hobbled back along to the town bridge in time to find that a good blaze had already started on the banks of the Ewes Water.

2018 bonfire

It was soon followed by a firework display which was very satisfactory to watch and to listen to but slightly less good to photograph as the pyrotechnicians had gone for more sound than brightly coloured light.  There were some effects which were new to me like this curling and fizzing white column which made intricate circles.

2018 white firework

There were a lot of silver and white effects….

2018 fireworks

…and the stillness of the evening meant that the smoke from the explosions hung around a lot.

cloudy fireworks 2018

There were very few of the rockets that shoot high into the sky and explode downwards…

traditional forework 2018

…but it was a most enjoyable experience, although it must have frightened the living daylights out of any of the local ducks as it was very, very loud.

I am beginning to realise that I have been much too optimistic about how long it is going to take for my leg to get better so I am going to stop mentioning it and suffer in silence from now on until I am able to get back to cycling.

Well, I may moan a bit from time to time.

The lawn made an excellent background for today’s low flying chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Fiona, my Newcastle correspondent.  She has been walking on Cocklawburn beach where the sharp eyed may spy very small fossils.

Cocklawburn beach

We had another bright and sunny day here today but out of the sun, it was pretty chilly with the thermometer below zero when we woke up and staying firmly in single figures all day.

I had to go up to the town after breakfast and enjoyed the frost outlined shadows on the suspension bridge…

suspension bridge with ice

…and the two tone moss on the Day Centre car park wall.

icy moss1

The frozen side looked like this on closer inspection.

icy moss2

I visited a friend in the Langholm Reference Library to ask if the library would be happy to take some of the articles that we have collected over the years in the Archive Centre for which we will not have room when we move.  He was quite excited by the possibility and I walked along to the Centre to fetch a couple of sample boxes.

When I got them back to the library, Ron emptied them out and began recording the contents.  “I love doing this sort of thing,” he said to me.  A very useful man to know.

While I was along at the Archive Centre, I popped into the garage next door to pay my bill and stopped on the forecourt on my way out to admire the view.

warbla from the garage

On my way home, I noticed that the copper beeches at the entrance to the park were catching the low sun.

park in November

My  sore leg stood up to the walk and carrying the boxes very well so I hope that yesterday’s incident will not have done any lasting harm. This is a relief.

When I got home, it was time for coffee and a crossword and then I watched the birds for a bit.

I was struck by the resemblance between a pigeon in the plum tree and myself: largely sedentary, rather fat and definitely lacking in a bit of gruntle.

fat pigeon

The feeder was busy, first with chaffinches….

chaffinches on feeder

…and then with greenfinches (no room for chaffinches any more)…

greenfinches and approaching chaffinch

…and then with goldfinches.

three goldfinches

It is entertaining to get a steady changing of the guard.

In the plum tree, one of the blue tits was enjoying pecking at a desiccated plum…

blue tit with old plum

…and among the plants beneath the feeder, I saw one of the blackbirds which have returned to the garden lately.

first autumn blackbird

We get quite a few migrating blackbirds in the garden over the winter.

The goldfinches set about making a fuss at the feeder, sometimes from a distance…

goldfinches at feeder

…and sometimes up close and personal.

goldfinches squabbling

I didn’t want to tax my leg too much so I spent a little time after lunch walking gently round the garden.

The delphinium is still droopy but defiant…

droopy delphinium

…but there are very few flowers left and I had to look at the stem of a tree peony to get some colour…

tree peony

…though the sedums are hanging on.

sedum

And then I went in and took to lurking near my computer for an hour or so until I went out into the garden to see what Mrs Tootlepedal was up to.

She was busy as always and had piled up stuff ready for shredding.  I sieved some more of the compost in Bin D and then shredded about half of Mrs Tootlepedal’s pile.  The evenings are really drawing in now so between the gathering gloom and the chill, I didn’t stay out long and went in for a cup of tea.

Our neighbour Liz dropped in to say that she had seen some small flocks of starlings gathering at Longtown so maybe we will have to go down to Gretna soon to see if there are enough about for a murmuration. The numbers of starlings have dropped a lot in recent years and I don’t think that we will ever see sights like this one in 2011 again

starlings

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for their first traditional Friday night visit for several weeks and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal put the world to rights and caught up on news, Alison and I put rusty fingers into action on flute and keyboard.  It was still very enjoyable.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch trying to spy an empty perch on a busy feeder day.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest pictures is another from Venetia’s visit to Marseille.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I have had two very good visits to Marseille with my siblings so I make no apologies for another picture of a place of which I have happy memories.

Marseille sailing

Last night I foolishly let my thoughts stray to the idea of having  a short test ride on my slow bike this morning to see how my leg took to it.  The weather gods, who are ever alert to the slightest whim, promptly turned off the sunshine and got the rain back and all in all it was a very gloomy day and I gave up any thoughts of a ride.

Luckily Dropscone was alert to the weather too and knowing that I was stuck at home, he kindly came round with supplies of rescue scones which we ate with our coffee.

He was in a very cheerful mood as he had recently produced a good round of golf after several months of indifferent form.  And it was not just a fairly good round, it was good enough to win a competition with over 60 players.  Of course, the question now is: can he do it again?  I hope so.

After he left, I looked out of the window into the rain.  There were goldfinches about…

goldfinches in the rain

…and as you can see, some had taken more trouble getting dressed than others.

scruffy goldfinch

The smarter looking ones were giving each other the hard stare….

goldfinches staring

…and a green finch was keeping an eye out for incoming goldfinches.

greenfinch on goldfinch alert

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal went off on an excursion to Longtown and I settled down to some computer work, a late lunch and a walk to the Archive Centre.

The walk went reasonably well as I managed to stop limping but it was still a slightly painful experience.

The reason for the visit was a meeting between Sandy, Nancy and myself to decide what we need to keep and what we can discard when we move to new premises next month.  Hard choices will have to made as we can’t take everything with us but we found it quite easy to pick some obvious items for the discard pile.  Other items are going to take more thinking about.  We paused for thought after about an hour.

Sandy gave me a lift home and we had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from her outing.

It was still damp and grey so I headed back to m computer when Sandy went home and worked away while Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a delicious tea of baked marrow stuffed with mince and covered by a cheese sauce, the marrow grower’s version of lasagne.  It was so good that I am going to cook it again tomorrow for myself.

After tea, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir and tried to put all the advice from singing teacher and speech therapist to good use.

The flying bird of the day is another chaffinch further from the feeder than yesterday’s capture and duller too.

flying chaffinch

 

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Toady’s guest picture comes from Mike Tinker and shows  part of a small army of ladybirds which he and Alison encountered on their recent Welsh holiday.

DSC00706 (1)

We had another sunny day here but unlike the the past few days there were definitely clouds in the sky.

I spent a quiet morning resting my leg while Mrs Tootlepedal was busy first getting her hair done and then going off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre cafe.

I didn’t have long to look at the birds but I did enjoy the contrasting attitudes of the goldfinch (supercool) and the greenfinch (super intense) to whatever was catching their attention.

_DSC8131

For some reason, the two of them reminded me of those rather staged paintings of military men by the sort of artists who get into national art galleries.

One of the sunbeams picked out a greenfinch on the feeder.

_DSC8132

The reason that I didn’t have long to watch the birds after the sun had reached the feeder was that I had an appointment at the hospital in Dumfries with a speech therapist.  I was hoping to get some guidance on exercises to improve my voice and keep it fit for singing.

I didn’t know how well my leg would stand up to 35 miles of driving so I left in plenty of time.   Rather to my surprise, I passed some quite glowing autumn colour on my way but as there was no suitable place to pull off the road, you will have to take my word for that.

In the event, my leg stood up to the driving well enough and I had time in hand when I arrived so I visited a farm shop near the new hospital to stock up on cheese and other necessities of life.

When I got to my appointment, I was greeted very warmly by the speech therapist who turned out to be the same lady who had given me some very sound advice on looking after my voice ten years or so ago when I had gone to get help on retiring from teaching with rather worn out vocal cords.  I apologised for not having kept the worksheets which she had given me then but she was very happy to give me some more with some more sound advice with singing in mind.

Interestingly, some of the exercises which she gave me were identical to the warm up exercises which our new Carlisle conductor gives us to do.  In this case though, she advised me to use them as a warm down after singing.

In an exciting if slightly nervous leap into new technology, my next appointment with her will be via a video link on my computer to save the time and expense of the long drive to the hospital.  I will miss the opportunity to buy good cheese though.

Because I had missed good photo opportunities on the drive, I took a view from the hospital car park instead.

P1150404

The drive home went smoothly and I would have been very pleased with my leg if walking from the  car park to the hospital entrance and then back again, a fair distance, hadn’t been quite a painful experience.  However, I  now know that if I can’t walk far, at least I can drive.

We seem to have just missed some very bad weather as I could see pictures of the Loire valley under snow and Venice under water as I watched the TV news in the hospital waiting room and our son Tony told me that the sea on the Fife coast was very rough this evening.

All is calm and pleasant here.

The flying bird of the day only qualifies for the title by millimetres.

_DSC8128

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother who stopped to take this picture on his way up Stanage Edge in the Peak District today.

Stanage Edge

I had a busy morning which started with taking the car to the garage to get a slow puncture sorted.  I had noticed the possibility of pressure loss when I pumped up the tyres before going to Pitlochry and a second check on our return confirmed that all was not well.

I took the car up to the garage before breakfast and it was a lovely sunny day but at 2°C, it was quite chilly as I went to walk home and this may have contributed to what happened next.  I decided to nip across the road in between traffic and as I stepped off the pavement, I felt an ominous stab of pain from a calf muscle.  I had no alternative but to stagger home as best as I could hoping that I had done nothing worse than a slight strain.

It became apparent that I wasn’t going to get off so easily and after breakfast, I cycled back up to the town for a meeting regarding the Archive Group.  Cycling was better than walking but it was no fun at all.

I had seen two dippers at the river earlier on so I had my camera with me on this trip but the dippers had gone.

A goosander had appeared though so not all was lost.

goosander

The puncture was promptly fixed by the garage, the car was fetched by Mrs Tootlepedal, the meeting went well and as Dropscone brought some of his best treacle scones round for coffee when I got back, the day was very satisfactory in every way except one.  It became very plain that I had torn my calf muscle and enforced idleness would have to be the plan for the rest of the day and probably for a few days to come.

As my cycling miles for October are already very poor, this is a great pity and unless we get some very unseasonably pleasant weather in November and December, my annual target looks to be out of reach now.

As it was still sunny, I took a very gentle walk round the garden.  I had hoped to go for a walk in the hills in the sunshine so this was a poor substitute but the flowers did their best to cheer me up.

The clematis are doing amazingly well still…

clematis oct 26

clematis in october

…..but this was the very last of the Japanese anemones for the year.

last japanese anemone of year

The ‘October daisies’ are living up to their nickname…

october asters

…and the delphinium is astonishing.

delphinium oct 26

We have a couple of sunny but chilly days forecast but as there is supposed to be no sub zero temperatures, it will be interesting to see what survives in the garden.

Standing around at the kitchen window wasn’t an ideal way to treat my calf so I only had a brief look at the birds today.

In spite of the sunshine, the feeder lives in dark shadow in the mornings at this time of year and oddly enough, the brighter the sun, the harder it is to take pictures before it has moved round in the sky.

A chaffinch took advantage of the stump of the sunflower next to the feeder to size up the situation.

chaffinch on sunflower

Even when things improve, the very bright backgrounds don’t help the camera to see the birds in the foreground clearly and I often need a lot of help from the photo editor to make the birds visible at all.

busy feeder oct 26

This was a pity because there was quite a lot of lively action from time to time.

 

A greenfinch turned its back on me…

back of greenfinch

…and a goldfinch and a coal tit were simultaneously distracted by different things.

coal tit looking out

I couldn’t find a moment today without some intrusive shadows…

chaffinch in sun and shade

…unless I looked at the plum tree…

chaffinches in plum tree Oct

…but as it looked rather wintery, I didn’t look at it often.

During the day, I treated the calf as well as I could with some gentle massage, healing ointment and frozen peas but it is still pretty sore as I write this and I am not very hopeful about a miracle cure.  I may well need to draw fully on my rather scanty stock of patience tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, getting a very hard stare from a goldfinch for encroaching on its space.

close flying chaffinch

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