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Posts Tagged ‘greenfinch’

Today’s guest picture from Joe comes from his Highland holiday with our daughter Annie and shows a deer taking a breather before getting ready to pull Santa’s sleigh.

Joe's deer

In a contrast to yesterday’s wall to sunshine, we got wall to wall mist today…

Christmas day view

…so it was lucky that it was Christmas Day and there was feasting and general jollity indoors to pass the time.

While preparations were being made for roast duck and all the trimmings, I cast occasional glances out of the window.  It was far too gloomy for good pictures but I could record the welcome visits to the feeder of an occasional siskin and greenfinch…

siskin and greenfinch

…and although we couldn’t run to a partridge in our pear tree, we did at least manage the nearest thing to two turtle doves that is available round here.

pair of collared doves

After a Christmas lunch that could best be described as very full filling, I decided that if I was going to eat any more, I needed a walk.

It was very gloomy indeed outside…

black day from park bridge

…and I needed my flash to show the moss on a tree trunk along the river side.

moss with drops

I walked up the track to Stubholm and was surprised to see a fallen tree.  I didn’t think that we had had bad enough weather to cause a collapse like  this.

fallen tree on Stubholm track

Once at the top of the hill, the views were even more circumscribed, with ghostly animals and buildings in the fields….

view of field from stubholm in mist

…a very limited view of the town….

view of town from stubholm in mist

…and no view of the hills at all.

view from stubholm in mist

Once again my flash came to the rescue and added a little colour and seasonable sparkle to my walk…

park wall grass baubles 2

…as the park wall once again held items of interest to the passer by.

park wall grass baubles 1

I got back in time for afternoon tea with tasteful canapes, ginger biscuits and Christmas cake in company with Mike and Alison.  Alison’s shoulder is recovering slowly but it will be some weeks before our Friday evening music making is resumed.

There followed traditional sofa slumping in front of the telly and as we had eaten very well already, the evening meal was abandoned for selective grazing of left overs with a modest helping of plum pudding to round things off.

Thanks to the wonders of telephony, we had conversations with family members all over Britain so we were not short of seasonal good wishes and all in all, it has been a very satisfactory day.

There is no flying bird of the day today because of the gloom but at least a seasonal robin popped up to pose for the occasion.

robin on back of seat

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who found herself, with a crowd of other musicians, singing the European National Anthem very loudly outside the Houses of Parliament to indicate their support for free movement for  musicians after any Brexit.  This is niche protesting brought to a fine art.

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There were no protests here today and the temperature was comfortably above freezing at 4°C when I walked up to the health centre after an early breakfast to give a thimbleful of blood for testing.  This is to check my iron levels which were a bit low a few months ago.

In a way, I would be obscurely pleased if the levels were  still a bit low as it would give me a medical excuse for being frequently tired as opposed to a well founded suspicion that this might be down to a general dilapidation of mind and body on account of having had too many birthdays in the past.  Mind you, it might just be the onset of winter.

It was  grey day and when I got home the light meter on my camera told me that it wasn’t just grey, it was really grey so while Mrs Tootlepedal put in some time on her bike to nowhere, I did the crossword and occasionally looked out of the window, hoping that the temperature might rise a degree or two and that things  might brighten up.

In the gloom, I could pick out a dunnock scavenging for fallen seed..

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…and a party of greenfinches, peacefully munching away on the feeer.

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The peace didn’t last long….

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…as chaffinches and sparrows barged in.

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It is always fun to see the concentration needed for landing safely on a perch.

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I don’t know whether the gloomy weather makes it harder for birds to judge the landing but this chaffinch looks as though he is working hard.

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I was frustrated to find that although the temperature had gone up a degree or two before lunchtime, it had also started to rain in a morose but persistent way so I gave up thoughts of cycling or walking, had some soup and turned to music practice and preparation to fill my day.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy on some errands but when she got back, she thought the day was good enough to plant out the last of her tulips.  I went out to offer her some light supervision and was delighted to find that one of the perennial wallflowers still had a flower or two on show…

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…though it was so dark that I had to use my flash to capture it.

Our ever patient heron was on guard at the pond and I liked the pattern that the perennial nasturtium’s leaves made on the yew behind it.

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(I had an appalling panto thought: It’s a behind yew.)

Next to the greenhouse, the rosemary bush is in very perky form…

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…and one or two enterprising shoots have pushed through the ventilator into the greenhouse itself where they are putting out a few flowers.

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In the early evening, seven members of the Archive Group assembled in our front room for our AGM.  You may think that AGM stands for Annual General Meeting but I have been taking lesson from you know who and can tell you that AGM stands for A Great Meeting …and not just a great meeting but a really great meeting, a really, really great meeting….probably the best meeting in the world.

At any rate, we were happy with it as we have once again done a lot of work and met with appreciation for our efforts.

After our evening meal, I pulled myself together and spent a gentle half hour on my bike to nowhere in the garage and that rounded off a quiet but useful day.

The flying bird of the day can be seen pushing through the miserable drizzle.

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother Andrew’s recent encounter with the terrifying invaders of Derby.

derby militia

We had a really good sunny day today and with nothing on our calendar, I tried to make good use of it.

The down side of a bright and sunny morning at this time of year is that it tends to be pretty chilly and that was the case today.  Although it wasn’t freezing, it was only just above zero so I decided that a morning walk was a better bet than a cycle ride.  Having hit the deck last winter after meeting unexpected ice on a ride on a cold but sunny day, I am going to be more cautious this time round.

The moss on the wall at the park was gently sighing as I went past on my way to the top of Warbla.

breathing moss

The Stubholm track had delights of various kinds.

fungus and robin stubholm track

When I got out on to the open hill, I could look across the Wauchope valley towards the recently felled Becks wood.  The plastic tubes show that they are planting deciduous trees there rather than replanting the conifers.   I shall be interested to see what sprouts out of the tubes in the course of time.

new planting in becks wood

You don’t have to go far up the track to the modest summit of Warbla (275m) before you are rewarded with splendid views. (A ‘click on the pic’ should bring up a larger version)

panorama from Warbla

I cut up hill off the track and was taking the direct route to the summit when I was halted by this obstruction.

warbla web

I carefully made my way round it and was soon beside the mast looking down towards England where the mist was rolling along one of the river valleys.

mist in Engalnd

It was altogether more cheerful to look towards Whita and the town and I tested out my new phone on the bigger picture.

dav

Looking down at the New Town with the Lumix in hand again, I could see the Kirk Wynd heading uphill from the centre of the town.  This was the route that I had taken on our last sunny day.

View of kirk wynd from Warbla

I rang Mrs Tootlepedal to tell her, “I made it,  top of the world, Ma” but it was no good waving as our house is in the part of town that is tucked under the hill out of view.

View of town from Warbla

I took the track on my way back down…

track down warbla

…and was surprised to find that it was still reasonably firm under foot in spite of the rain.  It was slippery in places though and once again, I was glad that I had taken my walking poles with me.   They are helpful going up hill but indispensable when going down wet grass.

track down warbla with tree

Once again, I looked across the valley to the Becks Wood and could see a major operation in progress as a digger was lifting up great chunks of cleared brashings and dropping them into a large chipper from which they were being taken up a conveyor belt and fed into a lorry.  It was a noisy business.

jenkinson timber lorry

I decided to come home  by a different route and left the track and dropped down onto the Wauchope road where I was hailed by a passing cyclist who stopped for a chat.  It turned out to be my old friend and ex colleague Nigel, who was also enjoying the good weather.  He was on an electric bike and told me that it was going to let him go up hilly routes which he couldn’t have managed under his own steam as he has not been in the best of health lately.

He thought that I might rather scoff at an e-bike but I am totally in favour of them as they extend people’s cycling life and range.  Which is better: getting a little help or sitting at home wishing that you were out on a bike?   It is as they say, a no brainer.  I wished him well and he went off to climb the steepest hill that he could find.

Nigel

I walked home past Pool Corner where an elegant set of catkins caught my eye.

catkins pool cornee

Nigel and I were not the only ones enjoying the sunshine.

two sunny goldfinches

greenfinch in plum tree

The temperature was not exactly climbing to the heights as it was still a meagre 4°C when I got back from my walk but as there had been no sign of ice anywhere, i decided to have lunch and go for a bicycle ride in the afternoon.

It took a bit of time for my legs to throw off the morning walk (going downhill really tests them) and to get used to the chill but after a few miles I began to enjoy myself and cycled happily round my standard 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

I had already taken 50 pictures while on my walk so I didn’t stop too often to add to the total as I pedalled along but these two belted Galloways were irresistible.

belted galloways

Shortly after I passed the cows, I encountered Nigel on his way home from his hilly ride,  Considering that he had been out for well over two hours, he looked very cheerful.

I was so pleased to be out on  a familiar route that I took a picture of my old friends at Grainstonehead…

three trees grainstonehead

…and the Hollows Tower was tempting too.

Hollows tower

The sun gets low really early now so I couldn’t hang around and pressed on home, feeling the chill when I entered the shaded road along the banks of the river Esk as I headed back into town.

A cup of tea and a slice of toast were just the thing to revive me and after a shower, I sat down at my computer and checked out a set of pictures which I am showing at a lunch in the Buccleuch Centre tomorrow.

I finished that just in time to welcome Luke for our weekly flute session.  Once again, we had an entertaining time playing duets and we worked at getting a little more speed into our playing.  I don’t know if it is helping Luke but all this work is certainly helping me.

The usual Monday evening trio playing was on hold this week and while I always enjoying playing with Mike and Isabel, I was quite pleased to have a quiet evening in as after having had the whole of November off, I am finding that walking and cycling are harder work than they used to be.

I tried to find a flying gold or green finch of the day but I couldn’t get anything nearly as satisfactory as this chaffinch so once again a chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

It is going to freeze hard tonight they say so I am glad that I got a tootle and a pedal in today.

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s walk with his dog.  He needed full colour to record this parakeet.

wemyss parrot

We woke up to a bright and frosty morning and I had to scrape ice off the car windscreen before I could drive south for another singing lesson with Mary, our Langholm choir conductor.  It was well worth the effort of driving down into England as Mary is a most considerate and thorough teacher.

My eyes have been opened to just how many ways there are to sing badly and how many things need to be thought about and practised carefully if I want to improve.  Still, it is very exciting to find something that can be progressive and rewarding when so many other things can only go downhill when you get to a certain age.

When I got home, I had little time to waste before I had to take our car into the garage to get its winter tyres put on.  The frosty weather in the morning had been a signal that now might be a good time to get this done.

When I got home again, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had made a very tasty sweet potato soup for lunch and after tucking into a bowl of that with some good cheese on the side, I took a moment to look at the birds.

The brightness had gone out of the day by this time and a flying visit from the sparrowhawk, although it was unsuccessful, may have discouraged the birds as there were not many about.  On top of that it was a day when the birds sneaked quickly up onto the feeder from behind instead of flying up slowly from the side so I didn’t get any good shots, just a few rather gloomy perching birds.

blackbird on hedge

chaffinch on chimney

perching greenfinch

sparrow and goldfinch

Most of my flying bird attempts ended up looking like this.

failed flying birds

The one bright spot of the window watching was the sight of a tiny wren on the ground under the feeder.

wren

They flit about the garden quite a lot but rarely stop for long enough to be caught by my camera.

I then spent some time wondering whether I should go for a bike ride or a walk.  In fact I spent so much time pondering that the time for action came and went and the light faded along with my enthusiasm so I sat down and put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database.

As the afternoon went on, we were visited by Mike Tinker who had come to wish Mrs Tootlepedal a happy birthday and a plumber who made Mrs Tootlepedal’s birthday happy by taking out an old gas fire which she has long wanted removed.

In order to make sure that there were no unfortunate errors, Mrs Tootlepedal had bought herself a very nice light bulb which she gave to herself on my behalf as her birthday present.

My flute pupil Luke came and we got out a piece by Loeillet over which we had spent many months of hard work years ago when he was still a novice and greatly to my delight, we played though the whole sonata with none of the fingering or counting problems which had seemed almost insurmountable at the time.  If we needed proof of our progress, this was it.

Mrs Tootlepedal made a delicious Thai curry for our tea and after enjoying that I went off to play enjoyable  trios with the other Mike and Isabel.

The only flying bird that I caught today  was this shifty looking chaffinch, trying to creep up behind the feeder.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s Highland Tour.  As well as stunning scenery, he noticed this very curious gate.

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As it happens, Dropscone is exactly half a year older than me to the day so to celebrate my arrival at the same age as he is, he brought round some of his traditional treacle scones to go with coffee this morning.

As there wasn’t room for 77 candles on the scones, we ate them unadorned.

After he left, I got my new bike out for the first time for a month and tested the state of my leg by pedalling the six miles to the top of Callister Hill and back again.  This was my first ride on the new bike for a month.  12 miles may not be very far but it is a lot better than 0 miles…and my leg was quite happy about it all.

I went along the Wauchope road and this meant that I passed no less than three sets of barriers placed to stop motorists driving too close to the edge of the road where the banking has been showing signs of collapse…

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The bottom of the fence not the top should be at road height!

…and one where the banking has disappeared entirely….

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…and still hasn’t been repaired.  The lack of repair does not come as a total shock.  A group of enthusiasts is holding a ‘hands over the gap’ birthday party to celebrate the third anniversary of a continuing road closure on another local road which suffered a serious landslip.

My cycling road is still open to traffic but the little burn that runs along side it…..

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…is not going away and will continue to eat into the banking just as huge and heavy timber and quarry lorries will continue to thunder along above it on a road which is not designed for them.

It is an intractable problem.

I got to the top of Callister Hill and noticed a great number of cars parked on the access road to the proposed new windfarm there.  They are obviously busy preparing the way for the arrival of the turbines so I took this view of the ridge where they will stand and will take the view again as the turbines  are erected over the coming months.

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I heard an interesting programme on the radio last night as we drove back from Lockerbie.  It was about hope and the question of whether hope is a curse or a blessing.  I thought of it as I started my cycle ride today in a light drizzle because I was hoping that it would stop as I went along.  This hope was based on the weather forecast.  One of the questions raised in the programme was; can faith and hope co-exist?   This seems to be because if you have faith you don’t need hope and if you are merely hoping, you can’t have faith.   Is hope a trap for the unwary and stupid optimist? Is faith a snare for those who don’t learn from experience and keep on believing that something will happen that never happens?

Anyway, I had faith in the forecast and hoped that the rain would stop and it did…

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…and I had a sunny ride home past the landslide.

I had time for a quick look at the birds over lunch.

The goldfinches were back again…

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…but frequently flew off and let other breeds sample the delights of the sunflower hearts.

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A chaffinch looked askance at a greenfinch heading towards the feeder at a great rate of knots.

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More greenfinches arrived and surveyed the scene briefly…

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…and one came down to the feeder but didn’t look very grateful when it got there.

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After lunch, we went to Carlisle where I put the new bike into the bike shop for its second after-sale free service.  It has done two and half thousand miles now and I am more than happy with it.

Then we went off to a shop in an enormous shed which sells a huge range of goods at a modest price.  Mrs Tootlepedal bought some decorative items which she will add to the pantomime dress that she is making.

I had recently seen pictures of a good murmuration of starlings at Gretna and as it was getting near dusk, we decided to drive home by way of the site to see what we could see.  We saw a fine sunset…

sdr

…but no starlings and got bored and drove on.  We did see some small flocks flying about as we left and wondered if we had been too hasty.  I didn’t have my starling camera with me so I will have to come back another time, equipped with both patience and the right camera to see if the starlings are still around.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I played some tricky pieces with varying success but considerable enjoyment.  I am not playing at my best at the moment and will have either to practise harder or try to work out what I am doing technically wrong…or both.

An outstretched chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

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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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