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Posts Tagged ‘greenfinch’

Today’s guest picture comes from our friends Mike and Alison.  They are on holiday on the shore of Loch Feochan in Argyll and this is the view from their front window.  They have chosen a good week for their trip.

Loch Feochan

We had a day of perfect weather here too, although there was still some winter chill left in the breeze.  The recent spell of dry weather means that pollen has been very heavy recently and our shiny new car often ends the day covered in a fine film of powder. This doesn’t help my asthma and although it doesn’t leave me gasping in the gutter it may explain why I found myself trying to sing a different hymn from everyone else at one stage during the morning’s church service.  Still, I managed to get home safely after the service and prepared a beef stew for the slow cooker.

Looking out of the kitchen window while I cooked, I watched our siskins monopolising the feeder again.

siskins

…or rather , nearly monopolising it, as the occasional sparrow did sneak in.

sparrow on feeder

I noticed something quite unusual going on beneath the feeder.  A greenfinch was diving in and out of a mini jungle of old daffodil leaves and guddling about furiously.  I don’t know what it was looking for at all.

greenfinch among daffodil leaves

When the stew was on, I had a short walk round the garden.  Pulsatilla Corner was looking quite exciting.

pulsatilla seehead

…and I spent quite a lot of time waiting for a male orange tip butterfly to settle down for long enough to let me take a picture.  It was too restless for me though and I had to make do with a female who did hang around for a few seconds.  Although the females don’t have orange tips to their wings, they are beautifully decorated all the same.

orange tip butterfly female

It was such a pleasant morning that I thought that I would try a little more gentle cycling therapy to stretch my sore ankle and took the slow bike out for a seven mile potter up and down the Wauchope road.

In spite of the efforts of the council to mow down every wild flower in sight, there are some about.

wild flowers up wauchope

And there were any amount of male orange tip butterflies too.  I kept on stopping to try to snap one but they kept on going and once again, I had to make do with more stable female specimens. As they were flying alongside male orange tip butterflies, I naturally assumed that they were females orange tips but when I looked at the shots on the computer, it became plain they they are green-veined white butterflies.

green veined white

This may explain why the male orange tip wasn’t hanging around.

To add insult to injury, a male orange tip actually came right up to my bicycle when I stopped at Wauchope Schoolhouse to take a picture of the locals there…

two bulls at schoolhouse

…and it actually sniffed at my front fork before heading off seconds before I could get my camera to focus on it.  I’ll get one, one of these days.

The trip back to Langholm was very enjoyable with the wind behind and the sun on my back.  I went down to the river before I went home and was happy to see an oyster catcher on the gravel beside the Esk.

oyster catcher by esk

I got back in time to have a plate of soup for lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She has been doing some heavy spring cleaning over the past two days.  Spring has a lot to answer for.

After lunch we had the pleasure of gliding down to Carlisle in the the zingy little white thingy and in the sunshine, life felt very good.

Our choir practice was good fun.  Our conductor is always cheerful and full of zest but the fine weather had topped up her energy levels to “extra high” and she was on sparkling form and drove us onwards and upwards.  Two of our more senior choir members got married this week and in celebration, they came out to the front and the choir serenaded them with the appropriately entitled “O Love”.  They were much touched.  We were moved too.

The journey home was as enjoyable as the trip down.  For some reason, the air, which has tended to be rather hazy in recent weeks, magically cleared up today and the views were every fine.

I had a walk round the garden when we got back and found flowers old and new enjoying the day.

four eveining light flowers

This is the  first allium to make it to a perfect sphere.

allium sphere

When we had finished disposing of some of the stew with parsnips for our evening meal, Mrs Tootlepedal went back to spring cleaning and I went for a three bridges ‘walk’ on my slow bicycle to enjoy the evening light.

It certainly was enjoyable.

from Town Bridge evening light

And because the wind had dropped, it was still quite warm.

reflections in Ewes

I met a bunch of cyclists on the Kilngreen.  They were packing their bikes back into cars after a group outing.  They had just completed a hilly 102 mile ride round St Mary’s Loch.  I felt envious but a bit guilty too because we had done pretty well the same trip with Sandy not long ago but had needed a car to get round.

I pedalled gently on and was submerged in a sea of green

trees in spring

It was balm to the soul and banished any negative thoughts from my mind.

trees on Castleholm

I cycled back along the new path and enjoyed the variety of shapes and colours among the pine and fir trees that I passed.

An elaborate candelabra on a pine…

pine candelabra

…and the incipient cones…

noble fir female

…and packed male flowers on the noble firs.

noble fir male

And the best thing of all about the day was the fact that the gentle cycling seems to have eased off my sore ankle a lot.  It is now only mildly painful and quite supple.  If this remains true tomorrow morning, I will be very happy indeed.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin, getting ready to kick a friend off the feeder.

flying siskin in attack mode

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother Andrew’s cycle ride through Duffield.  As well as the pub, he saw a fine bridge over the Derwent  there.

duffield bridge

I had a subdued day today.  I was meaning to take a bit of exercise, but cold wet windy weather once again suggested that more rest for the feet was the best policy.

I was consoled by the arrival of Dropscone with scones warm from the pan to go with morning coffee. We had a short competition to see who was in the worst condition and although it was a close thing, I think that Dropscone just won.  He has got a lot of trouble with a knee.  I easily won the moaning competition though.

When Dropscone left, I did the crossword, lounged around a bit, had some soup and waved Mrs Tootlepedal off on a trip to Edinburgh.  She was going to listen to our church organist’s degree recital in St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh along with other supporters from the town.  I would like to have gone too but I felt that I needed to go and sing with my Langholm choir as a concert is looming up.

I did a lot of useful work on the computer during the afternoon but took time out to look at birds.  A greenfinch appeared…

greenfinch may

…and became one of a quartet of four different birds on the feeder…

mixed feedr

…although it wasn’t long before things had reverted to type.

siskin feeder

Siskins were everywhere.

siskin heading for feeder

I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and have now caught up with my backlog.  I imagine that the data miners will have been busy behind my back though and more sheets will soon arrive.

There is often something interesting in the Eskdale and Liddesdale Advertiser of 1899 among the reports of temperance meetings and rugby matches.  Today’s nugget was a visit to Langholm by a champion cyclist who was in the process of cycling 100 miles every day for a year.  His name was Teddy Hale and I found this entry in Wikipedia:

On the 30th of July of that year he started a record attempt to ride a 100 miles daily on British roads. This attempt was sponsored by Acatène, a company that produced a shaft-driven bicycle. One year later, at the 31st of July 1900, he completed a total of 32,496 miles with which he set a first mark for this endurance record. Afterwards Hale ended his cycling career. He died in 1911, only 47 years old, leaving behind a wife and five children.

You can find an interesting article about him here if you have time to spare.  He won a big race in America too.

Sometimes, when I am looking out of the kitchen window, my eye is drawn away from the birds towards the flowers round the feeder…

wallflowers through window

…and today they were drawn even further afield by the sight of devastation on the middle lawn.

pecked lawn

Those pesky jackdaws had been at work again.  !!!

I put my jacket on and went out into the garden and though I was delayed by finding a third flower out on the garage clematis…

three clematis flowers

…and a tulip…

ballerina tulip

..or two…

pink tulip

…I managed to get the mower out and combine a quick cut with collecting the pecked moss.

mowed lawn after jackdaws

I mowed the front lawn too.

An hour and half later, I looked out again.

Jackdaws on lawn

!!!!!!

The sparrowhawk might have felt the same when it arrived on a fruitless mission shortly afterwards.

sparrowhawk head

It just couldn’t believe that there were no birds down there.

I am happy to report that at least one pigeon regained its focus today.

focused pigeon

After tea, which consisted of the farewell appearance of Mrs Tootlepedal’s quorn sauce, this time in the guise of a mild curry with rice, I went out to the choir.  In spite of resting pretty seriously for several days, things did not go well on the way.

My feet may be fairly considered to be items of great aesthetic beauty by connoisseurs but as aids to actual walking, they are still pretty hopeless at the moment.  I am confused as to whether rest or exercise is the best thing and I really hope that I get to see the physio soon.

Still, the singing was both enjoyable and useful so I hobbled home cheerfully enough.

The house was rather empty as Mrs Tootlepedal went to stay with Matilda in Edinburgh after the recital.  I will see them both tomorrow if the new car and the trains run as scheduled so that isn’t too bad. And, as a Tottenham Hotspur supporter I was mildly surprised but not entirely displeased with the result of their match against Ajax this evening.  (This an example of litotes.)

!!!!!!!!!!!!! (It was a day of !!!!)

The flying bird of the day is one of those siskins.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Dropscone and shows the opening day of the golf season at Langholm.  Dropscone, the club captain this year,  is modestly holding the trophy which his team has just won in the opening match.

golf opening

We had an unquestionably pleasant day of weather here today, with wall to wall sunshine, light winds and no chill in the air at all.  It was lovely.

In younger days, I would have been off on my bike like a shot, but things are slower now and I was happy to have coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone instead of pounding the pedals.  Both before he came and after he left, I wandered round the garden for a while.  There was much to see.

tulips and daffs

The garden is full of tulips and daffodils at the moment.

The tulips had spread their petals wide to welcome the warmth.

two tulips

The silver pear is covered with blossom…

pear blossom

…and although I have been dead heading a lot of daffodils, there are still a lot on the go of many varieties.

three daffodils

The plum is getting leaves to go with its blossoms and I only hope that the few bees that have been around have managed to pollinate those flowers which were too far above my head for me to reach with the pollinating brush.

plum blossom

Mrs Tootlepdal’s river of blue with the grape hyacinths doesn’t go all the way round the front lawn this year but it has  produced some good splashes of colour all the same…

three flowers

…and trout lilies and a new fritillary  are keeping the garden looking cheerful.

I was so encouraged by the warmth and a good forecast, that I got the lawn scarifier out and scarified the middle lawn.  It has a little basket  of its own to collect the debris but it is so small that I find it easier not to use it and then run the mower over the lawn to tidy everything up.  I took this picture while I was having a rest in the middle of mowing.

scarifying the lawn

It is a pain free process if the lawn is firm and dry as it is at the moment.

When I had finished, I admired some more tulips…

drive tulips

…and the magnolia (which is looking well if you don’t look too closely at it).

magnolia

Mrs Tootlepedal has used the old rotten planks from the veg beds which have been redeveloped to make a little wild life hotel beside the compost bins.  We are hoping for interesting (and useful) guests.

pile of planks

I had a rest on our new bench for awhile and noticed a bee visiting a dicentra beside me…

bee on dicentra

…and then we went in for lunch.

After lunch, I went back out to look for frogs in the pond as we had heard them muttering away while we were working in the morning, but hadn’t been able to see them.

They were easy to see in the afternoon, surrounded by tadpoles.

frog and tadpoles

We had filled the pond up before lunch because it hasn’t rained for ages and the level had dropped a bit and I thought the pond was looking better as a result.

pond in April

The date stone is one of several in the garden that are a reminder that a stone mason lived and worked here once.

The better weather had obviously encouraged birds to find food elsewhere today as we had many fewer visitors than recently and the feeder was still half full quite late in the day.

three birds

I was visited by a member of our Langholm choir who is coming to sing with the church choir on Sunday and we went through the hymns and then, while Mrs Tootlepedal had a well earned snooze after a hard morning the garden, I went off for a cycle ride.

I am still looking after my foot so I chose an easy route of just under 26 miles and took things steadily.  However, I was quite daring and put on my cycling shorts and exposed my peely-wally knobbly knees to the world as I went along.  The world took this in its stride.

The hawthorns on the hillside up the Wauchope road are in leaf and we should see the blossoms soon.  In the meantime, it was hot enough for sensible sheep to seek some shade under one of the bigger bushes.

hawthorns on warbla bank

Although spring is springing, the rough pasture on the hills is still in full winter mode, and there was no colour to be seen when I stopped for a drink and a stretch and looked down a farm track after my first five miles.

kerr view

I was getting near to Canonbie when I came across a quite unusual gate…

oystercatchergate

…with a plump oyster catcher perched on each gate post.  I was very surprised that they sat still and let me take their pictures.

On the other side of Canonbie, I liked this variegated lamb and ewe scene…

variegated lambs

…and noted that it has been so long since it rained that the moss on a bridge parapet has begun to dry out.

dried out moss

When I got to Langholm, I cycled through the town and out along the Ewes valley for a couple of miles.  This gave me the opportunity to record a fine deciduous tree near the High Mill Brig…

high mill brig tree

…a rather hazy view up the valley…

ewes valley view

…and a romantic looking conifer near my turning point.

Ewes tree

When I got home, I got the washing in and made Mrs Tootlepedal a cup of tea.  Then I watered the middle lawn as I am going to put some treatment on it tomorrow and it says that the soil should be moist..

That concluded the business for the day.

Today’s flying bird of the day came a little late to the table.

flying chaffinch attempt

Footnote:

WordPress offers blog writers a wealth of statistics about their blogs if they have the energy to look at them and last night, I browsed the word count since I started this blog in mid 2010.  I was staggered to find that I have written 2,150,000 words, an average of about 700 words per post. It seems a tremendous amount of writing to use to record a fairly humdrum existence but to be fair, there has been a lot of repetition so I don’t have to constantly find new words and phrases.  If I look back, I find that life was much the same last year and the year before…and the year before….but that is how I like it.

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my brother.  He took while he was waiting for a few stragglers to catch up at the end of a recent group walk.  As they had been going for nine miles, I am not surprised that there was a bit of straggling.

heart group walk

It will be a bit of a rushed post as I was in Carlisle for a concert with out Carlisle choir and I got back quite late.

It was a generally sunny and pleasant day with the pleasure slightly moderated by a brisk and chilly wind again.

The was enough sun to persuade the tulips to open and to illuminate an advantageously priced bargain from a garden centre.

april garden flowers

While I was having coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone, Steve delivered two new vegetable garden bed frames.  Mrs Tootlepedal was not well today as she is suffering from a persistent cold so the beds have not been put in place yet.

new bed frames

Whereas it was early chaffinches yesterday, it was siskins first today…

sisins at home

…and the chaffinches didn’t get much of a look in.

siskins on feeder

When the siskins left, the chaffinches piled in.

chaffinches landing

A goldfinch found a quiet moment to think deeply about food.

goldfinch concentrating

And later on, some greenfinches turned up.

two greendfinches

And a single redpoll dropped in.

redpoll on tio of feeder

I sieved a bit of compost and  made some soup for lunch and then went for a short walk to stretch my legs.

I did a three bridges to keep on the flat today.

The lady’s smock on the banks of the river has come out.

lady's smock

The two sets of oyster catchers were in their usual positions.  They are creatures of habit.

There was a pair of goosanders there too but they slipped away as soon as they noticed me and I could only catch the female.

oystercatcher and goosander

Some non standard ducks were lying about.

two odd ducks

I went round the new path at the bottom of the Castleholm and saw spiky things, both new and old.

pine blossom

The noble fir at the corner was showing very bright new growth and some fresh fir cones.

noble fir cone

Signs of life on the deciduous trees were to be seen.

new growth

And the coming of spring and summer was heralded by the arrival of the posts and rails ready to be put up for the race track. (Flat racing obviously.)

flat racecourse

I walked up to the Duchess Bridge and down the path on the far bank of the river.  I was only able to do this because someone with a big saw had come along and sawed off a tree which had fallen across the path in the recent storm.

fallen tree

There were wild flowers to see on my way.

wildflowers early april

And a large bumble bee was enjoying the blossom on Mike’s cherry tree as I went past.

bee on cherry

I left Mrs Tootlepedal recuperating at home and went to Carlisle in the early evening for a benefit concert in a church for a local ‘hospice at home’ charity.  The full choir was singing three songs and the rest of the concert was made up of turns by groups of choir members and their friends and solos from our conductor and accompanist.  It was a mixed programme with a capella singing, a violinist playing the mediation from Thais (very beautifully), a ukulele group and other cheerful singing groups.  Our accompanist played a Bach fugue on the church organ and our conductor sang a Jerome Kern song which brought the house down.

The choir sang their songs well and all in all, it was a good evening with the size of the audience the only mild disappointment.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

Footnote:  During the day, my doctor rang up to say that my recent x-ray showed that I do not have a stress fracture in my foot.  However, the x-ray did show that I had serious arthritis in my big toe joint and other arthritic joints elsewhere on the foot so it was no wonder that it has been a bit sore.  The fact that there is no bone damage is good though, as it means that I can go back to cycling (if the weather permits) without fear of making things worse.  Grinning and bearing it is the prescription, allied to the hope that the arthritis may go away as it often does (and using spongy insoles for my shoes).

Finger crossed.  I would cross my toes too but I can’t.  🙂

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who visited a garden in the sky on the roof of the Birmingham Library.

Birmingham library rooftop garden

Sadly my sore foot decided that the return of Mrs Tootlepedal was an excuse to stop working altogether and I was reduced to hobbling around for most of the day which was very annoying.  On the more cheerful side, we were visited by Dropscone for coffee and scones in the morning and Mike Tinker for tea and biscuits in the afternoon so socially it was quite a bright day.

As I seem to be catching a cold too, I spent a lot of time doing nothing in particular but doing it very well of course. There were plenty of birds to watch.

A greenfinch put on its lost threatening face in an attempt to dislodge a goldfinch…

greenfinch threatening goldfinch

…and having dislodged the sitting tenant, it imperiously took up its place on the perch…

greenfinch on perch

…and gave any other pretenders a hard stare.

greenfinch staring out chaffinch

(In the best traditions of wild life TV programmes, different greenfinches may have been involved in the creation of this story line.)

Chaffinches approached vacant perches with care…

two chaffinches landing

…but some chaffinches are so habituated to arguing that they can’t resist an aggressive approach even if no-one else is there.

chaffinch shouting at perch

At times there was a positive whirlwind of birds…

loads of chaffinches

…and at other it was  peaceful enough for the arrival of a second bird to come as a shock to the incumbent.

chaffinch surprised

Although I was watching the birds, the birds found plenty to look at too.

greenfinch on pole

Sparrows are more handsome than you might think when they settle down for a moment.  This one was making sure that I was noticing him.

sparrow posing on feeder

On the other hand, this goldfinch had other things to think about than posing for me.

goldfinch on pole

I made one brief excursion round the garden to while away the hours conferring with the flowers and discovered that Mrs Tootlepedal has planted out a recent purchase.  It is a doronicum or leopard’s-bane and it seems to be settling in.

doronicum

We haven’t got many scillas out yet but the ones that are out are doing their best to add a little colour to the garden…

scilla in back bed

…and the clumps of daffodils are beginning to fill out too.

daffodils under feederdaffodil clump

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the Rip van Winkle daffodils are noted for retaining moisture which makes their heads hang down.  As a result they get splashed when it rains as these ones have, but the forecast is a bit better for a while so they should look up a bit.

rip van wnkle daffodil

A day of heavy resting has eased my foot off as I write this so I hope to be a bit more mobile tomorrow, ready to greet the Spring equinox with a sunny smile.  (On researching, I find that it will arrive at 21.58 tomorrow.  This came as surprise to me as I didn’t realise that it was an event timed to the minute like that.)

I am suffering from a severe lack of exercise in March, having only cycled 20 miles and hardly walked at all.  I have a doctor’s appointment but it is not for eight days so I will have to wait patiently.  Fortunately my capacity for endless mumphing and moaning has not been affected in the slightest so I am never short of something to do.

Another female chaffinch is the flying bird of the day today.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is another of my brother’s Derby insects which I found when I looked again.  This is a water boatman and he thinks that it may have capsized.

20190307_133206

The temperature was a little higher than yesterday but thanks to an increasingly brisk wind, it actually felt colder and more inhospitable outside today.

Mrs Tootlepedal has used some packing wool as a mulch in the garden and a small flock of jackdaws appeared after breakfast and made away with as much of it as they could carry.

_DSC0460

I read the papers, drank coffee and did the crossword while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do useful things around the town and then I went out too.

The river was dealing with the overnight heavy rain as I crossed the suspension bridge…

P1170458

…on my way to the health centre for the second day running.  This time they were kindly topping up my system with some vitamins to fill the hole left by taking the blood out yesterday.

When I got home, I had a wander round the garden and got quite excited by potential on every side.

P1170461

A couple of warm days would work wonders but even with our present dull weather, new things are poking their heads up every day now.

There were the usual suspects at the bird feeder but I was pleased to see a couple of greenfinches today…

_DSC0480

…and a pigeon took the scenic route through the flowers around the feeder.

_DSC0483

The green machine in the background is the cat deterrent which sometimes seems to work.

After lunch, the forecast said it might hail and then there would be light rain, but a check with the human eye saw no rain, so I went out in the car to take a little walk in the woods outside the town.

Of course it started to rain almost as soon as I left the house, but as the rain was very light by the time that I had driven to my starting point and I was going to walk in the woods, I decided to ignore it and walk anyway.

It was gloomy when I started out and I had to use my flash to pick out the moss sprouting on top of a tree stump…

P1170468

…but I was rewarded for my initiative as the rain stopped and although it was still rather grey as I walked up through the birch wood…

P1170472

…by the time that I had gone through the wood and leapt* across this busy stream…

P1170478

…things had brightened up a lot and there was even a hint of blue sky about.

I walked along a track beside a field, looking at mossy branches, gorse and willow….

P1170480

….until the track turned into a small river and then, as I didn’t have boots on, I turned round and headed back down hill.

I came to a parting of the ways…

P1170484

…and took the left hand path and went back down the hill through the oak wood…

P1170485

…crossing the stream again when I came to the old railway track.

P1170488

I noticed as I went down the final slope that there were very different mosses within a yard of each other on opposites sides of the path.

P1170489

And it wouldn’t have taken me long to find other mosses not far away.

When I got to the old railway track, I walked along it.  When I had walked along this track with Mrs Tootlepedal at the very end of last year, it had been blocked by fallen trees so I wasn’t expecting to go far.  However, some good person had been along and tidied everything up neatly…

railway track to Broomholm

…so I was able to walk right along to where the track meets the road.

Just before I got to the road, I passed this very handsome scarlet elf cap, probably the largest one that I have seen.

P1170495

I walked down the road back to the car and this gave me the pleasure of passing the finest moss wall in the civilised world.

P1170497

There was a huge selection of mosses to choose from…

P1170499

…but the wall also plays host to many lichens and a fine crop of polypody ferns.

P1170501

I joined Mike Tinker and Mrs Tootlepedal for a cup of tea and a biscuit when I got home and then I made a gentle curry for our evening meal and watched our politicians reach the end of the road when it comes to trying to put a square peg into a round hole.  It would be richly comical if it wasn’t so important and annoying. I imagine some time will now be spent trying to fit an oversized round peg into a tiny square hole.

The wind and rain are very audible outside our windows as I write this but we are hoping to escape the worst of Storm Gareth.  Time will tell.  Mrs Tootlepedal is supposed to be going to London tomorrow.  It may be an eventful journey.

Because the windy and gloomy weather made taking pictures of daffodils in the garden rather tricky, I persuaded one of them to come indoors to pose for me  in peace and quiet.

P1170465

A chaffinch battling into the wind is the flying bird of the day.

_DSC0470

*Note: I didn’t really leap the stream.  I found a very narrow bit and tottered over it using my walking poles.  I am not mad.

**Extra note:  If anyone has a guest picture or two, I would be very grateful to receive them.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who visited Birmingham for an organ recital and took some time out to enjoy the canals while he was there.

Birmingham canal

We had what was possibly the last of our run of fine sunny days today and once again we started off with frost on the ground.

The frost was melting away when I crossed the suspension bridge on my way to visit the shops after breakfast…

suspension bridge frosty moprning

…and was retreating from the front lawn under the assault of the sun when I got home again.

lawn defrosting

I checked on the frogspawn in the pond and found it hard to tell whether it had been damaged or not…

frogspawn after frost

…but the early daffodils are certainly made of tough stuff and are standing up well to alternate bouts of warmth and cold.

daffodils after frost

I noticed that Mrs Tootlepedal has made use of some surplus woollen packaging as a mulch round one of her roses.

woollen mulch

My morning coffee was enhanced by the presence of Dropscone bearing scones and I enjoyed mine with some two year old blackcurrant jelly which Mrs Tootlepedal had found in the back of the jam cupboard.

Dropscone revealed that he had won a golf competition at the weekend but he was honest enough to admit that as it was in a  field of three, it wasn’t the most hard won victory of his long and successful career. Still, a win is a win.

When  he left, I had a moment or two to watch the birds where an incoming greenfinch was racing  a chaffinch to a vacant  perch….

two incoming birds

…and two greenfinches, having won a place at the feeder, were putting the wind up a siskin.

#greenfinches scare siskin

Then I sat in front of my computer and had a remote session with my speech therapist.

We decided that the exercises that she had given me had worked well enough for me to be discharged from her care and after giving me some sage advice as to how to proceed in the future, we signed off.  The remote consultations have worked very well and saved me a lot of time and expense which driving to see her the hospital in Dumfries would have entailed.

When I had finished, Mrs Tootlepedal took me out into the garden to show me some intriguing green bubbles that had grown on a bucket of sieved compost. The bucket had got very wet as it had been standing under a drip for several weeks which might account for this result.  We have never seen anything like it before.

mould on compost bucket

After lunch, I lent a helping hand in the garden, getting the hedge clippers out and giving a spirea a haircut…

clipped spirea

…while Mrs Tootlepedal prepared the soil and planted the new ground covering rose which she had purchased a day or two ago.

ground cover rose

Although the sun was out, it wasn’t by any means warm and I wrapped up well before going off for a cycle ride.

The reason for the lack of warmth became clear as I cycled along.  There was a thick layer of dirty mist in the air acting as an insulator and limiting any views to my immediate surroundings.

no view

From the top of Callister, I should have had a clear view of the wind farm on the hill three miles ahead but today I could hardly see the hills, let alone the wind turbines.

no windmills

As I am mildly asthmatic, I did think for a moment or two of turning round and going home but in the end, I stuck to my task and pedalled on, keeping my efforts well below the level that required heavy breathing.

I read a  newspaper report which said  that the light winds of recent days combined with the dry weather and some Saharan dust, which may have floated up on the southern airflow that has brought our warm weather with it, may be the cause of this concentration of airborne particles.  It is not often that I think a bit of rain would be a good thing, but I hope that it rains soon.

I managed 27 miles and this took my mileage for February to just over the magic figure of 300 miles, which is my monthly target for this year.  Thanks to the cloudy conditions, I didn’t stop to take any more pictures on my way.

In the evening, I went off to sing with Langholm Sings, our local community choir and we had a very enjoyable session with our regular conductor, who is also my singing teacher.  I did my best to show that I had paid attention during my lesson on Monday.

I didn’t have long to watch the birds today and as a result, I caught my only flying bird of the day just as it head went into the shadow of the feeder.

flying chaffinch

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