Posts Tagged ‘greenfinch’

Today’s guest picture is a Maltese bird.  Dropscone spotted it.

Maltese bird

It was a variable day, starting and finishing with steady rain and in between being broken up by some periods of unexpected sunshine and more rain showers.

I felt quite cheery when I got up in spite of the rain and spent some time printing out cards which the newspaper shops sells on behalf of the Archive Group.

The rain stopped so I looked out of the window from time to time.

There was plenty of activity….

busy feeder

…and then the rain started again but didn’t discourage the visitors.

greenfinch and chaffinch

Then it stopped and four siskins glowed gently in some thin sunshine….


…but a greenfinch looked as though it was expecting the rain to start at any moment.

siskin and greenfinch

In one of the sunny periods, I thought about a little cycle ride but with the weather so changeable, I didn’t want to get stuck out in the country in a shower so I went for a walk round Gaskells instead.

I set out feeling good and enjoying the lichens beside the river at the park….


…which have obviously liked our weather a lot.  The lichens in general are thriving.

However, as soon as I came to the short and gentle slope up to the Stubholm, I found that I wasn’t nearly as well recovered as I had thought and nearly ground to a halt going up the hill.

This was a real blow and I had to creep round the rest of the walk at a snail’s pace to stop my chest hurting.  I was really glad to have embarked on a low level and short walk and at least I completed it.  It would have been frustrating to have had to turn round and go home.

It was a pity because, for a while at least, it was a very nice day, though still cold and raw.



I was concentrating on where I was putting my feet quite a lot as I didn’t want to add slipping over to my day but occasionally a bit of lichen intruded on my consciousness.

script lichen

peltigera lichen

And a tuft of moss too.


I reached home in one piece, pleased to have had a bit of fresh air even if the exercise hadn’t amounted to much and was very cheered to find a fine clump of snowdrops in evidence on the bank of the dam behind the house.


Roll on spring.

The walk had showed that more rest was needed so I rested for the rest of the day.  In the evening, my flute pupil Like came and we had a productive lesson and I was able to blow a few notes on my own flute so the rest had done me good.

After tea, I went off to the first camera club meeting of the new year and although the turnout was on the small side, we had some very good pictures to look at and a new member from Canonbie to welcome so it was a worthwhile evening.

We had been asked to do a portrait and since I don’t like to take pictures of other people very much as I feel that I lack the skills to do them justice, I took a picture of an old man who was hanging around in the front room.


It always comes as a shock to see just how old I am!  I am not like that on the inside.

One of our fellow camera club members showed us a wonderful picture of a flying nuthatch this evening.  He had found a moment of good sunshine for the shot. My flying siskin of the day in the rain is rather gloomy in comparison.



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Today’s guest post is the third and last of Tash’s portraits of Tony’s dogs beside the Forth.

Tony's dog

It was a cold but brighter day here today so there were no complaints but I had a slight chesty cough threatening so I abandoned a plan to wrap up well and go for a pedal and settled for a morning of light loafing about.

I kept an eye on the birds.

We had two greenfinches…


…many goldfinches…


…several dunnocks…


…and robins on every perch.


There were at least three robins and I could often see all three at the same time.  They seem to be mildly territorial but not very fierce about it so maybe there is room in the garden for all of them.

We went out for our midday meal as it was the day of the annual Archivists’ Lunch. It was at the Eskdale Hotel this year and a party of thirteen sat down for an excellent meal.

After the meal, I thought that I probably needed to shake the calories down so I went for a walk.  I also hoped that a bit of exercise might frighten away my incipient chesty cough.

It was crisp and breezy and a beautiful day for an outing on a hill so I left the Eskdale Hotel behind….

Eskdale Hotel

…and went up the Kirk Wynd on the opposite side of the market Place and headed straight up the hill to the monument on top of Whita.

It was warm enough for the puddles in the fields to be unfrozen….


….but the brisk north wind which was rippling the water made it feel decidedly wintery.

I had hoped for splendid views as it had seemed quite bright when I was in the town but as I got further up the hill, it became clear that there was still a lot of moisture in the air…

View of langholm

…and both the town and the Ewes Valley…

misty ewes valley

…were rather fuzzy.

Still, there was always moss to look at, both on a wall…..

moss on wall

…and in big tussocks making some of the walk hard work.

moss tussock

It didn’t take me too long to get to the summit though as the nippy wind didn’t encourage much standing about and enjoying the view….


…but I did take a moment to look over the wall behind the monument and enjoy the view across the Tarras to Tinnis Hill.



And you can’t stand next to a wall without admiring the lichen.

lichen at Monument

It is exactly a mile from the Eskdale Hotel to the monument at an average  gradient of 16% so I was pleased to have taken exactly half an hour to get there. There is a nice neatness about it.

The sun was already getting a little lower in the sky so I didn’t dilly dally and was soon on my way down the track to the White Yett and the McDiarmid memorial.

McDiarmid Memorial

Beside the memorial there is a cairn with a cap of moss which invited a closer look.

cairn and moss

As I walked down the road to Whitshiels, the sun sank further and a gently golden light kissed the hills at the top of the valley.

Ewes valley sunset

As our friend Sue said the other day, the colours in winter can be just as rewarding as any other time of year.   If you choose the right day.

Ewes valley sunset

I kept an eye out for moss and enjoyed this collection of moss and lichen on a badly  decomposing fence post beside the road.

moss on fencepost

A group of horses caught the last rays of the sun as I  got near to the main road.


I had hoped to be in time to take a picture or two of a rugby match at Miltown but the players were just trooping off the pitch as I came down the last stretch of hill.  A spectator leaving the game told me that Langholm had won by over 100 points.  Their opponents must have got quite discouraged.

The sun was on its last legs as I got back to the town but it gave me the chance for one last picture on my walk.

tree sunset

The walk turned out to be  exactly four miles and took me exactly an hour and a half so the whole excursion was mathematically very satisfying.

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy in my absence and the Christmas tree was back in its own home again.

Christmas tree

As it is Twelfth Night, that is as it should be.

The walk may have shaken down my lunch but sadly, although I thoroughly enjoyed the walk and didn’t cough at all, it didn’t do my chest much good so I am going for an early bed and hoping to get a good night’s sleep.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  We had left for lunch before the sun got to the feeders so it is another impressionistic effort.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my next door neighbour Irving who is spending the festive season visiting his son and family in Florida.  The picture shows some of the  20 to 30 ibis they see outside the house every day.


We had another sunny day here today but the temperature was at zero when we got up and not much higher at any time during the day.


A pigeon looking as though it wasn’t enjoying walking on our frozen lawn.

Luckily there were no ice covered pavements or treacherous patches on paths so it was a good day to get some of the very fresh air that was available.

In the morning, Alistair and Clare went off to sample the delights of shopping at Gretna leaving Matilda to look after us.  We attempted to go for a walk with her but it turned out that her father had gone off with her pink gloves in his pocket and no amount of differently coloured substitutes would do so the walk was abandoned on account of cold fingers and we waited for the gloves to come back from Gretna.

The sun had got round to the bird feeders by this time so I had a quick look out of the kitchen window….

chaffinch and goldfinches

…where there was a lot of activity.

I caught a couple of peaceful moments too.




Mrs Tootlepedal made some green lentil soup and we enjoyed it with a light lunch of cold cuts when the shoppers returned.

Then, since the gloves had arrived, we set off for a walk to feed the ducks.

We took the sunny side of the street which gave the photographer quite a big problem, when trying to get a picture of the group without his shadow appearing in the shot.

I tried this side….

Matilda, Al and Clare

…and that side but the shadow was always in the way.

In the end, I lurked behind Mrs Tootlepedal and took this shot…

Matilda, Al and Clare

…which was the best that I could do.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, except those left by people impatient to be somewhere else…

jet plane

…but since it was one of the days when the vapour trails disappeared almost as soon as they were formed, we could ignore them.

In the sun, it was very pleasant (as long as you had the right gloves on)…

Meeting of the waters

…and Matilda had a lot of fun playing on the equipment on the Kilngreen…

play park with matilda

That dratted shadow appeared again!

play park with matilda

…while I looked at passing black headed gulls….

black headed gulls

…which had been attracted by another party of bird feeders.

black headed gulls

Then Matilda came to feed the ducks…


…who responded with gratitude to some good seed and pink pellets.


Light is a funny thing, as they say considering that the heads of the ducks on the left and right in the panel above are the same colour when they face in the same direction but totally different when they look in opposite directions.

While Matilda fed the ducks, I looked at passing gulls again.



We continued out walk across the Sawmill Brig and onto the Castleholm where those with the taste for such things, had a happy time smashing the ice in the puddles while I looked for trees.

castleholm tree

When we reluctantly left the icy puddles, we walked mostly into the shade and the difference in temperature was quite marked…


…so we didn’t dilly dally again as we headed for home, pausing only to admire the moon which was floating above the monument.


Matilda needed a little assistance from her father on the final stages of the journey home and I wondered, looking at her hands….


…whether her parents are feeding her enough.  (The pink gloves are underneath the other ones)

After a quiet moment for relaxation and refreshment when we got home, the rest of the afternoon was spent having unremitting fun including snap, Pelmanism, dancing, playing ‘duck, duck, goose’ and putting on mermaid entertainments (impresario:  Madam Matilda).

It was lucky that Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the time preparing us a feast of parsnip and potato gnocchi and sweet potato and spinach saag aloo as we badly needed the fuel.

All in all, it was voted a very successful day and we should all sleep well tonight.

In spite of the gulls, I have gone for a garden chaffinch as flying bird of the day, mainly because I really like the sceptical air with which the flier is being viewed by the perching bird.

flying chaffinch


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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who saw a heron practising goalkeeping on the school football pitch.


The weather was rather subdued again this morning and that fitted the day well as Mrs Tootlepedal was laid low by her cold and I had a funeral to go to.

The husband of one of our archive group members had died so I went to church for his funeral service.  He was a popular man and the church was full of those who had come to pay their respects.

After the service, I went back to see how Mrs Tootlepedal was doing and was very pleased to find her well enough to come downstairs for a light lunch.

I had a check on the birds at the feeder.  The warmer weather in recent days has reduced the number coming for seed but there was still a steady stream.

busy feeder

A group of siskins shared the seed peacefully on one of the feeders.


A goldfinch arrived later on and things got a little more tense.

goldfinch and siskins

Finally a greenfinch joined and and checked to see that everyone was behaving properly.


The light was even worse than usual so I didn’t waste too much time trying to take perfect pictures and changed into my cycling gear and headed out into the mist.

It didn’t take long to find out why the light was so poor as the cloud base was at street level and although it wasn’t raining, my glasses got so wet that I had to take them off and put them in my back pocket.

Still it was reasonable warm, the wind was light and cars were few and far between so I enjoyed my ride in a rather gloomy way.

I had my camera in my pocket but it wasn’t really a day to stop for pretty views….

misty trees

…mainly because there weren’t any views to be had.

I might have seen more of this sort of thing….


…if I hadn’t needed to push on before it got too dark to be safe.

One good thing about low cloud is that it makes for a neutral background to bare trees so I did stop for these two near Wauchope Schoolhouse

bare treebare tree

I got twenty miles in before it seemed sensible to stop and go home for a nice cup of tea.

It was the shortest day of the year so I have graced it with a very short post….

…and a very spotty flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

The day is going to be 11 seconds longer tomorrow.  Wow.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Irving who found the wonderful double rainbow when he went to look at his sheep.


We had such a sunny day here, that we were able to find a bit of a rainbow inside our house when a sunbeam glanced off a bevelled mirror edge and onto a closed shutter.


Mrs Tootlepedal spotted it at exactly the right time because a minute or so later, it had disappeared as quickly as it had come.

The glorious sunshine came with freezing conditions and the temperature never got above 2°C and was as low as -4 in the evening on the road to Waterbeck for our concert.

I took advantage of the sunshine to go for a short walk in the morning in the hope of getting some snowy scenes.  It looked quite promising with a sprinkling of snow on Whita….

whita in snow

…and I walked up the hill in the hope of seeing more snow clad hills.  Sadly, the snow was thin and lacking sparkle.

trees in snow

Something about this snow covered dead branch beside the track appealed to me…

snowy twig

…but I was not tempted to sit for a while on the bench at Whita Well because the wind was exceedingly nippy.

snowy bench

I passed a gorse bush looking magnificent…

winter gorse

…but was disappointed when I got to a spot where I could look up the Ewes Valley.

Ewes in snow

For really snow capped hills, I had to peer into the distance up the Esk valley.

cows and snow

The cows did their best to console me by posing conveniently on the horizon of Castle Hill.

horizon cattle

Perhaps because I was a bit nervous about the concert in the evening and perhaps because the chilly winds had upset my asthma a bit, I was very tired by the time that I got home and did very little for the rest of the day apart from making a pot of soup and looking out of the kitchen window for a moment or two.

The light was unhelpful, being too shady or too bright but I was pleased to have a visit from a starling…


…and a goldfinch fairly sparkled in the plum tree.


There were not as many birds as yesterday but a good number of chaffinches kept the feeders busy….


…and a robin made an appearance too.


As usual, a greenfinch carried off the trophy for looking most disagreeable.


After an afternoon’s rest and a plate of Mrs Tootlepedal’s excellent fish pie, we went off to Waterbeck, taking Mike Taudevin with us for the Langholm Sings concert in the church there.

We had a varied programme of congregation carols, choir carols, sentimental songs, a selection of Abba hits, solo singers and readings so if the audience didn’t care for one thing, another thing soon came along.

There were more in the audience than in the choir, which is always a plus point, and as far as I can tell, the audience enjoyed the concert.  Apart from one piece where we weren’t quite as together as we should have been, we sang as well as we could expect so the choir enjoyed themselves too.

Now for a day of rest before our Carlisle choir concert on Sunday.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is from our daughter Annie who is working at the Macao film festival (someone has to do it).  This is the view from her hotel.


Once again, a guest picture provides a marked contrast with our weather here.  It was very gloomy and rather windy all day.  It wasn’t quite as wet and windy as we feared but it seems to be making up for that as I write this in the evening and I can hear the wind sighing and moaning outside as the rain batters at my window.

After a few day of cycling, I was probably wise to take the opportunity of the poor weather to have a most restful day today.

I got up late. idled about, ate a cheese sandwich, made some rolls and went to bed.  In between times, I peered hopefully out of the kitchen window into the gloom.

There were some birds brave enough to face the windy conditions.  A few chaffinches came to the plum tree first….


…and then hit the feeder…


…and tucked in.


It wasn’t long before, to the chaffinches’ dismay, a greenfinch turned up.

chaffinches and greenfinch

And then more came in determined mood….


…and sometimes, very determined mood.


But there was room for them all.


I only saw this one goldfinch….


…but I didn’t watch for long and went off to practise songs and put an accompaniment for the new sonata for Luke and me onto the computer.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre to watch a screening of a Hockney exhibition which she thoroughly enjoyed.  His vivid colours brightened her day a lot.

In the early evening, we had the AGM of the Archive Group and it passed off very peacefully and briefly as usual.  The members are extremely sensible.

Later in the evening, I poked my nose out of the door for the first time in the day and went off for the final Langholm Sings practice before our concert of Friday.  If we all concentrate, things should go reasonable well.

We are hoping that the weather will let us get to Edinburgh tomorrow to visit Matilda but there is talk of snow as soon as the wind dies down.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch



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Today’s guest picture is another from Bruce. He found this signpost near Carlisle and thinks that it might be of more interest to cyclists than motorists.


There had been wild talk of 7°C in the forecasts for today but the reality was 3° when we woke and 4.5° when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to church to sing in the choir and I got my fairly speedy bike out for a Sunday morning ride.

On the plus side, the wind was very light indeed and it was sunny, with scarcely a cloud in the sky.

I like to take advantage of the well surfaced main roads on a Sunday when traffic is light so I set off up the A7 to the north with the idea of going as far as my legs thought prudent.

It was glorious day to be pedalling as long as you were extremely well wrapped up.  I was.

They have felled a wood  a mile or two out of town and as a result, a fine view up the Ewes valley has been unveiled.


The valley has a narrow flat bottom and the road winds up the left hand side as we look at it in the picture above.

To my left, on the west side, the hills were bathed in sunshine.


To my right, on the east side, things were more shadowy.


I was glad that the road was on the sunny side of the valley as on the occasions when I found myself in the shadows, it was definitely chilly.

I stopped to look at Ewes Church and was a bit disappointed to find that some tall trees were casting a shadow on my possible picture….,


…but as a consolation, two more trees in the churchyard made a fine frame for the hills behind the church.


As you get near the head of the valley, it is possible to wonder how the road is going to thread its way through the hills.  In fact the main road goes up the valley to the left and a minor road to Hermitage Castle takes the right-hand route.


Just at the junction, there is a steep ridge, a contrast to our usually smooth summits.


I followed the main road.


This is the road I followed and I was relieved to find that drainage problems which resulted in the road often being covered with water running off the fields seem to have been solved.  On a morning when temperatures are low, the possibility of hitting a sheet of ice is not attractive.

Things were fine this morning.

For a mile and a half, the roads climbs gently up a dark and narrow ravine between steep hills before arriving at the sunlit uplands at the Mosspaul Hotel.


After some discussion with my legs, it was mutually agreed that at ten and a half miles, this would be a good turning point considering that the light wind would be against me on the way home and I needed a rest before going singing after lunch.

I didn’t stop on the way back and got home in a very cheerful mood.

I would have been even more cheerful if there had been any finches in the garden but there were so few that I am beginning to think that I should gave them individual names.

Meet Archibald the chaffinch.


George the goldfinch.


And Evelyn, the young greenfinch.


There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with the sunflower seeds because when the few birds settle on the feeder, they tuck in with gusto.


Other birds keep coming.


Blue tit


So the absence of the finches is still a mystery.

Evidence of the low temperature, in spite of the sunshine, can be seen in the roundness of this robin.


In the afternoon, we went off to Carlisle to sing with the choir there.  On our way we picked up a fellow choir member in Canonbie who had injured both her ankles and couldn’t drive.

She told us that she had fallen over at a major roundabout in Carlisle a week or two ago on a very icy morning and found herself lying in the road, unable to get up.  As cars whizzed by without stopping, she understandably feared for her life.  Luckily, the third car to pass her did stop and after halting the traffic, the driver helped her get to her feet and took her off to where she could meet her daughter.

As she remarked, this was the only occasion when an attempt to pick her up by a strange man in Carlisle was welcome.  She was remarkably calm about the whole affair.

We didn’t have our usual conductor today, as he was at a concert with another of his choirs and having a stand-in  leader for the week before our concert wasn’t entirely satisfactory.  However, it couldn’t be helped and we all did the best that we could.

Our way home from the choir was illuminated by a super moon sailing through a clear sky.  As soon as we got back, I rushed up stairs with my camera on a tripod….

…and found the sky covered with clouds.

super moon

What a swizz!

In the continued absence of finches, I am struggling for flying birds of the day.


Note: I have several vacancies for guest picture of the day.


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