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Posts Tagged ‘greenfinch’

Today’s guest picture of helmet hair was sent to me by my Maine correspondent.  She had been for a 13 mile cycle ride and tells me that she, Laurie is in the picture  with her husband Clif . They live in Winthrop, Maine, and that picture was taken at Norcross Point, which is by Maranacook Lake in Winthrop.

Helmet heads

There was  no chance of me getting a helmet hair shot today as I woke up with a very bad back and struggled to walk let alone cycle.   I have had long standing back problems but today’s trouble was a nasty surprise as I have been quite pain free and flexible for some time.  It was probably caused by something as simple as sitting in an unaccustomed chair and will soon go away with careful use.  Still, it wasted a genuinely warm and sunny day which was a pity.

poppies

I staggered out into the garden after breakfast just to record the sunshine.

I really liked this crumpled paper poppy with a bee flying in.

poppies

That completed my activity for the morning.

The other surprise of the day was a triumph of good service.

A few days ago I decided to take advantage of a part exchange offer from WEX, a photographic supplier.  I sent off the details of the the lens I wanted to exchange and got a very good offer which I accepted. The firm sent me prepaid labels and I posted off my lens on the understanding that they might well alter their offer when they had examined the lens closely.

I thought that the offer was a bit too good to be true and wondered whether my description of the lens as ‘lightly used’ might be a bit optimistic.  The firm rang me and told me that their examiner had indeed downgraded my view of the state of the lens by a grade and naturally, I feared the worst.  Would the offer be halved?  It had seemed too good to be true.  I held my breath.

The price will have to be reduced they said.  Then they told me by how much and I breathed out.  Since the reduction was only about 8% of the total this was but a trifle and I accepted the new valuation with alacrity.

When I rang up the sales team half an hour later, my trade in was safely credited to my account and I was able to purchase not only the new lens that I wanted but a new photo printer to go with it.

This was yesterday.  The printer and the lens arrived today! I don’t believe that I have ever received such prompt, fair and reliable service.

To add to my happiness, the printer was soon set up and worked well.

As far as the lens went, Mrs Tootlepedal drove me up to the Moorland Feeders and I pointed it at some birds.  It is early days but it looks quite promising to me.  Here is a selection of the results.

blue titcoal titcoal titgreat titblue tittree creeperwoodpeckerwoodpeckergreefinchchaffinch

For the technically minded, the new lens is a Sigma 150-600mm and it should let me improve the quality of my bird pictures when I have mastered it.

On our way home, Mrs Tootlepedal first stopped to buy a battery for a humane cat scarer which she recently purchased as she is fed up with cats making a mess of her flower and vegetable beds and then stopped again at the Kilngreen.

I was hoping for a flying gull to test the new lens but instead I found Mr Grumpy sitting down, a most unusual sight indeed.

Heron

Perhaps he had a bad back too.

When  we got home, my back was eased enough to let me mow the middle and front lawns although my mower pushing style was a bit inelegant.

Then I took a picture or two.

Cat scarer

The cat scarer in position. It works with ultrasonic noise.

The handbook says darkly that it doesn’t work at all on deaf cats….or white cats…or very old cats…or perhaps any cats.  They offer no guarantees.  We shall see.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hanging the onions up to dry in the greenhouse.

onions

The last of the rambler roses.

rambler rose

Then I went in and sat down for the rest of the day.

There have been quite enough birds already in the post so no flying bird of the day in any shape or form.

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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit my sister Mary paid to the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park a day or two ago.  It seems like a very good place to visit at this time of year.

Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park 29.04.17

We had yet another dry and windy day today but it was a bit warmer than it has been and by the afternoon, it was very pleasant in the garden.

I couldn’t take advantage of the morning sunshine as I was on duty in the Welcome to Langholm office in the Market Place, ready and willing to give out advice and information to any passing tourists.   In the absence of floods of visitors (there were four), I was entertained by Dropscone, who dropped in, and kept busy by Archive Group work when he went so the time passed agreeably.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I got home.  I had a look round and was very pleased to see an Aglais Io, better known as a peacock butterfly…

peacock butterfly

…the first of the year in the garden.

As I looked at the butterfly, a sparrow sang out from the rowan tree nearby.

singing sparrow

The trillium was fully out….

trillium

…and was looking very handsome.

The early tulips are beginning to go over but there are still some looking very good….

tulip

…and there is no doubt that a little sunshine goes well with a tulip.

After lunch, we set about trimming the hedge along the road.  We have bought a battery powered hedge trimmer and the new battery technology is very smart so the machine is quite light to use and the battery lasts well and charges quickly.  It made doing the job quite enjoyable.

road hedge

Before

road hedge

After – half an hour later

Unfortunately, there is an old fence in the middle of the hedge and it makes it impossible to trim it with knife edge creases but we like the informal air the wobbly edge gives the hedge….and there is nothing we can do about it anyway.

While I was recovering from the hedge trimming, I wandered about aimlessly, greeting some old friends as I went along.

bright flowers

It was a lovely afternoon

The parrot tulips have come fully out…

parrot tulip

…but I am a bit disappointed with the results which were a bit messy.  Maybe the frosty mornings didn’t do them any favours.  They may develop so I will keep an eye on them.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s dark tulips from Alnwick have survived the frosts and winds well and are looking very striking.

tulips

Mrs Tootlepedal cleared a lot of weed out of the pond and we put the hose on to fill it up a bit but the tadpoles seem quite unaffected by the disturbance.

tadpoles

I was soon feeling perky again after my rest so I got the scarifying machine out and scarified and then mowed the middle lawn.  It didn’t have quite as much moss as I expected and the task was quite easy and soon completed.

The lawn looked very reasonable for this time of year…

middle lawn after scarifying

…but it didn’t take long for the wrecking crew to arrive and mess it up again.

jackdaws on lawn

I went in for another rest and while I was inside, I looked out of the kitchen window at the birds…

siskins

A pair of siskins looking each other in the eye

perching birds, redpoll and greenfinch

Today’s perching birds, redpoll and greenfinch

…and out of an upstairs window at the gardener at work planting poppies and cornflowers.

siskins

The daffodils are gone and we are in the time of tulips

The front lawn looked so inviting that when my flute pupil Luke rang to say that he couldn’t come for his lesson, I went out and scarified and mowed it as well.  This turned out to be much harder work than the middle lawn and it took a big effort to clear all the moss off it.

As a result, I didn’t have long for my tea before it was time to go out to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

We played our way through all or part of six sonatas and felt that we had done very well by the time that we had finished.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch….

chaffinch

…and I don’t suppose that you thought that I could walk past the anemone on such a cheerful day without stopping for a glance.  You were right, I couldn’t.

anemone

Hand painted by mother nature.

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Today’s guest picture shows a fine waterfall visited by Dropscone and family on his Skye holiday.

Skye waterfall

In spite of a forecast of rain, we had yet another dry, cool day with a brisk wind until the evening.  I should have gone cycling (my neighbour Ken did 40 miles in the morning) but I was feeling lazy so I had a cup of coffee with Sandy instead

After coffee, I combined doing the crossword with some lawn mowing and compost shredding and occasionally looking at the birds.

greenfinch

A greenfinch dropped in

I had yet another go or two at photographing the rosemary.

rosemary

The slightly different colours reflect the fact that I tried with two different cameras.

I did some deadheading too and looked at flowers as I went round.

tulips

The chilly weather means that daffodils and tulips are still our staples but I was pleased to see a butterfly although I couldn’t get a very good picture of it.  It was struggling to get enough warmth to fly.

white butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal was in Attila the Gardener mode and started on giving our topiary chicken a very severe haircut after lunch so I had plenty of clippings to put through the shredder.

I had to stop though when Sandy reappeared for a prearranged outing.

We went up to the Moorland bird feeders at the Laverock Hide in the hope of seeing something interesting.  We did see a couple on unusual sights.  A hare ran across the clearing right in front of the hide and a goshawk made a pass up the clearing and then flew across it later on. All three of these events were good to see but unfortunately too quick for catching on camera.

One thing we couldn’t miss was the male pheasants….

pheasant

…strutting around and pestering the females.  Some of the females were chased about on the ground and got rather ruffled while others took to the trees to escape unwanted attention.

female pheasants

Of course there were plenty of small birds to see too.

chaffinch, blue tit and robin

After the goshawk had thoroughly cleared the clearing for the second time, we gave up and went down to the Castleholm to see if the nuthatches were at the nest by the bridge.

Two were to be seen.  One arrived at the tree and flitted from branch to branch before perching and singing furiously.

nuthatch

It flew off and almost immediately, another nuthatch emerged from the nest hole, gave a backward glance….

nuthatch

…and flew off.

After a moment or two the first nuthatch returned with something in its beak…..

nuthatch

…which it dropped into the nest hole without entering and then it too flew off and all was quiet.

We waited for a bit and then the call of teatime became too insistent and we left.

We did see some promising bluebells on our way to the nest….

bluebells

..and some fine primroses on our way back to the car.

primroses

…as well as any amount of attempted growth on the trees.

leaf buds

There had been a lot of waiting for some indifferent bird pictures but seeing the nuthatches and goshawk had made the outing worthwhile.

When I got home, the formerly plump chicken….

topiary chicken

…had been reduced to this….

thin chicken

…by Attila but she is hoping that the end result will be a slimmer and better looking bird.  Think of it as a work by Brancusi meanwhile.

A little sunshine had arrived rather late in the day and it lit up a tulip for me….

backlit tulip

…before I went in for my tea.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came and Alison and I played music in a style which fairly accurately reflected the lack of practice opportunities for us both during the preceding week.

It is the London Marathon on Sunday and while we talking about it after playing, Mike revealed that he had run no less than seventeen marathons in his younger days.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I were very impressed indeed.  We knew he had run several marathons but had no idea that he had done so many, quite a few in under three hours, a very respectable speed indeed.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch about to give a siskin a hard time.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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The guest picture of the day comes from Gavin who has deserted the wild woods of Yosemite and taken to the groves of Academe at Stanford University.

stanford university

We were expecting wet weather today but in spite of a gloomy forecast, it remained pretty dry and this would have been more welcome if it hadn’t come with a drop in the temperature and a very nagging and cold wind.

Under these conditions I took my cue from the celebrated Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus Cunctator, who became famous for hanging around doing nothing during the Second Punic War.  He was an amateur compared with me this morning.

I stirred myself a bit after lunch and went out into the garden where the sun was shining and Mrs Tootlepedal was quietly snoozing in the warmth of the greenhouse.

I looked at the tulips which were glowing in the sunshine.

tulips

Peered inside one.

tulip

Dark secrets

Admired the wide spreading petals of another group….

tulips

…but realised that in the prevailing brisk winds, this broadness is just a prelude to tulip death.

daff and tulip

A morose daffodil and wind blown tulip reminisce over those great days in the garden that are now gone for ever.

There are hundreds of daffodils in the garden and the cool weather means that they have lasted very well but there are still a lot that need dead heading every day so I did my rounds and then went back to see Mrs Tootlepedal.

I disturbed her by mowing the grass round the greenhouse.   When she emerged into the real world, we set about simultaneously narrowing the raspberry bed and widening the path beside it in the vegetable garden.

Having achieved this, we went inside for a cup of tea.

On my way, I had a check on the espalier apples.

apple blossom

It is nearly apple blossom time.

Unlike me, the birds were very active again today.

We had two very occasional visitors, a starling early in the day….

starling

…and a greenfinch a little later on.  It seemed to spend more time flying away than coming…

greenfinch

…but it managed to fit in a nibble or two.

greenfinch

While i was having my cup of tea in the afternoon, a flock of birds descended on the feeders.  I tried to see how many flying birds I could get in one shot.

busy feeder

Four and a half in this shot

busy feeder

Five in this shot

busy feeder

And seven in this shot

Several threatening clouds rushed by without raining on us so I thought that I would cycle round to the Jubilee Bridge to see if I could see the nuthatches.

When I got there, I could hear them but I couldn’t see them.

I spent so long waiting that the light had gone for taking any bird pictures by the time that I cycled back past the Kilngreen so I contented myself with a picture of the poplars on the river bank below the suspension bridge…

poplars

…and came home again.

The light perked up for a moment and I looked at the rosemary bush…

rosemary

A decent close up of the flowers still eludes but I will keep trying.

Mrs Tootlepedal went out to a celebration dinner for one of her ex work colleagues in the evening and I relaxed again.  I felt surprisingly tired considering my quiet day but the wind is going to drop tomorrow so I hope that my day of rest will have put me in good fettle for a cycle ride.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

siskin

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Today’s guest picture is another from Gavin’s visit to Yosemite and shows a quite well known waterfall there.

yosemite

We had another chilly but dry day today.   This was a bit of a surprise as we had been promised rain.

Dropscone is going on holiday on the Isle of Skye next week so he came round for a farewell cup of coffee.  He completely failed to bring traditional Friday treacle scones with him but made up for this with several hot cross buns which did very well instead.

After he left, I spent some fruitless time on my computer.  National Savings had sent me a letter politely suggesting that I might like to register on line as I am a premium bond holder and this would save them the trouble of constantly sending expensive letters to tell me when I have won a prize.

This seemed fair enough, though they don’t send me many prize letters I can assure you, but having gone through the online process unsuccessfully a couple of times, the website ended up by telling me to print a form out and send my application to go on-line to them in the post.  I was mildly amused.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland Project Feeding station, she to see if there were any raptors about and I to look at smaller birds.

She did get a brief view of a passing hen harrier and I saw a lot of small birds.

greenfinch

This was one of only two greenfinches that I saw today

great tit

But there were a lot of great tits about

chaffinch

And an unusually marked chaffinch

There were some slightly larger ones too.

woodpeckers

Woodpeckers chased each other round the trees,

woodpeckers

And then this one relaxed

I got a glimpse of a passing jay….

jay

…and couldn’t miss this pheasant which stood right in front of me and stared me out.

pheasant

Two visitors came into the hide hoping to see a goshawk but left fairly soon and then more bird watchers with big binoculars and a telescope arrived and they did see a goshawk…

bird watchers

….but it was far too far away for me to see at all.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I decided that goats on the moor might be a better bet so we went up onto the hill and saw three or four goats wandering around some distance away trying to look like boulders or clumps of heather.

goats

We had thought that we had seen a goat or two near the Tarras Bridge on our way out so we had hopes of seeing some nearer to hand on our way home.

We were not disappointed.

goat

A clue

We parked the car and I walked up the road with my camera at the ready.  I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible but this was a wasted effort as the goats didn’t care how close i got to them.

wild goats Langholm Moor

They just kept munching…

wild goats Langholm Moor

…though they did give me the occasional glance.

There was a small group among the bracken.

wild goats Langholm Moor

It was a very peaceful scene.

wild goats Langholm Moor

People say that kids don’t climb trees any more but some do.

wild goats Langholm Moor

And others joined in.

wild goats Langholm Moor

Weighing up the job

wild goats Langholm Moor

All hands on deck

And then back to mum for a cuddle.

wild goats Langholm Moor kid

We left them chomping away in peace….

wild goats Langholm Moor

…and drove home.

It started to rain as we got back so we went inside and had a cup of tea.  It soon stopped raining but in spite of a temperature of 10°, it felt so chilly and unwelcoming outside that we left the garden to itself and found things to do indoors.

I had a look at our own birds.  They were still arguing.

goldfinch

And even this rather placid looking pigeon…

pigeon

…had chased another three away from under the feeder.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I tootled away merrily while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal watched Gardeners’ World on the TV.

The orchestra and I found some agreeable tempos for the trickier pieces and we had moments when things sounded really good but there were also moments which indicated that a little more practice might not go amiss.  Such is life.

After TV and music, we joined together and put the world to rights.

The flying bird of the day is a garden goldfinch.

goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is another look at South African exile Tom’s Orange River Old wagon Bridge.  Unlike our bridges, it rests on metal pillars. The iron bridge was built by Scottish Engineers Breston and Gibbons 1878-1882

orange river bridge

It is going to be a short post today for two or three reasons.  Politically it was a depressing day with  a good deal of portentous nonsense being spouted on every side in a situation where nobody seems to have any idea of what is going on and this was matched by incessant rain from dawn until dusk.   On top of that, whether for spiritual, medical or physical reasons, I was feeling a bit ‘off’ all day and even a two hour sing at our choir in the evening hasn’t restored me  to full amiability.

A look out of the window in the morning gives a feel for the day.

orange river bridge

Birds being disagreeable in the rain.

Juts to prove me wrong yet again, a huge flock of siskins descended on the garden only a day after I had remarked that the siskins had gone on somewhere else.

The activity at the feeders was as relentless as the rain.

siskins

Total siskinnery

siskins

A step too far for an intrusive chaffinch though another one had sneaked in

I made some vegetable soup for lunch and it turned out well but I wasn’t cheered up much by this and spent the afternoon stomping about the house, muttering to myself and finding out just how difficult it is to get new songs mastered.

The action outside the window only slackened for a moment when a passing sparrowhawk made off with an unfortunate chaffinch and a few minutes later, it was back in full swing.

busy feeder

The sparrowhawk didn’t even have the grace to pose with its trophy.

I was pleased to see a few less frequent visitors among the hordes of goldfinches, siskins and chaffinches.

A greenfinch dropped in for a snack..

greenfinch

….a collared dove looked things over….

collared dove

…and as the light faded away, a redpoll popped up on the feeder.

redpoll

In fact Mrs Tootlepedal saw two redpolls like bookends on each side of the feeder but by then the light had gone entirely.

I made a beef and mushroom stew for my tea and then went off to sing with our local choir. The practice was enlivened by a vigorous political discussion (not about Brexit) at the tea break and that did cheer me up, as I enjoy a bit of give and take.  The singing went not too badly, although the choir couldn’t be said to have totally cracked the pieces we were working on.

The only thing that really raised a smile today was the suggestion by some wit that the European Union should have returned Mrs May’s Article 50 letter to her on the grounds that it was written in English and thus they couldn’t understand it.

At least we are due to visit Matilda tomorrow so that should bring a ray of sunshine into our life.

I did (just about) find a flying bird among the raindrops.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture was kindly sent to me by Tom, a Langholm exile, and shows a lovely scene from his early morning walk in South Africa.

South Africa walk

It was only just above freezing when we got up today but it soon warmed up a bit and unlike yesterday, the siskins didn’t hang around this morning but got straight down to business.

siskin

As it was a fairly calm day, even though there was only the occasional glimpse of sun, I thought that a (hopefully) last ride on the slow bike before the fairly speedy bike came back from the bike shop was in order.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s train to London was due to leave in the early afternoon so after a cup of coffee, I set off to do 15 miles without stopping for too many photos on the way.

I did stop at the bridge over the Collin Burn…

Collin Bridge

…which was totally rebuilt in 2013 and is settling into the landscape quite well.  It has even got some lichen on its parapet like a proper bridge should have.

Collin Bridge lichen

By the time that I got home, the workers next door had already got some of the posts for the new fence in position.

new fence

The sharp eyed will notice that it shouldn’t be too long before the garden is full of daffodils.

My timing was very good and I had just the right amount of time for a shower and some scrambled eggs on toast for lunch before it was time to set off for the station in Carlisle.

There were even a couple of seconds to spare to look out of the window before left.

chaffinch

A bright eyed chaffinch eyeing up his lunch

robin

A welcome sighting of one of the robins

As is always the way when you leave in plenty of time, the roads were clear, the traffic lights were all at green as we approached and there was a convenient parking space just where we wanted so we arrived at the station with a lot of time in hand.

Rather than hang around awkwardly, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to read a magazine and went back to Longtown to pick up the fairly speedy bike.  It had got a new gear changing mechanism installed and was ready to go.   When I got home, I thought of taking it out for  test ride but decided that a walk would be a better idea.

I sent a text to Sandy to see if he was interested in coming but he replied that he was actually in Carlisle himself and had seen me driving out of the station.

I looked at the busy feeders for a while….

siskins and chaffinch

A chaffinch deciding to avoid the warring siskins

siskin and chaffinch

And another one wishing that he had too

…and then I had a cup of tea and went out by myself in the hope of seeing an oyster catcher or two.

oyster catcher

My hope was soon fulfilled

There was some cheerful blossom on the river bank beside the birds.

blossom

I saw a couple of grey wagtails near the Sawmill Brig but they were too quick for me and I will have to go back and try to catch them another time.

I consoled myself with some pretty white crocuses on the river bank at the Kilngreen….

white crocuses

…and a moss close up on a wall opposite the estate yard.

moss

There is a striking bush of pink flowers near the Lodge….

pink flowers

You might think it was a rhododendron but it is far too early so I rely on a knowledgeable reader to tell me what it is.

The snowdrops are nearly over but in some sheltered spots, clumps are hanging on well.

snowdrops

It has been a good year for them

As well as oyster catchers, I had been hoping to find some male hazel catkins…..

hazel catkins

…and check to see if the tiny female flowers were out yet.  They were.

hazel flowers

It is thanks to the excellent New Hampshire Gardener’s blog that I learned to look for these little gems, which are only a few millimetres long.  The camera was very well behaved today as I usually find it a trial to get the flowers in focus.

There was a last burst of blossom as I walked past the school…

blossom

…so, in spite of rather gloomy conditions for my walk, I arrived home in cheerful mood.

My mood was rather flattened by the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal over the tea table but I was cheered up again by having one of her prepared mandarin jellies for my pudding.

When I look at the weather forecast for tomorrow, it is suggesting that the wind may be blowing at thirty miles an hour so perhaps I should have given the fairly speedy bike its road test today!  Still, I enjoyed my walk.

No frog of the day today as the pond was very quiet but two flying birds instead.

flying greenfinch

A greenfinch with the brakes on

flying chaffinch

A female chaffinch in cruise mode.  I like the colours in this shot.

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