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Posts Tagged ‘grey wagtail’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He is quite unhappy that his work as a painter and decorator has been unceremoniously stopped by government order but no provision for helping the self employed to pay their bills has yet been put in hand by the authorities who are happy to pay the wage bills of large firms.  The sea at East Wemyss today looked a little angry too.

waves at wemyss

We had another dry day here and we are in danger of forgetting the awful weather of February.  It will come as a shock when it starts to rain again.

We should have been in London today attending the civil partnership of our daughter Annie and her partner Joe but circumstances did not permit it.  However, we were able to see them in the registry office immediately after the ceremony through the wonders of video calling.  They looked very happy (and civil).

We spent a quiet morning in and around the garden while we were waiting for the call.  There was a thin cover of cloud, thin enough to let some weak sunshine through and all our neighbours were busy in their gardens too.  I sieved some compost.

Things are progressing slowly towards full springiness and new signs are about, like this berberis…

berberis

…and the first of the fritillaries.

frist fritillary

The forsythia enjoyed the such sun as there was…

forsythia close up

…and a sparrow and starling took in some rays as well.

starling and sparrow

There were quite a few bees of various sorts about and I caught two of them visiting the hellebores.

two bees n hellebore

We had some conversation over the garden fence with our neighbours Irving and Libbie.  They introduced us to Boris the badger who had been getting a fresh coat of varnish.

wooden badger

He didn’t say much.

After lunch, I went for a short walk.  There were no birds visiting the feeder in the garden at all, so I thought that I ought to see what the waterside might provide.

I spotted a dipper in the Wauchope but it was living up to its name so well that I would have needed an underwater camera to get a picture of it.

A black backed gull was more conspicuous…

black backed gull flying

…as he roared across to the water to join his partner….and looked very pleased with himself when he got there.  She looked demure.

black backed gull pair

There were only a couple of black headed gulls about and the sole oyster catcher flew off without waiting for me to get a picture so I was feeling a little underbirded until some loud song at the Sawmill Brig brought a grey wagtail to my attention.

grey wagtail

And as I walked across the Castleholm, a pheasant passed me by.

pheasant castleholm

And I felt that my walk in search of birds was very satisfactory.

I was well sheltered from the wind and the weak sunshine gave off a little warmth so I was in no hurry to get home and could take time to enjoy the light on this mossy tree…

castleholm tree with ferns

…and to realise when i got closer that it was not just moss.  It had a whole garden on it.

ferns on tree

There was a lot to enjoy with heartening signs of growth on all sides (and a handsome fungus too)…

wild flowers and fungus

…but the high spot of the walk home was seeing this flash of colour in a tree…

view of nuthatch

…and finding, when I looked more closely, that it was a nuthatch.  It obligingly flew to another tree nearby so that I could get better shots of it.

nuthtach posing

It was very busy.

nuthatch on branch

As I got near to our house, I found Mike Tinker washing his car in his drive.  He asked me whether I would like to see something interesting so of course I said yes.  I followed him to his back garden (at a satisfactory ‘social’ distance) and he showed his Wollemi pine.

A Wollemi pine is one of the world’s oldest and rarest plants dating back to the time of the dinosaurs and Mike is privileged to be growing one in his garden.  He is very excited as it has both male (left) and female (right) cones on it.  I was impressed to say the least.

wollemi pine with cones

I saw a few other people out walking and we all gave each other a wide berth or changed direction when we came towards each other.

I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden when I got back and we went in and had a cup of tea.

Since the days are getting longer and it was still relatively warm and dry, I got my bicycle out and added another fifteen miles to my month’s cycle mileage.  I found, when I got out of the shelter of the town, that the wind was quite brisk but I got the benefit of it on the way back and covered the last five miles home at an average speed of 19.7 mph  I wish that I had known that as I was pedalling.  I would have pushed a little harder to get the magic twenty miles an hour onto my bike computer.

I made the last of Mrs Tootlepedal’s chicken cacciatore into a curry with added mushrooms for our tea and then we waited for the prime minister’s address to the nation with some foreboding.  The foreboding was justified as the upshot was a lockdown for an indefinite period, a rather depressing but necessary situation.  Honestly, it is not too bad for a retired couple like us but it is a lot harder for people with young children and/or jobs to do so we feel a lot of sympathy for our children and their problems.  It will also not be very jolly to say the least for my sisters and step mother who live in the middle of cities.

As we are officially allowed out for exercise once a day. I will be able to have a walk or a cycle, weather permitting, so I am lucky.  And Mrs Tootlepedal will have her garden so she is lucky too.

The flying bird of the day is a crow which was having a drink at the river and flew off as I approached.

flying crow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who passed the Bridge Inn at Duffield while on a bike ride.  As he had already fuelled up elsewhere, he took the picture and went on his way without calling in to sample the wares.

bridge inn Duffield

I know that I ought to be resting my Achilles tendon but I am feeling really exercise deprived and I might easily have done something inadvisable this morning had not the weather come to my rescue by producing another cold and grey day, ideally suited to sitting in and getting stuff done in the house.

I did stroll round the garden after breakfast.

Mrs Tootlepedal recently bought some depressed ranunculus plants in a pot at a garden centre.  She gave them some care, divided them up, planted them out, watered them in and now they are rewarding her with a splendid show.

ranunculus

A berberis in a shady corner caught my eye, with its flowers brightening up a gloomy corner.

berberis

A blackbird was quite happy to help with getting the moss out of the lawn.

blackbird pecking lawn

I opened the greenhouse and was much struck by this handsome Fuchsia inside.

fuchsia in green house

Mrs Tootlepedal bought it recently and put it outside in the warm spell.  Then it got badly hit by the frosty mornings so Mrs Tootlepedal trimmed off the damage and gave it some shelter and now it is looking very well.

Just outside the greenhouse, the rosemary bush is covered in flowers from top to toe.

rosemary bush

I noticed that the geums are coming along nicely….

geum forest

…and then went inside to get warm.

Later on in the morning, the sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted the sparrowhawk resting in the walnut tree after an unsuccessful fly through the garden.  It stayed there long enough for me to get a camera…

sparrowhawk in walnut tree

…but when I went out to see if I could get a closer shot, it flew off in disgust.  It didn’t take the little birds long to come back to the feeders.

siskin eating peanuts

The quarrelling pigeons were back again today and it went beyond hard stares and descended into flapping and waving which led to both birds losing their focus.

flapping pigeons

I put another week of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database and noticed that if you were shopping in Langholm’s High Street in 1899, you could acquire ‘all the latest London novelties’ from Mr Hyslop, the draper, who had just come back from a visit there.

Mrs Tootlepedal had to go out for an errand on her bicycle in the late afternoon and as the sun was shining, I went out with her and then turned off to do a little three bridges cycle instead of a walk by myself.

The copper beeches at the park bridge are looking good. two copper beeches

I didn’t go into the park but continued down to the waterside, and was happy to catch a glimpse of a grey wagtail at the Sawmill Brig.  It was living up to its name and waggling about a lot so I couldn’t get a very good picture.

grey wagtail

The trees that have been felled along the Lodge Walks have taken some of the magic away from the green tunnel that used to greet walkers…

lodge walks

…and you can see how big the gaps are when you look at the trees from the other side.

rear of lodge walks

The sun was disappearing rapidly behind the clouds by this time and the colours were rather subdued so I headed home (pedalling very gently)…

castleholm with dog walker

…noting this burst of blossom on a tree beside the Jubilee Bridge.

white blossom beside esk

Once back home, I had a last walk round the garden, enjoying the cow parsley above and the sweet woodruff below in the back border.

cow parsley and sweet woodruffe

The yellow azalea is doing its best to come out to join the pink one and the first yellow potentilla flower of the year has appeared nearby.

azalea and potentilla

There had been a light shower of rain earlier, which was welcome, but it had not been hard enough to wet the soil thoroughly.  It did make the lily of the valley shed tears apparently…

lily of the valley weeping

…and of course it gave me an excuse to take a picture of a spirea with droplets, one of my favourite subjects.

spirea with droplets

In between times, I practised choir songs and prepared some music for Luke.  Our wonderful Carlisle choir conductor has gone done in my personal popularity stakes a bit as she is making us learn another song off by heart.   As it is one of those songs where you sing the same words to slightly different notes each time they reappear (and they reappear a lot), so this means a lot of hard practice is required.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s tasty quorn concoction made a welcome return to the tea table in the evening, this time in the guise of a shepherd’s pie.

There are two flying birds for the price of one today with a siskin coming and a goldfinch going.

two just flying birds

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce and shows his dog, Guthrie considering the pros and cons of a quick swim in the leisure pool  on the Castleholm.

Guthrie

The changeable weather came as forecast but luckily for us, all the rain came during the hours of darkness and the day was dry and even occasionally sunny.  There was a lot of rain in the night though and when I crossed the river after breakfast, I could see the result.

Esk in spate

I was on my way to the doctor to find out about my iron levels.  They are fine and I am now certified as fully attractive to any passing magnet.

On my way across the river, I noticed an old friend so I pedalled back to the house to get a camera and came back in the hope that he would still be there.  He was there….

heron

….tucked away in a sheltered spot in the lee of the Kirk Bridge while the river roared past.

Some vigorous bird calls made me look about and I saw a pair of very active grey wagtails, one of whom stopped still long enough for me to take a picture.

grey wgtail

When I got back to the garden, there was a pair of active blue tits there on the fat balls.

two bluetits on fat balls

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy painting a door in the kitchen and when she had finished, we had coffee.  After coffee, I applied myself to the crossword and then, when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre, I applied myself to lawn care.

I mowed both the front lawn and the greenhouse grass which were remarkably firm and dry after the night’s rain.  A brisk wind and some sun had helped.

In order to get a breather from the mowing, I broke off from time to time to look around.

In spite of the strong wind, the garden was full of butterflies again…

tortoiseshell, red admiral and peacock butterflies

…and there were bees and other insects everywhere.

bees on daisies

We have had quite a good selection of bumble bees this year as well as lots of honey bees.

three bees on flowers

This was my favourite moment.

big and little insects

One of the astrantias has come again but oddly for such a bee magnet, it was bee free today.

late astrantia

I did a little bird watching too.

Sparrows and blue tits took turns on the fat balls.

sparrow coming blue tit going

A siskin had its feathers ruffled by the breeze.

blowy siskin

And a coal tit dropped in a couple of times but was rather camera shy.

coal tit

After lunch, I decided that I should brave the wind and go for a pedal as the weather looked set fair.

Once out of the shelter of the town, it was very breezy, with gusts of up to 30 mph so I settled for a ride to the top of Callister and back followed by another turn up the Wauchope valley as far as the schoolhouse and this gave me 20 miles, quite far enough for my legs.

There is no doubt that the hills are beginning to turn brown…

Wauchope road brown view

..but the overnight rain had made my favourite cascade quite dramatic and worth a scramble down the banking to see it in action.

Wauchope cascade Sept 2018

The level in the Esk had dropped though and a gull could stand on a rock by the water’s edge without risk of being swept away.

gull beside river

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy afternoon and arrived home after me and we spent a little time in the garden.

Second flowerings are to be seen on all sides.

second delphinium

Delphinium

second vebascum

Verbascum

And the golden wedding rose keeps producing new flowers.

golden wedding roses Sept 18

We are still dead heading in an effort to keep things going but it can’t be denied that the flowers are gradually fading away.

The plums are over but we are awash with apples and the raspberries are ripening steadily so we are not starved of fruit just yet.

Mrs Tootlepedal made an interesting one pot evening meal which involved almond milk, cauliflower and linguine.    It was very much to my liking though Mrs Tootlepedal thought that she could take it or leave it alone.

After previous predictions of gloom and doom, the forecast is now for another dry but windy day tomorrow.  It is difficult to plan when things change so frequently.

Under the circumstances, I thought it only proper to have two flying birds of the day today, one in the sunshine…

flying chaffinch in sunshine

….and one on the shade.

flying chaffinch in shadow

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s trip to Madeira.

madeira

The forecasters are having a hard time at present getting the details of the weather correct, largely I suspect because the weather is so unusual these days that their computer models are not provided with enough helpful historic data.  All the same, various forecasts were pretty sure that we were going to get rain and possibly thunderstorms in the afternoon today.

We spent the day waiting…..in vain.

Partly as a result of this and partly because I didn’t feel at my best, I had a slightly wasted day and hardly did anything useful or interesting.  I had a moment of helpfulness when we got the petrol driven soil cultivator out and used it to to improve the paths between the new beds in the veg garden.  And I mowed some of the greenhouse grass.  But that was it.

I had time hanging heavy on my hands so I took a lot of flower pictures.

If you want white then the bridal wreath spirea is the plant for you.

spirea

It has a lot of little flowers per every square inch.

The first pink was out today and it is very white too.

pink

I went in search of bright colour and found it behind the house where the oriental poppies are enormous.

oriental poppyoriental poppy

A new rose has arrived.

rosa complicata

And I found a bee on a lily leaf in the pond.  Perhaps it had been having a swim or a drink.

bee in pond

After a while with few bees, it is good to see and hear numbers of both honey and bumble bees about.  Now I am waiting for some more butterflies to turn up.

I made some soup for lunch and then we were delighted to welcome a few drops of rain but they turned out to be a false alarm and soon gave up.  There were rumbles of thunder and dark clouds but these too were to produce nothing though I heard later that there was a storm in Hawick, 20 miles up the road.

In desperation, I went for a walk, reckoning that this would be bound to make it rain.

I saw the oyster catchers beside the Esk and noted that they had two youngsters with them.  I managed to catch one each of the parents and children.

oyster catcher with young

I crossed the Langholm Bridge, bought an ice cream from the van and spent some time watching pied and grey wagtails flitting about.  It looked as though the grey wagtails might be feeding young in a nest on the bank.

grey wagtail

Looking back at the town bridge, I saw its railings reflected in the trickle of water going down the river below.

Langholm Bridge

Just below the Sawmill Brig, there is a fine display of knapweed on a stony island in the Ewes Water (though it wasn’t an island today as the water was so low).

knapweed

We are in a very green season as a stroll up the Lodge Walks….

Lodge Walks

…and across the Castleholm showed.

Castleholm

I walked across to a favourite tree, a red horse-chestnut…

red chestnut

…and took a closer look at the flowers which are just going over.

red chestnut

The racecourse was a sea of buttercups….

race course castleholm with buttercups

…which may account for the state of my shoes when I got home.

shoes with buttercup dust

There was no trouble in finding grasses, nettles and plantains on my way.

wild grasses and nettle

My favourite wild thing though was the corydalis that lives on the wall at the top of the Scholars’ Field.

corydalis

Far from making it rain, my walk made the sun come out….

clouds

…and all the big clouds slipped past the town.  Ironically, as soon as the sun came out, it also started to rain but this was another half hearted effort and Mrs Tootlepedal had to water the vegetable garden again.  I watered the gooseberries, strawberries and sunflowers.

I had another look for new flowers and found a pretty Sweet William…

Sweet william

I was feeling far from my peak by this time but fortunately, Mrs Tootlepedal whipped up a wonderfully tasty meal of Eggs Florentine (spinach from the garden) followed by delicious Scottish strawberries on a meringue base topped with whipped cream.

The whole thing was a taste sensation and an outright indulgence and it was just what the doctor ordered as after I had eaten, I suddenly felt perky enough to get out the new bike and enjoy 16 miles in the late evening sunshine.  The meal and the unexpected bike ride made an otherwise rather dull  day seem quite cheerful in the end.

Now if it would just rain overnight….

They say that there is a chance of rain tomorrow but we will believe when we see it.

The flower of the day is a Butter and Sugar Iris.

butter and sugar irisbutter and sugar iris

A wonderful plant which managed to capture about ten of the raindrops that fell today.

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Today’s guest picture is another from foreign parts.  Dropscone is on holiday in Majorca and was impressed by the efforts to keep the sea at bay there.

majorca

We had another lovely day here.  I don’t want to sound ungrateful because we have enjoyed the spell of good weather immensely but getting it so early in the year, may well mean that we will have to wait a long time for another good spell to come along.  In the meantime we may not be as pleased to see normal late spring weather as we would have been if we hadn’t had this misplaced burst of summer.

Still it is very welcome while it is here.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s river of blue is coming along…

hyacinths

…though it is not easy to capture on camera.  The sharp eyed will just be able to make the hyacinths out in front of the daffs.

The area for the new bench was smartened up and dead on cue the new bench arrived…

new bench

…and by happy coincidence, a lady bearing gifts of plants for Mrs Tootlepedal’s garden  turned up at just the right time to give the new bench a test.

P1090174

It was decided that it was a fraction too high and the bench maker promised to return and cut a bit off the bottom of the legs.

All the same, it was quite suitable for Mrs Tootlepedal and I to sit on while we drank our morning coffee and I was pleased to see that the dicentra beside the bench was acting as a bee magnet.

bee on dicentra

It had attracted a very big bumble bee.

Mrs Tootlepedal has been busy in the garden and I found that she had planted out one of the corydalis from the pots by the greenhouse.  She had found a good spot.

corydalis

The sun has brought on the tulips and there is colour on all sides.

tulips

tulips

This was my daff of the day.

daffodils

I had a look for tadpoles in the pond and for life on the dam and found both.

tadpole and water boatman

A little pond skater cast a big shadow!

On the front lawn, a blackbird found a juicy worm…

blackbird

…and having found it, disappeared into our holly bush.  As it went in, another came out and the in and out traffic continued so it looks as though there must be a nest in there.  We await developments.

I took advantage of the dry conditions to mow the middle lawn again and the battle against the moss is progressing quite well but as rain is forecast for tomorrow, I am not counting any chickens yet.

With all the action in the garden, there was not much time to watch the birds and there weren’t many birds to watch but I was pleased to see a goldfinch in the plum tree…

goldfinch

…not least because I could see some growth on the plum tree too.

In the garden, I sieved a little compost and I am now getting near the end of the material in Bin D so another compost shifting process will start soon.

After an early lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I put the last of the new veg beds into place. Some delicate work with the spirit level was required.

veg beds

The slightly narrower beds and the consequently wider path between them should makes things easier for the gardener.

After we had finished the bed, we sat on the bench again and I felt bold and thirsty enough to try drinking a mug of Mrs Tootlepedal’s ginger and ginseng infusion which comes in a standard teabag.

After drinking it, I found myself strangely serene and at the same time somewhat stimulated but curiously with no great desire to try the stuff again.

Under the influence of the concoction,  I put on my cycling shorts for the first time for many months and went off for a gentle pedal round my customary Canonbie circuit.  It was so warm and sunny by this point that I had to apply some sun blocker to my peely-wally limbs before setting out and I certainly needed it, as it was pretty warm in the sun. I had to keep drinking even on a short ride.

As the forecast suggests that the temperature is going to drop ten degrees and it it is going to rain at some point in every day to the end of the month, I enjoyed the warm  sunshine today a lot.

I was in no hurry.  Indeed my legs made it plain that I couldn’t have hurried even if I had wanted to so I had time to stop and look around.

I had noticed on a previous ride that if the sun was in the right place, it picked out the house beyond the central arch of the Liddle Viaduct and so it proved today.

Liddle viaduct

Yesterday it was celandines and today it was anemones.

anemones

I stopped on Canonbie Bridge to see how the willow flowers were getting on.  They were pretty well over but beside them, a new flower was sprouting.   I think that this is an ash tree.

canonbie tree flowers

I stopped on Hollows Bridge to see if I could persuade myself that I could see green leaves on the trees beside the river.

Esk at Hollows

Hmm.

I could see some green leaves further on though.  What I think might be a  beech at Irvine House and what is definitely a bramble at the end of the bike track.

beech and bramble

When I got home, I had a cup of tea and persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal to leave the garden for a while and come with me for a walk. She had been working hard all day so she cycled along beside me while I walked with cameras in hand.

I was hoping for riverside bird life but we only saw a lone oyster catcher and a distant grey wagtail.

wagtail and oyster catcher

There were plenty of people about and even one hardy young lad swimming in what must have been pretty chilly water so it was no surprise that there weren’t many birds about too.

The walk had its compensations though.

Ewes with daffs

Lodge Walks

And when we got home I found that the reason that I hadn’t seen any honey bees in the garden today was probably because they were all visiting my neighbour Hector’s currants.

bee on currant

On consulting my spreadsheet, I find that my afternoon ride, though short, still brought up the 1000 miles for the year so far.  I am still behind schedule but making progress.

I didn’t have time to spend waiting for a good flying bird to turn up so this is the best that I could do for flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows two very interesting bricks from Scottish brickworks. The brickworks were proud enough of their bricks to put their name on every one they made. Our son Tony came upon them in the course of his work.

Tony's bricks

Today was passed in a state of suspended animation.  It was another nice day (although it did spoil it by raining for a few minutes in the early evening) but I didn’t go cycling through a combination of things to do and feeling rather tired.

We are going on holiday tomorrow so there was grass to be mowed, apples to be picked, cooked and frozen, insurance to be purchased and the list of things that we need to take and think about had to be made.

I did get out into the garden with a camera from time to time in the midst of all this and noticed two bees in very sharing mode.

bees on dahlia

I dead headed poppies….

poppies

There seems to be a never ending variety of colours

…cosmos, dahlias, calendula and rudbeckia but I noticed that there is always another head to dead when you look at the lot you have just completed.   Mrs Tootlepedal edged the front lawn and thinned plants out so things look reasonably neat.

I took pictures of a cornflower and our current stock of clematis as I went along.

cornflower

clematis

The garden is full of blackbirds flitting about.  Mrs Tootlepedal counted seven at the same time when she leaned out of an upper window this morning.  I saw this one on a fence later on.

blackbird

Mike Tinker dropped by after lunch to show us one of his bicycle collection.

Mike's bike

He told that this was his mother’s bike, complete with dynamo for lights and a three gear hub.  We were very impressed by the sporty handlebars.  It was in good working order as he demonstrated when he rode off on it.

After he had left, I admired the nerines…

nerines

…and saw a peacock butterfly on the Michaelmas daisies…

peacock butterfly

…before driving down to Longtown to get a spare of music and computing glasses which were waiting for me at the opticians.

When I had recovered from the shock of paying for them (the receptionist kindly made sure that I was sitting down before she gave me the bill), I went off for a walk along the river.

It was sunny but there were plenty of clouds about….

Longtown bridge

…but I got my walk in without getting rained on for more than twenty seconds.

There must have been a lot of insects about near the bridge because there were industrial quantities of grey and pied wagtails shooting up into the air from the rocks in the middle of the river.  They were a bit too far away for me to capture on the whole picture…

wagtails

There is a pied wagtail on the extreme left of the frame and a grey wagtail on the extreme right

…but one grey wagtail came close enough  to be easily recognisable.

grey wagtail

I walked down the river and round the ponds without seeing much in the way of wild flowers, perhaps because there were great swathes of Himalayan balsam everywhere.

himalayan balsam

It is a pretty plant but it smothers all the opposition.

The ponds were looking very peaceful….

Longtown pondsLongtown ponds

But I would have needed my new long lens to get any water fowl pictures.

I could see Arthuret Church across the fields…

Arthuret Church

…and it was clear enough to see the windmills on the far side of Langholm.

Craig windfarm

I was hoping to find a good crop of blackberries to eat as I went round but it was obvious that a very determined picker had got in before me and there were hardly any left.  I could have eaten any amount of elderberries though…

elderberries

…but I let that opportunity go.

The clouds looked even more threatening when I got back to the town…

Longtown

…but for once, I was in the right place at the right time and drove home in pleasantly sunny conditions.

In the evening Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a short play before they went off leaving us time to do our packing.

No flying bird of the day today but another look at some clear skies.  I had to get up just before 6 o’clock this morning, impelled by one of those necessities familiar to readers of a certain age and when I looked out of the window, I could see the morning star shining brightly above the monument on Whita Hill.  I could have gone downstairs to get my good camera and the tripod but it was six o’clock in the morning for goodness sake so I just pointed my phone out of the window and hoped for the best.

morning star above Whita

It did what it could.

Posts may be very variable for the next few days while we are away.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  A wood pigeon has made a nest in her hornbeam tree and looks quite comfortable there.

pigeon in hornbeam

We had a dry and sunless day and the wind had calmed down a lot so I thought it might be a good day to get out on my bike.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle to help sort the choir music out and in her absence, I pleasantly surprised myself by getting my bike out,  then cleaning and lubricating the chain and finally getting on it and actually going for a ride.

Even with the lighter wind, it was still quite chilly so I concentrated on getting round the 20 mile Canonbie route as quickly as possible (not very quickly) and didn’t stop to take any pictures.

I made up for that when I got home and watched the birds and walked round the garden with camera in hand.

Flowers first:

cowslippy things

A bunch of ‘cowslippy’ things

scilla

The scillas are still looking good

euphorbia

Tiny little flowers have appeared among the crabs claws on the euphorbia

tulip

Some tulips are looking good but there are plenty of tulips still to come

daffodil

My favourite of the day

The birds keep coming…

busy feeder

…from all directions.

And they keep squabbling too.

siskins squabbling

siskins squabbling

While I watched the birds, I made some red soup for lunch (carrots, sweet potato, red peppers…..it was very red) and when Mrs Tootlepedal came back from Carlisle, she had time to have some for her lunch before she went off again, this time to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda…

matilda

…who was enjoying some flowers herself this morning.  (Photo by Dad)

When she had gone, I sieved a little more compost and then put my camera in the slow bike’s back bag and went off to see what i could see beside the river.

There were a lot of grey and pied wagtails flitting about on the rocks in the Esk at the Cogie….

wagtails

…but the light was dull and they were too far away to get good pictures.  I enjoyed sitting on a handy bench and watching them though.

Then I went up to the stretch between the bridges where I had seen the goosanders yesterday but they weren’t there today.

Two oyster catchers kindly stood in for them.

oyster catchers

One looked for food in the pools among the rocks.

oyster catcher

While I was watching the oyster catchers and simultaneously talking to a fellow camera club member and his wife, I was distracted by a low flying object….

goosanders

…which turned out to be the goosanders going up river at speed.

I followed them at a leisurely pace and found them floating about in the Ewes.

goosanders

They did a lot of underwater work but I would need a whole different camera set up to photograph them fishing.

I hoped to catch a dipper too but I only got a fleeting glance of one as it flew off immediately I got near it at the Sawmill Brig.  I didn’t spend time hoping that it would come back but moved on past the tree of the day…

tree with sheep

…which was enhanced by sheep and went on to the Jubilee Bridge in the hope of seeing nuthatches at the nest there.

I was in luck and saw a couple of visits.

nuthatches

I think that the nuthatch was busy making the insert into the nesting hole which makes it as narrow as practicable.

I got home with time to tackle the crossword before settling down to process the day’s pictures and then have a baked potato for my tea.

In the evening, Susan came to pick me up and we went to Carlisle to play with our recorder group.  We had an excellent evening of music (and first rate biscuits and tea to follow).   We are going to meet a little less often after many years of trying to meet weekly and our next meeting won’t be until the end of May so it was good that we had such an enjoyable evening of playing to mark the end of an era.

Mrs Tootlepedal had returned safely from Matilda, with whom she had played Snap, by the time that I got home.

The flying bird of the day is a serious minded chaffinch, keeping a wary eye out for any unseemly rough behaviour at the feeder.

chaffinch

He has the air of Mrs May about him, I thought.

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