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Posts Tagged ‘gull’

Today’s guest picture is a further report from Tony’s Highland holiday.  He has been to the Isle of Skye.

oznor

A lot of my posts recently seem to have been done late at night and in rather a rush, not helped by my computer behaving in a grumpy manner and frequently holding things up.  This one is no exception so I apologise for any dodgy photos and grammatical infelicities.  I am tired.

A couple of readers have asked for more general garden shots. I leaned out of upstairs windows this morning and had a look about.

The front lawn has had a dose of my moss eating treatment so it looks a bit patchy but the beds round it are quite colourful at the moment.

front lawn 27 june

I couldn’t get a view of the whole of the middle lawn because the plum tree gets in the way but the grass is better on it and I like the combination of shrubs and flowers in the right hand bed.

middle lawn 27 june

This is a view from one lawn to the other across the pond.

view of pond bed

General views are all very well but who could pass roses and peonies like these without taking a picture?

the wren margareta and peony

And even in their passing, the peonies are full of interest.

peony teeth

Our neighbour Liz brought her great nephew into the garden to walk over the pond bridge and I was able to point out a frog basking in the sunshine to him as he crossed.

june frog

In return, he told me that he had seen fish swimming in the dam, so I went out to have a look.  He was right.

fish in dam

I had time to mow the middle lawn before we set off in the Zoe for an outing.

The chief business of the day was our customary trip to Edinburgh, but instead of going to Lockerbie as usual, we went to Tweedbank to catch a train on the Borders Railway.  One of the reasons for the change of route was that it let us visit the lost property office of the Border Bus Company in Galashiels on the way.  Some careless fellow had left his cap on the bus to Carlisle when we went to London recently and it had been returned to Galashiels where I picked it up today.  The cap fitted so I wore it.

The route up to Edinburgh from Tweedbank is delightful on a sunny day, and it was certainly very sunny today.  Although the farmers weren’t making hay as the sun shone, they were certainly cutting a lot of silage.

view from border's railway

We did a little shopping when we got to Edinburgh, and then we sat on the top deck of a bus as we went down to see Matilda.  We were in the front seats and got a good view of a bit of Edinburgh of the past…

old edinburgh

…and a bit of Edinburgh to come.

new edinburgh

As it was such a lovely day, Matilda was keen to visit the park again.  The road to the park is called Butterfly Way so it was good to see an actual butterfly on the way to the park.

butterfly way

The park was busy and Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda had to take avoiding action when a cyclist came towards them.

Mrs T and Matilda Lochend

Not everyone was busy though, and we saw this duck having a snooze in the middle of the loch.

duck at Lochend

We arrived safely at the little pier at the end of the Loch and were able to see water birds of all sorts.

pond life Lochend

And we noticed that coots have very big feet….

….as do moorhens.

moorhen Lochend

Mallard’s feet are more in keeping with the size of their bodies.

mallard Lochend

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the coots and moorhens need big feet not just for swimming but to support themselves when they are wading over mud and marsh.

 

Matilda had a lot of fun on the adventurous climbing frame, the roundabout and a swing, and then was given some bread by a kind lady to feed the birds.  She found that gulls are very rude and greedy birds.

A magpie turned up after all the food was gone and looked a bit put out.

magpie Lochend

After plenty of fun all round, we returned home and played a couple of games of Go Fish.  I won’t tell you who won because it will just make Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda big headed.  I didn’t cry though.

After another delicious meal cooked for us by Alistair and Clare, it was time to head for home on a very comfortable and punctual train.  The days are so long now and the weather was so good today, that it was still light when we arrived back at ten o’clock.

There was no time for a flying bird today.  A picture of Matilda having a standing up straight competition with a lamppost takes its place.

Matilda standing straight

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my flute pupil Luke’s father, Alan.  He has been forced to go to Dubrovnik on work related business and this is the view from his hotel window.  Poor chap.

Dubrovnik

I realised that I had inexcusably omitted a great moment from yesterday’s activities in my daily account so here it is now – a new world record of fourteen castles being stamped upon being established by Matilda, mighty in battle, the castle stamper extraordinaire.

Contemplating the task…

dav

…and leaving the field in triumph.

Today was another sunny and windy day and while Al and Clare took the train back to Edinburgh to vote in the European elections and Mrs Tootlepedal took Matilda to the Seabird Centre to ;earn abut birds amd have fun, I hired a bike again and rode a gentle fifteen miles through the East Lothian countryside, avoiding the wind as much as I could.

I passed the impressive doocot at Dirleton castle…

Doocot Dirleton

…and noted the flowers along the wall beside the castle grounds.

flowwers Dirleton

Unlike our pastoral countryside, the agricultural business here is growing things.  I stopped to record a colourful field of rape (canola)….

rape NB

…while across the road, a potato field stretched into the distance…

potato field NB

…though I did come across one paddock with horses in it.

horses NB

There were solid gateposts to be seen…

stone gate posts NB

…and hawthorn bushes were in flower all along my route.

hawthorn NB

I got home safely and Al and Clare arrived from Edinburgh almost at the same time as Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda got back from the Seabird Centre so we are able to have a family lunch together.

After lunch, we drove a few miles up the road to visit Archerfield House….

Archerfield House and the Law

…..with its walled garden, its geese and goslings…

goslings Archerfield

…its wild flowers…

wild flowers Archerfield

…its wood full of fairy houses…

fairy houses Archerfield

…and cleverly made animals…

animals Archerfield

…and some real animals too.

deer Archerfield

The fairy wood walk  in dappled sunshine and sheltered from the wind was a treat for old and young alike….

Walking in the wood Archerfield

…and I particularly liked the glimpses of mature pines on the neighbouring golf course.

gold fcourse Archerfield

There were works of art in the woods….

Mrs T at Archerfield

…and artists at work too…

artist at Archerfield

…working with elegant models.

fairy at Archerfield

It was too breezy to build sand castles in the beach when we got home so Mrs Tootlepedal and I left the others in the cottage and got well and truly sand blasted as we walked along the shore.

sand blowing

After another excellent evening meal cooked by Alistair, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went out to sit on the harbour wall in a sheltered spot and watch the gannets soaring and swooping in their hundreds over the sea.

The birds were too far out to photograph satisfactorily but we couldn’t miss their home, positively glowing in the evening sun.

Bass Rock gleaming

The gannets may have stayed out of range but as usual a gull was happy to oblige as flying bird of the day.

flying gull

Note: As far as the election went, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had arranged for proxy votes to be cast on our behalf so we have done our democratic duty.  We had been too late to get a postal vote.

Another note:  I haven’t had time to do the usual reading and commenting on other people’s blogs so I apologise if if have missed any gems which would have enhanced my life.  I will try to catch up when I get home.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s tour of five abbeys last weekend.  As well as many fine buildings, he saw some good bridges too, among them this lift bridge at Gloucester docks.

20190517_144257~2

It was another calm, dry day at North Berwick and after breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal and I enjoyed a stroll along a largely deserted beach before taking Matilda up to the carousel for another whirl, this time on a horse….

anothe rode

…followed by a very vigorous bounce on the mini trampolines nearby.

We had a walk on the east beach afterwards in company with a pied wagtail.

wagtail on NB beach

The local seagulls are a lazy lot and this one was trying to get a lift out to sea on a seal, but it hadn’t got things quite right to the amusement of the seal.

gull on seal

We got back to our cottage in time for lunch and a visit from our landlady and an electrician.  They had come to fix the lights in the kitchen which were all defunct.  We were pleased to get them mended but a slightly better impression might have been created if they had been working when we got here.

After lunch, we put on suitable clothing and set off to the harbour to catch the boat for our annual trip to the Bass Rock.  We got to the harbour early and Al and Matilda waited patiently on the harbour wall.

al and maltilda on harobour wall

We were first onto the boat when the time came and it wasn’t long before we were pottering out of the harbour past some eider ducks…

eider ducks

…and heading towards the open sea.  Once clear of the rocks, the captain put his foot on the accelerator and we sped off towards Craigleieth Island at a great rate of knots.

Craigleith Island is home to nesting razor bills and guillemots in great numbers but as soon as a puffin appeared on one side of the boat….

ouffin off craigleityh

…or the other…

puffin swimming

…every camera turned to it and the other birds were ignored.

We were on the wrong side of the boat to get the best view of the birds on the island but I did spot a seal…

seal on Craigleith

…and I was happy to watch the guillemots and razor bills swimming about without taking pictures of them.

Once we had circumnavigated the small island, we left it in our wake…

appraoching craigleith

…and headed off towards the Bass Rock…

approaching bass rock

…where it was impossible not to notice the thousands upon thousands of gannets nesting there and filling the air above and around the rock.

bass rck covered in gannets

Gannets are beautiful birds with a wingspan of nearly six feet.

flying gannet

The boat took us right up to the rock and as we were on the right side of the boat this time, we got a wonderful view of the birds.

two gannets at nest

Gannets are affectionate birds and do a lot of beak tapping as couples.  The guide told us that if we saw this loud behaviour…

gannet shouting

…the gannet wasn’t  complaining but just telling its partner that it was going off fishing for a while.

We were too close to shallow water to see the gannets doing their spectacular dives but we did see them taking off…

gannet after take off

….flying past with nest material in their beaks,,,,

gannet flying

…and demonstrating their impressive wingspans,

gannet flying away

They are very striking birds when seen close to and the boat captain was meticulous in giving us every opportunity to admire them.

two gannets

The rock is almost entirely covered by gannets but there were a few kittiwakes (not close enough to photograph) and occasional guillemots who had found a spare ledge to call their own.

two guillemots

I think that this was my favourite shot of the trip.

gannet taking off

The east end of the rock has some fine caves and a lighthouse….

bass rock caves

…and once we had passed them, it was time to head back to harbour as the rock grew smaller…

farewell bass rock

…and smaller as we motored on under a big sky.

bss rock with cloud front

We got safely back to harbour having enjoyed unusually calm conditions for the trip, and after another whirl on the carousel and bounce on the trampolines by one member of the party, we had a cup of tea in the Seabird Centre and arrived home tried but satisfied.

Al cooked us a very tasty lemon and asparagus linguine for our tea and that rounded off a first rate day.

Although I was spoiled for choice, I haven’t gone for the predictable gannet as flying bird of the day but I have chosen a herring gull instead.

flying gull

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He attended the Fife agricultural show on a damp day yesterday.

ag show fife

We had a calm and tolerably warm day today at North Berwick although an early glimpse of sun soon headed out to sea….

sun on island NB

…leaving us feeling that a coat might be a good thing.

After breakfast, I went down to the beach with Matilda and while she channelled the little mermaid…

matilda as mermaid

I got busy building five sand castles.

As soon as they were finished, the little mermaid turned back into Matilda (her name means mighty in battle) with the inevitable outcome for my castles…

castle stamping sequence

….but luckily, I had a back up.

Queen of the castle NB

We went back in after a while and collected Mrs Tootlepedal and went off for a babyccino and a biscuit at the Seabird Centre cafe which has a fine view across the bay to Craigleith Island.

veiw from seabird centre NB

There is a traditional carousel outside the Centre, so what could be more natural than taking a ride in carriage while ringing the bell…

matilda on carousel NB

…and smiling at the assembled audience?

matilda on carousel NB close

We gathered together with Matilda’s parents for a nourishing lunch of soup and bread and cheese and then went back down to the beach.  Our cottage leads onto a sheltered corner of the which was heavily use for launching sailing boats…

reflection in sea NB

…and power boats too.

car on beach NB

We watched the Seabird Cruise catamaran leave the harbour with interest as we are going to go on that cruise ourselves tomorrow.

seabird cruise NB

Other seafarers took the cheaper self drive option.

rowers NB

When the boat launchers left enough space, Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda took a stand against the incoming tide…

Mrs T and Matilda NB

…and when their castle was washed away (King Knut was right), and a light drizzle had started, we went inside and played cards.  I won’t say who won but we were playing ‘Beggar my Neighbour’ and I played the part of the beggared neighbour very well several times so it wasn’t me.

The drizzle cleared and Al and Clare took Matilda off to do some trampolining and have another ride on the carousel while Mrs Tootlepedal and I did some shopping.

While we were walking back to the cottage, we passed a small flock of eider ducks by the harbour, so I went in to get my camera and walked back to the harbour by which the time, the ducks had flown.

I had a little wander round and found that boats, both gentle….

sailing boats NB

…and speedy…

speedy boat NB

… were still filling the waters round the harbour.  It had been a busy day on the sea.

I was hoping to catch a flying bird and was disappointed to find this gull waiting for a lift home.

dav

Out to sea, a low mist had formed, shrouding all but the hills on the Fife shore across the Forth…

fife shore low mist

…and surrounding the Bass Rock too.

bass rock low mist

We finished a traditional day in a traditional way by going out for a meal of fish and chips.  It has been a good start to our holiday.

And I did find at least one gull who proceeding under its own steam.

flying gull

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All charged up

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew  who spotted a fine bridge in Tamworth.

Tamworth bridge

Just a brief post today to say that we left the delights of the garden at home…

home azaleahome clematis

…and travelled to North Berwick by way of Tweedbank.  We stopped at Tweedbank to use a public charging point for the little white zingy thingy.  We were anxious to find out if we could mange the process for the first time.  It turned out to be remarkably simple.  It was due to take 55 minutes to charge up the power that we had used getting there so we took the opportunity to walk past this fine outburst of broom and hawthorn…

dav

….to a cafe on a loch nearby where we had lunch.

The charging had gone to schedule when we got back to the car and we drove on to North Berwick in a very relieved state of mind.  Some of the route took us over steep and long hills where the power meter dropped dramatically but as we went down the other side, the meter recovered its equilibrium and we arrived with plenty of power to spare.

I parked in a public car park 200 yards from our cottage and was delighted to find another public charging point there. We should get home all right at the end of our week.

It was rather grey and drizzly in North Berwick but I went for a short walk while we were waiting for Matilda and her parents to arrive.  It is always a pleasure to be at the seaside, whatever the weather.

bass rock from afarNB harbourNB law behind townNB faoming rocksNB rocks and foamBas rock from distanceNB lichenNB pool changing hutsarctic tern scul[tureNB bird spotter

And of course there are a lot of flying birds about too.

flying gull

I should note that although we haven’t been here long, Matilda has already stamped on ten of my sandcastles.  It is going to be a busy week.

 

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Today’s guest picture is a second from Bruce’s recent visit to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway.  I make no apologies, I love steam engines.  This one was built in 1896 and is a lot older than me.

Bruce's train

We had yet another lovely day here with more wall to wall sunshine and no call for a jumper or jersey at all.  It is going to be a shock when we get back to normal spring temperatures in a few days time.

Meantime we are enjoying the weather without complaint.

The tulips are enjoying the weather too…

two glorious poppies

..with new ones coming out each day.

red and white poppy

Mrs Tootlepedal has a lot of dicentras spread about the garden and that makes me happy as both the bees and I like them a lot.  I got a rare shot of one without a bee nearby today.

dicentra trio

In general, the garden is looking very cheerful with plenty of colour on all sides.

garden flower panel

I spent a happy morning pottering about, chatting to neighbours over the fence and dead heading daffodils as well as doing a little mowing while Mrs Tootlepedal  planted some onions.

The plum blossoms are pretty well over and the birds are now posing among the leaves.

goldfinch and plum tree leaves

After lunch, I went for a short walk, crossing the Wauchope Water which has been reduced to a trickle by the lack of rain…

wauchope in a trickle

…and enjoying a rhododendron in the park as I climbed the steps…

park rhododendron

…up to the Stubholm track, which was looking leafy.

stucholm track

While this adds to the pleasure of going along the track, it detracts from the views along the way.

leave sblocking view

The purpose of my walk was to take a second look at the bluebells to see if two sunny days had brought them on.

They had.

bluebells glade

There were bluebells on all sides.

bluebell panel

The individual plants are looking very healthy this year…

bluebells 1

…and the combined effect is well worth a walk to see.

bluebells 2

At the bottom of the hill, I saw the first wild garlic of the year…

wild garlic april

…and looking along the Murtholm, I could see that the trees are going green in earnest.

murtholm in April

My feet are still a bit troublesome so I turned and walked back to the park along the Beechy Plains.

beechy plains

Keeping an eye on the river as I went along.

corner of Esk

Two gulls were in position on handy rocks.  They were just too far apart to get them both into one shot

gull on rock in river

When I got home, I had a moment to look at the birds…

redpoll

…but there were not a lot about, possibly because the sparrowhawk paid several unsuccessful visits to the garden during the day.

After a short rest, I got my bike out and stretched my tender tendon by cycling fourteen warm and sunny miles at a gentle pace, stopping only once to record a good show of blackthorn along the Cleuchfoot road.

Cleuchfoot blackthorn

The bicycle is a fine mode of transport because not only does it get you from A to B reasonably quickly and very economically, but it also has magical properties.  You may be a fairly elderly person, with unreliable joints and poor eyesight but when the road is flat and the wind is helpful, even you can whizz along at such a speed and with such freedom and ease that you can easily imagine yourself as Young Lochinvar or one of the three men who brought the good news to Aix from Ghent and feel quite young again.

Of course any little hill or change in the wind direction can knock that fantasy on its head in a moment but there is nothing like it while it lasts.

And Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a delicious tea to round off a good day.

While we were taking a late turn round the garden, we were visited by an old friend who has returned from America after many years away.  He is a good flute player and I hope that when he has time, he will give me some tips to pass on to Luke.  (We didn’t have a lesson today as it was both a holiday and too good a day to waste time indoors.)

The flying bird of the day is a siskin getting ready for a landing on the feeder.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from Stephen, my sister Susan’s friend.  He used to live  in New Zealand but has moved to Sydney in Australia where he sees a lot of ibis on his way to the gym.

two ibis

We had another dry day here but there was a cold wind blowing which made it feel far from springlike if you were out and about.

The tulips took the view that staying tucked up was the best policy.

chilly tulips

I had a quiet morning in and even when the sun came out, it was quite cold enough to make me happy to be looking out of the window.

two chaffinches plum blossom

Some goldfinches were concentrating hard on getting lined up correctly for landing…

well aligned goldfinch

…while others were trying to get a perch freed up.

goldfinches fighting

I made some soup for lunch and when Mrs Tootlepedal went off for an embroiderers’ Guild meeting, I thought about a short cycle ride but it was grey and the wind was very mean so I settled for a woolly hat and gloves and went for a short walk instead.

My feet were a bit sore and it was so cold that I almost gave up before I had gone half a mile, but a cheerful bank of daffodils in the park kept me going…

daffs and garlic

..and I soon found myself going along the riverside path among a blanket of wild garlic.  The bench in the picture above will be not for the faint of nose soon.

I could see the garlic buds among the leaves and there were other subdued signs of spring too.

four subdued wild flowers

There was a bit of colour here and there but it was cold enough for the script lichen to be obvious.

anemone. script lichen, dandelion

I plodded on towards Murtholm farm and Skippers Bridge and was rewarded when rather unexpectedly, the sun came out, showing up the yellow algae on a concrete fence post beside the road at Skippers.  It looks as though it should be slimy from a distance but it turns out to be quite fluffy when you look closely.

algae on concrete

I saw the algae when I was climbing over the low fence on my way down to the river bank to enjoy one of my favourite views.

skipers bridge April

The little ripple just above the bridge was looking charming with the water level being as low as it is at the moment.

river esk above skippers

I crossed the road beside the river and climbed up the steps that lead to the old railway and walked along the track below the embankment…

birch wood

…until I got to the gate that leads onto the hill. It was a completely different day by now and as I was sheltered from the malignant breeze, I was very happy that I had kept going.

oak tree in field

I walked up to the Round House, originally built as a gazebo  by a local landowner so that he could enjoy…

approaching round house

…this view of the town and the surrounding hills.

view from round house

From the Round House, I took the track back to the town….

track from round house

…and fell in with three cheery fellows from Hawick who had caught the bus to Langholm and walked nine miles round the back of Whita Hill.  They were pleased to be out of the wind too and looking forward to catching the bus back home.

The Embroiderers’ Guild members  were still meeting as I walked past the Day Centre.  I like their banner which is there to attract any passing needlewomen who might like to drop in.

embroiderers sing

The lonesome gull, who stands on the rock in the river between the bridges, had found a friend.

two gulls

My pocket camera has more menu items than I can possible ever use but I noticed one that offered settings for ‘Sparkling Water’.  There was a river with water and some sunshine so I tried it out.

This was the result.

sparkly water

I don’t know how the camera got that effect and I am amazed that some software engineer thought it was worthwhile to write the code to make the camera do it. It looks like an ad for toothpaste.

I put the camera back on more normal settings and took a picture of the daffodils beside the Wauchope Water along Caroline Street.

daffs along caroline street

They are just beginning to go over so I thought I ought to record them before they are gone.

When I got back to the garden, the sun had been warm enough to persuade some of the tulips to unbutton a bit…

red tulips evening

…but it was still pretty chilly so I didn’t do any gardening but went into to watch the Melrose Sevens on the telly.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and joined me in watching the rugby until it was tea time.

As the evening coincided with the third round of the Masters Golf from Augusta, which is worth watching for the fine grass and lovely flowers alone, the day ended very quietly.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, caught in a sunny interval in the morning.

flying chaffinch

The forecast says that it is going to be frosty both tonight and tomorrow night and then it may get warmer.  The tulips and I both think that that would be a good thing.

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