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Posts Tagged ‘gull’

Today’s guest picture is another from the Derby shopping centre insect infestation.  My brother tells me that you can talk to the insects but I wouldn’t know what to say to a stag beetle.

stag beetle derby

I didn’t have much confidence in a weather forecast that said that it wasn’t going to rain today but I was proved wrong and the weather stayed fair until  well into the evening.

It was only just above freezing when I set off on my slow bike to see our local vampire at the Health Centre and give a little blood.  This was a check to see if my anaemia is under control.  The process was prompt and painless as usual but the health centre computer server was on the blink so I wasn’t able to make a follow up appointment.  The poor staff were absolutely flummoxed as hardly anything is written down these days and they had no idea who was coming in for appointments.  Fortunately it was soon fixed and I made my appointment later in the day without trouble.

After coffee with Mrs Tootlepedal, and with the thermometer showing 4°C, I plucked up my courage, donned as many layers of clothing as I could and set off on my new bike to see how my legs were feeling.

I hadn’t been out on my bike this month so it was a bit of a shock to the system but the sun was out….

cleuchfoot valley

…my legs were very cheerful and the snow had retreated to distant hills so it wasn’t too bad to be out and about.

The wind was strong enough to make life hard when pedalling into it but the forecast gales hadn’t arrived.  I stopped to take a picture of one of those little corners that make cycling round here so visually interesting.

three cleuchfoot trees

And then I cycled to the top of Callister to see if there was any sign of the turbines arriving at the new wind farm.  There wasn’t and as the road was very muddy from quarry lorry traffic, I turned back and pedalled down to Langholm, through the town and out of the other side.  The snow was on distant hills there too.

ewes valley with diostant snow

On my way back through the town, I checked to see if the big gull was standing on its favourite rock.

It was.

gull on rock

I was pleased to manage 20 miles at a modest pace and after a walk round the garden when I got back…

three spring garden flowera

…where the forsythia is just coming out…

forsythia

…and some of the frogs spawn seems to have survived the frosty mornings…

frogs spawn

…I went in to find Mrs Tootlepedal making a nourishing pan of bean and vegetable soup for lunch.

It went down well.

After lunch I watched the birds for a while.  Goldfinches had got in early today under the watchful eye of a chaffinch…

goldfinches on feeder

…and there was no visit from the sparrow hawk to disturb them or this chaffinch’s moment of reflection beside a puddle in our drive.

reflective chaffinch

Against my expectations, the weather stayed fine in the afternoon so I went for a walk.  The wind was still nagging but otherwise it was a good day for sauntering about looking for signs of spring…

view from scotts knowe

…which weren’t hard to find.

dandelion march

There were signs of life on the larches…

larch

…and fresh flowers on the banks beside the track…

P1170432

…and best of all, many clumps of primroses on every side once I got near the Becks Burn.

primroses

I walked through the felled wood, across the burn and up onto the road on the other side of the little valley, where I found incipient honeysuckle…

honeysuckle leaf

…curious sheep looking down on me…

curious sheep

…and any amount of lichen on different stones on the same one metre  length of wall.

lichen on wall becks road

I visited the old curling pond and wished that it could be developed into a wild life area like the one near Lockerbie which we have visited before. It needs a real enthusiast with time and knowledge to a job like that though.

curling pond

I didn’t linger for long as my foot was starting to feel sore and I soon headed down the road back to the town.

I passed this fungus on a fallen tree trunk…..

fungus becks road

…and got right out of the way as this huge lorry passed me.  It had been delivering sheep to the farm at the end of the road.

big lorry becks road

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal at work in the garden and together we put in the new blackcurrant bush and, having exhausted my gardening skills, I gave her moral support while she planted out a new lupin and pruned a rose.

Then it seemed like a good time to have a cup of tea and a slice of toast so we did.

The day was rounded off by a visit from my flute pupil, Luke and we had a productive half hour showing that practice makes you, if not quite perfect, then certainly a lot better.  This is most satisfactory.

I don’t often watch Master Chef on the TV but this season, a young lady from Langholm is one of the contestants and it was very pleasing to see her do well and get through to the next round.  We will follow her progress with interest.

The forecast for the next couple of days is for 50 mph winds so it was a good thing that we got as much out of today as we did.  There are some sunny intervals promised so it might not be a total write off.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch with a determined air about it.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter’s partner, Joe.  They are on holiday in the Highlands and Joe found an uncharacteristically quiet day to take this fine shot of Annie.

Annie in highlands

The temperature here was a very reasonable 7°C again today so if I hadn’t been distracted by a very tricky seasonal prize crossword which wasted a lot of my time during the day, I might have got out after breakfast for a good pedal.  As it was, I didn’t get going until after coffee, but I managed to get 30 miles in and that brought up 190 miles for the month.  As any miles in December are a bonus (I have only twice  done over 200 miles in this month in the last ten years), I am keeping my fingers crossed that frosts keep away and I can make up for the total lack of miles in November.

During the morning, I kept a watch on the feeder but there were hardly any birds at all today, just an occasional chaffinch or two…

chaffinch dropping in

…a lone robin…

robin fleetingly on feeder

…and one or two chaffinches in the plum tree.

chaffinch in weak sun

There was a little drizzle as I got my cycle gear on but it fizzled out and there was a weak sun out for most of my ride.  It was hazy though and the light was very flat so I didn’t stop for many pictures.

A Belted Galloway in a muddy spot caught my eye…

belted Galloway

…and a white patch in a field made me wonder at first if it was a flock of geese…

gulls in field

…but a closer look showed that it was gulls and when…

gulls

…they took to the air, the calls confirmed this.

gulls in lflight near chapelhill

There was enough wind to make the trip down the gentle hill to Gretna harder than the trip back up to Langholm but I wasn’t trying for any speed records so I was quite happy to potter along thinking unprintable thoughts about the shortcomings of politicians, interviewers, journalists and editors alike.

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had brought our new giant Christmas tree inside in its pot…

christmas tree

…after having done some useful tidying up work in the beds beside the front lawn.

neat bed by lawn

She told me that she had been able to garden without a coat on and that showed the benefits of a bit of shelter from the wind as I was quite cold by the time that I had done my 30 miles.

I noticed that her green manure field beans are enjoying the weather and and getting bigger every time that I look at them.

field beans

I frittered away the rest of the day in a battle with the crossword as I don’t like to be beaten and a helpful suggestion from Mrs Tootlepedal enabled me to put the last solution in just as a delicious plate of fish pie and spinach landed on the table for our tea.

I am absolutely baffled by the absence of birds in our garden and I didn’t see any small birds in the bushes and hedges as I went round on my bike today.   I will have to enquire if other local garden bird feeders are in the same situation or whether the problem is just related to our garden.

The flying bird of the day is one of the few chaffinches that came to the feeder this morning.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who visited Tamworth recently and found the castle gardens looking well kept.

Tamworth

We had another fine day here today and indeed there was only 1 cm of rain in Mary Jo’s rain gauge when I looked this evening so we have had a pretty dry week.  It has been a windy month though and the wind was nagging away again this morning.  I did get into my cycling gear but some really heavy gusts persuaded me that yesterday’s ride was enough for the time being and I changed back into my lounging around clothes and lounged around in a very professional manner for the rest of morning and a lot of the afternoon.

I roused myself enough to cycle round to the corner shop to get materials to make a sausage stew and then had to rouse myself again to go back and get the sausages which  had forgotten to buy.

I filled the bird feeder and had a brief look at the birds.

chaffinch posing

chaffinch arguing

The women’s race in the cycling world championships gave both Mrs Tootlepedal and me a good excuse to watch others taking exercise but when it finished, we thought that the sunny day made some outdoor activity more or less compulsory.  She did some gardening and I went for a walk after spending a few minutes looking for flowers in the garden.

late september flowers

As long as there are flowers with butterflies in them, I will keep taking their pictures.

buttefly on dahlia

My walk was a short three bridges affair because although it was sunny, there was a distinct nip in the air from the breeze.

I saw two lonely gulls beside the river….

gulls by river

…and an old friend near the Town Bridge.

heron

I looked back as I crossed the bridge….

bewteen the bridges

…and then headed along the Kilngreen and across the Sawmill Brig onto the Castleholm.

I enjoyed the sunny views….

Trees from castleholm

…and the hints of autumn colour….

trees on back of Lodge walks

…which were quite pronounced in a few places.

autumn colour

Sadly this promising spot of colour had been laid low by the recent storm.

fallen tree castleholm

There were several crops of fungus on old tree stumps…

fungus on Duchess Bridge path

…and I wondered if I could see a small gnome glaring at me from the back of this bunch.

fungus on Castleholm

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work and I thought that I ought to try to be useful so I mowed the middle and front lawns with the mower blades set suitably high for a late season cut.  I was surprised how much growth there had been in the grass and was able to add a handy amount to the compost bin.

I had to have a sit down when I had finished.

mown lawn september

The dry week had left the lawns quite easy to mow and although the moss is making a come back, they are looking as well as can be expected at this time of year.

When I was putting the grass in the compost bin, Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out how well the leycesteria formosa is doing.

leycestera

It was an uninvited guest but it is looking so good that it may well become part of the new planting scheme at the back of the vegetable garden next year.

I made the sausage stew and ate some of it for my tea.

We have a busy day of singing ahead tomorrow so I have finished my cycling for September.  In spite of some very windy weather, I have managed to keep up to my mileage target for the year although I didn’t get as many miles in as I had hoped.  I will need a kindly October or some very good wet weather clothing to keep me up to scratch.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch caught in one of the cloudy moments of an otherwise lovely day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  Her cat brought in a most unexpected visitor not long ago.  Luckily it wasn’t an adder but a harmless grass snake and it survived.

grass snake

We were promised some rough and windy weather  from Storm Ali and we got some rough and windy weather with gusts between 50 and 60 mph in the middle of the day.  Luckily the rain stayed away for the most part and we got off lightly.  30 miles to our west, Dumfries declared a major emergency such was the strength of the wind there and 100 miles to the north, winds of over 100 mph were recorded so on the whole, we can’t complain.

We were distracted from the weather by the arrival of an old university friend for coffee and lunch and catching up with his news gave us plenty to do while we ignored the roaring sounds outside.

We walked along to the Buccleuch Centre to lunch in a comparatively calm moment and then watched as twigs, leaves and small branches whistled past the windows propelled by a savage gust.

The strongest gusts had gone by the time that Murray left to go back to Carlisle so Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked round the garden and shook our heads at fallen plants but also picked up a great number of walnuts which had descended from above.

I filled the bird feeder and wondered whether the birds had enough strength to battle the winds.

They had, though they could only approach the feeder into the wind at the start and had to fly round the feeder to get the correct landing path.

goldfinches

goldfinches and chaffunch

As the winds continued to gradually ease off, the birds filled up the perches….

chaffinch approaching goldfinch

…though the ones waiting higher up in the plum tree still had to hold on tight and keep their heads into the wind.

windy goldfinch in plum tree

It started to rain again so we went inside but after a while, it stopped and I took the opportunity to stretch my legs with a walk down one side of the river to the Skippers Bridge with a return up the other bank.

There had been a good deal of wind assisted leaf fall…

leafy path in park

…and acorns littered the paths and tracks.

acorns fallen

There are definite signs that the equinox is nearly upon us.

fist autumn colour

fallen leaf

I stopped to admire the Skippers Bridge, looking at it from below….

skippers at the equinox from downstream

…and above….

skippers at the equinox from upstream

…before walking along the newly repaired leaf and twig strewn pavement back towards the town.

fallen twigs and leaves

I had to brush this branch aside as I went along the riverside path…

branch across path

…and was also stopped in my tracks by this lovely show of clematis in the hedge.

sewage works clematis

I would like to see this in our garden but Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is ‘rampageous’ and more trouble than it would be worth.

When I got to the suspension bridge, I noticed that the regular gull was standing in its regular spot on the edge of the river.

gull in Esk on rock

It seems as if it is waiting for a friend and I imagine it humming the gull equivalent of “I’m leaning on a lamppost at the corner of the street until a certain little lady comes by.”

There was evidence of the brisk breeze under the town bridge.

tree washed up

There was a very short shower when I was at the far end of my walk but having had their little joke, the weather gods relented and turned off the rain again.  Gradually the clouds lifted, the wind died down and it morphed into a fairly calm and pleasant day by the evening.

The forecast is for improving weather over the next few days so I am hoping that my bicycle may see the light of day again.

I had a look round the garden when I came back and picked up more walnuts and took a couple of pictures.

veg garden seedswhite pansies

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm Community Choir but had to come home without singing.  The session had been cancelled as our conductor had been warned that too many fallen trees on her route had made the journey unsafe.

Ah well, you can’t have everything and it was a small price to pay for escaping the worst of the storm.

Today’s flying bird is a diagonal chaffinch, sneaking up under the wind.

diagonal flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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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 comes from our friend Bruce who is enjoying good weather in Aberdeenshire near the former fishing village of Collieston.

Collieston

We had another day today which would have been very welcome in mid summer and it is becoming pretty clear that it will be very unlikely that summer, when it comes, could be any better than late spring has been.  It may well be all downhill from here on when this good spell ends.

Still, we are really enjoying the lovely weather while it lasts even though it does mean that quite a lot of garden watering is going on.

watering the lawn

I have given both lawns a soaking and Mrs Tootlepedal has been busy in the flower beds with hose and watering can.

I should add that we are not at all keen to get one of the torrential downpours which they have been getting in England.  A light shower would do very well.

I had an early look round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.

I couldn’t get past the best of the rhododendrons without clicking my shutter finger.

rhododendron

The Rosa Moyesii is more modest but very pretty too.

rosa moyesii

I had to admit that I was wrong and Mrs Tootlepedal was right (there’s a surprise) because when I looked really closely at the Veronica, I could see that it is blue after all and not pure white at all.  I had to look pretty hard though.

veronica

A blackbird took a good look and agreed that it was blue.

blackbird

Our walnut tree is almost fully clothed.  It is one of the last trees to get its leaves.

walnut

I didn’t have the long to enjoy the morning sunshine as I was doing my very last stint in the Welcome to Langholm Office.  After many years, I have decided to retire as a welcomer.  I had quite a few people to welcome today but I still had enough time to put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive database.

While I was at work welcoming people, Mrs Tootlepedal was also doing some welcoming. A friend from the choir and her partner, Anita and Nick who live in Canonbie, had been visiting the dentist in Langholm and took the opportunity to come round and look at our garden which they had seen on this blog.  They gave the new bench a test and declared that it was as good as sitting in a National Trust garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal was very pleased at such a nice compliment.  Not being a photographer though, this whole event went unrecorded.

I passed a gull as I crossed the suspension bridge on my way home at midday…

gull

…it was probably wondering where all the water has gone, The river is very low.

There was plenty to see in the garden when I got there.

Beside the front door, another clematis has just come out…

clematis front door

…and almost hidden beside it, is a tiny lily of the valley.

Lily of the Valley

Across the drive, Mrs Tootlepedal has some very vigorous variegated hostas.

hosta

After lunch, I mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green and then got my cycling gear on and took the new bike out for a spin.  It was really very hot and I was wondering if I would get cooked but luckily,  a surprisingly cool and steady wind kept me at a reasonable temperature and I enjoyed a thirty mile run which brought my total on the new bike up to 250 miles.    I think that I can safely say that it is going to suit me very well.

I wasn’t the only one keeping cool.

bull keeping cool

The verges were full of interest.  I saw these flowers when I stopped for a drink after ten miles.

Gair road wildflowers

And I saw these beside the old A74 near Kirkpatrick Fleming.

Old A74 wildflowers

The dandelions may have gone over but there was ample yellow colour near Sprinkell…

Sprinkell road (2)

…and looking ahead at this point, I think anyone would have to admit that it looks like a good day and place for a pedal (even taking the vast amount of traffic into consideration).

Sprinkell road

When I got back, I had time to admire the Japanese azalea…

Japanese azalea

…before my flute pupil Luke turned up.  We are making steady progress even though wonderfully sunny weather does not make flute practice the first thing one thinks of doing.

After a really nourishing tea of mince and tatties, I went out and sat on the new bench and admired some late colour.

evening colour

Then I mowed the middle lawn and trimmed the edges which was a good way to end the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a baby thrush in the garden while I had been out cycling and when she came out to admire the lawn, she spotted it again.   I fetched my camera and found that it had flown up onto a fence and was making quite a noise.

Baby thrush

Curiously it was joined not by its mother but by a blackbird which was making a noise too.  Then a small flock of sparrows started to join in and I went over to see what the racket was all about.

It was a dratted cat, stalking about among the flowers below, seeing what little birds it could snaffle. In  my view, cat owners should feed their animals so much that they lose their appetite for birds…. or at least keep them in their own gardens.

I shooed the cat away and there were no fatalities.

The mother thrush, flew up to join her infant and she became in that moment, a quite unusual flying bird of the day.

flying thrush

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Liz who popped into our garden and kindly sent me this confirmation that our alliums are doing well.  It is good to have people keeping an eye on things while we are away.

alliums

The spell of sunny weather was put on hold today and we woke to a grey and windy day…

windy weather nb

…but were we downhearted?

Well, just a little bit but we pulled ourselves together and went for a walk along the beach on our way to a cup of coffee in the town.

windy beach walk

Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked home through a walled garden and so much blossom had been blown off a chestnut tree that it almost looked as though it had snowed.

NB Chestnut

We had an interesting salad for lunch and were pleased as we munched it, to see the wind drop a little and the skies brighten up.

After lunch, Al and Clare took Matilda out to get a distant look at the Bass Rock and Mrs Tootlepedal and I set out to brave the breeze on our bikes.

After yesterday’s small circle to the west of the town, we did a similar sized circle to the east today and found the generous hedges planted by kindly farmers did a good job in keeping us sheltered from the wind.

On one open stretch I was able to take two famous local landmarks, the Bass Rock and Tantallon Castle, in one shot.

tantallon and bass rock

We soon got on to quiet back roads and once again were delighted to meet smooth surfaces and few if any potholes.

We passed this impressive lilac display…

NB lilacs

…before coming back to the same fine building that we approached from the far side yesterday.  From this side you can see that it is basically an enlarged fortified tower.

NB tower house

While I stopped to take a picture of the tower, Mrs Tootlepedal kept pedalling and the sharp eyed reader will just be able to make her out, as she vanishes into the distance…

road to NB

…on the last shallow rise before we dropped back into the town.

By this time the sun had come properly out and it was a very pleasant day so it was no surprise to find that Matilda was busy supervising the building of a fine sand castle on the beach when we got back.

matilda's sand castle

With a curtain wall!

Strangely, since it was Matilda’s castle no stamping took place and we were able to raise a pennant on one of the towers.

tunnock banner

As Scottish readers will recognise, the pennant celebrates that great Scottish hero, Mr Tunnock of teacake fame.

The sea had calmed down near the shore and a duck bobbed up and down peacefully.

NB duck

Further out, away from the shelter of the harbour, things were still turbulent.

NB waves

Later in the afternoon, I walked out to the end of the harbour rocks in pursuit of a flying gull.  Other birds were to be seen out in the sea.

NB eider

An eider duck floated along in the swell

nb gannets

And further out, two gannets swooped above the sea

It was still breezy but judging by the cloud in the background, we were getting the best of the local weather

NB east bay

I walked back to the cottage past this colourful row of houses.

NB colourful houses

Although North Berwick is a popular destination  both for holiday makers and day trippers and has plenty of attractive features, nothing has been done to “prettify” the town up and it remains by and large a very normal, though well looked after place.  This adds greatly to its charm in my view.

We went out for our evening meal and when we got home and Matilda had retired for the night, the grown ups played Oh Hell again.  Some people played better than others.  I was one of the others tonight.

A passing gull  provided the flying bird of the day.

flying gull tues

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