Posts Tagged ‘gulls’

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia who was happy to be able to take a picture of her visiting badgers without using a flash.


After a quiet morning, we packed into our cars and set off to visit a beach with the intention of taking part in that most British of all holiday activities, a picnic.  This was Tyninghame Beach, the place that Mrs Tootlepedal and I had visited last night.

The walk though the woods when we had parked the cars was a treat in itself.  The area is a country park run by the local authority and a great deal of care has been taken in providing excellent paths for visitors.  As a result we were able to look around at the well kept woodland with its varied selection of trees as we went to the beach.

tyninghame woods

The weather forecast had been rather unclear as to what weather we might expect but it stayed dry for our outing.  A very brisk wind kept us well wrapped up as we enjoyed our  picnic in a thoroughly traditional way….

picnicn on beach

..but the sun soon came out and justified the wearing of cool dark glasses to go with the woolly hat and coat.

matilda on the beach

The tide was out and layers of flat rocks were exposed. The underlying stone was very pink in places.

flat rocks on beach

While Matilda, her father and Mrs Tootlepedal investigated the many rock pools on the shore, Clare and I went for a walk round a rocky headland.  The path was lined with interest…

wild flowerrs tyninghame

There was sea thrift in unexpected corners…

rocky shore with thrift

…and below us, eider ducks were sunning themselves on rocky ledges among the waves.

eiders on rocks

And of course, we couldn’t avoid noticing the Bass Rock.

bass rock from the east

When we got to the end of the point, we found a curious contrast to the flat layers of rock we had left behind us on the beach.  Here the strata were standing bolt upright…

upstanding rocks

…and there were a couple of striking breaks in the rocks.   This one is known as St Baldred’s Cradle….

st baldred's cleft

…though this one looked more comfortable…

st baldred's cradle

…but as St Baldred was an eighth century divine and hermit who spent some time living on the Bass Rock, perhaps he didn’t care for comfort.

Clare and I returned to the beach and Alistair and Mrs Tootlepedal followed in the footsteps of St Baldred while Matilda and I walked to the water’s edge to watch the tide coming in very gently indeed.

Tyninghame beach

The wanderers returned and we packed our bags and made our way back through the woods to the cars…

Al and Matilda in the woods

…though I paused for a moment when I saw an orange tip butterfly flitting about.

orange tip butterfly 1

We got back to North Berwick tired but happy but it was such a sunny day that after a cup of tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked along the beach and found a comfortable bench to sit on.  We enjoyed the view.

view of the harbour NB

We returned to the cottage and while Alistair was cooking the evening meal, I wandered out along the harbour wall watching eider ducks heading for a place to rest below…

eiders going ashore

…and gulls resting on the stiff breeze above.

close flying gull

As it was still a beautiful evening, Mrs Tootlepdal and i took another stroll along the harbour wall after the evening meal.

I looked across the Forth towards our other son Tony’s home on the Fife shore…

sunset over the forth

…while Mrs Tootlepedal got out her binoculars and scanned the sea and sky for gannets.

There were a lot about.

bass rock in the evening

The flying bird of the day is another gull gliding into the wind above the harbour wall.

flying gull

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I have run out of new guest pictures so I am returning to my Somerset correspondent Ventetia’s trip to America.  She was driven along some beautiful  but slightly scary roads.


While we didn’t go quite as far as the guest picture, we were visited by some very unwelcome snow here and the temperature only just crept above zero all day.

flying chaffinch

The snow was mostly very light but as it was accompanied by a brisk and bitter wind, we viewed it largely through our windows.

I did go out to take two views of our completed bridge.



Severe critics have complained that  the gap below the railings on both the right and left sides are big enough to let a small child through but these are people who have no bridge of their own and are jealous of ours.  A child needs a little adventure in its life.

Marching bands, acrobats, peers of the realm and assorted reality TV celebrities are being lined up for the official opening.

While I was out, I admired the winter aconites which are looking promising…

winter aconites

..but even winter aconites need a bit of help from the elements to come into full flower.

The birds were grateful for some food on a chilly day…

flying chaffinch

…and chaffinches in particular turned up in large numbers.

flying chaffinch

But the odd greenfinch….

green finch

…and goldfinch was to be seen too.

flying goldfinch

Over lunchtime, I watched Scotland making very hard work of beating a good Italian side  in their final match of the Six nations rugby tournament and then, as the sun had come out, I went for a walk to recover from the excitement of a tense finish to the game.

It looked like a wonderful day…

Esk view of George Street

…but in the brisk wind the “feels like” factor was well below freezing.  I was hoping to see some waterside birds but they obviously didn’t care much for the cold either and I had to settle for some gently paddling mallards…


…and a herring gull on a rock in the river.

herring gull in river

Among dozens of black headed gulls, we seem to have only two resident herring gulls.  They like standing in the middle of the rivers.

You can see why I often like to walk along the Kilngreen….

Sawmill Brig

… and over the Sawmill Brig and up the Lodge Walks…

Lodge walks

…but even in when the sun was out, it was a bit of a penance today.  I only met one other walker and that was our friend Gavin.  He was also recovering from the stress of watching Scotland play.

Some cheerful moss on a tree stump…

moss on tree stump

…and a large and aged bracket fungus on a dead branch…


…gave me some thing to look at as I went round.

And I took a good look at a large tree on the other side of the playing field…

licheny tree

…which at first sight might look as though it had started to have some early spring foliage on it.

A closer look showed that any vibrancy in the colouring didn’t come from the tree but from its guests.

licheny tree

It is covered from head…


to toe in lichen and moss and has so much vegetation on it that it should be declared a national park in its own right.

An onrushing blizzard of light snow hurried me home but it stopped as I got to the house and the sun came out again.

This pattern continued for the rest of day with enough snow to start lying as the evening got colder.

It is due to keep snowing on and off through the night and tomorrow is going to be close to zero again (it is -2C as I write this) but with luck, there will be no travel problems when we want to go to our choir in the afternoon.

It doesn’t feel very much like four days before the vernal equinox though.

The flying bird of the day is one of the black headed gulls from the Kilngreen.

black headed gull


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Today’s guest picture is another blast of Irene’s sunny South African sketches.

Irene's garden

We had a quietly grey day here today, dull but dry and calm.  It would have been another good day for a cycle ride and it has been annoying that probably the best two days for a bike ride that we are likely to get in November have coincided with me having a cold.  And to make it worse, not an all out and knock you down cold but just a niggling, persistent little blighter that won’t go away.

So it was lucky that although Dropscone was going to a society dinner in Edinburgh in the evening, he had enough time and energy to bring a set of treacle scones round for coffee in the morning.

The coffee was quite exciting as four packs had just arrived by post and we were able to chose our brew by looking at some fanciful descriptions of the flavours on the packets.  We settled for ‘rum and raisin’ flavour from Kenya but it tasted remarkably like ‘coffee’ when we drank it.  It was nice though.

When Dropscone left, I had a quick check on floral survivors in the garden.  There are not many but those that are left are doing their best to keep us cheerful.

calendula, nasturtium, rose and poppy

Then I went back in and stared out of the window for a bit.

The birds were back and it was a busy morning at the feeder.

busy feeder

Blue tits and chaffinches came and went.

blue tit and chaffinch

A greenfinch, blue tit and goldfinch all stopped for a quick pose for me.

greenfinch, blue tit and goldfinch

And a robin waited on the chimney until I had got a pose than popped up to the feeder to give me another chance.


But perhaps I liked this picture of a blackbird on the ground more than any feeder pictures today.


Mrs Tootlepedal went off to have lunch at the Buccleuch Centre with our neighbour Margaret and I waited in for a man with a van to come and collect the garden tiller to take it away for its service.  He arrived on time and I wrapped up well and went out for a walk.

I went down to the river to see if there were birds to be seen.  There were.

I have been thinking that the outer pair of gulls in the panel below were herring gulls but I think now that they may be black backed gulls.  The one in the middle is definitely a black headed gull.

gulls on the Esk

Also on parade was a dipper, Mr Grumpy and a goosander.  The dipper wouldn’t wait until I got it in focus but almost immediately disappeared under the water.

dipper heron and goosander

The mallards on the Kilngreen were more obliging and lined up neatly for a shot.


Nearby a rook was surprisingly calm while I fussed about with my camera.


I left the birds to their business and walked over the Sawmill Brig and up the Lodge walks.

The leaves have left.

Lodge Walks in November

Although, across the Castleholm on the more sheltered side, there are a few leaves still left.

Castleholm trees

I kept an eye out for the stumps of the felled trees along the Walks as they can be interesting.  I found this display of fungus on one of them, looking for all the world like a big handful of spilled beads…


..but as a closer look proved, they are firmly attached to the wood.  They may be a variety called purple jellydisc or Ascocoryne sarcoides.

As I have remarked before, the fall of the leaves lets me see the bridges more clearly…

Duchess Bridge

…but I didn’t cross the Duchess Bridge when I came to it on this occasion and walked down the side of the Castleholm to the Jubilee Bridge instead.  This let me look back at a lone tree which had retained its leaves against the odds.

Lodge walks

After I crossed the Jubilee Bridge, I had a last look at the larches at the end of the Scholars’ Field…


…bowed to the only flower that I saw on my walk….

umbellifer in November

…and got home to find Mrs Tootlepedal back from lunch and hard at work in the garden planting out wallflowers.

I sieved a bit of compost for her, shredded a few dead ends, photographed a lupin which is obstinately and not very successfully trying to flower well past its sell by date…


…and went inside to get out of the cold.

I put the afternoon to good use by catching up on my correspondence and entering a week of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database.

By the time that I had finished it was very gloomy outside so Mrs Tootlepedal came in and we had a cup of tea.

My Friday evening orchestra, Alison is, like me, not feeling quite at her peak so once again “Yes, we had no sonatas.  We had no sonatas today.”  I am very short of tootling pleasure at the moment.

I put another week of the newspaper index into the database instead.  It’s an ill wind etc etc.

The flying bird of the day is a pretty determined greenfinch.

flying greenfinch


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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary’s Lake District trip.  I have shown you some of her nice bridges so I thought I better include a lake too.  This is Grasmere.


The main business of the day was our Carlisle Community Choir concert in the afternoon but the morning was free for other things.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir and I had another go at shooting bees.

I got a better picture but I wonder if this is a hoverfly and not a bee at all.


There were definite bees about.


Collecting pollen from a Welsh poppy

I peered into the heart of a poppy….


…and enjoyed the sight a new rosa complicata popping out in the middle of the rosa moyesii.


Back inside, I went through all the songs for the concert and then to give my head a rest, I went for a short walk round Gaskell’s.

I started with a view of seven ducklings at Pool Corner…

seven ducklings

…and wished that I had brought my other camera with me to do them justice.

I have been rather lax in the matter of taking gate pictures lately so here is one with a fine view of a meadow behind it.

Young riders field

There had been  sharp shower of rain while I was going through the songs and everything looked very fresh in the sunshine….


…though I kept an eye for encroaching clouds.

Harry's Hounds field

I was lucky though and it stayed fine while I walked and only rained again early in the afternoon.

I had interested spectators.

cow at auld stane brig

There were lots of wild flowers to keep me entertained.  Here are some samples.

Two purple…

toadflax and geranium

Toadflax and geranium

Two pink.

clover and campion

Clover and campion

And two geums.  I like really whiskery flower.


There were fruits as well as flowers.


I think that might be an early blackberry flower on the left and there is an indication of a very healthy wild raspberry crop to come on the right.

The path back to the town was a narrow causeway in a sea of green.

Gaskell's Walk

Spring is turning into summer and the lambs are growing up.


It was a refreshing walk and there was just time for another look through the songs and an early lunch before we sett off to Carlisle for a final rehearsal and the concert.

Our concert was held in St Cuthbert’s Church, a very handsome church with a gallery.

St Cuthbert's

It was hard work, as we had a intense workout at the songs and then only a short break before the concert itself.  The audience gave every evidence of thoroughly enjoying the programme and as far as the tenors went, we did many things pretty well and did our best to forget about the moments when our memories let us down.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I have put our names down for a final flourish next week when some of the choir are giving an informal performance and then the singing season will have ended for another year and we will have a couple of months off before starting all over again.

Next to the car park where we left the car while we sung is a large area of flat ground which was occupied by car showrooms until recently.  The show rooms have been demolished and the area is now occupied by gulls, lots of them.


Mrs Tootlepedal was very impressed by the fact that almost all the gulls were sitting pointing in the same direction.  They were there at half past one when we arrived and they were still there at six o’clock when we left.  I wondered if they were sitting on nests among the concrete.

With a busy day on the cards tomorrow, we were glad to have a quiet evening in.

A flower of the day to end with today as I couldn’t catch anything in flight.


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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie’s allotment.  She has been growing radishes.

Annie's radishes

We had a very windy day here in North Berwick today but it stayed dry and it wasn’t too cold in the morning even when it was cloudy. The sun soon came out and it turned into another lovely day.

I started the day with a trudge out to the edge of the town to visit a garage in the hope that they would agree to look at my sick car.  The walk was well worth it, as they agreed to take on the task and soon had the car towed away from the car park where it had been glumly resting since Saturday.

“It’s probably a sensor fault.” the mechanic said as he hitched up the car to the tow truck. “These petrol cars are usually pretty simple to fix.”

It turned out that in this case there were complications and the fuel tank will have to be removed and a fuel pump checked and replaced if necessary.  We may see the car again on Thursday but it will be ready for us when we go back to Langholm, which is the main thing.

Much cheered by having the whole matter in good hands, I enjoyed my breakfast when I got back and later on, we all went out with Matilda to visit the local play park.  We played in the park and then we hit the High Street ….

North Berwick High Street

…in search of coffee.  North Berwick High Street is a happening place even on a Monday in early May so we had no difficulty in finding a suitable cafe.

Needless to say, the sun started to come out as soon as we left the park and we passed a delightful bench, were I sat for a moment while some shopping was going on.

North Berwick

After coffee, the others headed directly for the flat and I made a detour to the sea front on my way.

North Berwick

I don’t think that I have ever seen such a symmetrical beach with waves

Although that looked quite calm, there were stormier waters on the rocks at the harbour.

North Berwick harbour rocks

As I walked home, the waves were not big but they were frequent.

North Berwick waves

While Matilda went for her afternoon nap and her parents took a well earned rest, Mrs Tootlepedal and I took a stroll along the sea shore to the east of the town.

We stared by walking along path beside a sheltered wall where a local group had planted a batch of delightful flowers.

North Berwick waves

The pick of the bunch was a stunningly blue ceanothus.

North Berwick ceonothus

The strong winds and the strong light made taking flower pictures a bit tricky but the picture does give a suggestion of how beautiful this plant was.

When we got to the sea shore, the tide was still high and the waves must have been washing something tasty onto the shore because the gulls were interested…


…very interested indeed.


I was more interested in the swirling seas and the Bass Rock in the background.

north berwick

Our walk took us along the top of the cliffs beside the sea, following a path beside a golf course.

We saw quiet corners…

Glen bay

…wild flowers…

Glen bay wild flowers

…lots of eider ducks…

eider ducks

…gannets cruising the waves and fishing…


…fairways, tees and greens…

golf course North berwick

…and of course the ever present Bass Rock.

Our path passed quiet inlets…

North Berwick

…and turbulent rocks….

North Berwick

North Berwick

We could hardly have had a better walk.

And of course, if we lifted our eyes from the shore, there was the Bass Rock, glittering in the sun.

Bass Rock

It has to be remembered though that all that glitters is not gold.  In this case…

Bass Rock

…it is innumerable layers of bird poo.

Mrs Tootlepedal was particularly taken with a spot where the sea was coming round the rocks from two different sides.

North Berwick

When we got to the far end of the golf course, the path ran out and we returned by the way we had come.  I had to lock my camera in my pocket to stop me taking another hundred views on the way back.

I got the news about the car when we returned and Alistair kindly drove Mrs Tootlepedal and me to the garage where we recovered our bicycles from the back of the car and  cycled back to the flat.

In between all this activity, there was a lot of snap, pelmanism, playing with balloons and other assorted fun with Matilda.

I was quite tired by the time that evening came.

The tidbits that the gulls were picking up gave me the opportunity to catch no less than four flying birds of the day.

flying gulls

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Today’s guest picture shows a pair of Egyptian geese looking very autumnal.  Our daughter Annie met them on a visit to the Serpentine in London.

Egyptian geese

After a succession of rather grey days, we woke to brilliant sunshine today.  This meant that the temperature was on the low side but miraculously, it had stayed well above freezing.

While Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir, I prepared a venison stew for the slow cooker and then had a walk round the garden.  Two buzzards were circling high in the sky above, giving their characteristic mewing calls.


Flowers had survived very well…

poppy, anemone and fuchsia

…and the sun felt warm in spite of an east wind.

I spent some time looking out of the window during the cooking.

Goldfinches were in action mode, arguing vigorously among themselves.



They weren’t very nice to visiting chaffinches either….

goldfinches and chaffinch

…which might explain why the chaffinches preferred to pick up scraps on the ground.


But at least there were plenty of chaffinches back in the garden which was good to see.

There was only one greenfinch today.


A chaffinch looked very surprised to see it.

Finally the chaffinches got a foothold on the feeder….

chaffinches and goldfinches

…but blew their chances by internecine squabbles…

chaffinches squabbling

…letting the goldfinches get back in control.

goldfinch and chaffinch

When Mrs Tootlepedal came back from church, I didn’t have time for a cycle ride so I went for a very short walk  instead.

I had hoped to catch a flying gull or two, but the gulls weren’t in a co-operative mood at all.  The herring gull stood firmly on his favourite rock and the black headed gulls stuck to their posts and wouldn’t budge.


I walked on, noticing that the leaves are now falling as autumn leaves traditionally do.

fallen leaves

There were plenty left though.

Langholm bridge

Lodge Walks

And there was a lot of fungus too.


Both small….


…and large

I looked over our hedge as I got back to the house and got a better view of these poppies than I can get from the garden.

pink poppies

Then it was time for an early lunch and a trip to Carlisle.  We had to get off sharpish as we had an early start to our choir practice.  We have a concert in the Cathedral in Carlisle on Tuesday and as a result, we had a lot of work to get through.

Thanks to the prompt getaway, we managed to fit in some shopping on our way and topped up our stock of coffee and cheese along with a big bucket of bird food.

The choir practice was very hard work as we worked through ten songs in two and a half hours and on top of that, the tenors and basses were on tea break duty and had to do the clearing away and washing up at the tea break.  Still, the hard work is rewarding and the concert should go well (if we can remember everything that we have learned).

The weather forecast says that the wind is going to change on Wednesday and come from the west so our long dry spell will be probably be coming to an end.  It has been good while it lasted.

The flower of the day is a pink poppy with a little dew on it….

pink poppy

…and the flying bird of the day is one of the returning chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from a recent visit to Nantwich by my brother Andrew.   Not only was the architecture stunning but it had a coffee house.  He was very happy.


The chief business of the day was shedding a tear or two as we said goodbye to Matilda who was taking her parents back to Edinburgh.

Mrs Tootlepedal lifted her on to the harbour wall for a last look at the sea before she left.

Matilda's last look at the sea

We shall miss Anstruther ourselves when we go home tomorrow.  I had a walk round while I was waiting for Matilda to finish her packing.

Both Mrs Tootlepedal and I like this view across the harbour from our cottage.


At the harbour fishing boats had been drawn up for a little refurbishment.

fishing boats anstruther

After several windy days, it was much quieter today and both new leisure craft and historic working boats were in reflective mood.

Anstruther harbour

When we leave tomorrow, I shall miss the sights and sounds of the sea…


…and the endless fun of watching the birds on the water, on the walls and in the air outside our door.

eider and gull

ducks and gulls

After the Edinburgh crew had departed, Mrs Tootlepedal and I got our bikes out and went for a ride to give ourselves something else to think about.

The roads of the East Neuk of Fife are a treat for gentle cyclists.  Even the busier roads are very quiet at this time of year and both main and side roads were very well surfaced so that all our attention could be focussed on the spacious views  and not in checking for potholes.

We decided on a 17 mile circular tour with interruptions.

The first interruption were unscheduled but I thought it worthwhile to record the striking varieties of yellow provided by rape, dandelion and gorse as we pedalled along.

rape, dandelion and gorse

It was very mellow.

Our first scheduled stop was at Cambo House, where we had been told that we would find another fine walled garden.

We cycled up a long drive and came to a big house.

Cambo House

If you have deep pockets you can stay here as a guest here but we just wanted to see the garden so we passed the house by and walked through the grounds towards the walled garden.

Cambo House

It was expensive enough to visit the garden but when we saw the number of plants and the size of the garden, we could see why they charged so much.  There were hundreds of tulips….

Cambo House garden

The garden is unusual as the Cambo Burn flows through middle the wall on one side and out under the middle of the wall on the other side so the garden is made on two sloping banks.

It gives the gardeners an opportunity for some very pretty landscaping.

Cambo burn

They have a famous collection of snowdrops around the house but they were over for the year and the walled garden was waiting for the herbaceous borders to develop but there were still plenty of interesting things to see, both rather exotic…

trillium and skunk cabbage

…and more ordinary…

Cambo Garden

Cambo Garden

The glasshouses are being reconstructed but they look as though they will be quite impressive when they are finished.

Cambo Garden

There is nothing to beat spending a bit of money on plants to set a path off.

Cambo Garden

I went back and took another picture of the bridge in the centre of the garden just because I like bridges.

Cambo garden

Mrs Tootlepedal often regrets that we are not in a position to heed the first Lord Rothschild’s admonition, “No garden, however small, should contain less than two acres of rough woodland” but they tried their best here along a carefully gardened path from the stables to the house.

Cambo woodland

And they had some delightful banks on the policies round the house itself.

Cambo House

We stoked up with a cup of tea and a scone in their tearoom and then continued our cycle ride until we got the pottery at Crail.

This was like an Aladdin’s cave of good things and if you like looking at ceramics you can click here to see what they make.  We liked them so much that we brought three pieces and put them into our bike baskets and pedalled very carefully home.

The weather was so kind, the roads so good and the interruptions so carefully chosen that the seventeen miles hardly seemed like any distance.

The cottage seemed strangely quiet in the evening.

The flying bird of the day may be the last flying gull for some time.

flying gull

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