Posts Tagged ‘hen harrier’

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my brother Andrew, but was taken by his son, my nephew Dan.  It shows the trail along the disused Nottingham Canal.

nottingham canal bridge Dan

We woke to another dry and sunny morning and I got up early enough to have a wander round the garden before coffee time.

The daffodils are all but over but a single fine specimen is still holding its head up high.

last daffodil

The sunshine made the flowers glow.  The trout lilies are on their way out but a few good specimens remain.

berberis, rhody, trout lily and tulips

Among the newcomers is the brilliant blue of the lithodora.  The camera cannot do this flower justice for its absolute blueness.


The cool mornings mean that we are still waiting for the red rhododendrons to come out and other less showy flowers are waiting in the wings too.

garden promis

What there is in the garden is a profusion of sparrows.  They are everywhere.

four sparrow panel

I didn’t have any time after coffee for garden wandering as Mrs Tootlepedal was keen to take a walk to see if we could see a hen harrier up on the moor.

When we walked along the moor road a few days ago, we had not had any sight of the birds at all so we were not over optimistic but after we had driven the two miles up to the White Yett car park, we still walked along the road in hope.

Like yesterday, the Ewes valley was a place of sunshine and shadows…


sunshine and shadow ewes 2

…but when we crossed the cattle grid and looked into the Tarras valley, there were a good many more clouds about, and it looked as though it was raining not far away.

rain up tarras

We were not discouraged though and walked on down the hill.  We were rewarded when a female hen harrier put on a spectacular flying demonstration, more or less straight over our heads…

flying hen harrier female panel

I only had a 300mm lens with me so I couldn’t get a close shot but the light was kind and these cropped pictures give an idea of how good it was to watch the exhibition.

Mrs Tootlepedal, who had her binoculars with her, had a very good view and was extremely happy.

We hadn’t gone very far when we stopped to watch the bird, and the rain clouds were now looking more and more threatening so we nearly turned back to the car.

When we examined to sky carefully though, it appeared that in spite of the wind blowing towards us, the clouds were actually blowing away from us.  Curious.

We walked on, and after a while the sun came out…

tinnis in early may

…and we saw a male hen harrier flying past us in the opposite direction to the female.  He was not so obliging as the female and stayed well up the hill from us.

male hen harrier

When I took my eyes from the skies and stared at the ground, there was plenty to see there too.

moss and blaeberry

Little spruce trees, seeded by chance, had new growth on the end of their twigs that made them look like decorated Christmas trees.

things beside Tarras road

The fluffy headed grass looked like bog cotton to me  but Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is Hare’s Tail and the bog cotton will come later in the year.

We walked down the hill for a while and then walked back up again.

It was a good deal warmer with the wind behind us and the sun out.  The rain clouds  had disappeared and it was a fine day on the moor.

sunshine up Tarras

As we walked back up the hill, we were treated to the sight of the male hen harrier quartering the ground on the other side of the Little Tarras Water.  Although he was clearly visible to the naked eye, he was too far away from my camera.  Mrs Tootlepedal had a good time tracking him with her binoculars.

We were both in a very good mood by the time we had got back to the MacDiarmid Memorial and the car park.

macdiarmid memorial may

The Ewes valley was still a place of sunshine and shadow.

sunshine and shadow ewes 1

We got home in time for a late lunch.

After lunch, I attempted to make a cake, a thing that I have hardly ever done before.  I was following a recipe for a farmhouse sultana cake and I came across one of those mysterious phrases that torment the novice cook: “add milk to the mixture until it has a dropping consistency”.   I find that these days almost anything I touch has a dropping tendency so that wasn’t very helpful.  In the end, I think I erred on the side of stiffness and the cake has come out tasty but rather crumbly.  Practice makes perfect though and I will try again.

While the cake was cooking, it rather unexpectedly started to rain outside.  For a while, it looked as though it even be useful ran and a greenfinch looked a bit disgruntled by it.

reflective greenfinch

It didn’t discourage birds from coming to the feeder though…

busy feeder

…nor did it dampen this male chaffinch’s need to explain to a female just where she was going wrong.

chaffinches talking

But it didn’t last and after getting lighter and lighter, it fizzled out without getting the soil really wet at all.

Grey skies are forecast for tomorrow so with a bit of luck we might get another drop of rain.

On a normal day, this chaffinch might easily have been the flying bird of the day…

flying chaffinch in light rain

…but not today.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s delight takes pride of place.

flying hen harrier female

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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s walk along the Thames.  She saw these two unusual boats in a dock near Tower Bridge.  Not the usual rich people’s yachts.

A splash of colour

I have a wonderfully shiny bruise on my arm so I thought it might be a good plan to have a very quiet morning.  It had rained heavily overnight again so things had time to dry out while I lazed about.

Apart from a quick visit to the corner shop for milk, I didn’t poke my nose out of the door until after lunch when Mrs Tootlepedal summoned me out to see a red admiral butterfly on a marigold.

red admiral on marigold

I looked around and found that it wasn’t alone.  There were several Red Admirals and Peacocks on one of the buddleias.


One flew off to bask on a wooden plank.

It is very cheering to see the butterflies just when we were beginning to think that they might not arrive at all this year.


I looked at the greenhouse grass and decided that arm or no arm, it needed mowing and got the hover mower out and did some of it.  Mrs Tootlepedal offered a cup of tea so I left some still to do and went inside.

It was fairly sunny by now and Mrs Tootlepedal suggested a trip to the Langholm Moor to look for interesting birds and kindly finished the mowing while I collected my cameras.

We saw plenty of harrier and buzzard action when we got to the moor but they were in teasing mood today and would fly quite close to the road until we stopped the car at which point, they gently eased themselves into the middle and far distance, no doubt chuckling in a raptor sort of way as they flew off.


Not a bad day for binoculars but not much good for cameras.  I looked at the view down to the Solway instead…

Solway Firth

…but it wasn’t much better with a lot of haze and a curiously flat light.

The heather was looking good in parts and at one stage, we stopped opposite one of the peat banks which are cut for fuel.

Heather and peat

We were hoping to see goats but they were obviously well away from the road so we went down into the Tarras valley and parked for a while there.

Mrs Tootlepedal watched a couple of harriers hunting across the hill while I went to look at the river.

I walked along the narrow road to find one of my favourite spots.

Tarras road

Tarras cascade

There was plenty of water coming over the cascade after the night’s rain.

In spite of a sunny appearance to the day, there seemed to be a hazy sky and the light was very flat indeed so I went back to the car, took a picture of the bridge….

Tarras Bridge

…and then we went home.

We stopped on the way back down to take a picture of Castle Hill where I had photographed the charity horse riders on Sunday.

Castle Hill

I walked up that ridge from left to right and considering how hard it is to climb, it looks amazingly gentle when seen from the side like this.

When we got home, I had a look round the garden.


The sunflower is enjoying the warm spell

new plants

Two of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new plants looking well set


The yew, which after yesterday’s pruning is mainly acting as a sort of clothes hanger for the perennial nasturtium.  It will come again.

Then Mrs Tootlepedal set about doing some major pruning to a rose so I helped out with the shredding and there was so much material that the box had to be emptied three times.  There is no doubt that looking after a flower garden takes a lot of doing.  I am glad that I live with someone who is not afraid of hard work.

From time to time, I checked on our blackbirds, hoping to get a shot of them eating the rowan berries.


Getting ready to pounce


Almost there

….but I was never quite at the right place at the right time.  Most of the berries have already been eaten so I may have missed my chance for this year.

I was tempted into using the colour picker on my Lumix to take an arty shot of the fuchsia.

fuchsia art

…but perhaps I should have resisted the temptation.

My arm was a little sore so I went in and caught up on my correspondence for a while while Mrs Tootlepedal finished clearing up after the rose pruning.  When she came in, I went out and mowed the middle lawn (very slowly and carefully).

I was tempted by the colour picker again….


…but I think that I like the full colour version of the clematis by the front door in the evening light better.


Mrs Tootlepedal came out to enjoy a sit in the garden in the sun while the tea was cooking and we were overlooked by a half finished robin.


In spite of the overnight rain, the weather at the end of August is looking a lot better than the first half of the month (no doubt because the children have gone back to school) but unless we get a very dry spell soon, everywhere is beginning to have that slightly soggy autumn feeling even on a sunny day.

Still, my back is much better and I have reached my minimum cycling mile target for the month so mustn’t grumble.

And a poppy in some sunshine is always a cheerful thing.


As a point of minor interest, the bread making machine and I made a set of rolls recently and since there were too many for us to eat at once, I froze a couple, something which I have never done before.  We let them unfreeze naturally today and they were as good as new.  I was was very pleasantly surprised and will definitely try freezing rolls again when I next make them.  I realise that this will not be big news to people who freeze bread regularly.

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Today’s guest picture, from my ex-colleague Ada, shows a passing traveller whom she ran into (but not over)  on the road.


The forecast said that it would start to rain at 3pm today and it was absolutely spot on which made it lucky that I had managed to get my day organised on that basis.

I am still struggling to persuade my back muscles to relax on a full time basis so I went for a gentle 20 mile circuit of Canonbie on my bike after a leisurely breakfast.  I had time while I was getting mentally and spiritually prepared to pedal to walk round the garden admiring Mrs Tootlepedal’s packets of poppy seeds in action.

shirley poppies

Although she had to re-sow because of the poor weather and thus had to buy a second set of packets of seed, it still looks like good value for £15 (and quite a bit of gardening time) to me.

This was one of the few days when Dr Velo didn’t have a cure for feeling a bit old and tired so I let the wind and the hill discourage me for the first five miles but once I had first gravity and then the breeze helping me, I perked up a bit and got home safely.

I stopped three times, all on the first section of the ride, to take pictures.  The flowers on the rosebay willowherb beside the Wauchope road are going over but its red stems still give it a lot of colour.

rosebay willowherb

I stopped half way up the hill past the Bloch to admire the view….

Wauchope valley

…and the picture reflects the alternating sunshine and clouds that accompanied me on the rest of the trip.

I stopped again at the top of the hill when a mixture of heather and young trees in a replanted wood caught my eye.

heather and young trees

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal agreed that it might be worthwhile to take the car up on to the Langholm Moor to see if we could see birds or goats.

I had a shower and a light lunch and off we went.

We saw lots of birds but no goats.  I had my new lens with me and although the light was quite poor by this time, I made an effort to record a bird we saw hunting near the road.

hen harrier

It was too quick for my trembling hand and the autofocus

hen harrier

I did a bit better when it hovered.

We are not very knowledgeable bird watchers but we think this is a female hen harrier.

After watching the bird for some time, we  drove on up to the county boundary….

County boundary

…which is marked by a fence at this point, in the hope of seeing some goats but there were none to be seen so we turned for home.

We stopped here  and there on the way back for me to enjoy the views and Mrs Tootlepedal to watch raptors through binoculars.

I like the bubbling little burn that runs down the hill beside the road.

Langholm Moor burn

Even though it was a bit gloomy, I could see the Lake District mountains, which I had visited not so long ago, across the other side of the Solway plain.


Nearer to hand, there was plenty of heather in bloom.


And it is always a pleasure to up on the moor.


Especially when there is a nice bridge to be seen on the way.

Tarras Bridge

We stopped to look at gulls on the Kilngreen when we got back to the town…

black headed gull

…and got home shortly before the forecast rain started.

I had time for a quick garden wander.

rambler roses

The very last of the rambler roses on top of the arch

sweet pea

A sweet pea in the cage that is necessary to keep it safe from the sparrows when it is young

two cosmos

The only cosmos in flower yet

I tried to take a picture of one of the cornflowers among the poppies but I got distracted…

Heliophilus pendulas

…by a Heliophilus pendulus, one of the many hoverflies.  It really enjoyed the flower.

Heliophilus pendulus

For once I am fairly sure about the identification (so I am probably wrong).

It didn’t rain very hard and occasionally even gave up in a half hearted sort of way but the afternoon remained dark and gloomy enough to persuade us to find things to do indoors.

Sandy dropped in and kindly collected my entry form and fees to take down to the Canonbie Flower Show secretary.  He has been tiling in his new house and will be pleased when he has finished the job.

The flower of the day is a dahlia with its own internal illumination….


…and the official flying bird of the day is one of the three black headed gulls that we saw on the Kilngreen.

black headed gull



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Today’s guest picture shows some delightfully green weeping willows in Parliament Hill Fields in London.  They were noticed by my sister Mary.

Weeping willows, Parliament Hill Fields

We woke to a beautifully sunny day and as darkness fell, it fell on a beautifully sunny day and in between…it was beautifully sunny.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent a happy day in the garden doing all sorts of useful things.  She only left to collect some more manure from her new manure mine.

I had a little problem in the morning.  I was hoping for a cycle ride of a reasonable length but with the morning sunny but decidedly cool and the afternoon promising to be nice and warm, the choice of suitable clothing was a tricky one.  In the end, I waited until midday when the temperature had risen enough to let me make a sensible choice.

I wandered round the garden while I was waiting.  The sun had brought things out.



When I finally got going, I varied my usual route.  With the wind being on the gentle side, I decided to take the hilly route north out of the town following the Esk valley.  Luckily the gentle breeze was on hand to blow me up the hills to Eskdalemuir.  I stopped to take a picture of the Girdle Stanes, one of the stone circles beside the route.

Girdle stanes

At Eskdalemuir, I turned left, climbed out of the White Esk valley and headed towards the Black Esk and beyond.  I got a nice prospect or two as I went over the hills.

View from above Eskdalemuir

You are never far from an electricity wire round here!

I had my lunch at an ugly bridge over the Dryfe Water north of Lockerbie.

Dryfe water

I was walking about trying to find a way down to the river bank to take a picture of it as it is obviously a repaired old stone bridge, when a kind lady emerged from a nearby house to ask if I was lost.  I told her that I was just trying to photograph the bridge and she was very surprised.  “We hate it,” she said.  She told me that the original parapet had been demolished by an articulated lorry and looking at me in a sympathetic way, offered me a cup of tea.  I reluctantly turned it down and she told me I could find a much nicer looking bridge a short way along the road.

She was right.

dryfe water bridge

It involved a short diversion from my route and a plunge down to the river with the consequent climb back up but I thought that it was well worth it.

Generally, it was a most enjoyable ride with wild flowers beginning to appear in quantity in the verges.  I saw celandines on my left as I went out and on my right as I was homeward bound.

wild flower verges

The gorse was looking good too.


As I neared home, I was quite surprised to find that the new windmill is visible from several places.  They have worked fast and the twirly bit on the top is now in place.

Ewe Hill windmill

A final six mile downhill and downwind section finished off my ride in fine style.  Those interested can click on the map for more details.

garmin 19 April 2016

Mrs Tootlepedal was resting from her gardening endeavours when I got back so after a cup of tea and a shower and a quick check on the bird feeder…

redpoll and siskin

A redpoll managed to dislodge a siskin from a perch.

…we drove up onto the Langholm moor to see if we could see any hen harriers.

We saw a buzzard flapping along above the skyline but it wasn’t long before a hen harrier appeared too and after some sparring…

hen harrier and buzzard

…drove it off.

It was very pleasant up on the hill in the warmth of the early evening.

On our way down, we stopped at the quarry where I had seen the toads spawning. I was interested to see what might have developed but there was no sign of toads and little sign of ‘toadpoles’.  Only one of the puddles seemed to have any life at all…

toad spawn and duck

…and we wondered if a pair of ducks, who seem to be resident in the quarry, are happily dining on them.

The low sun picked out the shrubs beside the lawn when we got home…


…and Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out this charming daffodil to me as we took a final walk round the garden.


Did I mention that the tulips were out?


And there are more to come.


A starling watched us as we walked about.


We were both quite pleased after a busy day that we had no activities in the evening other than a quiet sit down.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.


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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother.  He has been a bit unwell lately and unable to go for his customary vigorous walks but he is recovering well and taking pictures in flatter places for the moment.  This is the ferry across Portsmouth harbour.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I took our bikes across on this ferry in 2008.

Gosport ferryThe very encouraging day yesterday turned out to be another false start on the road to warmer weather and we woke up to a familiarly cold, windy, grey day again today.

The change in the weather had brought a great tit into the garden, a very occasional visitor.

great titThe chilly wind put paid to any thoughts of a little loosener on the bike and I entertained Sandy to a cup of coffee instead.  When he left, I put a week of the newspaper index into the database and did a bit of much needed flute and singing practice.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s mother is coming to stay with us for a couple of weeks on Sunday so she was very busy making preparations for this big event.

We had time for a brisk and chilly walk round the garden.  I took a couple of pictures of the walking wounded.

tulip and magnolia…and one of a new flower.

alpine clematisThis is an alpine clematis Mrs Tootlepedal tells me.

There were still plenty of blackbirds in the garden but this one didn’t look at his best at all.

blackbird with bare chestI made a bit of soup for lunch and afterwards, while Mrs Tootlepedal set about editing our local paper so that it would be ready tomorrow for the readers who produce an edition for blind subscribers, I went off with Sandy for a drive to Newcastleton with a view to doing a new walk over there.

Our route took us over the Langholm Moor and we were pleased to see plenty of interest including a female hen harrier and a merlin but chiefly a large group of wild goats, unusually close to the road.  We stopped.

wild goatsIt was a family group. Usually they would scatter if we got so close but for some reason they just continued munching away as we took pictures today.

An adult patrolled the skyline.

wild goatsAnd an infant sucked its toe.

wild goatsWe drove on and parked in the village beside the river in Newcastleton.  Our walk took us over the new bridge across the Liddle Water.

bridge at NewcastletonI say ‘new’ bridge but in fact this is the third place in which it has been used.  The idea of a second or third hand bridge is quite strange to me but it kept us up very satisfactorily as we crossed it.

By this time the sun had come out and as long as we were sheltered from the wind, it was reasonably warm.

Newcastleton is one of the 7 Stanes mountain biking centres in the south of Scotland and the route we were following was partly on roads but mostly on specially built cycle tracks.  The road part of our walk was very beautiful, passing through deciduous woodland…

Whithaugh…which was carpeted by wild flowers in places…

wild flowers Whithaugh…and picturesque at other times.

WhithaughThis part of our route took us through an outdoor activity centre with a big climbing wall, archery butts, a permanent orienteering course and a 300m zip wire.  Oh to be young again.

When we left the activity centre, we came to the cycle single tracks and followed the up hill trail.

cycle track 7 StanesA lot of work had obviously gone into building these tracks.  I think the the red dots on the trees in the right hand picture mean that they are due to be felled.  There is a balance to be struck between excitement and safety on these trails.

We were able to look back from time to time and enjoy the view across Liddesdale.

LiddesdaleWe walked about 2 miles from the car to the to the top of a ridge where we were able to look down to another car park beside a stream below us.

7 StanesWe will drive to this car park and start from there next time we come.

Our route back down the hill was on the return trail for the mountain bikers and we were very impressed by the control and daring they need to navigate the twists and turns at speed.

7 Stanes trailLuckily for us, there were no cyclists about or we would have had to look smart to get out of their way.  Mountain biking down these sorts of trails is a young man’s game though and the young men must have all been at work.  You see a lot of old men out riding road bikes but having seen these trails, it will amaze me me if any of these mountain bikers survive to be old men at all.

When  we passed through it on out way down, the adventure centre was in full swing with children abseiling down the climbing wall, trudging up streams while ducking under logs and getting lost on the orienteering course. Our calmer walk back down the hill was soon accomplished and we crossed the Liddle…

Liddle…got in the car, and drove back across the hill to Langholm.

To our surprise, the goats were still beside the road and as this may be the best chance we will ever have to see them so close, we stopped again.

wild goatThe family group were busy feeding in the long grass.

wild goatWe added to our collection of things seen with another merlin and a male hen harrier.  Neither was in photographic range by the time we had stopped and got a camera out but it was good to watch them anyway.

We both agreed that it had been an excellent outing.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Ewes for a WRI meeting and Sandy and I met again and went to the Archive Centre.  While I had a successful time with an excellent internet connection at putting the newspaper index into the database, the other computer, which Sandy uses, seems to have died and he had a rather frustrating evening not getting his tasks done.

We consoled him with a glass of wine.

Mrs Tootlepedal and her colleagues had entertained the WRI meeting with their prizewinning radio presentation and she came home with the handsome trophy which she will hold for a while before passing it on to another team member.

The flying bird of the day is a rather token view of the female hen harrier which we saw as we went over the hill to Newcastleton.

female hen harrier

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Today’s guest picture shows Mr Grumpy’s London cousin surveying the Serpentine.  He caught my sister Mary’s eye.

Mr Grumpy hiding in the shadeI had to get up bright and early to take our car to the garage to get a new track rod fitted and the radio sorted so that it actually worked.  It was a pleasant sunny day except for a chilly wind again.  Although the temperature for the last few days has been quite springlike when you are in the sun, if the sun goes in or you catch the breeze, it has remained stubbornly cold.

My walk home was well sheltered.  There are still very few birds in the garden so I was more than usually pleased to see a pair of blue tits today/

_DSC7668-1The one on the right has been ringed so I can tell that it was the other one who came to the feeder for a seed.

_DSC7670A pair of starlings also paid a visit, perched on top of a variegated holly bush.

_DSC7685-1There are quite a few blackbirds who spend most of the time chasing each other about.  This one was lurking on the edge of a flowerbed and keeping a wary eye out.

_DSC7686-1The light was quite good today so the absence of birds from the feeder was a lost opportunity.  This was the only chaffinch that I saw all day

_DSC7687I had to look out of our back window to see this house sparrow.

_DSC7690A walk round the garden after breakfast showed that it had been raining overnight….

rainy plants….but it had only been a light shower.

I had to go to the High Street on business just before lunch so I made the best of it by taking a camera or two with me and returning by way of the Kilngreen and the Castleholm.  The black headed gulls are in their spring plumage and showing why they have got their name.

_DSC7707And I was delighted to see Mr Grumpy back in his normal spot on the river bank.

_DSC7713-1On a nearby fencepost, a gull was posing for me.

_DSC7718-1After lunch, I was intending to go for a cycle outing but I was overcome with tiredness and had to sit down for a snooze in a comfortable chair instead.  After about an hour, I got up and went out into the garden,  The recent warmer weather has made the grass grow on the back lawn so I got the hover mower out and gave it the first trim of the year.  Parts of the middle lawn needed attention too and a quick sweep with a light push mower sorted that out.

Most of the front and middle lawn is covered in moss and we will need some really good growing weather before there is any grass to mow.

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a new primula.

primulaWe are not sure yet quite what kind it is.

I walked back to the garage and collected our car.

Since it was such a lovely afternoon and we had the car back, after we had had a cup of tea, we jumped into the car and went up onto the moor to see if we could see a short eared owl again.

The trip was worth it for the view up the Ewes valley alone.

Ewes ValleyWe parked beside Kenny, a local wildlife enthusiast and member of our local camera club and he pointed out a female hen harrier just above the skyline.  It was soon joined by another female and a male.  The male then gave us a short but spectacular flying display designed to catch the eyes of the females.

_DSC7725It was too quick and too far away for my lens.  The harriers were the  joined by a pair of buzzards and they circled above us for some time.

harrier and buzzardsAlthough they were too far above us for proper photographs, they were easily in range of our binoculars and very enjoyable to watch so we were pleased to have gone up to the moor in spite of not seeing the owl today.  As a bonus, we did watch a merlin fly past us and settle on a rock further up the hillside.

We got home in time for my flute pupil Luke’s weekly lesson.  He is taking his grade three exam this week and had been to a proper flute teacher a day or two ago for some last minute advice.   He can play his pieces well but needs to put in some hard graft on his scales before Friday.

After tea, Sandy arrived to take me across to the last meeting of the year of the Liddesdale Camera Club.  I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the moon before we left.  Having seen the moon cast its shadow on the sun on Friday, it seemed only fair to show the earth casting a shadow on the moon today.

_DSC7744 (2)The camera club meeting was to show the best pictures of the year and pick a champion print and digital image.  I didn’t have any entries, having not done well this year but Sandy had several.  In the event, almost all the prizes went to the same member and it must be admitted that he is perhaps more skilful and certainly takes much more trouble than the rest of us so he deserved his success.

Although I took technically better flying bird pictures today, this flying robin is still my pick for flying bird of the day.flying robin

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce.  He and his wife have been for a lunch at Gretna, which is on the border between England and Scotland.  As a service to their customers, the eating house of their choice shows the time on both sides of the border.

Gretna timeAfter a wild and stormy night, we had a wild and stormy day today.  Fortunately, the rain eased off and we suffered no more than light drizzle from time to time.

I started the day off with a visit to our local producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre.  To assuage my grief at the non appearance of the fresh fish man, I bought extra supplies of cheese from the cheese monger and some mint chocolate thins from our local chocolatier to supplement my usual supplies of honey, venison and lamb.

After a cup of coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to the Moorland Feeders where I was once again standing in for Gavin who is still enjoying the delights of the USA.

While I battled through the weather to refill the feeders, Mrs Tootlepedal sat in the car watching a pair of harriers (we think) displaying above the moor.

harrierThis was my best effort to record one of the raptors.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s delight at seeing these free flying birds was modified by the thought that her binoculars were hanging in the kitchen.  While she scanned the moor, I retired to the shelter of the hide and watched a multitude of chaffinches.

chaffinchesThey were not immune to the effects of the wind.

chaffinchesAmong the chaffinch hordes, the peanuts attracted a select band of great tits.

great titsThanks to the combination of the lack of binoculars and the poor light, we didn’t stay long

After lunch (soup and a delicious selection of cheeses), I sat down to do the crossword as it was far too windy to consider cycling.   Just when I needed a crossword that would challenge me for a good time, the powers that be provided me with one that did not detain me for very long so I went out to look at the garden.

At last, a daffodil is genuinely out…

daffodil…but in general the early daffodils are not flowering well after a great effort last year.  Another two aconites have appeared which has made Mrs Tootlepedal a little happier about them.

I met a blog reader at the Market this morning who told me that although she likes my photos in general, she can’t stand the frogs at all so if you are reading this today, Isabel, look away now.

The frogs were very happy.

frogsAnd I was very happy to see a pair of robins in the garden and especially happy when one posed for me.

robinI watched a bit of the Davis Cup on the telly but the appeal of watching tennis wears off after about twenty minutes, however good the game, so I thought that I would go for a walk as it wasn’t actually raining.  I chose to walk round Gaskell’s whihc was fairly well sheltered from the blast.

It was still tremendously gloomy and rather soggy…

soggy gate…with water running off the fields and no chance of a view….

Stubholm…with the cloud base at about 500ft so I took a little torch with me to help Pocketcam out with some lichen shots as I went round.

From a visual point of view, I enjoy lichens set among others in contrasting colours.

lichenThey often repay close examination.

lichen…though some are hard to miss.

lichen on wallCup lichens are generally my favourites…

lichen…but today, this one tickled my fancy most.

lichenI thought that the torch worked quite well with the lichens but it produced unwelcome sparkle when used with a fungus.

fungusIn the end, I was more than pleased to have been able to get a walk in and take any pictures on such a gloomy day.

The tennis was still going on when I got in and I watched the exciting last few games of an excellent doubles match.  The redoubtable Bryan brothers just got the better of the British pair in a five set match.

The  flying bird of the day was an insuperable problem and this muddy siskin apparently head butting the feeder was my best effort.


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