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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend and horticultural adviser Liz.  She went for a paddle on the Union Canal, and knowing that I like bridges, she sent me this.

union canal

After two sunny day, we reverted to a grey and drizzly day again today.  It was an ideal morning for staying indoors so I did just that…

…though I did poke my nose outside in a less drizzly moment to see what was going on.

A bee was trying on a dashing pink hat…

bee on lamium

…and in spite of the gloomy weather, there were quite a few red admiral butterflies around.  I caught one on the buddleia and another one flat out on the sedum, having a snooze.

butterfly on sedum

I checked to see if there were any blackbirds in the rowan tree.  You might think that it would be easier to stand on a twig and peck upwards, but the general trend seems to be to balance carefully and peck downwards.

balckbird diving for berry

I did actually see a blackbird fall off its twig trying this method.   It steadied itself though  and chose a safer spot.

blackbird in rowan tree

After lunch, the drizzle cleared up and the forecast offered some hours of dryish weather in spite of still having quite a lot of rain on its weather map.  I got my bike out and set off to see how far I could get before it started to  rain again.

Farmers have been making good use of the recent sunny days and the number of bales of silage in this field shows just how well the grass has been growing this summer.

silage

I looked down at the wall which you can see at the bottom of the picture above and saw a veritable feast of lichens.

four lichens on wauchope road wall

All these were within a few feet of each other.

I took a little diversion up to Cleuchfoot, and stopped to admire the autumn fruits, sloes and brambles, beside the road.  It looks like being a fruitful season.

sloe and bramble

I got to the top of Callister and as it began to rain lightly, I turned for home.  There was almost no wind today, a very rare thing these days, and it was warm so in spite of the light rain, it was enjoyable to be out and about.

By the time that I had got back to Langholm after 14 miles, the rain had stopped so I didn’t.  I went through the town and out of the other side.  I had to wait at the junction at the bridge to let a small convoy of MGBs through.  They were obviously on a tour and perhaps a reader, looking at the number plate, can tell me where they come from.

MGB

When I had crossed the bridge, I had to stop again on the Kilngreen, because not only could I see Mr Grumpy crouching beside the river…

crouching heron

…but there was a cormorant perched on a rock at the Meeting of the Waters.

comorant

Local fishermen will not be happy.

I pedalled on up the main road for three miles, stopped to admire the view…

near Hoghill

…and pedalled back home again, pleased to have got 21 miles in on a day that had started so miserably.

After a cup of tea (and a biscuit) with Mrs Tootlepedal and our friend Mike who had dropped in, I was sufficiently revived to go out into the garden and mow the front lawn. The grass is growing well in our garden too and the lawns are needing to be mowed every two or three days.

While I was out, I had a look round and was delighted to see a robin.  I hadn’t seen one for some time.

robin on fence

While I was tracking the robin, I nearly trod on this blackbird.  It was very reluctant to move from a spot where it had obviously found something interesting to eat.

young blackbird on ground

When I looked up at the rowan tree, more blackbirds were finding things to eat.

After a good look round, this one….

blackbird eyeing up beries

…took the plunge, grabbed a berry and swallowed it whole.

blackbird eating berries

Berries were going down well…

berry in blackbird beak

…though some were harder to grasp than others.

close up balckbird with berry

The berries will not last long if the blackbirds keep going at this rate.

I left the blackbirds to it, and walked around looking for flowers.  The honeysuckle on the fence is flowering well and still has plenty to come…

honeysuckle

…and Crown Princess Margareta is making a plucky effort to have a late show.

crown princess margareta rose

Then my flute pupil Luke came and showed evidence of practice.  This can only be a good thing.  Both he and I are working on improving our breathing skills and are trying hard to avoid heaving up our shoulders when breathing in, a very bad habit.  Getting rid of bad habits is a lot harder than acquiring good habits so we have some way to go.

I made some cauliflower cheese for our evening meal and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I settled down to the double delight of watching the highlights of both the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain.

I didn’t quite catch a flying bird of the day, but this blackbird had to use its wings a lot to steady itself so it gets the title today, whether it was actually flying or not.

flying berry blackbird

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Today’s guest picture is a second from my brother’s trip to Tamworth.  As well as the colourful gardens, he enjoyed the contrast between the Tamworth’s ancient bridge and the modern buildings behind it.

Tamworth Bridge

We woke up to sunshine.  It was hard to believe but it was undoubtedly there.  After breakfast, I went out into the garden to enjoy it.

The sunflowers looked more cheerful too.

sunflower group

The sedum is getting flushed with pink…

pink sedum

…and the last of the poppies are still hanging on…

deep red poppy

…but a nasturtium, positively sparkling with joy, took the prize.

sparkling nasturtium

There were even a few butterflies about.  The red admirals seem to like resting on hosta leaves to gather warmth.

buttefly on hosta

Sadly, the sunshine didn’t last for long and we were soon back to gusty winds and frequent rain showers.  I made some potato soup for lunch and while it was cooking, Mrs Tootlepedal noticed a jackdaw making free with our plums.  The miscreant tried to hide behind a leaf when it saw us looking at it, but the well pecked plum in front of it was a giveaway.

jackdaw at the plums

In light of the poor weather, I devoted the afternoon to musical matters until Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea (and the last of the biscuits).

It was still raining off and on when he went, but I was confident that the worst was behind us and I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal to come out for a short walk when it had finally stopped.

I carried an umbrella just in case but I had no need for it, as the evening turned out to be much like the early morning.

We passed a large number of ducks on the banks of the Ewes Water as we went along the Kilngreen…

ducks on kilngreen

…and there was an old friend there too.

heron on kilngreen

We walked across the Sawmill Brig and onto the Castleholm.  It was looking lush and green…

view of castleholm

…and the Lodge Walks had a refreshed look about them too.

lodge walks september

The gaps along the side of the Walks, where trees have been taken out, have made room for wild saplings to spring up.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that this is an ash.

new ash tree

Even when the mature trees are still there, views can be gained by peering through the branches.

warbla from Lodge walks

We were passed by some traffic and looking back as it passed us, I wondered of whom it reminded me.  But there were too many choices so I stopped wondering and walked on.

horse rider

We went past the Lodge and came back down the other side of the Castleholm.  One of my favourite trees looks at its best at this time on a sunny evening.

pine tree castleholm

Looking across at the trees that line the Lodge walks, it was apparent that autumn is on its way as the leaves are just starting to lose a little colour here and there.

back of lodge walks

In the shade beside the paths on our way home, I could see red campion…

red campion

…and snowberries.

snowberry

After the gloom of the last few days, a sunny walk was most welcome and we had worked up an appetite for the rest of the sausage stew and some courgette fritters for our tea.  They went down well.

No flying bird of the day today.  Indeed this bird looks as though it has hardly got a feather to fly with.

moulting blackbird

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mrs Tootlepedal and features one of our plums.

ally's plum

The picture itself might not seem to be earth shattering but the fact that Mrs Tootlepedal took on her new smart phone and emailed it to me, is a giant leap for her into a whole new world of tech.

The acquisition of the new phone was the main business of the morning and involved a trip to Carlisle.  I had tried to get the phone sorted on-line yesterday but it proved an intractable business so we made an appointment to speak to real people in the EE shop in Carlisle.  This proved to be a really good idea, as an admirably competent young lady was able to add the new phone to my account, get Mrs Tootlepedal an excellent bargain for the monthly charge and give me an extra gigabyte of data thrown in.

She told us that the staff in the shop are no longer paid commission for hard selling, and indeed get no bonus for completing a sale at all.  They get their reward if customers speak highly of them when asked their opinion a week after the deal is done.  This is a good idea!

She sold us what we wanted, didn’t try to sell us anything we didn’t want, gave us a tremendous amount of technical help and sent us on our way in a very cheerful state of mind indeed.  We will speak highly of her when we are asked.

While we were in Carlisle, we bought some cheese, visited a bookshop where we had a cup of coffee, and wandered through a market in the middle of the town.  All in all, it was a very satisfactory morning.

When we got home, we had lunch and then we went out into the garden.  It was one of those days when the weather in Carlisle was bright and sunny but the weather in Langholm was grey and gloomy with the clouds down over the hills.

This is a bit hard to bear but I took a picture of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new phlox just for the cheery colour.

phlox

In spite of the cloudy day, it was warm enough and at worst there was only a faint drizzle so we got a lot done.  I mowed the lawns and together we removed and binned what seemed like a hundred or more green plums from the poor old plum tree which is still overloaded with clusters of plums hanging on it like bunches of grapes.  The plums are beginning to ripen and plum jam is in the offing.

After the de-plumming, we sat for a while on the bench while we rested and looked around. Some nicotianas looked back at us from behind the yew.

nicotiana behind yew

On the fence behind the bench, the runner bean flowers made a good show.

runner bean flowers

More actual beans would not go amiss but we had a few with our evening meal.

Across the lawn, a bee visited the lamium…

bee on lamium

…while on the lawn, a harassed mother blackbird fed an ungrateful youngster.

blackbird feeding young

We went in for a cup of tea and a biscuit and then I decided to go for a walk.   I  had only gone a few steps when my feet decided that a ‘bicycle walk’ would be better idea, so I got the slow bike out and cycled round an extended three bridges walk at a very leisurely pace.

You don’t see as much when you are on a  bicycle, no matter how slowly you go but I couldn’t miss the gull on its favourite rock…

gull on rock august

…or Mr Grumpy lurking more inconspicuously a few yards away down the river.

heron beside Elizabeth St

I cycled up the Lodge Walks and took a photograph.  It was a bit dull so I took the liberty of asking my photo editor to put an arty filter on it.  I quite liked the result.

arty Lodge walks

At the side of the road, this massive fungus was easily visible at any speed.

fungus Lodge walks

The sun came out as I pedalled along, and it turned into a very pleasant evening.

pheasant hatchery road

In the low sun, the trees looked delightful both in general…

castleholm trees

…and in particular.

castleholm tree

I would have liked to have been on foot, but I bumped along the track on my bike happily enough.

pheasant hatchery track

I passed the Duchess Bridge but did not cross it…

duchess bridge in shade

…and went on to the Jubilee Bridge and the Scholars’ Field to make my way home.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round for their usual Friday evening visit, and Alison and I played some very satisfactory duets, including a Telemann Sonata which we haven’t played for some time and which went very well all things considered.

The hard working mother blackbird is standing in for the flying bird of the day.

blackbird on lawn

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who visited the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway which runs (rather smokey) heritage trains between Duffield and Wirksworth, in the Derbyshire Peak District.  By the way, Henry Ellison was built in 1947 so it may be heritage but it is still younger than me.

Ecclesbourne Valley Railway

Easter Sunday was another day of splendid weather, with sun from dawn till dusk and it would have been possible to sit out in the garden all day if we had wanted to.

But we had other things to do, starting with a visit to church to sing with our choir.

We had some guest singers with us today as we sang the Hallelujah Chorus as our anthem and with six sopranos, five altos, four basses and two tenors we made a very reasonable sound.  We are between ministers at the moment and the services are being run by a sort of works committee.  They are making a very good job of it so it was an excellent start to the day.

We had a cup of coffee when we got home and then Mrs Tootlepedal planted some potatoes in the new bed.  When she had done that, she set about making a Swiss roll with lemon curd.  My Achilles tendon was still very tender so apart from wandering gently about the garden dead heading daffodils and taking occasional pictures of both delicate…

pulmonaria, lamium

…and ostentatious flowers…

end of drive colour april

…I was happy to have a particularly complicated crossword to spend time puzzling over.

After lunch, it seemed like too good a day to spend at home so we went on a small expedition by bicycle.  Our mission was to see how the repairs on the Tarras road had progressed since we last saw them two months ago, when they looked like  this…

tarras roadworks scene

Our route took us along the bank of the river Esk where we were entertained by a pair of male goosanders on a fishing trip and Mr Grumpy poising on a rock.

goosander and heron

There are definitely less attractive roads to pedal along in springtime than this one.

Broomholm road out

We saw lots of wild flowers on our trip…

violet, anemone, primrose and celandine

…so we had to stop a number of times before we got to the works.  When we finally arrived, it looked as though the re-building of the road was nearly complete…

new tarras road top

…and when we took a closer look, it was plain that a substantial embankment had been built complete with landscaping and drainage and the road put back on top of it.  The workers had been busy and it shouldn’t be too long before the road is surfaced and open to traffic again.

new tarras road banking

Instead of cycling straight home, we turned right past this tree…

tree broomholmshiels

..waved to some Easter lambs…

lambs broomholmshiels

…and puffed up the hill to the Laverock Hide bird feeders which are now being run by a new project called Wild Eskdale.

There wasn’t much wildlife about today though.  Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies in vain for any glimpse of a raptor while I sat in the hide and watched a number of chaffinches and siskins.

I did get one good march past though…

pheasant at laverock hide

…and saw a great tit too.

great tit at laverock hide

I wasn’t complaining though as it was very pleasant just to be sitting there on a beautiful warm day.

I had a look at one of the larches before we set off home.

larch tree at Laverock hide

The trip home, involving some serious downhill work…

Broomholm road back

….was over a good deal more quickly than the trip out and it wasn’t long before we were sitting down to a cup of tea and two slices of Mrs Tootlepedal’s Swiss roll which was so delicious that it took iron self control to stop at just two slices.

The six mile cycle ride had actually helped my Achilles tendon problem to ease off a lot and I was able to walk round the garden with no pain at all when I went out to look at the tulips.

pink tulip

Which were well worth a look…

orange tulip sun

…as a little late afternoon sun enhances everything in general but tulips in particular…

red tulip sun

…either singly or in a clump.

cloud of tulips

I admired a bergenia…

bergenia in sun

…and was delighted to note that the first apple blossoms are beginning to come out…

apple blossom

…before picking some rhubarb for stewing and going in to have a second helping of yesterday’s fish pie for my tea, followed by stewed rhubarb and ice cream.

As both my feet feel not too bad tonight, I am hoping to get out for some exercise tomorrow but the trick will be to take some but not too much.  The forecast is offering us two more lovely days before rain arrives so I hope to make the best of them that I can.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch approaching the feeder with care and attention.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s picture is another from Venetia’s African odyssey in the course of which she seems to have seen just about everything you could expect to see if things went really well on such a visit.

Elephant crossing,

After the excitement of yesterday’s outing, I had a quiet day today.  The weather was quiet too, with a tiny spot of sun and a single drop of rain, but it was mostly grey and unemotional.

Although Mrs Tootlepedal is still a bit under the weather,  she managed to go out and sort out posters in the Welcome to Langholm office for forthcoming Buccleuch Centre events.  I had a look at the birds.

It was a hard stare and shouting day.

siskin warning chaffinch

I was suffering a bit from yesterday’s walk so I measured out visits to the garden in small doses but made the most of my time while I was out.

I started with a check on the developing magnolia…

magnolia flower

…and then set about shifting some more compost from Bin B into Bin C.  In spite of having a good cover on Bin B, the amount of rain we have had has made the compost wet and heavy so I am moving a modest amount at a time but I have got down to needing one more go after today’s effort.  Perhaps because of the moisture, the compost is full of worms this year which is a good thing.

I also sieved some of the compost in Bin D but as it is wet too, the sieving is more tedious than it should be so there is quite a lot of that left to do.

I took a picture of a newly flourishing bergenia…

bergenia

…and went back in looked out at the birds again.

They were still shouting.

goldfinch shouting

I had some nourishing soup for my lunch and watched the birds whizzing round the feeder…

busy feeder

…and I was delighted to see a stranger among the chaffinches, siskins and goldfinches.  A redpoll had come to call.

chaffinch and redpoll

I paid another visit to the garden to gather the material for a panel of primroses and primula…

primrose and primula

…and while I was out, I got the mower out and put the blades up high enough for me to be able to walk across the front lawn pretending that I was mowing it.

Basically I was just squashing moss, although a few blades of grass here and there stuck up enough to end up in the grass box.  It is the first step in a process that I hope will end up with the lawn looking quite respectable for one or two weeks in the middle of summer before the moss starts its inexorable return.  It is a pointless but amusing exercise.

I retired to my computer and added a new parish magazine from 1968, which Sandy had scanned and formatted, to our Archive Group website.

I was thinking of a very short walk or slow cycle ride but there was a hint of drizzle so I went back to my computer and put the accompaniment for the last movement of one of the pieces which I am playing with Luke into the kind programme that plays the keyboard and the cello part for us.

I got bored of sitting around in the end and in spite of the poor light, I went off on the slow bike to see if there were any birds down by the river.  Because the light was poor, there were birds on all sides.

I saw a pair of oyster catchers showing that one leg or two is all the same to them.

two oysdtercatchers with legs

I saw Mr Grumpy standing on the rock where the big gull usually stands.

mr grumpy in Esk

I saw a pair of goosanders both standing  out of the water for long enough for me to get a shot of them…

male goosander preening

…though the female had lost her head.

female goosander headless

All these were on the short stretch between the suspension and the town bridges.

I crossed the town bridge and stopped at the Kilngreen where a pied wagtail posed for a moment…

pied wagtail ewes

…while two mallards tried to sneak off unnoticed behind my back,

ducks sneaking off

I was talking to a fellow cyclist when a dipper flew past but it was too quick for me and all that was left was to catch the fine show of daffodils along the bank up to the Sawmill Brig.

ewes water daffodils

I pedalled gently across the bridge, up the Lodge Walks and then back along the riverside path….

Castleholm pine tree

…and then I went through the town up to Pool Corner where this fine crop of catkins caught my eye.

dangly catkins

I had one final look round the garden when I got home…

orange trumpet daffodil

…and enjoyed two of the different daffodils that Mrs Tootlepedal has planted over the years.

red trumpet daffodil

That pretty well concluded the excitement for the day apart from watching our local heroine Jilly making it through another day of Masterchef.

A chaffinch looking a bit uncomfortable is the flying bird of the day.

cricked chaffinch

Note: I see that Sandy has put a set of pictures from our walk at Watchtree yesterday onto his blog.  Those interested can see them here.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who was alarmed to see some bears while he was out on a walk  in the town.  He calmed down when he noticed that there was a stout fence between them and him.

bears townfoot

It was a very unreliable day today as far as both the weather and the weather forecast went.  The forecast changed every time that I looked at it and the weather changed even more frequently.  At one moment the sun shone brightly and at the next it was raining or even sleeting.  There was one consistent factor however, a strong and cruel wind that cut like a knife.

As a result, I gave up any thoughts of cycling and watched the birds for a bit.  There are still plenty of them to watch at the moment, with twenty or thirty chaffinches and goldfinches on the plum tree and at the feeder….

invading chaffinches

…and siskins hanging about too.

siskin acrobat

There finally came a moment after coffee when the weather seemed to be set fair for long enough to let me out for a short walk, so I chanced my arm and went for a stroll round Easton’s and Gaskell’s Walks.

There was blossom in the park…

blossom in park

..and plenty of signs of wild garlic growing on the bank beside the river as I went along Easton’s.

wild garlic shoots

Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t like this walk much as she thinks that the trees don’t look quite well grounded enough…

bare roots

…and she may well be right as there are always little landslips happening along the path and many of the trees are leaning in a threatening manner, but I got along safely today.

As I turned back up the hill at the end of the riverside track, I saw a rich bank of moss…

mossy bank

…and the promise of a good show of bluebells to come later on in the spring.

bluebell shoots

When I got up to the Stubholm there were more signs of spring…

hawthorn buds

…and as long as I could keep out of the wind, it was a very pleasant day for a walk.

stubholm path

I didn’t dawdle though as I went along Gaskell’s because I wouldn’t have enjoyed being out in a heavy rain shower so I kept my camera in my pocket and stretched my legs until I was well on the way home.  Then I stopped to appreciate a tree at Wauchope Kirkyard…

graveyard tree

…and an ash twig on the road down to Pool Corner…

ash twig…and some alder catkins beside the caul.

alder catkins pool corner

The daffodils along the road sides are just beginning to come out, although it will be a week or two at least before they are out in full force.

daffodils moodla point

I got back home to find Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden, making metaphorical hay while the sun shone..  I looked around and was happy to see the first chionodoxa of the year.

chionodoxa

We went in for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal went off to her monthly Embroiderers’ Guild meeting and I settled down to watch Scotland getting beaten by Wales in the Six Nations rugby tournament.  I was so certain that we were going to get beaten that I ended up  mildly pleased when we give the Welsh a good fright before going down.  Even a blatant but unpenalised forward pass in the run up to the first Welsh try failed to significantly dent my equilibrium.

After Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her meeting, another spell of sunny weather tempted me out for a second short walk, this time over three bridges.

Once again, the sunny weather made for a cheerful scene but the  sharp eyed…

Castle Hill and gritter

…will notice a bright yellow gritting vehicle parked on the Kilngreen.  The driver told me that he had been out gritting the country roads to the west and north of the town as frost and snow to quite low levels are expected tomorrow.

Mr Grumpy was out enjoying the evening sunshine while he could and as I passed…

heron one leg

…he raised a languid foot in greeting.

heron two legs

On the Castleholm, I stopped for a chat with a camera club member, retired postman Stan, and by the time that we had finished talking, the sun was dropping behind the hills. It was getting quite chilly so once again, I put more effort into walking than snapping and only stopped to salute some willows at the Jubilee Bridge…

willow

…before hurrying along to get to home and some welcome warmth.

It started to rain again not long after I had got in.

Quite apart form the forecast of sleet or snow for tomorrow, it looks as though the unsettled weather is going to continue for at least a week so my cycling mileage for the month (zero miles so far) is likely to be very poor.  I don’t much mind cold conditions and I can cope with wind if it is dry and I can live with some rain if it is not too windy but I have passed the age when cycling in cold, wind and rain at the same time has any appeal at all.  I will try to sneak in as many walks as I can between showers.

The flying bid of the day is one of the large flock of chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tony.  He has been looking up lately and as well as holes in clouds, he has seen the moon.

tony's moon

We had another fine sunny day here today and because the wind had dropped, it felt really warm and we were able to discard several layers of winter clothing.

We started the day with a visit to church to sing with the choir.  Because our local amateur operatic society was having a full day of rehearsals for their forthcoming show, we were a bit short of numbers but we gave it our best anyway.

When we got back to the house, we had a stroll round the garden.  I checked on the frogs and saw an odd sight…

two frog heads

…with two frogs looking as though they had been shot and mounted on a wooden board.  A second look showed me that they were in fact floating on top of a reflection of the bridge above them and if you look carefully, you can see the rest of their bodies under the water.

The rest of the pond was full of frogs.

frog panel

The garden is full of crocuses…

crocuses beside opath

…and other interesting things like a naturally dried sunflower head, a ladybird and the developing euphorbia.

sunflower, ladybird and euphorbia

I was just going about photographing things when I was hailed by neighbour Irving who was leaning over the garden fence.  He has been very poorly recently with a bad back and was keen to share some experiences with me as I have suffered from a bad back too in my time.

Irving on fence

He felt that after being ill, he was probably not at his best photographically and told me not to put his picture in the blog.  You can see that he is perhaps looking a little part worn still so I won’t use his picture.

During the day when she was between choirs, Mrs Tootlepedal completed the varnishing of the rocking horse.

rocking horse eyes

The dappling of a rocking horse is a very stylised business and she has settled for a fairly restrained version which I think is just the thing.

rocking horse varnished

We are waiting now for the arrival of the saddle, bridle, main and tail from the rocking horse shop and then the final stage of the work can begin.

We had a busy day at the feeder today with a good number of siskins flying in and out…

three flying siskins

…alongside the usual chaffinches and goldfinches…

three flying birds

…and a visiting starling showed off its iridescent colours.

starling on feeder

I had time for a short three bridges walk and spotted quite a few oyster catchers beside the river..

oyster catcher in sun

The sense of a spring day was heightened by the sight of the first blossoms on the trees which line the Esk between the suspension and the town bridges.

cherry blossom

At the Kilngreen, the crocuses are starting to come out along the banking and although they are not quite as showy as the Edinburgh display which I saw on Thursday…

kilngreen crocus bank

…they are not to be sniffed at.

kilngreen crocuses

I haven’t seen Mr Grumpy for some time, so it was good to see him back on guard beside the Ewes Water.

heron

I walked over the Sawmill Brig and walked up almost as far as the Lodge…

Lodge in Feb

…before crossing the Castleholm and taking the riverside path back towards the Jubilee bridge.  I was wondering if the spell of good weather might have tempted some hazel flowers to come out.

It had.

The catkins were open and if you look carefully, you can just see a little red female flower at the top of the picture.

hazel catkin and flower

This tree had several flowers out…

haxel flowers

…but I didn’t see any more as I walked along the path.  They have arrived early this year.  It has sometimes been almost a month later before I have seen them.

castelholm sunny feb

I called in on our friends Mike and Alison on our way home as Mike has been poorly with a chest infection.  I had seen him briefly on our way to church when he was on his way to buy a newspaper and looking far from well but he was much more cheerful by lunchtime and reported that he is on the mend.

When  I got home, I found the pond full to bursting with frogs.

many frogs in pond

I had time for a quick lunch and while I was  eating my soup, Mrs Tootlepedal noticed that a redpoll had arrived.  I put down my soup spoon and picked  up a camera and recorded this welcome arrival.

february redpoll

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle for a very hard working final practice before the Carlisle Community Choir goes to Manchester next week to compete in the Manchester Amateur Choir Competition.

Mrs Tootlepedal is not taking part this year so I will be going down by myself, except of course for the other eighty choir members who will be coming too.

I am hoping for good weather so I can wander about during the day taking pictures.

I had made a venison stew in the slow cooker in the morning and in spite of saying recently that we had used all the veg from our garden, I was happy to find that we still have some home grown turnips in store in our garage so one of them went in.  Thanks to the good summer, things have lasted well in storage this season.

The flying bird of the day was a lucky shot taken at the Kilngreen as I clicked my camera at random as a duck flew by down the river.  I must have moved it inadvertently at almost duck flying speed.

flyng duck

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