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Posts Tagged ‘heron’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary’s visit to Kew Gardens.  The sedentary minded can view the gardens from this land train.

Kew Gardens 6 May 2018 006

We had a fair day here today with very occasional sun, a good breeze and some late rain.  It meant that Mrs Tootlepedal could garden until she was exhausted and I could do some lawn care and go for a walk.

I had hoped to have my new bicycle by now but an enquiry to the bike shop revealed that it might not even be ready for tomorrow.  I hope that it will be but I have steeled myself for more delay.

Anyway, in the absence of cycling, I scarified the front lawn and collected up huge quantities of moss to the great interest of our resident blackbird who followed behind me pecking up food for his family.

baby blackbirds

I got a better picture of one of the youngsters later in the morning.

baby blackbird

They seem to be bigger than their parents so it is no wonder that the parents have to keep busy to feed them.

The dead heading of daffodils goes on (Mrs Tootlepedal must have hundreds of daffs in the garden) and the dead heading of the tulips has just started (she has hundreds of these too)  I counted over eighty of the red tulips in the narrow bed at the end of the drive and as Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that she only planted twenty, they have done remarkably well.

There is other colour about.

lithodora and primula

But still some daffodils and lots of tulips….

daff and cowslips

…and the long lasting cowslips too.

tulips

I sieved a little compost which Mrs Tootlepedal promptly used for planting out a recent purchase and then it seemed to be lunchtime.  Time flies when you are having fun.

After lunch, I went for a walk in the hope of seeing bluebells.

I saw fine blossom in the park as I walked though…

park shrub

…and many unfolding ferns along the way…

fern unfolding

…but best all, I saw the bluebells.

bluebells

I had time on my hands so I followed a track that the local mountain cyclists use through the woods.  At times it looked very inviting…

cycle track through wood

…and at times it looked truly terrifying.  I wouldn’t be able to tackle a track over bumpy roots and  fallen trees, through small streams and up and down steep banks so I take my hat off to those who do.

I am more interested in looking at things as I walk along.

There was a lot to look at.  As I took too many pictures, I am going to add only the barest number of words.

ajuga

Ajuga

larch cones

Larch keeping its cones over the winter.

view

A view at the end of the track down the hill

lichen

Lichen on a wall

blossom

Blossom

blossom

And more blossom

bluebells

I went to another bluebell wood but it wasn’t quite ready yet.

moss

There was interesting moss to make up for the lack of blue

hairy moss

Very interesting moss

dandelion

The dandelions were in good condition

distillery

Spring comes to the old Langholm Distillery

river esk

Looking down the river Esk from beside Skippers Bridge

skippers Bridge

And looking back at the briodge

wildflower

Wild flowers beside the river

heron

An old friend getting his feet wet

cherry blossom river esk

Blossom between the bridges

It was a delightful stroll and only needed a drop or two of golden sun to make it perfect.  I got a little splash of sunlight near the end of the walk but it only lasted a moment or two.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been working hard in the garden while I was out and by the time that I got back from my walk, we were both quite tired enough to make going inside and having a cup of tea seem like a really good idea.

Once inside, we got planted and didn’t go out again.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Mike I enjoyed a small glass of Old Speckled Hen, a quality bitter beer, and then, while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal caught up on all the news that was fit to hear, Alison and I enjoyed some good music, ending with a Partita in G by Telemann .  This was a really good way to end an enjoyable day.

If only my new bike would appear all would be well with the world.

I have put out some fat balls at the feeder and they attracted the attention of a sparrow today.  It is the perching bird of the day.

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Today’s guest picture shows a rather more ornate bench than our new one.  Venetia sent the picture to me but couldn’t say what it was like to sit on the bench as it is too tall for her to get up  on to.  A triumph of art over practicality.

venetia's seat

The short spell of good weather continued today and it was a pleasure to go out into the garden after breakfast and be greeted by genuinely warm air.

I took the picture of the daffodil of the day at quarter to nine in the morning when we were sitting on the new bench enjoying the sunshine.

double daffodil

The morning sun brought out the best in a bunch of yellow tulips too.

yellow tulips

We didn’t have as long as we would have liked to enjoy the glorious weather as it was soon time to go to sing in the church choir.  Probably because it is a holiday weekend, the choir was rather short handed so we all felt a bit exposed but we had a good sing.

We had a little time to work or wander  in the garden when we got back.  I turned my attention away from the large and showy to the tiny…

small garden flowers

…and then spent some time stalking a peacock butterfly round the garden until it was polite enough to stop for a moment (though it didn’t fully stretch out its wings).

peacock butterfly

Then  we had a cup of coffee and went on a short walk to see if the good weather had brought the bluebells on.

The walk was most enjoyable with a lot to see on the way.

I stopped to check if the lichen on the park wall was enjoying the heat.

It was…..

red lichen

…but just behind the lichen was something that I found even more interesting.

What I took to be moss was sprouting in a way that I have never noticed before.

moss

I did some research on the internet and couldn’t find anything like it so I may be mistaken in thinking that it was moss but it certainly looked like it.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very struck by the huge bracket fungus on an old tree stump nearby….

bracket fungus

…but my eye was taken by a tiny oxalis growing on a damp wall as we climbed up the slope to the Stubholm.

oxalis

It was a beautiful day for a walk.

stubholm tree

Most of the wild garlic was still waiting to come out in spite of the warmer weather but one or two plants were giving a taste of things to come.

wild garlic

Did I mention that it was a beautiful day for a walk?

Easton's walk

Mr Grumpy was out enjoying himself too.

heron

And the view down the river from below the church was spring at its springiest.

River Esk

The only black mark was the fact that the bluebells were not much farther on than they had been when I last walked by a few days ago.  I shall have to be patient.

We had time to visit the garden again before lunch.  The euphorbia continues to attract flies.

fly on euphorbia

I think that this is a hoverfly.  It seemed too small to be a bee.

…and the tulips continued to attract me.  This one is my current favourite.

orange tulip

 

…as it glows more than the others.

tulip centres

After lunch, we headed off to Carlisle for a little shopping and a lot of singing with our Carlisle choir.  It did cross our mind that it was far too nice a day to spend more of it inside but we have a concert coming up soon so we didn’t like to miss a practice.

It was still warm enough to sit outside in the garden when we got home and we were serenaded by two competing blackbirds who were singing fit to bust from a nearby roof  and holly tree.

blackbirds

The very last daffodil has come into flower….

daffodil

…and soon the age of the daffodil will be past.

I mowed the middle lawn and then we went in for a delicious lamb stew prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal in the slow cooker.

I didn’t get any chance today to linger indoors and look out of the kitchen window so the flying bird of the day is a frog which turned up in the pond among all the tadpoles.

frog in pond

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  He has been on holiday for a few days beside the sea in Lincolnshire.  He sent me this picture of definite cheating in the children’s sandcastle building competition.

Dropscone's digger

We were the victim of a meteorological prank today.  The weather got warmer as forecast but as it was blowing a gale and raining heavily, we weren’t able to enjoy the warmth very much….and it didn’t get a lot warmer anyway.

I had to spend time indoors as it happened because it took a lot of time and some  intemperate language to get my computer up and running.  Yesterday’s problem was caused by one of the uninvited upgrades that Windows puts onto a computer behind your back and the solution was to activate a ‘system restore’.

This is hard to manage when you can’t get access to the computer settings but somewhat mysteriously a QR code appeared on my screen while I was struggling without success and I quickly snapped it with my phone.   Then, without any more prompting, the phone issued me with a set of useful instructions.  A miracle of technology.

It is always a nervous matter to embark on a system restore but this one went like clockwork and you can see the result.

Still, it was Friday and my morning was brightened by the arrival of Dropscone, back from his brief break and bearing treacle scones.

When he left, the rain stopped and I had time for a quick look round the garden.

hellebore

I can photograph some of the hellebores without lying on my back and looking up but others need a helping hand to keep me off the wet grass.

P1080352

In the pond, some frogs maintained an air of mystery in the dark under the bridge…

frog

…while others let it all hang out.

frog and spawn

The hawk made a couple of appearances without catching anything and in between times, the feeder was in demand, with chaffinches approaching…

chaffinch

…and landing (with a bit of difficulty in the strong breeze)…

chaffinch

…and sometimes having to put up with a torrent of abuse from passing siskins.

busy feeder

The main business of the day was a trip with Mrs Tootlepedal to a garden centre near Carlisle to buy this and that and to have lunch.  Unfortunately two coachloads of shoppers arrived just before us so we had to do quite a bit of window shopping before there was a spare table to have our lunch.

However, the meal was worth waiting for and Mrs Tootlepedal found all the things that she wanted so the trip was very satisfactory.

Amusingly, the weather gods had not finished their joke at our expense and  having driven through pleasant sunshine on our way home, it started to rain a mile or so outside Langholm.  How we laughed.

I had hoped for a late afternoon cycle ride but even when the rain stopped, it was still cold and gloomy so I went for a short walk instead.

The rain had put a bit of pep into the Esk…

raging river

..and a couple of oyster catchers were looking a bit disgruntled at the Meeting of the Waters.

oyster catchers

The very local nature of our weather was well shown by the literal meeting of the waters…

meeting of the waters

…with the Ewes in the foreground and the Esk in the background looking as different as they could possibly be.  In spite of appearances, it was the Esk that was carrying by far the more water.  It had obviously rained a lot more up the Esk valley than it had up the Ewes valley.

It was too dark to take good bird pictures but I was pleased to see that Mr Grumpy had survived the snow…

heron

…and I did spot a dipper but as you can see….

dipper

…it was too far away and had its back turned to me so I didn’t bother to take a picture of it.

I looked at a bit of moss instead…

moss

…probably the only thing round here actually to welcome the rain.

I passed by this elegant gate…

gate

…and made my way home in the gathering gloom without finding anything else interesting to look at.

Among other bits of business today, I put down the deposit on my new bike, having finally made my mind up.  It will take four weeks to arrive so there will be a lot of huffing and puffing on the slow bike in the meantime (if the weather is suitable for cycling).

Why will the bike take four weeks to arrive?  Because it is being hand made in Holland.

We are promised a bit of warm sunshine tomorrow.  I hope that this doesn’t turn out to be another joke.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch who sneaked in among the chaffinches and siskins.

flying goldfinch

I don’t usually put pictures in a post which I didn’t take on the posting day but the computer failure meant that I couldn’t use this little lamb…

first lamb

…and as it was the first of the year, I have popped it in today.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s Irish adventure and shows one of the more exciting roads that the party drove over on their outings.

Ireland

We were in a state of deja vu today as the scene outside the window when we woke up was still snowy, the temperature was still around freezing and the skies were still grey.

Thanks to the snow, the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre was cancelled so I was very disappointed as it is the highlight of my shopping  month and we are now in the midst of a quality cheese drought in Tootlepedal Mansions.

However, as the morning wore on, the temperature rose by a degree and since the main roads seemed to be clear and dry, we thought it a good idea to make sure that the car was still going and made a little motor excursion through the town to a shop instead of the market.

I had cleared the snow off the car a couple of days ago and also cleared the snow off the road around it and in spite of frequent light snow showers since then, the car and the road were still clean enough to let us set off with no more sweeping or shovelling required.

Perhaps because of the very dry nature of the snow, no doors were frozen up, the wipers were free to wipe and the car started at the first request.   We were relieved as we hope to go to Carlisle for a choir practice tomorrow.

We didn’t have many birds in the morning but we did have one mass visit from starlings who perched on the top of the walnut tree.  Some were in vertical mode…

starlings

…and others preferred the horizontal way.

_DSC1834

Yesterday’s posing chaffinch had another go at being FBotD but mistimed her effort.

flying chaffinch

You can’t win them all.

A crow on a neighbour’s roof gave me the excuse to squeeze a little moss into the post.

crow

After lunch, as it was dry and I could see the tops of the hills, I went for a walk in the hope of some snowy scenery.

I caught up with a friend who was going to the golf club (not to play golf) and walked up the Kirk Wynd with him.  When he went into the golf clubhouse, I kept going.

I had a quick look behind me as I got above the town….

snowy scene

…but this was as much of a scenic view as I got as soon the clouds came down on the hills and it started to snow again.

It was only light snow though so I pushed on past the golf course and onto the the hill.

The gorse was trying its best under testing circumstances…

gorse in snow

…and although the snow was quite deep in places and tiring to plough through, I wasn’t tempted to rest for a while on the bench at Whita Well.

snowy bench

I did for a moment consider trying to go straight up the hill to the summit but good sense prevailed and I turned left and went along the contours of the hill to the Newcastleton road.

The brisk winds of yesterday had had two contradictory effects.  In places they had swept the hillside fairly clean and the walking was easy and elsewhere, they had piled the snow up into drifts.  It wasn’t always easy to tell whether a plain white patch in front of me was thin or thick though and I had one or two uncomfortable moments stepping into what proved to be quite deep bits.

Fortunately, just as I was thinking that a strategic retreat might be wise, I came upon the wheel tracks of a hill vehicle which had been out looking after the sheep and although the tracks were well covered in snow, they gave me a guide which kept me out of any drifts.

Whita with snow

The sharp eyed will be able to see the rather ghostly tracks at the bottom left of the picture above.

They led me safely to the Newcastleton road….

Copshaw Road

…and I was glad that I was walking and not driving down it.

I had plenty of help with my directions…

Bird print

…which was needed as it was sometimes hard to tell where the road ended and the verges began.

Copshaw Road

The sheep are clever animals and had found a good windswept patch where some grass had been exposed and were munching away with their backs firmly to the wind (and the photographer).

sheep in snow

Once I got down to the main road, I found that yet again the snowplough had thrown the excess snow onto the footpath so I had to walk along the road itself to make progress.  Luckily there was hardly any traffic but what there was was paying no attention to the signs and I had to skip briskly onto the pavement once or twice..

Welcome to Langholm

I got to the Sawmill Brig but didn’t cross it when I came to it on this occasion and I was pleased with this decision…

sawmill brig

…when I found a bird like icicle on a bench on the Kilngreen…

icicle kilngreen

…and then  met Mr Grumpy on the banks of the river.

heron in snow

He flew off but when I tried to follow him with the camera and all I got was a picture of the light but persistent snow.

snow

I caught an oyster catcher instead as I walked along the Esk.

oyster catcher

The snow and ice had made this short walk quite energetic so I was more than happy to test drive some scones that Mrs Tootlepedal had made while I was out and then sink into a comfortable chair and watch cycling and athletics for the rest of the afternoon (and quite a lot of the evening).

The temperature is due to rise a bit over the next few days so with luck we may get a steady thaw without any floods to go with it.

The flying bird of the day, to ensure correct blog gender balance after yesterday’s flying female, is a male chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s American adventure.  No prizes for guessing the name of this animal.

P1300370

We woke to an unexpected scene this morning….

snowy garden

…though it was only unexpected as it had arrived sooner than I was expecting.

There wasn’t that much of a snowy scene though when I walked down to the river after breakfast….

River Esk snow

…and although it was only just above freezing all day, the snow tended to fade away as quickly as it had come.

While it was there, it made a good background for a greenfinch on the feeder….

greenfinch

…and the brighter light showed off the rich colours on the back of a dunnock which often looks like a rather dowdy bird.

dunnock

It is one of my favourite garden birds.

 

I also like blue tits so I was pleased to see one in one of the sunny patches that interspersed the day.   You can see the nippy wind ruffling its  feathers.

blue tit

Because the wind was blowing briskly from the ‘wrong’ direction, the birds couldn’t hover when visiting the side of the feeder where I usually catch my flying visitors and there were very few birds today anyway, not surprising when this sort of thing happened.

snow

I stopped trying to get a FBotD shot and went off to have lunch at the Buccleuch Centre with Mrs Tootlepedal in an effort to forget the weather.  It worked well as we had an excellent meal.

After lunch, I settled down to work at my computer and time fairly flew by.  When I looked up, the sun was out again so I put on my coat and went for a short walk.  I was hoping to see river side birds and I wasn’t disappointed.

Mr Grumpy was catching some late afternoon rays…

heron

…and the ducks were doing likewise.

mallard

Crossing the Sawmill Brig, I looked down in the hope of seeing a dipper.

dipper

The Lumix did exceedingly well considering that it was quite far below me and in shadow.

The moss on the wall had survived the snow….

P1070734

…and I was impressed by the enthusiasm of this clump which had managed to find a place to grow between two cut logs.

P1070735

On the side of one of the logs, I could see the the seed holding cups of another moss.  The brown ones are empty (I think) and….

P1070736

…the green ones are still in business.

P1070737

In spite of the low sunshine, it was very nippy and the clouds behind Whita were beginning to look threatening…

P1070739

…so I took a picture of some fine pines…

P1070740

…put my camera in my pocket and headed home without stopping again.

I got in just as it started to snow.

It is promising to be colder and to snow more tomorrow.  What fun.  All the same, there are many parts of the country both to the south and north who are having a harder time than us so we mustn’t grumble.

Under the circumstances there is no flying bird of the day so the dunnock creeps into the frame instead.

_DSC1704

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s birthday tour and shows a very United Kingdom team of bell ringers over a jeweller’s shop in Gloucester.

gloucester

The new month started in good style with a chilly but fine morning and it was a pleasure to see the sun and some blue sky.

Even though it was not far above freezing, the sun was enough to bring a snowdrop out in the garden.

open snowdrop

I am trying to take care of my chest as it is steadily improving and I don’t want to set it back so I resisted any slight temptation to go cycling (there was a strong wind to go with the low temperatures) and spent a quiet morning in.

We are going to get the bridge over the dam behind the house replaced after a large hole appeared in the roadway some weeks ago….

bridge repairs

…and this will be quite a big deal.  One of the problems is that record keeping has been poor and no one is quite sure what utilities run under the bridge.  We have had several visits from experts who have given fine displays of head scratching and chin stroking and today, we had the man from the water board.    We just hope that they don’t cut off our gas or sewage when they start the work.

There were plenty of birds about again today…..

goldfinches, chaffinch and blackbird

…and although there weren’t as many as yesterday, there were still times  when the feeder was very busy.

busy feeder

I was pleased to see a greenfinch or two among the goldfinches, chaffinches  and siskins.

greenfinch

Although the skies got a bit cloudy after lunch, it was still fine enough to tempt Mrs Tootlepedal out into the garden and I took the opportunity to go for a walk.

I had intended to walk to the top of Meikleholm Hill to get some wider views and started out full of pep….

Langholm from Meikleholm

….but when I met a group of hill cattle half way up the hill, I gave that idea up and settled for contouring round the hill and back down to the road.  My decision was helped by the refusal of the sun to come out from behind the clouds where I was, even though it was shining on some distant snow capped hilltops.

Snow on hills

I chose a route that was well sheltered from the north-westerly wind and enjoyed my outing.

When I got to the road, I was observed by a curious sheep…..

sheep

…and considered a handy bench with its view….

bench at Breckonwrae

…but thought that the moss on the arm of the bench was the most  interesting thing about it.

moss on bench at Breckonwrae

I considered taking the path through the woods on my way back to the town but it was damp underfoot and I had already slipped over on the soggy patch of hillside so I decided to stick to the road.

This was not a boring option as there was an interesting wall with maidenhair spleenwort on the face of it….

spleenwort wall

…and any amount of different mosses on the top.

moss on wall

At the end of the wall, the road is lined by a fence made from pipes set into concrete fence posts and each fence post had its own hat….

moss on conrete fenceposts

…and I could easily have taken a picture of every one that I passed.  I restrained myself.

The sun actually came out as I got to the town so I walked down through the wood, crossed the Jubilee Bridge and took the new path round the bottom of the Castleholm.

New path castleholm

I was struck by the large number of comes at the very top of one of the noble firs beside the path…..

noble fir cones

…and by the even larger number of moss sporophytes on the wall opposite the Buccleuch Estates yard.

moss on wall, ewesbank

I don’t think that I have seen such a furry wall before. The mosses and lichens are still enjoying our weather.

As I walked along the Kilngreen, I passed Mr Grumpy, who was looking very well turned out.

heron

When I got back to the garden, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the time digging out a tree peony and…..

tree peony move

….replanting it a few yards away.  It was too close to the dogwood before and should be able to make a better mark in its new position.

My walk was about three and half miles and I was more than happy to find myself in as good condition at the end of it as I had been at the start.  Both Mrs Tootlepedal and I are continuing to throw off the after effect of the bug, though I met someone on my walk today who was complaining that he still wasn’t entirely cured after five weeks so we are  going carefully and trying not to do too much at a time.

That concluded the active part of the day and I went into pro-relaxing mode until the evening came and it was time to look at pictures and write this post.

My moss book tells me that I really need a magnifying glass to get the best out of moss watching so I might think about that.  In the meantime, it has been an eye opener to see how many different forms of moss there are about.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin crossing in front of the lawn.  It is not a brilliant picture but I really liked the colour scheme.

flying siskin

On the subject of flying birds, I saw a picture in one of the blogs that I follow of a flock of birds rising from some tree tops.  We often have that from the trees of Holmwood.  In our case the birds are rooks….

rooks

…and we had a small example of a flock today.  They are very noisy.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo from Manitoba.  She was shopping in Winnipeg at Cabella’s, a huge outdoor store where almost everything (including ladies’ underwear)  is available in a camouflage print, when she found herself being supervised by a bison.

bison

After the excitement of the Birmingham outing, we had a very quiet day for the actual occasion of our golden wedding.  This was partly because although we have stopped coughing all the time, we are still quite tired after the bug and partly because it was a pretty horrible day outside, with a very stiff wind blowing and the standard issue low clouds shrouding the town again.

Our morning was greatly brightened by the arrival of a handsome bouquet from Mrs Tootlepedal’s brother, sister-in-law and mother.  It was generously sized to say the least.

Golden wedding bouquet

Later in the day, Mrs Tootlepedal got it all sorted into vases and put them on our kitchen table to display the full wonder.

Golden wedding bouquet

Our neighbour Liz dropped in to give us her good wishes (and a bottle of wine) and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to the Buccleuch Centre to have a celebratory lunch.  It had a strong haggis element in it in honour of the national poet, Robert Burns, whose anniversary it is tomorrow.

By the time that we had got home, the wind had dropped a little and the weather looked as though it might stay dry so I got the slow bike out and battled along the five miles up the hill to Callister at a new record slow speed and then rolled back down hill and down wind into the town not much faster.

I am not at all fit and had to stop twice on the way up to get my breath back.

Wauchope Road

The rain had washed all the snow from our hills and the wind had dried the road up so in spite of being blown gently off the road a couple of time as I battled into the breeze, it was a pleasant pedal, even though my average speed ended up in single figures.  I was just happy to get out on a bike at all.

I went down to the river on my return journey and was glad to see that the water level had dropped a bit….

River Esk

…but sorry to see that high waters had swept away the turtle which had appeared last autumn….

TURTLE

…and withstood a small flood or two….

turtle

…but had encountered one now that was too strong for it.

No turtle

I found Mrs Tootlepedal speaking to another neighbour Gaye, who had come with a African Violet in a pot as a gift to mark the occasion.

We are going up to Edinburgh at the weekend to have a meal with our children so we won’t have been short of jollity to mark our golden wedding.  We just hope that the 100th one will be as much fun.

No flying bird today but I did pass a heron at Pool Corner when I was out on my bike so it is standing in today.

heron at Pool Corner

 

 

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