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Posts Tagged ‘heron’

Today’s guest picture is rather small but that is how it was sent to me by my friend Sandra.  I have put it in because it shows some of her regular flock of long tail tits visiting her feeder.  It is a great benefit to live right on the edge of town if you want a better class of bird visitor.

long tailed tits

There is still a distinct lack of perkiness in the Tootlepedal household.  I am up and about but not at all active and Mrs Tootlepedal is still mostly in bed having lost all her get up and go.  We are both doing a lot of coughing.

This makes the house a somewhat gloomy place and the succession of grey days isn’t helping.   It looked for a while as thought we might get some sunshine this morning but by the time that I looked out at the birds, the skies were heavy with cloud again.

The robin was in a stand offish mood….

robin

…and the goldfinches were too busy eating to wave at me.

goldfinches

The chaffinches always seem to be getting a chilly welcome from…..

chaffinch and goldfinch

….goldfinch or siskin.

chaffinch and siskin

Although I had occasional visits to make with a hot drink or a slice of toast for Mrs Tootlepedal, I was getting increasingly bored and restless with sitting around doing crosswords and listening to the radio so I realised that this might be a good moment to get back to putting copies of the 1960s Langholm Parish Church newsletters into the Archive Group website.  We have a collection of these newsletters given to us by the widow of the minister of the time and I put a lot onto the website  at one time but I have neglected them over the last few years.

This seemed the right moment to get back to work on them.  It requires scanning, OCR and HTML formatting and as they are not very well printed in places, the scanning and OCR requires attention and time.   If you wish, you can see one of the months that I put in today here.  I don’t guarantee that it will be error free.

It is interesting to me that 20 years after the end of the war, the minister still drew a lot of his examples from the war experience.  You get little feeling from the newsletter that the cultural stirrings that were rippling through the country in the mid 60s were affecting life in Langholm, though I am sure that they must have been making themselves felt even here.

This task proved a very good decision as it was interesting in its own right and as it required a lot of concentration, I didn’t have so much time to feel sorry for myself and I ended up a good deal more rested and cheerful than when I started.

To give myself a break between editions, I went for a very slow walk across three bridges.  The light was very poor by this time but I was still pleased to see some old waterside friends.

waterside birds

And the moss once again offered a bit of colour on a grey day.

The parapet of the Sawmill Brig was home to a mossy contrast.

moss

moss

And there was more to see as I went round the new path.

moss

It wasn’t a day for colourful views….

Lodge

….so I kept an eye out for other points of interest.

ferny tree

catkin and seed head

I had plenty of time to look about because I was walking very slowly indeed.  In fact I was going so slowly at one point that I thought that I might even have been going backwards.

Still, I managed to cross the Duchess Bridge and combine moss and bridge in one shot.

mossy tree and Duchess bridge

This part of the river in is shade for most of the year and it is no surprise to find a lot of moss covered trees on its banks.

The most colourful moss of the outing was this fine curtain on the wall at the end of the Scholars’ Field.

moss on Scholars Wall

Mike Tinker was working in his garden when I passed and kindly offered me a cup of coffee but I had done more than enough by this time and headed home for a sit down.

I thought that it was about time to eat a more or less proper meal for my tea but in retrospect, this wasn’t a brilliant idea and a boiled egg and a finger of toast would have been better.

The quality of the flying bird of the day continues to be appalling.

flying chaffinch

We are promised our next sunny day on Saturday week so things may not improve until then.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken by our daughter Annie as she stopped off in Hong Kong on her way back from Macao.

Hong Kong

We should have been in celebratory mood today as it is the winter solstice and the start of a new year but Mrs Tootlepedal’s cold had got a bit worse and she wisely retired to bed for the day so we were rather muted,

It was a still, grey day and I might have gone for a pedal if I had felt more perky but the humidity was very high (98% as I write this) so my asthma was niggling a little and I didn’t want to desert the invalid for too long and to be quite honest, the weather has been so miserable for most of the year that some of the joy has gone out of cycling lately and I am having a hard time trying to get motivated.

I stared out of the kitchen window for a while where a robin was keeping an eye out for competition.

robin

A chaffinch came in search of a perch and flew off disappointed.

Flying chaffinches

A dunnock did some gleaning.

dunnock

And having chased a rival off, the robin went back to supervising its territory.

robin

I didn’t want to spend the whole morning stuck inside so I went for a short walk, picking up Sandy on my way.

I had heard that the wood at the Becks Burn was due to be felled so we went along to get some pictures of the wood before felling.

We were too late.  Signs were up forbidding access and in the wood, machines were already eating the trees.

Becks wood

We turned back and took a shorter route home, going down the edge of the wood and following the Becks Burn….

Beck burn

…until we got to the road….

Becks burn bridge

…and headed for home.

We had seen a few things on our way.

jacob sheep

And an indication of how wet the air has been was given by the hawthorn trees.

hawthorn

You might well think that it has been raining but it has been dry.

P1060180

A good tree is always cheering.

tree

I really liked this striking lichen on the roadside wall.

lichen

The beech hedges retain their leaves and give a bit of colour even on the darkest day of the year.

beech hedge in winter

The predominate view of the day was misty patches.  They were to be seen wherever you looked.

misty view

misty view

Becks mist

P1060170

We rounded off the walk with a view of a heron standing on the caul at Pool Corner.

heron pool corner

It was looking a bit too well turned out to be Mr Grumpy, we thought but it wasn’t bothered by us and just stood there thinking about fish.  We secretly hoped that it would fly gently off, giving us a good photo opportunity but it stubbornly stayed there until we gave up first and walked on.

When I got home, I had a last look out of the window…

shouting chaffinch

…and was very impressed by the sheer power of this chaffinch’s shout.

I made Mrs Tootlepedal a light lunch and went off to sing carols with some members of Langholm Sings at the Day Centre for the benefit of the ‘old folk’ who had just had their Christmas lunch.  They seemed quite pleased to see us.

And that was that for the day.  I acted as occasional support for Mrs Tootlepedal who was still some way below par, put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database, surfed the internet and practised a song or two.

Roll on springtime.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is an owl spotted by Dropscone on his recent visit to Kent.  It was keeping an eye on things near a graveyard.

owl

We had another cold, grey and wet morning today with added icy patches so I was very happy to find things to do in the house.  The  ground is still rock solid and the rain was producing fine puddles on the lawn.

lawn puddle

Sandy came round for a cup of coffee and our neighbour Liz dropped in to recover with another cup of coffee from the shock of finding her drains blocked with water all over the kitchen floor.  Luckily, a plumber soon arrived and unblocked the pipe.

What with the visitors and the crossword (done to an accompaniment of Miff Mole and his Molers), the morning passed more pleasantly than it deserved.

It was soggy outside…..

goldfinch and siskin

…and the light was absolutely rotten so flying birds were out of the question.  The blackbirds were very much in evidence again…

blackbirds

…with the apples continuing to attract customers. I rarely looked out of the window and saw less than four blackbirds round the feeder and often as many as seven or eight.

Other birds dropped in too.

pigeon and dove

Finally, the weather took a turn for the better and the rain stopped.

chaffinch and goldfinch

I had to wait for the bread machine to deliver the dough for a batch of rolls before I could get out for a walk though and by that time, the light had begun to fade.

There was a hint of blue sky….

blue sky

…but the low and misty cloud that you can see in the picture above, persisted and it made sure that no sun came out to warm me on my way.

A glimpse of Mr Grumpy cheered me up…

heron

…and I enjoyed the duck in the foreground pretending to swim but sensibly keeping himself just out of the water by standing on a rock.

mallard

A goosander was quite happy to swim away as I came past.

goosander

It was still pretty chilly out but all traces of frost and snow had gone…

Meeting of the Waters

…and the morning’s ice had gone too, leaving me with a remarkably pleasant walk for a dull, cold day.

I passed the disused church on the Lodge Walks, reflecting that in its early life as a church for visitor’s to the Duke’s summer lodge, the ministers must have been chosen for their ability to play cricket as the first two appeared regularly on the pitch for Langholm Cricket Club matches.

Tin church

A flock of sheep found me interesting as I walked past them…

sheep and tree

The ram had his harness on.  It carries a block of paint which marks the ewes so that the shepherd knows which ones have had the benefit of his attention.

sheep and ram

As they were all facing me, I couldn’t tell if he had been doing his duty.

I was interested to see several protective cages with canes marked in red in them.

P1060033

These are an indication that replacements for the felled trees along the Lodge walks will soon be in place.

As always, there was lichen to look at.

lichen

And fungus too.

P1060035

Both of those were on the felled trees that are going to be replaced.

The light was fading fast so I crossed the Duchess Bridge…

P1060037

…and made my way home.

I met Mrs Tootlepedal, out on an errand, just as I reached Mike and Alison’s house and we dropped in to see if they would like to come round for scones and music tomorrow afternoon as we are busy in the evening.

This was agreed and while we there, we were entertained with nice cup of tea and several topless tarts.  (These were mince pies, which owing to a miscalculation of the available pastry, had been made without lids.  They were still delicious.)

As we left, I took a picture of this beautiful orchid on their kitchen windowsill.

P1060041

In the evening, I went off to Carlisle with Susan to play with our recorder group and we had a most enjoyable time.   The icing on the cake was seeing a shooting star flashing across the sky as we drove home.  A little research told me that this was one of the Geminids.

When I got back into the house, I went upstairs for a look out of the window. The sky was brilliantly clear thanks to the lack of any moon and Mrs Tootlepedal and I could see the Milky Way behind the usual constellations with the naked eye, a very rare thing for us.  Although we waited for a while, we didn’t see a shooting star.  The internet tells me that 2am will be the best time. That may be a bit late for me.

Owing to the poor light, no flying bird of the day today and owing to laziness, no inferior substitute either.

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Today’s picture comes from my friend Bruce who saw a horse in a field across a canal.  We will get closer to it tomorrow.

kelpies

We had another near freezing but sunny day today and it was most frustrating.  I have hardly done any cycling this month, what with bad weather and a long and irritating cold so I have been hoping to put a mile or two in before December comes.

Thus I spent a lot of today anxiously looking at the thermometer and frozen puddles in the drive, hoping that the thermometer would rise and the puddles melt.

Neither happened and the thermometer stayed stuck at 4°C and the puddle stayed frozen.  I am very aware of being a great deal more fragile than I was ten years ago when 4° would have been an invitation to go out for a pedal and a gentle fall wouldn’t have been too serious.  I have fallen off more than once in ice and snow but time passes and joints and bones are not what they were so I have become risk averse.  99% of a trip might be ice free but that 1%, a shady corner on a damp stretch under the trees, might be just enough to spoil things.

So I had coffee with Sandy, looked at a bird or two…

greenfinch

A greenfinch enjoying the sun

robin

And a robin feeling the cold in the shade

…and then went for a short walk before lunch to give things a chance to warm up.

Pool Corner was very peaceful…

Pool corner

…but the larches on the bank behind it are almost at their very last gasp.

Pool corner

In the absence of leaves, I looked at branches….

bare tree

…and walked up the track onto the lower slopes of Warbla from where I could see a few views for a small amount of climbing.

monument from Warbla

Meikleholm Hill

Castle Hill

Where the sun hadn’t reached, the frost remained and reminded me of why I wasn’t out on my bike.

frozen leaf

If I had a serious mountain bike, winter riding would be more possible but I don’t have one and skinny tyres make ice a threat.

After lunch, I looked hopefully at the thermometer again and then went for another short walk in a rather grumpy state of mind.

The blue flash of a kingfisher, a very rare sighting for me, as I went along the banks of the Esk cheered me up and after crossing the Langholm Bridge, now back to complete calm after the recent rains…

Langholm Bridge

….I walked along the Kilngreen beside the Ewes Water….

Kilngreen

…and communed with the ducks.

mallards

Mr Grumpy saw me and decamped to the opposite bank of the river.

heron

I too crossed the river.  The low sun shining through the moss on a wall caught my eye…

moss

…and I caught the eye of a sheep.

sheep

I was on the same bank as Mr Grumpy now.  He looked ready to flit back to the other side at a moment’s notice so I left him alone and walked on….

heron

…under the trees and into the sun.

tree in low sun

I passed the castle ruins…

Langholm Castle

…and found myself in the shadow of our hills as I walked up the river Esk to the Jubilee Bridge so that the only sunlight was now in the branches of the trees above my head.

sunny branches

The temperature was already dropping when I got home but where the sun had struck the soil in our garden, it had made it soft enough for Mrs Tootlepedal to plant a few more tulips and I spiked some of the middle lawn.

As the light faded, Eric, a fellow member of the Langholm choir tenor section, turned up and we had a useful practice together.  Christmas concerts are looming up and all the practice that we can get in is useful.

The day rather fizzled out after that and in spite of the two walks and the singing practice, I was left with the strong feeling that it had been wasted.  As the next two days are forecast to be sunny but even colder, I fear that any dream of cycling miles in November will have to be abandoned.

There is always the gym…..aaaargh!.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, caught at a busy moment on the feeder.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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

Irene's garden

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

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

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

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

calendula, nasturtium, rose and poppy

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

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

busy feeder

Blue tits and chaffinches came and went.

blue tit and chaffinch

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

greenfinch, blue tit and goldfinch

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

robin

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

blackbird

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

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

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

gulls on the Esk

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

dipper heron and goosander

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

mallards

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

rook

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

The leaves have left.

Lodge Walks in November

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

Castleholm trees

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

fungus

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

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

Duchess Bridge

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

Lodge walks

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

Larches

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

umbellifer in November

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

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

lupin

…and went inside to get out of the cold.

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

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

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

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

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

flying greenfinch

 

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In view of another gloomy day here, I thought that a nice bright guest picture from Bath might cheer things up.  My sister Mary has provided me with one.

Bath October 2017 016

I am having more difficulty in throwing off the cold than I expected and in view of another gloomy day outside, I got up for breakfast and then retired back to bed until lunch time.

This was a good plan and I got up refreshed enough to have thoughts of a light lunch and a walk in mind.  The light lunch was achieved but rain interrupted any idea of a walk so I put the camera up at the kitchen window and sulked.

I looked for matching pairs.

blue tits

chaffinch

Once again traffic was light and the light was poor so even a small but regular supply of flying chaffinches was not very satisfactory.

chaffinches flying

Mrs Tootlepedal had hoped to do some gardening after spending the morning catching up on business but the rain put her off too so we got in the car and drove to a garden centre.

She had wallflowers and bulbs in mind and after passing through about an acre of Christmas tat, she found some and as we needed a bit of cheering up, she added a few more impulsive purchases too.  The garden should look good in time.

I stocked up on some varied bird food and some fresh vegetables from the fruit and veg store at the entrance to the garden centre.

We went home feeling that we had at least done something good on a dull day.

The clouds were well clamped down on the hills when we got back to Langholm and it was too gloomy for a look round the garden so it was rather annoying when Mrs Tootlepedal spotted  that we had an unusual visitor in the dam.

heron in dam

I rushed into the house to get my camera, certain that the heron would be gone before I got out.  As you can see, I was mistaken and the heron stood patiently while I tried to find a setting that would take a half decent shot in poor conditions.  It even stayed quite still while I tried the flash.

By luck more than good judgement, the camera worked well once.

heron

For those interested it was a hand held shot at f/6.3 and a shutter speed of 1/8th with an ISO of 1600 with the zoom at 120mm   Either my hand was remarkably steady or the Lumix has a very intelligent processor.

I turned some of the  spinach I had just bought into a spinach, egg and cheese sauce bake for my tea and then tottered off to a Langholm Sings choir practice.  Our conductor is still poorly so we had out back up man again but we got through a lot more work and had a good session.  I pity the poor sopranos who were sitting in front of me as I creaked and croaked through the songs but I enjoyed myself.

I may have set my recovery back a bit though.

We are promised some sunshine tomorrow which we should  help but I did get one slightly better flying chaffinch of the day in the lunchtime gloom.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my ex colleague Marjorie who is on holiday in Yorkshire.  It shows a pub at Robin Hood’s bay than which you can go no further.

Robin Hood's Bay pub

Ophelia passed up by in the night, huffing and puffing but not blowing the house down….or anything else much.

There wasn’t even a lot of rain so this was one event where we were more than happy to find out that it didn’t live up to its advance billing.

It was still grey and pretty windy in the morning so after a quick visit to the High Street, I was happy to stay in and drink coffee with Sandy.

Mrs Tootlepedal signalled a step in the direction of a full recovery by cleaning the oven.

When Sandy left, I got out my new lens and pointed it out of the kitchen window in the hope of seeing some visitors to the feeder.  I was not disappointed.

The first arrivals were a small flock of goldfinches…

goldfinch

…which monopolised the feeder for a while.

When a gap appeared it was filled by a pair of blue tits…

blue tits

…and a house sparrow who bit off more than he could chew.

sparrow

There was a good deal of coming and going…

goldfinch and sparrow flying

…though the chaffinches were holding back.

This one sat in the plum tree watching. When he turned, you could see the force of the wind.

chaffinch

On the ground below the feeder, a dunnock or hedge sparrow inspected the new tray and a robin took advantage of some fallen seed which had collected in it.

dunnock and robin

It was just like old times and I spent a happy hour staring out of the window in between making some lentil, carrot and red pepper soup for lunch.

It was still pretty breezy after lunch so Mrs Tootlepedal and I sat and watched an interesting programme about the painters Peter Lely and Mary Beale before we ventured out into the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal got to work on tidying up the vegetable garden while I looked about.  The strong winds in the night had left plenty of flowers in full bloom.

poppy

The poppies were still in fine form

Lilian Austin

And Lilian Austin was looking lovely

Time was getting on and as the forecast was for the wind to continue to drop as the afternoon went on, I popped out for a quick walk before going for a short bike ride.

I walked down to the river where I was delighted both by finding Mr Grumpy standing on one leg and seeing a luminous willow nearby.

willow and Mr Grumpy

The fungi on the bank of the Wauchope below the church wall are getting ever more various.

fungus

The grey ones may well be oyster mushrooms and edible but I will leave that for others to test out.

I walked through the park and along the river side.  In spite of a good layer of fallen leaves on the path….

Beechy Plains

…there are still a lot of leaves on the trees in every shade of green, yellow and brown.

autumn colour leaves

I walked to the end of the beechy plains and turned back up the hill along Easton’s walk.

The sun came out as I got to the top of the hill and the town looked very peaceful below me.

Langholm view

In fact, everything looked very mellow and we have been very lucky to avoid the worst of Ophelia which seems to have tracked past to the north of us, though a football stadium was damaged in Cumbria to the south of us.

View of Meikleholm Hill

It was a delightful day for a walk.

Eastons Walk

I came down to the path beside the mossy park wall….

Park wall

…but I ignored the moss when I saw a good crop of what I think is some more cladonia lichen on top of the wall.

Pin lichen

When I got home, I was very impressed by the growing power of Mrs Tootlepedal’s green manure in the beds which had potatoes in them earlier in the summer.

green manure

I left Mrs Tootlepedal talking to out neighbour Ken.  He overtook me yesterday when I was out bicycling on his way to clocking up his 5000th mile of the year.  As he is the same age and weight as I am, I can only doff my chapeau and admire his prodigious energy.

I  haven’t got to 4000 miles yet but I got twenty miles closer today as I pedalled up and down the road three times in a mix of light rain, crisp breeze and a little sunshine every now and again.  I was pushed for time as the light was fading so I didn’t stop for any more pictures on my way and in the end, I just got back in before the time when I would have needed lights on my bike.

I have a choice of flying bird of the day today, either a traditional flying chaffinch…

flying chaffinch

…or a skein of geese which flew overhead this afternoon.

_DSC7931

 

 

 

 

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