Posts Tagged ‘heron’

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.


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…


…and others preferred the horizontal way.


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.


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.


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.


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….


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


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.


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…


…and the ducks were doing likewise.


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


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


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….


…the green ones are still in business.


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


…so I took a picture of some fine pines…


…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.



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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.


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.


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…..


…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.


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….


…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.


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….


…and withstood a small flood or two….


…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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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….


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


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.



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


It wasn’t a day for colourful views….


….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.


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

Flying chaffinches

A dunnock did some gleaning.


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


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.


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


A good tree is always cheering.


I really liked this striking lichen on the roadside wall.


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


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.


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…


…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…


…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.


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


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.


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.


And fungus too.


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…


…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.


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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