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Posts Tagged ‘horsetail’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan.  She came across this very colourful boundary to a restaurant’s outside seating area and knowing that I like fuchsias, sent me the picture.

susans meal planting

It was another very sunny day here but not quite as warm as the last two days, presaging a slight change in the weather but probably not enough to bring some much needed rain in any quantity.

Our two resident blackbirds are busy morning, noon and night pecking at the lawn for food for their young.

blackbird family

The garage clematis is showing more flowers every day but is still not near its full glory…

garage clematis

…unlike the Japanese azalea which is opening flowers at a great rate…

japanese azalea

…and contributing to a colourful display along the back path.

back path with colour

I sat down for a moment or two on our new bench and enjoyed a purple patch with a perennial wallflower on one side…

perennial wallflower

…and many alliums on the other.

alliums in arow

Sandy is away on holiday at the moment so I got the chance to act as fill in feeder filler at the Moorland Project hide.  I went up on my slow bike, stopping as is compulsory on a sunny day, to admire Skippers Bridge yet again..

skippers in May

…and noting wild flowers on my way, including Pyrenean valerian, ajuga and another outbreak of wild garlic.

wildflowers on way to hide

The back roads are delightful at the moment and the grass roof on the hide is growing very well.

tarras road and hide

As I filled the feeders, two pheasants were squaring off with a good deal of feather flapping and barking…

pheasants squaring up

…and this was the champion of the day.

pheasant triumphant

I sat in the hide for a while with a fellow bird watcher but there was not a lot of birds to watch apart from siskins.

I did notice a coal tit…

coal tit

…and was pleased to have a brief visit from a greater spotted woodpecker.

woodepcker

When I left the hide, I cycled down the hill to see how the road repairs are coming on.  The repaired road has been completed and and surfaced so it won’t be long now until the traffic can start to flow again.  After several years of being closed, it will not be too soon.

new tarras road

On my way home, I passed a patch of what I think must be horsetail.  It had a fine contrast between its spear like head and a rather frilly tutu further down the stem.

horsetail

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden.  We are going on a short holiday next week and she has a lot to do to get everything in order before we go.  I watered the strawberries as the vegetable garden is very dry and also gave the compost in Bin A a good soaking to help the decomposition.

The sunshine is bringing the flowers on well.

trree peony and sweet rocket

…and a rook popped in to enjoy the colour.

rook in plum tree

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some business in the town and I was sitting doing the crossword when a neighbour knocked on the door to say that we had a visitor.

The partridge was back on our windowsill.

partridge on windowsill

It stayed there for most of the afternoon, moving off at one time, only to return to another sill later in the day.

I was somewhat jiggered by sore feet and asthma after I got back from cycling up to the hide and spent the rest of the day very quietly, wasting immense amounts of time at the computer which wouldn’t behave properly so I couldn’t even get useful things done.

In the end I cheered myself up by taking up Mrs Tootlepedal’s suggestion to make some ginger biscuits.  They came out well.

She continued to work in the garden and at one stage disturbed an ant colony which was hiding under some black polythene covering a potential seed bed.  The ants got to work straight away in moving some large capsules, which I presume are eggs.  Before too long they had cleared the site and found a new home.

ants and eggs

As I sat at my computer trying to work, the partridge kept an eye on me.

partridge outside window

Mrs Tootlepedal took it some seed and water.

The day drifted to a close but I felt a lot better by the evening than I had in the morning and afternoon which was a relief.

The flying birds of the day are two swallows.  I saw them heading for holes in the bank of the Esk as I came back from my morning cycle ride.

swallows

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who went with my sister Susan to visit the refurbished temperate glass house at Kew Gardens.  It was worth the trip.

Kew glass house

The big question, after a night listening to the wind howling round the house and rain battering at the windows, was would there be anything left?

We got off lightly with no structural damage and the electricity still working but the plants were not quite so lucky.  Tall thin plants did the worst….

foxglove collapsewindblow in gardenlupin collapse

…while flowers sheltered behind stout hedges did the best.

peonyLilian Austinrose

It all depended on your point of view.  I felt that we had done well with plenty left still standing for me to photograph while Mrs Tootlepedal, who of course had done all the work to get the flowers to grow in the first place, mourned those that were gone.

The wind was still blowing rather alarmingly in the morning even though the rain had stopped.  Indeed, it didn’t seem to have rained as much as the noise in the night would have indicated and the garden soon dried up.  By the afternoon, the sun had come out and if you could get out of the persistent wind, it was quite a nice day.  I mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some shopping.

I also took a look at the birds.  I saw this young blackbird sitting on a fence when I glanced out of the back window while passing through the sitting room.

young blackbird

Out of the usual window I could see that here were plenty of sparrows at the feeder today….

sparrows at feeder

…and Mrs Tootlepedal had put out a suet ball on the kitchen windowsill in the hope of attracting sparrows there too.  It worked.

sparrows on windowsill

I had used the gloomy morning weather as a motivation to put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database but the afternoon looked good enough for an expedition so I got my new bike out and tested the wind.

It really is an excellent bicycle.  It turns out to be extremely stable in strong and gusty crosswinds and for some reason which is hard to explain, it is also almost a pleasure to cycle into the wind when riding it.  Whether it is the frame design and riding position, or the aerodynamics of the bike or the very user friendly gear system, or a combination of all three, riding into a strong breeze is not at all a discouraging experience.

This was lucky as the wind was certainly strong today, gusting to well over 30mph as I went along.

I stopped to see how much water was going over the little cascade near Wauchope Schoolhouse after the overnight rain.

wauchope cascade

The answer was not a great deal.

I noticed a pretty yellow wild flower in the grass beside the river.  It is probably a meadow vetchling.

vetch

A bit of the roadside verge had become waterlogged through poor drainage during the wet winter. Now it is home to a small forest of horsetail.

horsetail

Because of the strong wind, I skulked about in the valley bottom and did two laps of the seven mile trip to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back.   I cycled  through the town and down to the river when I got home and checked to see if the young oyster catchers were still at the water’s edge.

young oyster catcher

They were there with their fluffy feathers getting ruffled by the wind.

The parents were there too, rather indignant at my presumption in  taking pictures of their children.

oyster catcher

I surprised myself by really enjoying my 14 mile windy ride and I had enough energy left to mow the middle lawn.

In the evening, Susan arrived and we drove to Carlisle to play with our recorder group. As we drove down there was a little rain but some sunshine too and this provided us with a splendid rainbow which we took as a sign that the stormy weather was over.

As always, some of the pieces we played went better than others but there were enough of the sound performances to make the evening good fun and the biscuits with the after-playing cup of tea  were very tasty too.

A flying bird of the day today, one of the sparrows at the feeder.

flying sparrow

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who has visited Chatsworth.  I am going to live in a place like that when I grow up.

Chatsworth

We had another fine and sunny day today but once again my stubborn cold refused to give up its grip on me so instead of cycling, I settled for the very agreeable substitute of a cup of coffee with Sandy followed by a walk.

While I was waiting for him to arrive, I looked out of the kitchen window.  The early morning sun is not at all helpful for taking pictures of birds at the feeder is in the shadow of the house and you end up with lots of shots like this.

chaffinch

The rather blue background indicates that we had another frosty morning and the fluffed up robin below the feeder confirmed that it was chilly.

robin

By the time that Sandy and I had had a cup of coffee and arrived at the Moorland bird hide, all trace of the frost had gone and we walked down to the bridge over the Tarras in glorious conditions.

There was not a cloud in the sky.

Cronksbank road

We were able to watch a hen harrier hunting and a heron flying past as we walked along the open part of the walk but soon we were plunging downhill through the woods…

Cronksbank road

…until we reached the river bank.

Tarras at rashiel

It is a peaceful spot….

Tarras Water

…and it still looked very welcoming although the trees on the river bank have shed all their leaves.

We walked over the bridge and checked out the horsetails which grow along the river in abundance there.

horsetail

Although the ones round this tree were still green, most of them were dry and brown.

horsetails

We didn’t see much else of interest…

fungus and fern

…but the walk through the woods was delightful.

Tarras woods

Taken on the way down

Tarras woods

Taken on the way back up

When we got back to the hide, we spent a few minutes inside, in the hope of seeing something interesting but just about the only birds on view were coal tits…

coal tits

…and chaffinches so we didn’t stay for long.

I got home just as Mrs Tootlepedal returned from church and choir practice and I set up the camera at the kitchen window in the hope of some more friendly light.

The birds deliberately flew into any shadow they could find just to annoy me…

shadowy flying birds

…although as usual, the camera was recording more information than it was letting on.

_DSC8508 lighter

These are exactly the same pictures lightened up a bit.

Still, it wasn’t very satisfactory so I pointed the camera at the plum tree with better results.

goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch and blue tit

Goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch and blue tit

The sunflower seeds were drawing most of the business again today…

chaffinch

…but there were occasional visits to the new mixed seeds by coal tits and this blue tit who preferred to remain anonymous.

blue tit

We had quite a good crowd but the attendance is not helped by predatory cats roaming the garden and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted one of the invaders making off with one of our birds.  Our cat scarer is not 100% efficient it would seem.  In fact, as kind readers pointed out when I said that we had got one, they may well be 100% inefficient.

In the afternoon we went to our Carlisle Choir practice.  Once again I was only able to croak my way through the songs and as my breathing was not in peak condition, my brain was subject to a bit of fading and I made several rather glaring mistakes.  In spite of it all, it was worthwhile and I hope to be in  a better place  next week.

The flying bird of the day is the sole chaffinch who wasn’t quick enough to find some shade to hide in.

flying chaffinch

Looking at the picture, I see that I will have to clean the kitchen window.

The moon was out when we got back from choir.  Not quite full.

moon

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a flowery scene from Kew Gardens which caught my sister Mary’s eye.

Coming up to the Orangerie

Coming up to the Orangerie

The forecast was full of dire warnings of heavy rain, possible thunderstorms and general mayhem.  In the event, midsummer’s day was a quiet day with some very light rain now and again, hardly a breath of wind and just a hint of menace thanks to a very clammy humidity.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to the Moorland feeders after breakfast as I was acting as a fill in feeder filler for friends who had gone off to some mist covered mountains.  As usual, she sat in the car and kept an eye out for hen harriers while I filled the feeders and then sat under the grass roof of the hide….

Laverrock Hide

…in the hope of interesting visitors.

She got a glimpse of a harrier and I saw many more birds than on my last visit.  There were coal tits, great tits and siskins….

siskin, coal tit and great tit

…as well as blackbirds, chaffinches and a robin.

The inevitable pheasant pushed himself forward…..

pheasant

..and there were several visits from woodpeckers and a jay.

Jay and woodpecker

The jay kept too far down the glade for a good photo op but it was was entertaining watching it as it was clearly quite peckish…

jay

…and found food wherever it could.

That great Scottish pest, the midgie, was in evidence too so I didn’t hang about long as I was getting bitten a lot and we drove down to the banks of the Tarras Water to see if the wild irises were out.

There were some but it was not the great carpet that I had hoped for…

wild irises

…so I photographed a yellow rattle….

yellow rattle

I found another one with seed pods and they really do rattle if you shake them.

…and walked back to the road to see if I could find any of the horsetails which I seen growing on my last visit with Sandy a few weeks ago.

They were not hiding.

horsetails

I was impressed.

The midgies were on the go here too so we didn’t dally and went home for coffee.

It makes life difficult to plan when the forecast is not reliable.  At ten in the morning, the BBC weather map showed heavy rain covering Langholm and the surrounding area for some hours and although there was no sign of any such rain, the thought of it kept me off my bike and wasted what could have been a good cycling day.

I tested the strawberry jam  and found that it hadn’t turned out too badly at all so I tested it again.  It was still all right.

I wasted time doing the crossword and then, wondering if it was going to rain soon, I went for a wander round the garden.

The roses are gorgeous…

roses

…with new blooms coning out every day.  The first of the moss roses has joined in.

moss rose

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy planting out poppies and protecting her vegetables from the depredations of the voracious sparrows so I had time for a look at a colourful corner….

colourful corner

…and my favourite colour combination of the day.

campanula and foxglove

Mrs Tootlepedal liked this subtle gradations on a peony.

campanula and foxglove

A few other things made the camera click.

campanula

lambs ear

wiegela

…but in spite of it being the longest day of the year, the light was very dull and I soon gave up and went in for lunch.

After lunch, the day brightened up a bit and even the weather forecast admitted that it wasn’t raining so I got my fairly speedy bike out and set off to see where my legs would take me.

It was lucky that we had gone to see the roadside orchid yesterday because Genghis the grass cutter was out with his machine today and the verge where the orchid had been was totally flattened.

Luckily I found some more on an uncropped verge near Gair….

orchids

…but unluckily my Lumix chose this moment to stop working and I had to fall back on my phone camera for the rest of the trip.

It was a really good day for a leisurely cycle ride with a mixture of very occasional raindrops and some cheerful sunshine and I saw many interesting things which I failed to record as I find using the phone with my cycling glasses on quite tricky.   (If I take them off, I find it even trickier.)

I did see a lot of fields where the silage was being cut….

silage

…and I even noticed a fungus, the first that I have seen in a verge this year.

fungus

I pedalled here and there, keeping an eye on the weather and thinking of going a bit further while the going was good but some more persistent raindrops and a burst of slightly windier weather made me think that the promised storm might be finally on its way so I headed for home and managed  37 miles.

As you can see from the map below, it was quite warm so perhaps it was wise to stop before I got too cooked.

garmin route 21 June 2017

Those interested can click on the map for more details.

Mrs Tootlepedal had rescued a blackbird from the strawberry netting while I was out but there were still plenty of strawberries left to pick so I picked them.

I had time for a shower and a tea of baked eggs with spinach and a cheese sauce before I went out to our Common Riding choir practice.  I was pleased to see my cello playing friend Mike there as it would mean that I wasn’t going to be the only bass.  We had a good session in spite of very sultry conditions which were not very sympathetic to singing and it was still a fine day when I walked home.

I apologise for putting too many indifferent pictures into today’s post but it was the longest day so perhaps it needed a long post.

And I did get a rather indifferent flying bird of the day to round things off suitably.

flying jay

 

 

 

 

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Today’s picture, sent to me by my friend Bruce, shows the view across the sea to the Mull of Kintyre, with not a mist covered mountain in sight.

Mull of Kintyre

There were no mist covered hills here either today as we enjoyed a cloudless sky from dawn until dusk and beyond.  There was a little more breeze about so I was glad to have got my cycling done yesterday.  Today, I took things more easily.

After a late breakfast, I went out to commune with the tadpoles…

tadpoles

… tidy up a rather ragged blackcurrant bush and pick the first rhubarb of the season.

Then Dropscone and Sandy came and we enjoyed scones and coffee before Sandy went off to do a short spell in the Information Hub and Dropscone retired to get his mental preparations for playing golf in order.

I went out to join Mrs Tootlepedal who had been gardening away all morning.  Together we emptied and moved a long term compost bin.  Mrs Tootlepedal was fettling up the gooseberry bush and its bed so I provided her with a barrow load of rough compost.  Bin D is emptying rapidly and it will soon be time for another burst of compost shifting.

The bright sun had persuaded the tulips to put their whole hearts into opening up to salute it…

tulips

…and it was positively warm outside at last.

After lunch, Sandy came round again and we drove down to Gilnockie Hall…

gilnockie hall

…and embarked on a walk of just under two miles.  Sandy is recovering well from his operation and this was a test for him which he passed with flying colours.

Before we had even got going, we were very interested to see a (very) early small tortoiseshell butterfly visiting a dandelion beside the hall.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

Our walk took us through the North Wood and down onto the old railway line..

Claygate walk

..in delightful conditions.

The old railway line sometimes runs on embankments and sometimes through cuttings…

old railway at Gilnockie

…but we were quite surprised to see that this section…

old railway at Gilnockie

…which looks unremarkable, crosses a handsome bridge which we had never noticed on previous outings.

You wouldn’t think that you could miss a bridge of this size.

old railway bridge at Gilnockie

We had to scramble down the banking to get to the track below but we thought that the effort was worthwhile.

The little tunnel was beautifully constructed….

old railway bridge at Gilnockie

…and is a tribute to the workmen who built the railway line without the aid of modern machinery over 150 years ago.  It was home to a magnificent colony of spleenwort.

There were other things to notice too.

Strange plants were nosing up through the earth.

giant northern horsetail

I think that this is a giant northern horsetail, described as a living fossil as it has been on the go for more than a hundred million years (according to Wikipedia).

Some more modern plants were available too.

willow

We passed interesting equines in a field belonging to a livery stables.

Thorniewhats

Thorniewhats

And there was evidence of the old railway to be seen…

gilnockie station

…as we passed the old platform, the site of the level crossing and the station house, now a private dwelling.

As we walked back along the road to Sandy’s car, we noticed a magnificent dandelion in the verge

dandelion

We felt that, although short, the walk had been very good value.

When I got home, I mowed the greenhouse grass and and put a dose of buck-u-uppo on the middle lawn while Mrs Tootlepedal got the strimmer up and neatened up the edges of everything she could find.

There was time to look at a flower or two.

forsythia and violet

A bold forsythia and a shrinking violet

By the way, did I mention the the tulips were out?  They really were.

tulips

Then it was four o’clock and time for tea and a sit down all round.

In the evening we went to our Langholm Choir and a had a good time singing a madrigal and three songs from the great American songbook.

It was such a glorious and cloudless day that I thought that I ought to show that the sky was still clear at ten o’clock in the evening.

moon

The flying bird of the day is a regulation chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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