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Posts Tagged ‘ice’

Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s canal walk with my sister Mary.  I like a bridge with legs.

regent's canal bridge

After a chilly night, we had a chilly morning followed by a chilly afternoon.  Sandy, who dropped in for a coffee told me that his thermometer showed an overnight low of -7°C which is unusually cold for November for us. Indeed, we have had some mild winters lately so this came as a bit of a shock to us.

The temperature hardly crept above zero all day so I was happy when Dropscone also dropped in for a coffee as it was far too cold to go out for a bicycle ride.

In the end  though, I had to stop drinking coffee and lend a hand about the house as we are expecting a visitor tomorrow.

I did find time to check on the birds, but the cold weather had affected them too and there were not many about.

I got a fleeting glimpse of a chaffinch…

shy chaffinch

…and after a while, a goldfinch appeared.  The reflection in  the window made it look a bit as though it was dropping down a glass tube.

descending goldfinch

The robin paid several visits to the feeder area in pursuit of fallen seed…

robon panel

…but in general there was not a lot to look at, so I made some lentil soup for lunch instead.

After lunch, I went for a walk.  The skies were rather leaden by this time, but there was hardly a breath of wind and it was not icy underfoot, so it was pleasant enough for a stroll, especially as I was well wrapped up.

I checked the ice crystals on a sedum in the garden…

ice on sedum

…and saluted a hardy perennial wallflower before I left.

perennial wallflower late november

The larches are rapidly going  over and only the needles at the very tops of the trees are left to give a little late colour.

last of the larches

There was more colour on this tree growing out of a memorial in the Wauchope graveyard.  It is doing severe damage to its host.wauchope graveyard

I had a look at my favourite lichen garden on the fence post beside the Auld Stane Brig.  The pixie cups had been bejewelled….

pixie cxup lichen ice

…while other lichen on the same post was unaffected by ice.

fence post lichen

The moss on the bridge parapet was almost invisible under its icy coat.

moss with ice

It was too cold to hang around taking many pictures and I had an appointment fairly soon so I was pleased that the path was easy to walk on…

gaskells frosty

…even though there was ice on every plant beside it…

frosty leaf

There hadn’t been much melting during the day!

ice crystals

The smoke rising lazily from the chimney at Stubholm showed how still the day was….

stubholm view november

…and there were still a few colourful leaves to be seen when I had passed the house.

top of park steps

When I got home, I was amazed to see the phlox was having a phinal phlourish.  This is the plant that looks as though it will never die.

last phlox

Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer came round to show me  the accounts for the year.  They are in a very satisfactory state and we should be able to go on with our work during 2020.

In the evening, Sue, Susan and Jenny, the other three members of our recorder group arrived and we had a very enjoyable hour and three quarters playing early music.  The selection of music was good and we played it quite well.  Who could ask for anything more?

The weather  has warmed up a bit during the evening and it looks as though we might have a day above freezing tomorrow.  It will still probably be too cold for me to cycle so I am going to get indoor cycling sorted out as I haven’t had a pedal for ages thanks to the cold spell.

Flying birds were few and far between today and I didn’t get many good pictures so I was tempted to use a fancy filter on my photo editor to make the best of this female chaffinch…

posterized chaffinch

…and this male will be the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s visit to the pre Christmas fun in Edinburgh.  He saw salmon being smoked.

smoking salmon

We had another frosty but bright day today with the temperature once again struggling to get above zero.

Most of the morning was spent getting everything packed and ready for the departure of our guests who were heading back to Edinburgh after lunch, hoping to get the best of the driving conditions for the trip.

Among all the action, I didn’t get much chance to look out of the kitchen widow until Matilda and her parents had gone but perhaps I wouldn’t have seen much as Alistair spotted the sparrowhawk paying us a visit and picking up an unfortunate small bird on its way.

Once we had waved our guests off and shed a sorrowful tear, I did a little robin spotting….

robins

…and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I set off to see how the felling of the Becks wood was going on.

It was still really chilly as the frost in the garden showed….

garden ice

…but it was a glorious December day for a walk….

View from Scott's Knowe

…and as long as we stayed in the sunshine, it even felt quite warm.

The felling of the Becks wood is going on apace.

Becks wood felling

We were able to watch the skilled operator cutting trees, lifting them up and snedding and slicing them with ease.

Becks wood felling

It won’t take him long to clear the whole wood.

We obviously couldn’t go through the wood so we turned back and walked down to the Wauchope road through the field, taking a party of visiting walkers with us.  They had been hoping to do the Becks walk and were pleased to get some guidance on an alternative route.

When we got down to the road, Mrs Tootlepedal headed for home and I crossed the Auld Stane Brig….

Auld Stane Brig

…and headed for a track up the hill.

On my way I passed a curious frozen puddle with a translucent centre….

frozen puddle

…and yet another example of hair ice.

hair ice

It was cold in the trees and I was pleased to come back into the sunshine when I got onto the hill.

There were trees to be seen at the bottom of the hill….

trees

….a sheep on sentry duty on the track further up…

sheep on warbla

…and a blasted hawthorn, survivor of many gales.

tree on warbla

I could see snow on the hills just outside the town….

Snowy view

…and the moon hanging in the sky above the track.

Moon over warbla

I could look back across the Wauchope Water and see the wood which is being felled.  I don’t know how much of the wood will go but it will be missed when it is gone.

Becks wood

When I got to the track back down to the Stubholm, I noticed a strange black line down the centre of the roadway.  A second look showed me that it was my shadow and I stood with my legs apart to take a picture of it.

long shadow

It is not every day that I find myself on a gently sloping track with the sun low and  dead behind me so this might well be my only chance to prove that in the right conditions, I can have a fifty yard long shadow.  (I paced it out.)

As the sun got lower, the light got more golden.  We may not have had a very colourful autumn this year but we are getting some enjoyably colourful winter afternoons now on the days when the sun shines.

Meikleholm Hill

Whita in winter

I walked down the hill with care as there were some icy bits to avoid but I was able to keep my eyes open enough to see some fungus on a tree on the Stubholm track….

fungus

…and some lichen on the park wall.

lichen

It is a constant source of wonder to me that two stones in the same wall, just a yard or two apart should have different lichen on them.

The house seemed very quiet when I got back.

A look at the forecast in the evening revealed a very confident prediction of snow for tomorrow and I am not so old yet that I don’t consider the first snow of winter to be an exciting event so I hope that we do get some.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch giving a siskin the hard stare.

flying chaffinch and siskin

Here is a little video of the three eating machine for those with 20 seconds to waste.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Irving, who sent me this fine shot of the bottom of Bealach-na ba on the way to Applecross, one of the most spectacular roads in Scotland.

bottom of Bealach-na ba on the way to Applecross

We had another day of frozen sunshine here, with temperatures at zero or below all day.  However, with stories of snow and slush in England, we certainly weren’t going to complain about a little tingle in the cheeks when we went outside.

It was still freezing hard when Dropscone came round (on his bike) bearing scones to go with our morning coffee.  He has just come back from seeing his eldest son in the south of England and had managed to avoid all the traffic chaos caused by wind, rain and snow recently so he was feeling quite smug.

After coffee, I tempted Mrs Tootlepedal out for a walk to enjoy the sun.

When we got to Pool Corner, we found the the Wauchope had completely frozen over…

frozen wauchope

…and it was definitely a good idea, where possible, to direct one’s feet to the sunny side of the street.

tree

The sharp eyed reader will be able to spot Mrs Tootlepedal heading for a patch of sun.

I always like the combination of sycamore and cypress which line up so perfectly as you walk along the road here.

The absence of leaves, lets the lichen on the roadside bushes have its moment in the sun.

lichen

I try to keep an eye on fencepost tops on a day like this.

frozen fencepost

When we got to the Auld Stane Bridge, we could see that there was enough running water there to keep the Wauchope mostly free of ice.

frozen wauchope

We turned onto Gaskell’s Walk and I was looking for hair ice because this is a spot where it can often be found.  Unfortunately, a lot of the dead wood that grows the hair ice has been cleared and this small and not very exciting sample was the only bit around.

frost hair

On the other hand, there was any amount of decorative frost to be seen as we went along the track.

frosty leaves

I particularly liked two patterns which had formed on one of the small bridges on the track.  The Y shapes are wire netting which has been put there to improve the traction on the bridge on slippery days.

frost patterns

We were pleased to get out of the shady part of the walk and back into the sunshine…

Meikleholm Hill

…as even the low winter sun (10 days to go to the Winter Solstice!) had a bit of heat about it.

We had to keep our eyes down for quite a lot of the time as there were plenty of icy patches along the track but we made it up to the Stubholm on safety….

frosty bench

…and resisted any temptation to spoil the patterns on the bench there by sitting on it.

As we came down the hill to the park, Mrs Tootlepedal spotted this fine crop of icicles…

icicles

…and this curious frozen formation on the track itself.

frost

When we were out of the sun, it was a very blue day, chilly to feel and chilly to look at.

Langholm Church in winter

The benefit was the great number of interesting frosty things see.  This was some moss on the park wall.

frosty moss

And this was the frozen dam behind our house when we got home.

frozen dam

I made some warming potato and carrot soup for lunch and with the co-operation of our bread making machine, a dozen rolls, a couple of which we ate with our neighbour Liz who came round for tea later in the afternoon.  As she left, Mike Tinker arrived so we were well supplied with visitors today and this cheered up the cold late afternoon.

In between times, I looked out of the kitchen window.

I put out an apple and it disappeared into blackbirds in the twinkling of an aye.

blackbird

This one looks as though he might have most of it.

blackbird

The strong contrasts in the light and shade makes catching birds in the air tricky at the moment but I liked this dramatic scene.

flying chaffinch

Robins are easier to spot.

robin

As are sitting birds.

goldfinches

My flute pupil Luke came in the evening and we had another go at our new sonata as well as working on the Quantz as well so he will have plenty do if he finds himself with an idle moment at home.  (I need to practise as well.)

Our Monday trio group is not going to meet again until the new year so although I miss the playing, I wasn’t entirely unhappy to have a quiet night in after travelling to Edinburgh and then having two concerts in the last four days.

I am hoping to get a few more cycling days in before the end of the month but the forecast is not optimistic.

The flying bird of the day is a chiaroscuro chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She had got up early to watch the starlings taking off from her local nature reserve but found that a swan had got up even earlier.

swan at dawn

I got up rather later than I meant to and found that Mrs Tootlepedal was already downstairs.  As it was her birthday, I took the opportunity to give her a present.  With characteristic skill and sensitivity, I had bought exactly the right gift for her, a book of woodcuts that have illustrated the Guardian newspaper’s nature notes over the years.

It is only fair to note that my ability to hit on exactly the present that she wanted may have been assisted by her telling me both the title and the author of the book.  It is the best way.

After breakfast, I made a venison stew for the slow cooker while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir and then Tony and Marianne, our visitors, kindly gave me a lift up to Whitshiels so that I could start a walk from there while they tried to find an old school friend of Tony’s.

I had to keep my eyes down more than I would have liked on my walk as it was quite icy and slippery underfoot in places but I was able to stop and look about.

I saw some old friends on my way round…

British soldier lichen and tree

A few lonely British soldier lichens on a  gate and a favourite tree.

ewes view

The view up the Ewes valley, topped off by some wispy clouds

Craig windfarm view

The view up the Esk valley showing how low the sun is at this time of year, with dark shadows a permanent feature.

ice art

There was not as much opportunity for arty ice shots as I had hoped.

Ewes view

And the cloud was still sitting on the Ewes Valley hills when I had a second look later on the walk.

Whita tree

The last time that I passed these trees, it was late afternoon.  They looked more cheerful but less dramatic this morning.

Esk and Ewes panorama

The views from the lower slopes of Whita are extensive. (Click to enlarge if you like.)

hawthorn

It may not have been a good year for cycling but it has been a great year for hawthorns.

frozen gate

The gate at the top of the golf course.

frozen puddle

A shot which summarises our recent weather very neatly.  A large puddle, frozen over.

third tee golfers

Hardy golfers peering anxiously into the sun to see where a drive up the third fairway had gone.

View from 1st tee

This was the view they would have had when they started their round on the 1st tee.

Caroline Street in sunshine

And this was the view that I had as I got to the end of my walk.

It was just a short walk as we had visitors but it was most enjoyable.  Cold and sunny but not too windy and firm under foot. Ideal.

When I got home, I made some coffee and then set up the camera at the kitchen window.  Tony tried his hand at catching a flying bird or two with success.

chaffinch and greenfinch Tony

I got too ambitious with a greenfinch close-up and missed the action…

busy feeder

…but when I pulled back a bit, I saw a goldfinch literally bending over backwards to be unwelcoming.

goldffinches

I settled for the quieter shot….

blackbird

…and found a robin keeping a weather eye out.

robin

After a snack, Tony and Marianne headed back to Edinburgh, aiming to get there while the light was still good as the road conditions might be tricky in places.  It was very kind of them to come down for a double birthday celebration.

And after a light lunch and some hard song practice (both hard practice of songs and practice of hard songs, since you ask), Mrs Tootlepedal and I headed off to Carlisle to have a sing with our Carlisle Community Choir.

The practice paid off but some of the songs are slightly beyond my level of competence and much more practice will be still be needed.

On our way home, as it was a birthday, we stopped and brought some chips from the chip shop to go with the venison stew.  This was an inspired choice as they turned out to be a perfect accompaniment for an excellent stew.  (I had bought a more expensive than usual cut of venison at our producers’ market, another good choice).

Our short spell of chilly dry weather has ended for the time being and rain is pattering on the windows again as I write this in the evening.

The flying bird of the day is a reliable chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s Dutch holiday.  It shows Delft town hall.  Although they share the basic design, it leaves our modest building in Langholm in the shade.

Delft Town HallAfter the brilliant sunshine of our visit to Edinburgh yesterday, a blanket of misty fog over the town which persisted all day was something of a dampener.

The light was very gloomy when it came to looking at the birds.

blue titStill, it didn’t stop me going to our local producers’ market and stocking up with fish, cheese, venison, honey and lamb.  I shall eat well for several days.   Sandy came round for a coffee and we arranged to go for a walk after lunch.

I was told yesterday by Alison, my Friday evening accompanist, that she had been talking to a bird enthusiast who lives five miles out of town.  He had been telling her that almost all the birds had disappeared out of his garden too and he wondered if they had gone off to Europe.   Considering that we routinely have had fifty to a hundred birds a day in the garden in previous winters, this year has been very strange.

Once again it was hard work to be at the right time to catch a bird today.  Luckily, we have some robins who are enjoying the peace and quiet.

robinTwo of them spent some time chasing each other around but they stopped for breath at the same time.

robinsThere was a handful of chaffinches today.

chaffinchMeanwhile, it looked like one of those days when it might be possible to rise above the mist and find some beautiful blue skies if we drove up the hill to the White Yett so Mrs Tootlepedal and I got in our car and did just that.  This was the view at the top of the hill.

White YettSo much for blue skies.  The McDiarmid Memorial was hard to see even though it was only a few yards away.

McDiarmid memorialWe drove carefully back down the hill and had lunch.

Sandy arrived on cue and we set out to brave some icy patches and walk round the Becks.  You can see the pictures that he took on our walk on his blog.

It wasn’t a day for views…

Meikleholm in mist

There’s a town down there somewhere.

…but there were other things to enjoy as we strolled along.

ice crystals

Ice crystals on a drinking trough

Trees and shed

A horse standing gloomily among the trees and sheds.

frosty plant head

A frosty plant head

lichen

Flourishing lichen on a tree stump

fallen tree

A fallen tree shows graphically just how shallow the root systems of the commercial conifers are. It is somewhat amazing that any remain standing.

sheep

Interested spectators pause in their grazing.

lichens

Lichens on the Wauchope churchyard wall

Sandy was feeling a bit peaky and my legs knew that I had been walking yesterday so we were both pleased to get round without falling over on the icy patches.

I was happy to spend the rest of the afternoon watching rugby on the telly even though Scotland failed to win their game against France.

Just to be different, I have a selection of three flying birds of the day today.

flying chaffinches

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Today’s picture from my brother Andrew is just to remind us that it is high summer down there.

Dock Bay

Here it was a miserable day.  Rain falling onto frozen ground made the town a skating rink.

gate

The upside was that it thoroughly justified my purchase of the Yaktrax as I was able to walk about nonchalantly with a lordly air, while all around less blessed people were creeping along cautiously.

It also brought a great number of small birds to the garden. At one stage of the day, I counted over sixty and I had to refill the seed feeders twice.

Arthur and Dropscone braved the slippery conditions to join me for coffee and Dropscone, after 55 years of practice, has finally produced the perfect girdle scone.  The secret seems to be a spoonful of cottage cheese in the mixture.

The feeders were never less than fully occupied.

full feeder


A lot of siskins turned up today.

siskins

Although it rained gently all day, the snow didn’t seem to get any less.  It will take quite a bit to shift it because it is frozen so hard.

This should mean a continuing demand for the feeders.

Siskins hold their own

If any other birds can get past the siskins that is.

There was almost always a queue for an available perch.

Chaffinch waiting

Either at the side...

Siskin and brambling

...or up above

Sometimes there were just one or two waiting…

chaffinches waiting

…and sometimes there were lots.

birds at the feeder

In the afternoon, I went up to the town to do some business and by this time, the roads and paths had been well gritted but it was still very gloomy.

caroline street

After an early tea,  we set off, rather fearfully, to drive to Keswick, some 60 miles away, hoping that the roads would be reasonable. They were.  I was taking Mrs Tootlepedal and two friends to see three of the original members of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band at the theatre there in a show called Three Bonzos and a Piano.  They were assisted by a couple of other excellent musicians and provided an evening of inspired lunacy as they say.

They started playing in the band in 1966 and considering that they are no spring chickens, they were in extremely jolly form and included both the celebrated solo for electronic trouser press and the Monster Mash among the evening’s items.  There was a variety of new and old songs, along with exploding robots and fine spoon playing.  We all laughed heartily at the gags, enjoyed the warm hearted music and marvelled at the energy of Roger Ruskin Spear, the group’s leader.  We, and all the rest of the audience, left the show with a smile firmly fixed to our faces.

The weather stayed kind for the return journey and altogether it was a grand night out.

We are hoping to see no more of this tomorrow:

icicles

But wouldn’t mind some more of this:

bird activity

A nice selection of birds

 

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