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Posts Tagged ‘jackdaw’

Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce’s trip to the west coast.  He has acquired a new pocket camera and as well as taking fine scenic pictures (more of them in later posts), he pointed it at a young buzzard on a pole.

Bruce's buzzard

We had another fine and sunny day today, though a bit colder than we have been getting lately.  After yesterday’s successful cycle and walk combination, I was quite happy to have a quiet day of singing today and let things settle down in the leg department in spite of the good weather.

We had one less hymn to sing than usual in church as our visiting minister unexpectedly burst into song himself between the readings. We had a good choir practice after the service to make up for the shortfall though.

When I got home, there was a little sunlight falling on the feeder…

coal tit and goldfinch…but very few birds actually coming to the feeder and those that arrived almost always managed to catch a shadow.

I had to look to the plum tree for clearer shots.

pigeon in plum tree

Some time ago Mrs Tootlepedal cut the head off the sunflower that unexpectedly came up behind the feeders but she left the stalk standing and it acts as a convenient perch for birds waiting to come to the feeder….

unshadowed chaffinch

..and a tweak to the camera settings produced a satisfactory result.

shadowed chaffinch

As the sun moved round, the feeder soon fell back into deep shadow so I went out into the garden for some sunshine.  Once again, the berberis was ablaze but it is beginning to lose its leaves and I fear that fire will soon be out.

blazing berberis

The winter jasmine is doing well.

winter jsmine

In spite of the sun, it was quite chilly outside so I didn’t linger long and went back in.

The bird watching was a wash out.

dark birds at feeder

 

We had another visit from a jackdaw with white feathers.

jackdaw with white

After lunch, it was soon time to combine a little shopping in Carlisle with our Community Choir practice.  Once again, our energetic conductor Ellen gave us plenty of work to do and by the end of the session my voice was feeling the strain a bit.  I must make sure that I do my vocal exercises conscientiously.

As it is now pitch dark by the time that we get back from choir in Carlisle, Sundays have become a short day from a photographic point of view but as I enjoy the singing, I can’t really complain about that.

I couldn’t catch a flying bird today and a visiting jackdaw was most unhappy about this failure.

jackdaw staring

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from regular reader, Edward Winter from Sheffield.  As is appropriate to someone from that city, he likes metal sculptures and has recently acquired this Jason Heppenstall work created mainly from saw blades (the wings) and eating forks (on Eagle’s head).  I can see shears lower down too I think.

Eagle Jason Heppenstall

The weather gods finally lightened up a bit and we had a fine but chilly day today.  I was still taking things gently so most of the morning passed without anything to record other than the standard crossword and coffee routine but after coffee, we ventured out into the garden to see what was still standing after the recent frosts and a night with some heavy rain.

There were still a few rather battered flowers about…

four flowers November 1

…and plenty of raindrops among the petals.

four flowers November 2

It was pleasantly warm if you were in the sunshine and Mrs Tootlepedal’s field beans have thrived in all weathers and are growing well.

field beans Nov

The nasturtiums were finally condemned as over and in spite of one or two valiant flowers defying the odds, the whole lot got the heave-ho and ended in the compost bin.

This stimulated me to do a bit more sieving of the contents of Bin D and the results were very satisfactory as it has been a good year for compost.  I will have to think about starting the whole bin transfer business soon.

When we went in, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to work on her winter project, the restoration of our rocking horse, and I watched the birds.

As soon as I put out a couple of fat balls these days, the jackdaws get to know and are on the scene within minutes.

This one was waiting patiently in the plum tree while others nibbled away.

jackdaw in plum tree

The jackdaws don’t bother with the seed though, which leaves plenty for the smaller birds like this coal tit.

coal tit in the sun

A great tit looked interested too.

great tit on the pole

The strong low sunlight makes getting ‘clean’ shots of flying birds a lottery unless you have plenty of time to spare.

shady chaffinch

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and I tested out my leg with a very flat and short cycle ride on the slow bike.

I cycled over three bridges and then round the New Town, stopping very occasionally for a picture.

There are still spots of autumn colour about….

November tree colour 1

…but for every tree with colour, there are two or three with bare branches.

November tree colour 2

The trees on the banks of the Esk below the mission hall show every stage.

 

November tree colour 3`

I cycled up to Pool Corner but the sun had gone in and the larches were dull…

pool corner Nov 1

…but a few minutes later, the glow was golden.

larches in November

The cycling went very well as far as my leg went and was pain free.

I was encouraged.

Walking was still tricky but at least I could get about now.

I had promised to prepare some of the Archive Group’s ‘Mills and Railway’ heritage DVDs in readiness for an event later in the day so I put my bike aside and copied the disk box labels and then cycled up to the town to use the disk copier in the Archive Centre.  This would have gone better if I had remembered to take some blank disks with me.  As it was, I got some extra cycling in as I had to go back home to get the disks.

At one stage on this double trip, a sudden halt in the traffic flow made me stop and put a foot down.  Without thinking, I pushed off when things got going again and as soon as I had done it, I realised that I had used my wrong leg and in an instant, I was back where I was two days ago.

I was discouraged…

…as much by my foolishness as by the discomfort.  Still, I was still able to cycle home and then walk along to the Buccleuch Centre to the official launch of a book about Langholm’s Textile industry’s history.  This was based on the work of my sadly departed friend Arthur Bell, a mill owner himself and an enthusiast for the industry in Langholm.

There was an excellent turnout for the launch and as everyone present seemed to have bought at least one copy, the two editors of the book must have been very pleased.

I shall be more careful about my movements tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch with its head and body in the sun and its wings in the shadows.

flyinch chaffinch with dark wings

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My Somerset correspondent, Venetia was intrigued by this curious statue in Marseille on her recent visit.

marseille statue

I think it represents travellers who are just passing through!

The weather gods are rolling on the floor laughing at their own tremendous wit as they provided yet another 100% sunny day while I am still basically confined to barracks.  My leg is steadily progressing but not enough to allow either walking or cycling of more than a few hundred yards at best.   It was a day crying out for a walk in the hills.

As a result I was more than happy to welcome Sandy for a cup of coffee made from Thai coffee beans which he had been kind enough to bring back for me from his recent trip to Thailand.

While we were sipping and chatting, I wondered if I had seen an unusual visitor lurking in the plum tree.  It had gone by the time that we got up for a good look but later in the morning, I saw this…

blue tit with blue flower

…and when I looked again…

two treee sparrows

… it confirmed that we had not one but two tree sparrows in the garden  They are really attractive little birds….

tree sparrow in plum tree

…and I am always pleased to see them on the rare occasions when they visit us. We had one earlier this year and one last year and none (that I saw) in 2016 at all.

There were other small and attractive birds about too…

blue tit close up on fatballs

…and some larger ones.

stern jackdaw

I made lentil soup for lunch using green, brown and red lentils and enjoyed the result.  After lunch, I got the washing in and went for a short and gentle stroll round the garden.

After a genuinely frosty night, some things were looking very droopy…

soggy nasturtiums

…and bent….

collapsing delphinium

…and there wasn’t a leaf left on the walnut tree…

bare walnut tree

…but the daisies were unbowed ….

october daisies 29th

…and the Lilian Austin rose was glorious.

lilian austin 29 Ict

That cheered me up a lot.

Then I spent some unrewarding time at my computer and on the phone trying to contact firms that make it their speciality to be hard to contact.  I found an entirely new form of customer torture when I needed to log into my account for a product that I bought many years ago.  Of course I didn’t know my password and applied for a new one:  “Success!” the website crowed. ” Your link for a new password has been sent to your email address!”

Great…except it hadn’t been sent.

I filled in a contact form to tell them about this. “Thank you for your enquiry, ” the website said, “A copy of your enquiry has been emailed to your email address.”

Except it hadn’t.

I sometimes suspect that the smart people who who design this sort of thing are practising to be weather gods in a later reincarnation.

The day took a turn for the better when Luke appeared for his lesson and showed a big improvement in his counting skills.  Considering that we are doing some quite complicated counting, this was really encouraging.  Basically he doesn’t have a real lesson.  We just play duets and every now and again I say, “Do as I say and not as I do,” and he does it.

After tea, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and had a very enjoyable time indeed.

It was -1°C as I drove home.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  (The tree sparrows were too quick for me.)

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is the Silk Mill in Derby which was passed by my brother Andrew on a very calm day recently.  He notes that the rowing eight in the background seem to be lacking a sense of direction. Perhaps they are our Brexit negotiation team relaxing.

Silk Mill

We had a very grey and dismal day here today and I made the best of it by having an extremely relaxing morning doing nothing at all.  It was the sort of day that Saturday newspapers, with their endless supplements full of guff, are made for.

Well, to tell the truth, I did do a little as I made a venison stew for the slow cooker and some potato and carrot soup for lunch.  The soup would have tasted better if I had remembered to put some onions in.

I did occasionally glance out of the kitchen window.  A collared dove looked about as fed up as I was…

wet dove in tree

…but a blue tit looked a little perkier…

blue tit on fat balls oct

…and even did some tricks to entertain me.

blue tit on fat balls oct (2)

The chaffinches were confused and flew in all directions at once.

confused flying chaffinches

A jackdaw took a dim view of the whole situation.  I know how it felt.

jackdaw on feeder oct

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting and I retired to the computer to waste time doing things so badly that they had to be done again.  In this way, I passed the time until I was driven out to stretch my legs by boredom.

I had a look round the garden before setting off on a short three bridges walk.

garden flower panel oct 20

I discovered that I had been underestimating the clematis in the back bed.  I thought that it had only had one flower but not only could I see a new flower coming,  I could clearly see a seed head as well so it may end up with three flowers for the year.

clematis panel oct 20

The autumn colour was not very exciting today….

dull autumn colour park

… but I was excited to see Mrs Tootlepedal driving over the Langholm Bridge on the way home after her meeting.

Mrs T driving home

The Christmas lights have been strung along the bridge already.  We must be the first town on the light erectors’ list this year.

There were almost as many leaves on the ground as there are still on the tree beside the suspension bridge….

fallen leaves beside Esk

…but they make a cheerful sight on the road.

fallen leaves beside Esk on street

Our lone gull was still standing on its rock staring fixedly down the river, presumably with the hope of seeing a friend coming.

lonely gull

It wasn’t a day for views so I noted the variety of lichens on the Sawmill Brig parapet…

lichen on sawmill brig

…the herb robert growing out of the wall opposite the sawmill….

herb robert

…and the water retaining moss on the top of the wall.

moss on sawmill wall

I took the new path round the bottom of the Castleholm…

new path castleholm

…and kept an eye out for fungus.

I didn’t have much luck and when I finally did see a crop on a tree beside the Scholar’s Field, some creature had got there first…

eaten fungus on tree

…and eaten my photo opportunity.

When I got in, I had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal and then went off to practise  music for our Carlisle choir.  The musical director has very kindly made demos of herself singing the various parts for several of the trickier songs and I used these to help learn the tenor parts.  The trouble is that it is quite possible to persuade yourself that you can sing the parts only to find that it isn’t so easy with another eighty people singing different parts at the same time….especially if the composer or arranger has a taste for crunchy chords.  Still, any help is welcome.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked some potatoes and marrow to go with the slow cooked venison stew but couldn’t get over the feeling that she was being watched as she prepared to eat her meal.

staring food

The flying bird of the day is a suitably gloomy chaffinch to match the weather.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who was beside the sea when he took it but not in East Wemyss.  He is having a break at Puerto Pollensa in Majorca.

Mallorca

I said goodbye to my sister Susan after breakfast this morning, thanking her for the hospitality which had made my brief trip south such a pleasure and made my way to Euston Station to catch the train to Carlisle.

Owing to a predisposition to train fever, I arrived a little early and had to spend some time sitting in the waiting room at Euston.

Euston Station

There are worse places to wait for a train on a sunny morning.

The train rain smoothly and punctually and arrived in time to connect with the bus back to Langholm.  It was good to be back home again but the weather was not at all welcoming, with very heavy clouds and 40 mph winds.  There was no chance of a quick pedal and even a walk was not inviting.

Autumn colour has moved forward while I was away and I took a picture of the poplars beside the church as I went over the suspension bridge.

Poplars at the church

I did get out into the garden to see what was left but the poor light and strong winds made taking pictures tricky so I settled for flowers that were either well sheltered or very sturdy.

I saw an article in the Gardeners’ World magazine saying that nerines were the thing to grow.  Mrs Tootlepedal is way ahead of them.

nerines

When the fuchsias were moved, this one escaped the upheaval and has been secretly growing in the old spot.

fuchsia survivor

Calendulas seem impervious to the weather.

calendula

And the ornamental strawberries continue to flower.  The first one appeared on the blog on May 17th this year so they have been working hard.  I wonder if they will make it to November and clock up half a year in flower.

ornamental strawberry

The sedum is looking good but its chance of attracting butterflies may have gone for this year.

sedum

Many nasturtiums have turned up their toes but the ones against the house wall are still doing well.

nasturtium by gas meter

A rudbeckia was very tired and needed a sit down on the bench.

resting flower

We have some autumn colour of our own in the garden.

autumn colour in the garden

And one benefit of the hot summer and the recent strong winds is that walnuts are not hard to find.  This is just part of the crop so far this year and it is easily the best crop that we have ever had.

100 walnuts

I put some bird food out but there were few takers, just a couple of jackdaws, one seen here perching among the last of the plum tree leaves…

jackdaw in october in tree

…and one looking rather diffident about pecking the fatballs.

jackdaw in octoberat fatballs

A lone chaffinch is the perching bird of the day.

chaffinch

The forecast is good for tomorrow so I am hoping for some better pictures.

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony in East Wemyss.  He wanted to show me that they have butterflies there too but their ones come indoors.

wemyss butterfly

It was a stop start sort of day.

Our car had two warning lights when we got back from Carlisle yesterday and they were still sending out bad vibes when I switched on the engine this morning.  I rang the garage to see if they could do anything and there was a good deal of sucking of teeth and sighing.  “Very busy….not taking any more work this week…(sound of Tootlepedal crying) ….oh well, bring it in and we’ll see if we can look at it….no promises.”

I took it in.  They looked at it.  No more warning lights.  I collected it.  It was raining lightly by this time but I was very sunny.  Fingers are firmly crossed as I have to drive fifty miles tomorrow.

When I got home, the sun was shining so I went out into the garden for a walk round with Mrs Tootlepedal.  There had been ice on the car windscreen with a temperature of 2°C before breakfast and a lot of the dahlias had turned up their toes as a result.  However, it had warmed up quite quickly and there were survivors all around.

late garden flowers

Clockwise from top left: Gaura, calendula, rudbeckia and perennial wallflower

The upside of the demise of the Sunny Reggae dahlias was more space and light for the two fuchsias behind them.

fuchsia October

fat fuchsia october

And I did see a red admiral butterfly.  It was on the remains of the French marigolds which did such a good job of protecting the carrots earlier in the year.

red admiral on marigold

In the vegetable garden, chive and mint are still in flower.

chive and mint

Mrs Tootlepedal was mourning the loss of some nasturtiums to the cold when she noticed that there was some damage that wasn’t weather related.

cabbage white caterpillar (2)

Cabbage white caterpillars were chomping their way through leaves and flowers.

cabbage white caterpillar

Our kitchen was being painted and I had to wait in for the call from the garage so I put the morning to good use by entering two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  I am well behind schedule at this task so this was not before time.

When the painter went off to let the first coat of paint dry, I watched the birds from the kitchen window.  It was another busy day.

There was a mixture of greenfinches, sparrows and chaffinches at first…

busy feedr

…but a small gang of goldfinches soon turned up too.

goldfinches

Political discussions grew heated and a sparrow had to fly in to calm down two goldfinches who were debating the merits of Canada ++ and/or of falling of a cliff.

goldfinches in discussion

Greenfinches pursued sparrows…

greenfinch in pursuit

…and then goldfinches pursued sparrows.

goldfinch and sparrow

But the goldfinches couldn’t stop arguing.  The one on the left is practising the ‘no deal’ Brexit position.

goldfinch coming and going

A coal tit rose above the bickering…

coal tit on pole

…and a chaffinch showed her disgust at the whole situation.

fierce chaffinch

One of our visiting jackdaws has some elegant white wing feathers to show off.

jackdaw with white

Over lunch, we watched a re-run of the last kilometres of the men’s world championship cycling road race and felt for the riders as they had to battle up an extremely steep hill.

When the painter came back, we went out into the garden and did some useful work.  I mowed the drying green and the green house grass, did some shredding and sieved some compost.  The compost went on to the first of the new beds at the top of the vegetable garden which Mrs Tootlepedal had been preparing.

new bed back veg

I trimmed the top of the white clematis round the back door as it was creeping up in to the gutter and while I was in clematis mode, I noticed that we still have two clematis on the go in a modest way.

late clematis

I rounded off my photographic day with a glimpse of a dunnock…

dunnock

….the first to appear on the blog since early June.

Mike Tinker dropped in to report that his son David and family were safely on their journey back to New Zealand.  They will be looking forward to some warmer weather no doubt.

In the early evening, Luke came to play flute and once again we made steady progress (hemidemisemiquavers are meat and drink to us now) and then after tea, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  What with one thing and another, we haven’t been playing a lot recently and it was good to get together again even though some rustiness was apparent all round.  The Reader’s Digest used to suggest that laughter is the best medicine but I think it is music.

The flying bird of the day is a determined chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who must be on holiday in the West Highlands as he sent me this picture of Eilean Donan Castle taken earlier this evening as the light faded.

Eilean Donan  cas

We had plenty of light here today with a lot of sunshine and and only the odd speck of rain.

We weren’t able to make much of the good weather as we spent a lot of time indoors singing.  In the morning we went to sing with the church choir and welcome the new temporary minister who is taking charge for the next few weeks after the departure of Scott, the previous minister.  Fortunately for the absent minded parishioner, the new minister is also called Scott, though as he is American is is quite easy to distinguish him from his predecessor.

The  service went well and the choir did its bit to welcome Scott to his new charge.

Mrs Tootlepedal is helping with the administration of the music at our Carlisle choir at present so we had to be there early which didn’t leave us a lot of time between choirs.  I spent as much time as I could watching the birds…

…and there were a good many to watch…

_DSC7533

…with chaffinches particularly active….

_DSC7534

…and quite ready to shout at any sparrows coming out of the shadows at them.

_DSC7552

It was rare not to see a small queue heading for the feeder.

_DSC7544

They were joined by a sleek looking jackdaw.

_DSC7537

I took the bird camera out into the garden and took a shot or two there as well.

Special Grandma is my current favourite….

_DSC7566

…though Lilian Austin has not given up yet.

_DSC7567

There are some cosmos remaining and they are popular with insects…

_DSC7578

…though the Michaelmas daisies are still the biggest draw.

_DSC7582

I promised to take a picture of a butterfly every day for as long as I can so here is today’s offering, a red admiral doing a bit of sunbathing on a hosta leaf.

_DSC7572

I had thought that the poppies might have gone over but there has been a revival in the new bed…

_DSC7575

…and along with an orange hawkweed, an Icelandic poppy could be found.

_DSC7579

I went back in and just had time for  a sardine sandwich and a blue tit (I ate one and shot the other)…

_DSC7587

..before we had to set off for Carlisle.

While Mrs Tootlepedal helped with the music, I did some useful shopping and then we settled down to two hours of hard work under our new conductor, Ellen.

My voice held up not too badly but I hope that I can get it working a bit better before the Christmas concert season comes round.

We drove home in in beautiful evening sunshine but were happy to sink down for a rest rather than rush out into the garden again.

There was no shortage of flying birds today so once again there is a gender balanced chaffinch flying bird of the day situation.

_DSC7549

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