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Posts Tagged ‘jackdaws’

Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo in Manitoba.  She was unimpressed by my flimsy  footwear in a recent picture on the blog and sent me this shot of real boot quality in her latest pair.

Mary Jo's socks

The ‘wet day’ marmalade which I made yesterday has set well, and this morning I put the caps on the jars and used some rather fancy labels.

2020 marmalade

(My handwriting was never good and has got steadily worse with the advent of keyboards and computers.)

The day was remarkably calm after yesterday’s strong winds and I was able to stroll down to sing with the church choir wearing a light jacket and a cheerful smile.  The hymns were a mixed bunch with an African tune, a Jewish melody and some old faithfuls and we had an enjoyable sing.  After a quiet time, we are going to start singing introits and anthems again so we had a practice after the service.  We were ready for coffee when we got home.

The birds were in no hurry to come to the feeder today but the walnut was playing host to jackdaws.  Jackdaws pair for life and we often see pairs of them sitting and chatting amiably among the branches of the tree.

jackdaw pair

As the welcome sun came round to the feeder, some dunnocks appeared on the ground..

dunnock

…and a pigeon landed on the electricity wire above…

pigeon on wire

…and finally a redpoll actually came and ate some seed.

redpoll on feeder

A siskin arrived too….

sisking on feeder

…but it was a very quiet morning for bird activity.  A small heap of feathers on the lawn showed that a sparrowhawk had visited earlier in the day so that possibly explained the lack of visitors.

I was pleased to see that our robin had not been the victim.

robin on wire

After our coffee, we took a quick walk round the garden.  We were delighted to see the first signs of snowdrops.

first snowdrop

We have occasionally seen them fully out by this time, so I hope it will not be long before a flower appears.

We left the garden and headed out for a visit to the river.  The rivers had fallen a lot since Gavin took his picture yesterday…

new course of wauchope

…and the Esk looked very calm…

Esk after flood

…but the lines of leaves on the bank showed just how near the road the river had been at its height.

tide mark esk after flood

It had brought down a good load of sand and gravel with it and this has blocked off the flow of the Wauchope through the second arch as it comes under the Kirk Bridge.

sandbank at mouth of wauchope

We crossed the suspension bridge and walked down the river towards Skippers Bridge.

Because we go to Carlisle for our other choir on a Sunday afternoon, we didn’t have a lot of time to spare.  Mrs Tootlepedal kept up a brisk pace and I only took a  few pictures as we went along.

The heavy rain had left fungus on a bench and lichen on a fence untouched….

fungus and lichen waterside

…but the river was high enough and the rocks slippery enough to make me think that a glimpse of Skippers Bridge through the trees was probably as close as it was sensible to get today.

skippers through trees

Although it was now a lovely day and it wasn’t much after midday, the long shadows across the field at the Murtholm reminded us that there is still a lot of winter to go.

murtholm winter shadows

And the reflective fence posts recalled yesterday’s rain.

fence post relections

It is curious that the left and right fence posts are reflected straight up and down but the centre post is at a marked angle.

The forecast for the next couple of days is appalling, with a named storm coming our way but today really was the calm before the storm.  It was a lovely day for a walk.

view of timpen january

As we walked along the Stubholm track, we passed some fine trees.  Mrs Tootlepedal gives a sense of scale to this one.

big tree at stubholm

The walk finished with a quick look at fungus and lichen on trees and walls round the park.

four lichens park wall

After a light lunch we added a useful visit to the recycling facilities in Longtown on the way to the Carlisle choir.

As we drove down, we were able to listen to the edition of Gardener’s Question Time on BBC Radio 4 which had been recorded last month in the Buccleuch Centre.  Among others, they used my question on the show so now I am famous.

The question asked for suggestions for flowers which the panel thought might make good photographic subjects.  Mrs Tootlepedal has taken up one of the recommendations and if all goes well, you will be able to see the results in the blog in the course of time.  I am not going to say what it is.  It will be a surprise.

At the choir, we found that yet another tenor had come to sing with us. That made three new members in two weeks.  The hard work of the committee in trying to attract new men to the choir seems to have paid off.

We had a very hard working practice, with three new songs to learn.  Fortunately our choir director was in fine form and she drove us along at a good pace so we got a lot done.

The weather stayed good for our drive home and as we weren’t in the mood for heavy cooking, we had boiled eggs with soldiers for our tea.  As good as a feast any day.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my ex colleague Marjorie who sent me this picture of a misty Schiehallion taken during her highland break over the festive season.

schiehallion

We woke to another chilly grey day here but the weather forecast suggested that a little sunshine might be available in the afternoon.  This turned out to be one of the forecasters little jokes but it didn’t matter as we had our own little ray of sunshine today in the form of a visit from our friend Sue.

She came in time for a coffee and not only were we pleased to see her, but we were pleased to see a small flock of birds at the feeder to entertain us as we sipped and chatted.

busy feeder

There was a constant coming and going for a while…

birds coming and going

…with visits from jackdaws to the fat ball feeder as well.

jackdaws in elder

In order to work up an appetite for lunch, we went for a walk to the top of Whita Hill after coffee.  Well, in fact, we went for a drive up to the White Yett and then walked the three quarters of mile up the easy track…

sue and mrs t on whita

…to the summit.

The track has a fine collection of boulders with colourful lichens at the bottom….

lichen at mcdiarmid memorial

…and an even more colourful set of lichens on the wall at the top.

lichen at whita summit

I took a worm’s eye view of the lightning conductor that is embedded in one side of the monument…

worms eye view of monument

…looked over the wall at the mist shrouded valleys to the south….

view over tarras

…and then we walked gently back down the track and admired the MacDiarmid memorial outlined against the Ewes Valley.

mcdiarmid memorial and ewes valley

The memorial celebrates the life and work of Langholm’s most famous poetical son, Hugh MacDiarmid.

mcdiarmid memorial

The sculpture is in the form of an open book and is constructed in Corten steel and bronze. Corten is a weathering steel which oxidises on the surface; it forms a protective skin and therefore requires no maintenance and to my eye, it looks thoroughly at home among the hills which MacDiarmid loved.

When we got home, Sue tried out our new bench and declared it to be very comfortable even in January.

 

sue and mrs t at bench

We marvelled at the rosemary, which thanks to the protected spot that it lives in, is still in flower…

december rosemary

…and then we went in to a lunch of curried parsnip soup and cheese flan provided by Mrs Tootlepedal.

Sue is one of the recorder group with whom I have played for many years and after lunch, she and I played a selection of duets while Mrs Tootlepedal got on with the crochet blanket she is making.

All too soon, it was time for Sue to head for home and while Mrs Tootlepedal continued with her crochet, I made an unavailing effort to solve the Saturday prize crossword.  Usually these crosswords yield to concentrated effort but today’s one has got me baffled.  I shall sleep on it and try again tomorrow.

All being well, we shall see Sue again tomorrow as she sings in our Carlisle choir and it meets for the first time in 2019 tomorrow afternoon.  I am looking forward to it.

There are not one but two flying birds of the day today which is cheering.

two flying goldfinches

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Today’s guest picture from my brother Andrew shows the Christmas skating rink in Derby.  These seasonal rinks have become very popular and we passed one in Edinburgh on Thursday.  I would think that skating on a wet day like this would encourage the skaters to stay upright at all costs.

derby skating rink

It was calm and misty when we got up and the goldfinches on the plum tree were outlined against the greyness.

misty godlfinches

Although we are still short of finches, there are larger birds about all the time.  This collared dove seems to have missed out as it came down with two other doves and they made faces at it and flew off.

collared dove

We flew off ourselves, although it was low level flying by bicycle as we went to church for the Sunday Club’s nativity service.  The mist was lying over the town as we got to the river.

sdr

The nativity service was charming so we enjoyed the service although there was not much for the choir to do.

When we got home, more large birds were about in the shape of a small platoon of jackdaws pecking away at the lawn and making holes in it.

jackdaw right foot up

They were putting their best foot forward.

jackdaw left foot up

I was very happy to see a couple of coal tits back collecting sunflower seeds but there was no sign of blue or great tits about.

coal tit

Mike Tinker tells me that they have had blue tits visiting but they have not had a great number of finches at their feeder.

We had moments of action today but the feeder is still going down very slowly.

busy feeder

After a cheese and tomato toastie for my lunch, courtesy of the George Foreman grill, I left the birds to it and spent an hour on my bike.

It was the first day for sometime with little wind and I enjoyed myself by visiting this tree twice, making for a fourteen mile ride.

Wauchope schoolhouse tree

I was extremely pleased to manage 14 miles in just under an hour but even with only a light wind, I found myself getting chilly and losing feeling in my fingers in spite of my warm gloves so I stopped after two turns up the road and went for a walk with Mrs Tootlepedal instead.  We did three bridges.

The hardy hill cattle weren’t feeling the chill and were chomping away on the very top of Castle Hill.

cows on top of Castle Hill

There was plenty of water coming down the Esk…

ripple in river

…and the black headed gulls were back on their posts at the Kilngreen.  A reader has asked what benefit they get from perching on the posts and I had to admit that I have no idea why they like it there.

Maybe it is just that it gives them a good view of the passers by.

gulls on posts

We had a look for dippers or other birds as we paused on the Sawmill Brig but there were none to be seen so I looked at lichen instead.

lichen on Sawmill Brig

We took the new path round the Castleholm and stopped to looked at the pair of noble firs at the corner of the path.  I have tried to find out about these trees.  One of the pair has a lot of these under every new set of needles…

noble fir flowers

…and I think these are the male strobili.  The other tree seems to bear the female cones and few if any male strobili but I don’t know if this is just an accident or a normal thing when there are two trees close together.

We found a cone that was well past its best.

noble for cone

Following Joe’s very fine picture of our daughter standing in a loch which appeared in yesterday’s post, I tried to encourage Mrs Tootlepedal to stand in the middle of the river today so I could try for a similar shot.

She was not enthusiastic and headed for home.

Mrs T stepping out

The cold was settling down on the Castleholm and a fine mist covered the cricket ground as we headed for our final bridge.

mist on cricket pitch

We were pleased to get into the warmth of the house where our one metre high Christmas tree has been decorated by Mrs Tootlepedal.

christmas tree decorated

I like a reflective bauble.

christmas tree baubles

We discovered that we had missed the delivery of our Christmas fare from the butcher while we were out.  I had got muddled and thought it was due tomorrow.  We were rather alarmed by the thought of just plain bread and butter for Christmas dinner but fortunately a phone call caught the driver before he had left the town and the situation was saved.

Sandra's woodpeckerIn answer to my question as to whether other local bird feeders were short of birds, I was sent this picture of a visitor to her feeder by Sandra who lives on the edge of town and gets regular visits from nuthatchesand the woodpeckers.

Another reader from the country tells me that that they too are getting woodpeckers and nuthatches, while a correspondent from Canonbie says that they have been short of birds this last week.  It seems that though there are plenty of bigger birds about, finches have seriously dropped in numbers for the moment at least.

 

I did manage to find some goldfinches on our feeder today and here is one of them as flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friends Mike and Alison who are on holiday in Wales.  It is a picture of a small church near Hundred House.  It has, as Mike points out, big bells and sunshine.

hundred house church

I was doubly surprised this morning as the forecast had talked of strong winds and rain in Scotland.  We must have been close enough to England to steal some of its fine weather as it was a lovely if chilly morning when we got up. That was the first surprise.

The second surprise was that I managed to get my cycling clothes on and get out for a ride before ten o’clock even though the temperature was still a nippy 5°C.  We were very sheltered from the wind in Wauchope Street so I started off with high hopes of a gentle ride but in the real world the wind was a bit fresher and I had to work hard on the outward journey of a 34 circuit.  Still, this gave me a wind assisted ride home which is the prime purpose of route planning for the elderly cyclist.

I didn’t stop much as I didn’t want to get cold but I enjoyed the larches on the Lockerbie road both before the new landslip…

The wauchope road in autumn

…and after it.

autumn near bigholms

I was nearing home when my eye was caught by one of the few bits of colour in the verges.  I thought it might be some sort of hogweed but I am not sure.

hogweed

There won’t be many days left when there is both some sun and some colour by the river so I took the obligatory picture as I crossed the Skippers Bridge.

distillery 22 Oct

I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden, clearing and tidying annuals and resetting some peonies.  I did some shredding and picked a reasonable bowl of raspberries.

The garden doesn’t look very colourful from the road as you pass it by but if you peer about, there are still quite a lot of flowers about.  Here are some of them.

garden flowers 22 OcTgarden flowers 22 OcT 2

The Welsh poppy was another surprise.

I filled the bird feeders and went in to have a shower.  Mrs Tootlepedal called up to say that we were being invaded by jackdaws.

You might think that they would be grateful for some food but this one was very cross that I hadn’t filled the feeders before going out cycling.

Jackdaw hard stare

They kept coming in for some time…

jackdaws at the feeder

…and there were several with white markings among them.

pied jackdaw

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to change the posters for the Buccleuch Centre in the Tourist hub in the town and I went for a walk.

Here and there autumn colour can be seen…

Looking over Pool Corner

…but the tree tunnel onto Meikleholm Hill shows that it is a very half in half situation with many trees now leafless.

the Meikleholm hill tunnel

I didn’t go through the tunnel but walked along the track with the intention of crossing the Becks Burn, following the road down to the Auld Stane Brig and then walking up the track you can see in the picture below onto the lower slopes of Warbla.

above the auld stane brig

I was foiled though as forestry machines were working and there was no access to the track through the felled wood.  My back up plan to go down to the Auld Stane Bridge through the field and then go up the track was also foiled by finding the field full of cattle.

Looking over Wauchope Churchyard

The dark trees in the background are growing in the Wauchope Graveyard.

Luckily I met Stan from the camera club who was out walking his dogs and we had a good talk about camera matters as I walked back along the track with him, so I didn’t have a wasted journey after all.

Back home, the jackdaws had left the feeders to the usual suspects.

busy feeder

Then it was time for a cup of tea and a slice of toast.

My flute pupil Luke came and we played Quantz and Haydn.  Having to pay attention to technique while trying to give Luke a lead has been very beneficial to my own rather rudimentary flute playing skills.  My recent singing  lesson has improved my breathing too so that when I went to play with Mike and Isabel in the evening, I was able to enjoy playing Mozart and Telemann without getting as puffed out as usual.

All in all, a day with a walk in the middle sandwiched by pedalling in the morning and tootling in the evening is definitely one for the credit side of the great ledger of life.

The flying bird of the day is one of the jackdaws.

flying jackaw

Matilda is taking Mrs Tootlepedal and me out for a treat in the Highlands tomorrow so I don’t know if a post will be forthcoming but I will take my phone with me and do my best.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit my sister Mary paid to the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park a day or two ago.  It seems like a very good place to visit at this time of year.

Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park 29.04.17

We had yet another dry and windy day today but it was a bit warmer than it has been and by the afternoon, it was very pleasant in the garden.

I couldn’t take advantage of the morning sunshine as I was on duty in the Welcome to Langholm office in the Market Place, ready and willing to give out advice and information to any passing tourists.   In the absence of floods of visitors (there were four), I was entertained by Dropscone, who dropped in, and kept busy by Archive Group work when he went so the time passed agreeably.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I got home.  I had a look round and was very pleased to see an Aglais Io, better known as a peacock butterfly…

peacock butterfly

…the first of the year in the garden.

As I looked at the butterfly, a sparrow sang out from the rowan tree nearby.

singing sparrow

The trillium was fully out….

trillium

…and was looking very handsome.

The early tulips are beginning to go over but there are still some looking very good….

tulip

…and there is no doubt that a little sunshine goes well with a tulip.

After lunch, we set about trimming the hedge along the road.  We have bought a battery powered hedge trimmer and the new battery technology is very smart so the machine is quite light to use and the battery lasts well and charges quickly.  It made doing the job quite enjoyable.

road hedge

Before

road hedge

After – half an hour later

Unfortunately, there is an old fence in the middle of the hedge and it makes it impossible to trim it with knife edge creases but we like the informal air the wobbly edge gives the hedge….and there is nothing we can do about it anyway.

While I was recovering from the hedge trimming, I wandered about aimlessly, greeting some old friends as I went along.

bright flowers

It was a lovely afternoon

The parrot tulips have come fully out…

parrot tulip

…but I am a bit disappointed with the results which were a bit messy.  Maybe the frosty mornings didn’t do them any favours.  They may develop so I will keep an eye on them.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s dark tulips from Alnwick have survived the frosts and winds well and are looking very striking.

tulips

Mrs Tootlepedal cleared a lot of weed out of the pond and we put the hose on to fill it up a bit but the tadpoles seem quite unaffected by the disturbance.

tadpoles

I was soon feeling perky again after my rest so I got the scarifying machine out and scarified and then mowed the middle lawn.  It didn’t have quite as much moss as I expected and the task was quite easy and soon completed.

The lawn looked very reasonable for this time of year…

middle lawn after scarifying

…but it didn’t take long for the wrecking crew to arrive and mess it up again.

jackdaws on lawn

I went in for another rest and while I was inside, I looked out of the kitchen window at the birds…

siskins

A pair of siskins looking each other in the eye

perching birds, redpoll and greenfinch

Today’s perching birds, redpoll and greenfinch

…and out of an upstairs window at the gardener at work planting poppies and cornflowers.

siskins

The daffodils are gone and we are in the time of tulips

The front lawn looked so inviting that when my flute pupil Luke rang to say that he couldn’t come for his lesson, I went out and scarified and mowed it as well.  This turned out to be much harder work than the middle lawn and it took a big effort to clear all the moss off it.

As a result, I didn’t have long for my tea before it was time to go out to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

We played our way through all or part of six sonatas and felt that we had done very well by the time that we had finished.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch….

chaffinch

…and I don’t suppose that you thought that I could walk past the anemone on such a cheerful day without stopping for a glance.  You were right, I couldn’t.

anemone

Hand painted by mother nature.

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