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Posts Tagged ‘ladybird’

Today’s guest picture is a triumph of patient gardening.  Mike and Alison Tinker have been tending a kowhai plant (a New Zealand native) for twelve years and this year it has finally flowered.  Alison took the picture and Mike sent it to me.

kowhai flower

I leapt out of bed, had breakfast, dashed on my cycling gear….and then footered a couple of hours away in drinking coffee, reading the newspapers and doing the crossword.  It was a perfect day for cycling and I can only put my reluctance to get going down to mental feebleness brought on by a combination of various aches and pains and possibly Brexit.  Brexit has been blamed for everything else so it might as well take the blame for my idleness too.

But I did get going in the end and enjoyed myself thoroughly.  The first bit of the ride, with more downhill than up and with the wind mostly behind me, was a treat and I soon found myself in England, in the shelter of the motorway banking, eating a sandwich and a banana after twenty miles and an hour and a half of pedalling.

M6 at gretna

There are still not many wild flowers about but there were dandelions along the the whole route.  At one point I saw a good crop of Danish Scurvy Grass beside the motorway and near Longtown, I met a nettle just about to flower fully.

dandelion, scurvy grass and nettle

In order to keep my foot happy, I stuck to flat roads and tried not to press too heavily on the pedals.  This last was quite easy to achieve with the wind behind me but when I turned east and passed a fine pine tree, it was harder as the wind was not negligible and my speed dropped.

tree near todhills

I won’t complain though because it was genuinely warm by then and pottering along was no hardship.  To avoid going as far as the busy main road into Longtown, I turned on to a track which is part of National Cycle Route 7.  These routes often have artistic trail markers.

bike route sculpture post

This particular track follows an old railway line and takes you across the river Lyne by way of a new bridge on old piers.

railway track on NR 7

It is a very peaceful place and the track is well maintained.

Unfortunately, I can’t ride the old railway all the way back into Langholm as the chance to turn it into a cycle way was lost after the line was closed and many bridges and viaducts have been knocked down.

Back on the roads again, I crossed this small bridge…

bridge near arthuret

…near the fine church at Arthuret.

arthuret church

I took the main road out of Longtown as it has recently been resurfaced and it is always fun to ride on a smooth surface for a change.  Sadly, the new surface has been done using a method that ensures that it will become very bumpy again for cyclists in the not too distant future.  Ah well, I will enjoy it while I can.

Somewhere along the road between Longtown and Canonbie, I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a carpet of bluebells under some trees.

bluebells

This seems to be early for bluebells and is a week before they have appeared on the blog before and a fortnight before the usual time.  Still, they are very welcome as they are sign that spring is really springing.

On a stretch of the old A7 north of Canonbie, there were several butterflies warming their wings on the road and fluttering away as I got near them.  I stopped and one of them obligingly flew back and perched on a dandelion.  As I was getting back on my bike, I noticed a bonus ladybird crawling up a wall.

peacock butterfly and lady bird

My legs were a bit rusty but by stopping regularly for a stretch and a rest, I manged to cajole them into taking me round just under 44 miles.  As this was the furthest I have been since the 22 February, I regard it as very satisfactory distance.  Tomorrow will tell me what my foot thinks about it but I am optimistic.

When I got home, I had a walk round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal who had had a busy day indoors.

The warmth had brought a new tulip out….

new tulip

…caused others to open wide….

three tulips

…and encouraged the trout lilies to lift up their skirts and dance.

trout lilies

A striking dark red pulsatilla had also emerged.  I liked it a lot….

red pulsatilla

…as did a bumble bee.

pulsatilla with bee

We went in for a cup of tea and a biscuit and when Mrs Tootlepdal went back to work, I watched the birds for a while.

Redpolls returned to the feeder…

redpoll in sun

…and one took a very dim view of the  loutish behaviour of a chaffinch.

chaffinch about to stamp

Strangely, I felt a bit tired so the rest of the day faded away into quietness, interrupted by giving Mrs Tootlepedal a little help with her project and then eating a tasty meal cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Footnote: The curious might want to know what Mrs Tootlepedal was so busy at during the day.

She has finally finished turning this…

old rocking horse

…into this.

new rocking horse

We are thinking of entering it in the Derby.

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony’s partner Marianne.  She shared her enjoyment of a view over the river Tay at Perth with some jackdaws.

birds on Tay

I realised when I came to put this post together that I had included far too many pictures in it by accident so I apologise in advance and recommend that busy people give today’s effort a miss.

I spent the morning down at the community cafe at Canonbie Church with fellow camera club members Stan and Sandy helping to put up our camera club exhibition there.  It takes longer than you might think to hang thirty photographs so that they look inviting and well balanced even with the expert help of Archie and Beverley from the cafe.  The finished set up looked good and it is ironic that I should have forgotten to take a picture to show the exhibition in place.  I hope to cycle down to Canonbie soon and take a picture when I am there.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal sitting on a garden bench looking intently at one of the flower borders.  She was watching our local pair of partridges and they kindly waited long enough for me to get out a camera before they marched off over the lawn, down the drive and away.

the partridge

While I had the camera in my hand, I noted some daisies…

daisy

…the first open tulip of the year…

open tulip

…and the unnamed little white flower which Mike Tinker told us last night is a cardamine, so it is no longer unnamed.

cardamine

The feeder was empty so I filled it up and in no time at all, the birds were back in business.

busy feeder

Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy while I was down in Canonbie and had discovered that the brick foundation which she had excavated yesterday ran the whole length of the bed that we were cultivating.

It would be too hard to remove it so the trench will be filled in and potatoes planted and then next year, it may all go down to grass.

trench in potato bed

Speaking of grass, I pushed my light mower over the drying green but grass was in very short supply and most of the area is covered in spongy moss with the occasional blade of grass sticking through.

moss on drying green

After lunch, I suggested a walk and Mrs Tootlepedal thought that that would be a good idea.  There was a light drizzle in the garden so we decided to go down to Canonibie in the hope that it might be drier down there.  It had been sunny there while we were putting up the exhibition in the morning.

It was rather grey when we got there but we parted the car at the bottom of the Byreburn wood and went for a walk anyway.  Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a fine display of wood anemones not many yards away from the car so that was a good start.

wood anemone

Our walk took us through the oldest part of the wood where there are many fine old conifers, including one of the earliest Douglas firs to come to Britain.

big trees byreburn

Although there are not many larches in this part of the wood, this one stood out with its fresh green growth.

latch buds

As we went along, the wood got younger…

byreburn wood trail

…and we finally emerged into an area that has been felled.  Here the path took a turn up a steep but short climb….

path through uphill byreburn wood

…which gave us a look back over the sawmill below.

canonbie sawmill

Luckily, the path makers had thoughtfully provided a place of rest for the elderly walker at the top of the hill.

bench in byreburn wood

We now walked along the edge of the wood beside green fields as we headed up the Byreburn valley…

Windy Hill

…passing this interesting tree on the way.conifer at Windy Hill

We got to the spot where a great railway viaduct spanned the valley in days gone by…

Untitled-1

Photo from the Langholm Archive collection

…but it was demolished in 1986 and there is no sign of it all now.

view of burebrun from old viaduct spot

We continued on until we came to the road and then walked down to the Byreburn itself.  The willows have been outstanding this year and we thought that this showed how well they are doing.

fat willow

We crossed the Byreburn by the road bridge and walked down the track on the far side of the stream, stopping at the Fairy Loup to record a clump of ladybirds on a fence post…

clump of ladybirds

…and noting the very gentle trickle of water over the waterfall after a good few days without any rain.

fairy loup trickle

This was a coal mining area once and an old engine house can still be seen.  It pumped water out of the workings beside the burn.

old pumping house

We were out of the woods now and walked back along the old A7 towards our car.

Just past the engine house was a patch of grass which was full of lichen.  It makes a change from moss.

lichen at byrebrunfoot

We were on the flat beside the river Esk and the farmer had been out rolling his pasture which gave the fields a very well tended air.

 

 

fields at Canonbie

Then there were just a few celandines…

celandine beside old A7

…a patch of blackthorn hedge…

balckthorn at Byreburn wood

…and a horse chestnut bud to record….

chestnut bud

…before we got into the car and drove home, having enjoyed a walk, some of which Mrs Tootlepedal thought was entirely new to her.  It certainly had a great variety of surroundings and interest for its modest two and a half mile distance.

Not surprisingly, we were quite happy to sit down and have a quiet cup of tea and a rest when we got home.  It had been a strenuous day for Mrs Tootlepedal in particular with a lot of digging and delving in the morning.

The flying bird of the day is a female chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s African trip.  She met a number of alarming animals as she went along.

Nile crocodile

My day started with a visit to the doctor to inquire about the possibility of a miracle cure and consult about the blood test results following my mild anaemia.  The blood results could not have been better as all my levels were just about as good as they could be.  The doctor declared that I was in perfect health and I was almost embarrassed to mention my foot trouble and show her my swollen foot.

Her diagnosis was osteoarthritis due to wear and tear and the miracle cure was thus not available.  She has sent me off for an x-ray though in case I have got some other damage in my foot.  As that will probably take two weeks to happen, I shall continue to hobble around muttering balefully meanwhile.

It was a lovely day though so that cheered me up when I got back into the garden, especially when I found out that Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy putting a neat edge on the middle lawn.

edged lawn

Nothing makes a lawn look better than a neat edge.

I did the edges of the front lawn and then took a look round.  In the pond, the tadpoles are still in a heap but they are looking quite healthy and should start swimming around soon.

tadpoles

It was such a perfect day that I thought that I might test out the idea that had been put into my head by Stan at our last camera club meeting and try what a mirror could do.

The dog tooth violet seemed like a good subject as it hangs its head down so I stuck the mirror underneath it and had a go with my little Lumix.

violet with mirror

The result was very satisfactory in that I got a shot which I don’t think that I could have got by any other method without picking the flower.

violet in mirror (2)

I got my Nikon out, put the macro lens on and tried a few other flowers with the mirror technique.

A hellebore…

hellebore in mirror

…a scylla…

scylla in mirror

…and back to the violet again.

violet in mirror

I am grateful to Stan as it is obviously a really promising idea….though if I am seen walking through the woods with a shaving mirror in my hand, I may get some odd looks.

While I had the macro lens on, I peered at the euphorbia…

euphorbia in sunshine

…the doronicum…

doronicum

…and the nameless little white flowers.

two little white flowers

I noticed the very first dicentra of the year…

first dicentra

…and Mrs Tootlepedal noticed that there were several ladybirds about too.

ladybird in garden

Mrs Tootlepedal went in to cook some sticky toffee pudding and I stayed out in the garden and was very pleased to get a visit from a man from the power company who had come to inspect our wobbly electricity pole,  He gave the bottom of the pole some savage whacks with a hammer and decided that the telephone men had been wise not to climb up it.  It has to go and after some consideration of the possibility of digging trenches through three gardens (as the pole serves three houses), he decided that putting up a new pole would be the way to go.  To avoid wrecking Mrs Tootlepedal’s garden, the hole for the pole will be hand dug.  This will make for interesting work for the apprentices whose job it will be to dig the hole.

In the end, as we were going to Edinburgh as usual to visit Matilda, I had to leave the garden reluctantly and make a little lunch.  I watched the birds as the soup heated.

In spite of a free perch on the other side of the feeder, a lady chaffinch thought that it was quite all right to trample on an innocent goldfinch.

chaffinch stamping goldfinch

To try to tempt some different birds to come to the feeders, I have put out some peanuts.  Mrs Tootlepedal saw a blue tit visit but the only bird I saw nibbling on the nuts was this siskin.

siskin on peanuts

On the whole, the sunflower hearts seem much more attractive than the peanuts and the birds were jumping at the chance to get a seed.

siskin landing

The trip to Edinburgh was delightful, with the train on time and the countryside looking at its best in the sun.

When we got there, Matilda was away from home practising a dance routine for a forthcoming competition so I had a moment to take a very short stroll through the nearby Botanic gardens.

It was a good place to be.

sdrsdrdigdav

Matilda returned and we had time for a chat before a meal of asparagus and lemon linguine cooked by Al and Mrs Tootlepedal’s sticky toffee pudding.  Al and Clare are in the middle of moving to their new house and we hope to be able to see it with the furniture and floors in soon.

The journey home went well so apart from still having a sore foot, it was a very satisfactory day.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Tony.  He has been looking up lately and as well as holes in clouds, he has seen the moon.

tony's moon

We had another fine sunny day here today and because the wind had dropped, it felt really warm and we were able to discard several layers of winter clothing.

We started the day with a visit to church to sing with the choir.  Because our local amateur operatic society was having a full day of rehearsals for their forthcoming show, we were a bit short of numbers but we gave it our best anyway.

When we got back to the house, we had a stroll round the garden.  I checked on the frogs and saw an odd sight…

two frog heads

…with two frogs looking as though they had been shot and mounted on a wooden board.  A second look showed me that they were in fact floating on top of a reflection of the bridge above them and if you look carefully, you can see the rest of their bodies under the water.

The rest of the pond was full of frogs.

frog panel

The garden is full of crocuses…

crocuses beside opath

…and other interesting things like a naturally dried sunflower head, a ladybird and the developing euphorbia.

sunflower, ladybird and euphorbia

I was just going about photographing things when I was hailed by neighbour Irving who was leaning over the garden fence.  He has been very poorly recently with a bad back and was keen to share some experiences with me as I have suffered from a bad back too in my time.

Irving on fence

He felt that after being ill, he was probably not at his best photographically and told me not to put his picture in the blog.  You can see that he is perhaps looking a little part worn still so I won’t use his picture.

During the day when she was between choirs, Mrs Tootlepedal completed the varnishing of the rocking horse.

rocking horse eyes

The dappling of a rocking horse is a very stylised business and she has settled for a fairly restrained version which I think is just the thing.

rocking horse varnished

We are waiting now for the arrival of the saddle, bridle, main and tail from the rocking horse shop and then the final stage of the work can begin.

We had a busy day at the feeder today with a good number of siskins flying in and out…

three flying siskins

…alongside the usual chaffinches and goldfinches…

three flying birds

…and a visiting starling showed off its iridescent colours.

starling on feeder

I had time for a short three bridges walk and spotted quite a few oyster catchers beside the river..

oyster catcher in sun

The sense of a spring day was heightened by the sight of the first blossoms on the trees which line the Esk between the suspension and the town bridges.

cherry blossom

At the Kilngreen, the crocuses are starting to come out along the banking and although they are not quite as showy as the Edinburgh display which I saw on Thursday…

kilngreen crocus bank

…they are not to be sniffed at.

kilngreen crocuses

I haven’t seen Mr Grumpy for some time, so it was good to see him back on guard beside the Ewes Water.

heron

I walked over the Sawmill Brig and walked up almost as far as the Lodge…

Lodge in Feb

…before crossing the Castleholm and taking the riverside path back towards the Jubilee bridge.  I was wondering if the spell of good weather might have tempted some hazel flowers to come out.

It had.

The catkins were open and if you look carefully, you can just see a little red female flower at the top of the picture.

hazel catkin and flower

This tree had several flowers out…

haxel flowers

…but I didn’t see any more as I walked along the path.  They have arrived early this year.  It has sometimes been almost a month later before I have seen them.

castelholm sunny feb

I called in on our friends Mike and Alison on our way home as Mike has been poorly with a chest infection.  I had seen him briefly on our way to church when he was on his way to buy a newspaper and looking far from well but he was much more cheerful by lunchtime and reported that he is on the mend.

When  I got home, I found the pond full to bursting with frogs.

many frogs in pond

I had time for a quick lunch and while I was  eating my soup, Mrs Tootlepedal noticed that a redpoll had arrived.  I put down my soup spoon and picked  up a camera and recorded this welcome arrival.

february redpoll

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle for a very hard working final practice before the Carlisle Community Choir goes to Manchester next week to compete in the Manchester Amateur Choir Competition.

Mrs Tootlepedal is not taking part this year so I will be going down by myself, except of course for the other eighty choir members who will be coming too.

I am hoping for good weather so I can wander about during the day taking pictures.

I had made a venison stew in the slow cooker in the morning and in spite of saying recently that we had used all the veg from our garden, I was happy to find that we still have some home grown turnips in store in our garage so one of them went in.  Thanks to the good summer, things have lasted well in storage this season.

The flying bird of the day was a lucky shot taken at the Kilngreen as I clicked my camera at random as a duck flew by down the river.  I must have moved it inadvertently at almost duck flying speed.

flyng duck

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s holiday on Arran.  He saw not only good views but some mighty fine rose hips.

arran rosehips

A brief report today as we have had another long day in Edinburgh.  This time we were visiting Matilda and her parents and we caught an early train and walked up Cockburn Street from the station…

cockburn street

…where we found a quiet pub and had lunch.

It was my intention to go up to the High Street after lunch and observe some of the fun and games there in connection with Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  The city fathers close the High Street to traffic and all sort of street performances take place.

Unfortunately, several thousand other people had had the same idea and it was so crowded that we soon gave up and walked quietly down the high Street into the Canongate.

We couldn’t help noticing that unique taste of Scotland that the visitors come to Edinburgh to enjoy as we went along.

high street cafes

We peeped into the White Horse Close which does give a taste of Old Edinburgh.

White horse close

When we got to the Scottish Parliament at the foot of the Royal Mile, I glanced up at Arthur’s Seat…

arthurs seat

…and thought that it looked a bit like our bird feeder on a busy day.  I just hoped that there wasn’t any siskin-like pushing and shoving on the top as it is very steep.

We passed the old Calton Graveyard…

Old calton graveyard

…and soon found ourselves at Matilda’s.

We briefly met her other grandparents before they went off to a show and then while her parents talked house buying business with an adviser, we took Matilda on the bus to Portobello beach…

portobello beach

…Edinburgh’s riviera.

Matilda was very excited to see a swan swimming in the sea…

swan at portobello

…and as always, I enjoyed the characteristic shape of North Berwick Law further down the coast.

north berwick law

We could look across the Forth to the Fife shore and imagine that we could see our older son’s house there.  We stood there last week and looked back to where we were now.

fife

It wasn’t particularly warm but people were having fun in a subdued sort of way…

portobello beach 2

…and I rolled up my trouser legs and ventured into the water for a paddle with Matilda.  I could swear that it was colder in the sea today than when we were paddling at North Berwick in May but that must just have been my imagination.

Some gulls looked on…

gull family portobello

…and a brave paddle boarder kept his feet well out of the water as he passed along the beach.

paddle boarder

Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda put a lot of effort into building a sand car and Matilda jumped in and announced that she was going to drive to America to see Mr Trump.

Ally and Matilda at portobello

We stopped her just in time.

Mrs Tootlepedal saw a lady bird on a piece of wood and Matilda was very happy when it crawled onto her arm and wandered about.

ladybird portobello

The sun stayed behind some clouds so we adjourned to a beach side cafe and had cakes and ice cream and then caught the bus home.

Once there we offered a helping hand to Matilda’s parents.  Mrs Tootlepedal did some indoor tidying as they are preparing to sell their house and it needs to be got ready for viewing and I did some lawn care with the same thought in mind.

Then we had pizza for tea and caught the train home.

There was no time for a flying bird of flower of the day today.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia who is back in England and went to visit an enormous limestone quarry with a geological interest group.   Her picture shows the Torr Works (after a Mr. Torr, nothing to do with Glastonbury) in the east Mendips. It is a Carboniferous limestone quarry.

Torr WorksWe finally got a summer day today, complete with fluffy clouds, light winds and some genuine (but not excessive) warmth.  After long discussion with my knees, I decided that a day of light exercise not on a bicycle was the best idea and I started it by sawing some logs.

Dropscone has  recently taken advantage of the arrival of his oldest son for a family gathering to  get him to cut down a small sycamore tree that was getting too big for his garden.  Somehow, the tree, only partially sliced up, had arrived in our garden and I am going to turn it into logs for our new stove.  The major length of trunk was about six foot long and nine inches in diameter and although this is nothing to a man with a chain saw, it was quite a task for me with a rather blunt bow saw so I took it in stages throughout the day.  (The sawing of a log doesn’t take too long but the sitting down and recovering is a lengthy business.)

My first break was for a walk round the garden.

polemonium and veronica

Polemonium and Veronica, young and fresh.

tulip and azalea

A very tired tulip and an azalea coming out three weeks late with the flowers clashing with the leaves.

Neither of these lovely flowers come high Mrs Tootlepedal's approval list.

Neither of these lovely flowers come very high on Mrs Tootlepedal’s approval list.

My next break was for coffee and scones with Dropscone and Sandy.  Dropscone had been round his favourite morning cycle ride but had been much hampered by the council’s current enthusiasm for covering the back roads with gravel.

After coffee, I went with Sandy for one of our favourite walks along the banks of the river from Hagg on Esk to Irvine House and back.  We use a fisherman’s path which has some useful aids along the way.

Fisherman's pathWe were able to watch dippers, wagtails, sandpipers, mallards, oyster catchers and goosanders as we walked along but they were in flighty mood…

goosander

This goosander’s disappearance was typical

…or perched too far away for a good shot.

sandpiper

Sandpiper

There were plenty of other things though to keep the eye entertained as we walked along.  There were too many wild flowers to record even a fraction of them.  I don’t know what this one is, but there were a lot of them along the way, growing to three or four foot in height.

unknown pink wild flower

unknown blue and yellow

I should know what the blue one is but I don’t recognise the yellow ones at all

bracken

We saw the first bracken of the season getting ready to unfurl.

There were arty grass opportunities…

grass…and tiny insect shots….

insect with wild flower…as well as butterflies….

butterflies…ladybirds…

ladybirds

The reverse dotted one on the left landed on my sleeve.

…and fishermen.

fishermanThere were two  fisherman and they looked like a pair of men who enjoyed standing in running water without having to be too pestered by fish.

We sat on a bench beside the river and Sandy remarked that it seemed like an idyllic spot.

Esk near Irvine HouseI couldn’t disagree with that.

After a last look down the river…

Esk…we went back to the car and on the way home, we passed Mrs Tootlepedal going in the opposite direction, off to help with pony driving for the disabled.

In  her absence, I had a light lunch and sawed the rest of the main trunk into logs.  I interspersed the sawing with some light mowing and compost turning.  It was so warm that I had to take my jumper off.  In fact, it was such a nice day that every time that I went into the house for a little sit down, I was forced to come back outside almost immediately just to enjoy the warmth again.

Both Mrs Tootlepedal and the starling family…

starlings…made a welcome return.

In the evening, I met up with Sandy again and we went to the Archive Centre as usual on a Thursday and while he got to grips with setting up a refurbished computer, I put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the database.

It was such a relief to get a decent day today that I nearly didn’t look at the forecast in case it depressed me.  Unfortunately, I did look at it and it did depress me.   After another reasonable day, we are back to low temperatures and very strong winds at the weekend,.  Ah well, summer was good while it lasted.

On our river bank walk, we went very close to a dipper’s nest in a hole in a small cliff next to the path and as we passed going up river, a dipper shot out of the nest just above my head, giving me quite a shock.  As we came back down river, it did the same to Sandy.  The flying bird of the day is a snatched glimpse of this shocking bird on its way to the nest site.

flying dipper

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