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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm camera club’

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia’s African adventure.  As well as many wild animals and birds, she found time to take in the countryside as well.

Etosha Pan, Namibia,

We were spared the worst of some inclement weather today with towns to the north of us getting a heavy snowfall.  We did get constant rain and wind so we didn’t escape entirely.

It was very wet and windy at first and it was still raining heavily at lunchtime when there was just enough light to let me look out of the window at the birds.

siskin and green finch

It eased off a bit from time to time, but even when it wasn’t visibly raining, a trip to the back door showed a fine mist of drizzle being blown across the garden at a brisk pace.

The birds didn’t come to the feeder in great numbers, probably because of the wind as much as the rain, but there were still moments when they had to queue.

chaffinches and goldfinches

These two summed up the day quite well, I thought.

siskin and goldfinch wet

And as usual, some chaffinches would prefer to get in an argument than to go to an empty perch.

shouting chaffinh

I did step out into the garden and found a washed out chionodoxa….

chionodoxa in the rian

…and daffodils hanging their heads down….

daffs hanging herads

…but as it felt cold in the drizzle and wind, I soon went back indoors.  Luckily there was an afternoon of rugby on the telly to help me pass the time, and I watched Wales thoroughly outclass a rather dispirited looking Irish team.  It was a game with a single try very near the start and another right at the end and in between there was a lot of bash, bash, bash which was quite tense without being very interesting if that makes sense.

After the game, I made a pot of sausage stew and then, since it was still drizzling outside, I sat down with foreboding in my heart to watch England walk all over Scotland.   This they proceeded to do with some style and they were more than twenty points up in less than  twenty minutes.

I checked the weather.  The rain had stopped and there was a hint of blue sky.  Phew, I could go for a walk and leave them to it.

Under normal circumstances, I would have walked as far as the evening light would have let me and I would have come home well after the game had finished but as my foot is still a bit iffy, I merely walked down to the river to admire the daffodils…

daffodils along esk

… check on the flow rate…

bridge in flood

…and say hello to a couple of pairs of mallards…

pair of mallards on wauchope

…who had managed to find pockets of calmer water.

pair of mallards in calm water

I was laughed at by a bunch of rude starlings in the tree beside the Buccleuch Centre…

starlings buccleuch square

…and pottered home to find that the first half had finished with England leading by 31-7.

At least Scotland had scored a try.

Rather against my better judgement, I sat down to watch the second half and was rewarded by a modest miracle.  Scotland played a lot better, England played a lot worse and it was one of the days when fortune favoured the brave and the bounce of the ball went Scotland’s way.  As a result, with two minutes to go, Scotland were actually leading by 38 points to 31 and in sight of a famous victory, but it couldn’t last and they gave away a crucial penalty with only seconds to go.  England kept their heads and scored a well worked try under the posts.  The subsequent conversion tied the match at 38 all.  So it really  was a match of two 31-7 halves, most remarkable and a privilege to watch.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch who was unmoved by the whole rugby thing.

flying chaffinch

I have two footnotes to today’s post:-

The first was sent to me by my friend Bruce, who for reasons that he can’t explain found this scan of a ceefax page from roughly thirty years ago relating to a local school on his computer.  All I can say is that the lucky head teacher must have had an excellent staff to impress the inspectors.

Canonbie report

The other footnote is a composite shot of the pictures that I have framed for the exhibition in the Canonbie church cafe.  They have all appeared on the blog before and I have tried to pick out ones that might have general appeal and have some impact printed at A4 rather than seen at 800px on a screen.

P1170586

I realise that the top left picture needs re-framing.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s Highland tour.  He stopped to take a picture of the Connel Bridge on the Oban road.  He has had lovely weather for his trip.

connel bridge

Our spell of sunny weather came to end today and it was rather chilly and grey with a brisk wind.  I am still looking after my leg so I was very happy to stay out of the wind and entertain Sandy to a cup of coffee.  While we were sipping and chatting, Nancy, our fellow archivist, arrived with the final sheets for 1898.  Every time we embark on recording a new year of the paper, we feel a surge of satisfaction.

When Sandy left, I watched the birds for a bit.  We are still not getting a great deal of traffic but from time to time, the feeder does get busy.

whirlwind at the feeder

Mostly it was pretty quiet and the chaffinches were able to land at their leisure…

landing chaffinch

…though some still needed a steadying wing.

one armed chaffinch

Trying to catch a coal tit in flight was as tricky as ever.

disappearing coal tit

Rather than face the chilly wind, I put some time in on the bike to nowhere in the garage.  It is a little dull but it does have the benefit of allowing me to moderate the effort I put in and keep things smooth.

Then I made some vegetable soup for lunch and was able to use an onion and potatoes from the store in our garage.  The onions will soon run out but there are a fair number of potatoes still to go.  It is doubly warming to eat a soup with home grown veg in it.

While I was making the soup, I kept an eye out.

The best looking chaffinch of the day was loud and proud….

resplendent chaffinch

…but down a below, a blackbird was skulking around.

creeping blackbird

After lunch, I went for a walk and as my leg seemed to have taken no hurt from the morning pedal, I even ventured on a slightly more hilly route and went round Gaskell’s Walk.

By this time of the year the sun is so low by three o’clock that it may shine on the hills…

sun on the hills november

…but it wasn’t shining on me down in the valley below.

There were things by the way to keep my kind off the chill.  The fence post at the Auld Stane Brig was a positive garden of delights today.

auld stane brig fence post

A fallen log was playing host to moss and fungus

fungus and moss

And the back of a fern revealed a delicate tracery.

back of a fern

When I got to the park, I thought that I ought to show the park wall in all its mossy glory…..

park wall overview

…and not just pick out the detail on the way.

park wall moss and lichenpark wall leaves

When I put the pictures from my walk on the computer in the evening, my favourite was this view of Meikleholm Hill, not just because of the sun on the hillside but because of the smoky effect of the willowherb seed heads in the foreground.

sun on the hills with rosebay willowherb

When I got back, I made a cup of tea for Mrs Tootlepedal, who had been busy at her pantomime dressmaking (there will be plackets) and Mike Tinker who called round.

They arranged to go to a public meeting in the evening regarding our local newspaper which is now owned by a community company.  I would have gone too but it was camera club night.

The next business was playing duets with Luke.  I am rather cross with him as it may well turn out that he will be a better player than me.   Ah well.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked me  delicious fry-up for my tea and I went off to the camera club to learn about taking portraits.

Because of the newspaper meeting, our numbers were a bit down but two members had brought lighting equipment and there was lively discussion about lighting kit and exposure meters and members volunteered to be sitters.  I had a go at shooting them.

Stan

Stan without a flash

Andy

Andy with lighting and a reflector.

There is always plenty of discussion at our meetings and Thomas can be seen here showing Stan some of the many capabilities of the camera on a mobile phone while Corrie looks on.

dav

I took this picture with my new mobile phone which arrived today.   I am very pleased that the camera looks to be quite a bit better than the one on my old phone.

I will try to up my exercise a bit tomorrow, either inside or out as the weather permits.

The flying bird of the day is a ‘just-in-time’ chaffinch.

just flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Andy Little, one of our camera club members.  He very kindly sent me this picture of an unusual bird which he saw when visiting New Lanark.

New lanark perching bird

I had a steadily busy but not frantic day today.  Encouraged by Mrs Tootlepedal, I got up reasonably early and went out for a bike ride after breakfast without even pausing to look round the garden.

The reason for the snappy start was a dire forecast of wind and rain to come later in the day.  Anxious not to be caught out, I pedalled the whole way round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit without stopping at all, most unusual for me.  As a result there are no pictures but I made up for this by looking round the garden when I got home.

The butterflies have slowed down a bit and I was able to take a few close up shots.

butterfly head

It may not be the bee’s knees but it definitely is the butterfly’s proboscis.

butterfly head 2

There was a lot of nectar quaffing going on.

white butterfly on daisy

This shot does include the bee’s knees.

bee on cosmos

The newly sprung up nerines are looking better every day…

nerine flowering

…and the Michaelmas daisies are set to take over the world.

michaelmas daisies

It is berry time and the birds have eaten almost all our rowan berries without letting me catch them in the act.  This is most unfair.

Other berries are available…

snowberry and raspberry

…some more edible than others.

Then I took some postcards and photo cards up to our local newsagent, who sells them and makes a contribution to the Archive Group in return, and pedalled back home for lunch.

I kept an eye on the birds while I was in the kitchen and was pleased to see a coal tit in motion…

flying coal tit

…and at rest.

coal tit on feeder

The seeds are too big for them to eat on the feeder so they flit about in a restless way between the feeder and the plum tree behind.

After lunch, since the forecast rain and wind had not yet made an appearance, Sandy arrived and we drove down to Canonbie for as much of a walk as we could get in before the weather broke.

We parked at the church and walked along the river bank below it….

Canonbie church

…looking out for hints of autumn…

Esk at canonbie

..and noticing the scar in the red sandstone cliff where there has been a rockfall.

In the foreground you can see a fisherman moving along the river to try his luck.

Sandstone cliff at Canonbie

His chances may be affected by the number of other fisherfolk around.

family of goosanders at canonbie

Goosanders like eating fish a lot.

Looking across the river, I could see the hedge that marks the road along which I had pedalled  earlier in the day.  The bank behind is covered with the seed heads of rosebay willowherb.

Old A7 banking

We walked south along the river following a local signposted walk…

Esk below canonbie

…stopping to look at wild flowers on out way….

wild flowers beside esk

…and got as far as this little wood before the rain started to come down seriously enough to make us head back to the car.

riversie walk canonbie

We didn’t get a soaking but we got wet enough to persuade us not to dally taking pictures….except this one….

autumn colour

…and drove home to have a cup of tea.

We were joined by Mike Tinker, who has been enjoying having the company of both of his children and their spouses and all four of his grandchildren in recent days and thus was extremely happy but also in need of a quiet sit down and some refreshment.

In the evening, more rain and some gusty wind arrived in perfect time to welcome Luke for his flute lesson.  It always seems to rain on Monday when he comes.  As he was playing better than me today, I had no complaints.

In the evening, I went off with Sandy to the first Camera Club meeting of the season and with the attendance in double figures (11) and an excellent range of photos  for the members to enjoy, the meeting was very satisfactory.  There were biscuits too.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow getting an unfriendly welcome from a siskin.

flying chaffinch (2)

 

 

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Today’s guest picture, absolutely the last in my locker, is an Irish sheep which wondered what Dropscone was doing in Ireland.

irish sheep

We had a sub zero night but a sunny day and the temperature soon rose above zero although it didn’t make a serious effort to get much higher.

If you were sheltered and out in the sun, it wasn’t too bad a day but if you were exposed to the brisk north easterly wind, it was just as well to be thoroughly wrapped up as the sun was no protection form the bitter chill.

A robin shrugged off the early morning cold…

robin

…while a dunnock tried the ostrich method of keeping warm.

dunnock

As I spent the morning in the Welcome to Langholm office (not welcoming any visitors but doing some useful archiving work), the weather was a matter of indifference to me but I certainly didn’t dilly dally on the way home.

The snow had gone and so had most of the birds at the feeder and we had a very quiet day today with a small gang of greenfinches the most notable visitors over lunch.

greenfinch

I did think of going for a ride on the slow bike after lunch but the thought of pedalling home into the strong and biting wind made me choose to go for a walk with Sandy instead.  The innocent may think that there is little difference between a bike ride and a walk on a cold day but if you pedal at 10mph into a 15mph wind, you are turning it into a 25mph blast and that makes a cold wind even colder.  And for some reason, walking into a wind is not as soul destroying as cycling into one.

Anyway, Sandy and I went for a walk.

I looked at a couple of flowers in the garden as I went out…

winter aconite

crocus

…but it wasn’t warm enough to tempt the frogs to come out and play.

It was a blue sky day and almost all but the faintest of traces of the snow had gone.

view from Scott's knowe

We walked along the track to see how the Becks Wood had fared and found it had disappeared entirely.  Later in the walk we looked back from the other side of the valley and not a conifer had been left standing.

becks woodI was just saying to Sandy as we stood on the edge of the felled area and looked at the scene that it used to be a spot where you could find scarlet elf caps and at that moment, Sandy looked down and saw that one or two had survived the felling.

scarlet elf cap

Somehow this was very heartening.

We left the wood and walked down to the Wauchope road where an array of walls and fence posts played host to some good looking lichen…

lichen

…and some less charming varieties.

lichen

We struck up the lower slopes of Warbla to get the view of the felled wood and took advantage of the good weather to look at some other views as well.

Here is Sandy surveying the countryside…

sandy on warbla

…and here is the countryside that he was surveying.

view from warbla

I liked this arty shot with the view framed between two trees.

view from  warbla

As we took the track down to the Stubholm, we couldn’t help noticing some very active moss on the wall.

moss

I must have passed moss like this before without looking at it twice but now that I am more moss aware, I looked at it a lot.

moss

The sheds at the Stubholm looked cheerful enough in the sunshine and we were pleased to get out of the wind as we dropped back down into the town.

sheds at Stubholm

Mrs Tootlepedal was enjoying herself in the garden and the benefit of some outdoor work in the sunshine on reasonably dry ground stayed with her for the rest of the day.

I helped out with a little shredding of some pruned roses but I had to go in soon as there was preparation to be done for the monthly camera club meeting in the evening and my flute pupil Luke was also due.

He turned up with every evidence of having done some practice so we had a good session.

After he went, the phone rang.  It was my neighbour Liz making sure that I didn’t miss the striking effect of the setting sun on the slopes of Whita.  It was worth a look.

sunset on Whita

After tea, I went off to the Day Centre for the camera club meeting.  We had a better attendance this month and the members had brought in an interesting and varied selection of images for us to look at so that ended the day in a very satisfactory way.

The flying bird is one of the relatively few chaffinches that turned up at the feeders.

chaffinch

Sandy has posted a selection of pictures from our walk here.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who is on holiday.  He and his family visited Mizzen Head.  It is not on my list of places to visit for obvious reasons.

mizzen head Ireland

For the first time for what seems like ages, we had quite a warm day today with the thermometer gently pushing at 10°C and it was genuinely pleasant to step out of the door into the garden.

I had to go up to the Day Centre to collect the key for the camera club meeting in the evening and I took the opportunity to do a little shopping and gossiping in the High Street while I was about it.

By the time that I had strolled home, made a cup of coffee and done the crossword, I didn’t have much time left to look at the birds…

chaffinch

…who were generally….

starling

…looking left today….

siskin

…and take a walk round the garden, which was full of soggy snowdrops (it had rained again in the night)….

wet snowdrops

…interesting moss…

moss

…and more interesting moss….

moss

…some of which looked liked this when viewed in close up.

moss

After fortifying myself with sardine sandwiches, I got my slow bike out and went for another test ride to see how I was.

I managed to go a bit further (20 miles) and a bit faster (11mph) than two days ago so this was encouraging.  I would have more pleased if the last few miles hadn’t been such an effort but I got round and that was the main thing.

I completed my usual Canonbie circuit and was never more pleased to go past my three favourite trees on the way.

three trees Canonbie

I was concentrating quite hard on the actual pedalling (and trying to avoid any potholes) so I didn’t stop for many photos but I always enjoy the silhouette of this monkey puzzle tree near Canonbie….

Monkey puzzle

…and of course, a wall has enough attractions to stop you in your tracks at any time.

This one had gorse on top of it and lots of very emerald green moss clumps on its face.

gorse and moss

I took a close look at the moss. Some of the clumps resembled bracket fungi in the way that they stood out from the wall.

moss

And there were ferns too.

fern

Mrs Tootlepedal was making good use of the warm day by busying herself in the garden when I got back so I had a look round.  Crocuses are beginning to show up well….

crocuses

…and the avenue of snowdrops along the back path is looking good too…

snowdrops in garden

…but the most interesting thing in the garden wasn’t a flower at all.

frog

A real sign of spring.

The frogs may not be too happy though when it gets cold again later in the week.

The evening was quite busy as my flute pupil Luke came and we worked at  a couple of sonatas, very satisfactorily in the slow movements but leaving a bit of room for practice on the allegros.

And then, after tea, it was time for the camera club meeting and thanks to rival meetings, we were a bit short of numbers but the quality of the images supplied by the members more than made up for this.

As usual there was plenty to admire and quite a bit to learn as well so it was a thoroughly worthwhile evening.

It has been a quiet time as far as the dam bridge repairs go but some more shuttering was put in place today…

dam bridge repairs

…and concrete will be laid tomorrow so progress is being made.   We are wondering if the Queen will be available for the official opening.

I had several flying birds of the day to choose from but as they were all chaffinches and all at the same angle, I couldn’t make up my mind and so I have put them all in.

flying chaffinches

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Today’s guest picture is a Maltese bird.  Dropscone spotted it.

Maltese bird

It was a variable day, starting and finishing with steady rain and in between being broken up by some periods of unexpected sunshine and more rain showers.

I felt quite cheery when I got up in spite of the rain and spent some time printing out cards which the newspaper shops sells on behalf of the Archive Group.

The rain stopped so I looked out of the window from time to time.

There was plenty of activity….

busy feeder

…and then the rain started again but didn’t discourage the visitors.

greenfinch and chaffinch

Then it stopped and four siskins glowed gently in some thin sunshine….

siskin

…but a greenfinch looked as though it was expecting the rain to start at any moment.

siskin and greenfinch

In one of the sunny periods, I thought about a little cycle ride but with the weather so changeable, I didn’t want to get stuck out in the country in a shower so I went for a walk round Gaskells instead.

I set out feeling good and enjoying the lichens beside the river at the park….

lichen

…which have obviously liked our weather a lot.  The lichens in general are thriving.

However, as soon as I came to the short and gentle slope up to the Stubholm, I found that I wasn’t nearly as well recovered as I had thought and nearly ground to a halt going up the hill.

This was a real blow and I had to creep round the rest of the walk at a snail’s pace to stop my chest hurting.  I was really glad to have embarked on a low level and short walk and at least I completed it.  It would have been frustrating to have had to turn round and go home.

It was a pity because, for a while at least, it was a very nice day, though still cold and raw.

Stubholm

Meikleholm

I was concentrating on where I was putting my feet quite a lot as I didn’t want to add slipping over to my day but occasionally a bit of lichen intruded on my consciousness.

script lichen

peltigera lichen

And a tuft of moss too.

moss

I reached home in one piece, pleased to have had a bit of fresh air even if the exercise hadn’t amounted to much and was very cheered to find a fine clump of snowdrops in evidence on the bank of the dam behind the house.

snowdrops

Roll on spring.

The walk had showed that more rest was needed so I rested for the rest of the day.  In the evening, my flute pupil Like came and we had a productive lesson and I was able to blow a few notes on my own flute so the rest had done me good.

After tea, I went off to the first camera club meeting of the new year and although the turnout was on the small side, we had some very good pictures to look at and a new member from Canonbie to welcome so it was a worthwhile evening.

We had been asked to do a portrait and since I don’t like to take pictures of other people very much as I feel that I lack the skills to do them justice, I took a picture of an old man who was hanging around in the front room.

_DSC0798

It always comes as a shock to see just how old I am!  I am not like that on the inside.

One of our fellow camera club members showed us a wonderful picture of a flying nuthatch this evening.  He had found a moment of good sunshine for the shot. My flying siskin of the day in the rain is rather gloomy in comparison.

_DSC0775

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who was up in London to watch tennis at the O2 Arena. During a break in play, she ventured across the river on the Emirates cable car.

emirates air line

We could hear the rain pounding down overnight so it was no surprise to wake up to a dull and soggy day.  The heavy rain had eased off but there was a lot of drizzle in the morning.

This didn’t bother me too much as I was sat in the Welcome to Langholm office for two hours not welcoming any visitors at all.  This let me get completely caught up on my entries to the Archive Group’s  newspaper database so I regarded it as time well spent (though a visitor or two to welcome would have been welcome).

There was not much fun to be had in gardening or peering at bird feeders in the gloom so after lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I braved a little light drizzle and went out on an expedition round Gaskell’s Walk.

I drew her attention to some exciting lichen just after we set out…

lichen

…but she was more interested in watching the overnight rain pouring over the caul at Pool Corner.

Pool corner

It must have rained a great deal last night.

I looked at larch trees which are gradually losing their needles but still offering a treat to the passer by.

larches at pool cornerlarches at pool corner

In a satisfactory way, they lose their needles from the bottom up and this seems to make them last longer as a visual delight than if they lost them from the top.

We are never short of moss round here.

moss on hedge and wall

The walk was a bit muddy underfoot when we got to the track but this was not a surprise when we saw how much water was coming down the Becks Burn to join the Wauchope.

Becks Burn

There is a little stream, usually no more than a trickle which runs under a bridge near the end of the track.

Gaskell's Bridge

It is very narrow above the bridge but has a deep and wide gully on the other side as it plunges down a steep bank.  Today we could see how it can have enough water on a wet day to carve such a deep trench.

It wasn’t a day for views at all…

Castle Hill in cloud

…but as it was about ten degrees warmer than yesterday, it wasn’t a bad day for a walk in November.

As we got near home, I saw some Hart’s Tongue fern looking very happy on a wall…

hart's tongue fern

…and a substantial outbreak of lichen on a tree stump which was striking enough to get Mrs Tootlepedal interested.

lichen

I took a picture from the Park Bridge to show the contrast between today and yesterday.

Yesterday was like this:

Wauchope in frost

And today was like this:

P1050521

No one can accuse our weather of being boring.

It was too dark to look at birds when I got home so I went inside to pick some pictures to show at our Camera Club meeting later in the evening but Mrs Tootlepedal braved the drizzle and got some useful gardening done.

It has either been frosty or soggy since she got back from the south so the refurbished tiller is still in its box.

My flute pupil Luke came and gave more evidence of practice so we managed to play through a tricky Quantz movement with only one or two hiccups.  Next week I am sure that we will roll through it triumphantly.

In the evening, I went to our camera club meeting and there was a good turnout of members and once again we got an excellent selection of photographs from the members.  There was much to enjoy in looking at the shots and a lot to learn from the subjects and the techniques used.

In the end, a potentially very gloomy and dull day turned out to have been both useful and enjoyable and I can’t ask for more than that.

On a side note, our friend Mike Tinker turned up for a cup of tea in the afternoon and he was happily much recovered from a serious cold which has laid him low for several days.   Although he is still far from skipping and dancing, it was good to see him out and about at least.

I did manage one suitably gloomy flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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