Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Golf Club’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who visited National Maritime Museum, Greenwich to look at their new Polar gallery.

maritime museum

We kept the cold weather today but it came with a full covering of clouds so there were no glorious views to be had when I went for a morning walk.

I decided to check out a track that has been used for forestry work to see if if it was still walkable.  It turned out to be not too bad at all…

track from whitshiles

…and the woods beside the bottom part of the track hadn’t been felled.  When I came to the felled area….

felled wood at hillhad

…it was far enough away not to provide me with any problems.

I enjoyed a couple of bare trees as I climbed the hill.

bare tree above whitshiels (2)

bare tree above whitshiels

…and three of the pines which the tree fellers have left.  I admire the skill with which they clear an area leaving just a few selected trees still standing.

three pine trees

I was very surprised to see fresh molehills by the road when I got to it as the soil must be pretty thin and the it was hardened by frost as well as you can see from the icy moss nearby.

molehill and frozen moss

The tree felling brings all sorts of different views into play and I liked the wall snaking along the top of the little valley.  It has always been there of course, but with a solid background of uniform conifers, it wasn’t nearly so noticeable.

wall by felled wood

This big bridge for a little conduit has also come out of the gloom.

culvert bridge at donks quarry

The steep banks of the little valley don’t seem to have been a problem for either the original tree planters of the fellers.  I hope that the area will be replanted with deciduous trees in the weeks to come.


felling at hillhead

I left the road and walked across the lower slopes of Whita, passing these trees…

two bare trees

…and several flourishing gorse bushes…

three gorse bushes

…until I got to the golf course where I came upon three hardy golfers driving off the third tee.

january golfers

When I got home, I had time for a quick glance at the chaffinches…

two chaffinches

…who were out in slightly increased numbers today…

three chaffinches

…before it was time to drive off to Lockerbie and catch the train to go to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

In a very upsetting reversal of the natural order of things, not only was the train on time but there were plenty of seats for everyone.  As the fare had gone up 25p this week, perhaps the railway company was taking customer satisfaction into account for once.

We had a very nice time playing with Matilda followed by a meal of pasta with a puttanesca sauce provided by Alistair, Matilda’s dad.

It was a calm evening so we walked back through the streets to the station and caught another punctual train home.

The light was very grey in the morning but there was just enough to catch a flying chaffinch of the day.

flying chaffinch


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Today’s guest picture is from our son Tony and shows that the temperature was lower in Fife than it was here this morning.

frosty wemyss walk

We had been promised a day of freezing fog so it was a pleasant surprise to find no fog and a temperature of two degrees above zero when we got up.   It was still too cold for cycling though as I am resolved not to risk hitting any icy patches this winter so I had a relaxing morning of chatting to Mrs Tootlepedal and making ginger biscuits.

I had a good deal of time to stare out of the window and was happy to see one or two birds making a welcome re-appearance at the feeder.

I caught a great tit in the plum tree…

great tit in plum tree

…a redpoll on the feeder…

redpoll in december

…and a blackbird on the ground below.

blackbird head

There were visits from a robin and a blue tit too but these went unrecorded as they were too quick for me.

The jackdaws were back again…

jackdaw on chimney

…but there was still not a great number of finches.  I met two neighbours this morning, one of whom reported that his garden was short of small birds and the other who had many sparrows but no finches.

It was still only 2°C at lunch time but it was such a nice day that a walk was in order even if cycling was not on the menu so after  a cheese and chutney sandwich, I set off to walk up to the monument.

There were no flowers to be seen except the occasional gorse bush but some bright lichen on a small bush beside the track caught my eye.

lichen on Kirk Wynd

I was resolved to see if I could walk up the hill to the monument without stopping but one or two views compelled me to pause for a second or two.

ewes valley december

This is what lay ahead.

up to the monument

Although the ground looks a bit rough, there is a path all the way to the top and I was soon looking back on the lower hills across the valley…Castle hill

…and it didn’t take me too long to get to the top of the hill and look over the wall across the Tarras valley.  The camera makes it all look rather flat but it would be very hard work to walk across the moor, down across the river and then up to that hill in the distance which is quite a bit higher than Whita.

tinnis hill

Looking out to the west, I could see Criffel, 30 miles away, rising above a sea of mist over the Nith estuary.   We were obviously getting the best of the weather.

Criffel above mist

Looking around I could see a mixture of commercial forest and sheep grazing grounds.  It seems as though we are going to have more forestry and less sheep round here in the future as the grants system makes timber more profitable than meat at the moment.

grazing and woodland

I took a zig zag route back down the hill as the direct route is steep and would have been hard on my knees and as I walked down the track towards the White Yett, the low sun picked out these heather clumps…

heather lumps

…and I cast a long shadow as I went.

big shadow on whita

I didn’t go right down to the road but followed the track that the riders come up at the Common Riding back down towards the golf course.

Below me, I could see that the woodcutters had left the pines standing when they otherwise cleared felled the wood at Hillhead.

pines left at Hillhead

I passed a small tree as i came down the hill.  Trees like this are very scarce where the ground has sheep on it but once the sheep are taken off, trees start to grow quickly.

tree on whita

A little cairn marked my route down the hill…


cairn on Birnie Braes

…and I came safely back to the top of the golf course with my knees intact.

Looking down towards England, I could see the Lake District hills in the distance, looming over the mist covered Solway plain.

mist over solway

We were still mist free and the golf course was very peaceful….

5th green

…as I walked down the side of the course without being disturbed by cries of “fore!” or being hit by a golf ball.

I timed my three and a half mile walk well as I got home just as the sun dipped below the hills and a distinct chill came over the town.

Once inside, a cup of tea and some delicious ginger biscuits refreshed body and spirit and I was fully recovered when Luke arrived for some flute playing.  We played the Loeillet sonata which we have been working on and it went very well, with some good ornamentation and some faster tempi.  Although practice hasn’t made us perfect yet, we are definitely making progress.

The forecast is once again offering us fog tomorrow so I hope that we end up with another sunny day like today.

We are well prepared for Christmas Day and intend to have a quiet but jolly time.  I wish all readers of the blog a Happy Christmas and I hope that they have held Santa’s hand firmly when presents were being considered so that nobody is disappointed.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch enjoying the sunshine.

flying chaffinch


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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony just to show that his life isn’t always glorious sunrises.

Fife stormy weather

We had a dry day today that became increasingly breezy as time passed.  If I had been extremely well prepared and keen, I could have got up at the crack of dawn and done twenty miles in calm conditions before breakfast…but I wasn’t and I didn’t.

What I did do was to have a late breakfast and then enjoy a cup of coffee and some excellent scones with Dropscone when he came to call.  His golf is still causing him some grief but he did tell me that he had noticed the toadstools were out in force among the trees beside the fifth fairway on the golf course.

I couldn’t go up straight away as I had a visit to the health centre to get my three monthly vitamin B12 top up to fit in first.

I had a look at the birds when I got back and was happy to see a calm blue tit on the feeder pole…

blue tit on feeder pole

…and several lively chaffinches coming in for seed.

scary chaffinches

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre cafe and after a light lunch, I headed up to the golf course on a toadstool quest.

On my way there, I saw horses at the bottom of the Kirk Wynd having a snack on the way to their field….

horse on Kirk Wynd

…and a bee having a snack on a dandelion at the top of the slope.

bee on dandelion

I was a bit worried about the toadstools when I passed the green keeper and he told me that they had been mowing the rough but when I got to the trees, there were still plenty to be seen.

They were a little past their best but there was a lot of variety and colour….

golf course fungus panel 1

…and both old and new were to be seen along with other varieties.

golf course fungus panel 2

This was the top toadstool of the day in my opinion.

golf course fungus star

While I was on the course, I took a moment to admire the wonderful new 7th tee, built since my golfing days….

seventh tee

…and the old shelter for benighted golfers on stormy days, still standing after many years but only just.

shelter on golf course

I left the course and headed for the open hill.

I had passed this way last in the middle of the dry spell and the wall at the gate onto the hill had had very little lichen or moss but the recent rains had got things going again…

lichen on moss at top of Kirk wynd

…and both lichen and moss were thriving.

The skies clouded over as I walked along the track to the quarry so I have taken the liberty of ‘zinging up’ the pictures that I took along the way a bit as otherwise the skies looked very dull in the images and the results didn’t reflect the pleasure that I got from the scenery.

My route took me along the hill with views up the Ewes Valley to the north…


view of ewes from whita

…past the town….

view of Langholm from Whita

…over the wall at the quarries…

wall and stile at quarry

…and down into the woods….

oak wood path

…which gave me some welcome shelter from the stiff breeze.

oak wood near round house

I walked down to the river at the Skippers Bridge and stopped for the obligatory picture opportunity.

Skippers bridge Sept 18

It is a tall bridge when viewed from the upstream side as can be seen by the tiny figure crossing it in the shot above.

Peering through arch of the bridge, I thought that the river was looking at its best.

Esk below skippers

(Not zinged up at all)

The recent storms have left a lot of broken trees and branches around and I saw a couple on my walk today.

fallen trees

I walked along the Beechy Plains on my way home and in the rather gloomy woods beside the river, I saw both script lichen and fungus…

Easton's walk

…of various sorts.

fungsu on tree stump

I ended my walk with a visit to our corner shop.  It really is on a corner.

corner shop

Mrs Tootlepedal had brought back a slice or two of a delicious sponge cake from the Buccleuch Centre and I ate them with a cup of tea while I rested for a while after battling the breeze.

Then I started the task of sanding down the garage doors which are going to be painted.  Luckily this didn’t require any great skill and I was able to get on with it while Mrs Tootlepedal did some shopping.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do front-of-house for a ballet screening and on this occasion, I left her to it and spent time messing about with the photo editor instead.

The flying bird of the day is another chaffinch.  There are a lot of them about.

flying chaffimnch sept 18



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

swan at dawn

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

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

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

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

I saw some old friends on my way round…

British soldier lichen and tree

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

ewes view

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

Craig windfarm view

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

ice art

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

Ewes view

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

Whita tree

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

Esk and Ewes panorama

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


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

frozen gate

The gate at the top of the golf course.

frozen puddle

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

third tee golfers

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

View from 1st tee

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

Caroline Street in sunshine

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

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

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

chaffinch and greenfinch Tony

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

busy feeder

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


I settled for the quieter shot….


…and found a robin keeping a weather eye out.


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

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

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

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

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

The flying bird of the day is a reliable chaffinch.

flying chaffinch




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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She caught Mr Grumpy’s London cousin pretending to be a statue.

Mr G's cousin posing, metropolitan style

I think it may be true to say that we have already had more frosty days this winter than we had in the whole of last winter which was exceptionally wet and mild…and our winter hasn’t really started yet.

It was another bright and frosty morning today and the thermometer outside our window never reached 3°C all day with the result that the ground stayed frozen and untreated roads tended to be slippery in places.

Under the circumstances, cycling was out and I was more than happy to welcome Dropscone (and scones) for coffee.  The minister’s scone radar was working well and he dropped in to join us with perfect timing.

It took until after midday for the sun to creep far enough round to shed a little light on the feeder area.

The garden was full of blackbirds.


And robins.


In spite of the cold, there wasn’t a great deal of traffic on the feeders and I didn’t get many chances to see a flying chaffinch…

flying chaffinch

…and when I did, there was always a shadow in the way of a perfect picture.

We keep hoping that we will be visited by waxwings and there is a large flock of them thirty miles away to the west.  They must be going to have eaten all the berries over there soon and should head this way next with luck.  All I saw today was an occasional goldfinch.


After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh and I went out for a walk.

I started out by visiting the river to look for black headed gulls.

Black headed gulls

There is always one contrarian.

Then I decided to walk along the track to the High Mill Brig and consider whether I had the time and energy to cross the Target Burn and walk up the hill when I got there.

The track to the High Mill Brig was very soggy in parts but did have a friendly face on the way…


…some excellent views…

View of Whita

…and a delightfully wooded ending.

Pathhead track

On the way, I passed several tempting meals for waxwings.


I walked down through a field to the High Mill Brig, which was looking very cheerful in the sunshine…

High Mill Brig

…and decided that I did have enough energy and the day enough sunlight left to make the Target Burn walk a good idea.

The track along the bank of the Ewes to the junction with the Target Burn was decorated with puddles full of ice designed by Picasso…

Picasso puddles

… and I soon passed the remains of the targets which give the burn its name.  The targets were used for rifle practice in years gone by.

I crossed the burn and took to the hill.  Any  colours other than brown were conspicuous by their absence…

Target Burn walk

…though if you lifted your head high enough, there was a distant prospect of fields and hills with some green about them still.

Ewes valley

It was another day with hardly a cloud in the sky and it was great to be out and about on the open hillside in such crisp weather.

The Target Burn route follows a wall across the moor….

Wall target burn

…and I can tell you that the last part of the climb is a great deal steeper than it looks in the picture.  I was pleased to reach the easier surface of the road and decided that there was not enough time to complete the walk by going up to the monument on the top of the hill.

I walked back down the road for a while and after a last look up the valley…

Ewes valley

…I left the road, took the path across the hill and walked back to the town down the golf course.

The course was looking in very good condition in spite of the cold weather…

Langholm Golf course

…but I was surprised to see a hardy golfer with a few clubs in his hand heading up the third fairway, trying to squeeze a hole or two in before the sun set.

Down below in the town, someone had lit a fire.

Smoking chimney

When we first came here, forty years ago, the whole town would have been covered by chimney smoke from coal and peat fires on a still day like today.  The building of the pipeline to bring North Sea gas to the town has given us a much cleaner environment these days.

By the time that I had reached home, the sun had sunk behind the hills and it was very chilly and grey in our garden.

I made a cheerful smoked sausage risotto for my tea and was ready for Susan when she came to pick me to go to Carlisle for our usual recorder group meeting.  All five of us were present for the first time for a few weeks and we had a good evening of playing.

It was -2°C as we drove home but Susan took great care and we arrived safely.  I was pleased to find that Mrs Tootlepedal had successfully driven home from Lockerbie too.

I didn’t find a leaf of the day today but one of the black headed gulls left its perch for long enough for me to get a flying bird of the day.

black headed gull flying



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Today’s guest picture is a shy creature, spied on the edge of town by my friend Bruce.


We had another calm, dry day today but it was much too cold for me to think about cycling as it had been below zero over night and was still hovering at about 2° well into the morning.  Under these circumstances, a visit from Dropscone for coffee was very welcome.  (The scones were welcome too.)

He had been involved with telephone conversations with bureaucracy so was in need of strong coffee and a quiet sit down.  Some light hail fell while he was with us but it had fortunately stopped before it was time for him to cycle home across town.

After he left, I had a short time to watch the birds….

blue tit, coal tit and great tit

Members of the tit family were very much in evidence again today

starling, greenfinch and goldfinch

Other birds were available too

…and I had a quick dash out into the garden to see what if anything was left after the night frost.

Not a lot.

special grandma daisy and jasmine

The special grandma seems indestructible

Almost everything else was gone.

The main business of the morning was a visit to church for the funeral of our neighbour Marion, a stalwart of the local operatic society for many, many years.   It is sad but inevitable that as you grow older yourself, going to funerals will become a more frequent occurrence.

With the temperature still at a measly 3° after lunch, I decided that a walk would be the thing to warm me up and set out to climb up past the golf course onto Whita Hill.

The sound of sweetly struck balls made me stop to have a look to see who was using the practice facility.  It was Dropscone, trying to hone his game.

Dropscone at the golf course

I watched him for a while, offering sound advice whether he wanted it or not and then walked up the practice fairway with him when he went collect his balls.

Looking back, I was reminded that if at Langholm Golf Club your game is not at its best, the views from the course always make up for it.

View from Golf Course

As he picked up his balls, I picked up my feet and headed up the Kirk Wynd and onto the hill.

I was surprised to see two flashes of yellow on my way.

gorse and ragwort

Gorse and ragwort untouched by frost.

I decided to walk along the side of the hill above the golf course using  the green track to the quarry….

Quarry track

…which gives very good views back down to the town…

Quarry view

…even though there is always a pylon in the way.

As I came near to the wall at the quarry…

Whita wall

…a good number of birds flew up from the trees there.  It was hard to see them clearly in the gloomy light but I think that they may be fieldfares…


…perhaps drawn by the berries still around.   They might be redwings though.

I climbed over the stile at the wall and walked back down the hill.  Bonfires were in fashion.  One was just below me…


I don’t think that you often see smoke blowing in two directions at once.

…and the other was further down the valley.


Far to the south, I could just see a snow capped peak in the Lake District.

Lake district snow

After a last look at the town…


I dropped down into the woods, and passing the Round House, I took the track back to civilisation.

round house

I had had a report of waxwings at the Co-op store so I walked down to the river through the car park but there were none to be seen this afternoon.  I did see and hear a dipper standing on a rock in the river tweeting away like mad, but it was too gloomy to take a decent picture by this time.

As I crossed the suspension bridge, I noted a sign of the times.

fallen leaves

According to the forecast, today may have been the calm before the storm as there is a good chance of waking up to sleet and snow tomorrow so what with the results of the American election to come as well, there is a lot to look forward to with various degrees of trepidation.

Mrs Tootlepedal had lit the stove in the front room just before I went out so at least I came home to find a very cosy atmosphere.

The flower(s) of the day are a pair of primulas which have come out just to welcome the cold weather.


…and the flying bird is two shots of the same coal tit.  It is so rare to get even a half decent shot of one of these very nippy birds that I have put in both of the ones I got today.  Sorry.

flying coal tit

flying coal tit

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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit to the city of Chester which my brother Andrew made last month.  It shows the choir in Chester Cathedral where he enjoyed a sung evensong.

The choir at Chester cathedral

We had another up and down meteorological day here today.  It started very well with not only bright sunshine when I got up but also a bright moon on the other side of the sky.

moon in daytime

I dithered about a bit, looking at a rather pessimistic weather forecast before deciding that it was so sunny that it couldn’t possibly be going to rain and getting my cycling gear on.  By the time that I had got downstairs, the sun had gone and grey and ominous clouds had drifted over the town.

I went upstairs and changed back out of my cycling gear.

This proved to be a sound move as it wasn’t long before the rain was tumbling down out of the sky.  The sparrows found it fun, though you may not think so from this picture…

soggy sparrow

…but it was fun.

soggy sparrow

Things brightened up though and soon sparrows had their eyes on higher matters.


It was generally too soggy to be splashing about in the garden so I made some bread and some very brown soup for lunch (brown lentils, the remains of some stew etc) and did the crossword.

The brighter weather brought some rare but welcome visitors to the garden.


A goldfinch weighing up the scene

great tit

A great tit considering the options

And one unique visitor.

grey wagtail

I have never seen a grey wagtail in our garden before

Unfortunately, the sparrows didn’t take to the wagtail at all and chased it unceremoniously out of the garden.  This was a pity as they are very attractive birds.

The sparrows seemed quite smug about it all.


After lunch, the sun looked well settled in so once again I got into my cycling gear….

…and this time, I did get out on my bike.  The weather stayed good…

View from the Bloch

…the route was lined with various attractions…

Bloch tree

…the roads dried out as I went round and the wind stayed light so it was a treat to be pedalling along my usual 20 mile route.

The only downsides were the temperature, which remained in single figures so I had to be  well wrapped up, and the need for overshoes for the first time since last winter  because of the many puddles when I started off.

The sparrows had enjoyed the puddles though.

soggy sparrows

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy tidying up the greenhouse while I was out and it looked very neat when I got back. We took a stroll round the garden and enjoyed the colour.

dahlias and virginia creeper

It was such a nice day that I decided not to sit around after my pedal so I rang  up Sandy and suggested a short walk.  He agreed and we went off to follow up a tip from Dropscone.  He had said that if we went up to the golf course we might find a fungus or two.

He was not wrong.

Fly agaric

Except that there were more than two.

Fly agaric

They came in all shapes and colours.

Fly agaric

And sizes.

Fly agaric

They are Amanita muscaria or fly agaric toadstools and our only disappointment was that we didn’t see an elf sitting on or under one.

They flourish under a small stand of conifer trees between the fifth and sixth fairways every year so they must like the conditions there.

We took the opportunity to walk round the course on our way up and back. The views from the course are excellent and offer some consolation when you are playing poor golf.

Esk valley

Seventh green

The two birds that you can see on the seventh green are partridges.  Dropscone tells me rather sadly that the safest place for them, when he is playing like he is at the moment, is in the middle of the green as he will never hit them there.

I could see the poplars on the river bank down below.


It is a pity that the trees in the gap had to be felled because of disease as they made a fine sight when they were all there in line.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off with a friend to the cinema night at the Buccleuch Centre  to watch Bridge of Spies and I settled down to do a little light resting.

There is no flower of the day today but here is novelty from the garden instead.  Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a walnut lying on the ground while we were walking round in the afternoon and when she cracked it open, it was perfect.  It may well be the best walnut of the year, not just because of the quality….


…but mostly because it might well be the only walnut of the year.  We haven’t seen any on the tree (though they can be hard to spot).

The flying bird of the day is that grey wagtail making itself scarce under pressure from the sparrows.

grey wagtail

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