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Posts Tagged ‘Langholm Moor’

Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  It shows some early peach blossom.

annie's peach blossom

We were promised wall to wall sunshine today by the forecasters with some confidence so it was disappointing to get up to a cloudy day with the standard chilly wind.  Still, it didn’t rain and I was able not only to have a walk round the garden, after coffee with our Archive Group treasurer Nancy, where I could enjoy the first tulip bulb of spring…

first tulip bud

…but I was also able to get the mower out, and while Mrs Tootlepedal slaved over a hot computer again, I gently pressed the moss on the middle lawn.

first pressing of moss

Grass had been growing through the moss though and I took quite a lot off.  This should encourage more grass growth, I hope.  The light green patch at the far end of the ‘lawn’ is solid moss.

As well as the mowing, I did some more compost sieving and when Mrs Tootlepedal came out and attacked a buddleia….

buddleia compst

…we shredded the cuttings and I put my share into compost Bin A and Mrs Tootlepedal used her share as mulch for one of her hedges.

I noted that we are at the start of the days of the daffodils now.

daffodil panel

After lunch, we drove up on to the Langholm Moor.

Mrs Tootlepedal hoped to see a hen harrier and we did see one.  It was hovering over the hill rather too far away for even my long lens to get a good shot of it.

hen harrier march

I hoped to see goats and we saw lots.  In fact we had to be careful not to run them over as they were right beside the road.

A little kid had a drink…

goat kid having milk

…and a bigger kid gave me a look…

large kid goat

…and an older goat with a stunning kiss curl gave me a profile.

goat close up

Some of the wild goats looked wilder than others.

bedraggled goat

Although these are genuinely feral goats, they are neither aggressive or afraid and they munched away quite happily as I took my pictures.

We left the goats and motored on across the Tarras Water and up to the county boundary.

Looking back I could see the monument….

 

monument from county boundary

…and looking down to the Solway, shining in the distance, I could see the past and present of power generation.  On the near shore, I could see the now defunct Chapelcross Nuclear Power Station which I passed on my bike a couple of days ago, and very faintly behind the chimneys in the middle of the firth, I could just make out the rows of turbines of the Robin Rigg wind farm, currently making power in the brisk wind.

Chapelcross and Solway array from moor

We didn’t stop at 1000ft for long as the wind was chilly and we soon headed back down to the shelter of the Tarras valley, where we parked the car and went for a walk.

I checked out the wall behind the car park and found that it was rich with lichen.

tarras car park lichen

We had been along this road not long ago in a howling gale so it was a big improvement to walk along it today, well sheltered from the breeze.

There was less water running down the Tarras and this suited the little cascades down which the river proceeds in leaps and bounds.

tarras cascade hdrtarras cascade light flow

We strolled along, serenaded at times by flocks of meadow pipits, for about a mile and a half until,we came to this point, where after a look further up the valley…

view towards cooms

…we turned for home.  We had the breeze behind us now, and as the sun came out, it felt positively spring-like as we went back down the valley to the car, passing little gullies…

tarras gulch

…and tenacious trees.

tarras tree

When we got back to the car park, I went forward to take a picture of the road bridge that we would cross to get home…

tarras bridge

…and as I looked at the bridge, I could see that the goats were still on the road beyond it.

Once again, they were happy to hang about for a photo opportunity….

twogoat pairs on road

…which I took.

goat looking up

Although it was only a short drive and a short walk, it had been a very satisfactory outing and we were well satisfied as we sat down for a cup of tea when we got home.

Mrs Tootlepedal prepared a chicken cacciatore for our tea and while it was cooking, Evie and her mother Annie gave us a video call.  If the world had been better organised, we would have been going to London by train today to visit them, so this was a welcome substitute for a real meeting.

The chicken turned out very well and we felt that with a good gardening morning and a successful outing in the afternoon,  we hadn’t done too badly at all in spite of not going to London.

There were very few garden birds about and I was lucky to find this chaffinch willing to be the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from former Archive Group member Ken, who is now over in the north east.  He sent me this picture of a very special K4 kiosk, one of only 50 introduced in 1927.  They combined a telephone kiosk with a coin operated stamp vending machine and a post box.  This one is still in use in Whitley Bay, although the stamp machine no longer works.

K4 Kiosk

After the recent Christmas excitements, I had a quiet morning at home with nothing more testing than a crossword and a visit to our corner shop to help pass the time.

I did have a look at the birds who were out in force today.

We had siskins and goldfinches…

siskin and goldfinch incoming

…and lots of chaffinches…

chaffinches incoming

…and sometimes siskins, goldfinches and chaffinches at the same time.

busy feeder

A chaffinch landed with a single claw on the perch…

one footed chaffinch landing

…but once it was in situ, it was determined not to be shifted.

goldfinch and chaffinch determined

Unlike the chaffinch, Mrs Tootlepedal was set on being shifted and so, after an early lunch, we went out for a walk.

Encouraged by her five mile, relatively flat walk yesterday, she had bigger ambitions today.  I followed in her wake as we walked along the main road for a mile before turning up the Copshaw road to walk up to the White Yett.

We stopped to admire the beautifully trimmed beech hedges at Hillhead…

beech hedges Hillhead

…and I noted that the monument, which was on Mrs Tootlepedal’s planned route, looked quite far away and quite high up.

I stopped again to record an unusual grey sheep in a field with more standard models.  I have no clue as to what make it is.

grey and white sheep

As we got higher up the hill, I looked over a wall at a view up the valley, but it was a dull day so the wall was more interesting than the view.  I have no idea what the little brown globe on the lichen is.  I haven’t seen anything like it before.

lichen with brown ball

Another wall caught my eye.  It had a purpose built hole in it.

hole on the wall

Mrs Tootlepedal likes this bench near the parking place at the White Yett.  It reminds her of one like it in her childhood.

seat on White Yett road

We didn’t stop to sit on it though, but pressed on when we got to the MacDiarmid memorial and headed up the track to the Monument.

memorial and monument

It was warm for the time of year, and the hint of sunshine was encouraging as we climbed up to the monument on the summit of Whita at 355m (1164ft), passing some good looking lichen on the way…

kichen in stone whita

…and being passed by an enthusiastic mountain biker…

mountain cyclist whita

…who soon disappeared over the horizon.

cyclist at monument

It is very difficult to get a view to the west at this time of year because the low sun is in the way, but it did make the Solway Firth gleam as it came into sight.

solway gleaming from whita

Following Mrs Tootlepedal’s plan, we walked on past the monument at the top of the hill and came to the edge of the world.

Or at least we came to the end of the last Scottish hill and looked out over the expanse of the Solway plain stretched out below us.  It was misty in England.

solway plain from edge of whita

We kept going and walked down the ridge towards the Moorland Project bird hide.  This involved some hard walking through heather, over moss…

sphagnum moss

…and tussocky grass…

rough moorland whita

…following faint tracks across the moor until we finally got to the road just above Broomholmshiels.

Both of us fell into bogs on the way but we were very brave and soldiered on.

It was a relief to have solid ground under foot again.  We had a choice of road or a somewhat soggy track to take us back to Langholm and unsurprisingly, we chose the road.  After walking down the hill to the banks of the Esk, we took the direct route home and arrived in perfect time for a cup of tea after three and half hours of fairly strenuous walking.

A check on the map when we got back showed that Mrs Tootlepedal had taken me on a seven mile walk.  I was very grateful to her as this was the longest walk that I had managed all year.

Not unnaturally though, we were fairly tired after that so not much else of note happened before the end of the day.  To be be honest, nothing else happened before the end of the day.

We look as though we might be in for a spell of dry weather so I hope to add a little pedalling to the walking before the end of the year.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.  It was not the cleanest picture that I took today but I like the tiny siskins a lot, so it got the honour.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest post is another from one of fellow cyclist Paul’s visits to the Lake District.  It shows Derwent Water looking at its best.

derwent water

We had a day of sunshine day here, a welcome break in a succession of grey, wet and windy days which is due to resume tomorrow in spades.

We made the best of it.

I did some shopping and paid a modest but welcome income tax refund into the bank before coming home for coffee.

I stopped on the suspension bridge as I cycled over it, looked up river and thought that Langholm is not a bad place to live.

River Esk December

After coffee, I had time to look at a blackbird….

blackbird on hedge

…and enjoy the plumage on a dunnock, looking a bit brighter than usual in the sunshine…

dunnock's back

…before driving up to the White Yett with Mrs Tootlepedal to have a walk in the sun.

I stopped on the way up and upset some sheep on a knoll who did not know which way to look when they saw me taking their picture.

sheep on knoll

Looking back down the hill, I could see that when the spruces were felled in the plantation beside the road, a group of pines were left standing tall.  They glowed.

pines on Copshaw road

I was tempted by the beautiful day into taking another panorama.  A click on the picture will give you the wider view.

whita panorama

We parked at the MacDiarmid memorial and walked up the track towards the monument.  We didn’t visit the monument today though, as after a few hundred yards, we turned off to our left and followed the track round the contour of the hill to the Castle Craigs.

The track is used by the cornet and his mounted followers on Common Riding Day and is marked by a couple of cairns along the way.  This is the first of them….

first cairn on castle craigs track

…and this is the second.

second cairn on castle craigs track

The picture above shows one of the downsides of taking photos in low winter sun, the tendency of the photographer to intrude into the picture!

Looking back to the hill on the other side of the road, I liked the sinuous curve of the wall and the clear contrast between the land that is grazed on the left and the land that was used for grouse shooting for many years on the right.  It shows that whatever we are looking at and however beautiful it may be, it is not a natural scene but one that is heavily influenced by the hand of man.

whita wall

(That intrusive photographer just crept into the scene again.)

As well as the views, there was plenty of interest along the track with moss, lichen and quartz intrusions into the sandstone rock just three of the things that caught my eye.

moss, lichen and rock Castle craigs

We puddled along a rather soggy track until we came to the cairn at the Castle Craigs itself.

castle craig cairn from bleow
it is a solidly built piece of stonework designed to hold the town’s standard during the ceremonies on Common Riding Day.  There is a handy bench near it where Mrs Tootlepedal sat for a moment…

castle craig cairn

…taking in the view across the Tarras Valley.

view from castle craigs

We were well wrapped up, as in spite of the sunshine, it was not warm in the wind.

We stayed for a while, and then walked back to the car, enjoying the vista of rolling hills at the top of the Ewes Valley….

rolling hills ewes

…and the intentionally rusted Corten steel on the MacDiarmid memorial.  It made a very harmonious picture today.

macdiarmid memorial rust

Looking at the memorial from the other side brought out the intention of the artist, Jake Harvey, that it should be read like a book of the poet’s life and works.

macdiarmid memorial open book

We rolled back down the hill to the town, using gravity to charge the battery of the Zoe as we went.  After the recent dull weather, both Mrs Tootlepedal and I felt spiritually and physically refreshed by our outing.

After lunch, I got well wrapped up and went out again, this time on my bicycle.

I stopped half way up Callister to record a favourite gate….

gate with buzzard

…and was annoyed to find that that persistent photographer had crept into the frame yet again.  I was also vexed when I had put my camera back in my pocket to find a buzzard flying lazily over my head.  It had gone of course before I could get my camera out again.  When I looked at the photograph on my computer later on, I could see the buzzard perched in plain sight on the top of the second tree from the extreme right of the picture!

When I got to my turning point at the far end of Callister, it was evident that it wasn’t an entirely cloudless day…

cloud in the sky

…but I wasn’t complaining.

I took a little diversion to Cleuchfoot on my way home and this gave me the opportunity to add to my winter tree collection.

cleuchfoot trees

I managed to fit in twenty miles by going through the town and out of the other side for a mile or two and got home before the light had begun to fade.  The thermometer was showing 3.8°C when I arrived back so I was happy to sit down in the warm kitchen and have a cup of tea and a slice of toast with Mrs Tootlepedal.

We were joined by Mike Tinker for a while and when he left, I had time for a shower before my flute pupil Luke arrived.

We are making good progress at the moment and we played a sonata by Godfrey Finger (accompanied by the computer on keyboard).  The computer sets an unyielding tempo which we have to stick to in a military fashion but it is a great deal better than having no accompanist at all.

So it was a day with a tootle and a pedal, which is always good, and since it had a bonus walk with Mrs Tootlepedal in it too, it was definitely a day on the credit side of the great ledger of life.

Another peril of a sunny day in December is the deep shadows cast by the low sun so I have an unilluminated chaffinch as flying bird of the day today.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s recent Highland tour.  He and his daughter came upon an art deco tidal swimming pool near Banff.  They didn’t go for a dip though as it was closed.   Money is being found for repairs so maybe next time?

Outdoot swimming Tarlair near banff

I woke to a heavy cold and some heavy rain to go with it.  The rain suited the situation perfectly and I was easily able to while away the hours until the rain stopped by hanging around and feeling sorry for myself.

As the weather improved, I felt better and I was able to potter round the garden just before lunch and admire the sedum, Rosy Cheeks and a clematis in the colourful section…

sedum rosy cheek clematis

…and Japanese anemones, feverfew and the phinal phlox of the season in the white goods department.

anemone feverfew phlox

The undoubted champion of surviving the rain was the fuchsia under the walnut tree.

fuchsia

Talking of walnuts, I was able to pick up half a dozen more walnuts and Mrs Tootlepedal had them as part of her lunch menu.

A chaffinch visited the plum tree and the picture shows that it won’t be long before the leaves have fallen.

chaffinch in shabby plum tree

The holly leaves will not fall (we hope) and will continue to provide shelter for starlings and a place for them to perch as well.

single starling on holly

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal suggested that we might drive up onto the Langholm Moor so that she could collect some bracken to lay on her vegetable beds over the winter.

I had recovered enough to welcome a little outing and the weather had recovered from the morning rain too, so we were able to enjoy the view up the Ewes Valley…

ewes velley october

…and over the moor, when we had got past the White Yett.  The moor is brown as you can see and there was plenty of bracken to collect…

across Langholm Moor october

….but once we had filled the boot of the car, we crossed the Tarras water and went up the hill on the other side.  The little burn that chatters down the hill beside the road there was well worth stopping for.

Langholm Moor burn

The rain meant that there was plenty of water flowing over the many steps as it comes down the hill…

Langholm Moor burn cascade

…and the underlying peat gave the water a rich colour.

Langholm Moor burn view

Although it is only a miniature landscape, it is one of my favourite spots…

Langholm Moor burn with tree

…especially as I like cascades.   I liked this one so much…

Langholm Moor burn tributary

…that I took two pictures of it.

Langholm Moor burn tributary cascade

We were hoping to see some goats as we drove back over the Tarras bridge…

tarras brig copshaw road

…but on this occasion, all our goats were sheep so we ignored them and headed home.

Where I found a butterfly.

butterfly

Why they are avoiding the sedums is a mystery.

I made baked eggs in spinach with a cheese sauce for our tea and then we walked along the road to the Buccleuch Centre to see a screening of a live recording of a celebration of Placido Domingo’s 50 years of performing at the Arena in Verona.

I had seen a performance of Nabucco at Verona in 1962 (I think) so I was interested to see the arena again.  By coincidence, the all Verdi programme tonight started with a selection from  Nabucco.  The staging was very well done, including a chorus of what looked liked hundreds singing the famous Va Pensiero.  In the first half, the Nabucco selection was followed by a bit of Macbeth, so although there was some outstanding singing, there weren’t many laughs.

The second half was devoted to Simon Boccanegro, an opera that I have never seen.  Judging by the excerpts, it looks as though I have been missing a good thing.  It had some wonderful ensemble singing and a touching finale.

I have said it before but I will say it again, the Buccleuch Centre is a real asset to the town.  The fact that we can wander down the street and see great venues and hear fantastic singing on our doorstep for a very moderate fee is a privilege that we really appreciate.

I was too quick for yesterday’s flying starling of the day, but I was too slow for today’s.  I will try to get it right tomorrow.

flying away starling

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony and makes the point that we are not the only ones with buddleias and butterflies.  The painted ladies did not stop at Langholm and have continued north.

ant's butterflies

As she went off to sing in the church choir this morning, Mrs Tootlepedal remarked that when seen from an upstairs window, the front lawn looked good.  I checked.

front lawn diamonds

I like to mow in a different direction every time.

We had another lovely day today and the butterflies were about bright and early.

three butterfly panel

We had a walk round the garden when Mrs Tootlepedal came back from church and I liked the delicate colours of a hosta flower and the salvias.
hosta and salvia

Mrs Tootlepedal’s new rose has settled in very well.  It is a pretty flower and the only thing wrong with it is its name, Rosy Cheeks.

rosy cheeks rose

Although I did not go to church, I did have a religious moment during the morning (religion – definition: a pursuit or interest followed with great devotion) when I mowed the middle lawn for the first time after giving it a dose of the fertiliser with alleged magic moss eating properties.  The fertiliser part certainly works well and I feel that the moss eating has worked too but we will see whether it has done lasting good when the winter comes.

middle lawn after buck up

I then edged the lawn to complete the effect.

We were having a cup of coffee after our walk round the garden when Mrs Tootlepedal surprised me by asking if I felt like a ten mile cycle ride on hilly roads with some rough tracks to negotiate on the way.   This is not her usual choice of parcours.

There was a threat of a thunderstorm later in the afternoon but we had time to get round before it was due to arrive so I agreed, and we got our bikes out and set off, having fortified ourselves with a cheese toastie before we left.

It was warm and sunny and we went up the hill to the Moorland Feeders at the Laverock Hide in good order.  We didn’t stop at the hide, even though Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a woodpecker as we cycled past, but continued on along the narrow but well surfaced road that took us down to the bridge across Tarras water.

road to Tarras

There were things to see as we went along, including some of the first heather in flower, insects on ragwort and wild mint.

wildflowers broomholm road

Once we had crossed the bridge (which we did when we came to it), we cycled along the flat beside the river for a bit and I kept an eye out for a patch of horsetail which I knew grew somewhere beside the road.  When we got to it, it was hard to miss.

horsetail clumb

It was in very fine form.

horsetail detail

When we got to the end of the short flat, we had a steep hill to climb to get up to Cronksbank but we were rewarded with good views of the Tarras Valley…

view near Cronksbank

…and we could soon look down at the little farmhouse on the other side of the river.

Rashiel

Passing through Cronksbank and then Perterburn, we descended very carefully down a bumpy track to the Tarras Water.  This time there was no bridge for us to cross and Mrs Tootlepedal fearlessly led the way across the ford.

perterburn ford

Local readers may well realise that the picture above is slightly unsatisfactory as Mrs Tootlepedal is clearly cycling back towards Perterburn.  This is true and the picture is staged as I missed the first crossing and Mrs Tootlepedal kindly agreed to cycle back and re-enact the crossing.

The road up from the ford has some fine pine trees beside it.

pines at Middlemoss

The track from Middlemoss up to the tarmac road across the moor was in much better condition than we expected, and we were able to cycle most of the way up it.

Middlemoss road

It is steep in places though, and I was happy to stop to take a picture of bee hives, probably put out in anticipation of the heather flowering soon.

bee hives on moor

The heather is looking quite healthy at the moment but when we stopped to talk to a local naturalist and his wife who were walking on the hill road, he showed me a clump of heather that had been affected by the dreaded heather beetle…and he showed me the larva of the beetle which he shook from a dying plant.

heather beetle larva

It was interesting to see something about which I had read a lot but which I had never seen before.

It looked as though the forecast rain might be on its way, so we didn’t stay chatting for long but pedalled on towards the White Yett…

wall at white yett

…and the welcome sight of the road down the hill back home.

road down hill to langholm

In fact, the forecast rain didn’t arrive until later on in the day and our ride was a great pleasure.

We were not on mountain bikes (Mrs Tootlepedal was on her shopping bike and I was on my road bike) so progress on the bumpy tracks was slow and cautious and the narrow roads on the downhill sections called for a careful approach too, so we took some time to make the circuit but we were still pleased with our progress and thought that we had certainly earned our cup of tea when we got home.

Luckily we were able to watch the Ride London pro cycling event on the telly when we had had our cup of tea and that gave us a good excuse to do very little for the rest of the day.  They went a lot faster than we did.

A panorama of the Ewes Valley, taken from the White Yett is the metaphorical flying bird of the day.

 

ewes valley panorama

Click on the pic for a wider view if you want.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who discovered Rio coming to Derby as participants got ready for a procession in Derby marketplace.

Derby Mardi Gras

We had a warm grey morning but after a disturbed night of thunder and lightning, with rain drumming on the Velux windows, quite a lot of the morning passed before we got up.  I just had tome to finish breakfast and have a quick practice sing before Dropscone arrived for coffee.

He had been playing golf yesterday on the course where he inadvertently drove his golf buggy into a bunker and broke several ribs not so long ago.  He didn’t take a buggy this time and went round on foot safely.  Unfortunately his golf ball unsportingly did not avoid the bunkers and proved a bit reluctant to come out of one of them when hit so his score wasn’t quite as good as he had hoped.  Still, the weather had been good and he had enjoyed his day out.

He went off laden with rhubarb and I picked some more sweet peas which are flowering unceasingly.

I had been too late to find any butterflies in the garden yesterday but I couldn’t miss them today.

tortoiseshell buttefly on red buddleia

It was mostly small tortoiseshells and they were on Sweet Williams…

tortoiseshell on sweet william

…and both buddleias, often in groups of two or three….

two small tortoiseshells

…sometimes sharing a flower with the many bees that were about too.

butterflies amnd bees on buddleaia

When I looked at the privet, it was covered with small tortoiseshells too.

privet with butterflies

Several cabbage whites and the  occasional red admiral like this one could be spotted.

red admiral

The sun had come out by this time and the flowers were looking splendid, notably unaffected by the overnight storm.

Roses were making the case for their retention in the gardening scheme of things…

two roses twice

…and generally things were smiling.  I particularly liked the snake’s tongue on the salvia.

clematis, salvia, waterlilly, calendula

The poppy of the day had to share with other flowers as there were so many to admire today.

poppy, fuchsia, rose, calendulas

I didn’t just wander around taking pictures.  I mowed the greenhouse grass while I was out and went round to the corner shop to get some rolls for lunch..

After yesterday’s fifty mile outing, I had a plan to do nothing very strenuous in the afternoon and then perhaps, weather permitting, to go for a short ride in the evening.

I did get some rest in but the day was too nice to sit indoors so I went out and mowed the front and middle lawns, then I edged them and then I trimmed the hedge along the road.  You may be able to guess that we have visitors coming for the Common Riding on Friday.

I hadn’t watched the birds at the feeder so I snapped a passing flock of homing pigeons taking their afternoon exercise just in case I needed a flying bird of the day.

homing pigeons

We had a salad for tea and afterwards, while I was noting the brisk wind which was blowing and considering the effort required to go pedalling, Mrs Tootlepedal asked if I would fancy a drive up on to the Langholm Moor.  That seemed like a much better idea than puffing into a brisk breeze so we jumped into the Zoe and glided up the hill to see what we could see.

This is part of the ground that people in the town are hoping to be able to purchase in a community land acquisition scheme.   There is a good deal of anxiety that it might be covered in commercial forestry if the buy out is not successful.

Langholm Moor July

Mrs Tootlepedal is always hopeful of seeing our local hen harriers in flight when we visit the moor but the moor is big and the birds few in number so we often do not see them.

We look for other things too though and today we couldn’t help seeing large numbers of bog asphodel shining brightly among the heather and grass on the hill.

bog asphodel and fence

This is another flower that repays a closer look.

bog asphodel close up

And then we saw a harrier.  At least we think it was a harrier.  There is always the possibility of mistaking a buzzard for a harrier.    There have been several harrier youngsters successfully reared in three nests this year and we think that this was one of them.

harrier in flight

It was a long way away but I had my big lens with me and was able to get some sort of shot of the bird in flight

While I was snapping away, Mrs Tootlepedal, who had her binoculars out,  spotted a large black bird perched on a wall near the harrier and moments later, it sprang into action.

harrier and raven

We think that it might be a raven and we wonder if this set of birds perched further along the same wall, might be its family…. or they might just be a gang of crows.  They were too far away for us to get a good look.

possible ravens on wall

The bird that was arguing with the harrier flew up into the sky and it certainly looked big enough to be a raven.

raven in flight

Whatever it was, the harrier didn’t like it!

harrier attacking raven

We had a happy time watching harriers and corvids flying.  From time to time they would take a break and if you look carefully, you can see a harrier resting on the wall.

on wall

After a while, we drove on as far as the county boundary and after enjoying the view down the road to Newcastleton..

The road to Copshaw in the evening

…we drove home, passing a definite harrier hunting over the moor as we went along.

In the circumstances, you might not be too surprised to discover that the flying bird of the day is not a pigeon but a hen harrier (or possibly a buzzard).

harrier in flight (2)

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my brother Andrew’s wife’s Australian cousin Janet who found Andrew hard at work on his son’s mower making hay  while the sun shone.

andrew making hay

After yesterday’s outing to Beamish, I had a plan for today: in the morning I would put the pictures from Beamish on the blog, mow a few lawns, make soup for lunch and then in the afternoon, I would go for a cycle ride.

Everything went entirely to plan until I got up.  Shortly afterwards, I went back to bed again with a very sore back and an outbreak of being strangely tired.  As I didn’t get up until noon, the morning part of the plan was shot.

I took a quick look at the garden flowers when I had risen and found a lot of Sweet William that I thought was worth recording.

six sweet williams

The first day lilies have arrived.

day lily

And ever more irises are appearing.

two irises

I like the last of the lupins to join the garden show.

new lupin

I found another Philadelphus flower.

single philadelphus

And my favourite rose, Lilian Austin was looking at her best.

lilian austin

She has been joined by a burst of moss roses.

three moss roses

Then I went in and watched the birds for a while.

Although the weather was good, it was pretty breezy and birds had to hang on to the feeder.

sparrow hanging on

And when they did get settled, it wasn’t long before someone else came along and booted them off.

threatening siskin

I had a cheese and tomato toastie for lunch and fortified by this, I went out and mowed the lawns.  This was a bit of a kill or cure experiment with my back and I am happy to say that the result tended much more to cure than kill and I felt a bit better for the rest of the day.

I noticed a flash of colour and dashed in for my camera and for once a butterfly kindly stayed in place for long enough for me to get a picture.  It was a red admiral, the first that i have seen in the garden this year.

red admiral butterfly

Looking around, now that I had my camera with me, I was impressed by the growth on the delphiniums…

delphinium

…and by the pertinacity of the aquilegia which are still growing through a box ball.

two aquilegia on box

I spotted the first calendula of the year…

calendula

…and enjoyed the dancing feet of the martagon lilies in the sun.

martagon lilies

The two clematis on either side of the front door are at very different stages of development.

two front door clematis

Mrs Tootlepedal has a bit of a cold and had had a very busy morning, so while I was pootling about in the garden, she wisely had a siesta.  When she came downstairs, we decided to go up to the Langholm Moor and look for interesting bird life.

Our timing was off.  The sun had gone and light rain and low clouds had beaten us to the top of the hill.

moor in mist

The wind was strong too and the bog cotton and grasses were being blown about.

bog cotton

Altogether it wasn’t the best day for watching birds on the hill.   Still, it is always a pleasure to be out and about and the roadsides were full of wild flowers…

moor road with wildflowers

…including a large patch of orchids.

moor orchids

However, it was too wet and windy to take satisfactory pictures or see much so we didn’t stay out long and came back to the garden where I spotted a new clematis in the drizzle.

new clematis by old feeder

Although we welcomed the rain from a gardening point of view as things were a bit dry, the birds didn’t look very happy, either up above…

cross starling

…or down below.

soggy blackbird

Our fake tree of twigs nailed onto a fence post is a popular stopping off point for birds on the way to the feeder.

two siskin on fake tree in rain

The rain and the brisk wind put paid to any idea of cycling, though I did put in a few minutes on the bike to nowhere in the garage just to get my legs moving.  Then I buckled down and put 90 odd pictures into a post about the trip to Beamish yesterday.   (Sandy has put some of the ones that he took on his blog too and those interested can see them here.)

All this took some time and although there was a glimpse of sun later in the evening, my day had ground to halt by then and I ate a meal prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal and watched Countryfile on the telly.

I hope that my back and the weather are more co-operative tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin in the queue for the feeder.

siskin in queue

 

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