Posts Tagged ‘lapwing’

Today’s guest picture is another NZ bird from Mike and Alison’s recent antipodean expedition.  This one is a pied shag.

pied shag

We had a dull and cloudy morning but with men re-pointing our external wall under the kitchen window, there was no chance of seeing any birds so I retired to the computer and put in some practice on Sunday’s hymns.

When the men left so did the clouds and it turned into a another very good day, though a little cooler than yesterday.  Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the garden and did gardening things while I sieved a little compost.  The results soon found their way onto a flower  bed….

compost and blackbird

…although a blackbird found Mrs Tootlepedal’s manure more alluring.

I had a walk round and was happy to find new tulips out…


…a thriving dicentra…


…and the daffodil of the day.


In spite of the sunshine, we are very short of bees, with only one or two bumble bees about.

I had an early lunch and then gave Mrs Tootlepedal a little help with the third of the new veg beds before I packed some supplies in to my bike bag and set off to enjoy as much of the sunshine as I could (with as little hill climbing as possible).  As a result my route took me over the hill out of Langholm….

low plane

…where I was buzzed by another very low flying aircraft…

…and down to the shores of the Solway…

View over solway…where the men who put pylons in the middle of every view had been busy again.

On my way down I passed some early hawthorn leaves (with added lichen)…

hawthorn leaf and lichen

… and this fine show of celandines beside the road from Chapleknowe to Gretna…

celandine beside road

… and then a blast of the modern world seen from the railway bridge at Quintinshill…

railway at Gretna

…and wild flowers both modest and showy.

wild flowers

Having got down to the flat lands, I stayed on them.  The wind was stronger than I expected and pushing the slow bike into a breeze is quite hard enough without having hills to contend with too.

I headed south from Gretna into England, where there were flowering shrubs to be seen…

blackthorn and gorse

…and made my way down to the banks of the River Eden near Rockcliffe.

River Eden at Rockliffe

I was hoping to see some waterfowl but two swans and some unidentifiable ducks were too far away to be interesting…


…so I found a pleasant spot under some early leaves…


…and ate a blackcurrant jelly sandwich and half a banana.

Refreshed by this feast, I went back up to the top of the bank above the river…


…and headed on southwards.  Before I got to Carlisle, I turned eastwards, following the line of this colourful gorse hedge…

gorse hedge

…where the men with pylons and telegraph poles had once again got there before me, and cycled inland across the A7.

The road in the picture below may look undistinguished…

Road near Scaleby

…but it represents cycling heaven for me.  It is flat, well surfaced, sunny, traffic free and (although you can’t see this) the wind is behind me and all is well with the world.

It took me through Scaleby, past the church ( probably early 13th century with tower of early 14th century and restorations of 1827-28 and 1860-62. Large blocks of dressed red sandstone, probably from the nearby Roman Wall)

Scaleby church

…and onto the main road to Longtown.

Now I was heading north again, with a bit of a crosswind.  Once I got to Longtown however, the wind was mostly behind me  and the 12 miles home, up the gentle hill to Langholm were very undemanding.

I had stopped at the border for another blackcurrant sandwich and the last half of my stock of bananas to give me some strength for the final push, when my eye was caught by some movement in the field on the opposite side of the road.  A small group of lapwings were flying low across the stubble and one landed and walked past me.

lapwing at border

Lapwings have become very rare round here in recent years so it was good to see some today.

As I got near to Langholm, time was drawing on and I liked the shadows cast by the trees on the near bank onto the far bank, making it look as though the trees on the far bank had ‘reverse’ shadows rising out of the water to meet them.

Esk in evening

I got home, having cycled 50 miles in five hours, including all my stops.  I managed an average moving speed of eleven and a half miles an hour.  This is a tribute to my skill in finding a really flat route.  The slow bike with its relatively upright riding position and its solid back tyre was surprisingly comfortable but I was still pretty pleased to get off.  Straight handlebars put a lot of pressure on your hands and wrists.

While I was out, Mrs Tootlepedal had settled in the third veg bed very neatly…

new veg bed

…and I couldn’t resist an evening lawn shot….

lawn at dusk

…before I went in.

There was enough light left to take a bird feeder shot…

busy feeder

…before it was time for a shower and an excellent meal of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pie to round the day off.

The new bench to go in Mrs Tootlepedal’s paved area is arriving tomorrow.  We are excited.

The flying bird of the day is an evening chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Sorry about too many pictures again.  Don’t blame it on the boogie, blame it on the sunshine.

For those interested, details of the ride may be found by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 20 April 2018


Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who went back to the low countries after our visit to Marseille.  He was surprised to find a local pipe band in Ghent.  They are wearing McKenzie tartan kilts, our mother’s clan.

ghent pipe band

The forecast was for a calm and often sunny day.  I made a plan to pedal based on the forecast.  The forecast turned out to be correct and my plan came to fulfilment.   Two unusual things on the same day.

Before I left, I printed out a copy of yesterday’s guest picture of the day for our neighbour Liz.  She is entering it in an informal competition so I hope it does well….

…and then I had a quick look round the garden.

The internally lit dahlia is still giving its best…


…and it has a little competition.


The insects were out in force again today.

hoverfly and bee

This was the destination of choice.

poppy with bees and hoverfly

Not quite as many as yesterday but still impressive.

I finally ran out of cycle avoidance excuses and set off with a plan to see how my legs were doing after a very light cycling month.  I chose a route that started out over the hills and then headed down towards England and the coast.

It was sunny but hazy….

view near gair

…and there were signs of autumn both in Scotland…

Sprinkell trees

…and England.

Rockcliffe trees

Regular readers will know that I like a tree tunnel…..

near Rockliffe

…and this one, near Rockliffe, is one of my favourites.

The wind was light but persistent and I found it quite hard work cycling into it so I was happy to stop after 30 miles to visit a pub for a half pint of draught beer (very good) and a plate of egg and chips (absolutely excellent) at the Drover’s Rest in Monkshill.

The road that the pub is on was closed, though I was able to pedal through the works quite easily, so I was the only customer.  In a sign of the times, cooking the egg and chips, which were not on the menu, was no problem but finding out how to record the sale on a computerised till, which didn’t have egg and chips on it, caused a lot of head scratching.

The Drover’s Rest had an interesting notice in the bar.

state management notice

I hadn’t realised that the state management of brewery and pubs had stretched out of Carlisle.

I pedalled on down to the Solway shore.  I had the intention of showing readers a lovely scene of the Solway sparkling under a blue sky but this scheme didn’t go well for two reasons.

  1. The sun went in
  2. The tide was out

I settled for some marsh cattle grazing peacefully.

marsh cattle

You can see the Scottish shore in the background but no sign of the Solway in between.  Drovers who knew what they were doing were able to walk across to Scotland in the old days.

The cattle were finding the marsh grass very much to their taste…

marsh cattle

…but I could definitely have done with a bit more water than the trickle that was available.

Solway shore

More of a river than the sea

Further along the coast, when I had passed through Bowness on Solway, a flash of white caught my eye.

little egret

It was at the limit of the Lumix’s capabilities but I stopped because I don’t think that a little egret has appeared on the blog before.

It had friends close by.

lapwing and gull

The bird in the left is a lapwing.  We used to see lots of them in the fields round Langholm when we first came to the area forty years ago but we hardly ever see one now.  I don’t know what sort the gull is.

Out on the mudflats far beyond the egret, a group of curlews was calling and scratching…

curlews and heron

…and a heron flew lazily past.

A good pair of binoculars  and a long lens would have been useful.

After a last look at the little egret….

little egret

….I pedalled on round the radio station at Anthorn and came into the estuary of the Whampool where a large flock of lapwings was sitting in the shallows.


I do know this gull. It is a black headed gull like the ones on our Kilngreen.

The skies had clouded over a lot and the River Whampool was looking mean, moody but not quite magnificent.

Whampool River

I had done 50 miles by this time and the issue of getting home before dark was raising its head so I gave up thoughts of 100 miles, which would have required an earlier start to the day, and settled for a fairly direct route home.  Unfortunately this required cycling straight into the light wind for the first part and then some steady uphill work for the last part so the camera stayed in my pocket as I concentrated on getting home.

I was feeling a bit feeble and I stopped at Springfield for a delicious ice cream and then battled my way back by Milltown of Sark and over the Bloch.

I was unusually tired when I got home and  a visit to the scales showed that I had lost 2kg on the trip which means that I had not managed to get a balanced food and liquid intake on the ride (the first time this year on the longer rides) and that would explain the fatigue.

I did have the energy to take a picture of the Virginia Creeper on the fence at the end of the drive, which is very striking….

virginia creeper

…and I went to check on the bees’ favourite poppies.


The bees had been busy


Very busy

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy too,  helping at the Buccleuch Centre when I got home but she soon returned and made me a nourishing evening meal for which I was extremely grateful.

When I had helped her out with her accounts yesterday, she assured me that she would love me for ever but a remark or two today after certain humorous efforts of mine indicated that there might be a conditional element in this.

She has been considering major improvements to the flower beds round the middle lawn and I want to put it on record that I regard any such plans as being a really good thing.

Anyone interested in details of the ride can click on the map below.

garmin route 26 Sept 2017

Read Full Post »

Today’s picture is a notice encountered by my brother during a hike on Mt Taranaki in NZ.  I thought it should be brought to the attention of  our very own government.  It seems like good advice when as a country we are moving inexorably down a very slippery slope under the guidance of two blokes who have never had a proper job in their lives..

warning sign

I was up early this morning and pleased to find that it wasn’t freezing as I was going to the Moorland Bird Feeders to watch Cat Barlow ringing birds.  This is always interesting and I secretly hope that some rare and exotic bird will fall into her nets.  On this occasion she had many customers but none that were out of the ordinary.  I wasn’t the only onlooker…

quite a crowd

There was quite a crowd as she ringed the birds.


The nets are strung between the two ranks of trees and on a day like today with no sunshine and light winds, they can be almost invisible.  Bird ringing is a highly skilled job and you have to undergo considerable hands on tuition before you can get a licence.  Cat is skilled and enormously patient.   And pain resistant.   Yesterday she had five or six woodpeckers in the nets and they left her hands looking like a pin cushion.

The birds are carefully taken from  the nets (the hardest part of the process by far), then ringed, then measured and finally weighed before release.

bird ringing

Today’s birds tended to weigh in at the 8 to 10 grams level.  It is amazing that birds so light can fly as far as some of them do.

Between being taken from the nets and being ringed, the birds are kept in the soft bags which you can see Cat festooned with.  All the birds must be removed from the nets  before any are ringed.  The measuring and inspection of the wings helps to decide the age and, if not obvious from the colouring, the sex of the birds and all this is recorded.  The birds take the whole business very calmly and some are so unflustered or stupid that they will be caught again the the same nets on the same day.

Often birds are already ringed when they are caught, some at the same site in this or previous years and some from other ringing sites.  All this information is put into a huge database and helps to further the scientific understanding of the bird population of Great Britain.

Cat is very amiable and always presents the birds for a snapshot before release if requested.

ringed birds

Clockwise from top left: brambling, lesser redpoll. siskin and blue tit

Some of the younger bird watchers required a sit down to rest during the process.

three wise men

Three wise men or possibly three brass monkeys. This is the Langholm blogoteriat.

Cat gave us some instruction and the opportunity to hold the birds for a moment before release.

beauty and the beast

Beauty and the beast

Behind us, out on the moor, there was a continual chorus of birds.  Lapwings were very active…


…but we could hear curlews, snipe, pheasants and red grouse too.

There was colourful interest around in the yellow flowers of a gorse bush and the yellow plumage of a superior siskin who sat on a topmost twig and watched our work below with detached interest.

gorse and siskin

After standing around for two hours, my legs were complaining so much that I had to go home for a sit down.  Almost as soon as I had sat down, I had to jump up again to catch a quick shot of a robin.


As I hadn’t seen one for a few days., I was very pleased to see this one.

While I was looking at the robin, I noticed a chaffinch on a ring below the seed feeder trying to see if there was a seat free up above.


Our birds have a bit of difficulty looking up and when they try, they have to twist and turn so much that it looks like some fiendish keep fit class doing yoga exercises.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned from singing in the choir, enlivened by a stinging sermon rebuking the government and media for stigmatising the poorest classes in the country and going on to demolish many of the myths about the welfare state that are put about by those with ulterior motives.  She was so enlivened that she suggested a pedal and after some consideration and a light lunch, we set off with two bikes in the car to Walton, a little village on the Roman Wall not far from Brampton.

It has a charming church…

church at Walton

More interestingly perhaps, it also has a human clock outside the village school.  You are requested to stand on a grid on the present month of the year and the time is recorded on the ground in front of you.  Mrs Tootlepedal used it at the start and finish of our circular trip.

human clock

You use the red numbers if you are standing on a red month and the blue ones if you are standing on a blue month.   It was about ten to two when we got arrived at Walton and about quarter past three when we got back from the ride so the clock was quite accurate.    If it’s cloudy, you look at your watch instead.

We had a very pleasant pedal along quiet lanes with little traffic and no big hills.

Mrs Tootlepedal pedalling

Mrs Tootlepedal pedalling

The country is not looking at its best with no growth and the sun hid behind the clouds for the most part as we pedalled about.  All the same, the views were delightful as this is country of many small ridges so we never had to wait long for a bit of a prospect.

We passed through pasture for the most part…


There were always some hills in the background.

.,..but towards the end, we encountered ploughing going on.


Whether this is for crop sowing or just for more grass planting, I don’t know.

The circuit was just under 12 miles and after we had put the bikes in the car, we drove into Brampton in search of a cup of tea.  We thought that we had found a café but we were deceived and when we went inside we found that the café was no longer in operation.  We were downcast.  We drove out of Brampton and found a garden centre with a café on the outskirts of the town,  It served a very reasonable priced toasted tea cake and pot of tea for two so Mrs Tootlepedal was upcast again.  No pedal for her is totally successful unless it concludes at a café.

When we got home, I got the speedy bike out and pedalled gently to the top of Callister and back because having wasted a good day yesterday, I wanted to get at least twenty miles out of another good day today.  The extra twelve miles brought me up to 100 miles for the week.

I then sieved a barrowful of Mrs Tootlepedal’s kitchen compost for her before having a shower and coming to rest at last.

But not before spending a moment looking a the busy feeder…

siskin and greenfinch

A siskin eyes up the chance of kicking a greenfinch and a greenfinch returns the compliment.

…enjoying the first glimpse of a scilla in full bloom in the garden…


…and finding a curiously circular frog head.


I had hoped that a little cycling would clear away my tiredness but I am still far from my peak and am going to take it easy until I recover.

The flying bird of the day was a greenfinch.  It shows how busy the feeder was.  They don’t usually hover, they just barge straight in so this was a rarity.






Read Full Post »