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Posts Tagged ‘laurel’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  On his way back from his Welsh outing, he visited Nantwich and had a cup of coffee in this wonderful building next to the Crown Hotel.  As everyone knows, the present Crown Hotel was built on the site of an earlier inn of the same name, destroyed in the Great Fire of Nantwich of 1583.

caffe nero nantwich

We had another dry and sunny day today but it was not of much use as it came with an even meaner wind than recent days and my eyes were running with tears as I cycled up to the town after breakfast to collect the key for the camera club meeting in the evening.

I had a look round the garden when I got back and the tulips had decided to ignore the wind and pay attention to the sunshine…

tulips and narcissus

…and among them, the very last of the daffodils was making an appearance.

There are blossoms on the silver pear tree and it is a pity that it does not produce edible fruits.

pear tree blossom

Sandy came round for coffee and when he left, I checked the birds and found a single siskin on the feeder.   Why he has stayed while the others have gone is a mystery.

lonely siskin

We have a lot of sparrows in the garden but they don’t come to the feeder very much.  Perhaps this hostile stare from a chaffinch gives a clue as to why they stay away.

chaffinch abusing sparrow

Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree is quite popular with our visitors and thoroughly repays the effort of nailing it together.

chaffunch in fake tree

The chaffinches and goldfinches were very busy again scrapping for seed.

busy feeder

After a morning  spent hammering bits of tack onto the rocking horse, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the garden and I went out to see what she was up to.

She was mostly hoeing and didn’t need my help so I took a speculative shot of a trout lily, holding the came in my stretched out hand under the flower and hoping for the best.  It came out well. Who needs a mirror?…

trout lily flower

…and then I went off for a walk.  (It was too windy for a comfortable bike ride.)

It was a cap and gloves day but if you could get out of the wind, it was quite pleasant and I even saw a bee visiting some laurel flowers beside the Town Bridge.

bee on laurel

When I got to the Kilngreen, I met Grace, one of our camera club members and taking care to sit on her leeward side, I enjoyed a chat with her on this bench beside the river.

Grace

She told me that she had seen a dipper and when I left her to walk on, I too saw one as I leaned over the parapet of the Sawmill Brig.

dipper above sawmill bridge

I spent so long watching it dip and dive that Grace caught me up and we watched a pair of goosanders cruise up and down…

gossander pair

…before once again, I left her and walked onward.  There was the merest hint of green among the trees on the Lodge walks….

Lodge walks april

…but it didn’t come from leaves.

catkins

The first race meeting of the season will take place next weekend and the course is looking in good condition.

racetrack

Wild flowers are spreading on all sides…

dandelions

…though at the moment, dandelions and celandines are by far the most prominent.

celandines

I crossed the Duchess Bridge…

duchess bridge framed

…and walked back to the town, passing this fine crop of lichen on a tree stump beside the path.

lichen on fallen tree stump

I had a last look at a tulip trying its best to come out in the garden…

yellow tulip

…before I went in to prepare pictures for the camera club meeting in the evening.

Then Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and when he left, Mrs Tootlepedal gave me a hair cut.  To round off a full afternoon, the next visitor was my flute pupil Luke, who has been practising again to good effect.

After tea, I went off to the camera club meeting.  Ten members and a guest turned up and we had a very entertaining selection of pictures to look at.  Of course there were some of Langholm, its surroundings and its wild life but they were mixed in with shots of beautiful highland scenery, amazing wild life from South Africa, shimmering deserts in Australia and hot mud springs in New Zealand.  Come to the camera club and see the world.

There was a slight hiatus while I scurried home to fetch the milk for our half time refreshments but otherwise, everything went very smoothly.

The ruffled feathers of the flying chaffinch of the day, gives an idea of the strength of the wind.

flying chaffinch with ruffles

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Today’s guest picture comes from Gavin in America.  He says that he has never been so close to a deer before.

deer

Our spell of dry and windy weather continued today, with the wind even stronger than yesterday so that it felt decidedly chilly when the sun wasn’t out.

I started the day off with a visit to the Moorland Feeders with Mrs Tootlepedal.  My plan was to fill the feeders (the usual fillers are on holiday) and then leave Mrs Tootlepedal to scan the skies for raptors while I sat in the hide and took interesting bird pictures.

The plan would have worked well if the hide hadn’t already been filled to bursting with eager schoolchildren having holiday fun with the Moorland Project staff.  I filled the feeders and we drove back through the town and up onto the hill to see if we could see harriers and goats instead.

The hill looked and felt a little bleak as I stood at 1000ft on the county boundary in a whistling wind.

Langholm Moor

…but it was more cheerful when the sun came out as we drove back from the summit.

Langholm Moor

We did see a harrier and a buzzard but they were both too far away to photograph.  We also saw a small flock of goats quite far away on the open hill….

goats

…but they were not the group with kids that we had seen before.

There were two goats nearer the road further down towards the Tarras…

goats

…and I got a hard stare for my impertinence in taking pictures of them.

goats

There were a couple of serious bird watchers looking down the valley so we paused for a while to see if we could see what they were looking at but when we had realised that they weren’t seeing anything at the moment, we left them to it and went home, stopping for a look up the Ewes Valley on our way.

Ewes valley

We had a cup of coffee and then Mrs Tootlepedal settled down to some serious gardening while I pottered about doing some dead heading and taking pictures. Things come and go….

daffodils

The very orange trumpets mean that this bunch is nearing the end of its flower time and the flowers will soon be line for dead heading

tulip

A rather striking miniature tulip variety came out today

…and some things keep going.

silver pear

The silver pear is producing ever more blossom

The birds were as busy as ever.

Goldfinches and siskins

Goldfinches and siskins compete for space

redpoll and chaffinch

A redpoll goes to some length to discourage a chaffinch 

In spite of the warm afternoon sun, it was far too windy to contemplate a cycle ride and I got in touch with Sandy and arranged a walk.

While I waited for the appointed time to arrive, I looked at the magnolia…

magnolia

…and came face to face with a rather odd looking chaffinch perched on one of the box balls.

chaffinch

Sandy arrived and we went off to the Kilngreen and the Castleholm.  Our aim was to see wagtails, dippers and nuthatches and we saw them all but as, with the visit to the moor earlier in the day, the photo opportunities were very limited.

The wagtails and the dippers were generally moving too much or a bit too far away for good pictures.

wagtail and dipper

A grey wagtail, a pied wagtail and a pair of dippers

Growing things were easier to catch.

The gardens at Clinthead stayed very still for a portrait.  They are looking very fine at the moment.

linthead garden

And laurel flowers on the bridge let me get very close.

laurel

Trees are looking more springlike by the day…

spring 2017

linthead garden

…and there was even a small clump of bluebells in the wood beside the Lodge Walks.

bluebell

We stopped to have a good look at the nuthatches at the Jubilee bridge but in spite of hearing a lot of rather strident calling going on, we didn’t see much at first.  One appeared for a moment but the reason for all the noise became apparent when we finally saw two nuthatches on two trees shouting at each other  from a range of about five yards.  The shouting got louder and finally three nuthatches whizzed past us as they chased each other round the tree at high speed.  One broke off and sat for moment on a twig near us…

nuthatch

…in a highly indignant state.  I just had time to click the shutter once before it rushed off up a tree where it was able to express some even higher dudgeon.

All this activity was great to watch and to listen to but it didn’t give us much opportunity for taking pictures as the combatants were mostly high up among the branches.

nuthatches

It is not clear what was going on.  Was it two couples both wanting the same nest site or was it a competition between two males for a single female?  We definitely saw three nuthatches at the same time but there might well have been another judging from all the noise.  Another visit will be needed to see how it turns out.

There are days when I only see three interesting things and get good pictures of them all and there are days like today when I saw a mass of interesting wildlife and didn’t get one very satisfactory picture.  Still, it was fun trying.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my flute pupil Luke’s mother.  Sharon works a few miles out of town and has had to drive through bad conditions.  This is why we stayed in today.

Eskdalemuir road

The weather wasn’t quite so bad today as the forecast suggested but we abandoned two possible excursions and stayed quietly at home.  I have got past the age when driving in heavy rain and strong wind in the dark is a challenge.  It is more of a nightmare now and I avoid it if I can.

The morning was mostly dry but very windy and after a short session on the bike to nowhere in the garage, I went out for a walk rather than face the gale on two wheels.

There was growth in the garden….

euphorbia

….at the side of the dam behind the house…

dam snowdrops

…in the park…

laurel

…and this cheered me up as I walked along in a fine drizzle.

There was plenty of water in the fields….

Murtholm puddles

…and the farmers must be having a really hard time.

I had a look at Skippers Bridge as I passed over it to see if yesterday’s flood had made the damage worse.  It looked much the same to me.

Skippers Bridge

They had hoped to do some temporary repairs earlier in the week but the conditions were against them.  I did notice a large rock at the foot of the damaged cutwater though….

Skippers Bridge

…and wondered if that had been dropped in as a basic protection rather than washed up by the storm.  The trees were added by nature I would imagine.

The bridge parapet was home to some very attractive lichen as always.

Skippers Bridge lichen

Skippers Bridge lichen

Skippers Bridge lichen

There were many others too.

The persistent drizzle didn’t make lingering very attractive but I did stop once more when some decorative decay on a tree stump at Lands End tempted my camera out of my pocket.

Townfoot treestump

The day got windier and wetter and I spent the afternoon indoors adding choir songs to the computer so that I can get some serious practice in.  It is not so much singing the parts that is the problem as our conductor has chosen pieces well within our range but remembering the words and the music at the same time.  It will come.

We are now getting warnings of even heavier rain, stronger winds and then snow so at least I won’t have any excuse not to learn the songs properly.

For the first time, the Met Office started giving personal names to storms at the end of last year.  They started with Storm Abigail on the 10th November and we are currently about to enjoy Storm Jonas.  That means that they are coming along very nearly at a rate of one a week.  I think that they should stop naming them as it only seems to encourage them.

The birds didn’t like the weather at all today so no flying bird and as I didn’t have two in my hand, one in a bush will have to do.

robin

 

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