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Posts Tagged ‘Laverock hide’

Today’s guest picture is another from our neighbour Liz’s walk with Riley,  As well as the waterfall, she saw some very early primroses, sheltering beside the stream.

liz's primroses

We saw the return of grey and windy weather today which was a disappointment after our dry week, but at least the forecast rain didn’t arrive until after dark.  This meant that I was able to walk to the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre without getting wet.

Mrs Tootlepedal was already there when I arrived, as she and her fellow worker Margaret had set up a stall and were canvassing support of the community land buy out  They were being successful at enrolling more supporters and I purchased meat and fish so we were all quite happy.

When I left, they were still working hard and I thought that I should follow their example and do some work too when I got home, so I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

Then I made some lentil soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I had time to watch the birds.

The feeder was quite busy…

busy feeder siskins

…although the strong winds were making life hard for this goldfinch on its stalk.

ruffled goldfinch

Heading straight into the wind, another goldfinch aimed for aerodynamic perfection.

determined goldfinch

The bright red breast on this redpoll was another sign that spring is definitely here in spite of the gloomy weather.

redpoll in mating colour

I took this picture to show that the redpoll is a tiny bird, the size of a siskin and much smaller than a goldfinch.

redpoll goldfinch siskin

There was the usual amount of siskin squabbling going on and I liked the pained expression on the face of this chaffinch as he had to put up with more gratuitous abuse…

shocked chaffinch

…though I suppose that bad manners and tweets are no novelty these days.

For lunch I enjoyed some haggis from the market with my soup and Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed some somosas.  Then, as it had still not started to rain, we got into the car and drove up to the Laverock bird hide.  The larch glade at the hide has been threatened with felling because of larch disease, but it is still standing and while Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the cloudy sky for raptors (in vain), I went in to look at smaller birds.

I could hardly hear myself think because of loud noises and when I checked, I could see that frogs were busy in the small pond beside the hide.

two frogs laverock

The peanut feeder had been freshly filled and I was entertained by a steady stream of great tits, blue tits and coal tits.

great tit, coal tit, blue tit laverock

A greater spotted woodpecker landed on a nearby pole and started giving it a good pecking.

woodpecker laverock hide

I could easily have sat there longer with so much to look at…

tits at laverock hide

…but I had promised Mrs Tootlepedal a walk, so we left the car at the hide and walked off along the road down to the river.road from laverock hide

Even at this time of year, there are subtle colours in the trees to enjoy…

tints on trees in winter

…and the road soon enters a wooded section with a fresh set of colours…

woods beside rashiel road

…and tantalising glimpses of old walls across the valley.

view across tarras

And where there are trees, banks and walls, there are interesting things to look at…

lichen, moss, fern rashiel road

…so even on a grey and windy day, it was not a dull stroll.

The Tarras water was very calm when we got to it.

Tarras wter near Rashiel

When the road got to the bridge across the river, we kept to the same bank and walked along the track towards Rashiel.

There is a curious mound near the house which might be an esker, left after the ice age…

mound at rashiel

…or might be a man made construction.  It is hard to tell.

It is in the middle of an otherwise flat area.

tree at Rashiel

We retraced our steps to the hide where I showed Mrs Tootlepdal the frogs.  The light on the ruffled water made it look as though the frog had been frozen in plastic and was struggling to get out.

frog in rough water

Mrs Tootlepedal was much struck by the endless procession of small birds to the feeder…

laverock feeder

…but in the absence of any more obliging woodpeckers, we didn’t stay too long and got home in time for a nice cup of tea.

The recent windy weather has battered our little fruit cages quite a lot, so Mrs Tootlepedal, with some help from me, went out to stiffen their resolve with a screwdriver.

After that, there was nothing for me to do but practice hymns and songs for the choirs tomorrow and try not to get too upset while watching snatches of the rugby on the telly.

The wind is howling and the rain is hammering down as I write this, but it is supposed to stop before tomorrow morning so I am hoping that the forecast is right this time.

A chaffinch, keeping its head up in case of a rude siskins, is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony.   Just to show that the sun doesn’t always shine in East Wemyss, he has sent me this lovely picture of one of his dogs on a walk in the dark.

burst

We had a chilly but not freezing day here, and as it didn’t rain, we looked on the bright side.

It was cold enough to persuade me that it might be a good idea to catch up on some archive work while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to stuff brochures with the spring programme of events into envelopes at the Buccleuch Centre.  The centre currently has 33 volunteers helping out, a testament to the value which the town puts on having such a good resource.

I added another parish magazine to the Archive Group website and then put a week of the newspaper index into the database.  This edition covered the death of Queen Victoria, a historic moment if ever there was one.

In between times, I watched the birds and was pleased to see a few siskins at the feeder.

two siskins

Mrs Tootlepedal left a few sunflower stalks standing near the feeder when the flowers were over, and the birds are very grateful to her because the stalks make a good place to stand and ponder, as this chaffinch is doing.

chaffinch on stalk

There were a great many flying birds at one particular moment but the reflections of a glimmer of sun in the window made the resulting picture look rather odd.

many flying birds

Jackdaws like the fat balls but don’t find it easy to get a grip on the feeder and get beak to ball.

jackdaw at fat balls

After lunch, I went out for a walk.  I could have gone cycling, as it was probably just warm enough not to have icy patches on the roads, but with a forecast of thirty mile an hour gusts and a very chilly wind, it wasn’t an attractive option.

I have been working hard in the last few months on doing exercises to improve my back and foot joints so I thought that instead of taking things easily after walking five miles in Saturday and three miles on Sunday, another briskish five mile walk today would be a good test to see if things really had got better as far as walking went.

I set out with the intention of not stopping until I had got out of the town but the sight of these severely cropped shrubs still carrying a good crop of berries made me pause for a moment.

berries on pruned bushes

Someone had told me that they had seen a lot of woodpeckers knocking about at the Moorland Project bird hide, so I thought that the hide would make a good target for my walk.  I had walked in much the same direction on Saturday but this time I went round the circuit in the opposite direction, and took the usual path through the woods instead of venturing onto the hill.

The path was muddy but fairly level so I made good progress…

track to round house

…and I especially enjoyed the oak wood from start…

oak wood near jenny nobles

..to finish…

end of oak wood

…not least becuase the sun came out.

When I got to Broomholmshiels, I turned left and walked up the road towards the bird hide.  You can see the trees where the hide is on the horizon.

road to bird hide

My informant may have seen a lot of woodpeckers on her visit but I didn’t see a single one on mine. I did see great tits…

great tit

…blue tits …

coal and blue tit

and coal tits enjoying the peanuts…

coal tit

…and chaffinches and goldfinches having fun at the seed feeder.

chaffinch and goldfinch laverock hide

I believe that the trees here are soon to be felled as they are larches and have got signs of a disease which means the compulsory clearance of trees affected so I took a picture of the hide, the clearing and the comfortable bench inside the hide where I sat to watch the birds.

laverock hide triple panel

I didn’t stay long in the hide because although the sun was out, it was already getting low in the sky.  Soon I was on the road that leads down to the Esk.

road above Broomholm

Once again, I pressed on, trying to give my feet a good workout, but the mossy wall can’t be ignored entirely…

pixie cup on mossy wall

…and I passed another of the little stone cairns which carry a welcoming message for walkers.

Buccleuich walking cairn

These welcoming signs have been overtaken by events as thanks to a recent law, one can walk anywhere one likes on open land in Scotland as long as you behave sensibly and don’t damage crops or interfere with the legitimate activities of others.

I couldn’t pass Skippers Bridge for a second time without taking a picture…

skippers bridge mid december

…and an old  friend and an interesting log detained me for a moment or two.

heron and fungus

Just as I was crossing the bridge, a motorist hooted at me and I was just going to scowl at the car for interrupting my peaceful walk when I saw that it was Mrs Tootlepedal returning from getting her new specs adjusted in Longtown.  I waved cheerily instead and walked home along the Murtholm.

The light had gone by this time so I didn’t stop to take any more pictures but the dying sun tempted the camera out of my pocket just as I got to our front gate.

sunset december

The walk was about five and a quarter miles and because I am boringly interested in these sort of things, I can report that it took me 43 minutes to walk the two and a half miles up hill to the bird hide and 53 minutes to walk the two and three quarter miles back down the hill to the town.   I should have been able to go back more quickly than I went out but the eleven minutes that I spent sitting on the comfortable but hard wooden bench in the bird hide made my feet hurt far more than the walking to get there.  A lesson learned; don’t sit down in the middle of a walk.

Mrs Tootlepedal had beaten me home and I had just made a pot of tea when the finely honed tea radar of Mike Tinker clicked into action and he appeared bang on cue to join us.  We sipped and chatted and not long after he left, my flute pupil Luke arrived and he and I had an encouraging half hour of musical enjoyment.

As Mrs Tootlepedal had been making a fish pie for tea and her fish pie is a thing of joy when it comes to an evening meal, the day finished on a very good note.

The only fly in the ointment was the news that the train company that takes us to Edinburgh on a Thursday had introduced its new timetable today with such efficiency and competence that half its trains were either cancelled or horribly late.  We just hope that things are going to get better by Thursday.

A daring chaffinch effecting a handbrake turn is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She went to see a 70 year old friend abseiling down Wells Cathedral to raise £700 for the charity Sosafrica.  I can only say that it takes all sorts and rather her than me..

North tower of Wells Cathedral, raining some £700 for SOSAfrica

We had a dry day today with occasional sunshine.  This was very welcome after some wet and gloomy days but it would have been even more welcome if there hadn’t been a stiff and chilly breeze blowing.

I have been feeling a bit tired lately so it took me some time to get organised and make use of the good weather but I finally got out on my bike and pedalled up the hill to the Moorland Feeders.

I am told that the little wood where the hide and feeders are situated is going to be cut down as the larch trees are suffering from disease.  This will be a great pity as many people have come to the hide and enjoyed watching the birds.  Today, I saw a handsome work of art leaning against the hide but only about ten birds so it wasn’t the best day to be a bird watcher.

Lverock Hide october

There are many pylons passing along our valley and there is a great amount of maintenance work going on at the moment.  Just near the bird hide, a new road has been made across the fields so that workmen can get to the pylons there.

pylon and road

As there are hundreds of pylons, there is a lot of work going on all up and down the valley.  It is interesting to see that something which we largely take for granted is being looked after on our behalf.  Co-incidentally, I read an article today saying that there are going to be big precautionary power cuts in northern California because their pylon infrastructure has not been maintained well enough to withstand strong winds.

The ride up the hill to the bird hide had gone well enough to encourage me to pedal on to Canonbie before turning for home.

I passed a couple of glowing trees.

two colourful trees

The Cross Keys Hotel in Canonbie is an old coaching inn and looks very much the same today as it did a hundred years ago.  I didn’t stop for refreshment or a change of horses though…

cross keys hotel

…but headed down the old main road to the bottom of the Canonbie by-pass, battling into the breeze.

I decided that the wind might be helpful enough on the way back for me to take the road past Glenzierfoot and Fauldie farms.  In days gone by Dropscone and I used to cycle along this road on many a morning before having coffee at Wauchope Cottage.  I had forgotten how steadily uphill it was though, and even with a generally helpful breeze, I found it was a lot harder work now than it was then.

The sun went in too and it was a bit bleak pedalling over the hill, past leafless trees…

bare tree mossknowe

…until I got to a point, nearly at the top of the hill.  The little green structure houses some water board equipment and looking at the signpost, I realised that this literally was a half way house.  I love it when a figure of speech comes to life.

half way house

The final four miles, downhill and with the stiff breeze now straight behind me, soon made me forget the toil of the uphill section and I got home after 22 miles, tired but happy.

I had a late lunch and went out to look at the garden.

The holly tree perch was host to two starlings today, working in close harmony.

two starlings together

There were 15 more starlings sitting on the power line.

many starlings

When the sun came out, Rosy Cheeks and Princess Margareta looked wonderful…

roses, nerine, sunflower

…and when the sun went in, nerines and sunflowers provided quite of cheerful colour anyway.

This is the most colourful bed in the garden at the moment, with nerines, calendula, nicotiana and some crocosmia peeping over the hedge behind.

colourful flower ded october

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to get her hair cut and I had a final look round the garden….

anemone, poppy, calendula, cosmos

…while picking up walnuts which the breeze had dislodged from the tree.

I spotted a robin in the lilac tree…

robin in lilac

…and some slightly worn but still pretty flowers…

clematis, viola, anemone, black eyed susan

…before going in for a shave and a shower.

I needed the shave and shower as I had an appointment with the doctor to get the results of a recent blood test.  Rather to my surprise, it turned out that I was perfectly well in every way.  Even my cholesterol, which had been concerning the doctor a bit, had mysteriously fallen to very satisfactory levels.  The downside is that there is now no excuse for feeling tired and I will have to pull myself together.  Ah well, you can’t have everything.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was in the mood to collect some more bracken for the vegetable beds so we drove up to the bracken mine, and while she wielded her shears, I had another look at the fungus in the wood.

I wondered if it would still be there or if it would disappear as quickly as it had come.

It was still there.

wauchope fungus again

In great quantities and many different varieties.

wauchope fungs clumps

It is mostly in in one short section of the wood…

wauchope brown fungus

…though I did see this lone toadstool as I walked further along.

wauchope toadstool

When we got back, Mrs Tootlepedal laid the bracken on two beds and we had a walk round the garden, enjoying the bright phlox…

late phlox

…and picking up more walnuts…

walnuts in bowl

…before we went inside.

In a break with precedent, Scotland played really really well today in a rugby match in the world cup in Japan and we are now in a situation in which either a passing tropical storm or a gallant but not quite good enough win in the last match will return us to normality.

The flying bird of the day is a jackdaw heading for the power line and a rest.

flying jackdaw

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, who is on a choir visit to the Netherlands.  In between singing , they were taken to see a parachute drop, part of the 75th anniversary Operation Market Garden commemorations in this area of The Netherlands.

parachutes

Our dry weather continued  today but it was rather misty when Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to the Moorland Feeders after breakfast.

laverock hide road mist

I was acting as a fill-in feeder filler for Sandy who is on holiday in Bulgaria and quite apart from the gloomy weather, there were hardly any birds about so we didn’t hang around after I had topped up the birdseed.

Instead, we drove back through the town and up the hill onto the Langholm moor to see if there were any swirling misty pictures to be taken.  There weren’t.

The clouds were just sitting on the tops of the hills, spoiling the view.

ewes valley misty hilltops

Even the tops of the turbines were hidden.

wind turbines in low cloud

We pottered back down the hill, putting the charge back into our car’s battery as we went and got home in time for coffee.

In the dam behind the house, birds were drinking and bathing.

starling and greenfinch

After coffee, I had a walk round the garden.

A grey headed blackbird was supervising affairs.

grey headed blackbird

Clematis, mallow and cosmos are still providing us with some rich colour…

three deep red flowers

…and red admiral butterflies could be seen on many different flowers.

three red admiral butterflies

We haven’t had any really cold mornings yet so there are still roses doing their best.

princess margareta rose

Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased with how healthy the whole of this new rose plant is looking.

new rose

She puts it down to good soil preparation and wishes that she had the time and energy to treat the whole garden so well.

She moved some nerines and was worried that they might not survive in their new location but they have not just survived, they are flourishing.

good nerine

As is the fuchsia on the back wall of the house.  It has had  a couple of very poor years but after an inauspicious start to the summer, it has produced a lot of late flowers and is looking better than it has done for some time.

back wall fuchsia

Not bad for a very old plant that has been largely left to its own devices over the years.

back wall fuchsia blossom

Once again, the garden was full of butterflies in spite of the cloudy conditions.

A peacock stuck out its tongue for me.

peacock butterfly panel

And there were at least three small tortoiseshells about in varying conditions.

small tortoiseshell butterfly panel

Our visit to the garden was cut short by the need to go up to the town. Mrs Tootlepedal’s trip was to visit the bank which comes in a van for 45 minutes each week, and mine was to visit the health centre for a routine vitamin top up.

After lunch we went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to see Matilda and her parents, and we were very shocked to find that our train was on time.

We  bought a new card game on our way to their house, and it turned out that Matilda has learned a new game herself as well.  She beat me at both of them.  I must remember never to play Matilda at cards for money when she grows up.

There was a stunning evening sky as we caught the bus back to the station after another delicious meal cooked by Alistair, but it was beyond the capacity of my phone camera to do it justice.  Instead I took a picture of the impressive array of cranes which are massed at the end of Princes Street for the rebuilding of the St James Centre.

burst

Our train home was also on time but the drive back to Langholm from Lockerbie was slowed by some foggy patches along the way.  This is not unexpected at this time of year but it was very unwelcome all the same.

Still, we got home safely.

The flying bird of the day, a fluffy young sparrow, is lying flat out on our neighbour Betty’s garage roof.  Flying is a tiring business.

plump young sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He cycled from Derby to Belper (about 10 miles) to enjoy this slice of joy in the book cafe there.  Then he cycled home again.

belper book cafe

We had a generally sunny day today and I tried to make the best of it.

I started off by putting a load of washing on before breakfast and hanging it out before going to church to sing in the choir.  By chance, we had a lot of very sunny hymns to sing so that fitted very well with the day.  There were only five of us in the choir so I don’t suppose that we made a lot of difference but I enjoyed the hymns.

The washing was almost dry by the time  I got home.  I left it on the drier and went for a walk round the garden.

I looked up at the very tall sunflowers and thought that I ought to go and see what they looked like out of an upstairs window, the only way to see them properly.  It was a bit of a disappointment.

taall sunflowers two views

I came back down and had a close look at a geranium and an argyranthemum…

geranium, argyranthemum. mustard nicotiana

…and a wider view of some nicotianas and Mrs Tootlepedal’s latest mustard crop. (She’s very keen on mustard, as I may have mentioned before.)

My favourite was this poppy.

late poppy

In spite of the sunshine, there was a flurry of rain and I worried about the washing.  The flurry came to nothing though and I was able to cut the greenhouse grass and get the washing in without any bother.

In spite of the sun, it was a bit cooler than it has been so the butterflies needed to spend as much time as possible getting some warmth as well as feeding and  they were spread out all over the place on any convenient flat surface.

four butterflies getting warm

I was able to sit out on the garden seat and have my coffee and the last iced bun, but I had to shift the butterfly which is bottom left in the panel above before I could sit down.

Although they are nowhere near fully out, the sedums have enough flowers open to attract traffic already.

forst bee on sedum

It always seemed touch and go as to whether we were going to get wet as you can see from this picture showing sun on the rowan and very dark clouds just behind.

garden weaher contrast

In the end, the wind turned out to be in just the right direction to send the rain clouds past us and not over us, so all was well.

Readers may wonder if I am managing to look after myself in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal who is living the high life in the south, so I thought I would use a picture of my lunch to show that I am not starving. (Home made soup, home made bread, butter from a farm and a cheerful cheese board, with a small side dish of beetroot from the garden.)

lunch alone

I will survive!

After lunch, I checked the forecast and ignored its warnings of the possibility of rain and went out for a walk.  I did take a waterproof jacket with me.

I drove a couple of miles before I started my walk and walked up through some woods just in case it did actually rain.  This chestnut tree, possibly afflicted by a disease of chestnut trees, gave an early warning of the seasonal changes to come.

chestnut turning

The recent rains have brought life back to the mosses and encouraged fungi.

moss and fungus longwood

I walked up through a birch wood…

jenny noble path

…and then came to an oak wood.  The sun persuaded me not to take the short route back to the car through the oak wood…

oak wood jenny noble

…but to walk on past this butterfly enjoying the sunshine…

buttefly on hill

..and take a track along the open hill.  When I looked back along the track, all was fine…

oak on path to Broomholmshiels

…but out of the blue, a shower of rain started up.  I put my rain jacket on but I hardly needed to have bothered as the shower only gave me gentle kiss and didn’t embrace me at all.

I walked on under sunny skies, happy to see a few elderberries and some rose hips.  Hooray.

elderberries and hips

As it looked set fair for a while at least….

road to Hide

…I walked up this road to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland bird feeders…

Laverock hide

…and watched a very busy collection of small birds at the feeders while I rested my feet.

I saw great tits, coal tits, blue tits, chaffinches, greenfinches, siskins, a robin, blackbirds and a nuthatch (which unfortunately saw me at the same time as I saw it it, and flew off before I could get the camera up), but no woodpeckers or pheasants today.

four birds laverock hide

A buzzard flew down the clearing and all the little birds disappeared as if by magic so I left the hide and walked back down the road to the car.

The countryside was looking at its best…

view from Bromholmshiels

…and there was a lot to look at as I went along.

wild flowers broomholm road

My route took me down this road which used to be lined by sombre conifers.  They were felled for timber though and the road is now a different place.

broomholm road

Half way down the hill, I came to my favourite mossy wall, home to ferns, mosses and lichens.

moss and lichen broomholm road

I managed to stop taking pictures in the end and arrived back at the car after a walk of under two and a half miles, a short walk but one which had offered enormous variety on my way.

When I got home, i was pleased to find a starling keeping an eye on things.

starling keeping watch

Under its supervision, I mowed the middle lawn, edged the front and middle lawns and trimmed a small hedge.  Then I made a sausage stew and prepared a small loaf for the bread making machine.  While they were cooking, I got out my borrowed bike and cycled to the top of Callister and back.  As I had already taken over seventy pictures, I resolved not to take any more on my cycle ride unless I met something really interesting like, say, a charging rhinoceros.

Rather disappointingly, charging rhinoceroses were thin on the ground so my camera stayed in my pocket while I battled uphill against a brisk wind, and whooshed down the hill back home.

The stew turned out to be OK and I followed with it stewed plums and custard for a pudding so in the end, I probably didn’t take nearly enough exercise during the day to offset all the eating.

There is a genuine flying bird of the day today but not a very good one.

flying rook

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce who is in the north east of Scotland.  He had a warm and sunny day yesterday when he visited Haddo House, a Scottish stately home located near Tarves in Aberdeenshire.

Haddo House

We had a warm but far from sunny morning here as the rain made its presence felt.

I was happy to stay in out of the rain because I was expecting a call from an engineer who was coming at some time between eight and twelve to install smart meters in the house.  Life likes to play little pranks on unsuspecting old people so when the phone rang and I was expecting the engineer to answer, I was quite surprised to find it was the hospital.  I was even more surprised when after waiting three months for an appointment with the physio, they told me that they had had a cancellation and I could see the physio today.

Oh joy….but then, the appointment was for one o’clock and I couldn’t take it as, with Mrs Tootlepedal away in Edinburgh, I had to be present while the meters were being fitted and I couldn’t guarantee that it would be finished by one o’clock.  The charge for cancelling the meter fitting at short notice was £130.  Oh calamity….and then, the cream of the jest…. when the hospital had rung off, the engineer rang soon afterwards to say that he was on his way and in the end the job was finished before half past ten…but the appointment had gone.  How I laughed.

Still, Dropscone came round for coffee bringing with him a pile of his fine drop scones so life wasn’t all dust and ashes.

After Dropscone left (with added rhubarb), the rain continued and I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group website.  Finally things dried up and after a light lunch, I went up to the Laverock Hide to fill the feeders in my capacity as a fill-in feeder filler for friends who were absent.

I took this shot of the hide with its slightly tousled toupee and its eyes closed as I walked back up to it after filling the feeders.

Laverock Hide

I went in, opened a window and sat down but I might as well have left the window shut for all the birds that I saw.

A blackbird was slipping and sliding about…

blackbird moorland feeders

…and a chaffinch perched for a moment in front of me…

chaffinch moorland feeders

…but that was all the excitement for the day.

A beautiful orchid outside the hide cheered me up as I left.

Orchid laverock Hide

I walked round the garden when I got home, doing a bit of dead heading as I went and enjoying some raindrops caught on a fine web…

droplets on web

…and a very soggy bee hard at work…

soggy bee on knapweed

…and noting that the berries on the tropaeolum are turning blue.

tropaeolum blue berries

It started to rain again, so I went in and watched our own birds.

A greenfinch looked as though it thought very much the same as me about the weather…

glum greenfinch

…while a sparrow just concentrated hard on nailing the landing.

landing concentration

The weather lightened up and a jackdaw arrived to stock of the situation…

jackdaw under feeder

…while I went out into the garden again.

The sweet peas looked…

sweet pea in garden

…very pretty…

looking up to sweet pea

…and the Charles Ross apples are coming on well.

apples getting ready

When the sun came out, I went on a butterfly hunt and spotted a painted lady straight away.

painted lady butterfly on buddleia

If you want to know what a painted lady looks like from straight behind, this is it.

back view of painted lady butterfly

Later on, I had another look and saw a couple more.

painted lady butterfly panel

I even saw a peacock butterfly as well.

peacock butterfly

Then it was time for the main business of the day, a drive to Lockerbie Station to pick Mrs Tootlepedal up from the Edinburgh train.  My timing was perfect and I walked onto the platform as the train drew in.  Mrs Tootlepedal alighted and we drove home.

She had been watching Matilda dance in a competition in Musselburgh and reported that Matilda had done well.

When we got back, she noticed that the acidanthera which she is growing in pots have also done well and the first flower on one of them had come out while she had been away.  The internet tells me that this delightful flower is also called the Abyssinian gladiolus so it has come a long way.

acidanthera

Our new smart meters seem smart enough to let our electricity and gas keep working so that is a relief.  The little gadget that comes with the meters to let us monitor our consumption in real time doesn’t work yet so they are not that smart.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin threading its way through the rain to the feeder.

flying siskin

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Today’s just picture comes from Mrs Tootlepedal’s brother, Mike.  He planted some daffodils to brighten the road verge opposite his house and is pleased that his work has born fruit.  Being 300 miles south of Langholm, his daffodils are already out.

Mike daffodils

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Carlisle after an early breakfast to help sort out the music library for  our Carlisle choir.  This is a big job with 130 copies of every piece of music we sing needing to be sorted and stored.

While she was gone I looked out into the garden on another grey day.

The feeder was busy…

busy feeder

…and on the mossy lawn, a pigeon was putting its best foot forward.

pigeon on lawn

I had put out some fat balls and they had attracted jackdaws.

jackdaws on feeder

There was no shortage of flying birds to be seen even if there was a bit of a shortage of light to see them by.

flying chaffinches and goldfinches

Sandy came round for coffee.  He was in an exceptionally good mood because he had just enjoyed a thoroughly good night’s sleep, a thing so rare as to be be priced above pearls.

While we sipped and chatted, we were joined by some greenfinches…

flying greenfinches

…and a very unusually marked jackdaw.  I have never seen one like this before.

speckled jackdaw

After coffee, we went up to visit the Moorland project feeders in the glade at the Laverock hide as it was Sandy’s day to act as feeder filler.  After filling the feeders, we lurked in the hide for a while.  There were plenty of birds about, mostly chaffinches but with a good number of great and blue tits too.

blue and great tits Laverock

As with my garden, there were no winter visitors to be seen at all.  This is a bit worrying as there seems to be no reason not see our usual migrants.  I hope it is a one off and  not a sign of things to come.

We didn’t stay too long and when Sandy stopped at the Co-op on our way back to buy a local paper (full of articles by Dropscone this week), I took the opportunity to get out too and walk home along the river in the hope of seeing something interesting.

The hope was amply fulfilled as I saw a goosander…

goosander

…two oyster catchers…

two oyster catchers

…three dippers…

dippers in esk

…and a single white duck.

white duck

It was still pretty grey and most of the birds were a bit too far away from the bank for good pictures but it was encouraging to see them.  I snapped the church too while I was passing…

church on a grey day

…and a bit of typical Langholm street life.  Dog walking is a popular activity in our town.

alan and dogs

When I got home, I made some soup and then dashed out into the garden when the sun came out.

sunny crocuses

I didn’t have time to enjoy the sunshine and go for a walk or a pedal though as I had to go off to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.

It was a day of sophisticated travel arrangements as Matilda and her family were flying back from a family party in Dublin over lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal planned to catch the train from Carlisle that I was aiming to catch 20 minutes later in Lockerbie.  It is on days like this that the mobile phone really comes into is own and the flight and train journey went smoothly as planned and we all met in Edinburgh on schedule.

Matilda then took Mrs Tootlepedal and me for a walk in the woods.  We scaled the heights…

sdr

…passed all sorts of interesting plants like this St John’s Wort…

dav

…and came out at the top of a small hill from which we could see Edinburgh Castle in the distance  over the roofs.

dig

The rest of the afternoon was spent in catching up on news of the trip to Ireland, being coached by Matilda in the proper use of the alphabet, watching clips from Matilda’s dancing school’s annual show on DVD and eating another tasty meal.

We got safely back to Lockerbie on the train and drove home as the temperature dropped back to freezing again.

It is supposed to be warm and sunny tomorrow after a chilly start.  I live in hope.

The flying bird of the day is one of the oyster catchers making off down river.

flying oyster catcher

 

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