Posts Tagged ‘Laverock hide’

Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Wirksworth.  As well as the train to the museum, there was another connection to Derby and Sheffield by the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway.


We had been expecting a very rainy day today but it was surprisingly dry if rather chilly when we got up.

The day continued dry and got quite warm and although the sun was mostly absent and a few individual drops of rain fell from time to time, it ranks as one of the better days of the summer.  It would have been a great day for a good long pedal but I had been so adjusted to the possibility of rain and a day indoors that it took me ages to realise that I should be outside.

In the end, I had a look round the garden.

A lot of the dahlias are very spiky this year.


The poppies are not.

poppies with no pollen

Many poppies had been visited by bees and abandoned.

poppies with bees

And bees were flying around looking for fresh pollen

Occasionally a poppy was to be found with pollen but no bees.  This was my favourite.


There were butterflies to be seen too.  We have two buddleias and both were in the butterfly business today.

peacock butterfly

Red Admiral butterfly

I did get my act together in the end and after coffee, I went off down to Canonbie on my customary 20 mile route.  There was only a light wind today and my legs felt quite cheerful so I applied myself to bicycling and only stopped for one cow…

horn cow

…which was too busy chewing to pose for a proper picture.

I got back at a good speed and had a quick look for butterflies on the Michaelmas daises….

bee on Michaelmas daisy

…but there was only a bee

I noticed that the Virginia creeper has some little flowers…

fox and cubs virginia creeper

…and the cubs have come to join the fox in the orange hawkweed.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hosting a committee meeting of her Embroiderers’ Guild group in the afternoon so after a quick lunch and a shower, I packed myself and my new lens into the car and went up to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland Project bird feeders to see what I could see, although the day had got a bit gloomy by this time.

The first thing that I saw was two other other enthusiasts already ensconced in the hide with big lenses at the ready.  I filled an empty feeder and sat down beside them as they clicked away furiously.

There were a lot of small birds to see…



Great tit

Great tit



Coal tit

Coal tit

Blue tit

Blue tit

…and some bigger ones too.


Greenfinches looking as fierce as ever


A pheasant not in full feather yet


And a greater spotted woodpecker

The other two bird watchers had left before the woodpeckers came so I sat quietly and enjoyed three woodpeckers chasing each other about the trees.

I had thought of a walk while I was up there but a spell of very light rain for a while persuaded me that a cup of tea at home would be the best thing.

It had got quite warm enough by this time to make it feel quite like summer so Mrs Tootlepedal and I went out into the garden.  She did some heavy tidying up and mulching while I sieved some compost and trimmed one more of the box balls…and admired the combination of crocosmia, cornflower and poppies which the gardener had planned and which has finally arrived.  The camera can’t do it justice.

poppies, crocosmia and cornflower

I’ll try again if we get some sunshine.

I had a look for late butterflies or bees on the daisies again but there were none to be seen. The daisies were quite attractive in their own right though.

Michaelmas Daisies

I have pulled a muscle (even though I didn’t know that I had any) in my left arm and that combined with a nagging back is making me feel my age a bit at the moment so I went in and had a sit down before my flute pupil Luke came.

He tells me that he has passed his Higher music exam which involved  playing two instruments  and written work.  He didn’t get any help from me with his exam pieces so I can’t take any credit for this. He just worked very hard with his grandad and the teachers at the school.  I am very proud of him.

I tried very hard to get a flying bird this afternoon but the light wasn’t good enough so a head and shoulders of a woodpecker will have to do instead.

greater spotted woodpecker


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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother, who was on one of his outings.  It shows the Old Bridge at Hereford across the Wye.

Old Bridge at Hereford across the Wye

We had a very pleasant day here today with lots of sunshine but with a wind just brisk enough to make me think of several reasons why going cycling might not be my best option.

It had rained overnight and the plants in the garden were holding on to some of the raindrops.

willow and pulsatilla

Willow and pulsatilla unwilling to let go

There was plenty of buzzing to be heard in the garden…


…and plenty of new flowers for the bees to visit.

Star of Bethlehem, tree peony and iris Siberica

Star of Bethlehem, tree peony and iris Siberica

After coffee, I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that a short trip on our bikes up the Wauchope road might be worth while and so we went off to see the bluebells that I had noticed on my bike ride yesterday.  We left our bikes by the side of the road and walked up the hill.  The view down the valley without the bluebells was very good….

Wauchope valley

…but it was even better with bluebells.

Wauchope valley with bluebells

And there was no shortage of bluebells on the hill side for us to enjoy.


Wauchope valley with bluebells


Wauchope valley with bluebells

…and along.

Wauchope valley with bluebells

I could have filled a whole post with bluebells.

There weren’t a lot of other flowers among the bluebells but there were some of these tiny yellow flowers.

yellow wild flowers

As we cycled home, I stopped for a look at some fresh hawthorn blossom…


…and an orange tip butterfly which kindly rested for a moment or two on a bluebell beside the road.

orange tip butterfly

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn, chatted to blackbirds…


…who were keen to share the lawn with me, enjoyed a whole hearted tulip…


…and then went off on an outing with Sandy.

We drove up past the bluebells but the sunlight was in quite the wrong place so we drove back through the town and went to visit the Moorland Project bird hide.  When we arrived, we found that others had beaten us to it so we left the car there and walked down the road…

Rashiel road

…to the banks of the Tarras Water.

Tarras water

We crossed the bridge and walked along the bank of the river for a few hundred yards and stopped to be amazed by a forest of horsetails which Sandy spotted…


…growing in a very soggy patch beside the river.

I will have to come back and look at these again as they are interesting plants.

One of them had a friend.


We walked back up the hill to the hide and found yet again that someone else had got in before us but this time we went in too and shared the viewing windows.

There was a lot of woodpecker activity and for the first time ever, I saw a woodpecker on the ground pecking away at the grass.  Of course there were plenty of pheasants doing that too.

pheasant and woodpecker

There wasn’t a great deal of other activity so we made for home and had a cup of tea and a couple of mini Jaffa cakes with Mrs Tootlepedal.

Sandy went off and I mowed the middle lawn and had a look round the garden.


Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these are Alliums

The garden was alive with sparrows feeding their young…


One even sat on Mrs Tootlepedal’s bicycle handlebars

…but because the feeders are not up, it was hard to be sharp enough to catch them in the act.

I had a last look round…


…and went in to practice a few songs and look at the many, many pictures which I had taken on my outings and in the garden.  It is very hard not to take too many pictures in spring time.

I noticed that I had seen quite a lot of unfurling ferns here and there during the day…

unfurling ferns

…so I put some together.

I was feeling pretty tired by now and I let the chance of an evening bike ride slip through my fingers and settled for eating spaghetti with tomato sauce cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal and having a little snooze.

It is not a good picture but I feel that a flying bee of the day is the way to end this post.  It was a flying bee sort of day.

flying bee

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Today’s guest picture is another from Gavin’s visit to Yosemite and shows a quite well known waterfall there.


We had another chilly but dry day today.   This was a bit of a surprise as we had been promised rain.

Dropscone is going on holiday on the Isle of Skye next week so he came round for a farewell cup of coffee.  He completely failed to bring traditional Friday treacle scones with him but made up for this with several hot cross buns which did very well instead.

After he left, I spent some fruitless time on my computer.  National Savings had sent me a letter politely suggesting that I might like to register on line as I am a premium bond holder and this would save them the trouble of constantly sending expensive letters to tell me when I have won a prize.

This seemed fair enough, though they don’t send me many prize letters I can assure you, but having gone through the online process unsuccessfully a couple of times, the website ended up by telling me to print a form out and send my application to go on-line to them in the post.  I was mildly amused.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland Project Feeding station, she to see if there were any raptors about and I to look at smaller birds.

She did get a brief view of a passing hen harrier and I saw a lot of small birds.


This was one of only two greenfinches that I saw today

great tit

But there were a lot of great tits about


And an unusually marked chaffinch

There were some slightly larger ones too.


Woodpeckers chased each other round the trees,


And then this one relaxed

I got a glimpse of a passing jay….


…and couldn’t miss this pheasant which stood right in front of me and stared me out.


Two visitors came into the hide hoping to see a goshawk but left fairly soon and then more bird watchers with big binoculars and a telescope arrived and they did see a goshawk…

bird watchers

….but it was far too far away for me to see at all.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I decided that goats on the moor might be a better bet so we went up onto the hill and saw three or four goats wandering around some distance away trying to look like boulders or clumps of heather.


We had thought that we had seen a goat or two near the Tarras Bridge on our way out so we had hopes of seeing some nearer to hand on our way home.

We were not disappointed.


A clue

We parked the car and I walked up the road with my camera at the ready.  I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible but this was a wasted effort as the goats didn’t care how close i got to them.

wild goats Langholm Moor

They just kept munching…

wild goats Langholm Moor

…though they did give me the occasional glance.

There was a small group among the bracken.

wild goats Langholm Moor

It was a very peaceful scene.

wild goats Langholm Moor

People say that kids don’t climb trees any more but some do.

wild goats Langholm Moor

And others joined in.

wild goats Langholm Moor

Weighing up the job

wild goats Langholm Moor

All hands on deck

And then back to mum for a cuddle.

wild goats Langholm Moor kid

We left them chomping away in peace….

wild goats Langholm Moor

…and drove home.

It started to rain as we got back so we went inside and had a cup of tea.  It soon stopped raining but in spite of a temperature of 10°, it felt so chilly and unwelcoming outside that we left the garden to itself and found things to do indoors.

I had a look at our own birds.  They were still arguing.


And even this rather placid looking pigeon…


…had chased another three away from under the feeder.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I tootled away merrily while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal watched Gardeners’ World on the TV.

The orchestra and I found some agreeable tempos for the trickier pieces and we had moments when things sounded really good but there were also moments which indicated that a little more practice might not go amiss.  Such is life.

After TV and music, we joined together and put the world to rights.

The flying bird of the day is a garden goldfinch.



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Today’s guest picture comes from Mike Tinker’s NZ trip and shows Nelson Cathedral.  He tells me that as it is in NZ,  it has an earthquake policy, the final line of which says: ‘if the earthquake is a gentle event (i.e. no creaks in the building) services will continue’.  I hadn’t thought that there might be a gentle earthquake.

Nelson Cathedral

Our good weather continued today, although it was a bit windier than it has been lately.   Under the circumstances, I was quite pleased to have an excuse not to go cycling as we were expecting a visit from our friend Sue for lunch.

There was a complete lack of birds in the morning and it was a bit annoying that they appeared in the garden just as Sue arrived.  I was listening with my full attention to every word that was spoken over coffee and at the lunch table, even when I might have been distracted by movement outside.

If I had been rude enough to get up with camera in hand in mid conversation, I might have seen this….

robin, chaffinch and goldfinch

Three poseurs

…or this….


Two more poseurs

…or even this…


Impending violence

Sue noticed the arrival of a greenfinch so I make no excuses for having seen this finch festival.

greenfinch, goldfinch and chaffinch

After lunch, we piled into the car and headed up to the hide at the Moorland Project bird feeders, where we sat for a while watching a terrific amount of activity.  Unfortunately, apart from a brief and unrecorded visit from a brambling, there were no unusually exciting birds to be seen.

It is always fun to see a greater spotted woodpecker though and there were a lot about today, pecking away at various feeders and chasing each other up and down trees.

greater spotted woodpecker

The great, coal and blue tits were in sharing mode.

great tit, coal tit and blue tit

And there were dozens of chaffinches around.


Those pink pellets are always popular


The brisk wind was ruffling a feather or two

There were several raptors flying over the hill when we came out of the hide but they were too far away to identify with confidence.

Mrs Tootlepedal has been suffering from a sore foot so she drove the car back while Sue and I walked the two and a half miles home from Broomholmshiels.

The weather stayed dry and there was even a hint of sunshine as we strolled along looking for things of interest on the way.

I always like  a gate and this brand new belt and braces job caught my eye soon after we left the farm fields.


Broomholmshiels gate

And bare trees are favourites.


Sue has been going to classes on plant recognition and had a keen eye for the ferns, mosses, lichens and fungi that we passed on our way once we had got into the oak and birch woods…

sue T

Oak wood

There were a lot of things to see just on the trees.

moss and lichens

turkey tail fungus

We saw fine displays of mosses beside the track in the wood and many spleenwort and ferns on walls when we got nearer to the town.

We finished out walk with a stroll along the river bank and since I had told Sue that we might well see a dipper as some point, I was very pleased when we found one singing its heart out near the suspension bridge.


The light had faded quite a bit by the time that we saw it.

We also met Sandy, who rather annoyingly told us that he had seen a tree creeper at the Moorland site when he was filling the feeders this morning.  Where was it when we needed it?

We had a cup of tea and some of Sue’s delicious home made biscuits when we got home and then, after we had put the world to rights, it was time for Sue to head off back home.  It had been a delight to have her company.

I rounded off a very good day by making curried cauliflower for our tea.

No plant of the day today but I did manage to catch a flying chaffinch out of the corner of my eye while we were having lunch.

flying chaffinch


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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who took a walk in the Peak District last week and climbed high enough to get this excellent view of the River Dove and its valley  far below him.

Dove Valley

I was battling with the cold again today and although there were moments when I was quite cheery, there were more moments when I was completely wabbit and had to sit down.  In the great game of life the score was Cold 3 – 2 Tootlepedal.

Sandy was off living the high life in Carlisle and so it fell to me to drive up to the Moorland bird hide and fill the feeders after breakfast.  Luckily this was in one of my better moments and after I had topped up the seeds, I had a little sit down in the hide.  There was plenty of action.

I always put a handful of seed on a short tree stump just outside the hide so that I can photograph small birds when they come to have a nibble.  Today proved that pheasants are quite able to adapt to new experiences….

pheasant on stump

Strong toes and good balance

The rotten thing ate all my seed in a few seconds and jumped down with a merry laugh at my expense.  He obviously expected me to replenish the stock promptly because I got a very hard stare when he returned and found no food.


I had to look elsewhere for small birds.  They were not in short supply.


A whirlwind of chaffinches round the tall house

coal tit and blue tit

A coal tit and blue tit sample the seeds and nuts

great tit

A great tit waits for an available slot


Two woodpeckers obligingly provided me with a symmetrical triptych

I didn’t stay long.  It was quite warm by December standards but I didn’t want to push my luck and get chilled.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy with Christmas cards and getting organised to go to Edinburgh to visit Matilda when I got back so I perfected my skills at not getting under anyone’s feet for a while and only took an occasional peek out of the kitchen window.

The robin was back on sentry duty.


Once again bird traffic was light and while some birds posed, others turned their backs on me.

goldfinch and greenfinch

The light was not good and flying birds were a bit of a blur.


After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Lockerbie and I made some batter and left it to rest in a bowl while I went for a short walk.

My first target was a dipper (or two) and I found one in the middle of the river Esk, just above the suspension bridge.  The light was not great and it was a little too far away for the camera but it put on a good perching and dipping show while I watched.

dipper in Esk

My next target was black headed gulls on the Kilngreen and here I was very lucky, as there was a good number of them on fence posts beside the river and for some reason, they all took off and flew around as I passed. (I didn’t shout “boo” honest.  That would be unethical.)

black headed gulls

It is hard to imagine from the different colours in the background that these were all taken from the same spot and within a few minutes.

There was another dipper here in the middle of the Ewes Water.


I walked on round the Lodge, over the Duchess Bridge and back past the school.  Then I took the path through the Galaside wood instead of going along the road.   I saw a few things on my way.

typhula, catkins and algae

Possibly typhula fungus, certainly catkins and probably algae and lichen                                                                                         

There were bare trees to admire as well.

Castleholm tree

And yet another dipper in the Esk, this time much too far away to be any good but singing really loudly in a failed effort to get me to put it in the post.

I got home, having walked about one mile in an hour, in perfect time to turn the batter into crumpets.  After my last effort had resulted in reasonably tasty but very unsightly crumpets, I had consulted Mrs Tootlepedal and she had suggested lining the crumpet rings with non stick baking paper and heating the pan much more slowly.  This was sound advice….which I took….with quite good results.


Not perfect yet but a lot more pleasing to look at.

The taste test will come when we toast them tomorrow and eat them with melted butter.

After the excitement of very slow walking and cooking, the cold took over and the rest of the day was spent in gentle coughing and theatrical sighing. I enjoyed myself.

The leaf of the day is a modest tropaeolum poking through the yew beside the middle lawn….


…and the flying bird is the best of the black headed gulls.

black headed gull flying

Details:  f/5 – 1/1000th sec – ISO 4000 – zoom 165mm – taken in ‘aperture’ mode – cropped

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Today’s guest picture shows a stone which was so covered in colourful lichen that my neighbour Liz thought that it looked like a concealed tiger when she saw it deep in the woods.


After a busy day yesterday, I was quite happy to have a quiet morning today and so I was more than pleased after breakfast to welcome Dr Cat Barlow in for a cup of tea and a chat about moorland matters and bird life in general.

We were pleased to see greenfinches in the garden during her visit…


…even if one of them was a bit argumentative.

greenfinch and goldfinch

We watched jackdaws…


…and siskins too.



Cat is having a demonstration bird ringing session soon as part of the Moorland Festival so I hope to be there, as it gives me a chance to get closer to the birds than usual.

After Cat left,  Sandy and Dropscone came in for a cup of coffee.  Dropscone surpassed himself by bringing not only six scones but six special Friday treacle scones.  We had a feast.

The morning was shaping up very well with all this sociable activity and when Sandy and Dropscone left, I went out into the garden to see them off and was delighted to hear the gentle croaking of frogs in the pond.  They too had been busy at some social activity.

frogs and frogspawn

I made a good morning better by sieving some well rotted two year old kitchen compost which turned out so well that it would have been a pleasure to lie down and have a snooze in it.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy morning with a visit to Carlisle to buy paint followed by a coffee morning with ex colleagues from work.

After lunch, she got busy applying the paint to walls upstairs and I got the slow bike out and went for a photographic outing.

I started by visiting the Moorland Feeders bird hide and on the way, I saw an oyster catcher standing on a rock in the middle of the Esk.  I stopped the bike, got the camera out of the saddle bag, took the lens cover off and fully expected the bird to fly off the very moment I raised the camera viewfinder to my eye.  To my surprise, it stayed put and even straightened up a bit to get its photo taken.  A very rare occurrence.

oyster catcher

When I got to the top of the hill and went in to the hide for a welcome sit down, there were a lot of birds to watch.  Although the light wasn’t very good, I couldn’t resist a shot or two, or three.

coal tits

There were coal tits…

great tit blue tit

…and great tits and blue tits…

robin woodpecker

A robin and a woodpecker


Any amount of pheasants


And even more chaffinches.

I didn’t stay for too long as I didn’t want my legs to seize up so I was soon on my way along the road to Claygate and then back down to the river Esk at the Hollows.

Sandy had told me that there was a new sight to see just before the bridge so I kept an eye out but I wasn’t expecting this:

statue at Hollows

Not something you see every day.

That brightened my day up a lot and I cycled back up to Langholm in a very cheerful mood.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out this colourful corner to me.

colourful corner

It was slightly warmer today after a frosty start but a little sun would be a big encouragement for new growth in the garden.

Our sociable day continued when our neighbour Liz leaned over the garden fence and asked if we wanted any bluebells.


She had had a very hard day in the garden digging out an unwelcome crop of the devilishly persistent Spanish bluebells for several hours so we were easily able to decline her kind offer politely but firmly.  She was looking a bit fraught after the long battle with the bluebells so we invited her in a for a cup of tea and an iced bun.

The hours of deep digging had left her feeling very stiff and she went home after the refreshment with a view to a good soak in a hot bath.  A very sound plan.

Our social day was not over as Mike and Alison came over in the evening and Alison and I enjoyed some flute and keyboard work for the first time for several weeks.  This made the perfect end to an enjoyable day.  As I went out into the garden to see our guests off when they left, the frogs were still singing away in the pond, with one basso profundo leading the choir.

The flying bird of the day is a garden goldfinch clapping the brakes fully on.


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