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Posts Tagged ‘lichen’

Today’s guest picture shows an interesting wall which Dropscone encountered on his Irish holiday.

irish wall

Our spell of calm, dry and chilly weather continued today with a bright, sunny morning making it possible to overlook the 2°C temperature.

It looks as though this pattern will stay with us for several days with the only difference being that it will be well below freezing every morning.

Under these circumstances, I thought it would be best to get a walk in today while the going was still good.  On the same basis, Mrs Tootlepedal did a little gardening.

I started my walk by passing the mouth of the dam, just where it joins the River Esk.  After flowing under the bridge and then past the back of our house, the dam disappears under roads and into a factory, where it supplies water, before it comes back into daylight here:

dam

I was hoping to see interesting riverside birds while I was there but the cold weather has discouraged them and I had to make do with one of the resident ducks when I got the Kilngreen.

mallard

There were plenty of black headed gulls about but they stuck to the fence posts on the far bank of the river…

black headed gull

….where any flying action was largely confined to playing a game of musical posts.

black headed gull

They did occasionally rise high enough in the air to be described as flying….

_DSC1527

…but nor often.

I got fed up in the end and walked on to find somewhere where more reliable subjects could be found.

Surprise, surprise, it was a wall.

It had a  wealth of interest on it.  I am getting more confused every day but there seems to be moss, liverwort and lichen all in a heap here.

moss liverwort

 

My favourite patch was this one.

moss lichen

As I may have remarked before, it is amazing what you can see when you look.   I should acknowledge my debts both to Sandy, who showed me how to use a camera, and the New Hampshire Gardener, who consonantly inspires me  to look closely at the things I see.

I found another wall and met two very contrasting ferns on it.

ferns

I walked along the top of the wood above the Lodge Walks and once again admired the skill of the tree fellers who can leave a selection of trees standing while felling all around if they wish.

trees

On my way, I was inspected by the locals…

sheep

…and was intrigued by this tree.

tree with moss

Would that little window open and a gnome pop out and ask me to buy a ticket for my journey?   (I think that the political situation may be destroying my mind.)

I walked down through the snowdrops at Holmhead.  They are just about at their best.

snowdrops

When I got down to the flat, I could see the ridge that I walked along yesterday.

Timpen

I have to say that it seemed a lot steeper when I was walking up to the summit on the right yesterday than it did when I was looking at it today.

Further on, I saw more moss…

moss on wood

…which was not too difficult as there is moss everywhere at the moment after some very wet years.

I got home in time for a cup of coffee, fairly swiftly followed by lunch and the traditional Thursday trip to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.

We always leave in plenty of time as there is a bumpy and winding road on the way to Lockerbie but this leaves me with time to stand on the platform and look around.  I love the tower of Lockerbie Town Hall.

Lockerbie Town Hall

I like the fact the clocks show slightly different times and often wonder if anyone has ever stood on the balcony and addressed the crowds below or perhaps blown a fanfare.

I didn’t have as long on the platform as I usually have as incredibly the train was on time today.  Not only that, it actually arrived in Edinburgh a little ahead of schedule and there was a bus at the bus stop to take us down to Matilda’s almost as soon as we had stepped out of the station.

We were punctual to the dot so it was no great surprise to get a text from Alistair to say that they hadn’t got home yet.

Still, the great thing about cities is that they have shops there so we were able to kill a little time without any difficulty.

We had a most enjoyable visit, being thoroughly entertained by Matilda and well fed by her parents.  And Mrs Tootlepedal had bought one of her sticky toffee puddings with her.

The journey home went as well as the  journey up and we arrived back to find that not only had the builder finished installing the pavement kerb on the bridge but the gaps had all been filled up and things look as though they are now ready for tarmac.

dam bridge repair

The state of play when we left in the afternoon and when we got back in the evening.

I did find one sympathetic gull this morning and it is the flying bird of the day.

black headed gull

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She saw these de-icers at work at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on her way to America.  They would make me very nervous if I was flying.

20180212_114951

We had a day out today.  One of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fellow sopranos from our Carlisle choir had invited us for a walk and lunch so we set off for the south after an early coffee.

Google may come in for some well justified criticism but the ability of Google Maps to predict how long it will take us to get from A to B by car is uncanny. It suggested that it might take us 45 minutes and it took us 44.

We had a second cup of coffee when we arrived and I was pleased to find that Melanie and Bill have bird feeders outside their kitchen window so we felt at home straight away.

They have more varied visitors than us.

Mistle Thrush

A Cumbrian mistle thrush wonders who the intrusive photographer is.

After chatting for a while, we donned our wellies and coats and set out for a three mile walk.

We started by passing the very square church in the village….

P1070424

…and walked down the road, passing this fine house set among mature trees…

Raughton head dwelling

… on our way to crossing the River Caldew on the handsome Rose Bridge.

rose bridge

It is not only a good looking bridge but has convenient steps down for pedestrians to join the Cumbrian Way which runs along the river Bank here.  They have even cut down a tree which would otherwise have blocked my view.

The Rose Bridge gets its name from Rose Castle, the erstwhile home of the Bishop of Carlisle, which overlooks the river.

Rose Castle

The castle was much battered about during the English Civil War and has been extensively rebuilt in succeeding years.

Those interested may find out a bit more about the history of this building here.

We were walking through the Castle’s parkland and there were any amount of excellent trees to enjoy as we went along.

Some by the river.

Rose Castle tree

Some with added castle.

P1070440

And some with reflections in the storm channel of the river.

P1070441

I found one view of the castle without any trees in the way.  the original building is the Peel tower on the right.  Two wings of the main building are missing

Rose Castle

The River Caldew takes a lot of water from the Lake District hills in heavy rain and we passed several channels created by floods in the past.  It is  still shifting its course on a regular basis and I was impressed by the way it had disposed of half a wood here.

River Caldew

I was also impressed that two new trees had been planted to maintain a row of trees on the skyline.

trees

We passed another fine house, many centuries old, on the far bank of the river…

River Caldew

… but as I went to take the picture, I was even more delighted to find a good crop of lichen on a riverside tree branch.

lichen

After a last look back at the parkland…

Rose castle estate

….we crossed the river on a new bridge built to replace a previous bridge which had been damaged by a falling tree.

new bridge over Caldew

The rest of the party posed for a picture.

The final section of the walk took us back to the village up farm track and back roads.  There were many clumps of snowdrops to be seen….

cumbrian snowdrops

…but the pick of the late winter flowers were several sensational spreads of winter aconites.

winter aconites

We have had extreme difficulty in getting any aconites to grow in our garden and the ones that do show were nothing like as strengthy as these.  It was a real treat to see them.

We finished out circular walk by arriving back at the square church.  Melanie told us that when there are weddings at the church, string is put across the gate and wedding guests may be encouraged to disburse coins to the local children before the string is lowered and they can go in.

raughton head church

We were treated to an appetising meal of ham shank and vegetable soup followed by parsnip cake.  They were both delicious.

After more conversation, we had a final cup of tea and then drove home while there was still daylight to see by.  Excellent food, two interesting birds, a new and very enjoyable walk, good weather and good conversation….who could ask for anything more?  It qualified as a Grade A, Grand Day Out.

We got home safely and settled down for a quiet night in.

Although I didn’t have my flying bird camera with me, I was able to take a good static bird of the day shot when an obliging greater spotted woodpecker  perched on Melanie’s feeder for me.

woodpecker

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My South African correspondent, Tom, thought that it was time to make the blog more attractive to the wider public so he has sent me this delectable picture of bare flesh.  They have to put up with a lot of fine weather down there.

feet

There was once again no danger of sunburn in Langholm as the temperature stayed near freezing all day.

I had to go back to the health centre to get the dressings on my scratches from the bike crash changed again.  Things are healing up very nicely though and I should be be clear of sticking plaster by the end of the week with luck.

After his own spell of illness, Scott, the minister, proved that he had got his coffee radar working well again and appeared for a visit just as coffee was on the go.  He is a keen cyclist and in view of the continuing bad weather, he has taken out a gym membership and had been spinning away in the gym before he came to see us.  I am thinking about the possibility of going to the gym.  But only thinking about it.

We had a look at progress on the dam bridge repair while he was with us.

dam bridge repairs

The concrete has set well and the big concrete beams were being lowered into place.

After Scott left, I made some vegetable soup for lunch and kept an eye on the birds while it was cooking.

Sometimes I wonder if there are more interesting things going on round the back of the feeder than at the front.

chaffinches

I have put out some ground level food and it is beginning to attract some customers.

blackbird and dunnock

A blackbird and a dunnock test out the new treat.

Two greenfinches arrived and showed magnificent disdain for the attempt by a chaffinch to unsettle them.

blacgreenfinches and chaffinch

And we were pleased to see a random great tit.

great tit

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal set about stripping the old varnish off the dining room table and I went out for a walk.

I stopped at Pool Corner to show the sluice and caul that provide the water for the dam (and create the pool that gives Pool Corner its name)…

pool corner and the dam

…and while I was leaning on the wall and contemplating life, a dipper flew in and posed briefly for me.

dipper at Pool Corner

I walked up the Hallcrofts road to have a look at the progress of the felling at the Becks wood.  It is extensive.

Becks wood felling

You can click on the photo to get the bigger picture if you want.

A skilful combination of man and machine was adding to the already enormous pile of logs beside the road.

P1070286

On a wall nearby, I studied a strand of moss and thought how much it resembled a conifer tree in miniature.

moss strand

I had checked the forecast before I had set out and it offered only a very small chance of any rain and I suppose it was right in a way as I had dry spells and I also went through a couple of heavy hail showers but it never actually rained.

sunshine and hail

Taken a twenty minutes apart

At least the hail stopped and looked good on some clumps of moss.

hail on moss

Although I am mostly thinking about moss, I haven’t lost my taste for lichens and fungus.

The lichen on the fence post at the Auld Stane Bridge was looking very healthy.  The red spots are so tiny that I didn’t see them until I looked at the picture on my computer.

lichen

And there was a good set of birch polypores beside the river as I went along Gaskell’s Walk.

birch polypore

After the hail showers, i would have been more appreciative if the sun had shone on me rather than on nearby hills…

sun on hill

…but at least it stayed dry for the rest of my walk.

Following some recent advice I looked at the sori on the back of ferns…

fern sori

…and following my own inclinations, I was impressed by the variety of moss within a square yard on the park wall.

mosses

The dam bridge repairs are now a spectator sport…..

dam bridge repairs

…and they are a subject of considerable interest in our neighbourhood.

I was a little tired today after all the excitements of going to Manchester yesterday so I was not as unhappy as I might have been to find that the usual Monday evening trio playing had been cancelled.  My flute pupil Luke came though and we had an enjoyable time working on a sonata so it wasn’t a totally tootle free day.

We noticed with sinking heart a telephone engineer climbing the pole outside our house in the late afternoon and were very relieved when he did what he had to do without cutting off our phone line this time.

When the workers had left, I popped out to record their progress on the bridge repair.  They and their machines had worked hard today.

dam bridge repairs

The forecast is for more strong winds, low temperatures and possible snow so I don’t think I am going to be able to test my cycling appetite and abilities for a few days yet.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch in expansive mood,

flying goldfinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan.  She was told by our brother Andrew that she might find an interesting house in Chiswick.  This was it.

London House

As we are going to have a very long day in a bus going to Manchester to sing in our choir competition tomorrow, I had a very easy day today to try to get myself in good condition.  My face has got a lot better over the week so I won’t look quite such a fright when I am standing on stage.  This is a relief.

I had a lie in after breakfast and finally got round to topping up the bird feeder after coffee.  This stimulated a lot of action.

chaffinch and goldfinch

But the nearest that a robin got to it was peeping out from behind a leaf some distance away.

robin

After a rainy start to the day, the weather cleared and there was even a little sunshine to encourage the birds.

busy feeder

I rather think that the chaffinch approaching the feeder is more concerned about getting his photo taken than shifting the siskin.  He certainly seems to be checking on where the cameraman is.

The bridge repairers turned up early and poured some concrete in the rain.  I don’t know much about concrete  (I don’t know anything about concrete to be more truthful) so I hope that getting wet doesn’t bother it.

Dam bridge repairs

You can see the ‘in’ and ‘out’ pipes on the pump in the picture and how close the bridge is to our house.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a meeting of her Embroiders’ Guild branch and I went for a short walk which included getting some snacks for tomorrow.

There was not much in the way of views as the sun had gone in and it was rather grey so I kept my eyes down today.

There were plenty of opportunities to look at mosses….

mosses

…and for once, the light seemed to be just right for looking at catkins and tree buds.

catkin and bud

The alder catkins are colouring up well.

alder catkins

I liked this oak branch near the old distillery.  There is some wood under all that lichen.

branch with lichen

The retaining wall on the far bank of the river looks as though it might need a little work.

Wall damage

I crossed Skippers Bridge and walked back on the town side of the river.  There is a fence on the way which had some good lichen on it last time that I passed and it was still looking good today.

The yellow lichen is absolutely tiny and needed a really close look look.

lichen on fence

I did my shopping and continued home.  When I was walking up Caroline Street, I noticed a quartet of ducks all having a siesta.

headless ducks

And on my side of the river, a little patch of jewelled moss caught my eye.

wet moss

Just down the road from our bridge, there is a pile of concrete beams and I presume that these are going to make up the new bridge once the concrete has set.

dam bridge repairs

I walked along the dam and crossed it by stepping stone and went through the gate into our garden.  As I went past the drying green a lone crocus stood out among the grass….

crocus

…though when I looked at the picture later, I saw that it was actually standing out in the middle of a lot of moss with hardly a blade of grass to be seen.  Did I mention that it has been a very wet year?

Looking up at the walnut tree before I went into the house, I could see a good number of starlings perched on the highest branches….

starlings

…and knowing that they like pink pellets, I put some out.  In less than ten minutes, they had scoffed the lot.

starlings

Three collared doves also visited us and I was quick enough to catch one today.

collared dove

Once inside, I settled down to catch up on the Winter Olympics and the rugby and in this way, the rest of the day slipped by.  I did take time out to practise the songs for tomorrow and make some bread for sandwiches to eat during the day.

We have got to get up not long after six in the morning tomorrow so it will be an early night for us tonight.  I am not expecting to have the opportunity to post anything as we won’t get back until late.

Not one but two flying birds today, both of them goldfinches, neither of them very good pictures.  I couldn’t choose between them.

flying goldfinch

flying goldfinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who found a heron in Regents Park which has taken to the law.  Well, at least it is sitting on the bench.

Mr G's London cousin 001

In contrast to the yesterday’s gloom, today dawned bight and sunny and the day was made even sunnier when Dropscone arrived with treacle scones for morning coffee.  We were joined briefly by Sandy who came to pick up some parish magazines for processing for the Archive Group website.  We arranged to go for a walk after lunch and he went off leaving Dropscone and me to finish the scones and coffee.

We managed.

Easily.

After Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to to have lunch with friends at the Buccleuch centre.

I watched birds…

chaffinch

…and was rather baffled by this chaffinch which looked at first sight as though it had been pumping iron and was auditioning  for a super hero role.

I walked round the garden in the sunshine and enjoyed the snowdrops….

_DSC1209

snowdrops

…and the magnolia by the front gate.

magnolia

In a vain effort to improve my brain power, I had sardines for lunch and then went off to pick up Sandy.  We started our outing by visiting the Moorland Feeders by car but although the light was good, interesting birds were scarce.

There were a lot of great, blue and coal tits about…

blue tits and great tits

Great tits and blue tits share the peanuts with a chaffinch.

…and a single pheasant who did some world class strutting.

phreasant

It turned out to be rather chilly sitting in the hide in spite of the sunshine so we didn’t stay long.

Our thoughts turned to snowdrops and we drove down to the Lodge Walks, stopping at the Kilngreen where I failed to take a picture of a flying seagull as they all stuck obstinately to their fence posts.

We left the car and walked through sun dappled woods….

Near Holmhead

…until we got to the snowdrops.  They were worth the walk.

snowdrops at Holmhead 2018

snowdrops at Holmhead 2018

P1070192

They are still not fully out so another visit may be in order (if we get another fine day next week).

We walked up through the snowdrops and strolled back to the car by the top path.  This used to run through woods but there has been more felling recently…

felling

…and only a few trees have been left standing.

There are soon going to be more though….

new trees

…as we passed many bags of new trees waiting to be put into the ground.

The top track offers a terrific view of Whita on a fine afternoon…

Whita

…as well as a walk through a delicate tree tunnel…

Path near pathhead

….and a look at the town through the trees.

Town from pathhead

On our  way back down to the car, we passed a splendid mossy wall but my plan to take yet more mossy pictures was sidetracked by an outstanding lichen…

peltigera lichen

…and a pair of ferns on the wall.

ferns

Asplenium scolopendrium, the harts tongue fern and Polypodium vulgare, the common polypody

In spite of the brilliant sunshine, it was exceedingly cold on our walk because the wind was very unforgiving so we were pleased to get back in the car and go to our respective homes.

If you are interested, you can see Sandy’s take on what we saw here.

By this time, the crossword and a cup of tea was all the excitement that I needed, though I did go out with Mrs Tootlepedal to see what all the banging and sawing had been about at the dam bridge.

It was totally shuttered….

dam bridge repairs

…and Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the men are going to pour concrete tomorrow.

While we were looking at the works with our neighbour  Kenny,  something glinting on the exposed bed of the dam caught Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye and Kenny kindly fished it out.  It turned out to be a 1928 penny….

1928 penny found in dam

…which may well have been lying in the dam for anything up to 90 years.

The channel through the bridge looks rather narrow but the builders say that it is exactly the same size as the previous one.

My Friday night orchestra is visiting her son and his family so there was no traditional evening tootle today and we had a quiet night in.

The flying bird if the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who found some nice light in a quarry on a walk at Little Eaton.

Andrew's quarry

The main excitement of the day was caused by the arrival of workmen who are going to replace the bridge over the dam in the street outside our house. Our road will be shut for a month.

Dam bridge repair

The road is closed to traffic and pedestrians and it gives us a great talking point.

They soon got to work outside and in the meantime, Mrs Tootlepedal got to work inside the house on giving the kitchen a thorough clean.

Under these circumstances, I thought it better not to get in anyone’s way and went off for a walk.  It was dry, reasonably bright and just above freezing so it was a good day for me to check to see if my recent bike folly had given me any aches and pains that hadn’t come to light yet.

I chose a three mile route with a little uphill road work and some gentle contouring round a hillside and this let me know that all my moving parts were in very good order.

This was a relief.

It also gave me the opportunity to have a look around as I went along.

There were gulls….

gulls

….and interesting walls, fence posts and some hair ice as I walked along the main road.

moss and hair ice

Once I turned up hill on the Newcastleton road,  I began to get views…

View of ewes in winter

….with the occasional glimpse of snow and windmills….

View of esk valley

….which were made better by seeing that down below to the south, The Solway was swathed in mist.

mist over Solway

I kept an eye on fence posts for interesting mosses and lichens but in the end, the most interesting thing that I saw was a fence post….

knothole with moss

….though it was amazing that moss had  found space to grow in the tiny cracks in the knothole.

I walked along the hill.

It is a mystery that while some hawthorns have been stripped of berries, others remain with a good crop still attached.

haws

I had a look down at the town….

Langholm from Whita

….and then walked towards it.

As I came off the hill to go past the golf course, my eye was drawn to a mossy wall.

mossy wall

Closer examination revealed that there was a lot of lichen on the wall as well as moss…

lichen and moss

…and by far the most striking thing to be seen was a bright red display of cladonia lichen.

cladonia lichen

I think this is British Soldier lichen, Cladonia Cristatella.

P1070063

The views were still good as I came down the Kirk Wynd and the sun came out to make it very pleasant day.

Looking towards Peden's view

I thought that I had seen some unusual moss on a stone but when I looked again, it seemed more likely to be some sort of sedum.

sedum

By the time that I got home, the bridge mending team had got well stuck into the task.

dam bridge repair

The disturbance from the work had kept the birds away in the early morning but as I made some soup for lunch, they returned to the feeder….

busy feeder

….in enough numbers to  make some shouting inevitable.

_DSC1118

After lunch, I had to visit the health centre to get some modest scrapes checked to see that they were healing nicely.  They were but another visit later in the week is still needed.

When I got home again, I found that the eager bridge repair men had dug so vigorously that they had cut through our water pipe.  Mrs Tootlepedal had warned them about where it was but they had preferred to rely on the water board’s view that it was somewhere else.

A water board man appeared and mended the pipe.  Mrs Tootlepedal felt slightly smug.

I visited a neighbour with a bird feeder for her to try out, as she has found that jackdaws eat all her bird food almost as soon as she puts it out.  I got rewarded with a cup of coffee and two chocolate biscuits.  I may have to go back soon and check how it is doing.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came and we had a play.  I was pleased to see that I was able to play the flute even though I had bruised my mouth a bit and so after tea,  I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

None of the three of us are in peak condition at the moment so we didn’t play at our best by any means but the session was still very enjoyable.

The flying bird of the day really is a flying bird today.  It is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is a Maltese bird.  Dropscone spotted it.

Maltese bird

It was a variable day, starting and finishing with steady rain and in between being broken up by some periods of unexpected sunshine and more rain showers.

I felt quite cheery when I got up in spite of the rain and spent some time printing out cards which the newspaper shops sells on behalf of the Archive Group.

The rain stopped so I looked out of the window from time to time.

There was plenty of activity….

busy feeder

…and then the rain started again but didn’t discourage the visitors.

greenfinch and chaffinch

Then it stopped and four siskins glowed gently in some thin sunshine….

siskin

…but a greenfinch looked as though it was expecting the rain to start at any moment.

siskin and greenfinch

In one of the sunny periods, I thought about a little cycle ride but with the weather so changeable, I didn’t want to get stuck out in the country in a shower so I went for a walk round Gaskells instead.

I set out feeling good and enjoying the lichens beside the river at the park….

lichen

…which have obviously liked our weather a lot.  The lichens in general are thriving.

However, as soon as I came to the short and gentle slope up to the Stubholm, I found that I wasn’t nearly as well recovered as I had thought and nearly ground to a halt going up the hill.

This was a real blow and I had to creep round the rest of the walk at a snail’s pace to stop my chest hurting.  I was really glad to have embarked on a low level and short walk and at least I completed it.  It would have been frustrating to have had to turn round and go home.

It was a pity because, for a while at least, it was a very nice day, though still cold and raw.

Stubholm

Meikleholm

I was concentrating on where I was putting my feet quite a lot as I didn’t want to add slipping over to my day but occasionally a bit of lichen intruded on my consciousness.

script lichen

peltigera lichen

And a tuft of moss too.

moss

I reached home in one piece, pleased to have had a bit of fresh air even if the exercise hadn’t amounted to much and was very cheered to find a fine clump of snowdrops in evidence on the bank of the dam behind the house.

snowdrops

Roll on spring.

The walk had showed that more rest was needed so I rested for the rest of the day.  In the evening, my flute pupil Like came and we had a productive lesson and I was able to blow a few notes on my own flute so the rest had done me good.

After tea, I went off to the first camera club meeting of the new year and although the turnout was on the small side, we had some very good pictures to look at and a new member from Canonbie to welcome so it was a worthwhile evening.

We had been asked to do a portrait and since I don’t like to take pictures of other people very much as I feel that I lack the skills to do them justice, I took a picture of an old man who was hanging around in the front room.

_DSC0798

It always comes as a shock to see just how old I am!  I am not like that on the inside.

One of our fellow camera club members showed us a wonderful picture of a flying nuthatch this evening.  He had found a moment of good sunshine for the shot. My flying siskin of the day in the rain is rather gloomy in comparison.

_DSC0775

 

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