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Posts Tagged ‘mallard’

Today’s guest picture is a second from my brother’s trip to Tamworth.  As well as the colourful gardens, he enjoyed the contrast between the Tamworth’s ancient bridge and the modern buildings behind it.

Tamworth Bridge

We woke up to sunshine.  It was hard to believe but it was undoubtedly there.  After breakfast, I went out into the garden to enjoy it.

The sunflowers looked more cheerful too.

sunflower group

The sedum is getting flushed with pink…

pink sedum

…and the last of the poppies are still hanging on…

deep red poppy

…but a nasturtium, positively sparkling with joy, took the prize.

sparkling nasturtium

There were even a few butterflies about.  The red admirals seem to like resting on hosta leaves to gather warmth.

buttefly on hosta

Sadly, the sunshine didn’t last for long and we were soon back to gusty winds and frequent rain showers.  I made some potato soup for lunch and while it was cooking, Mrs Tootlepedal noticed a jackdaw making free with our plums.  The miscreant tried to hide behind a leaf when it saw us looking at it, but the well pecked plum in front of it was a giveaway.

jackdaw at the plums

In light of the poor weather, I devoted the afternoon to musical matters until Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea (and the last of the biscuits).

It was still raining off and on when he went, but I was confident that the worst was behind us and I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal to come out for a short walk when it had finally stopped.

I carried an umbrella just in case but I had no need for it, as the evening turned out to be much like the early morning.

We passed a large number of ducks on the banks of the Ewes Water as we went along the Kilngreen…

ducks on kilngreen

…and there was an old friend there too.

heron on kilngreen

We walked across the Sawmill Brig and onto the Castleholm.  It was looking lush and green…

view of castleholm

…and the Lodge Walks had a refreshed look about them too.

lodge walks september

The gaps along the side of the Walks, where trees have been taken out, have made room for wild saplings to spring up.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that this is an ash.

new ash tree

Even when the mature trees are still there, views can be gained by peering through the branches.

warbla from Lodge walks

We were passed by some traffic and looking back as it passed us, I wondered of whom it reminded me.  But there were too many choices so I stopped wondering and walked on.

horse rider

We went past the Lodge and came back down the other side of the Castleholm.  One of my favourite trees looks at its best at this time on a sunny evening.

pine tree castleholm

Looking across at the trees that line the Lodge walks, it was apparent that autumn is on its way as the leaves are just starting to lose a little colour here and there.

back of lodge walks

In the shade beside the paths on our way home, I could see red campion…

red campion

…and snowberries.

snowberry

After the gloom of the last few days, a sunny walk was most welcome and we had worked up an appetite for the rest of the sausage stew and some courgette fritters for our tea.  They went down well.

No flying bird of the day today.  Indeed this bird looks as though it has hardly got a feather to fly with.

moulting blackbird

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia who visited the very impressive flight of locks at Caen Hill on the Kennet and Avon canal.

Caen Hill Locks

We had another fine and sunny day today, with the temperatures well up into the mid twenties (80F) so it was quite pleasant to go into the cool of the church to sing with the choir in the morning.  The service was led a Langholm man who has led a remarkable life both in Britain and America.  He gave an interesting address and chose excellent hymns, so I enjoyed the whole thing.

When  we got home, the garden was awash with butterflies.  We could count about forty on a buddleia at one point but curiously, they all sat and sipped with their wings tightly closed as you can see in the shot below.

four butterflies

What was most surprising, as we are used to seeing the butterflies with their wings spread out, was the unanimity with which all the butterflies behaved.  I couldn’t get a decent open wing shot at all.  It doesn’t matter so much for the painted ladies who look quite nice with the wing shut or open….

painted lady wings shut

…but the other butterflies are very dull when closed.  Luckily, there were other insects to watch, like this moth on the red buddleia…

moth on buddleia

…and the mint was covered with small flies of a colourful nature.

flies on mint 1

I wish that I had a steadier hand to do these little charmers justice.

flies on mint 2

There was a good variety.

flies on mint 3

I didn’t do a lot of gardening, just some quiet dead heading and wandering around looking at sunny flowers.

sunflower heart

It was just too hot to do much and like this dahlia, I often went in to get a bit of shade.

secret dahlia

The dead heading is worthwhile though and if you dead head the Icelandic poppies, they keep coming for the whole summer and beyond…

icelandic poppy in sun

…and the calendula repay a bit of attention too.

bright calendula

There are still some flowers to come and I liked this low hanging spray of fuchsia showing promise…

fuchis hanging about

…and the sedum is warming up too.

sedum coming

Late in the afternoon, when the sun was getting lower in the sky, I finally got out on my bicycle for a short ride.

I was very pleased to see a metaphor come to life as I passed a farmer making hay while the sun shone.  (In fact he was making silage but I shall ignore that.)

making hay Bloch

I like the way that this bull, in a field covered with grass, chooses to stand in a muddy patch.  It is a creature of habit, I suppose.

bull at wauchope SH

I cycled up to the far end of Callister and when I stopped and turned, I recorded the new road surface which makes cycling so much more of a pleasure than bumping along worn and potholed roads.

new surface on callister road

I had a friend with me as I cycled back.

shadowy cyclist

When I got to Langholm, I took the road along the river bank.  Birds were standing on either two legs or one leg as the mood took them.

gull and mallard by Esk

I clocked up a modest 17 miles but as it took me over 300 miles for the month with a few days still in hand, I wasn’t unhappy….and I was quite hot enough as it was.

Mrs Tootlepedal had gardened sparingly through the day but she had attacked a patch of wild growth and brought another metaphor to life as she had firmly grasped the nettle.  In fact, quite a lot of nettles.

dead nettles

She also cooked a delicious meal of pasta alla norma for our tea.

We were able to watch the totally unexpected highlights of a dramatic cricket test match  in the evening and this rounded off a pleasantly warm and gentle day.   Looking at the forecast, this might well have been the last day of summer.

I spent quite a lot of it wrestling with the intractable prize crossword and in the end I had to ring up my sister Mary for help.  She was very helpful and between us we have got down to the last clue.  It will have to wait.

I did find a single peacock butterfly kind enough to open its wings and pose for a moment…

peacock butterlfy on buddleia tip

…and the flying bird of the day, a young starling,  is ruminating on life among the rowan berries before taking to the air again.

young starling in rowan

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Today’s guest post comes from my brother’s latest group walk.  They covered eight miles with enough climbing to offer some fine views like this one over the village of Crich.

crich

It was another day of frequent heavy rain showers and brisk winds here, and we chickened out and drove the few hundred yards to the church to sing in the choir to avoid getting soaked before we sang.

After church, we went shopping and bought a Sunday newspaper, and reading this kept us occupied for the rest of the morning.  We have been getting some good sized potatoes from Mrs Tootlepedal’s potato patch, so I had a baked potato for my lunch.  After lunch, I made some ginger biscuits for want of anything better to do.

By mid afternoon we were feeling a touch of cabin fever,  so when we found a moment when the sun was shining and the forecast offered a mere 20% chance of rain over the next two hours, we decided to go for a walk.  As we left the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal sagely pointed out the looming clouds on the horizon but I laughed them off and we continued.

I was laughing on the other side of my face half a mile later when we sheltered under some trees as torrential rain fell from the grey skies above us.

We waited for some time and then got bored and headed home, getting quite wet as we went.

Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge was showing 5 inches of rain for the week.  This was the second week running with 5 inches of rain in our rain gauge.

Of course the sun came out half an hour later but we were discouraged by then and stayed at home.

I did walk as far as the garden.

I was surprised to see that a red admiral had the flying power to get into the garden in one of the dry spells in the afternoon in spite of the strong wind and heavy showers.

red admiral butterfly august

Some flowers seem impervious to bad weather and the Abyssinian gladioli are flowering away very well.

abyssinian gladiolus

There is still colour about but not a lot…

anemone, foxglove, zinnia, poppy

…although the Michaelmas daisies are getting more plentiful by the day.

michaelmas daisies

Mrs Tootlepedal came out in the late afternoon and we dug up most of the rest of our potato crop.  She was very impressed by this nine inch long specimen which was by no means unique.

nine inch potato

I cut up the haulms and added them to the compost in Bin A.  The bin is getting quite hot and the haulms looked quite healthy, and as we won’t add the compost to any potato bed next year, it should be safe enough.

full compost bin

We keep on filling the bin to the top and it keeps going down so it must be decomposing quite well.

Nearby, the apples look to be ripening well.

ripening apples

Since the sun was out after our evening meal and the wind had dropped, I took the opportunity to go out for a quick walk round three bridges.

The fact that the Wauchope Water was flowing a lot more strongly than the Esk during the recent spates has led to the Wauchope dumping a lot of gravel well out into the bed of the Esk.

gravel brought down by wauchope

Even though the Esk had not been very high, it had still washed a small tree under the Langholm Bridge.

tree under town bridge august

As I got to the Kilngreen, the sun came out from behind a cloud and lit up the mallards who were resting on the bank.

ducks at sunset

The light was mellow all around.

lodge cottage

I crossed the sawmill brig and…

sawmill brig sunset

…enjoyed the light on the other side too.

trees on castleholm sunset

The cricket ground was looking very peaceful after what must have been a very poor day for cricketers.

cricket ground sunset

My walk wasn’t all plain sailing as I had to keep an eye out for large puddles…

puddles on path

..but I negotiated them all with care and got home dry shod.

I took a picture of the corydalis growing out of a crack in the wall at the end of the Scholars’ Field and was pleased to get home without encountering another heavy shower.

corydalis park wall

The flying bird of the day had come to earth.

blackbird on lawn august

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  There are caves near his house in East Wemyss which have a rich history dating back to the Picts and some archaeologists are currently having a dig around to find out more.

smacap_Bright

It has been getting steadily warmer here, although nothing like the heatwaves in the USA and mainland Europe and although the morning was grey, it was quite warm enough to tempt Mrs Tootlepedal to put on her wellies and do some heavy clearing of old plants from the dam behind our house.

I was so busy wheeling barrow loads of soggy stuff round to our compost bins that I forgot to take any pictures of the activity, though when were finishing, I did spot a duck swimming in the part of the dam that our neighbour had previously cleared on the other side of the bridge.

duck on dam

When that task was finished, we had a cup of coffee and then Mrs Tootlepedal set about other garden business while I took a few pictures.

The poppies had perked up after being battered by the wind yesterday…

three poppies

…and I was pleased to find a lot of the taller flowers were still upstanding.

colourful border

A hosta flower stuck out its tongue for me…

hosta stamens

…and the St John’s Wort berries positively gleamed.

st johns wort berries

I was going to sit down on our new bench for a rest when I noticed that a verbena had sneaked though from behind the seat.

verbena and bench

The privet is a hive of activity.  Not only is it filling the garden with its scent, it has a continuous hum as you approach it, so full of bees is it.  I managed to spot a few today (and a butterfly out of the corner of my eye).

privet with bees

The individual flowers are very fancy with their rolled back petals and they cover the ground below the branches like snow when they fall.

Above the privet, the walnut tree is full of nuts again this year.  Whether the weather will be fine enough to ripen them is another question, but they are looking good at the moment.

walnuts

I noted the first crocosmia in the garden…

crocosmia

…and then went in for lunch, having picked masses more sweet peas and some garden peas to add to our summer soup.

As Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out, we could just keep the soup pot going for quite a time by adding more fresh veg every day, but we probably won’t.

I noted a couple of greenfinches had come to join the crowds on the feeder…

two greenfinches

..but once again, the chief seed eaters were siskins.

passing siskin

By the time that lunch was over, the wind had calmed down a lot and there was the promise of sun for the rest of the day.  I was almost waylaid by a stage of the Tour de France but as it was a flat stage with all the excitement in the last twenty seconds and still some hours away, I pulled myself together and went off to do some pedalling myself.

I did have a choice, since it was such a pleasant day, of a more hilly scenic ride or a slightly more boring and flat ride.  Luckily I chose the boring flat ride as it turned out that while my legs were very happy to co-operate while the going was easy, as soon as I hit a rise, they started to grumble tremendously.

There were no interesting views so I stopped occasionally if I saw something interesting in the verge…

wild flower with bee

…like this great burnet or sanguisorba officinalis.  There is a lot of grass about and I had a bit of trouble in finding a burnet flower without some grass in front of it.

great burnet and grass

The grass and its many seeds may be part of the reason that my legs were a bit unhelpful as grass pollen doesn’t help my breathing.

Still, as my route was largely flat after the first eleven miles, I plodded on down into England where I saw just about the most silver silver birch that I have ever seen.

silver birch

Still in England, I stopped beside the River Esk in Longtown to have a honey sandwich and admire the handsome bridge over the river.

Longtown bridge

After the recent rain, there was enough water in the river to to tempt a fisherman to put on his waders and have a go.

fisherman at Longtown

Thanks to adopting a very sensible speed, I managed to do fifty miles exactly before sinking into a chair in the kitchen and having a reviving cup of tea.  At a bit over 20°C (70°F), and with the sun beating down, it was as hot as I can cope with these days so I was pleased to find that the house was quite cool.

When I had finished my tea, I went out into the garden in pursuit of butterflies.  I had seen quite a lot of them on my ride, so I thought that there were bound to be some in the garden.

I was disappointed.

The fancy roses are trying to prove that Mrs Tootlepedal is wrong to think of replacing with them with simpler varieties…

rose in sunshine

…though these little red charmers which live very close to the ground would probably survive a cull anyway.

roses on ground

The astilbes were beautifully back lit.

backlit astilbe

I went in to enjoy a tasty evening meal, cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal, and then rather collapsed for the rest of the evening for some incalculable reason.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.  It must have been feeling the heat too as it needed a friend to blow strongly just to keep it in the air.

flying siskin blown up

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is a further report from Tony’s Highland holiday.  He has been to the Isle of Skye.

oznor

A lot of my posts recently seem to have been done late at night and in rather a rush, not helped by my computer behaving in a grumpy manner and frequently holding things up.  This one is no exception so I apologise for any dodgy photos and grammatical infelicities.  I am tired.

A couple of readers have asked for more general garden shots. I leaned out of upstairs windows this morning and had a look about.

The front lawn has had a dose of my moss eating treatment so it looks a bit patchy but the beds round it are quite colourful at the moment.

front lawn 27 june

I couldn’t get a view of the whole of the middle lawn because the plum tree gets in the way but the grass is better on it and I like the combination of shrubs and flowers in the right hand bed.

middle lawn 27 june

This is a view from one lawn to the other across the pond.

view of pond bed

General views are all very well but who could pass roses and peonies like these without taking a picture?

the wren margareta and peony

And even in their passing, the peonies are full of interest.

peony teeth

Our neighbour Liz brought her great nephew into the garden to walk over the pond bridge and I was able to point out a frog basking in the sunshine to him as he crossed.

june frog

In return, he told me that he had seen fish swimming in the dam, so I went out to have a look.  He was right.

fish in dam

I had time to mow the middle lawn before we set off in the Zoe for an outing.

The chief business of the day was our customary trip to Edinburgh, but instead of going to Lockerbie as usual, we went to Tweedbank to catch a train on the Borders Railway.  One of the reasons for the change of route was that it let us visit the lost property office of the Border Bus Company in Galashiels on the way.  Some careless fellow had left his cap on the bus to Carlisle when we went to London recently and it had been returned to Galashiels where I picked it up today.  The cap fitted so I wore it.

The route up to Edinburgh from Tweedbank is delightful on a sunny day, and it was certainly very sunny today.  Although the farmers weren’t making hay as the sun shone, they were certainly cutting a lot of silage.

view from border's railway

We did a little shopping when we got to Edinburgh, and then we sat on the top deck of a bus as we went down to see Matilda.  We were in the front seats and got a good view of a bit of Edinburgh of the past…

old edinburgh

…and a bit of Edinburgh to come.

new edinburgh

As it was such a lovely day, Matilda was keen to visit the park again.  The road to the park is called Butterfly Way so it was good to see an actual butterfly on the way to the park.

butterfly way

The park was busy and Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda had to take avoiding action when a cyclist came towards them.

Mrs T and Matilda Lochend

Not everyone was busy though, and we saw this duck having a snooze in the middle of the loch.

duck at Lochend

We arrived safely at the little pier at the end of the Loch and were able to see water birds of all sorts.

pond life Lochend

And we noticed that coots have very big feet….

….as do moorhens.

moorhen Lochend

Mallard’s feet are more in keeping with the size of their bodies.

mallard Lochend

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the coots and moorhens need big feet not just for swimming but to support themselves when they are wading over mud and marsh.

 

Matilda had a lot of fun on the adventurous climbing frame, the roundabout and a swing, and then was given some bread by a kind lady to feed the birds.  She found that gulls are very rude and greedy birds.

A magpie turned up after all the food was gone and looked a bit put out.

magpie Lochend

After plenty of fun all round, we returned home and played a couple of games of Go Fish.  I won’t tell you who won because it will just make Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda big headed.  I didn’t cry though.

After another delicious meal cooked for us by Alistair and Clare, it was time to head for home on a very comfortable and punctual train.  The days are so long now and the weather was so good today, that it was still light when we arrived back at ten o’clock.

There was no time for a flying bird today.  A picture of Matilda having a standing up straight competition with a lamppost takes its place.

Matilda standing straight

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia’s African adventure.  As well as many wild animals and birds, she found time to take in the countryside as well.

Etosha Pan, Namibia,

We were spared the worst of some inclement weather today with towns to the north of us getting a heavy snowfall.  We did get constant rain and wind so we didn’t escape entirely.

It was very wet and windy at first and it was still raining heavily at lunchtime when there was just enough light to let me look out of the window at the birds.

siskin and green finch

It eased off a bit from time to time, but even when it wasn’t visibly raining, a trip to the back door showed a fine mist of drizzle being blown across the garden at a brisk pace.

The birds didn’t come to the feeder in great numbers, probably because of the wind as much as the rain, but there were still moments when they had to queue.

chaffinches and goldfinches

These two summed up the day quite well, I thought.

siskin and goldfinch wet

And as usual, some chaffinches would prefer to get in an argument than to go to an empty perch.

shouting chaffinh

I did step out into the garden and found a washed out chionodoxa….

chionodoxa in the rian

…and daffodils hanging their heads down….

daffs hanging herads

…but as it felt cold in the drizzle and wind, I soon went back indoors.  Luckily there was an afternoon of rugby on the telly to help me pass the time, and I watched Wales thoroughly outclass a rather dispirited looking Irish team.  It was a game with a single try very near the start and another right at the end and in between there was a lot of bash, bash, bash which was quite tense without being very interesting if that makes sense.

After the game, I made a pot of sausage stew and then, since it was still drizzling outside, I sat down with foreboding in my heart to watch England walk all over Scotland.   This they proceeded to do with some style and they were more than twenty points up in less than  twenty minutes.

I checked the weather.  The rain had stopped and there was a hint of blue sky.  Phew, I could go for a walk and leave them to it.

Under normal circumstances, I would have walked as far as the evening light would have let me and I would have come home well after the game had finished but as my foot is still a bit iffy, I merely walked down to the river to admire the daffodils…

daffodils along esk

… check on the flow rate…

bridge in flood

…and say hello to a couple of pairs of mallards…

pair of mallards on wauchope

…who had managed to find pockets of calmer water.

pair of mallards in calm water

I was laughed at by a bunch of rude starlings in the tree beside the Buccleuch Centre…

starlings buccleuch square

…and pottered home to find that the first half had finished with England leading by 31-7.

At least Scotland had scored a try.

Rather against my better judgement, I sat down to watch the second half and was rewarded by a modest miracle.  Scotland played a lot better, England played a lot worse and it was one of the days when fortune favoured the brave and the bounce of the ball went Scotland’s way.  As a result, with two minutes to go, Scotland were actually leading by 38 points to 31 and in sight of a famous victory, but it couldn’t last and they gave away a crucial penalty with only seconds to go.  England kept their heads and scored a well worked try under the posts.  The subsequent conversion tied the match at 38 all.  So it really  was a match of two 31-7 halves, most remarkable and a privilege to watch.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch who was unmoved by the whole rugby thing.

flying chaffinch

I have two footnotes to today’s post:-

The first was sent to me by my friend Bruce, who for reasons that he can’t explain found this scan of a ceefax page from roughly thirty years ago relating to a local school on his computer.  All I can say is that the lucky head teacher must have had an excellent staff to impress the inspectors.

Canonbie report

The other footnote is a composite shot of the pictures that I have framed for the exhibition in the Canonbie church cafe.  They have all appeared on the blog before and I have tried to pick out ones that might have general appeal and have some impact printed at A4 rather than seen at 800px on a screen.

P1170586

I realise that the top left picture needs re-framing.

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Today’s guest picture finds my Somerset correspondent, Venetia on the Ovango River.  It looks like a good place to be.

Okavango River

After yesterday’s gadding about all over the country, I planned for a quiet day at home today, starting with a cup of coffee with Sandy.

There was a slight hiccup in the proposed placidity when fellow archivist Nancy phoned me up to say that one of the microfiche readers in the Archive Centre wasn’t working.  I cycled up and after a great deal of head scratching, I took some advice from Sandra, another archivist, searched online for solution and found one.  Phew. I cycled home again.

Sandy was in good form when he arrived and we hope to be able to get out for a walk soon.

When he left, I watched the birds for a bit and once again there was a fair bit of action on the feeder.  Chaffinches flew in double handed…

two chaffinches incoming

…but the siskins were more than up to defending a perch.

chaffinch and siskin arguing

A collared dove was an oasis of peace and quiet in a furiously fluttering feathery world.

collared dove

The snow from last night had disappeared and from time to time the sun came out and shone on the siskins…

siskin posing in sunshine

…and I even thought of a gentle pedal.  However I went out to help Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden instead and trimmed a couple of berberis bushes.  Then I made some soup for lunch and after we had eaten it, I went out to help in the garden again.

Since we are making new soft fruit beds this year, the old ones are being re-purposed so I dug over the old raspberry and strawberry beds…

rasps and strawbs dug up

…and after some work on the gap  between them, they will become the the home for the potatoes this year.

We also put the Christmas tree in its new place…

christmas tree planted out 2019

…where it will sit quietly until next December.  It is looking healthy and sturdy so we have every hope that it will see a bauble or two when the time comes.

It is sitting beside the remains of our rhubarb patch.

early rhubarb

I saw quite a few daffodils on my travels yesterday and we are getting more out here in the garden every day now.

daffodil

I went in for a sit down, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal working away outside and then Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea.  He is much better after having had a chest infection and it is good to see him getting out and about again.

When he left, I went out for a  quick three bridges walk just to stretch my legs.

A dipper stood on a rock in the turbulence of the Meeting of the Waters and showed off the special white nictitating eye membrane which keep its eyes protected when it is dipping.

over the shoulder dipper

A cluster of ducks lurked behind daffodils on the bank at the Kilngreen…

three ducks

…and a bit further upstream, a second dipper was doing some lurking of its own.

hidden dipper

I was hoping to take more pictures but there was a large crowd of children and parents on the Castleholm attending a running event so I passed by and made my way home without lingering, stopping only to record two more signs of spring, a willow at the Jubilee Bridge…

willow bud

…and some blackthorn in bloom beside the Esk.

blackthorn

I got home in time to meet Luke for our regular flute lesson.  We had a hard working half hour, trying to develop the correct style in our playing.

That concluded the excitement for the day.

There are two flying chaffinches of the day today as I couldn’t choose between them.

There is the vertical lady…

flying chaffinch vertical

…and the horizontal gent.

flyimng chaffinch horizontal

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