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Posts Tagged ‘mist’

The sign says it all

The guest picture pf the day comes from my ex-colleague Marjorie who is on a toot in the Highlands and came across a well known road sign.  It is famous enough to have figured in a TV quiz show last week.

Marjorie's sign

The sign made an excellent guest picture today as it was an exceptionally dull day here today.

This was the mid morning view from an upstairs window on one side of the house…

dull day whita

…and this was the view from the other.

dull day meikleholm

Just for the sake of a little colour, I looked down at the garden while I was there.

dull day garden

There is not much to be seen but the hedges and lawns please the eye even in the middle of winter.

You may notice that there are no birds at the feeder in the picture above and that stayed much the same all day.  It might have been a bit too windy for them.

It was certainly too windy and gloomy for me and I was happy to have a cup of coffee with Sandy in the morning to help to pass the time.  He has been suffering from a very painful back which limited his Christmas plans in a big way, but he was a bit better today and had almost enjoyed his walk down to visit us.

Unlike yesterday, when it was at  least dry, there was a perpetual fine mist/drizzle in the air outside today which made walking unattractive.  In the circumstances a trip to Gretna Shopping Village seemed like a good scheme.

This time, again unlike yesterday, the enveloping gloom did not let up at all as we went south and it was just as miserable in Gretna as it was at Langholm.

They have a very jolly Christmas tree though.

Gretna tree

Being what they call an ‘outlet village’, you can never tell what stock the units will have on hand when you visit Gretna.  We went in search of shoes for Mrs Tootlepedal and socks for me and came back with a vegetable chopper for Mrs Tootlepedal and a pair of pyjamas for me.  We weren’t unhappy.  That is the nature of shopping at Gretna.

And that was our day.  It was fairly dull in every way (except for the coffee with Sandy) and I even made some dull soup for lunch.

There is wild talk on the weather forecast of light winds and sunshine for tomorrow but I will believe it when I see it.

A jackdaw was the only bird that I saw on the feeder today.  Sharp eyed readers may be able to see a flying jackdaw in the background and that was the closest that I came to a FBotD.

visiting jackdaw

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who was cheered up by a bit of brightness at Coal Drops Yard on a very gloomy day at Kings Cross.

Coal Drop Wharf

We were cheered up on another very gloomy day here by a lively performance from the Sunday Club children at our church service this morning.  This was followed by a baptism so it was a service for the future and with well over 100 people in the church, the future looked as though it might just be all right.

When we got home, there was time for a cup of coffee and a check on the birds.

A goldfinch and a sparrow arrived at the feeder from different sides.

goldfinch sparrow oanel

Then siskins appeared…

siskins on feeder

…and a goldfinch made an exit.

goldfinch leaving

Having looked at the forecast, we decided to have a late lunch and get a walk in while the going was good, so we put on our walking shoes, said goodbye to a pigeon on the drive…

pigeon in garden

…and set off through the park towards the Kernigal.

Some little white fungus on an old tree stump caught my eye as we walked along the Stubholm track….

whiefungus

…and I thought that a mossy branch was the equal of many pieces of sculpture that I have seen in art galleries.

mossy branch

As always, I kept an eye for lichen and was pleased to see this colourful clump just before we got to the wood…

fruting lichen

…which was looking quite majestic in the misty conditions.

misty woods kernigal

We followed the mountain bike path through the trees and it was too dark to see much.

Only another crop of white fungus stood out and even that needed a flash to capture it.

white fingus kernigal

When we got out of the thick wood, we thought that we were going to get rained on but it was only drops from branches overhead….

drops on twigs kernigal

…and we were able to follow the path back down to the river without getting wet.

track to skipperscleuch

It was rather a damp scene all the same.

warbla misty view

I thought that this tree, against a drab background and with a fallen branch at its foot, summed up the day well.

 

Tree with fallen branch

On the plus side, it was well above freezing and there was no wind, so walking was a pleasure and incidental treats like these very glossy beech leaves kept us interested as we went along.

shiny beech leaves

We crossed Skippers Bridge and walked back beside the river towards the town.

I enjoyed seeing the fence lichen in magnificent form and Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a teasel, a rare thing in this part of the country.

lichen and teazle

We called at the Co-op to get something for our late lunch and as we were walking along the narrow path behind the Dyehouse, I noticed a couple of birds ahead of us.  At first I thought that they were just rather colourful chaffinches but as we got nearer…

bullfinch panel

…we could see that they were bullfinches and that there were three of them.

One of them stopped and stared for long enough for me to get the zoom working but it was a good way ahead of us…

bullfinch in tree

…and then they played a most amusing game.

I had the shopping in a bag.  They stopped on a bush, waited until I had put the shopping down and got my camera out and then they flew on.  As the light was so poor, I needed to get quite close to them to get a decent shot, so I picked up my bag and followed after them.  As soon as I started walking, they stopped, I put down my bag, got out the camera and they flew on again.

This went on for quite some time and even Mrs Tootlepedal had to agree that it looked very much as though they were just tormenting me on purpose.

Dyehouse path

What the bullfinches were looking for were the seeds on these plants…

bullfinch eating seeds

….and they stopped long enough once or twice for me to get blurred shots.  When they got fed up with laughing at me, they flew back over our heads and doubtless waited for another passer-by to tease.

The forecast got it bang on and it had just started to rain as we got home and that concluded the outdoor part of our day.

We had a late lunch and whiled away the rest of the day in reading the newspapers and conversation.  After a while, Mrs Tootlepedal started to listen to an interesting radio programme on jackdaws and rooks and I went off to catch up with my correspondence on the computer.

The winter solstice arrived at 4am today and the TV weatherman told us that tomorrow our day will be one second longer.  We are very excited by this and are planning to make full use of the extra second when it comes.

We had a mince pie each after our evening meal and felt quite festive. Then we watch the final episode of His Dark Materials. Both of us were more or less completely baffled about what was going on.  I await the next series with impatience in the hope that some explanation will be given.  Perhaps if we had read the books it would have helped.

The fuzzy flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who was out walking his dogs this morning.

bruce's morning mist

Bruce took his photograph at half past eleven this morning when, as you can see, it was misty on the Castleholm.

I had looked out of the window after breakfast and only seen sunshine and frost but when I went outside, I could see mist on the hills so I thought that this would be a good moment to rush up the hill (in a car) and see if I could look down from above to get some “sea of mist” shots.

It was before ten when I left and it was quite misty as I drove over the bridge on my to the White Yett so my hopes were high.  Sadly, my optimism went down in inverse ratio to the height I gained as I went up the hill and when I got to the car park, it was apparent that I had left things too late.

I left the car and walked up the track to the monument, looking down as I went.  There was only a trickle of mist running along the very bottom of the Ewes valley…

light mist ewes valley

…and not much more running along the length of the Esk.light mist over town

There were places where the mist was a bit thicker…

mist up esk valley

It was beautiful day though and the views were lovely so I wasn’t as unhappy about the lack of mist as I might have been.

mist over whole town

I should have got out earlier because the mist had risen up and was now sitting in an impressive line along the top of the hills along the Ewes valley.

clouds on ewes hill tops

As I walked, the clouds lifted a bit more and across the town, I could see the wind turbines, which had been in the clouds in previous pictures, quite clearly now.

craig windmills with diggerThe sharp eyed reader may notice something beside the left hand turbine tower in the shot above.  A closer examination shows that it is one of those machines with a lifting platform reaching up to a blade.

When I got to the summit, I walked a few yards past the monument and looked over the wall into a misty England.

view over misty england

Turning round, and looking the other way, all was clear as crystal.

monument december

I was happy to see a very decorative patch of lichen enjoying life at 1000 ft above sea level.

lichen at monument

Although I hadn’t seen as much mist as I would have liked, it was a delightful short walk and the sun took the edge off a sub zero temperature as I walked back down to the car…

sun and shadow at monument

…and made everything look very cheerful.

lichen at white yett

The mist really was very local, lying close to the rivers and very low, as you can see from this picture which I took when I was almost back down the hill and into the town…

mist over rugby club

…and it was still there when Bruce was walking his dogs an hour later (assuming the clock on his camera is set correctly.)

I made a pot of coffee and had a cup with Mrs Tootlepedal when I got home and I was pleased to warm my hands up after exposing my shutter finger to the chilly breeze on the hill.

Fortified by the coffee, I had a look at the birds.  There were a lot about today, the most this winter so far.

Goldfinches arrived with and without the use of wings…

goldfinches wings

…and jackdaws looked on disapprovingly as usual.

quizzocal jackdaw

The robin took a more quizzical view…

quizzical robin on stalk

…and a green finch showed that it too could manage without any wing flapping.

no wings greenfinch

I waited in for a delivery of hand made soap after lunch and then went for a short walk.  After the brilliantly sunny morning, the afternoon was a disappointment, being very grey and gloomy, so taking pictures was hard work.

A pheasant at the lodge was bright enough to show off its exotic colours…

pheasant at lodge

…and I saw two lots of fungus, the first a crop looking so like a heap of fallen leaves that I almost passed it by without noticing it…

fungus lodge walks

…and the second gleaming brightly on a tree branch.

fungus duchess bridge

It wasn’t as cold as when the sun had been out in the morning but it wasn’t really a great time for a photographic walk so I pressed on home, taking a final picture suitable to the conditions.

moss and fern tree

Darkness fell soon after I got home.  Following a recommendation from Sandy, we have started to watch the BBC adaptation of His Dark Materials on the i-player and this was a perfect opportunity to take in three episodes before we had our evening meal.  It is very gripping.

Checking on the train company showed that they had managed to run more of their trains today than yesterday, so we are hoping that this improvement will continue tomorrow and we will be able to find a train to go to Edinburgh to see Matilda.

The flying bird of the day is a gull which flew over my head as I walked along th Kilngreen this afternoon.

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture comes from East Wemyss where it seems that the sun shines  frequently.  Our son Tony got a new camera for Christmas and sent me this picture to show that it is working well.

tony's trees

There was a complete lack of sun here today and after singing in the church choir and having an early lunch,  I went for a short walk which proved the point.

low clouds

When I started my walk the clouds had almost covered the town completely and as I walked on the clouds got lower…

very misty trees

…and lower….

eskdaill street in cloud

…so if I hadn’t had the flash on my camera, I would have been pushed to record anything much as I strolled along.

As it was, I could see a fine burst of lichen on a tree trunk…

cript lichen

…an old seed head…

old seed head

…and a promise of spring to come….

mew needles

…as well as some pixie cups on a post at the Auld Stane Brig…

cup lichen

…and a crop of curiously damp lichen on the bridge itself.

lichen with raindrops

In fact there was so much lichen about that at times it seemed almost to be dripping off roadside walls.

wall lichen

There was enough light to see the Auld Stane Brig itself,

auld stane brig

Considering  that many of our bridges are old and most are made of stone, it is hard to work out why this bridge got the name of The Auld Stane Brig in particular when it could have been applied to so many others.  Still, it is a bridge, it is old and it is made of stone so I shouldn’t grumble.

The clouds were soon back down again and the only colour of the day….

misty tree

…was provided by Mrs Tootlepedal’s developing crochet blanket on the kitchen table when I got home.

crochet

I look forward to a whole colour symphony when she is finished.

Peering out of the kitchen window during over lunch, I could see that there were more birds than usual about.

They were mostly chaffinches…

chaffinch arriving at feeder

…both male and female…

three chaffinches

…but sparrows and goldfinches put in an appearance too.

sparrow and arriving chaffinch

I didn’t have long for my walk or any bird watching as we had to go off to Carlisle for the first meeting of the year with the Carlisle Community Choir.  By this time, the clouds had really hit rock bottom and we needed both front and rear fog lights on the car to get us safely to the meeting.

We began work straight away on songs that we will take to a competition in Manchester in March and I will need to start learning my part off by heart as it takes me a long time to get songs to stick in my memory.

As I write this post in the evening, the clouds are still pressing down on the town and the air is full of the plaintive cries of pink footed geese as they circle overhead.  I hope that they finally find a safe landing.

In spite of the gloom, I did find a flying chaffinch of the day today.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is from our son Tony and shows that the temperature was lower in Fife than it was here this morning.

frosty wemyss walk

We had been promised a day of freezing fog so it was a pleasant surprise to find no fog and a temperature of two degrees above zero when we got up.   It was still too cold for cycling though as I am resolved not to risk hitting any icy patches this winter so I had a relaxing morning of chatting to Mrs Tootlepedal and making ginger biscuits.

I had a good deal of time to stare out of the window and was happy to see one or two birds making a welcome re-appearance at the feeder.

I caught a great tit in the plum tree…

great tit in plum tree

…a redpoll on the feeder…

redpoll in december

…and a blackbird on the ground below.

blackbird head

There were visits from a robin and a blue tit too but these went unrecorded as they were too quick for me.

The jackdaws were back again…

jackdaw on chimney

…but there was still not a great number of finches.  I met two neighbours this morning, one of whom reported that his garden was short of small birds and the other who had many sparrows but no finches.

It was still only 2°C at lunch time but it was such a nice day that a walk was in order even if cycling was not on the menu so after  a cheese and chutney sandwich, I set off to walk up to the monument.

There were no flowers to be seen except the occasional gorse bush but some bright lichen on a small bush beside the track caught my eye.

lichen on Kirk Wynd

I was resolved to see if I could walk up the hill to the monument without stopping but one or two views compelled me to pause for a second or two.

ewes valley december

This is what lay ahead.

up to the monument

Although the ground looks a bit rough, there is a path all the way to the top and I was soon looking back on the lower hills across the valley…Castle hill

…and it didn’t take me too long to get to the top of the hill and look over the wall across the Tarras valley.  The camera makes it all look rather flat but it would be very hard work to walk across the moor, down across the river and then up to that hill in the distance which is quite a bit higher than Whita.

tinnis hill

Looking out to the west, I could see Criffel, 30 miles away, rising above a sea of mist over the Nith estuary.   We were obviously getting the best of the weather.

Criffel above mist

Looking around I could see a mixture of commercial forest and sheep grazing grounds.  It seems as though we are going to have more forestry and less sheep round here in the future as the grants system makes timber more profitable than meat at the moment.

grazing and woodland

I took a zig zag route back down the hill as the direct route is steep and would have been hard on my knees and as I walked down the track towards the White Yett, the low sun picked out these heather clumps…

heather lumps

…and I cast a long shadow as I went.

big shadow on whita

I didn’t go right down to the road but followed the track that the riders come up at the Common Riding back down towards the golf course.

Below me, I could see that the woodcutters had left the pines standing when they otherwise cleared felled the wood at Hillhead.

pines left at Hillhead

I passed a small tree as i came down the hill.  Trees like this are very scarce where the ground has sheep on it but once the sheep are taken off, trees start to grow quickly.

tree on whita

A little cairn marked my route down the hill…

 

cairn on Birnie Braes

…and I came safely back to the top of the golf course with my knees intact.

Looking down towards England, I could see the Lake District hills in the distance, looming over the mist covered Solway plain.

mist over solway

We were still mist free and the golf course was very peaceful….

5th green

…as I walked down the side of the course without being disturbed by cries of “fore!” or being hit by a golf ball.

I timed my three and a half mile walk well as I got home just as the sun dipped below the hills and a distinct chill came over the town.

Once inside, a cup of tea and some delicious ginger biscuits refreshed body and spirit and I was fully recovered when Luke arrived for some flute playing.  We played the Loeillet sonata which we have been working on and it went very well, with some good ornamentation and some faster tempi.  Although practice hasn’t made us perfect yet, we are definitely making progress.

The forecast is once again offering us fog tomorrow so I hope that we end up with another sunny day like today.

We are well prepared for Christmas Day and intend to have a quiet but jolly time.  I wish all readers of the blog a Happy Christmas and I hope that they have held Santa’s hand firmly when presents were being considered so that nobody is disappointed.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch enjoying the sunshine.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from the sister in law of my neighbour Liz.  Elaine was vising Cragside in Northumberland when she met Douglas. Douglas has been carved out of a Douglas fir.

douglas

Everything had calmed down here today and it was a reasonably dry day with the temperature at 6°C and much lighter winds.  As a result, I was able to walk up to our new Archive Group premises in the High Street with a lot fewer layers than recent outings have required.

I met with Nancy and Sandy there and we did a little organising of things that were still (literally) outstanding since our move and either threw or put them away.

Sandy then gave me a lift home and we had a cup of coffee before I went off for a short cycle ride.  A weak sun appeared as I pedalled up the road and the sheep were happy to be able to do a little basking.

sunny sheep

I went through some new road works and stopped to admire the completed repair of the recent landslip.first lockerbie roadworks completed

Just up the hill the repair gang were busy repairing a potential landslip.  It signals a rare outbreak of good sense that the roads department have made good use of the squad and their equipment while they were on the spot rather than dragging them out again later on.

second wauchope roadworks 2

It looks as though the second repair is going to use the same method as the first.

second wauchope roadworks

In spite of the weak sun, it was a rather gloomy day and I could see mist both on the top of the hills and lying on the ground down below.

mist at bottom of hills

I liked this little burst of steam rising from one of the banks beside the road as I pedalled home.

mist on top of a headland

I was only out for fifteen miles as it turns out that Christmas is getting near and there were things to be done.

After writing our Christmas cards, we set off six miles down the road to buy stamps and post the cards and a couple of parcels.  The post office in Langholm has closed so our nearest one is now in Canonbie, a small village.  Why it remains open while ours is closed is one of the great mysteries of life.  The post mistress at Canonbie, under the stress of a lot of extra work over Christmas, was only moderately grateful for the extra business.

We continued in a Christmas vein and went further down the road to the retail park at Gretna  where we did a little present shopping.

When we got home, it was soon time for Luke to come round and we put in some hard work on trying to play the ornaments in our sonata properly.  This is work in progress as they say.

I had made a venison stew in the slow cooker after breakfast and it made for a tasty evening meal.

Rather worryingly, there were virtually no birds in the garden today.  I filled the feeder when I got back yesterday afternoon and it hasn’t gone down at all.  This is most unusual and I am waiting anxiously to see if they come back tomorrow.

The non flying bird of the day is the only bird that I saw visiting the feeder today.

lonely bird

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who came upon a horde of ladybirds on one of her visits.  This picture shows just a few of the insects that she saw.

Ladybirds

It was a bright but chilly morning here and I had to scrape ice off the car windscreen after breakfast before I could drive up to the Moorland bird hide to fill the feeders as a substitute for Sandy who is still on holiday.

There was a lot of mist about along the river and enough of it had spread up the hill to the hide to give me a rare treat when I got out of the car, a mistbow.

mistbow

It soon faded away and I set about filling the feeders and then lurking in the hide to watch the residents emptying them again.

I did a brisk business with tits.  Here are a blue tit and a coal tit taking in some peanuts…

blue tit and coal tit

…and here is a great tit waiting to take its turn.

great tit

I had to wait a while for a greater spotted woodpecker to arrive but when one did, it posed very graciously for me.

woodpecker

There is almost always fungus on the ground near the feeders at this time of year.

Laverock fungus

Coming out of the hide to go home, I found that the hide was in sunshine and the valley below in mist.

mist from Laverock

I plunged bravely into the valley and the mist and headed for home.

mist from laverock 2

Although the temperature was only 3°, the day was very calm and it felt much warmer than it should have done.  In the circumstances, it seemed too good a day to waste indoors so in spite of it being nearly coffee time, Mrs Tootlepedal agreed to come for a drive up the hill road on Whita.

We were soon back above the mist and looking down.

mist from hill road

It was well worth the effort.

misty trees hillhead

We drove up to the White Yett and looked back over the Esk and Ewes valleys.

mist from white yett

We parked in the car park at the MacDiarmid Memorial and  I walked a little further up the hill, passing this delight on the way.

dewy spiders web

From there, I could see the mist lying over the rivers below.

mist from whita

I would have liked to have stayed longer and to have taken innumerable shots in pursuit of the perfect mist picture but it really was coffee time by now so we headed back down the hill.

We stopped for a moment at the Kilngreen where Mrs Tootlepedal had been asked to say what she thought some bright red small fruits were in the garden there (amazingly deep red crab apples most probably was the verdict).

I took the opportunity to look around.  It really was the most perfect day.

kilngrren sunny morning

And we were now….

mist on Timpen

…looking back up at the mist.

mist on Castle Hill

Coffee and ‘things to be done’ called us and all too soon we were back in the car after a light lunch and heading for Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.

Matilda, her mother Clare and I went to the Botanical Gardens to feed the ducks…

Matilda feeding ducks

…but we were a bit slow off the mark and bells were ringing for the closure of the park almost as soon as we had got there.

Still the ducks got their rice and we had our fun and it was still a good day for a walk so we weren’t too unhappy.

Alistair, Matilda’s dad, is a dab hand at making tasty pizzas so we had an excellent evening meal before catching the train home with a tricky crossword to while away the time.

In all the going up and down, I had little time for the birds in our own garden but I did catch a flying chaffinch while the feeder was still in the morning shadows.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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