Posts Tagged ‘moorland feeder’

Today’s guest picture shows that Mary Jo has not been wasting her entire time in London going to concerts and seeing the sights.  She has looked at interesting things as well.

Mary Jo's moss

We had another grey, cold and windy day today.  To be fair, it has been pretty dry recently and if it hadn’t been for the very chilly wind, we would probably have been celebrating a good spell of weather.

I went up to the Moorland bird hide after breakfast to fill the feeders for Sandy who is still on holiday in the sun and it was so cold that even sitting in the protection of the hide was not much fun.

There weren’t that many birds to take my mind off the chill either.


Different blackbirds were in evidence

robin, tit and siskin

And a shy robin, a bold great tit and a tiny siskin

unknown bird

And this bird, unknown to me, which stopped for a very brief moment.  I welcome identification from knowledgeable readers.  It might be a chiffchaff.


A woodpecker was very busy flitting between trees and feeders…


…until it finally came near to me and made sure that I got its good side.

As I say, I didn’t stop long and was pleased to get back to the town and get a  little shelter from the cruel wind.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden of course so I lent a little hand here and there and wandered around as well.

New flowers are coming out, some from the soil ….


….and some from handy boxes bought from a garden centre to temporarily fill a bare patch in a bed.


Amazingly, there are still one or two daffodils waiting for the moment to burst into flower…

unopened daffodil May

…while others, like these daffodils of the day, are nearing the end of the road.


Dozens and dozens of daffodils have been dead headed already.

There is almost always something to see.  Today it was a pulsatilla, the first of many I hope….


…with some pretty ferns unfolding in the back border….


..near the first Solomon’s seal of the year…

solomon's seal

…and on the other side of the garden, a fuzzy willow bud, defying the cameramen to take a sharp picture.

willow bud

And if there are no bees about, there is usually a fly on the euphorbia,

fly on euphorbia

If you get really fed up with the chilly wind, you can get your camera to take silly pictures…

tulip picture

…and go inside for a cup of coffee.

tulip picture

Once inside, you can look out of the window and see that the goldfinches have taken over the feeder…


…with such total domination that you can see a chaffinch banging its head against the pole in frustration in the picture above.

A pigeon cast a beady eye on proceedings from the plum tree.


When I went out to tell Mrs Tootlepedal that coffee was ready, a blackbird demanded to have its picture taken.


We were rather alarmed to see a man up the telephone pole behind the house as the last time that this happened, he accidentally disconnected our internet.  All was well today though as you can tell from the fact that this post has been posted.

After lunch, we went off to see Matilda and her parents in Edinburgh and had a constructive afternoon making scones, getting nails painted (some of us), playing a very non competitive form of snap and some Pelmanism.

We had a delightful evening meal and tested the scones (very good) before we walked up to the station to catch the train home.  Slightly unnervingly, both the up and down trains were precisely on time.

Mercifully, the forecast says it is going to get warmer over the next few days and as my thumb is now nearly cured and my new bike should appear either tomorrow or Saturday, things are really looking up.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches, losing a bit of seed in its anxiety to shout abuse at a friend.




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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who has visited Chatsworth.  I am going to live in a place like that when I grow up.


We had another fine and sunny day today but once again my stubborn cold refused to give up its grip on me so instead of cycling, I settled for the very agreeable substitute of a cup of coffee with Sandy followed by a walk.

While I was waiting for him to arrive, I looked out of the kitchen window.  The early morning sun is not at all helpful for taking pictures of birds at the feeder is in the shadow of the house and you end up with lots of shots like this.


The rather blue background indicates that we had another frosty morning and the fluffed up robin below the feeder confirmed that it was chilly.


By the time that Sandy and I had had a cup of coffee and arrived at the Moorland bird hide, all trace of the frost had gone and we walked down to the bridge over the Tarras in glorious conditions.

There was not a cloud in the sky.

Cronksbank road

We were able to watch a hen harrier hunting and a heron flying past as we walked along the open part of the walk but soon we were plunging downhill through the woods…

Cronksbank road

…until we reached the river bank.

Tarras at rashiel

It is a peaceful spot….

Tarras Water

…and it still looked very welcoming although the trees on the river bank have shed all their leaves.

We walked over the bridge and checked out the horsetails which grow along the river in abundance there.


Although the ones round this tree were still green, most of them were dry and brown.


We didn’t see much else of interest…

fungus and fern

…but the walk through the woods was delightful.

Tarras woods

Taken on the way down

Tarras woods

Taken on the way back up

When we got back to the hide, we spent a few minutes inside, in the hope of seeing something interesting but just about the only birds on view were coal tits…

coal tits

…and chaffinches so we didn’t stay for long.

I got home just as Mrs Tootlepedal returned from church and choir practice and I set up the camera at the kitchen window in the hope of some more friendly light.

The birds deliberately flew into any shadow they could find just to annoy me…

shadowy flying birds

…although as usual, the camera was recording more information than it was letting on.

_DSC8508 lighter

These are exactly the same pictures lightened up a bit.

Still, it wasn’t very satisfactory so I pointed the camera at the plum tree with better results.

goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch and blue tit

Goldfinch, chaffinch, greenfinch and blue tit

The sunflower seeds were drawing most of the business again today…


…but there were occasional visits to the new mixed seeds by coal tits and this blue tit who preferred to remain anonymous.

blue tit

We had quite a good crowd but the attendance is not helped by predatory cats roaming the garden and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted one of the invaders making off with one of our birds.  Our cat scarer is not 100% efficient it would seem.  In fact, as kind readers pointed out when I said that we had got one, they may well be 100% inefficient.

In the afternoon we went to our Carlisle Choir practice.  Once again I was only able to croak my way through the songs and as my breathing was not in peak condition, my brain was subject to a bit of fading and I made several rather glaring mistakes.  In spite of it all, it was worthwhile and I hope to be in  a better place  next week.

The flying bird of the day is the sole chaffinch who wasn’t quick enough to find some shade to hide in.

flying chaffinch

Looking at the picture, I see that I will have to clean the kitchen window.

The moon was out when we got back from choir.  Not quite full.





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Today’s guest picture is a very fine harpsichord, built in 1999 after one built by one of the Ruckers family of Flemish harpsichord makers of the late 16th and early 17th C.  My sister Susan heard it played at a concert recently.  Lucky her.


This was the last day of our very warm and dry spell and, with only a light wind, it would have been an excellent decision to get up early again and have a cycle ride before breakfast.  However, you can’t expect miracles and by the time that I had risen and had breakfast, it was time to go up to the Moorland bird feeders.

I had a quick walk round the garden before I left.


A pretty new iris has come out


Pale colours were the flavour of the morning

Mrs Tootlepedal enjoys making use of ‘wild’ flowers in her garden….

foxglove and honeysuckle

…as well as more cultivated flowers.  She has planted out some dahlias which she has grown from seed and the good weather has encouraged them to produce flowers already.


I had promised Sandy that I would fill the feeders for him as he is away on holiday and  I was very happy to do it, as the feeder site is in a beautiful spot and there are often interesting birds to look at.  Mrs Tootlepedal came with me in the hope of seeing some passing raptors.  She was disappointed but I sat in the hide and watched several woodpeckers very happily.


On the moor, great swathes of bog cotton drifted down the slopes.

bog cotton

When I got home, I deferred any cycling plans and enjoyed some scones and coffee with Dropscone instead.  He had found that he had some cream that was past its best so he had incorporated this into the scones and they were even better than usual.

When he left, cycling was put back again as I had four bits of grass crying out for a mow and I managed to do three of them before I had to retreat into the cool indoors.

I managed the fourth one after lunch and was quite pleased to have done them all on a single day.  The combined area is not large…


…but it was quite hot enough to make any work quite hard.  The drying green and the greenhouse grass are cut with an electric hover mower and the front and middle lawns with a traditional push mower.  The front lawn still needs work to help it recover from being neglected last year when we failed to turn it into a meadow.

In between the mowing, I took breaks with my camera in hand. The little butterflies were back.

orange tip butterfly

And there were a few more bees than of late.


There was a glimpse of colour which turned out to be the very first orange hawkweed of the summer.

orange hawkweed

I thought that I should show the very dark irises in context.


They are inconspicuous and striking at the same time.

The sunshine has brought a lot of colour out and I took a look at some colourful corners.

The bed round the bird feeder

The bed round the bird feeder

roses daisies iris and rocket

Roses, daisies, iris and rocket

iris, daisies and rhododendrons

Iris, daisies and rhododendrons


The little red rose  Moyesii is a colourful corner in itself.

After I had finished the last lawn, cycling was very much back on the menu but before I could set off, my chain urgently needed cleaning so I set about this task with some zest.  A clean, well lubricated chain makes a lot of difference to a cycle ride and mine had got so clogged with dust that it had come off while I was changing gear on both my last two rides so I gave it a good deal of attention.

By the time that I had finished that, at a time when the day was at its hottest, I needed another rest.  Mrs Tootlepedal was busy planting out even more dahlias.  I had to look hard to find her in the flower bed.


Prizes for spotting the fairest flower of them all

Then there were the strawberries to water and that took time and finally, I had to admit to the truth.  It was too hot and I was too lazy.  I wasn’t going to cycle anywhere other than the High Street to run an errand.

Plan B involved pro relaxing.  It worked well.

I got up enough strength as a result to have one last walk round the garden with the gardener.  I took a bee’s eye view of some flowers.




Primula and euphorbia

iris and allium

Iris and allium

A bee was having a bee’s eye view of its own nearby.


I might have enjoyed a late pedal in the cool of the evening with  Mrs Tootlepedal but she went off to the annual supper outing of the Ewes Women’s Rural Institute, of which she is a member.   This is Langholm’s answer to La Dolce Vita and she had a good time.  While she was gone, I did more well judged relaxing.

I  might be sorry that I didn’t get a pedal in, however warm it was, because the forecast is offering a chance of rain for every day for the next seven days but I can’t deny that we need a little rain so I won’t complain.

The flying bird of the day is not a great photo but it is out of the ordinary for me so I have put it in anyway.

flying woodpecker





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Today’s guest picture, taken by my brother, shows Mr Grumpy’s Dutch cousin spotted in the Vondelpark in Amsterdam.

Mr Grumpy in The VondelparkI had a quiet but entertaining morning, While Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a church choir practice, I stayed in in case I was need for any building consultations .  It turned that there was no need for consultations but I was kept entertained when I was visited by the first cyclist of the day.

This was Dropscone, who had been round the morning run in dry but breezy conditions.  We had a cup or two of Old Brown Java coffee and one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s drop scones.  Dropscone was in cheerful mood as not only had he gone round the morning run in a reasonable time but he had also played golf well in Saturday’s competition.

After he left, I took the Kangoo up to the garage to get a new tyre fitted as one of the rear tyres had only just squeaked through the recent MOT.  Then I strolled home, catching up with Mrs Tootlepedal as she came out of the church.

We hadn’t been at home long before the second visiting cyclist of the day arrived.  This was Sandy, who had been for his first ride of the new season.  He stopped for a cup of tea and we arranged to meet in the afternoon.

As the wall workers had finished their tasks,  a number of other speedy visitors arrived while Sandy was sipping his tea.

flying chaffinchflying chaffinchAfter Sandy left, I had time for a quick look at the snowdrops in the garden…

snowdrops..before going off to visit the physiotherapist to  see how she thought I was doing.

I got modified approval.  She was pleased with my general progress but I need to do much more work to strengthen my quads on the affected leg (I hope that cycling will help there) with more regular exercises.  I also need to work harder on straightening my knee out and do some regular calf muscle stretching.  All this means that I shall have to concentrate hard over the next few weeks to make sure that I don’t get overconfident and stop working before the leg is fully functioning.

I have long standing tendonitis in my ankle which has been getting painful lately and I got some advice on that.  The main thing is to ease off on walking until the pain goes down.  As I need to exercise my knee, I have been walking quite a bit so I will have to cut back on that and do static exercises more instead.  Luckily she thinks that cycling will not be harmful so I am hoping for warm days and calm winds.

I picked up the car with its new tyre and got home in time for lunch and a quick look out of the kitchen window. The chaffinches were still flying in.

flying chaffinchAs arranged, Sandy came down after lunch and we went off to visit the Moorland Bird feeders.  As usual when we go to watch birds, the sun went in and it started raining.  This would have put paid to our visit in times past but now thanks to the new bird hide, we were able to sit under cover and wait until the rain stopped.  Sandy took a picture of the watcher watching the birds.

Moorland bird hideWe had brought some picnic chairs with us and we were able to sit in warmth and comfort and watch the birds.  There were lots of birds to watch.

female pheasant

The female pheasants are less showy than the males but still have lovely plumage looking for all the world as though it is embroidered..

male pheasant

The male certainly is showy.

There were great tits and blue tits in abundance but just the occasional coal tit to be seen.

great tit

A great tit on the peanuts

great tit

Another waits its turn.

blue tit

A blue tit surveys the possibilities

coal tit

One of the only two coal tits that we saw

There were several visits from a woodpecker but it was reluctant to come within close range of my lens.

woodpeckerAnd we also got a flying visit from a jay just before we left.

jayThere were plenty of finches about.

siskin and greenfinch

A siskin and a greenfinch indulge in a grumpy staring match.

We had a lot of fun watching a pheasant finding a way to get at some seeds which were not meant for her.

climbing pheasantIt was so snug and comfortable in the hide that if we had brought a sandwich and a flask of tea, we could have stayed all afternoon.

But we hadn’t so we didn’t.

I took the rest of the day easily to look after my ankle until it was time to pop outside twice, once to admire a developing sunset…

sunset…and then to catch the International Space station trundling over head.  The picture shows (as far as my trembling hand will let it) just how far it goes in 2 seconds.

ISSIn real life, it goes in an absolutely straight line of course.

In the evening, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel and it was an excellent way to end a useful and interesting day.

The flying bird of the day was not the best flying picture that I took but it was the most unusual.

flying woodpecker

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Today’s guest picture is a fine mossy roof spotted by my daughter on her recent jaunt to Hampshire.

Mossy roofThe forecasters had promised us a sunny day but there was little chance of a suntan and a reasonable chance of getting wet  in the morning.  I timed my visit to our corner shop with such precision that I caught one of the showers.

Still, I put some of the time spent indoors to good use by using the bike to nowhere in the garage.  I am not working very hard on it but I did increase the time spent pedalling and even going gently, my legs knew that they had been in action after quarter of an hour.  I think it is going to be harder than I thought it would be when I get out on the roads again.

There was a steady supply of small birds at the feeder and I was pleased to see two or possibly three redpolls.


Having varying success at dealing with big seeds.

One got quite fierce and tried to cow another.  I take it that they are both young males!

redpollsA pigeon turned up to lend a hand with clearing up the fallen seeds.

pigeonAs well as staring out of the window, Mrs Tootlepedal and I continued the work of clearing all the stuff out of our front room.  We took the opportunity to throw a lot of ancient possessions out as we did so.  This is always a wrench but the chances of us ever watching Grease on video again are very limited so we didn’t cry too much.

After lunch, the weather looked a bit more promising so I drove up to the moorland feeders to see how the hide was coming along.

Moorland hideThe team have obviously been working very hard.

I stepped inside and took a view through the window and found a blue tit near at hand.

Moorland hideNear the hide, the team have created the Ritz of bug hotels.

bug hotelI can understand why there are no tits in our garden as they all seem to be up at the moorland feeders.  Even when I strolled down the centre of the glade, they were not put off.

great tit and blue tits

A great tit and two blue tits

The weather seemed not too bad with high clouds in one direction….

clouds at Broomholmshiels…and blue sky in the other…

Tinnis…so I decided to give my knee a little hill work and set off down the road to the banks of the Tarras water.  The first part of the trip was through open country and even in winter, there was colour to be seen in the trees.

Tarras treesI soon came to birch woods and the road took a turn downwards.

Tarras roadIt was quite steep going down but a lot steeper coming back up again.  The birch woods were a delight with lichens to be seen on every tree.


Sometimes to excess

On the other side of the river, commercial conifer planting sweeps inexorably down the hill.

Tarras treesI reached the flat beside the Tarras Water and stopped a while to enjoy the rippling sound of the river…

Tarras water…and to have a little rest before tackling the uphill section back to the car.

I had to stop to take a picture or two as I went up the hill as I was anxious not to overdo things.  A lichen on a slender tree trunk made me think of my knee for some reason.

lichenAnd I stepped into the wood to snap a mossy clearing with a mysterious boulder.

boulderI managed to go slowly enough to get back to the car without difficulty and was very pleased with how well my knee went.

Later in the day though, my muscles in both legs felt as though I had walked miles rather than a few hundred yards.

When I got back, we had another go at the front room and made very good progress.  My back had been much better ever since I got up and I was a bit worried about annoying it but the worst seems to be past and a little light lifting hasn’t done it any harm that I can feel yet.

I have been able to cut down my painkillers to a few paracetamol a day which is a great relief and if things go as they are, I should soon be able to do without them too.    If I could just get a good night’s sleep, I would be a happy man.  But then I wouldn’t have anything to complain about so I would be sad.

In the evening, Sandy took me across to Newcastleton where we attended a Liddesdale Camera Club meeting.  The visiting adjudicator was commenting on our entries in the “Colour” competition.  He was very complimentary about all the entries and I think that the prints in particular were of a good standard.  In view of that, I was not too unhappy to fail to catch his eye when the prizes were dished out and correspondingly, Sandy was very pleased to get a well deserved second and a third.

The flying bird of the day is a very vocal chaffinch.


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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce who was visiting Hawick today.  It shows his terrier Guthrie posing in front of the statue of Jimmy Guthrie, the celebrated racing motor cyclist.  Bruce thought that this juxtaposition might appeal to me and he was right.

guthrie in HawickOn the instructions of my legs, I took a rest from bicycling today.  This was a pity because it was a sunny day but not too much of a pity because there was a brisk breeze blowing.

It was my day for filling the Moorland bird feeders and Mrs Tootlepedal joined me when I drove up after breakfast.  I filled the feeders while Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies with her binoculars.  Wherever I looked, I could see pheasants searching for seeds fallen from the feeders.

pheasantThis one was very anxious to get a portrait taken so I obliged.

pheasantOn the feeders themselves, there was very little action with just a few chaffinches….

chaffinches…and the occasional blue tit.  Mrs Tootlepedal was having a great time watching five buzzards circling above.


I think that this pictures of the five birds captures the excitement well.  The bigger dot on the left is actually two birds.

Not having brought my binoculars, there was little for me to enjoy so we soon headed back home.

Mrs Tootlepedal was beavering away in the garden for most of the rest of the day but I confined myself to a little compost turning in the morning and mowing the middle lawn in the afternoon.  The lawn has got some alarming brown patches developing but from a distance it still looks reasonable for the time of year.

lawnThe border at the far end of the lawn is one of the ones that Mrs Tootlepedal has been clearing out but she has left some marigolds and rudbeckia to keep things looking cheerful.

During the day I took the camera out into the garden from time to time and mixed flowers and insects as the light suggested.


A close look at a sunflower.

busy bee

A busy bee


A second flowering of the chives.

hoverfly on orange hawkweed

A hoverfly on orange hawkweed

I broke off to make some potato soup for lunch.  Our main crop Sarpo potatoes make excellent soup as they tend to cook a bit mushy.

In the afternoon, I mixed more garden wandering with getting fifteen pictures selected, treated and printed for the Eskdale Agricultural Show which is on this Saturday.  I find it very hard to select pictures from the large numbers in my files and never really think that I have chosen the best.  After staring at thousands of thumbnails for an hour or so, my brain goes even deader than usual and I start selecting wildly.  Luckily Mike Tinker came in when I was nearly finished and as a result of his advice, I junked one of the most boring pictures that I had chosen and put a better one in.

In the garden I had another look at the sweet peas which have appeared among other flowers.

sweet peaI enjoyed the big and small yellows on a sunflower and a pansy.

sunfliwer and pansyWhen I was indoors, I tried to catch a flying bird but they were hard to come by today.

flying chaffinchAnd when I was outdoors, I tried to catch a flying bee without much success either.  I got one just after it had landed on a sedum….

bee…and one flying into a nasturtium.

flying bee…but I couldn’t catch one in the air when the light was at its brightest.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to our Langholm Community Choir, Langholm Sings.  Our accompanist is in hospital so we had to make do as best as we could with our assistant conductor at the piano.  She is not a pianist but did very well to keep us going.  We seem to be preparing for a Christmas concerts with both our choirs so we may be fairly fed up with Christmas carols by the time that December comes.

My best effort at a flying bird of the day was this chaffinch.


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Today’s guest picture was taken by my brother when he and his wife arrived in Dresden.    As he remarks, it is a horseless carriage….or landau in this case.

This landau did not need a horse

The weather continued warm and humid today and I got up ready to pedal but took a great deal of time actually to get into a pedalling state.  When I did go out, I had a leisurely tour through the countryside for a slightly longer distance than my usual morning ride.  There was a much needed cooling breeze which helped on the way home.  I am feeling a bit tired at the moment so although I had Pocketcam with me, I didn’t feel like doing the stopping and starting which is needed  to take pictures and the ride went unrecorded.

Mrs Tootlepedal had unsurprisingly been busy in the garden while I was out and has completed the relaying of the path to the front lawn. It looks very neat.

front path

The cobbles are worthy of a stage of the Tour de France.

I had a look at the flowers as usual.


As one poppy goes over, another arrives.

shirley poppy

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted out a lot of Shirley poppies. This is the first to flower.

The garden is still full of roses.

Bobbie James and William Lobb

Bobbie James, a newcomer and and old friend, William Lobb, both doing well.

Rosa Gallica Complicata

The Rosa Gallica Complicata is still offering simple beauty.

Sandy had been visiting the Moorland feeders while I was cycling and he got in touch to say that he had seen a family of jays up there so after lunch we cycled up to the feeders to see if they were still about.

As we sat down, three jays flew away and that was the last that we saw of them.  We could see a fine orchid just in front of the hide….


…and when I went out to snap it, I could see a bird’s eye view of Sandy.

Sandy in the hide

We sat there for quite a time, cooking gently in the heat, without seeing anything near enough to photograph more interesting than a great tit and a pheasant….

great tit and pheasant

….a very fleeting visit from a woodpecker….


….and a welcome sighting of a robin on one of the tables.


Things were so slow that I ended up taking a picture of some rosebay willowherb next to where I was sitting…


…and in the end the most interesting thing was a moth resting on my back bicycle bag.


It was very happy there and didn’t leave until I had cycled about 300m of the way home.

We got home just in time to see the very last moments of an exciting stage of the Tour de France and noted that it was raining again in France.   As if in sympathy, it started to rain here too and that, combined with a burst of tiredness, brought my activities for the day to an end.

A good rest gave me just enough energy to make jam out of the strawberries that we picked on our way back from Newcastle Airport on Thursday but there was enough tiredness about to ensure that I made a bit of a mess of things and only time will tell if the jam is edible.   It certainly wouldn’t win any prizes in a jam show.

It was the day of the first ride out by the cornet and his mounted followers in connection with our forthcoming Common Riding and it was my intention to go up on to the hill to watch them coming home in the evening but the gloomy weather and tired legs made that an unattractive proposition and the jam took precedence.

I did manage (just about) to get a flying siskin shot in the gloom as I was preparing the strawberries for cooking.

flying siskin

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