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Posts Tagged ‘Moorland feeders’

Today’s guest picture is another from our older son’s visit to Anstruther and shows that he took his friends with him.

Tony's dogs

Another of the regular Moorland bird feeders was away on holiday today so I had a second opportunity this week to act as a fill-in feeder filler so I went up after breakfast to do my duty.  If the weather is good, which it was today, the duty is also a pleasure as it gives me a chance to sit in the hide and watch the birds.  We are not feeding birds in the garden at present so it is an extra pleasure to do a little bird watching from the comfort of the hide.

I had a good variety of birds to watch today.  There was a host of siskins….

siskins

…but only one greenfinch and tree sparrow that I could  see.

tree sparrow and greenfinch

Either a jay paid several visits of several jays paid one visit each but one way or the other, there were plenty of opportunities for jay watching.  (I was hoping to get a shot of jay walking but alas, no.)

Jay

There were a very few blue and great tits about…

blue tit great tit

…but I didn’t see a coal tit today at all.

My chief entertainment came from some very obliging woodpeckers who came up close to the hide and stayed nice and still and sometimes even ‘watched the birdie’.

My Lumix was on its best behaviour after having refused to work at all and it came in handy.  (It knows that I have ordered a new camera. Too late now.)

greater spotted woodpecker

The one in the bottom left corner was the first arrival.  The other three pictures are all of another bird which arrived twenty minutes later.

After our recent warm weather, it was a lot cooler today and I began to feel a little chilly and left the woodpeckers to it and came home.

I had a cup of coffee, did the crossword and then went out into the garden to see what Mrs Tootlepedal was up to and to take a picture or two while I was out there.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy planting out new flowers and I looked at some old friends.

Rosa Wren and Rosa Mundi

Rosa Wren and Rosa Mundi

A Rodgersia and a Spirea had a competition to see which could pack most flowers into the smallest space.

Rodgersia and Spirea

I think that the Rodgersia won

At lunchtime, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre which was putting on a show for children and I had some potato soup and cheese to get my strength up and went out and mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green and then sieved some compost.

There was a lot of buzzing so I paused from time to time to look at the cotoneaster and the astrantia which are still attracting a lot of interest.

bees

Mrs Tootlepedal came back and got straight down to some more planting and tidying and I lent a hand and did some dead heading and tidying of my own.   I even did some weeding on the middle lawn.   The large amount of grass and flower pollen floating about at the moment is not helping my breathing so any work I do is done at a very gentle pace with regular visits indoors for a little rest.  Mrs Tootlepedal on the other hand just carries on regardless.  She is a human dynamo in the garden.

She notices things too and called my attention to a red admiral butterfly sunning itself on a path.

red admiral butterfly

Like the woodpeckers earlier in the day, it sat very still for its portrait.

red admiral butterfly

I love the little torches it has sticking out of its head.

I took a last set of flower pictures….

melancholy thistle

Melancholy thistle, Martagon Lily and just about the last pale blue Iris Siberica

…and then we went off shopping to stock up on food and supplies.  By great fortune, our food shopping managed to include some scones and clotted cream.  We are not quite certain how this happened but we managed to get rid of them when we got home by eating them with the recently made strawberry jam.  We haven’t had a cream tea for ages so this was a real treat.

I was considering an evening cycle ride in the hope that the wind, which had been boisterous all day, would have died down by then but the fresh wind persisted so I went for a walk instead.

It was a lovely evening as long as you could keep out of the wind.  I chose a sheltered route and enjoyed my stroll a great deal.

I divided my attention between things that were close….

slow worms at Pool Corner

A heap of slow worms at Pool Corner

yellow wild flower

I would welcome a suggestion as to what this pretty flower might be called

….things that were a bit further away…

A sandpiper on the Esk

A sandpiper on the Esk

Stables on the Stubholm

Stables on the Stubholm (Arty shot)

….something that was quite far away…

The round house seen from Easton's Walk

The round house seen from Easton’s Walk

…and some views.

Wauchope graveyard and Warbla in the background

Wauchope graveyard and Warbla in the background

Castle Hill

Castle Hill

Stubholm and Whita Hill

Stubholm House and Whita Hill

It was a much better choice than battering into a strong wind on my bike and getting depressed.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had her tea and was back out in the garden trimming hedges when I got home.

In a vain effort to improve my brain power, I had fish cakes for tea.  It hasn’t helped my typing.  I could get the blog done in half the time of i didn’t have to correct eevry other wird.

The flying bird of the day is the jay seen from a distance……

flying jay

…and I normally would have been quite happy to finish a post with it it but it is outshone today, in my view, by a relaxed greater spotted woodpecker.

greater spotted woodpecker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a flowery scene from Kew Gardens which caught my sister Mary’s eye.

Coming up to the Orangerie

Coming up to the Orangerie

The forecast was full of dire warnings of heavy rain, possible thunderstorms and general mayhem.  In the event, midsummer’s day was a quiet day with some very light rain now and again, hardly a breath of wind and just a hint of menace thanks to a very clammy humidity.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to the Moorland feeders after breakfast as I was acting as a fill in feeder filler for friends who had gone off to some mist covered mountains.  As usual, she sat in the car and kept an eye out for hen harriers while I filled the feeders and then sat under the grass roof of the hide….

Laverrock Hide

…in the hope of interesting visitors.

She got a glimpse of a harrier and I saw many more birds than on my last visit.  There were coal tits, great tits and siskins….

siskin, coal tit and great tit

…as well as blackbirds, chaffinches and a robin.

The inevitable pheasant pushed himself forward…..

pheasant

..and there were several visits from woodpeckers and a jay.

Jay and woodpecker

The jay kept too far down the glade for a good photo op but it was was entertaining watching it as it was clearly quite peckish…

jay

…and found food wherever it could.

That great Scottish pest, the midgie, was in evidence too so I didn’t hang about long as I was getting bitten a lot and we drove down to the banks of the Tarras Water to see if the wild irises were out.

There were some but it was not the great carpet that I had hoped for…

wild irises

…so I photographed a yellow rattle….

yellow rattle

I found another one with seed pods and they really do rattle if you shake them.

…and walked back to the road to see if I could find any of the horsetails which I seen growing on my last visit with Sandy a few weeks ago.

They were not hiding.

horsetails

I was impressed.

The midgies were on the go here too so we didn’t dally and went home for coffee.

It makes life difficult to plan when the forecast is not reliable.  At ten in the morning, the BBC weather map showed heavy rain covering Langholm and the surrounding area for some hours and although there was no sign of any such rain, the thought of it kept me off my bike and wasted what could have been a good cycling day.

I tested the strawberry jam  and found that it hadn’t turned out too badly at all so I tested it again.  It was still all right.

I wasted time doing the crossword and then, wondering if it was going to rain soon, I went for a wander round the garden.

The roses are gorgeous…

roses

…with new blooms coning out every day.  The first of the moss roses has joined in.

moss rose

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy planting out poppies and protecting her vegetables from the depredations of the voracious sparrows so I had time for a look at a colourful corner….

colourful corner

…and my favourite colour combination of the day.

campanula and foxglove

Mrs Tootlepedal liked this subtle gradations on a peony.

campanula and foxglove

A few other things made the camera click.

campanula

lambs ear

wiegela

…but in spite of it being the longest day of the year, the light was very dull and I soon gave up and went in for lunch.

After lunch, the day brightened up a bit and even the weather forecast admitted that it wasn’t raining so I got my fairly speedy bike out and set off to see where my legs would take me.

It was lucky that we had gone to see the roadside orchid yesterday because Genghis the grass cutter was out with his machine today and the verge where the orchid had been was totally flattened.

Luckily I found some more on an uncropped verge near Gair….

orchids

…but unluckily my Lumix chose this moment to stop working and I had to fall back on my phone camera for the rest of the trip.

It was a really good day for a leisurely cycle ride with a mixture of very occasional raindrops and some cheerful sunshine and I saw many interesting things which I failed to record as I find using the phone with my cycling glasses on quite tricky.   (If I take them off, I find it even trickier.)

I did see a lot of fields where the silage was being cut….

silage

…and I even noticed a fungus, the first that I have seen in a verge this year.

fungus

I pedalled here and there, keeping an eye on the weather and thinking of going a bit further while the going was good but some more persistent raindrops and a burst of slightly windier weather made me think that the promised storm might be finally on its way so I headed for home and managed  37 miles.

As you can see from the map below, it was quite warm so perhaps it was wise to stop before I got too cooked.

garmin route 21 June 2017

Those interested can click on the map for more details.

Mrs Tootlepedal had rescued a blackbird from the strawberry netting while I was out but there were still plenty of strawberries left to pick so I picked them.

I had time for a shower and a tea of baked eggs with spinach and a cheese sauce before I went out to our Common Riding choir practice.  I was pleased to see my cello playing friend Mike there as it would mean that I wasn’t going to be the only bass.  We had a good session in spite of very sultry conditions which were not very sympathetic to singing and it was still a fine day when I walked home.

I apologise for putting too many indifferent pictures into today’s post but it was the longest day so perhaps it needed a long post.

And I did get a rather indifferent flying bird of the day to round things off suitably.

flying jay

 

 

 

 

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

yosemite

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

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

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

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

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

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

greenfinch

This was one of only two greenfinches that I saw today

great tit

But there were a lot of great tits about

chaffinch

And an unusually marked chaffinch

There were some slightly larger ones too.

woodpeckers

Woodpeckers chased each other round the trees,

woodpeckers

And then this one relaxed

I got a glimpse of a passing jay….

jay

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

pheasant

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

bird watchers

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

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

goats

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

We were not disappointed.

goat

A clue

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

wild goats Langholm Moor

They just kept munching…

wild goats Langholm Moor

…though they did give me the occasional glance.

There was a small group among the bracken.

wild goats Langholm Moor

It was a very peaceful scene.

wild goats Langholm Moor

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

wild goats Langholm Moor

And others joined in.

wild goats Langholm Moor

Weighing up the job

wild goats Langholm Moor

All hands on deck

And then back to mum for a cuddle.

wild goats Langholm Moor kid

We left them chomping away in peace….

wild goats Langholm Moor

…and drove home.

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

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

goldfinch

And even this rather placid looking pigeon…

pigeon

…had chased another three away from under the feeder.

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

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

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

The flying bird of the day is a garden goldfinch.

goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my friend Bruce, who was on a trip to the east of the country. He had climbed all of the 132 steps up a dark, narrow, spiral staircase to get to the top of the  the Garleton Monument  and was rewarded by this splendid view of the country stretching out to the Firth of Forth.

lothians

We woke to a frosty scene with the temperature just about on zero but with a bright sun shining.  Under these circumstances I  forced myself to reject a very tempting offer of traditional Friday treacle scones from Dropscone and got myself organised to go for a walk instead.

I paused for a while to let the temperature rise to 2 degrees and while I waited, I watched the birds.

The feeders were very busy…

busy feeders

…and the finches flew busily around snapping up a spare perch or trying to bully the sitter off an occupied one..

chaffinches

It has been generally rather damp recently so I was worried in case the paths and tracks turned out to be icy.  It was still very chilly when I got to the park…

Park

…but for reasons that are not clear to me, there was not a spot of ice to be met anywhere on my whole walk.

There were plenty of other things to be seen though.

I walked along the Murthholm track, stopping to greet Mr Grumpy….

heron

…and then crossed over Skippers Bridge (many photos taken but none put in here today) and went down to the water’s edge.

River Esk

If you look closely, you can make out the circle of ripples in the middle of the river caused by a fish leaping out of the water a second before I got my camera in focus.  As a consolation, behind me on the bank there was a splendid outbreak of fungus on a fallen branch.

fungus

I scrambled back onto the road and there can be few better roads to walk down on a sunny morning in November than this one.

Tarras Road

As I turned the corner and started to climb the hill, the warmth of the sun was causing gentle steam to rise and catch the sunbeams.

Tarras Road

As usual the walls and trees beside the road here were full of interest.

Tarras Road

Beyond the entrance to Broomholm, almost all of the trees on the bank beside the road have been felled and what was previously a very dark and dank stretch of road is now completely transformed….

Tarras Road

…with a fine view from the top.

I had brought a banana and a coffee éclair with me for sustenance so I decided to visit the Moorland feeders where I could sit down and eat them in the hide while being entertained by the birds.

I enjoyed this view on the way….

View from Broomholmshiels

…and it wasn’t long before I  was nearly at the small wood that shelters the feeders.

Moorland feeders

There was plenty of action to keep me entertained while I ate my snack and I tried my best to capture it with the Lumix.

blue tit, great tit, greenfinch and woodpecker

I went back to the town by way of the track from Broomholmshiels and enjoyed the oak and birch woodlands on the way.  There was more fungus and lichen to be seen…

fungi and lichen

…and I picked up a few acorns on the way as Mrs Tootlepedal is going to try to get some acorns to germinate this year.

The track through the woods was very lovely in the sunshine…

Broomholmshiels track

…and I liked this last glimpse of autumn colour at Longwood.

Longwood

Any walk is enhanced by a view like this at the end of it….

Langholm Bridge

…but on this occasion, pretty well every step of the five miles had been rewarding.

In spite of the sunshine, the thermometer was still only registering 4°C when I got home just before one o’clock so I was glad that it had been an almost windless day.

I was able to refresh myself with a cup of tea from a brand new 2 cup teapot which had only been delivered this morning…

new teapot

…following the untimely demise of our previous pot.

I had time to take another look at the birds after lunch….

robin

…but even on a fine day, the light was already fading and the robin had to really stretch to get itself into the picture.

I was well entertained though, as Mike and Alison Tinker came round.  They are recently back from a most enjoyable holiday in New Zealand and are recovering gradually from jet lag so they came to see us in the afternoon instead of their customary evening visit on a Friday.   We should be back to playing sonatas next week which will be very welcome.

After they left, it wasn’t long before Dropscone arrived.  Instead of treacle scones and coffee in the morning, we had drop scones and tea in the afternoon today but we survived the shock pretty well.  He told me about the trouble he is having with his car.  The fan belt snapped and fell off and as a result he is currently going nowhere.

The leaf of the day is one of the golden box balls at the top of the front lawn.

golden box ball

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch about to give a blue tit a surprise.

chaffinch and blue tit

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Today’s guest picture is another from the Menger family’s Highland meander.  It shows the daughter of the house holding a cushion starfish which they met on on a fishing trip they took from Islonia, an island kingdom near Gairloch.

cushion starfish

For the second day running, I was acting as a relief feeder filler for the Moorland Feeders as for the second day running, the designated feeder filler had made a break for Edinburgh. The astute reader may notice a pattern here and it is probably connected with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Mrs Tootlepedal came up with me today and for the second day running, the bird hide was occupied when I got here. Fortunately on this occasion, the family left the hide shortly after I had finished filling the feeders and I was able to settle down to watch the birds while Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies for raptors from the comfort of the car.

She saw one bird of prey briefly but I saw a lot of small birds.  Among them were…

chaffinch

A chaffinch

four siskins

Four siskins

Great tit and robin

A great tit and a robin

blue tit

A blue tit (which came and went at speed)

tits on feeder

Two great tits and a coal tit

pheasant

A pheasant

woodpecker

And a woodpecker

In fact for almost the whole time that we were there, there was at least one woodpecker on each side of the clearing.

woodpeckers

The only time when I wasn’t watching birds was when Mrs Tootlepedal’s raptor flew over the clearing and the small birds cleared off.  They soon came back though.

We got home just in time for coffee but the rest of the morning was wasted on the phone as a result of an email from my internet provider telling me that they were “upgrading my service by removing my email provision”.  Some one should be arrested for this act of violence against the English language.

However, several phone calls later, I got my email account reinstated for a price which means that I will reluctantly after many years as a loyal customer move to another provider.  The nice lady on the phone assured me that the decision to remove my email facility without notice had been a commercial one.  What a surprise.

After an early lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents and I made and ate some potato soup for my lunch.  Then I settled down to some work in the garden.

I started with a little compost sieving to warm up and followed up by mowing the drying green, the greenhouse grass, the middle lawn and the front lawn in that order.  In actual mowing time, this is not a long job but once getting out the different mowers required, pausing for heavy breathing, sitting down for a rest and just standing at the end of a row and looking around vacantly have been factored in, the job took most of the afternoon.

I did find time for a shopping trip to the High Street to acquire more coffee beans and two nectarines.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I had considered the poppies in the garden during the day and we were struck by how various they are in colour and design.

poppies

poppies

poppies

Although they may look superficially alike, a closer look reveals all sorts of subtle differences.

The Rosa Wren is doing very well and comes up with a fresh replacement as each bloom fades.  It is hard to believe that these two flowers are from the same stem.

Rosa Wren

I made a visit to our corner shop after I had finished the mowing and purchased a smoked sausage, a pepper and some mushrooms and then with the help of an onion from the garden made them into a risotto for my tea.  It went down well.

In the evening, Susan appeared and gave me a lift to our recorder group in Carlisle for our first play for several weeks.  Considering that we were all a bit rusty, we played well and enjoyed a varied selection of music from Hindemith and Gershwin to Palestrina and Farnaby with others in between.

Susan got us back to Langholm at exactly the same time as Mrs Tootlepedal returned from Edinburgh and as she had enjoyed her visit a lot, we sat down to watch the highlights of another interesting stage of the Vuelta in a very good mood.

The light in the morning wasn’t good enough to let me catch a flying bird at the Moorland feeders so once again, a flower of the day is all I have to offer.  But what a flower it is.

pink poppy

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Today’s guest picture harks back to my siblings’ visit at the start of this month and shows Skelwith Force in the Lake District.  It was taken by my sister Mary.

Skelwith Force

Skelwith Force

We had another day of mixed sunshine and showers here with some impressive cloudscapes.  Plans were once again slightly frustrated but the day worked out well enough in the end.

I was due to fill the Moorland bird feeders for some friends who are on holiday and since the light was good when I went up, I was looking forward to spending some productive time in the bird hide there.

However, when I had almost finished filling the feeders, a minibus full of school children drew up and the project leader told me that it was  a school visit.  Plan A went into the bin.

It was still quite bright when I got home so I decided to convert Plan A into Plan B and go and visit the nuthatches but by the time that I had made a pot of coffee for Mrs Tootlepedal and myself, it had clouded over and started to snow.  Plan B hit the bin too.

Plan C involved crosswords, catching up with business and making soup.  It worked well.

I did find a moment to admire an a gymnastic siskin….

siskin

…and watch a siskin and a redpoll circling warily round each other.

siskin and redpoll

After lunch, the skies had cleared.  Although it was still pretty chilly for April (6.5°C), the wind was much calmer than yesterday so I put on many layers and took my slow bike out to give the solid tyre another test.

Needless to say, it started snowing lightly as soon as I left our front gate but rather than junking Plan D, I kept going and was rewarded by a small pool of sunshine which very politely kept pace with me as I pedalled along.  All around there were showers and looming clouds…

clouds at the Kerr

…but for nine of the fourteen miles of my ride, I managed to keep away from them.

I didn’t stop much because it seemed a pity to risk being caught up by the rain but I did like the sight of this young Belted Galloway who was as curious about me as I was about it.

belted galloway

The weather to one side of the road smiled upon a pleasant prospect…

View at Ryehills

…but on the other side, more black clouds loomed.

Clouds at Ryehills

My luck couldn’t hold out for ever and as I ground up to the highest point of my ride, I was overtaken by a hailstorm.

Fortunately, the hail was the softest and most gentle that I have ever met so I was spared getting painfully pinged and because it was hail rather than snow, I didn’t even get very wet. To make matters better, I soon cycled through it and came out on the other side.

Since the sun was out again, I stopped at my favourite little cascade on the Wauchope to show that although the weather has been very cold lately, we haven’t anything serious in the way of continuous rain for several weeks and the rivers are very low.

Wauchope cascade

This was a different view taken last December after two solid months of downpours.

wauchope cascade

The low water let me get a close shot of the deformed rocks beside the river…

wauchope rocks

…and a look down stream to a more peaceful stretch.

Wauchope below Bessie Bells

The birds had been very busy at the garden feeders and I had to fill them when I got home.

As well as a bird on every perch and more waiting on the pole and in the plum tree, there was a huge squad of scavengers on the ground too.

scavenging birds

I can count thirty birds here.  There were often more than fifty in the garden at once

The garden was very pleasant, sheltered from the wind and bathed in occasional sunshine.

Flowers competed for attention.

pulsatilla

A pulsatilla

Drumstick primulas

Drumstick primulas

Mrs Tootlepedal had painted our back stairs in the morning and was busy in the garden in the afternoon so she was quite ready for a cup of tea after I had had a shower.

Dr Tinker, whose tea detecting system was working perfectly, arrived just in time to join us.  He is going to look after Mrs Tootlepedal’s greenhouse plants next week while we are taking a short break from Langholm life.

As we sipped, we looked out of the window and saw some quite heavy snow so I was pleased with the timing of my ride.  The ground is warm enough and the snow showers short enough that we haven’t had problems with snow settling.

The sun was soon out again and when I was upstairs, I took the opportunity to lean out of an upper window and get a different angle on the birds.

goldfinches and siskins

I suppose that I was having a bird’s eye view from up above.

goldfinches and siskins

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted out her onions and is protecting them against the inclement weather with a row of cloches.  I could see them out of my window too.

onion cloches

In the evening, we went to sing with our Langholm choir and  had a good time getting some polish on pieces which we are going to sing in two concerts next month.

With four choral engagements, two with the Langholm choir and two with the Carlisle choir, in the next two months, we have plenty of homework to do.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches that I looked down on.

flying goldfinch

 

 

 

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

lichen

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

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

greenfinches

…even if one of them was a bit argumentative.

greenfinch and goldfinch

We watched jackdaws…

jackdaw

…and siskins too.

siskin

siskin

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

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

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

frogs and frogspawn

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

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

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

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

oyster catcher

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

coal tits

There were coal tits…

great tit blue tit

…and great tits and blue tits…

robin woodpecker

A robin and a woodpecker

pheasants

Any amount of pheasants

chaffinches

And even more chaffinches.

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

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

statue at Hollows

Not something you see every day.

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

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

colourful corner

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

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

Liz

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

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

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

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

goldfinch

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