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Posts Tagged ‘Noble Fir’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Alistair and is a result of a recent visit to Edinburgh zoo where Matilda paid close attention to feeding a parrot.

Matilda and a parrot

In the morning, we entertained Sandy to a cup of coffee and got an update on the state of his walking.  He is suffering a lot more than I am and is not getting about much at all on foot just now which he is finding very frustrating.  I don’t blame him.

He can drive though and after coffee, he drove me up to the High Street where we had our picture taken in the newspaper offices (which are also our new Archive Group base). The resulting photograph will be used in an article in our local paper on the work of the Archive Group.

Sandy then drove home while I went for a short and slow walk of under a mile and a half just to have a look around.  The camera club theme for our next meeting is ‘Street Photography’ so I had a little practice on an unsuspecting couple who were walking down to the Buccleuch Centre to meet friends.

As Mike, on the left, is my cello playing friend and Anne, on the right, is a regular blog reader, I don’t think that they will be too cross to have been spied on.

Mike and Anne

They were walking too fast for me to catch them up so I stopped on the town bridge and had a look around.

The gulls were making a point.

gulls make a point

When I got down to the Kilngreen, I could see that the black headed gulls are beginning to develop the colour which gives them their name.

developing black headed gull

The gulls on the posts were busy moving each other up.  A gull would land on an already occupied middle post and set off a chain reaction along the line.

gulls shoving

Across the Ewes water, I could see the remains of Langholm Castle peeping through the trees.

castle from kilngreen

As I crossed the Sawmill Brig, I had to slow down to let a rush of traffic past.

horse and rider lodge gate 2

And then the rush of traffic stopped for  a chat.

horse and rider lodge gate 1

This was lucky as she told me that in spite of a little sunshine, some of the paths that I had intended to use were still covered in ice where trampled snow had not melted.  As she warned me that they were still extremely slippery, I chose another route.

This took me past a mass of lichen on tree branches…

lichen on tree castleholm 2

A recent post from the New Hampshire Gardener made me look more closely at these.

lichen on tree castleholm 1

Nearby a rook was playing ‘I am the king of he castle’ on an old tree stump.

rook on tree stump

There were interesting needles both on a noble fir tree….

noble fir flowers

…and fallen to the ground in one of the recent windy storms.

fallen needles

I finished my walk by calling in at the Buccleuch Centre, passing this patient lion just outside the door.

pump lion

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy inside the centre helping in the coffee shop and I did think of stopping for lunch there but after greeting Mike and Anne, I went home and had a sardine sandwich by myself.  I wanted to watch our birds.

Unlike Matilda, I had no parrots to feed in the garden but I had filled the feeder and as I ate my lunch, there was steady flow of less exotic birds, led by our usual chaffinches.

chaffinch arriving

Collared doves were keen to join in….

collared dove taking off

…and were soon down at ground level scavenging for fallen seeds.

collared dove on ground

They were joined by a robin who ventured into the tray under the feeder.

robin in tray

Up above, chaffinches were deep in conversation.

two chaffinches eyeing

When I looked at the pictures later, I noticed that this chaffinch had been ringed.  It would be nice to know where it had come from.

ringed chaffinch

It was quite a reasonable day at 5°C with not much wind and I fully intended to go for a 20 mile bicycle ride.  The weather looked set fair so I wasted time listening to the radio, watching the birds and doing the crossword and then I remembered that I had promised to send a picture to the newspaper for a ‘snow picture’ compilation they are putting in this week’s edition and by the time that I had finished this, quite a lot more time had passed than I realised.

I should have been paying attention because a quick look at the weather forecast showed that rain was in the offing so I huddled on my cycling gear and set out in hope.

The hope was soon dashed as it began to rain before I had gone three miles and it was the sort of rain that didn’t look as though it was going to stop anytime soon.  I wasn’t anxious to get cold and wet so I turned for home and soothed my troubled soul with some retail therapy at the Gretna Gateway in company with Mrs Tootlepedal who had some shoes to collect from a shop there.

She had ordered them online and was very pleased to find that although they were on a special offer at the shop, they were still quite a bit dearer than the price that she had paid.  The ways of retail are mysterious.

It was pouring with rain by the time we set off home and I was very glad that I wasn’t out on my bicycle.

Once home, we locked the door, shut the curtains and ignored the horrible weather.

I did manage to catch a traditional flying chaffinch of the day today before the weather turned nasty.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture from my brother Andrew shows the Christmas skating rink in Derby.  These seasonal rinks have become very popular and we passed one in Edinburgh on Thursday.  I would think that skating on a wet day like this would encourage the skaters to stay upright at all costs.

derby skating rink

It was calm and misty when we got up and the goldfinches on the plum tree were outlined against the greyness.

misty godlfinches

Although we are still short of finches, there are larger birds about all the time.  This collared dove seems to have missed out as it came down with two other doves and they made faces at it and flew off.

collared dove

We flew off ourselves, although it was low level flying by bicycle as we went to church for the Sunday Club’s nativity service.  The mist was lying over the town as we got to the river.

sdr

The nativity service was charming so we enjoyed the service although there was not much for the choir to do.

When we got home, more large birds were about in the shape of a small platoon of jackdaws pecking away at the lawn and making holes in it.

jackdaw right foot up

They were putting their best foot forward.

jackdaw left foot up

I was very happy to see a couple of coal tits back collecting sunflower seeds but there was no sign of blue or great tits about.

coal tit

Mike Tinker tells me that they have had blue tits visiting but they have not had a great number of finches at their feeder.

We had moments of action today but the feeder is still going down very slowly.

busy feeder

After a cheese and tomato toastie for my lunch, courtesy of the George Foreman grill, I left the birds to it and spent an hour on my bike.

It was the first day for sometime with little wind and I enjoyed myself by visiting this tree twice, making for a fourteen mile ride.

Wauchope schoolhouse tree

I was extremely pleased to manage 14 miles in just under an hour but even with only a light wind, I found myself getting chilly and losing feeling in my fingers in spite of my warm gloves so I stopped after two turns up the road and went for a walk with Mrs Tootlepedal instead.  We did three bridges.

The hardy hill cattle weren’t feeling the chill and were chomping away on the very top of Castle Hill.

cows on top of Castle Hill

There was plenty of water coming down the Esk…

ripple in river

…and the black headed gulls were back on their posts at the Kilngreen.  A reader has asked what benefit they get from perching on the posts and I had to admit that I have no idea why they like it there.

Maybe it is just that it gives them a good view of the passers by.

gulls on posts

We had a look for dippers or other birds as we paused on the Sawmill Brig but there were none to be seen so I looked at lichen instead.

lichen on Sawmill Brig

We took the new path round the Castleholm and stopped to looked at the pair of noble firs at the corner of the path.  I have tried to find out about these trees.  One of the pair has a lot of these under every new set of needles…

noble fir flowers

…and I think these are the male strobili.  The other tree seems to bear the female cones and few if any male strobili but I don’t know if this is just an accident or a normal thing when there are two trees close together.

We found a cone that was well past its best.

noble for cone

Following Joe’s very fine picture of our daughter standing in a loch which appeared in yesterday’s post, I tried to encourage Mrs Tootlepedal to stand in the middle of the river today so I could try for a similar shot.

She was not enthusiastic and headed for home.

Mrs T stepping out

The cold was settling down on the Castleholm and a fine mist covered the cricket ground as we headed for our final bridge.

mist on cricket pitch

We were pleased to get into the warmth of the house where our one metre high Christmas tree has been decorated by Mrs Tootlepedal.

christmas tree decorated

I like a reflective bauble.

christmas tree baubles

We discovered that we had missed the delivery of our Christmas fare from the butcher while we were out.  I had got muddled and thought it was due tomorrow.  We were rather alarmed by the thought of just plain bread and butter for Christmas dinner but fortunately a phone call caught the driver before he had left the town and the situation was saved.

Sandra's woodpeckerIn answer to my question as to whether other local bird feeders were short of birds, I was sent this picture of a visitor to her feeder by Sandra who lives on the edge of town and gets regular visits from nuthatchesand the woodpeckers.

Another reader from the country tells me that that they too are getting woodpeckers and nuthatches, while a correspondent from Canonbie says that they have been short of birds this last week.  It seems that though there are plenty of bigger birds about, finches have seriously dropped in numbers for the moment at least.

 

I did manage to find some goldfinches on our feeder today and here is one of them as flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s birthday tour and shows a very United Kingdom team of bell ringers over a jeweller’s shop in Gloucester.

gloucester

The new month started in good style with a chilly but fine morning and it was a pleasure to see the sun and some blue sky.

Even though it was not far above freezing, the sun was enough to bring a snowdrop out in the garden.

open snowdrop

I am trying to take care of my chest as it is steadily improving and I don’t want to set it back so I resisted any slight temptation to go cycling (there was a strong wind to go with the low temperatures) and spent a quiet morning in.

We are going to get the bridge over the dam behind the house replaced after a large hole appeared in the roadway some weeks ago….

bridge repairs

…and this will be quite a big deal.  One of the problems is that record keeping has been poor and no one is quite sure what utilities run under the bridge.  We have had several visits from experts who have given fine displays of head scratching and chin stroking and today, we had the man from the water board.    We just hope that they don’t cut off our gas or sewage when they start the work.

There were plenty of birds about again today…..

goldfinches, chaffinch and blackbird

…and although there weren’t as many as yesterday, there were still times  when the feeder was very busy.

busy feeder

I was pleased to see a greenfinch or two among the goldfinches, chaffinches  and siskins.

greenfinch

Although the skies got a bit cloudy after lunch, it was still fine enough to tempt Mrs Tootlepedal out into the garden and I took the opportunity to go for a walk.

I had intended to walk to the top of Meikleholm Hill to get some wider views and started out full of pep….

Langholm from Meikleholm

….but when I met a group of hill cattle half way up the hill, I gave that idea up and settled for contouring round the hill and back down to the road.  My decision was helped by the refusal of the sun to come out from behind the clouds where I was, even though it was shining on some distant snow capped hilltops.

Snow on hills

I chose a route that was well sheltered from the north-westerly wind and enjoyed my outing.

When I got to the road, I was observed by a curious sheep…..

sheep

…and considered a handy bench with its view….

bench at Breckonwrae

…but thought that the moss on the arm of the bench was the most  interesting thing about it.

moss on bench at Breckonwrae

I considered taking the path through the woods on my way back to the town but it was damp underfoot and I had already slipped over on the soggy patch of hillside so I decided to stick to the road.

This was not a boring option as there was an interesting wall with maidenhair spleenwort on the face of it….

spleenwort wall

…and any amount of different mosses on the top.

moss on wall

At the end of the wall, the road is lined by a fence made from pipes set into concrete fence posts and each fence post had its own hat….

moss on conrete fenceposts

…and I could easily have taken a picture of every one that I passed.  I restrained myself.

The sun actually came out as I got to the town so I walked down through the wood, crossed the Jubilee Bridge and took the new path round the bottom of the Castleholm.

New path castleholm

I was struck by the large number of comes at the very top of one of the noble firs beside the path…..

noble fir cones

…and by the even larger number of moss sporophytes on the wall opposite the Buccleuch Estates yard.

moss on wall, ewesbank

I don’t think that I have seen such a furry wall before. The mosses and lichens are still enjoying our weather.

As I walked along the Kilngreen, I passed Mr Grumpy, who was looking very well turned out.

heron

When I got back to the garden, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the time digging out a tree peony and…..

tree peony move

….replanting it a few yards away.  It was too close to the dogwood before and should be able to make a better mark in its new position.

My walk was about three and half miles and I was more than happy to find myself in as good condition at the end of it as I had been at the start.  Both Mrs Tootlepedal and I are continuing to throw off the after effect of the bug, though I met someone on my walk today who was complaining that he still wasn’t entirely cured after five weeks so we are  going carefully and trying not to do too much at a time.

That concluded the active part of the day and I went into pro-relaxing mode until the evening came and it was time to look at pictures and write this post.

My moss book tells me that I really need a magnifying glass to get the best out of moss watching so I might think about that.  In the meantime, it has been an eye opener to see how many different forms of moss there are about.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin crossing in front of the lawn.  It is not a brilliant picture but I really liked the colour scheme.

flying siskin

On the subject of flying birds, I saw a picture in one of the blogs that I follow of a flock of birds rising from some tree tops.  We often have that from the trees of Holmwood.  In our case the birds are rooks….

rooks

…and we had a small example of a flock today.  They are very noisy.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my son Tony who has been experimenting with my old Lumix which I gave to him on Thursday.  This is his ‘flying birds’ taken at none  o’clock in the evening..

Tony's moon

We had a really lovely day today with a cool underlying temperature (17° C at its hottest) and wall to wall sunshine.  For me, this is just perfect as I don’t like it when it gets too hot.

I had to take some Archive Group heritage disks up to the Welcome to Langholm office in the morning so I took my camera with me and walked back by way of the Kilngreen and the new path round the Castleholm.  It was pure pleasure to be and about on such a day.

I took a couple of pictures in the garden before I left….

lilies

second poppy

…and enjoyed my extended walk back from the town.

The Sawmill Brig

The Sawmill Brig

grass beside the The Sawmill Brig

Rather ghostly grass along the river bank above the bridge

Ty Penningham's path

The ‘new’ path

Langholm Castle

Langholm Castle is getting smothered in growth on its ruined walls

I stopped to have a look at the two noble firs at the corner of the path as they are always interesting.  They were more interesting than usual today, I thought.  One of the pair was covered in more cones than I have ever seen before.

noble fir cones

The other had no cones at all but the remains of many flowers.

noble fir cones

I walked on, passing wild flowers….

wild flower

….and hearing odd sounds in the distance.

When I had crossed the Jubilee Bridge….

River Esk above Jubilee Bridge

The river Esk seen from the bridge. The trees make an impressive canyon for it to run through.

…the source of the sound became obvious as I was assailed by the playing of the Langholm Pipe Band…

Langholm Pipe Band

…who were entertaining a crowd of parents and children which had gathered for a junior cricket event.

I had time for a look at two very spiky flowers as I went round the playing field…

nettle and spiky flower

…along with a flower doing aerobics and a fly not flying.

hawkbit and fly

When I got back to the garden, I considered the down side from a lawn maintenance point of view of having a very prolific Philadelphus near the lawn….

philadelphus petals

…and then stopped moaning to myself and enjoyed combining clearing up the petals with mowing the lawn.

Middle lawn

When I had finished the lawn, I turned compost Bin B into compost C.

Then Mrs Tootlepedal came out to give her new secateurs a test.

secateurs

They passed.

The secateurs come with a special sharpening stone of their own and every part is replaceable individually.  They are Swiss made and are well worth the 600 mile round trip to get them.   I was allowed a go and can report that they are as smooth as butter in operation.

There are always roses to look at at present so I looked at some.

special grandma and Lilian Austin

Special Grandma and Lilian Austin

I noted the two different astilbes in the garden…

astilbes

…and was just going in for lunch when Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a butterfly.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

I was doubly pleased to see this small tortoiseshell, not just because it is always good to see a butterfly but also because the small tortoiseshells are said to be getting rather scarce.

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle.

Mrs Tootlepedal did some very good quality shopping (including dates, prunes, tea, coffee and cheese) while I went to a pub and did some unofficial bonding with a group of the basses and tenors from our Carlisle choir.   This involved beer and conversation and while I had very little beer, I did have a lot of conversation.  The bonding was the idea of one of the basses as the choir doesn’t meet in the summer months and a very good idea it was.

The odd thing about the affair was that on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon, most of Carlisle seemed to think that packing into a pub was the best thing to do and the place was full  to bursting.  I had thought that we might be the only people to be in there on such a good day to be outside.

When I left after a couple of hours to go home with Mrs Tootlepedal, the rest of the bonders were still there chatting away merrily.

Once home, I thought of a cycle ride but the call of the compost was too strong and I finished the compost turning by putting the contents of Bin A into Bin B.  The new demountable wooden compost bins make this a very easy task but I was happy to have got the job finished.  The compost in Bin A was really quite hot in the centre of the heap and I hope it doesn’t get so hot in Bin B that it sets fire to the bin.  That would be a tragedy.

I took a couple of evening sunshine flower shots…

sweet peas

Sweet peas in their protective cage

lupin, foxglove and delphinium

Lupin, foxglove and delphinium

Checked out a bee on a hosta flower….

bee on hosta

…and went in to enjoy some fishcakes, with new potatoes and turnips from the garden, for my tea.

Altogether a very satisfactory day.

Here are two sitting Kilngreen ducks for the flying bird of the day slot today.

Kilngreen ducks

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I found today’s guest picture while looking at last month’s files.  It shows two pelicans which my sister Mary met in St James’ Park in April and it should have appeared before now. She describes the pelicans as “resting from their ‘amusing the tourists’ activities.”

Pelicans resting from their 'amusing the tourists' activities

After the slightly cool air yesterday, today was back to early summer warmth and at 19°C, it was at the perfect temperature for me as I don’t like it when it gets too hot.

I had to start the day with a trip to the garage to get a new spare tyre fitted to the spare wheel as the one we have had on since we bought the car has mysteriously got a spilt in the side wall and was irreparable.

Then I mowed the middle lawn without finding very much grass on it and followed that by going on a nuthatch hunt by bike accompanied by Mrs Tootlepedal.

We passed a large bank full of ribwort on our way to the Jubilee Bridge.

ribwort

The nuthatches were very busy going to and fro to the nest with food when we got there.

nuthatches

I like they way that they always have a cautious peer out of the nest hole before emerging.

nuthatches

Mrs Tootlepedal kept an eye out for tree creepers but although she saw one, I couldn’t get the camera into action quickly enough.

She doesn’t entirely share my enthusiasm for hanging around for yet another few minutes to see if I can get a better nuthatch shot so we set off across the Castleholm to see what we could see.

There was no shortage of treats.

red horse chestnut

This is an example of the Aesculus × carnea, or red horse-chestnut an artificial hybrid between A. pavia (red buckeye) and A. hippocastanum (horse-chestnut).   I thought that you would like to know that.

hawthorn

Could this tree have tried any harder?

conifer

Or this one.

My favourites were the pair of Noble Firs on the corner of the new path,  They have more going on than most trees.

Noble Fir

We went back by the Jubilee Bridge and I stopped for another look at the busy nuthatches….

nuthatches

…while Mrs Tootlepedal went home for a cup of coffee and some gardening.

While I watched the nuthatches, a blue tit and a wood pigeon watched me.

blue tit and wood pigeon

On my way home, I passed a very furry flower.

furry flower

When I got back, I had a cup of coffee and got on with some gardening too.  I mowed the front lawn and then sieved some compost.  Mrs Tootlepedal is busy planting things out from the greenhouse and compost is always welcome.

While I was mowing the lawn, a neighbour called by and said that she had just been trapped in her house for twenty minutes by a huge swarm of bees in her garden and had only got out when the bees had moved next door.  She asked my advice as to her best plan of action.

Feeling that, “Run like the clappers!” was probably not the most useful answer, I suggested telephoning the council and she said that she would do that.  I went to warn my neighbour Liz of the possibility of a swarm of bees but when we went round to check, there was no sign of them at all.  They must have swarmed off somewhere else.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I had noticed a sparrow disappearing into a crack in Liz’s wall…

sparrow in Liz's wall

…but when Liz investigated, there was not enough room for a nest and the sparrow must just have been enjoying the shade.

In between mowing and having lunch, I took the chance to look at flowers.

peony

A peony was almost out.

Ranunculus

A new purchase which Mrs Tootlepedal describes as a ‘fancy buttercup’. Money well spent in my view.

Rosa Moyesii

The first flower on the Rosa Moyesii

Mrs Tootlepedal was glad to see the rose in flower has she had feared for the health of the plant earlier in the spring.

I was pleased to see more aquilegias.

aquilegia

As it was still a wonderful day after lunch, I mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green and felt very virtuous for having completed a clean sweep of the grass during the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal was making a splendid job of edging the middle lawn with shears so I set about neatening the front edge of the same lawn with a spade and then edging the front lawn with the strimmer.  Though I say so myself, by the time we had both finished, the lawns looked quite neat.

Front lawn

The front lawn with azaleas

middle lawn

The middle lawn. Sparkling edge work from Mrs Tootlepedal

It is a pity that the plum tree in the foreground hides the rhododendrons which frame the top corner of the middle lawn.

In the course of the afternoon, the other two tenors from our Langholm choir came round for a practice as we have a concert this Friday.  It was one of those practices which leave you with the feeling that what you really need is some practice.

Later in the afternoon, I went up to collect the spare wheel with its new tyre and I sincerely hope that I have spent money on something that I will never use.

I left Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden when I got back and went in to make a belated cup of tea and I was rather surprised when she came in behind me in a great rush shutting the door firmly as she came.  The swarm of bees was back and in our garden.

However, by the time that I had picked up a camera and gone to have a peer through the glass in the back door, they had already moved on and were swirling about above our neighbour Irving’s roof.

bees swarming

A few minutes later and they were gone.  They seem to be on a tour of the New Town.  We are assuming that they are honey bees but we don’t know where they have come from as we don’t think that anyone nearby has a hive.

After tea, I went off to the final practice of our Langholm choir before the concert and my feeling that more practice was required turned out to be fully justified.  I will have to find some time to go over the music tomorrow.  It is unfortunate that both the choirs that I sing in are having concerts at pretty well the same time.  Being a very rough and ready singer, I am rather overwhelmed by the number of songs that need to be mastered.

My ideal choir would sing interesting music every week but never have a concert.

No bird of the day today but the flower of the day is the peony which finally came out fully in the afternoon.  It was well worth the wait I thought.

peony

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony, who was working under the shadow of the Forth Railway Bridge today and kindly sent me this fine picture of the noble structure.

Forth Bridge

I had a day of constant but gentle activity with little time for staring out of the window or visiting the pond so the usual number of frog and battling siskin pictures is greatly reduced.

It was a fine dry day with quite a bit of sunshine but this was balanced by a brisk wind.

I discovered just how brisk the wind was when I went out on my bike at ten o’clock.  I had hoped to pile a few miles on but in the event, I had to lower my expectations considerably after the first ten miles took me just on an hour battling into the wind.  You might think that battling into the wind is always rewarded by being pushed home but my course was a sort of square and I ended up with one quarter against the wind, two quarters with cross winds and only a quarter with the helpful shove.

I managed thirty miles in the end but at a very slow speed indeed.

I didn’t have the mental energy to stop and take a lot of pictures so I settled for one of a fine gorse hedge near Gair….

Gorse hedge

…and one of a gang of English trees gossiping across the road near Battenbush.

Two trees.

I just had enough time for a shower and lunch when I got back before I had to go out to a meeting with Sandy and the lady who is project manager for the scheme for a community takeover of our local newspaper.  She was hoping to involve the Archive Group in her planning and we explained what we might be able to do (not much unfortunately but we will try our nest to help)

Sandy and I arranged a walk after the meeting and I cycled home, took a quick look at the garden where the crocuses have revived a bit…

Crocus

…and the tadpoles are developing well….

Tadpoles
…before walking along to the Town Bridge, where I paused to admire a gull on a rock and a goosander doing some fishing.

Gull and Goosander.

Looking from the other side of the bridge, I could see Sandy patiently waiting for me to arrive on the Kilngreen.

Sandy

He tells me that he was sitting and thinking and not just sitting.

We took a moment to admire the bird life…..

Ducks and heron

Mr Grumpy is looking is age.

…and the riverbank crocuses

P1100148

…before crossing the Sawmill Brig and touring the Castleholm.

The wall beside the bridge has a lot of blue green algae on it and I finally managed to get a definitive picture which confirmed what the New Hampshire gardener had showed me.  Our algae is strangely furry just like his.

Algae

A bit different when you look really closely

We were looking at the cones on a Noble Fir when strange blue objects caught our eye.  Research tells us that these are the male flowers of the fir.

Noble fir flowers.

We could hear a nuthatch singing in the tree beside the Jubilee Bridge but it took a passing walker to point it out to us.  It was too far off for a good picture but it is satisfactory to know that it is there.

All round our walk, we could hear robins singing and we saw quite a few as we went along.

Robin

This is just a sample. The one in the middle has lost a lot of feathers somehow.

We looked at flowers, both big…

Daffodils

…and small.

Hazel

A hazel flower on a hairy twig.

We pottered round the pheasant hatchery and enjoyed this omnivorous tree eating fence wire of all sorts.

Tree with wire

After crossing the Duchess Bridge, we made our separate ways home and I was impressed by the colourful show of Mike and Alison’s cherry tree.

Mike and Alison's cherry tree

I took a moment to look out of the kitchen window when I got in…

siskin and chaffinch

A tiny siskin gives a chaffinch some advice about going elsewhere.

siskin and goldfinch

The goldfinch is in for a shock.

…and then went out to see what Mrs Tootlepedal had been up to in the garden while I was walking.   She is very happy with the neat appearance which our neighbour’s new fence gives to the vegetable garden.

Fence

It makes the plot look much more purposeful.  We will have to wait and see whether it will make the vegetables grow better.

I then made a risotto for my tea and went off to a choir practice with our local choir.  The choir is working well at the moment and the practice was most enjoyable so it rounded off a day of continuous pleasure and hard work.

I did catch a flying bird of the day during my brief look out of the window.

Chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent.  She stopped to look a new monument celebrating the world speed record for helicopter flight, set in 1986 and by chance met two of the designers of the helicopter, the Geraghty brothers, who were visiting the monument themselves.

helicopter record

Very obligingly it had rained during the night and stopped by breakfast time.  It remained rather grey so I waited around to make sure that the rain wasn’t going to come back and then went out for a 20 mile ride on my bike.  The sun even came out as I went along so I was able to ignore a brisk wind over the first three miles or so.

I couldn’t ignore a large bull beside the road.

bull

He condescended to turn his head for a portrait shot.

bull bloch

I was honoured.

I took a look at a tree across the road…

tree

…and then settled down to get home as quickly as possible because in spite of the sun overhead, there were dark clouds and signs of rain to the south.

It was still dry when I got back so I had a quick look round the garden.

two dahlias

A matched pair of dahlias

fly and bee on cornflower

Still plenty of pollen to be had

We are trying to make sure that we eat up the good crop of potatoes that Mrs Tootlepedal has grown this year so I had a baked potato for my lunch and then we went out to shred the pile of stuff that Atilla the gardener and her idle assistant Onegesias had produced.

I wheeled the petrol shredder out of the garage…..and then wheeled it straight  back in again as some heavy rain began to fall.  I went in and started to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database but I didn’t get far because the rain soon stopped…and we started again.

We managed to clog the shredder up once but it was soon  cleared and we finished the pile off.

shredder

The shredder and the pile, the resultant shreddings and the whole lot tidied away.

It is a useful machine.

Our assistant helped in a supervisory role today.

robin

After a cup of tea, I went down to the Kilngreen where I met Sandy and Mr Grumpy simultaneously.

Sandy and Mr Grumpy

Sandy and I had met by appointment and a short walk round the pheasant hatchery ensued.

There was new fungus round the bottom of one of the diseased trees on the Lodge Walks.

fungus Lodge Walks

And good views as well.

View of castleholm

The threat of rain was still about so we didn’t dawdle but there was time to look around.

buzzard and rabbit

The rabbit was on a river of a path running between green banks.

Pheasant hatchery path

As we passed the Duchess Bridge, we heard faint quacking and when we looked, we saw a duck with two very tiny ducklings at the edge of the river.  This seems to be very late for a new brood. They were too small and far away to capture on camera though.

Further on, we stopped to look at one of the trees that have been recently felled.  It had a great number of rings and might have been as old or older than me.

Tree rings

The darkest set of rings in the centre of the trunk caught our attention.

Tree rings

They had a very clearly defined border and the rings outside the border seemed to run into it in a rather arbitrary way. We had no idea how this might have come about.

We parted company at the Jubilee Bridge where Sandy walked directly home and I continued round the Castleholm and back to my car which was parked by the church.

I passed two more things which made me stop.  The first was a Noble Fir cone sticking up from a low branch just above my eye level.  I have never seen one of these cones so close before.

Noble fir cone

And the other was an oak tree covered in acorns.  We have looked in vain for many signs of acorns on the mature oaks on our walks and seen hardly any so it was a surprise to see this single tree so fruitful.

acorns

It had hundreds of acorns on it

The rain held off and it was warm enough to make the walk very enjoyable.

I disposed of a few more potatoes with a plate of stew for my tea and then sat down to watch an exciting program of highlights of the latest stage of the Vuelta in a very good mood indeed.

The flower of the day is another look at the tall lobelia.  It is a very striking flower…

lobelia

…especially in a brief moment of evening sunshine.

The flying bird of the day was seen on the Kilngreen.

black headed gull

 

 

 

 

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