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Posts Tagged ‘oak tree’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  It is a horrible evening here so I was pleased to find his cheerful picture of life on the river at Chester last week.

chester

We were promised a visit from Storm Brendan later in the day so it was good to find a quiet, dry morning when we got up.

The birds didn’t seem very interested in getting some food in before the storm came though and all that was to be seen was a goldfinch on the feeder and a crow in the walnut tree.

goldfinch and crow

I cycled up to the town to do some Archive Group business and called in at our not so near corner shop of the way home to stock up on a few necessities.  Then it was time for a coffee and finally, I got out for a walk.

I did think about a cycle ride but the prospect of a strengthening wind made a 5 mile walk more attractive.

I had only got as far as the back wall of the house when I had to stop to note snowdrops almost out beside the dam.

dam snowdrops

I hadn’t got much further before I was detained by a dipper which was living up to its name by doing some vigorous dipping in the Wauchope above the Kirk Brig.

dipping dipper

They can stay under water for an amazingly long time.

In the end, I had to go on and I walked through the town and along to the track to the oak woods and the Moorland Project bird hide.

It was muddy and slippery, so I had to keep more of an eye on where I was walking than interesting things but this fallen tree was large enough to attract my attention.

felled tree with fungus

And the oak trees are hard to miss when you get to them.

oak tree near jenny noble

I didn’t want to hang about too much in case the threatened rain came in before schedule so I pressed on to the bird hide.  I had heard at second hand that the hide was closed as a result of the larch disease which will lead to the trees at the hide being felled soon.  I wondered if this meant that the trees had already been felled but when I got there, the hide and trees were still there and the notice on the hide door read as follows:

laverock hide notice

I was in time, the hide was still open and the feeders had been filled by one of the volunteers.

I sat in the hide for a few minutes and was rewarded with a good supply of peanut eaters.

Among the crowd, there were two coal tits….

two coal tits

…two blue tits…

two blue tits

…and a great tit with a chaffinch with other things on its mind.

great tit and chaffinch

A green finch arrived and checked to see if the peanuts on the other side of the feeder were any tastier.

inquisitive greenfinch

There were plenty of puddles about and a pheasant was happy to use one as a drinking fountain.

drinking pheasant

There had been some sunshine om my walk out but the clouds were coming up from the west so I didn’t stop long and was soon on my way home along the road.

It is hard to convey the sheer pleasure that can be got from contemplating our hills while out on a walk and I don’t have the camera or the skills to do them full justice but even in the middle of winter, this is a very pleasant prospect.

view from Broomholmshiels

In hot weather, the sheep that you can see in the field in the foreground of the picture above often make use of the shade of a tree beside the road.  Looking at the exposed roots of the tree, I wondered if the sheep were responsible for these scratches.

sheep scraped root

On my side of the fence there was a good show of xanthoria parietina lichen.

xanthoria parietina lichen

I set off down the hill at a good pace and I wasn’t intending to stop again but when a cladonia lichen winks at you from a wall across the road, it would be rude not to stop.  This one was so big and bright that it looked like a flower.

british soldier lichen

The river had dropped enough to let me take a picture of Skippers Bridge when I got there.  As the light was dull, I thought that it would make a change to show the bridge at work instead of the usual still life portrait.

I feel slightly nervous when I see lorries of this size crossing the bridge as they seem vastly too big for it….

skippers bridge with lorry

…but the bridge has stood up well to fairly constant traffic for over 300 years and will doubtless outlast us all.

I got home before the weather broke and had lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She went out on business in the afternoon and was not as lucky as me, as it was raining very heavily by the time that she bicycled home.

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and my flute pupil came in the early evening.  Mike got wet but Luke was lucky to find a gap in the rain when he came.

As I write this in the late evening, the wind is soughing round the house but the rain has stopped, temporarily at least.  Weather reports show severe gales on exposed western coasts but we are on the very edge of the storm so we are quite lucky so far.  Long may this continue.

The flying bird of the day is that dipper, pushing off low over the river to find more food.

flying dipper

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She was delighted to spot a squirrel in her garden.  She points out that it was so cold that the squirrel was using its tail to keep its ears warm.

venetia's squirrel

It rained heavily here over night but it had stopped by the morning and we got a relatively calm day.  Along with the gentler winds, the temperature had dropped too and it was just over 3 degrees C at breakfast time.

My back had decided to sulk and it took me some time to get it loosened up but this did give me a moment to watch the birds.

The robin auditioned for the Christmas card spot…

robin on stalk

…and chaffinches approached the feeder with great concentration…

angel flying chaffinch

…and sometimes even with suspicion.

sloped flying chaffinch

The goldfinches were eating elsewhere today and we got a siskin instead.

siskin and other bird

A blue tit proved to be less sunflower seed orientated than the other birds and tried the fat balls and the peanuts as well as the seed.

blue tit on nuts and balls

By midday I had eased off my back enough to go out for a gentle stroll.

Our new minister was going to be inducted to the parish in the evening and the church heating was on as I went by.  I could only just restrain myself from saying, “Holy smoke!” as I passed.

holy smoke

In spite of the heavy overnight rain, the river was not high when I got to it, although there was enough water going down to make a decent ripple….

water in esk

…and the line of debris on the far bank suggested that it might have been quite high earlier on.

I walked down the river and came to my favourite piece of fencing at Land’s End.  The fence itself is unremarkable but it is home to a beautiful lichen which is really enjoying the present weather.  This little patch, about an inch across, was on the edge of a  bottom bar…

fence lichen land's end

…and a few yards further on, I found a bigger patch covering the whole width of a top bar.

fence lichen land's end 2

I approached Skippers Bridge from the north…

skippers in December

…and when I had crossed over and begun my walk back up the opposite side of the river. the sun came fully out and lit up Timpen Hill.

timpen from murtholm

Everything looked more cheerful in the sunshine and I marvelled at the intricate tracery of oak branches on one side of the track….

oak banches

…and the intricate tracery of the iron gates of the farmhouse on the other side.

murtholm gate

The sunshine even made a big puddle in the field look quite beautiful…

murtholm puddle with fence

…and the bare trees at the far end of the Murtholm looked delightful too.

trees at end of murtholm

As I came into the wood, a pigeon stood frozen under the trees.  It was quite happy to sit still and let me take its picture so I suspect that it may not have been very well.

pigeon in wood

I had a quick lunch when I got home and after checking that the temperature was still safely above freezing (it was 3.8°C), I went out for a short cycle ride.

I had originally planned to go a bit further but the late start to my walk and the brief afternoon light kept me down to 11 miles.  The light was still good for a while and gave the bulls at Wauchope Schoolhouse a golden gleam.

bullocks in golden sunshine

It began to cloud over though and as I passed Westwater, only a patch of larches was getting any sun.

larches at Westwater

I didn’t hang about as it was pretty cold with the sun behind the clouds and I was satisfied that I had least got some stretch into my legs.

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had pruned the roots of the Christmas tree and put it into its pot.  We will let it rest in the garage now until Christmas Eve.

christmas tree in pot

When I went inside, I spent about quarter of an hour on my bike to nowhere in the garage to make up for my short outdoor excursion.  To be honest, I could quite easily have done the extra quarter of an hour outside if I had wanted to as Mrs Tootlepedal went out and cycled about the town quite happily for a bit of exercise after we had had a cup of tea.

In the evening we went to church for the service of induction for our new minister.  The small church choir of nine, enhanced by four members of Langholm Sings, sang the Hallelujah Chorus as a processional to start the service off and all things considered, it went pretty well.

The induction service itself was a serious business and a lot of ministers from other churches in in the presbytery had come along to lend their support.  I had never been to such an event before and didn’t realise that both the minister and the congregation had to make solemn promises about belief and good behaviour before the minister could start work.  I hope that everybody sticks to their word.

We are keeping our fingers crossed that the weatehr and train services will let us go to Edinburgh tomorrow and visit Matilda.  Neither are very reliable at the moment.  There is even talk of snow.

The flying bird of the day is a curious chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony who felt that he could prove that East Wemyss has fine trees as well as seemingly eternal sunshine.

East wemyss

For a change, we had some sunshine here too today, but as it came hand in hand with a very gusty and nippy east wind and a drop in the temperature, it was not quite as welcome as it might have been.

I had intended to go cycling, but it wasn’t appetising, and I had  coffee and a ginger biscuit with Sandy instead.  Mrs Tootlepedal had a very busy morning of meetings so when Sandy had left, I had a quiet time.  I did go to visit our translated corner shop though.

two shops

The new shop (on the left in the panel) is bigger, brighter and has a nifty new sign but the old shop was on a proper corner so I shall miss it.  Still, my cycle route to the new shop takes me along the river and I hope to be able to catch a few waterside bird pictures from time to time when I go to get my groceries.

The better weather brought more birds to the feeder….

busy feeder

…and the better light let me capture a pair of greenfinches coming and going.

flying greenfinches

Even occasional light showers didn’t put the birds off…

chaffinchlanding rain

..and flying chaffinches were ten a penny, rain or shine.

flying chaffinch panel

I made some leek and potato soup for lunch (leeks and onions from the garden but we have had to start buying potatoes again after 5 months of eating home grown).

After lunch, I went out for a walk, touring the garden before I went.

There is still a little colour, fresh from the jasmine, medium from the wallflower and faded from Rosy Cheeks…

jasmine, wallflower, rosy cheeks

…and some interesting greens too, the perennial nasturtium in the yew, unseasonable leaves still on a clematis and promise of flowers from a sarcococca by the back door.

yew, clematis sarcococca

I started out on my walk just after two o’clock and the sun was already setting behind the hill, so one side of the river was already in shade.

esk in November

I directed my feet to the sunny side of the street and went up a bit of a hill too in an effort to keep in the sun.

The wall, as I went up Hallpath had a good deal of interest with hart’s tongue fern, spleenwort and ample supplies of moss on some sections.

three wall hall path

I looked up from the wall and admired a lofty tree.  A man gardening nearby told me that it is a Wellingtonia.

wellingtonia

As I walked on, the sun was getting lower all the time and I had to walk tall to get my head warm as I passed between a wall and a beech hedge.

beech hedge hallpath

I took the track along to the round house and passed a tree which has been gradually eating a ‘neighbourhood watch’ plaque.  It looked like this in 2016…

tree eating notice…and it looked like this today.

tree eating sign

I wonder how long it will be before the plaque disappears entirely.

The sun had all but disappeared by the time that I passed the round house…

round house…and headed on down through the little oak wood….

oak branch mossy

…to the old railway and took the path back towards town.  There was a lot to see on the short stretch of old railway.  The green lichen was surprisingly bright and the script lichen on the tree was comprehensive if not comprehensible…

four thing son old railway fungus

…and the leaves came from a very young sapling but I don’t know whether the growth on the fallen branch was another lichen or a fungus.  I would happy if a knowledgeable reader could shed some light for me.

I passed Skippers Bridge by without stopping to take yet another picture….or maybe I didn’t and succumbed to temptation…

 

skippers bridge end of november

…and a sheep looked at me as I walked along the Murtholm track with a hint of censoriousness in its gaze as a result.

sheep murtholm

Perhaps I shouldn’t have dallied at the bridge because although I could see sunlight on Meikleholm Hill…

meikleholm evening sun

…it started to rain on me as I walked along.

It was patchy rain.  I could still see sunlight picking out a house on the hill to my right…

sun on house

…but I was in the patch where it was  definitely raining so I hurried home without taking any more pictures.

Mrs Tootlepedal was in the garden when I arrived back so we had a walk round (the rain had stopped) before going in.

We discovered a Lilian Austin flower and there were a lot of buds still forming on the bush.  A cowslip was also flowering….

lilian austin and cowslip november

…but as we are due to have quite  sharp frost tonight, maybe that will be that for both of them.

Regular readers will perhaps be asking why we were not in Edinburgh visiting Matilda as it is a Thursday today and they would be right to ask.  We should have been in Edinburgh but half the children at Matilda’s school have fallen victim to the winter virus and Matilda is in the unlucky half.

As we neither wanted to catch the virus nor bring it back to Langholm, we wisely stayed at home.  An evening phone call revealed that Matilda, after an unhappy morning, was making good progress so we have our fingers crossed that neither she nor her parents will be too badly affected.

There was no hint of sun left by the time we had had a cup of tea so the rest of the day was spent indoors doing little tasks.

The sunnier weather did let me catch a much improved flying bird of the day even though it was raining when it flew past me..

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture finally reveals Bruce’s horses in all their beauty.  They are the Kelpies at Falkirk  and well worth a visit if you haven’t seen them yet.  They are huge.

kelpies

Our spell of sunny weather continued and the drop in temperature continued too, with the thermometer struggling to get over 2°C today and a brisk northerly wind making it feel even colder.

I went for a short walk in the morning, wearing several layers of clothing but still feeling a chill if I was out of the direct sunshine.

I was pleased to come out of the woods beside the river and get onto the track…

Murtholm

…along the Murtholm fields.

Murtholm

The light was golden once again but the sun struggles just as much as I do to get up in the morning so we are living in a world of long dark shadows.

Still, some recent tree felling means that I got a much better view of Warbla as I walked along than used to be possible.

P1050791

The strong sun and dark shadows make taking photos of ‘things’ difficult.

distillery

The contrast is too much as the two pictures from and of the Skippers Bridge show.

skippers bridge

The lichen on the bridge parapet was easier.

skippers lichen

skippers lichen

There was plenty to choose from.

I climbed up the wooden steps from Skippers Bridge onto the old railway track and made my way home past an old oak…

oak tree

…and the view from the Round House…

View from Round House

When I got home, I found that our new neighbour Irving had got someone to trim down the top of the holly tree at the end of his garden.

holly tree clipping

It still looks as though there is plenty of room for birds in it.

After lunch, we set off to drive (very carefully) to Lockerbie to catch the train to see Matilda and her parents.

As I was waiting on the platform (the train was a few minutes late as usual), I noticed the clocks on Lockerbie Town Hall.  It is good to have several clocks to help you tell the time but it would be even better, I thought, if they both showed the same time.

holly tree clipping

The train journey was very smooth and comfortable and I took the time to shoot three shots through the window as we travelled.

At the top of Beattock summit, we pass through a perfect forest of windmills….

view from train

I read on the internet that there are over 200 windmills on this stretch  of hills and there are few hills untouched.

P1050813

A little further on, I saw a small amount of snow on the Tinto Hills.

P1050815

We arrived safely in Edinburgh and were warmly welcomed by Matilda, who regards flash photography with justified suspicion.

Matilda and Al

However, she borrowed some dice from her father and we enjoyed rolling a couple and counting the total spots shown.  She has promised to teach me the rules for shooting craps soon.

After some more play, Al and Clare and Matilda took Mrs Tootlepedal and me out to a very nice Italian restaurant on Leith Walk and treated us to a splendid joint birthday meal.

Feeling very well fed, Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked off a few calories on the way to the station and caught a very punctual train back to Lockerbie.  As the thermometer was showing 0°C when we got to the car, we took a slightly longer but wider and smoother route home.

I failed to take a flying bird of the day and don’t have anything to put in its place.  Oh the shame.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who was walking along the Thames last week when she came to Tower Bridge at low tide.

Tower Bridge at low tide

We had another day of sunshine and showers here today but in an improvement on yesterday, there was more sunshine and less rain and when the rain came, it came less ferociously.

The day started early as I picked up Sandy and we took our photograph down to Canonbie to put them on the boards in the village hall, ready to be judged at the Canonbie Flower Show.

On our way home, it rained heavily and we feared for the worst as the flower show has many outdoor activities on the playing field beside the hall.  In the end though, that was the worst rain of the day and things went ahead as planned.

I had a late breakfast when I got home and and after a leisurely time sitting and doing not much, I finally went out for a short walk before lunch.

The sun was shining when I started….

Saw Mill Brig

…but it was too good to last and I had to put up with occasional drizzle as I went round.

Still, there was a lot to look at.  There were sparrows, headless ducks and a sitting bird as I went along the Kilngreen.

sparrows, duck and heron

I wonder if Mr Grumpy is feeling his age a bit.  He seems to have created quite a worn patch on the bank where he has been sitting the last two times that I have seen him.

On the wall beside the Sawmill Brig, I saw spleenwort and turned a frond over to look at the back.

spleenwort

Elegant whichever way you look at it.

On the Lodge Walks I saw fungus.

fungus

The patches of fungus by the felled tree stumps are getting bigger and bigger .

As I walked back along the path by the river, I saw oak leafs with galls and on another oak nearby, a pristine acorn.

oak leaves and acorn

There may be two different galls on that leaf

I met a very handsome husky taking its owner for a walk.

husky

Other things appealed to me.

nettle and nut

Although it looked as though the heavens might open, the clouds passed by with the merest sprinkling of rain, and I got home quite dry.

After lunch, I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in a walk round the garden.

The honeysuckle is going over but Lilian Austin is producing a few late flowers.

honeysuckle rose

This is therefore a honeysuckle rose combination. Cue for song.

Two butterflies were defying the rain showers and a stiff breeze.

red admiral and peacock butterflies

The perennial nasturtium which lives among a yew tree has spread across a flower bed and appeared in the hedge behind the yew as well…

perennial nasturtium

…and rather cleverly, it has found a bamboo stick in the middle of the bed and grown up that too.  You can see it in the centre of the picture above.

After a while, I drove back down to Canonbie to see how the flower show was going on.

On the playing field, a chainsaw carver was demonstrating his art….

chainsaw carving and static engine

…while a patient static engine whirred endlessly nearby.

Equally patient donkeys were doing good business offering rides.

donkeys

A brief moment of repose.

Around the field, vintage tractors and old cars were drawn up for inspection.

Canonbie show cars and tractors

You know that you are old when you realise that you drove the classic cars which you see at a show when they were first brand new.  That Triumph Herald is very familiar.

I left a demonstration of dog agility and obedience to look after itself in some light rain and went in to see whether my pictures had attracted the attention of the judges.  I was delighted to find that a Lake District view and a garden blackbird had won their classes and one of our garden poppies had got a third.  I did get another first and a second place too in another class but as mine were the only pictures in that class, this was a not entirely unexpected.

The photos at the Canonbie show are always given plenty of room among the flowers…

Photos and flowers

I took this after some of the pictures and flowers had already been removed at the end of the show.

…so it a pleasure to exhibit there.

There was splendid fruit and veg to admire and many beautiful flowers too and I had an enjoyable time looking round.  When I had had a good look, I went back to the field and had a cup of tea and a fancy cake with Sandy, who was at the show with a friend and his wife and then I went off for a walk along the river before it was time to collect the pictures and go home.

I was lucky with my walk and dodged the rain completely.  I walked down towards the river bank at the bridge and came across a large clump of these tall yellow flowers.

yellow flowers

They were hard to photograph because they were waving about in the brisk wind but they are handsome plants.  I have no idea what they are.

Once I had got the water’s edge, I looked up at the Canonbie Bridge itself.

Canonbie Bridge

I drove over that bridge to work for thirteen years.  The bridge is narrow and the overhanging footpath is a fairly recent addition to allow schoolchildren to get back to the village in greater safety.

I crossed the bridge, passed the church and made my way down to the other bank of the river.

The Esk runs past some red sandstone cliffs at the village…

Dead Neuk

…but it soon opens out into a broad stretch that will take it down to Longtown and the Solway Firth.

Esk at Canonbie

The powers that be have put power lines over every nice view in Eskdale.

The church was looking at its best, picked out by the sun against the rain clouds behind it.

Canonbie Church

I watched a patient fisherman casting on one bank of the river while goosanders, great fishers themselves, snoozed on the opposite bank while they waited for their chance.

Canonbie fisher goosander

After  glance at a sign of autumn…

elderberries

…I returned to the hall, enthusiastically applauded the many trophy winners (not me), collected the pictures for myself and Sandy and drove home.

The final business of the day was a quick shopping trip with Mrs Tootlepedal and then I was happy cook my evening meal and to sit down and eat it.

It had seemed like a long day.

The flying bird of the day was still waiting to take off when I saw it in the morning after breakfast.

blackbird

 

 

 

 

 

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There is no guest picture today because I do not have one and so a gallery from the Moorland Feeders will take top billing instead.

coal, blue and great tit

We were threatened with wind, rain and snow as storm Doris came to visit us today but after a night of rain, we were largely untroubled by her  during the day.  Since there was heavy snow to our north and gales and flooding to our west and south, once again we seem to have got off lightly.

It was quite wet when I went up with Sandy to help him fill the Moorland Feeders but in spite of the rain, we spent a little time on the hide.  We weren’t rewarded with anything special in the way of interesting birds but there was constant activity so we weren’t bored.

Among the throngs of great, blue and coal tits, siskins and chaffinches, we noticed a greenfinch and a woodpecker or two…

woodpecker and greenfinch

…but this bedraggled pheasant really summed up our visit.

soggy pheasant

Sandy stayed for a cup of coffee when we got back and when he went off, I spent a moment or two looking at our own birds….

blue tit

…and was pleased to see that some pink pellets had tempted a blue tit to come to the feeders.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I spent quite a lot of time considering whether it was a good idea for Mrs Tootlepedal to brave the floods and snow and travel to Edinburgh to see Matilda but as the Edinburgh train service was disrupted by floods between Carlisle and Lockerbie, we thought that it would be wise not to risk it and she went off to Carlisle in the car to do some useful shopping instead.

While she was out, I went for a short walk to check whether the repair at Skippers Bridge had survived its first angry river test.

It had.

Skippers Bridge repair

I am sorry about the branches in front of the bridge but it wasn’t a day to get too close to the water’s edge!

Skippers Bridge

Seen from the downriver side, you realise how much of the force of the river hits the central pillar when the water is high.

On my way down to the bridge, I kept my eyes open.  I usually look at walls and rocks for my lichen shots but today I was looking at trees and saw both script lichen, probably on a beech…

script lichen

…and this fine colourful selection on a silver birch tree trunk.

lichen on birch

There was plenty of water that was not going down the rover.

flooded gate

On my way back from the bridge, I walked up through the oak and birch wood…

oak tree

…and this gave me the chance to look back down on the bridge from above….

skippers bridge

…and it also took me past a wall where I could be sure of seeing some blue green algae (which is often yellow).

The New Hampshire Gardener had a wonderful picture on his most recent post showing how unexpectedly fluffy this algae is and I wanted to check this out.  Although it was very damp, our algae looked quite fluffy too….

blue green algae

…though my pictures weren’t very good.   I will come back on a better day and have another look.   It is very educational reading other people’s blogs and I learn something on most days.

After playing about with the buttons on my camera on my last walk, I met another wall further on today on which gave me the same colour effect but without any pressing of buttons on my part.  The wall really does look like this.

red brick

My walk had been remarkably pleasant in spite of a light drizzle and I took a last look at the river before I crossed the suspension bridge…

River esk in flood

…and went home for a nice cup of tea and a slice of toast and marmite….and a final look out of the kitchen window.

goldfinch and chaffinch

Mrs Tootlepedal got back safely from Carlisle which was encouraging as later in the day, Susan arrived to take me down to the city  to play with our recorder group.  The day had calmed down completely by this time and there was even the odd star to be seen.

We had a good play, followed by an excellent biscuit with our tea and drove home thoroughly relieved to have avoided any of the scenes of storm related accidents and disasters being shown on the news programmes.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch in the drizzle.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mike Tinker’s NZ trip and shows Nelson Cathedral.  He tells me that as it is in NZ,  it has an earthquake policy, the final line of which says: ‘if the earthquake is a gentle event (i.e. no creaks in the building) services will continue’.  I hadn’t thought that there might be a gentle earthquake.

Nelson Cathedral

Our good weather continued today, although it was a bit windier than it has been lately.   Under the circumstances, I was quite pleased to have an excuse not to go cycling as we were expecting a visit from our friend Sue for lunch.

There was a complete lack of birds in the morning and it was a bit annoying that they appeared in the garden just as Sue arrived.  I was listening with my full attention to every word that was spoken over coffee and at the lunch table, even when I might have been distracted by movement outside.

If I had been rude enough to get up with camera in hand in mid conversation, I might have seen this….

robin, chaffinch and goldfinch

Three poseurs

…or this….

goldfinches

Two more poseurs

…or even this…

goldfinches

Impending violence

Sue noticed the arrival of a greenfinch so I make no excuses for having seen this finch festival.

greenfinch, goldfinch and chaffinch

After lunch, we piled into the car and headed up to the hide at the Moorland Project bird feeders, where we sat for a while watching a terrific amount of activity.  Unfortunately, apart from a brief and unrecorded visit from a brambling, there were no unusually exciting birds to be seen.

It is always fun to see a greater spotted woodpecker though and there were a lot about today, pecking away at various feeders and chasing each other up and down trees.

greater spotted woodpecker

The great, coal and blue tits were in sharing mode.

great tit, coal tit and blue tit

And there were dozens of chaffinches around.

chaffinch

Those pink pellets are always popular

chaffinch

The brisk wind was ruffling a feather or two

There were several raptors flying over the hill when we came out of the hide but they were too far away to identify with confidence.

Mrs Tootlepedal has been suffering from a sore foot so she drove the car back while Sue and I walked the two and a half miles home from Broomholmshiels.

The weather stayed dry and there was even a hint of sunshine as we strolled along looking for things of interest on the way.

I always like  a gate and this brand new belt and braces job caught my eye soon after we left the farm fields.

 

Broomholmshiels gate

And bare trees are favourites.

oak

Sue has been going to classes on plant recognition and had a keen eye for the ferns, mosses, lichens and fungi that we passed on our way once we had got into the oak and birch woods…

sue T

Oak wood

There were a lot of things to see just on the trees.

moss and lichens

turkey tail fungus

We saw fine displays of mosses beside the track in the wood and many spleenwort and ferns on walls when we got nearer to the town.

We finished out walk with a stroll along the river bank and since I had told Sue that we might well see a dipper as some point, I was very pleased when we found one singing its heart out near the suspension bridge.

dipper

The light had faded quite a bit by the time that we saw it.

We also met Sandy, who rather annoyingly told us that he had seen a tree creeper at the Moorland site when he was filling the feeders this morning.  Where was it when we needed it?

We had a cup of tea and some of Sue’s delicious home made biscuits when we got home and then, after we had put the world to rights, it was time for Sue to head off back home.  It had been a delight to have her company.

I rounded off a very good day by making curried cauliflower for our tea.

No plant of the day today but I did manage to catch a flying chaffinch out of the corner of my eye while we were having lunch.

flying chaffinch

 

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