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Posts Tagged ‘oyster catcher’

Today’s guest picture comes from Bill, a blog reader, who was pleased that we enjoyed his creative poppy plantation on our recent walk. Nature got a helping hand! He has sent me this picture of a ceanothus which rivals the cotoneaster as a bee magnet.

Our spell of dry, warm and sunny weather continued today, and it was, if anything, warmer than it was yesterday. On the hand, there was a stronger cooling breeze available so we were all pretty happy.

Our neighbour Margaret, the senior citizen in our socially distanced street coffee morning set, was the beneficiary of the slight loosening of the lockdown when her son and daughter-in-law visited her for coffee today, bringing their own seats with them. Mrs Tootlepedal and our other morning coffee neighbour Liz joined them but I, thinking that five was a crowd, went off to have coffee with Sandy instead.

He had acquired a new cafetiere so we sipped good coffee together and watched a pair of very industrious blue tits bringing food for the family to the nest box on his shed.

Judging from how busy the parents were, there must be quite a few nestlings in the box.

The skies have got busy too lately, and we watched a plane leaving quite a trail as it passed overhead.

Sandy has a handy flight tracking app on his phone and he was able tell me that this was an Airbus jet going from Aberdeen to London.

When I got home, the street coffee morning was just breaking up, and Mrs Tootlepedal and I went into the garden.

There was aerial activity there too, but this time it was two young starlings pestering a fed up parent for food.

A check on a rose that appeared in yesterday’s post showed me that the pink tinge was in fact the proper colour for this rose…

…and it was the early white flowers that were non standard.

Mrs Tootlepedal has discovered a single plum on the plum tree that was not killed by the frost, but we are keeping its location secret for security purposes. She is very pleased to see new shoots on the plum tree after the quite severe pruning we gave it.

I mowed the middle lawn and the weather has been so kind that I was able to run the mower over the grass without using the collecting box. This is good for two reasons, the mowing is quicker and easier and the grass cuttings act as a mulch to improve the health of the lawn.

Then it was time for lunch.

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn, again without the box on, and then we had a sit down on the new bench in the shade.

There was more starling action as a youngster perched hopefully on the top of the holly tree looking this way and that for someone to come and feed it. There were adults about but they didn’t seem interested in helping this particular youngster.

I filled the pond and while it was filling, I checked on the bees on the Limnanthes. They were diving in.

The tadpoles were very happy with the new water level.

The temperature was up to 25°C (77°F) by this time but the breeze was frisky enough to suggest that a walk might be good thing. Mrs Tootlepedal however felt that it was an afternoon for staying in, so I went for a walk round the Pheasant Hatchery by myself.

As I left the house, I noticed that more of the big red poppies had appeared along the dam.

There was a tremendous disturbance when I got to the suspension bridge. It turned out to be oyster catchers objecting to people coming to close to their nest. Further up stream, another oyster catcher was much calmer.

There were more people about than there have been lately, which not surprising considering that it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, but it meant that I couldn’t hang about waiting to see wagtails on the Kilngreen and I crossed the Sawmill Brig and headed up the Lodge Walks towards the pheasant hatchery without delay.

The felling of trees along the Lodge Walks in recent years mean that it is no longer quite such an attractive scene for photographers but the trees on the other side of the Castleholm are always a treat at this time of year…

…so I took them instead.

Once I had got round the pheasant hatchery, the walk back along the bank of the Esk was delightful…

…with small pleasures on one side…

…and large ones on the other.

There is a good still pool in the river beneath the Duchess Bridge and I thought that I ought to be able to get a nice reflective shot but the banks are steep and tree lined so I could see half the bridge and half a reflection…

…or more of the bridge and no reflection…

..or more of the reflection and none of the bridge.

It was very frustrating. I needed a drone camera.

The picture above is a bit confusing but I am looking down past a tree straight at the river. You can see the tree and the stones on this side of the river at the bottom of the frame but all the rest is reflections in the water.

In the picture below, you can see the stones on the far bank and trees on the near bank. In between is the river.

It was good to be out on such a day.

I got back in time for a cheerful Zoom meeting with my siblings and after our evening meal (slow cooked stew with spinach from the garden and bubble and squeak on the side), I got a special treat. Mrs Tootlepedal invited me to go with her to collect some horse muck from a stable at the Stubholm.

The temperature was perfect by this point in the day, and while Mrs Tootlepedal collected a couple of buckets of the good stuff, I counted trees.

As a bonus, I was allowed to carry one of the buckets of manure back home. The perfect end to the day.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow heading past the feeder pole with sunflowers seeds in mind.

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Today’s guest picture comes from cyclist and Lake District lover Paul. He sent me this picture to show that the sun doesn’t always shine on Buttermere.

The sun certainly shone here in Langholm today, and once again watering was needed in the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted strange goings on on one of the paths off the middle lawn. Liverworts were up to something.

A bit of research told me that these umbrellas are female flowers of the liverwort. They are very tiny and credit goes to Mrs Tootlepedal for spotting them.

I just had time to check that the decking oil on the new bench had dried out over night…

…before it was time to join the street coffee morning. We had a busy time as we were joined by various passers by (at a safe distance) as we sipped and chatted.

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal went in to do some business on the computer and I had a traditional garden wander.

The usual suspects were enjoying the sunshine….

…and a variegated hosta caught my eye.

The state of the rhododendrons depends on whether they were flowering before the frost came. The pink one has one flower in action for every two or three killed by the frost…

…while the later deep red one, is pretty well untouched.

The less said about the poor azaleas, plums and apples the better. And the walnut tree suffered badly with all the early leaves blackened. We are keeping our fingers crossed that enough late leaves arrive to keep it healthy. (Late news: Mrs Tootlepedal came in this evening saying that she might have seen one surviving plum.)

I was so tired by my wandering in the hot sun, that I sat on the newly oiled bench and admired the view of our shady front door for a while.

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted sunflowers on each side of the path. I look forward to photographing them in due course.

I went out to look at the poorly fuchsia against the back wall of the house but my eye was irresistibly drawn to those shocking poppies again.

Our neighbour Charlotte, who was nearby while tending the flowers with which she decorates a bicycle attached to our new bridge, suggested a that a shot of the centre of the flower would be good thing. I am always anxious to please.

After lunch, bacon, tomato and lettuce rolls again, we dealt with the fading fuchsia on the back wall, and nine tenths or more of the bush got the chop, leaving a few promising green shoots to carry on.

In spite of the hot sunshine, Mrs Tootlepedal was happy to go for a walk and we thought that a stroll up the road to the moor might be a good way to spend the afternoon. The thermometer by the house said that it was 66°F in the shade so we dressed appropriately, donned a hat and cap respectively, put a small bottle of water in my bag and set out hoping that we hadn’t bitten off more than we could chew.

We were happy to spot an oyster catcher with its child on a rock in the river…

…surrounded by oddly green water. The river is very low still.

We walked along the Lamb Hill until we came to the Newcastleton road and then headed uphill at a very steady rate, cheered by a gentle cooling breeze as we got higher up the hill.

We passed a group of men erecting large scaffolding structures at each side of the road where the power lines cross it. By the time that we passed them again on our way back down, they had finished the structures and pulled a safety net across the road.

I hope that I am in the right place at the right time when they come to renew the actual power lines themselves.

We took advantage of two handily placed benches beside the road to have sensible rests as we climbed the hill. I liked this view of sinuous walls from the first one.

Although it was a sunny day, it was also a bit hazy and the light wasn’t at all good for taking landscape pictures, being very flat indeed, so although there were good views from the second bench, I didn’t take pictures of my favourite subject, the Ewes Valley.

When we got to the White Yett, we went on a few yards over the summit so that we could look down into the Little Tarras Valley in the hope of seeing interesting birds.

Our hopes were dashed and all we saw was bog cotton waving in the gentle breeze.

At my suggestion, we followed one of the Langholm Walks routes for a few hundred yards up the line of a wall to the north of the road…

…making for a minor summit in the hope of good views along the ridge. We got an interesting and unusual view of the track from the White Yett up to the monument when we looked back…

…but the minor summit proved to be very minor and the only view we got was of the next minor summit just along the ridge.

Mrs Tootlepedal sat for a moment on a convenient tussock with her binoculars in hand in the hope of seeing interesting birds….

…while I looked in the other direction to see if there was a landscape to be seen in the haze.

There wasn’t a landscape but there was an interesting bird, probably a short eared owl, hunting over the rough ground. Sadly the light was too poor to let my camera get a good focus on the bird against a dull background, however hard I tried…

…but we got a fine flying display for a while before the bird disappeared over the edge of the hill and we started for home.

I did see a more static bird on the way down but it was hiding behind some long grass.

The light breeze kept blowing and the haze thickened as we went back down the hill with the result that it wasn’t nearly as hot as we had feared. All the same, a five mile walk with a bit of climbing on a warm day is still quite hard work so we were more than ready for a cup of tea when we got home.

The most surprising and beautiful thing that we encountered on the walk was this bank of wild flowers beside the path from the Lamb Hill down to the Drove Road.

The yellow and orange colours were provided by Welsh Poppies. The orange ones were very striking…

…and Mrs Tootlepedal pocketed a few seed heads as we went past.

The day seemed to have been too hot for the garden birds and the level of seed in the feeder had hardly gone down at all by the time that we got home but a rook did its best to lower the level later in the evening.

According to the forecast, we are going to have a week more of warm, dry and sunny weather so I watered the front lawn while I was preparing the evening meal. It looks as though this will be a regular task, very unusual for May.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

Footnote: While I have been writing this post, the lighting wizards have been lighting up the monument on the top of Whita Hill again. This is their version of clapping for the NHS. They are having fun.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset corespondent Venetia. She was visited by a greater spotted woodpecker the other day.

We had a pleasantly sunny morning here, with enough wind to ensure that it didn’t get too hot for the morning street coffee meeting. We were greatly entertained as we sipped and chatted by a flying display from a small flight of swifts. They whistled past us great speeds.

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal settled down to some serious work in the garden while I mowed the front lawn and then wandered about looking at things.

That final tulip is reluctant go, laughing at frost, rain and high winds and it has been joined by our first white rose, ever more geraniums and Jacob’s Ladders…

…and things that come in bulk.

I spent quite a lot of time trying to catch visitors to the alliums…

….and was pleased to see the some of the Solomon’s Seal flowers have finally come out properly…

…before I started to see double…

…twice.

I was privileged to watch our resident blackbird doing its keep fit routine…

…before going in to heat up some soup and make bacon sandwiches for our lunch.

After lunch, I put some serious consideration into going out for a cycle ride, even going so far as to head upstairs to put on my cycling gear. When I got upstairs though and looked out of the window, all I could see were leaves thrashing about on trees and bushes as they were pumelled by a 25 mph wind.

I put on my walking socks instead and went for a walk.

Recently I did the first half of a walk from the Langholm Walks booklet but came back by road instead of cross country, so I thought that I would do the second cross country half of the walk (in the wrong direction) today and once more come back by road.

I set off towards Becks Farm, passing some fine clover….

…a recent addition to our road side verges.

The view as I got near the farm was good…

…and I was soon high enough up to get a view back over the town towards Whita Hill.

Once past the farmhouse, I followed a good track between fields before coming out onto open ground. I had to alter my projected route a little to avoid cattle grazing on the hill and soon found myself in tussocky country surrounded by bog cotton…

…of which there was plenty around.

Luckily, in spite of the recent rain, the ground is still very dry and I was able to bound over tussock, moss and small streams without coming to harm. When I say bound, I might be exaggerating slightly, but it sounds better than totter, stagger and stumble.

I disturbed a deer which really did bound away in front of me but stopped for a look back…

…before disappearing over the skyline.

Although it seemed quite a long way as I was crossing the rough ground into the brisk breeze, it didn’t actually take me too long to meet the Glencorf Burn…

…and soon afterwards to find myself at Wauchope Schoolhouse, ready to walk back down the road to Langholm. I paused on the bridge across the Wauchope Water to watch an oyster catcher on the rocks.

The bird had plenty of rocks to choose from as there was hardly any water in the river and when I stopped a little further on to look at one of my favourite cascades, it was a mere trickle running sideways down a channel in the rocks….

….rather than leaping over them as it was when I took this picture in June two years ago.

The walk down the road with the strong wind now at my back, was most enjoyable, with hardly a car passing me as I strolled along looking at wild flowers in the verges…

…admiring trees clinging to the hillside…

…and noticing that the conifers also seemed to have suffered from the recent frost.

The afternoon had been cloudy and when the sun came out just as I was near the end of my walk, I was grateful for the clouds as I might have been too warm if the sun had shone on me all the way round the nearly seven miles.

I got home in time to make a cup of tea and a marmalade sandwich before enjoying the regular Zoom chat with my brother and sisters in company with Mrs Tootlepedal.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy in the garden so I hadn’t been able to watch the birds at the feeder before my walk, so I had a quick look after our evening meal. I found a goldfinch with a greenfinch who was carelessly dropping seed.

My walk had been a good substitute for a cycle ride. All the same, I am hoping that the forecast of a calmer day tomorrow turns out to be true as I haven’t been out for a ride for several days because of strong winds.

The flying bird of the day is one of the elusive swifts from our morning coffee. They were either too quick or too high for me and my camera and this was the best that I could do. They are elegant fliers.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who once again managed to extend her permitted walk as far as Regent’s Park where she found a favourite restful corner to enjoy.

It was still grey and drizzly this morning, but the heavy winds of the past two days had eased off a lot and when the drizzle stopped, it was quite a suitable day for wandering round the garden.

I wandered from time to time.

The frost survivors among the rhododendrons and azaleas are still doing their best to cheer us up…

…but the gap that the frost has left in the garden is still hard to bear.

The recent rain has now got up to an inch and half as recorded by Mary Jo’s rain gauge. This is fine for the broad beans which are looking good but the peony and tulips have found it a bit much.

A burst of heavier rain put paid to the morning street coffee meeting and I watched the birds instead.

Greenfinches and sparrows were the flavour of the morning…

…and a sparrow was happy to watch a greenfinch trying the seed before having a go itself.

The rain stopped and we went out into the garden to do useful tasks (Mrs Tootlepedal) and footle about looking for raindrops (me).

The view down the back path is always rich at this time of year.

When I had finished footling about, I went in and did something more purposeful. I made some potato and carrot soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I made 30 ginger biscuits. There was a bit of a snack crisis as the boiled cake had been polished off when we drank our coffee earlier in the morning.

After lunch, I went for a short walk to fill in the time before our virtual Carlisle Choir meeting.

I chose a familiar route. After two months of lockdown and about thirty local walks, there is no other option than to choose a familiar route and this makes it harder than usual to try to find something unfamiliar to see as I go along. If the truth be told, I am probably finding it harder to look too as I subconsciously feel that there won’t be anything much new to see even if I did look carefully.

Looking down, I did notice the more noticeable today…

…and looking around, i couldn’t miss the frost damaged trees among the spring greenery.

As I was walking along the Becks track, I was considering whether I would have time to walk up to the track on Warbla on my way home, but a glance across the valley revealed cattle sitting right on the path across the grass that I would use to get up to the track…

…so when I had crossed the Auld Stane Brig…

…I went through the frost damaged trees along Gaskell’s Walk instead.

When I got to the Stubholm, I checked on a blackthorn to see if there are going to be any sloes this year. The signs are good and as a bonus, there was some interesting lichen on the branch that I was inspecting.

Instead of going straight home when I got to the park, I walked down to the Esk to see if the oyster catcher was still on its nest.

It was…

… but a bit further up the river, I found another adult with a very young chick. The adult made it hard for me to see the nipper, and the chick didn’t help by turning its back on me…

…but in the end, they co-operated.

I got home in good time and Mrs Tootlepedal and I settled down in front of my laptop to see what a virtual choir practice would be like on Zoom. It was very well organised and well over 50 choir members had logged on to take part. Ellen, our energetic director, had done a lot of preparatory work and everything went very smoothly and we were encouraged to sing, but there is no doubt that singing by ourselves at home while hearing only only one other singer (Ellen at the piano) is not really choral singing. Still, it was fun to see the other choir members and the virtual meeting had the feeling of an occasion, even if not a choral one.

The weather had greatly improved by the time that we emerged into daylight from peering at the computer and I did think of going for a cycle ride but the call of lawn maintenance was strong and I mowed the greenhouse grass, the drying green and the middle lawn instead. We then had our second Zoom meeting of the afternoon when we chatted with my brother, one of his sons and my sisters.

After our evening meal, I went out into the garden to enjoy the sunny evening…

…and the colour matching between car and clematis.

The wind had dropped and I was sorry that the day hadn’t worked out so that I could have enjoyed these ideal conditions, but you can’t have everything.

Not all the colour in the garden is floral…

…but the late evening light was kind to the colours and the bees were really enjoying the cotoneaster on the wall of the house…

…while I enjoyed an Icelandic poppy.

I hope to get back to cycling tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day was not one that the greenfinch approved of.

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Today’s guest picture comes from a reader in Bucks Co., Pennsylvania. Spurred on by my biscuit making efforts, Lisa has produced her own Garibaldi biscuits which are very nicely presented.

It was a day of constant wind here today, often gusting at over 40mph. As a result, apart from going out for a very short street coffee morning, we had a quiet day indoors as there was definite danger of being blown over if you were not paying attention when you were in the garden.

To be truthful, I did spend a few moments in the garden after coffee seeing if I could get plants to stop waving about for long enough for me to get a picture. One or two obliged.

There were dancing feet to be seen on a Jacob’s Ladder….

…and a Veronica.

More flowers that survived the frost are showing which is a cheerful sight.

Old tulips are fading away gracefully while the Welsh poppies are doing their best to fill any gaps

A shy ranunculus has just come up. Its delicate colour is a challenge to my camera but the dull light this morning was helpful.

I couldn’t miss a second flower on the clematis at the front door. The front door variety may not have the huge number of flowers that the back door clematis has but each of its flowers packs a bit of a punch.

It didn’t take me long to get back inside out of the wind and I frittered away much of the rest of the morning reading newspapers, doing the crossword and looking at birds (and occasionally mentioning to Mrs Tootlepedal that there was a bit of a wind out there).

There were plenty of birds to watch. While the feeder was not very full, sparrows congregated on the bottom plate…

…and when I filled it, a siskin sensibly took the high road.

During the afternoon, a tentative beak appeared…

…which was followed by the rest of the bird…

…and a hearty snack ensued.

Now you know what a happy rook looks like

We did think about going for a walk after lunch but several punishing gusts of wind in quick succession, persuaded us that the chance of fun was strictly limited and we found more things to do indoors.

I put some accompaniments onto the computer so that I can play trios without breaking any isolating rules.

We have been cooking for ourselves since the lockdown began but following a suggestion from a friend, we applied to a local hotel for a hot meal to be delivered this evening, and bang on schedule delicious portions of fish and chips and vegetarian lasagna arrived from The Douglas, fully as tasty as they would have been if we were eating in their dining room.

However, this was a much more substantial amount of food than we have been used to eating, so afterwards I felt the need to ignore the elements and go for a walk to shake the meal down.

Luckily the wind had dropped a bit and the sun had come out and it was by no means a hardship to do a quick three bridges.

The church was looking good without the trees in front of it…

In spite of an inch of rain recorded by Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge over recent days, there was still not much water in the river but there were plenty of oyster catchers and a wagtail to be seen.

The nesting mother, the anxious father, and another pair further upstream The wagtail was wagging its tail.

I saw a goosander but as it had its head continuously under water and was trawling at speed, it didn’t offer a photo opportunity.

The brisk wind made things a bit chilly and I didn’t hang about too long as I went round the new path on the Castleholm and crossed the Jubilee Bridge…

…but as always, there were things to see along the way, like a thrush in the Clinthead Garden

It was very tame and hopped about until I had got my picture.

…and some neat planting there….

….trees and flowers on the Castleholm and Scholars’ Field…

…and the the heavily tree lined banks of the Esk as I crossed the bridge.

I was pleased to have taken some exercise, especially as the wind is due to continue for a day or two, so cycling is not on the menu until Monday at the earliest.

The flying bird of the day is one of the many sparrows about at the moment.

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He found himself being watched by a troop of little monkeys as he walked round his garden.

monkey faces

We had another cold morning here, and another dry and sunny day that never really warmed up.

Mrs Tootlepedal got down to the serious business of protecting her potential peas from serial attacks from scavenging sparrows.

pea fortress

With frozen peas readily available at reasonable prices in the shops, she sometimes wonders why she tries to grow her own peas at all.  It is the principle of the thing though that counts.  She is a gardener, she grows peas and sparrows will not stop her.

It was so chilly that the morning street coffee gathering did not take place at all and I must admit that I spent quite a lot of time lurking indoors grappling with a very tricky crossword puzzle indeed.  It was one of those with ‘special instructions’  and in this case the instruction were so special and impenetrable that it took the combined might of my sister Mary and me over several days to get the bottom of them.  We managed in the end and felt quite triumphant.

I did go outside a bit.

Mrs Tootlepedal had decided that more of the box hedge should be removed to get an even wider view of the front garden and she applied herself vigorously to the task of uprooting the box plants.

I shredded a lot of the casualties and in between times, I wandered round the garden, enjoying the sunny light.

six may flowers 2

When  indoors, I looked out at the birds.  Mrs Tootlepedal is not necessarily very happy when she sees that I am feeding up sparrows.

sparrows on feeder

Another anemone is doing its best to come out and it was joined by a cornflower and a magnificent oriental poppy which added to the colour provided by geum, lamium and rhododendron.

six may flowers

After lunch, we moved the new bench into roughly the position where it will live under the walnut tree and you can see that Mrs Tootlepedal has considerably widened the view already…

wider view of lawn

…but she tells me that more widening is on the cards.

The bench can be seen sitting beside its dilapidated predecessor.  There was some hope of repairing the old bench, but so many bits fell off when we moved it, that that doesn’t seem likely now.

new bench in situ

When the bench had been moved, I mowed the middle lawn.  The moss eating treatment is working but the lack of rain and constant chilly mornings have inhibited the growth of the grass and it will be a week or two at least before the lawn begins to look respectable.

To console myself, I made a batch of Garibaldi biscuits.

garibaldi biscuits

My arithmetic and measuring was much better on this occasion.  They could be neater but they passed the taste test.

I had thought of going for a walk in the afternoon, but when the time to go came, I was overcome by feebleness and stayed at home.

A couple of years ago, I bought a new pocket camera and very unwisely took it down to the sandy beach at North Berwick where we were on holiday with Matilda.  It saw a lot of sandcastle and sea bird action but it never really recovered from sand in the works and finally the zoom and focus stopped working.

It was under guarantee but as I had no-one to blame but myself, I didn’t like to send it back to the manufacturer and it lay unused for some time.  My son Tony has the same sort of camera and when his failed (not through his fault) he got it mended under guarantee, and this motivated me to do something about my camera.

I found a repairer, got a very reasonable estimate, sent the camera away a week ago and got it back yesterday.

I opened the parcel today and took the camera out for a trial run in the garden.

bee on polemonium

I thought that it coped very well…

tulips

…and since it was obviously back in working order…

aquilegias

…after Zooming with my siblings and making omelettes for our tea, I went out for an evening walk with Mrs Tootlepedal to give it the camera a good go.

We went for a traditional three bridges walk, but Mrs Tootlepedal thought it would be good to go the opposite way to my usual direction and we came to the Jubilee Bridge first.

It is guarded by two fine trees.

jubilee bridge may

On the Castleholm. the castle itself was nearly invisible.

castle in spring

I spotted one of the grasses that may have led to my earlier decision not to go for a walk. My breathing is not at its best at the moment.

grass seed

Another source of pollen was spotted too.

pine flowers

It was chilly, but all the same it was a lovely evening for a stroll, as this view of Warbla from the Sawmill Brig shows.

view of warbla from sawmill brig

The rivers are extraordinarily low at the moment and the still of the evening provided us with some unusual reflections.  We could see the mission hall both over and under the town bridge..

mission hall reflection

…and George Street in the bottom of the river.

george st reflection

Looking at the river itself, we spotted a goosander resting on a rock…

goosander on rock

…not far from a pair of oyster catchers.

oyster catchers

Instead of rushing off as goosanders normally do, this one stood up and made sure that I got its good side too.

goosander

A little further along the river, Mrs Tootlepedal, who pays attention to telegraph poles, drew my attention to the interesting patterns in the wood grain on one.

I can see a magnificently bearded wizard and a goblin but you can see whatever you like or nothing at all.

telegraph pole patterns

The walk rounded off the day very pleasantly.  There is hope that it is going to get slightly warmer as the week goes on.  This will be welcome, but I just saw a forecast of 27 degrees for the end of next week.  If this is true and there is still no rain in the offing, the garden may get burnt to a crisp.

The flying bird of the day is a thrush leaving the garden fence at speed.

flying thrush

Footnote:  Mrs Tootlepedal asked me how long our little walk had been.  I checked and found that it was about 1.3 miles but following the government policy on the statistics regarding testing, I told her that we had walked two and a half miles.  She was very impressed.

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I have had a rush of good guest pictures sent to me recently but I thought that the most appropriate one to celebrate the warmest day of the year here in Langholm today would be this one from Mary Jo in Manitoba.  It shows her weather today.  She is a bit fed up to say the least.

Mary jo may snow

Apart from the absence of a friendly shower of rain, it was another perfect day here.  There were a few fluffy clouds about in the sky but it was genuinely warm and the socially distanced street coffee morning nearly had to be cut short because we were too hot from sitting in the sun rather than too cold from a nippy east wind.

Before coffee, I had had a look at the back of the house and found plenty of colour looking in both directions along the dam from our new bridge.  Only the blue aquilegia is ours, the other fine plants are the work of neighbouring gardeners.

three damside flowers

Back in the garden, yellow was the centre of attraction.  I was pleased to see some white on the poached egg plant flowers.

three yellow flowers

Mrs Tootlepedal had kindly given me a haircut after breakfast so I was looking very spruce at coffee time.

After coffee, we went back into the garden and there was once again a good deal of watering to be done, this time mostly in the vegetable garden.

I mowed the drying green and the green house grass and did some garden wandering too.

Another ornamental strawberry flower has come out to join a new and fancy dicentra, while our lone pulsatilla flower tries to keep our attention with its seed head.

three garden flowers

Tulips and primroses represent the old guard while allium and aquilegia are the coming generation.

four garden foiwers

A friend came round with his camera, complaining that it was habitually overexposing his pictures and wondering if I could help.  Greatly to my surprise, I was able to help while keeping our social distance and not even having to handle the camera.  He went off very cheerfully.

After lunch, I went for a walk.  Mrs Tootlepedal considered coming with me but thought that it was probably too hot for comfort and stayed at home to do some useful gardening and enjoy some of the wonderful flood of arts programmes appearing on YouTube during the lockdown.

As far as I could, I chose a shady route and after passing Skippers Bridge, which was looking almost overcome by springtime…

skippers brdge from garage

…I strolled along shady lanes beside the river…

penton road

…and up the hill out of the Esk Valley…

road to broomholm

…and I walked down into the Tarras water valley.

The water was low and just trickling over the characteristic little steps in the river bed as i crossed the bridge and walked along the river bank on the far side.

tarras bridge

As I walked along the track beside the river, I could see a good example of where those little steps in the river bed come from.

seams tarras water

It is fascinating to reflect on the different conditions which led to these strata being laid down perhaps 350 million years ago when this part of the world lay around the equator.  (I may not be totally accurate about this as one of the many things that I wish I knew a lot more about is geology.)  It does make you feel that we are only very temporary visitors when we tread upon the earth’s surface.

Still, I was very happy treading on the earth’s surface today as it was a beautiful day, the surface was dry underfoot and the woods were delightful….

tarras walk track

…totally delightful.

tarras walk

I was heading for the next road bridge over the Tarras to make my return journey so I didn’t cross this footbridge when I came to it…

 

footbridge tarras

…nor did I attempt any bungee jumping.  I can never quite make up my mind whether the person who affixed the notice (inset) to the bridge had a great sense of humour or absolutely none at all.

The track between the two road bridges is of very variable quality and in normal times would require boots or even wellies to negotiate the many boggy bits along the way.

Today, I could bound over dried up bogs and skip merrily over trickling streamlets.

wall and ford near rashiel bridge

Near the second bridge, there is an impressive stand of reeds and a large spread of wild iris.

reeds and irises tarras

I hope to come back and see the irises when they are in flower.  In a good year, they are a spectacular sight.

I was welcomed by a spread of speedwell and some bristly crosswort when I got to the road.

violet and crosswort

I crossed the river and began the walk up the road towards the now unused bird hide.  Out in the open, the sun was beating down and I got good views across the trees towards the Lake District hills.

lake district from bird hide

I took the track from Broomholmshiels back to Langholm and in spite of the brilliance of a new broom flower…

broom flower

…and the glory of the view over the oaks towards Warbla…oak wood

…I was very pleased to be back in the shade again.

jenny noble's path

I sat for a moment on the bench at the Round House and enjoyed the view over the town while I had a drink of water and a revitalising date.

view of Langholm from round house bench

Thus refreshed, I pottered home, stopping only to note an oyster catcher in the river below the Suspension Bridge when I got back to the town.

oyster catcher esk

Once again, I hadn’t checked the distance of my walk before I set out and I was very pleased to find that I had managed just under eight miles without getting any complaints from my feet.  A measure of the warmth of the day was the fact that when I checked, I found that I had lost three pounds in weight since I weighed myself after breakfast.

A couple of date rolls and an excellent meal of fuselli pasta and meat sauce cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal followed by rhubarb and custard should have put that back on again.

I spoke to Dropscone on the phone in the evening and was happy to find him in good form.  He is walking and cycling a lot as well as doing a regular half hour on the bike to nowhere in his garage every day.  He will be fit as a fiddle when the golf season is finally allowed to start again.

The flying bird of the day is a heron which flapped past me on my walk today.

flying heron tarras

Footnote:  There are wild rumours of as much as a millimetre of rain overnight and the temperature is going to be 10°C or more colder tomorrow than it was today (and with a brisk north wind), so I am very happy to have made such good use of the sunshine and wamth today.

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