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Posts Tagged ‘oyster catcher’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony’s Highland holiday.  He was up above Applecross on the Bealach nam Ba (the pass of the cattle) on the west coast when he got this splendid view.

oznor

It was a fine and warm day here today, the first summer like day of the year and I was lucky to have plenty to do to keep me busy.

I started the morning off by taking Mrs Tootlepedal’s ‘shopping’ bike down to the bike shop to get some maintenance in general, and in particular to get what younger cyclists rather scornfully call the ‘granny gear’ working again.   This is the lowest gear on the bike, useful for climbing the steeper sort of hills even for quite young people and essential for older cyclists.  It hasn’t been working for some time and Mrs Tootlepedal has found steep hills no fun at all.

Leaving the bike to be worked on, I went back to Langholm by way of the Moorland Project bird hide where I was acting as a fill in feeder filler for friends who were away.  I always hope to see a woodpecker or two as a reward for filling the feeders and my hopes were amply fulfilled today.

excellent woodpecker

I drove home in a very cheerful mood.

The garden was in a very cheerful mood too…

six bright garden flowers

…and even the flowers that had gone over were still smiling.

The roses are getting better every day…

six roses

…and I will have to get into full dead heading mode from now on.

Mrs Tootlepedal helped to demonstrate why the flowers that are commonly known as ‘Dutchmen’s Breeks’ are also known as ‘Lady in the Bath’

lady in bath

In return, I lent her a hand at getting some order back into the bed in the vegetable garden which had been squashed by the mini digger when the new electricity pole was put up.

The petrol driven tiller is noisy but hardworking.

tilling the electricity bed

We are supposed to be getting new planks for the sides of the bed from the power company but we are not holding our breath.

I had a little sit down after being pulled this way and that by the tiller and enjoyed the calm colour combination of these flowers while I rested.

colour combo garden

After lunch, I went for a walk with Sandy.  It has been some time since our feet have both been usable and there has been some good weather at the same time so this was a very welcome excursion.  I picked him up in the Zoe and we drove down the recently repaired road to the Tarras Bridge and went for a short walk  along the path beside the river.

I took far too many pictures to show them all here but among the pleasures on display on our walk were numerous different grasses…

three grasses tarras

…of which this one was my favourite.

grass tarras

There were lots of wild flowers beside the path.

wild flowers tarras

And it is always surprising to walk past the section of the river bank which reveals what is under our feet.  There was coal mining in the area for a long time and people have been considering open cast mining quite recently.

coal seams tarras

The plants were attracting other visitors.

There was a bee in clover…

bee on clover tarras

…a painted lady that looked as though it might need a new coat of paint…

painted lady tarras

…and a hoverfly getting stuck into the pollen.

hoverfly tarras

We saw several northern marsh orchids but they were not fully out yet which was disappointing.

young orchid tarras

The hedge roses were in full flower…

hedge rose tarras

…and nettles were being very spiky…

nettle tarras

…but my personal pick of the shots that I took along the way was this one of a bird’s foot trefoil looking gorgeous.

bird's foot trefoil tarras

We drove home and had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal, who had just come back from a meeting, and Mike Tinker, who had dropped in to catch up with the news.

When our visitors left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I put some time in to raising the roofs on the two pea fortresses.  The peas have grown very well and one sort that claims to grow to 16 inches on the packet is well over three feet.

I haven’t put a picture of the newly enlarged structures into this post to avoid over exciting readers….and it was very difficult to get a good shot anyway.

There was quite a lot of other garden work to be done and when we had finished we had omelettes for tea with new potatoes and turnips from the garden.

As it was still a beautiful day, I went for a 15 mile cycle ride after we had eaten.  Was it a good evening for a cycle ride?  It was.

panorama wauchope road

A ‘click on the pic’ will enlarge the panorama.

I stopped for a chat with an oyster catcher which was standing one legged on a gate post half way up a hill…

oyster catcher wauchope road

… but otherwise, I pedalled steadily along, enjoying the warmth.

There had been a bit too much warmth yesterday in the town where some people had managed to set fire to one of the unused buildings of the old Reid & Taylor’s Mill.

mill fire 2019

It is sad to see vandalism like this in our town and this was the only sight that spoiled an otherwise excellent day.

The bird hide woodpecker makes a re-appearance as the slightly fuzzy but quite unusual flying bird of the day.

flying woodpecker

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia, who like Dr Foster went to Gloucester but, unlike him,  found that the weather was fine.  She enjoyed a singing day in this lovely building.

gloucester

Our fine weather continued and with the breeze still coming from the south, we had an even warmer day than yesterday.  The watering seems to have encouraged the azaleas (though it may just have been another sunny day that did the trick) and there was a lot more colour about when I went out for a walk round the garden after breakfast.

azaleas coming out

Every flower had turned its face to the welcome sun.

poppy and peony

There were colourful corners about.

colourful corner

…and the clematis by the front door has finally plucked up the courage to open its buds and see what life is like outside.

front ddor clematis

Among the flowers, I found a siskin having a rest on the pond bridge.

siskin on pond bridge

I went in to make coffee in preparation for the arrival of Dropscone (with scones) and I got so excited when he came in that I knocked over the full coffee pot which was standing om the counter top, covering the counter top, my hand and the floor with a rich stream of coffee and grounds. I said a bad word and put my hand under a cold tap.

On the advice of Dropscone, I got old newspapers out and laid them over as much of the mess as I could before keeping Dropscone happy with a cup from yesterday’s coffee pot while I got everything as clean and dry.  Mrs Tootlepedal came in, took one look at the carnage and went out again.

Thanks to the good work of the much reviled mainstream media in soaking up the excess liquid, it didn’t take as long as I thought it might to get tidied up and I was soon able to sit and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee and a scone while Dropscone told me of his recent golfing triumphs.

After Dropscone left, I decided to test out some shoe advice I had received from our daughter Annie and go for a walk.  It proved to be good advice and I managed to walk a mile without too much trouble.

I went round Easton’s Walk and as I strolled through the park, I saw that a wood carver had been busy on a fallen tree.

carving in park

My main object was to see if the wild garlic was out and it didn’t take long to see and smell the pretty white flowers…

wild garlic may

…which lined my walk on all sides.

wild garlic panel

The were still some bluebells out so it was a walk to exercise the nose as well as the eye.

late bluebells

Although garlic and bluebells were by far the most numerous flowers to be seen, other plants were available…

wildflowers eastons walk

…and the first sighting of vigorous grasses…

grass seed

…were a hint of more pollen to come.

The hawthorns which are in a  position to catch the sun are coming out and it will not be long until there is blossom everywhere.

hawthorn stubholm

It was a glorious day to be out for a walk even with slightly sore feet…

stubholm track

…and my mellow mood was enhanced by azaleas and rhododendrons in the park.

azalea and rhododendron in park

We have so little rain lately that our rivers are reduced to a trickle and I could see a reflection of the suspension bridge in the Wauchope above the Kirk Bridge.

suspension bridge reflection

When I got back home, I made some vegetable soup for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a short course on how not to set the customers on fire at the Buccleuch Centre where she is a volunteer.

She had spent the morning slaving over her Embroiderers’ Guild branch accounts as she is the treasurer and had finished up with that most annoying of all accounting errors, a difference of £1 in the balances.  I trained as an accountant for a few years after leaving school so while she was out, I went over the books and pinned the error down to a slight mistreatment in the recording of the petty cash and when this was regularised, the books balanced and all was well.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and before I could even show her the books, she whisked me out of the house to record an emperor moth which she noticed sunning itself on the side of a building on Henry Street.  It was worth looking at…

emperor moth

…but annoyingly, it wouldn’t spread its wings for me, so we left it to bask and went home.

Mrs Tootlepedal got her accounts ready to print and then we went out into the garden and finished off netting the fruit cages.  It was still very warm but the sky had clouded over and it felt for a while as though we might get a thunderstorm.  Happily, the rain stayed away and we completed the task and went in for a cup of tea and a moment to watch the birds.

Two goldfinches were in hot competition for the same feeder…

goldfinch competing

…and when I looked, I saw that some bad bird had made off with the perch from the opposite side of the feeder which might account for the pushing and shoving.

I just had time to go for a nine mile bike ride on the slow bike before tea and when I started out, I was very pleased to see our friendly partridge trying to work out a reason for crossing the road in Henry Street  (you can see the loss of feathers on its neck)…

Partridge and oyster catcher

…and I came across an oyster catcher nesting in the middle of the bus park at the Rugby Club near the end of my ride.  It got up when I stopped and stamped off in a huff so I took a quick shot and pedalled off apologetically.

In the evening, I went to the last practice of Langholm Sings under the direction of Mary my singing teacher, who has been our conductor for the past few years.  I will miss her when she has gone and rather annoyingly, I will also miss her final concert with the choir as we will be on holiday next week.  We had a very good sing though.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch heading towards the missing perch.

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friends Mike and Alison.  They are on holiday on the shore of Loch Feochan in Argyll and this is the view from their front window.  They have chosen a good week for their trip.

Loch Feochan

We had a day of perfect weather here too, although there was still some winter chill left in the breeze.  The recent spell of dry weather means that pollen has been very heavy recently and our shiny new car often ends the day covered in a fine film of powder. This doesn’t help my asthma and although it doesn’t leave me gasping in the gutter it may explain why I found myself trying to sing a different hymn from everyone else at one stage during the morning’s church service.  Still, I managed to get home safely after the service and prepared a beef stew for the slow cooker.

Looking out of the kitchen window while I cooked, I watched our siskins monopolising the feeder again.

siskins

…or rather , nearly monopolising it, as the occasional sparrow did sneak in.

sparrow on feeder

I noticed something quite unusual going on beneath the feeder.  A greenfinch was diving in and out of a mini jungle of old daffodil leaves and guddling about furiously.  I don’t know what it was looking for at all.

greenfinch among daffodil leaves

When the stew was on, I had a short walk round the garden.  Pulsatilla Corner was looking quite exciting.

pulsatilla seehead

…and I spent quite a lot of time waiting for a male orange tip butterfly to settle down for long enough to let me take a picture.  It was too restless for me though and I had to make do with a female who did hang around for a few seconds.  Although the females don’t have orange tips to their wings, they are beautifully decorated all the same.

orange tip butterfly female

It was such a pleasant morning that I thought that I would try a little more gentle cycling therapy to stretch my sore ankle and took the slow bike out for a seven mile potter up and down the Wauchope road.

In spite of the efforts of the council to mow down every wild flower in sight, there are some about.

wild flowers up wauchope

And there were any amount of male orange tip butterflies too.  I kept on stopping to try to snap one but they kept on going and once again, I had to make do with more stable female specimens. As they were flying alongside male orange tip butterflies, I naturally assumed that they were females orange tips but when I looked at the shots on the computer, it became plain they they are green-veined white butterflies.

green veined white

This may explain why the male orange tip wasn’t hanging around.

To add insult to injury, a male orange tip actually came right up to my bicycle when I stopped at Wauchope Schoolhouse to take a picture of the locals there…

two bulls at schoolhouse

…and it actually sniffed at my front fork before heading off seconds before I could get my camera to focus on it.  I’ll get one, one of these days.

The trip back to Langholm was very enjoyable with the wind behind and the sun on my back.  I went down to the river before I went home and was happy to see an oyster catcher on the gravel beside the Esk.

oyster catcher by esk

I got back in time to have a plate of soup for lunch with Mrs Tootlepedal.  She has been doing some heavy spring cleaning over the past two days.  Spring has a lot to answer for.

After lunch we had the pleasure of gliding down to Carlisle in the the zingy little white thingy and in the sunshine, life felt very good.

Our choir practice was good fun.  Our conductor is always cheerful and full of zest but the fine weather had topped up her energy levels to “extra high” and she was on sparkling form and drove us onwards and upwards.  Two of our more senior choir members got married this week and in celebration, they came out to the front and the choir serenaded them with the appropriately entitled “O Love”.  They were much touched.  We were moved too.

The journey home was as enjoyable as the trip down.  For some reason, the air, which has tended to be rather hazy in recent weeks, magically cleared up today and the views were every fine.

I had a walk round the garden when we got back and found flowers old and new enjoying the day.

four eveining light flowers

This is the  first allium to make it to a perfect sphere.

allium sphere

When we had finished disposing of some of the stew with parsnips for our evening meal, Mrs Tootlepedal went back to spring cleaning and I went for a three bridges ‘walk’ on my slow bicycle to enjoy the evening light.

It certainly was enjoyable.

from Town Bridge evening light

And because the wind had dropped, it was still quite warm.

reflections in Ewes

I met a bunch of cyclists on the Kilngreen.  They were packing their bikes back into cars after a group outing.  They had just completed a hilly 102 mile ride round St Mary’s Loch.  I felt envious but a bit guilty too because we had done pretty well the same trip with Sandy not long ago but had needed a car to get round.

I pedalled gently on and was submerged in a sea of green

trees in spring

It was balm to the soul and banished any negative thoughts from my mind.

trees on Castleholm

I cycled back along the new path and enjoyed the variety of shapes and colours among the pine and fir trees that I passed.

An elaborate candelabra on a pine…

pine candelabra

…and the incipient cones…

noble fir female

…and packed male flowers on the noble firs.

noble fir male

And the best thing of all about the day was the fact that the gentle cycling seems to have eased off my sore ankle a lot.  It is now only mildly painful and quite supple.  If this remains true tomorrow morning, I will be very happy indeed.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin, getting ready to kick a friend off the feeder.

flying siskin in attack mode

 

 

 

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Today’s guest post comes from our son Tony who has been having wonderful weather lately on the shores of the Firth of Forth.

East wemyss Riviera

Our day started brightly….

sunny fritallaries

…after another frosty morning but as the day went on, the clouds came over.

Dropscone dropped in for coffee, bringing treacle scones with him.  He is very excited because it is the first day of the official golfing season at Langholm tomorrow and he is the club captain this year.  It looks as though he is going to have a lovely sunny day as he sets the season  going when he drives off the first tee.

Apart from the coffee and scones, I had a very quiet morning with the occasional stroll round the garden.  The cloudy weather made it easier to photograph pale flowers and there were a number about.

Our first pulsatilla flower opened this morning.  It is an amazingly furry flower.

furry pulsatilla

The drumstick primulas are having a race to see which can produce a fully spherical flower head first.

drumstick primulas

This is my favourite of the white daffodils.

pale daffodil

The feeder was doing brisk business.  I had filled it after breakfast and it was half empty by lunchtime when a female redpoll arrived for a snack…

redpoll

…and I had to fill it again in the late afternoon.

I was very excited to receive a much anticipated parcel at lunchtime, but a great deal less excited when I found that I had been sent the wrong thing. It was my fault entirely.  I needed ‘type 2  to type 2’ and had ordered ‘type 2 to type 1’, a small but crucial error.

It was little consolation when I rang up to ask about exchanging it, to be told that lots of people had made the same mistake.  If that was true and not just said in a kindly spirit to cheer me up, then the seller’s website should be altered to make it less easy to make the mistake.

I took the parcel up to our post office and made it through the door just in time to catch the post before the office closed.  We have an outreach post office from a branch near Carlisle now because our post office closed a few months ago.  It only has limited hours and won’t open again until Wednesday, so I was pleased not to have missed out.

When I got home, I pulled myself together and went off to do twenty miles on my bike. My last ride of 20 miles, two days ago, left me with a very sore foot so I pedalled gently up and down the road a couple of times today, avoiding any steep hills and not cycling into the wind for any length of time and I only went 200 yards further than the last ride.

This seems to have been successful as my foot is not complaining as I write this.

I was limited for views but saw some life in passing.

A traditional spring family scene…

ewe with two lambs

…our resident gull looking downstream…

upstanding gull

…a goosander looking for fish…

goosander fishing

…and an oyster catcher not looking at anything.

oyster catcher snoozing

When I got back, the feeder was empty so I filled it and on the principle of, “If you fill it, they will come,”  the goldfinches  came.

They were anxious about infiltrating chaffinches….

fierce goldfinches

…but were soon able to check that they had complete control.

goldfinch gang

I had a final wander round the garden and saw more pale flowers….

pale tulips

…the very first of the trout lilies had appeared…

triout lily

…and the pulsatilla, which had opened out from this morning, stuck its tongue out at me as I passed.

pulsatilla

Mrs Tootlepedal had spent the afternoon working on the rocking horse,  She bought a little hammer this morning and I can report that she hammered in the morning and she hammered in the afternoon but fortunately she laid down her hammer and cooked a delicious meal of roast chicken in the evening.

We are promised another frosty morning tomorrow so although the weather has been very dry and generally sunny, it has been a bit nervous making for the gardener.

The flying chaffinch of the day, although enjoying the early sunshine, looked a bit nervous too, I thought.

worried flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s expedition to Wales.  Having left Chester, he headed for Anglesey but found Snowdon in his way….so he walked up it.

snowdon

I wasn’t very happy with the colour that my pocket camera found in the lithodora’s blue flower or in the mystic Van Eijk pink tulips so I took my Nikon out today and shot them in RAW to stop the camera’s software making decisions that I didn’t agree with.  I think that the results are more true to what the eye sees.

raw lithodora

mystic Van Eijk poppies in sun

And while I was there, I took the real Van Eijks….

Van Eijk poppies in bed

…some very pale grape hyacinths…

pale grape hyacinths

…and a stream of standard blue ones.

row of grape hyacinths

The main business of the morning though was not footling about with cameras, but putting in the second of the two new veg beds.  Mrs Tootlepedal likes to have things right so this involved not just digging and shifting soil, but using gardener’s string and a spirit level too.

After the bed was levelled and settled, I left her to sort out the soil and mowed the middle lawn.  This involved stamping on a lot of moss but there was enough grass growing there to fill the lawn mower’s collecting box.

Mrs Tootlepedal called me over when I had finished as she had come across something unusual.  It was very green.

green caterpillar

I am not at all knowledgeable about caterpillars but some research says that this might be an angle shade caterpillar.  I would be happy if a reader can put me right.

I went in to make some potato and onion soup for lunch and had a look at the birds while it was cooking.

goldfinches on feeder

The plum tree is making a very picturesque background for birds waiting to visit the feeder.

two chaffinch with plum blossom

After lunch, I inspected the tulips.  It had been a sunny morning, although it hadn’t felt very warm because of a chilly east wind, and the sun had been enough to open a few petals.

pale yellow poppy heart

yellow poppy heartred poppy heart

I deadheaded the first of the daffodils to go over.  This was the first of many dead heading activities to come.  It is a bit tedious but it keeps the garden looking neat and it encourages the daffodils to come again.

I checked out the veg beds.  They are both the same size although the camera angle makes one look a lot shorter. Mrs Tootlepedal likes the slightly wider paths between the beds that the new layout had created.  The wire netting covering is to protect the soil from cats.

two veg beds

I will have to sieve more compost as there has been quite a lot used lately.

I had time to spot a dunnock lurking in the shadows below the feeder…

dunnock in shadow

…before I got my bike out and went for a pedal.

It was a lovely day as far as the sun went….

Wauchope valley tree

…but the wind was hard work when I was pedalling back into it so I was pleased to stop and admire a couple of oyster catchers on a wall at Bigholms.

oyster catchers on wall

When I looked across the wall, I could see the windfarm on the horizon and I reckoned that this must have been an ideal day for ‘green’ energy with the combination of bright sun and a stiff breeze.

view of windfarm

Now they need to get busy on working out the best way to store it so we can have some to hand when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

I had enough personal energy left to cycle through the town when I got back to it and go a couple of miles out along the road north.  I was very surprised by the colour of the soil in this field beside the Ewes Water.

ewes valley field

You can see the edge of the field in the bottom of the picture that I took looking up the valley.

Ewes valley April

I managed to add a couple of miles to yesterday’s trip and got home after 16 miles.  If the weather permits, I will try to add two miles to my journey every time that I go out for the next few days until I have got back some of the fitness that I lost in an almost cycle free March.

I am taking things steadily as my foot is still tender but the gel insoles for my shoes have been very successful and I would like to thank those who advised me to get them.  I haven’t tried a walk of any length since I got them, but the ordinary walking round the house and garden is very satisfactory and limp free.

The slow cooked lamb stew made its third and final mealtime appearance tonight, this time in the form of a light curry with rice.

The dry cool weather with sunny periods seems set to last for a good few days so I hope to be able to continue to get out and about (as long as my foot continues to be co-operative).

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my brother.  He took while he was waiting for a few stragglers to catch up at the end of a recent group walk.  As they had been going for nine miles, I am not surprised that there was a bit of straggling.

heart group walk

It will be a bit of a rushed post as I was in Carlisle for a concert with out Carlisle choir and I got back quite late.

It was a generally sunny and pleasant day with the pleasure slightly moderated by a brisk and chilly wind again.

The was enough sun to persuade the tulips to open and to illuminate an advantageously priced bargain from a garden centre.

april garden flowers

While I was having coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone, Steve delivered two new vegetable garden bed frames.  Mrs Tootlepedal was not well today as she is suffering from a persistent cold so the beds have not been put in place yet.

new bed frames

Whereas it was early chaffinches yesterday, it was siskins first today…

sisins at home

…and the chaffinches didn’t get much of a look in.

siskins on feeder

When the siskins left, the chaffinches piled in.

chaffinches landing

A goldfinch found a quiet moment to think deeply about food.

goldfinch concentrating

And later on, some greenfinches turned up.

two greendfinches

And a single redpoll dropped in.

redpoll on tio of feeder

I sieved a bit of compost and  made some soup for lunch and then went for a short walk to stretch my legs.

I did a three bridges to keep on the flat today.

The lady’s smock on the banks of the river has come out.

lady's smock

The two sets of oyster catchers were in their usual positions.  They are creatures of habit.

There was a pair of goosanders there too but they slipped away as soon as they noticed me and I could only catch the female.

oystercatcher and goosander

Some non standard ducks were lying about.

two odd ducks

I went round the new path at the bottom of the Castleholm and saw spiky things, both new and old.

pine blossom

The noble fir at the corner was showing very bright new growth and some fresh fir cones.

noble fir cone

Signs of life on the deciduous trees were to be seen.

new growth

And the coming of spring and summer was heralded by the arrival of the posts and rails ready to be put up for the race track. (Flat racing obviously.)

flat racecourse

I walked up to the Duchess Bridge and down the path on the far bank of the river.  I was only able to do this because someone with a big saw had come along and sawed off a tree which had fallen across the path in the recent storm.

fallen tree

There were wild flowers to see on my way.

wildflowers early april

And a large bumble bee was enjoying the blossom on Mike’s cherry tree as I went past.

bee on cherry

I left Mrs Tootlepedal recuperating at home and went to Carlisle in the early evening for a benefit concert in a church for a local ‘hospice at home’ charity.  The full choir was singing three songs and the rest of the concert was made up of turns by groups of choir members and their friends and solos from our conductor and accompanist.  It was a mixed programme with a capella singing, a violinist playing the mediation from Thais (very beautifully), a ukulele group and other cheerful singing groups.  Our accompanist played a Bach fugue on the church organ and our conductor sang a Jerome Kern song which brought the house down.

The choir sang their songs well and all in all, it was a good evening with the size of the audience the only mild disappointment.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

Footnote:  During the day, my doctor rang up to say that my recent x-ray showed that I do not have a stress fracture in my foot.  However, the x-ray did show that I had serious arthritis in my big toe joint and other arthritic joints elsewhere on the foot so it was no wonder that it has been a bit sore.  The fact that there is no bone damage is good though, as it means that I can go back to cycling (if the weather permits) without fear of making things worse.  Grinning and bearing it is the prescription, allied to the hope that the arthritis may go away as it often does (and using spongy insoles for my shoes).

Finger crossed.  I would cross my toes too but I can’t.  🙂

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan who was very surprised to see that a ‘bug hotel’ has been erected on the Euston Road in the heart of London.

bug hotel euston road

I had a quiet day today, as after some pretty sympathetic weather, it went back to being very chilly today with a marked frost when we got up in the morning.  The temperature rose quite quickly but it didn’t get up very far and a chilly wind meant that it was definitely a coat and gloves sort of day.

I did get out in the garden for long enough to try the mirror on a fritillary but the light was so poor that I needed to use a flash.

fritillary in mirror with mirror

…and it took me a go or two to get everything to work reasonably well but the end result was quite promising, if not perfect.

fritillary in mirror

It was unfortunate that two electricity wires over the garden got into the picture.  I didn’t notice them when I was taking the picture.

I went back in and found things to do inside, including watching the bids, who were very busy.  Siskins were in lively form, shouting at chaffinches…

siskin shouting at chaffinch

…and blowing goldfinches away.

siskin blows goldfinch away

Considering that siskins weigh about 12 grams at most, they pack a lot of bang for their bucks as the saying goes.

The chaffinches wisely waited until the siskins had gone for a comfort break and then ganged up mob handed on a goldfinch.

two chaffinches threaten goldfinch

A goldfinch took a dim view of a later approach from a chaffinch.

disaproving goldfinch

I made some bacon and lentil soup for lunch and we ate it with some sour dough bread which I had bought on my shopping trip yesterday.

After lunch, I did something useful.  Mrs Tootlepedal has had her eye on an old and rather shabby, moss and lichen covered variegated elder which stands in the front garden.  In spite of the fact that she raised it from a cutting, she felt that it has had its day and it is now time for it to go.

elder

She had cut quite a lot of its roots already so we cut off its branches and I added my weight to pushing, shoving and rocking the trunk until it finally gave up the struggle and surrendered.

In no time at all, the branches had been shredded, the hole more or less refilled….

felled elder hole

…and the trunk turned into a disappointingly small pile of logs for the fire.

tree as logs

I had been concerned that the elder had provided a perching place and some protection for birds visiting our feeder and that they would miss it when it was gone.  Mrs Tootlepedal took this on board and constructed a fake tree for me which we put up on the other side of the hedge.  It is an old fence post with a some willow branches nailed onto it and I had my doubts as to whether it would convince the sort of intelligent bird that we get in our garden.

bogus tree

While we were working on the tree, we were visited by Nipper who brought his friend Marjorie into to the garden to see what was going on. Bearing his name in mind, I am glad that Marjorie had a firm grip on his lead.

nipper

While Mrs Tootlepedal had been out collecting the willow branches for the fake tree, I had washed our car so it had been an energetic time and I sat down for a rest on our new bench to recover for a moment.  Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that we may have two blackbird pairs nesting in the garden so it was not a surprise to see one.

blackbird on hedge

When we had finished and everything was tidied up, we went in to have a cup of tea and we waited with interest to see if a bird would try out the new tree.

It took about three minutes.

chaffinch on bogus tree

Quite a few birds tried it out and among them was a redpoll who waited there for a while before popping down to scavenge some seed.

redpoll on bogus tree

Luke came round in the early evening and we had a less than satisfactory play.  I was tired and he had had a busy day and the playing was substandard all round.  There is always another week though so we are not downhearted.

After Luke left, I went out on a short oyster catcher hunt just to keep my sore foot working.  I was hoping to see the big flock again but there were only the regular two pairs about, one below the Town Bridge, and one just above it.

oyster catcher by itself

I am going to get an x-ray on my foot tomorrow and I hope that whether this finds something interesting or not, the very fact of having some certainty about my foot’s condition will lead to improvements.

In the meantime, as the temperature is set to be just above freezing every morning this week, I am going to look out my winter clothing again.

As the inane chatter around Brexit continues, I am strongly reminded of the old fellow who was leaning against a gate in the heart of the countryside when he was asked by a passing motorist about the best way to get to Birmingham.  “Ah well,” he said after some reflection, “if I was going to Birmingham, I wouldn’t start from here.”  Many a true word is spoken in jest.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin…

flying siskin

…probably going home to his friends and saying, “Have you seen that fake tree at Wauchope Cottage?  What a joke!”

 

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