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Posts Tagged ‘oyster catchers’

Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo on her visit to Australia.  She found that King Parrots are very partial to an offer of a snack.

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We had a bit of a contrast to Mary Jo’s sunny Queensland weather here, as the hills were covered in mist and the ground was white with sleety slush when we woke up.

Even the colours on the redpoll…

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…and goldfinch seemed subdued.

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It was raining in a persistent and mean minded way (when it wasn’t sleeting, that is) and going outside was not an attractive option.

So I stayed in and watched the birds.

Until I got bored and walked round to the shop to get milk.  I was protected from the worst of the wind and rain by a large umbrella.

After the delight of yesterday’s sunshine, it was not a colourful day….

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…but the route to the shop takes me along the waterside so there is always the chance of seeing something interesting.  Today it was a pair of oyster catchers keeping as snug as they could in the horrible conditions.

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Perhaps their posture is an example of keeping a weather eye open.

I took the milk home and then took myself off to visit Sandy, who is still housebound.

He was very cheerful and entertained me to coffee and excellent ginger cake.  On my way home, I stopped to look over the town to see if the prospects for the day had improved at all.

They hadn’t.

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When I got back, I put the bread maker to work and made some soup for lunch and while it was cooking, I had another look at the birds.  There was no shortage of customers for seeds…

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…and the redpolls got into some keen competition for perches.

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The winner returned to the perch, although it didn’t look very happy about it…

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…while the loser sat on a pole and pretended that it didn’t care.

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Down below, a dunnock merged into the background.

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The wind dropped and after lunch, it stopped raining for long enough for me to put on my cycling gear.  Then, of course,  it started again.  I wasn’t going to take my gear off though, after all the bother of putting on what seemed like several hundred layers of warm clothing so I got my bike out and went off with hope in my heart and rain on my cycling glasses.

I was worried that the morning sleet might still be lying on the road in slushy patches but it was well above freezing and the rain had done its work so the road was clear.  It was running with water in many places and I was very glad to have a stout pair of waterproof socks to keep my feet warm and dry.

I had an unusual experience when a lorry coming the other way met me at one of these puddly spots.  As it approached me, and absolutely on purpose, it slowed down and passed me without splashing me.  I was so shocked that I nearly fell off my bike.

After three and a half miles when I got to Wauchope Schoolhouse and began to feel the wind in my face as I left the shelter of the valley, I considered the way ahead…

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…and went back to Langholm.

A bull in the field opposite was not impressed by my lack of get up and go.

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I took this picture on the way back and despite what you may think, it is a full colour shot.

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When I put it into my photo editor in the evening, I changed it into greyscale mode. It summed up the day when as far as I could see, nothing changed in the picture at all.  Truly a grey day.

I got back to Langholm and since the rain had stopped, I went round the town and pedalled back up to Wauchope Schoolhouse again. In the end, I squeezed sixteen miles out of a miserable afternoon but as it was my first cycle ride for two weeks, I was grateful to get any miles in at all.  And I felt a lot better for the exercise.

I put my bike away and went in to watch the birds again.  I had put a second feeder out in the morning as there seemed to be quite a lot of birds about, and both feeders were getting well used before I left with a selection of goldfinches, siskins and redpolls in action.

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By the time that I got back, a lot of the seed had disappeared.  The redpolls and goldfinches had disappeared too and the siskins had taken over completely.

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They were everywhere, under the feeders, on top of the feeders…

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…all over the walnut tree…

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…and on the feeders themselves.

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I counted over a hundred of them in the garden.  I just wish that the light had been better so that I could have done them justice.  As it was, the rain started again and I went off to have a shower, leaving the skins to it.

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When I came downstairs, I found that Mike Tinker had dropped in for a cup of tea so I joined him and Mrs Tootlepedal for a chat and some serious biscuit consumption.

When Mike left, it was time for my flute playing friend Luke to come round for our weekly burst of duets.  He told me that is going for a job interview tomorrow so I wished him luck.  I would employ him as he is a very sound lad.

The active day ended with a plate of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pie, always a good way to end a day.

Looking at the forecast, there seems to be no end to our run of cold, wet weather for the next week with only a very occasional glimpse of sunshine promised, so I am more pleased than ever to have sneaked a few miles in today.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch who arrived before the siskin invasion.

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The guest picture of the day comes from Dropscone’s pre-Brexit visit to Amsterdam.  He felt that I didn’t have enough pigeons on my recent blogs.

pigeons amsterdam

We are awaiting the arrival of storm Dennis.  In the meantime, Dropscone came for coffee this morning.  Local readers will be well aware that Dropscone’s Sunday name is also Dennis, and he remarked as he left after coffee, that he thought that Dennis was a pretty silly name for a storm.  Whether Storm Dennis will be a silly storm or a serious one remains to be seen.

As Dropscone and I sipped coffee and ate fine treacle scones, some preliminary rain arrived and Mrs Tootlepedal, who was out doing business on her bicycle got thoroughly soaked before she got home.

As did the birds.  I thought that this picture summed up the day quite well…

goldfinch rain

…until I took this one.

siskin goldfinch rain

We had both goldfinches…

three goldfinches rain

…and siskins today…

three siskins rain

…and plenty of rain as you can see.

This goldfinch had also been listening to its mother.

goldfinch sitting up straight

Fortunately a very interesting magazine arrived through the post so I had a lot of good reading to help me pass the time while the rain continued but by mid afternoon, the rain had stopped so I put my nose out of the door.

And then followed it with the rest of me, suitably attired for more possible rain.

Our smaller bridges were using both their arches to good effect, both across the Wauchope….

kirk bridge wet day

…and the Ewes.

sawmill bridge two arches

The Esk was slightly less brown than the other two rivers but it wasn’t short of water.

beach beside kirk bridge

I crossed the river and went up to the High Street.

The data miners at the Archive Centre have been rightly complaining of chilly draughts.  As it happened, Nancy, our treasurer, found that she had a couple of old curtains to spare after improvements to her ancestral castle so Mrs Tootlepedal has been at work with her needle today and one of them is now hanging over one of the draughty doorways….

new curtain AC

…with another to follow soon.

I continued my walk over another couple of bridges, noting that the rain had caused any trace of snow to disappear from the town and quite a lot of the snow to disappear from our surrounding  hills too.

snow melting off timpen

Doubtless the melting snow had contributed to the water in the rivers.  The waterside birds had to take care not to get washed away and mostly stood on the river banks.

ducks and oyster catchers

A lone gull was at its post on the Kilngreen and Mr Grumpy was supervising a group of ducks who had found some relatively calm water to swim in.

He didn’t look to happy about the task.

heron

Considering how high the water level was, I am not surprised.

flood on Ewes Water

Looking up at the mast on the top of Warbla, it was hard to imagine that I had been standing there a couple of days ago in brilliant sunshine looking down on a snow covered scene.

warbla snow melt

The Duchess Bridge, having only one big span, doesn’t care how high the water gets.

duchess bridge high water

It was still pretty gloomy even without any rain but there were plenty of snowdrops about to brighten the afternoon up…

snowdrops Lodge

…and I found a couple of tiny hazel flowers to add a splash of colour….

hazel flower on twig

…though the camera and I had to look jolly hard to see them.

hazel flower close up

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and as Alison and I had both been practising a bit, we had a most enjoyable time playing our duets.  As we packed our music away, Alison remarked, “Everyone should play duets, ” and I can’t disagree with her.

Stormy Dennis is due to arrive at about breakfast time tomorrow and as we are already pretty soggy, we can only hope that the forecast is once again worse than the actuality.

A siskin, half hidden by a sheet of rain, is the flying bird of the day.

flying siskin rain

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Today’s guest picture comes from camera club member Simon.  He was taken for a walk on our local hills by a friend.  They walked yesterday morning before the storm came.  A good choice.

simon's hill picture

The storm arrived with some force yesterday evening, and we had a rather restless night  as the wind howled round the house and rain hammered on the windows.  We opened the curtains with some trepidation this morning but everything still seemed to be there so we breathed a sigh of relief.

It became clear that there had been quite a lot of rain though when we went to church.

Storm Ciara rivers

As it was still raining hard when we went in, we did offer a small prayer that we wouldn’t need a boat to get home.

storm ciara esk

In fact, it had stopped raining by the time that we came out and although the Wauchope still looked high, a glance at the tidemark on the river bank showed that the water level had already begun to drop.

storm ciara caroline st

While Mrs Tootlepedal went home to make a pot of coffee, I walked up to the Kilngreen to take a contrasting picture…

storm ciara meeting of waters

…to the one that I took yesterday morning at very much the same time of day.

view of timpen before storm ciara

When the River Esk is high, I always wonder at how much the bridge acts as a dam to the flow with the river level on one side of the bridge being a good two feet higher than the other.

storm ciara langholm bridge

I got home and enjoyed Mrs Tootlepedal’s coffee.  The wind had calmed down a lot by this time and the rain had kept away so I was able to spot a few birds on the feeder.

A greenfinch arrived and thought that it would prefer the perch above it, occupied by a siskin.  A siskin is feisty but no match for a determined greenfinch so an exchange was negotiated.

greenfinch and siskins

In spite of the slightly better conditions, Mrs Tootlepedal and I were in two minds as to whether it would be sensible to drive to Carlisle for our afternoon choir as there were reports of flooding on the road.  Discussion was cut short though when we read an email from the choir saying that the practice had been cancelled anyway.  A good decision, we thought.

A few more birds caught my eye both on the feeder…

robin, dunnock, chaffinch, siskin

…and below

The robin wanted to make sure that I got a close shot.

robin on stalk

A check with the forecast suggested that we were in for a spell of sunshine and showers with wind gusts at no more than 40 mph so I decided that a walk would be in order, hoping to get more sunshine than showers.

There was remarkably little debris about and the flow of the Wauchope under the Auld Stane Brig was nothing like the storm last year where the level was so high that the trees washed down the stream couldn’t get under the bridge and ended up on the bank above the bridge.  The roots of one are still there.

debris and auld stane brig

I walked up the Becks road and took the path down to the bridge across the Becks Burn.  Mrs Tootlepedal had been mildly worried that the burn might pose a threat to an elderly walker, but by the time that I got there, the sun had come out and the water was running at a comparatively gentle rate.

Becks Burn storm ciara

I crossed the bridge and walked back to the town along the track in pleasant conditions.

whita from becks

In fact conditions were so pleasant that instead of going directly home, I walked through the Galaside wood and round the Scholars’ Field…

scholars storm ciara

…and over the Jubilee Bridge.

jubilee bridge trees

A glance down from the bridge reminded me that it hadn’t been so pleasant a few hours ago…

swollen esk

…and although the path round the bottom of the Castleholm looked inviting….

new path storm ciara

…frequent puddles had to be navigated…

puddle new path storm ciara

…and the river was not far away.

full esk new path storm ciara

When I got to the Kilngreen, the waters had dropped far enough for an oyster catcher to perch on a fence post in safety.

oyster catcher on post

As I walked back past the church, a small flock of oyster catchers swirled through the sky above my head.

flock of oyster catchers

I got home from a three mile walk which I hadn’t expected to be able to take let alone enjoy and then sank into sloth for the rest of the day.  Mrs Tootlepedal did get out to do a little gardening so the day wasn’t entirely wasted.

We have been lucky again as there was enough water at Hawick 20 miles up the road to seriously damage a building beside the river.

Looking at the forecast now, it seems that the worst may well have passed us by and we can expect some damp and windy weather for the next couple of days but nothing worse.

We are grateful.

The flying bird of the day is that greenfinch avoiding the first siskin that it met..

flying greenfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from the camera club visit to Beamish late last month.  Peter took this charming shot.

Peter's Beamish

There was heavy rain overnight but the garden seemed strangely dry when we went out for a look.  Some strong winds had done damage though, and Mrs Tootlepedal had a good deal of propping up and clearing away to do.

I took the opportunity to put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive group database and found the first entry regarding a motor car in Langholm that I had come across.  This was 1900 so it must have been an early model.

I went out into the garden to give Mrs Tootlepedal some moral support and the occasional helping hand too.  We picked some peas, beans, turnips and potatoes to make a summer soup and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted this moth among the potatoes.

potato moth

She found a home for it and just hoped that it isn’t a dangerous potato eating insect.

I had a look around before going in to cook the soup.  It was rather a dull day and the very brisk wind made getting flower pictures a bit tricky so I was pleased to catch not just one poppy in mid sway…

red poppy grey insides

…but another one as well.

open poppy

I like the different centres that the poppies have just as much as I like the different colours and textures of their petals.

The clematis at the front door is more sheltered and offered less of a problem.  It has come on very well after a slow start and I like its multi coloured petals.

front door clematis lots

While I was in the garden,  I sat on the bench outside the kitchen window and got a different angle on the bird feeder.

The siskins were keeping a sharp eye out for competition and a sparrow thought better of trying to get some seed.

siskins keeping eye out

In general, it was a busy scene.

busy feeder from outside

I went down to the river to see if the rain had put some water into it.  It was far from full but there was a lot more flow than we have had recently…

river up

…and all three arches of the Langholm Bridge had been called into action.

three arches Langholm Bridge

The vegetable soup (with added barley) turned out well, with a nice fresh taste.  It went well with some new bread and a selection of cheeses.

I was so perked up by the soup, that after lunch I decided to brave the wind and go off for a cycle ride.  It was tough going into the teeth of a breeze gusting at over 30 mph so I stuck to doing two laps of the seven miles trip to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back, hiding from the wind in the bottom of the valley.  This gave me the chance to visit the little cascade near the schoolhouse…

wauchope schoolhouse cascade

…and to stop and check for riverside birds when I went along the Esk on my way through the town.  There was a small collection of oyster catchers…

Three oyster catchers

…one of whom posed nicely for me…

oyster catcher on rock

…and a dipper living up to its name.

dipper dipping

My legs were quite cheerful so I added a short three mile trip over the bridge and out of the other side of the town after my two laps and ended up with 17 miles more than I had expected to ride when I had read the forecast yesterday.

The seventeen miles were accomplished at a steady pace but they took me up to 270 miles for the month, so although I still can’t walk any distance without upsetting my feet, at least I can keep going on my bike.  Mustn’t grumble.

I  sat down for a cup of tea when I got home and we were joined by Mike Tinker.  Like Mrs Tootlepedal, he had spent quite a bit of time in  his garden repairing the ravages of wind and rain and cutting back excessive growth so we were all pleased to rest a while for refreshment and conversation.

When Mike left, I mowed the two lawns, sieved a bit of compost and had another look round the garden.

I like nasturtiums.

nasturtiums's mouth

This is the very last of the flowers on the rosa complicata.

last rosa complicata

Although some of our heavily petalled roses survived the wind and the rain, like this Wren…

rose Wren

….many were looking rather soggy.  Mrs Tootlepedal gets a bit sad when these roses show the effects of our damp climate and ‘ball up’, so she is thinking of planting more of the simple roses, which are perhaps better suited to our garden.

It was brighter now than it had been earlier in the day, but the sun had not quite come out so I had another go at the white astilbe with better results.

white astilbe

Nearby, a yellow potentilla flower winked at me.

yellow potemtilla

It is impossible to miss the rambler roses which are sensational this year.  We hope that some of them will appear in the rose crown at the Common Riding on Friday but if ours are anything to go by, there should be so many about that the crown builders may not need to come to us at all.

red rambler roses

Later in the evening, I leaned out up of an upstairs window to greet the sun which had finally appeared, and enjoyed a general look over the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been clipping the hedges.

the garden in the evening

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow using every limb available to persuade a siskin to give up its seat at the table.

flying sparrow flailing

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo of Manitoba.  She was at a grand opening of a feed mill at a Hutterite colony in Alberta last week when a friend pointed out this American robin’s well stocked nest.

Mary Jo's eggs

After yesterday’s endless rain, we had endless sunshine today.  It was very welcome.  Of course the weather gods will have their little laugh, so the sunshine came on a day when we had to be indoors for a lot of the time.

All the same, after making a stew for the slow cooker and going to sing at our usual church service, there was time for a walk round the garden.

It was full of bees.

three bees

I was particularly happy to catch a bee on a lupin so that I could combine two favourite subjects in one shot…

bee on blue lupin

…but it was the chives that were scoring highest in the bee popularity stakes today.

two bees on chive

New flowers are out and the pick of the day was this iris with its petals outlined in white.

new iris 1

I liked it so much that I took pictures of it with different cameras.

new iris 2

Foxgloves are popping up all over the garden…

foxglove flower

…and a new set of blue Polemonium have appeared.

blue polemonium

I took some other pictures more because I liked the general effect of the situation than for any floral novelty.

An oriental poppy seed head beside the dam can be seen out of our back window…

poppy seed head dam

…and it looks as thought this lamium is concealing a fierce science fiction beast behind its  petals.

lamium with mask

This euphorbia is fading with added colour…

fading euphorbia

…and two tropaeolum flowers were crossing swords on the yew bush.

two tropaeolum

But my favourite of the morning was this very cool picture of potential plums.

young plums

I didn’t have long to wander about though, as it was the day of our end of term concert with the Carlisle Community Choir and we had to be at the venue for an early practice.

We picked up another choir member on the way and got to our new concert venue in a local school in plenty of time.  Ellen, our conductor, is very careful to make sure that we can enjoy our concerts so the practice was not too demanding and had a break in the middle.  As a result, I was ready for the big event and had a good time singing almost all of the notes that were required.

One of the highlights of the concert for me was the solo performance of our accompanist, Christine, who poured so many notes into semi improvised arrangements of Dream a Little Dream of Me and Somewhere over the Rainbow that it seemed that the piano might explode.  Just my cup of tea.

When we got home, the sun was still shining and I had time to mow both the lawns while the potatoes were cooking. The lawns are not big and when the ground is firm and the grass is short enough so that I don’t have to use a box, lawn mowing is a speedy business.  It is slightly surprising that the lawns are still firm, as Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge was showing five inches of rain over the past two weeks, but that shows just how dry it was in the weeks before the rain started.

After tea, I went for a walk.  To be more correct….as my feet are still perfectly alright as long as I don’t use them at all, I went for a slow cycle ride round one of my favourite evening walks.

I enjoyed the evening light and took two pictures of bridges which I didn’t cross, the suspension bridge…

view of whita june evening

…and the bridge to the church…

willows by chirch brig

…and one of the sawmill Brig,  which I did cross.

sawmill brig june evening

I saw oyster catchers before I crossed the Sawmill Brig….

one legged oyster ctatcher and pal

…and a magnificent rhododendron lurking in the shadows as I crossed it.

rhododendron from sawmill brig

Everything around us is green after the rain but the finishing straight of the race course on the Castleholm was the greenest thing of the day.

race course finishing straight

With both the Langholm and Carlisle choirs finished until September, I shall find time hanging heavy on my hands.  I am hopeful that a little fine weather may let me get out on my bike a bit more to fill up the unforgiving hours.  Looking at the forecast, it seems that this hope may not be realised.  Ah well.

The flying bird of the day is one of our regular sparrows.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture shows a fine display of wisteria spotted by my sister Susan on her way to catch a bus.

london wisteria

We had a frosty morning here, followed by a fine but chilly day with a brisk  and biting north wind.  If you were out of the wind, everything in the garden was lovely and if you weren’t, you got out of it as soon as you could.

I started the day with some shopping at our producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre where the essentials of life such as honey, cheese, haggis and fish were popped into my Canadian (courtesy of Mary Jo of Manitoba) shopping bag.  Then after another excursion to top up supplies from our corner shop, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went to visit our friends Mike and Alison.  Their daughter Liz had arrived with her chainsaw to help Mike cut down the cherry tree at the front gate which had grown too big for its situation and which is due to replaced by a rowan.  They were making a good job of it but kindly broke off for long enough for Alison to offer us coffee and ginger biscuits (and a potted plant to take home with us)..

Later in the day, three bags of shreddings and sawdust arrived in our garden for which we will find very good uses.

When we got back, I took a walk round the garden in the sunshine.  A bee which should have been busy on the apple blossom was wasting its time on a dicentra, a new ranunculus, one of batch purchased at a very advantageous price by Mrs Tootlepedal, was looking sublime and one of the last of the tulips was trying to open wide.

dicentra, ranunculus tulip

It has been an odd year, and I noticed when I looked back at a blog of a year ago, that we still had lots of daffodils out and the tulips were at the peak on this day then.

Now almost all the daffodils are gone and most of the tulips too.  We are in a pause, waiting for azaleas and alliums to appear.  I saw a very fine spider’s web, the sole rhododendron flower that is fully out, a hosta that is developing well and some mustard grown for green manure whihc is coming up in the vegetable garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal is very keen on mustard.

hosta mustard web and rhodie

In the absence of much bright colour, the greens are doing their best to keep me entertained.

fern and euphorbia

A pair of blackbirds appeared on the front lawn…

blackbird pair on lawn

…and a pond skater stopped skating for long enough for me to take its picture.

pond skater

Although my feet are still not co-operating properly, I felt it was too cold and windy for a pleasant cycle ride so I went for a walk after lunch.

There was plenty to take my mind off my feet as I went along.  Daisies and cherry blossom lined my walk along the bank of the Esk between the bridges.

daisies and cherries beside esk

And a pair of oyster catchers looked as though they might be setting up home on the gravel bank above the town bridge.

oyster catchers on gravel

In spite of the chilly wind, a cricket match on the Castleholm pitch reminded me that it is May and the season has well and truly got under way.

langholm cricket club

Sound defence with a straight bat was the order of the day.

LCC match

I walked on up the Lodge Walks with any amount of flowers to keep me company.

lodge walk wild flowers

I had met my friend Nancy as I was crossing the Langhom Bridge and she told me that she was going to check out the bluebells in the woods above the Lodge Walks because she is leading a visiting group of walkers on a bluebell hunt next week.  Taking the hint, I walked up a path through the wood.  She will have plenty of bluebells to show the visitors.

bluebells in lodge walk wood

It has been a good spring for bluebells.

bluebells above holmhead

As I went along the path at the top of the wood, I could see more bluebells mixed in with other wild flowers.

six lodge walk wild flowers

I came back down to the waterside and walked back along the bank of the Esk.  The paths are at their best.

two castleholm paths

Looking across the field, I saw the sun pick out a small tree surrounded by larger specimens.  I liked the way that grazing cattle have kept the bottom of the tree looking so neatly trimmed…

castlholm tree

…and looking around, I saw that it was not the only one.

cattle cropped trees

I came back to the cricket ground to find the game still going on and watched a fielder at long leg doing what cricketers do a lot of, standing around.  He had found a good spot for standing around though, surrounded by fine trees and with the ruins of Langholm castle in the background.  He had plenty to look at if the game got boring.

outfileder and castle

A dandelion clock told me that time was getting on so I headed for home…

dandelion clock

…passing my favourite sight of the whole walk.  It was almost as though nature had taken up flower arranging.

saplings scholars

The wall at the end of the Scholars’ Field has a good crop of flowers growing out of cracks and crevices.  I saw ivy leaved toadflax, wild strawberries and corydalis.

wall flowers

I was ready for a cup of tea when I got home and then we got into our new little car and went off to collect some more wood chips.  On our return, we put the wood chips onto one of the paths in the remodelled part of the vegetable garden…

chipped paths

…and parked the little white thingy.  It hadn’t gone far enough to need charging.

renault

We had fish for our tea and I made some chips (potato not wood) to go with my helping. We finished the meal with the last of the lonely sticky toffee pudding.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin flaps down

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Dropscone and shows the opening day of the golf season at Langholm.  Dropscone, the club captain this year,  is modestly holding the trophy which his team has just won in the opening match.

golf opening

We had an unquestionably pleasant day of weather here today, with wall to wall sunshine, light winds and no chill in the air at all.  It was lovely.

In younger days, I would have been off on my bike like a shot, but things are slower now and I was happy to have coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone instead of pounding the pedals.  Both before he came and after he left, I wandered round the garden for a while.  There was much to see.

tulips and daffs

The garden is full of tulips and daffodils at the moment.

The tulips had spread their petals wide to welcome the warmth.

two tulips

The silver pear is covered with blossom…

pear blossom

…and although I have been dead heading a lot of daffodils, there are still a lot on the go of many varieties.

three daffodils

The plum is getting leaves to go with its blossoms and I only hope that the few bees that have been around have managed to pollinate those flowers which were too far above my head for me to reach with the pollinating brush.

plum blossom

Mrs Tootlepdal’s river of blue with the grape hyacinths doesn’t go all the way round the front lawn this year but it has  produced some good splashes of colour all the same…

three flowers

…and trout lilies and a new fritillary  are keeping the garden looking cheerful.

I was so encouraged by the warmth and a good forecast, that I got the lawn scarifier out and scarified the middle lawn.  It has a little basket  of its own to collect the debris but it is so small that I find it easier not to use it and then run the mower over the lawn to tidy everything up.  I took this picture while I was having a rest in the middle of mowing.

scarifying the lawn

It is a pain free process if the lawn is firm and dry as it is at the moment.

When I had finished, I admired some more tulips…

drive tulips

…and the magnolia (which is looking well if you don’t look too closely at it).

magnolia

Mrs Tootlepedal has used the old rotten planks from the veg beds which have been redeveloped to make a little wild life hotel beside the compost bins.  We are hoping for interesting (and useful) guests.

pile of planks

I had a rest on our new bench for awhile and noticed a bee visiting a dicentra beside me…

bee on dicentra

…and then we went in for lunch.

After lunch, I went back out to look for frogs in the pond as we had heard them muttering away while we were working in the morning, but hadn’t been able to see them.

They were easy to see in the afternoon, surrounded by tadpoles.

frog and tadpoles

We had filled the pond up before lunch because it hasn’t rained for ages and the level had dropped a bit and I thought the pond was looking better as a result.

pond in April

The date stone is one of several in the garden that are a reminder that a stone mason lived and worked here once.

The better weather had obviously encouraged birds to find food elsewhere today as we had many fewer visitors than recently and the feeder was still half full quite late in the day.

three birds

I was visited by a member of our Langholm choir who is coming to sing with the church choir on Sunday and we went through the hymns and then, while Mrs Tootlepedal had a well earned snooze after a hard morning the garden, I went off for a cycle ride.

I am still looking after my foot so I chose an easy route of just under 26 miles and took things steadily.  However, I was quite daring and put on my cycling shorts and exposed my peely-wally knobbly knees to the world as I went along.  The world took this in its stride.

The hawthorns on the hillside up the Wauchope road are in leaf and we should see the blossoms soon.  In the meantime, it was hot enough for sensible sheep to seek some shade under one of the bigger bushes.

hawthorns on warbla bank

Although spring is springing, the rough pasture on the hills is still in full winter mode, and there was no colour to be seen when I stopped for a drink and a stretch and looked down a farm track after my first five miles.

kerr view

I was getting near to Canonbie when I came across a quite unusual gate…

oystercatchergate

…with a plump oyster catcher perched on each gate post.  I was very surprised that they sat still and let me take their pictures.

On the other side of Canonbie, I liked this variegated lamb and ewe scene…

variegated lambs

…and noted that it has been so long since it rained that the moss on a bridge parapet has begun to dry out.

dried out moss

When I got to Langholm, I cycled through the town and out along the Ewes valley for a couple of miles.  This gave me the opportunity to record a fine deciduous tree near the High Mill Brig…

high mill brig tree

…a rather hazy view up the valley…

ewes valley view

…and a romantic looking conifer near my turning point.

Ewes tree

When I got home, I got the washing in and made Mrs Tootlepedal a cup of tea.  Then I watered the middle lawn as I am going to put some treatment on it tomorrow and it says that the soil should be moist..

That concluded the business for the day.

Today’s flying bird of the day came a little late to the table.

flying chaffinch attempt

Footnote:

WordPress offers blog writers a wealth of statistics about their blogs if they have the energy to look at them and last night, I browsed the word count since I started this blog in mid 2010.  I was staggered to find that I have written 2,150,000 words, an average of about 700 words per post. It seems a tremendous amount of writing to use to record a fairly humdrum existence but to be fair, there has been a lot of repetition so I don’t have to constantly find new words and phrases.  If I look back, I find that life was much the same last year and the year before…and the year before….but that is how I like it.

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