Posts Tagged ‘partridge’

Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie who made a recent visit to Macao for work purposes.  She enjoyed the gently understated facade of this hotel there.

Macao hotel

It was a ‘depths of winter’ day today although it was actually quite warm.  The temperature was no real advantage however as it rained all day and the light never got above “Stygian” on the Gloom Scale.

Under the circumstances, coffee with Dropscone was an excellent way to spend some of the morning and even a visit to the health centre to get a routine injection afterwards seemed like a good use of some miserable weather.

The small birds are still conspicuous by their absence but two larger birds did appear during coffee.

two partridges on lawn

These may well be the partridges that appeared on our neighbour’s garage roof a few days ago.  If they are the same birds, they look as though they are getting well fed during their stay in the town.

They are handsome birds but perhaps this one ought to be taking a bit more exercise.

partridge on lawn

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre coffee bar over lunch and I made some potato soup for my midday meal.  We have still got quite a lot of our potatoes in store so I am anxious to make good use of them before they get past their best.

I did think of putting on my waterproof hat, coat and trousers and going out for a soggy walk after lunch but Mrs Tootlepedal asked me to print out a picture for a card.  I had such a prolonged and fruitless battle with my printer in an effort to match the colours on the card to the colours on my computer screen that it was almost dark by the time that I had finished.

I settled for working on my flute playing in an effort to get on top of the ornamentation in the sonata that Luke and I are playing.  This is uphill work for me.  I can remember many years ago reading a book on baroque recorder technique by a noted teacher which had twenty five pages on the trill alone as far as I can recall.

It was not a day for flying birds as even if there had been any, it was too dark to photograph them but I did manage to spot a single perching chaffinch in the rain so here is the perching bird of the day.

chaffinch in December rain

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He was watching this team of rowers battling into a very strong wind during the recent storm when he heard unsympathetic onlookers on the bank shouting, “Faster!”

nottingham rowers

The wind had dropped here today but it was still raining when we got up.  I looked at Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge in the evening and found that there has been three inches of rain this week.

I went along to the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre after breakfast and replenished our supplies of cheese, honey and fish and meat.  There were plenty of stalls and a good crowd of buyers so every one seemed happy.

When I got home, I peered at the birds and found that most of our visitors were goldfinches again…


…with the now familiar coal tits in evidence…


…and the jackdaw with the white feathers too.


The rain persisted all morning but I had a stubborn crossword to struggle with so the time passed and after lunch, the rain eased off and I got ready to go out for a cycle ride.

I was just leaving when my neighbour Liz phoned and told me to look at her garage roof.

I looked and saw two partridges.  The partridges are birds that are put out for shooting parties to take pot shots at so these two had sensibly got out of the woods and into the town where they will only be subject to people shooting them with a camera.


I hoped that when I got back from my cycle ride that I would find them in the pear tree in our garden and thus solve the Christmas present question.

There were still a few drops of rain about when I set off up the road but it wasn’t too cold, the rain soon stopped and the wind was behind me so I was contented enough.

The light didn’t improve though and I only stopped once on my 12 mile ride.


A quick walk round the garden when I got back also only produced a single shot. The snowberries seemed appropriate for the first official day of winter.


The partridges were in our garden when I cycled in, but I alarmed them and they scurried off so I didn’t get a chance to put out seed to tempt them into the pear tree.

I didn’t have long to get changed.

The town’s Christmas lights were due to be switched on and our choir had been asked to go and sing carols with a group of players from the Langholm Town Band.  Mrs Tootlepedal came with me and we squeezed onto this little platform outside the Town Hall, looking for all the world like a Punch and Judy show.


We sang twice and in between efforts, I sneaked along the road to see the reindeer in the yard of the Buck Hotel, regular visitors to his event.


This one was getting a feed of lichen.

The High Street was very festive with a good crowd out to welcome Mrs and Mrs Santa Claus, listen to the band and see a variety of entertaining turns as they gathered outside the Eskdale Hotel waiting for the  big switch on.


The lights came on right on schedule and the Christmas tree looked very fine.


Cars had to make their way carefully between the throng…


…and there was some of the fun of the fair for younger people.


There was even a flurry of snow but it has to be said that this came from two ingenious snow guns.


It was a very cheerful event.

I enjoyed a small fillet of sea bass for my tea, a fish that I had never cooked before.  I will certainly cook it again as it extremely easy to cook and it turned out to be very tasty.

The varied activities, combined with unusually interesting programmes on the telly in the evening, left me feeling that winter hasn’t been bad so far.  Long may this happy state of affairs continue.

The flying bird of the day wasn’t available so a posing partridge is standing in.




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Today’s guest picture comes from my younger son and shows Matilda wondering whether she is always going to need a coat on in the middle of summer.

MatildaMrs Tootlepedal went to visit Matilda in Edinburgh today and I was hoping to get in a little cycling while she was away.  Unfortunately the constant strong wind, gusting to well over thirty miles an hour was sufficient disincentive to keep me off the bicycle and in my armchair doing the crossword instead.

My morning was brightened up by the appearance of Sandy for a cup of coffee but otherwise it was remarkable only for the almost complete lack of any discernible activity on my part.

I did take a picture of a goldfinch which joined us at coffee time….

goldfinch…the first that I have seen for several days.

After lunch I stirred myself up enough to look out of the kitchen window.


A chaffinch demonstrating a ‘look no hands’ approach to getting seed.


And another trying to wave an interloper of a perch.


A very badly dressed sparrow

I saw that the weather looked as though it was going to be rain free and set out for a short walk.  I phoned Sandy up and he agreed to meet me at the Kilngreen.  While I was waiting for him, the sun came out for a moment and  I watched a herring gull twisting and turning in the stiff breeze.

herring gullWe tried to choose a sheltered path for our walk but the wind found its way through the trees and this, combined with some soggy conditions underfoot for the first half of our route, made the going quite hard.

We did stop for the occasional snap on our way though.


The thistles have certainly enjoyed the weather this year.


And even on a grey day, the views are good.

The Pyrenean valerian have gone to seed but they are wonderfully constructed and still fun to look at.

pyrenean valerianThere were umbelliferae on every side and the seed heads made pretty patterns.

umbelliferaeOur route took past a spot where the pheasant feeders were set out.  The pheasants have been put out into the woods ready for the shooting season and we had to wade through great throngs of the birds as we went along.

pheasantsLater on, we saw a partridge lurking in the grass.


If it is wise, it will keep lurking and never take to the air.

The wild raspberries do not look as though they are going to come to much this year but we did find a few tasty ones….

raspberries…alongside a lot of potential brambles which look as though they are going to do very well if they get enough sunshine to fruit and ripen.

We did get a little sun as we walked round….


Light at the end of the tunnel

CastleholmAnd everything looked wonderfully green when the sun shone.

_DSC3468Sandy gave me a lift home from the Kilngreen in his smart new (but pre-loved) car and then he went home to continue defrosting his fridge and I sank back into my armchair.

I woke up just in time to greet Mike Tinker who had come to see how I was doing and we enjoyed a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit (or two).  When he left, I walked round the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal was looking rather sadly at the devastation wreaked by wind and rain the other day and remarked that in these conditions, the best thing was to plant plenty of Sweet William.  I could see what she meant.

Sweet William

The Sweet William have not only flowered richly but they have lasted really well too.

The phlox has arrived to lend a colourful hand.

phloxEven in the strong winds, there were some bees about, the ornamental clover being a big attraction.

flying bee of the day

The flying bee of the day

I must have done a bit more than sit around all morning because there was a slow cooked lamb stew ready for tea when Mrs Tootlepedal got home from Edinburgh.  It went down well.

The flying bird if the day is a chaffinch battling the breeze.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by Matilda’s father, shows the great lengths that he and Clare go to in order to keep Matilda entertained.

Matilda and washing machine

We were blessed with another dry day today with occasional sunshine and light winds. After the success of the gentle pedal and walk yesterday, I thought I might be able to venture on a longer ride today so I girded my loins and set out on the (fairly) speedy bike after breakfast.

garmin route 20 Aug 2014I was interested to see whether I was able to add a few hilly sections to my cycling and by chance, I had agreed to fill the Moorland feeders for Sandy as he is going on holiday.  To get to the feeders requires a stiff climb up the road to Claygate and then another climb when you turn off onto the little road to the feeders themselves.

I was pleased to have managed these two climbs without much difficulty but less pleased when I found that someone had been there before me and filled all the feeders up.  I went back to the Claygate road and continued my ride which took me up and down hill and then down and up again into England over the bridge at Penton.

From there my route was less hard work.  It took me down into Longtown where I visited the bike shop and was able to get a annoying problem sorted out in a couple of minutes as it came from a loose cassette which was soon tightened.  I continued home in a much happier frame of mind without any more worrying creaks and groans from the bike.

Although the first part of ride had been quite challenging, the start of the second part was largely flat as I was now down on the Solway plain.

near Longtown

The view towards the sea

near Longtown

An inviting cycling prospect with good surface and no traffic

The whole circle was just over thirty miles and I made sure that I took it at a sensible speed with the result that I was able to walk quite freely when I got off the bike…not with grace and dignity maybe but with discernible forward motion in a straight line.  This was very welcome.

Those with time hanging heavy on their hands may see the route by clicking on the little map above.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I got home, cleaning out sections of borders and putting in manure and a top mulch to improve the soil condition.  I am looking forward to seeing the results of all this hard work next year.

While I was talking to her, I noticed a flash of colour on a phlox.

peacock butterfly

A peacock butterfly

I went in and made and ate some potato soup for lunch and then went off to the Health Centre for my annual asthma check.  Possibly owing to singing in two choirs and playing the flute, my breathing has been better recently and I have been able to reduce my use of preventive puffers.  The nurse checked my peak flow and gave me a very handy little leaflet with a set of actions in it.

It has four pages.  If my peak flow  stays within 75% of target, I keep doing what I am doing.  If it gets down to about 50%, I should arrange an appointment at the health centre.  If it gets down to 25%, I should go straight to the health centre without an appointment and if it goes to less than 25%, I can stop worrying about anything.

I asked her what I should do if my peak flow improved.  She checked my age and said I didn’t need to bother about that.

It was all very reassuring.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was still slaving away over a hot spade so I suggested a drive in the car to give her a break and to take advantage of the pleasant weather.  She agreed and we set off to drive a short circular tour over the hills between the Ewes Valley and the Liddle Valley and back again.

This took us over Carewoodrigg which offers lovely views of rolling hills and sinuous valleys…

Carewoodrigg….down past Hermitage Castle….

hermitage castle….through Newcastleton and up onto the Langholm Moor.

Copshaw Road

Looking back into Liddesdale

We paused from time to time to do a little bird watching but there only the occasional distant bird to be watched though we did see a mother and one or two young partridges crossing the road as we came down into Tarras.

grouseWe stopped near the harrier nesting site but all the birds have long left the nest.  Some of the harriers are still about and we did catch a glimpse of one but again it was only fleeting so I took a picture of a fine pack of heather on the hillside instead.

Heather on the hill

The tracks relate to the hen harrier management as well as heather management

We stopped on the Kilngreen just before we got home.  Mr Grumpy was crouching again and I wondered whether he was poorly….

heronbut when he saw me, he got up and walked away.  Maybe his hips hurt too.

Among the usual black headed gulls there was a larger herring gull standing on the river bank.

herring gullThe gulls weren’t in a flying mood today and the ducks were all snoozing…

snoozing duck…so we didn’t stay long.

Back in the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal was soon at work again while I had a wander around, camera in hand.


Several clematis are going really well in spite of the relatively low temperatures.

rudbeckia and nicotiana

Rudbeckia and nicotiana

Virginia creeper

Virginia creeper

And one of the cheerful sunflowers.


We put out some seeds we saved from last year’s sunflowers and the birds ate them all up.

I saw a cute young blackbird in the plum tree and rushed to get a shot.  I was less enamoured of it when I found it was eating one of my plums.  Still, there are plenty to share.
blackbird eating plumsThen I cycled down to the Co-op to get some stuff for a bacon and chick pea casserole which Mrs Tootlepedal was making for our tea and by this time that I got back, the activity of the day had caught up with me and my hip was reminding me that it was there so I descended into a comatose state for the rest of the evening.

As a result of keeping busy, there was no time to catch a flying bird today.





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