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Posts Tagged ‘pheasant’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He is quite unhappy that his work as a painter and decorator has been unceremoniously stopped by government order but no provision for helping the self employed to pay their bills has yet been put in hand by the authorities who are happy to pay the wage bills of large firms.  The sea at East Wemyss today looked a little angry too.

waves at wemyss

We had another dry day here and we are in danger of forgetting the awful weather of February.  It will come as a shock when it starts to rain again.

We should have been in London today attending the civil partnership of our daughter Annie and her partner Joe but circumstances did not permit it.  However, we were able to see them in the registry office immediately after the ceremony through the wonders of video calling.  They looked very happy (and civil).

We spent a quiet morning in and around the garden while we were waiting for the call.  There was a thin cover of cloud, thin enough to let some weak sunshine through and all our neighbours were busy in their gardens too.  I sieved some compost.

Things are progressing slowly towards full springiness and new signs are about, like this berberis…

berberis

…and the first of the fritillaries.

frist fritillary

The forsythia enjoyed the such sun as there was…

forsythia close up

…and a sparrow and starling took in some rays as well.

starling and sparrow

There were quite a few bees of various sorts about and I caught two of them visiting the hellebores.

two bees n hellebore

We had some conversation over the garden fence with our neighbours Irving and Libbie.  They introduced us to Boris the badger who had been getting a fresh coat of varnish.

wooden badger

He didn’t say much.

After lunch, I went for a short walk.  There were no birds visiting the feeder in the garden at all, so I thought that I ought to see what the waterside might provide.

I spotted a dipper in the Wauchope but it was living up to its name so well that I would have needed an underwater camera to get a picture of it.

A black backed gull was more conspicuous…

black backed gull flying

…as he roared across to the water to join his partner….and looked very pleased with himself when he got there.  She looked demure.

black backed gull pair

There were only a couple of black headed gulls about and the sole oyster catcher flew off without waiting for me to get a picture so I was feeling a little underbirded until some loud song at the Sawmill Brig brought a grey wagtail to my attention.

grey wagtail

And as I walked across the Castleholm, a pheasant passed me by.

pheasant castleholm

And I felt that my walk in search of birds was very satisfactory.

I was well sheltered from the wind and the weak sunshine gave off a little warmth so I was in no hurry to get home and could take time to enjoy the light on this mossy tree…

castleholm tree with ferns

…and to realise when i got closer that it was not just moss.  It had a whole garden on it.

ferns on tree

There was a lot to enjoy with heartening signs of growth on all sides (and a handsome fungus too)…

wild flowers and fungus

…but the high spot of the walk home was seeing this flash of colour in a tree…

view of nuthatch

…and finding, when I looked more closely, that it was a nuthatch.  It obligingly flew to another tree nearby so that I could get better shots of it.

nuthtach posing

It was very busy.

nuthatch on branch

As I got near to our house, I found Mike Tinker washing his car in his drive.  He asked me whether I would like to see something interesting so of course I said yes.  I followed him to his back garden (at a satisfactory ‘social’ distance) and he showed his Wollemi pine.

A Wollemi pine is one of the world’s oldest and rarest plants dating back to the time of the dinosaurs and Mike is privileged to be growing one in his garden.  He is very excited as it has both male (left) and female (right) cones on it.  I was impressed to say the least.

wollemi pine with cones

I saw a few other people out walking and we all gave each other a wide berth or changed direction when we came towards each other.

I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden when I got back and we went in and had a cup of tea.

Since the days are getting longer and it was still relatively warm and dry, I got my bicycle out and added another fifteen miles to my month’s cycle mileage.  I found, when I got out of the shelter of the town, that the wind was quite brisk but I got the benefit of it on the way back and covered the last five miles home at an average speed of 19.7 mph  I wish that I had known that as I was pedalling.  I would have pushed a little harder to get the magic twenty miles an hour onto my bike computer.

I made the last of Mrs Tootlepedal’s chicken cacciatore into a curry with added mushrooms for our tea and then we waited for the prime minister’s address to the nation with some foreboding.  The foreboding was justified as the upshot was a lockdown for an indefinite period, a rather depressing but necessary situation.  Honestly, it is not too bad for a retired couple like us but it is a lot harder for people with young children and/or jobs to do so we feel a lot of sympathy for our children and their problems.  It will also not be very jolly to say the least for my sisters and step mother who live in the middle of cities.

As we are officially allowed out for exercise once a day. I will be able to have a walk or a cycle, weather permitting, so I am lucky.  And Mrs Tootlepedal will have her garden so she is lucky too.

The flying bird of the day is a crow which was having a drink at the river and flew off as I approached.

flying crow

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Today’s guest picture is another Lake District study from cyclist Paul.  He visited Buttermere on a lovely autumn day a couple of years ago.  It is one of my favourite spots.

buttermere

The day here was a forecasting mixture, with the BBC having the upper hand in the morning and the Norwegians taking over in the afternoon.

So the morning was calm and not too cold.  There were very few birds about in the garden.  The robin has got the hang of using the basket to act as a launching pad to the seeds.

robin at feeder

I am not quite sure what I did in the morning but it must have been quite dull because I have forgotten all about it.  There was coffee and a crossword involved but there was something else unimportant too because I didn’t get out for a walk until nearly midday.

It turned out to be a very good morning for a walk along the river.  I was greeted with suspicion by a sparrow on the hedge as I walked down to the Meeting of the Waters….

sparrow on hedge clinthead gardens

…where the gulls obligingly flew up and down until I had had my fill of watching them.

four flying gulls

They then returned to their perches on the fence posts and I turned round to see what the noise was behind me.  It was men preparing to put in new telephone poles.

new poles bar brae

It is good to see our infrastructure being taken care of.

I crossed the Sawmill Brig and strolled along the Lodge Walks.  Looking down, I could see that the supply of beech nuts has greatly exceeded the demand for them this year.

beech nuts

I took the upper road to Holmhead.  As I went through the woods, I was serenaded by the music of little streams.

little stream longfauld

The sun came out as I walked and I was in a happy place.

road to holmhead

I daresay that this pheasant, a survivor of the recent war against birds, was quite happy too.

surviving pheasant

When I got to Holmhead, I walked up the path through the snowdrops.

snowdrops holmhead 5 feb 1

There were snowdrops to the left of me…

snowdrops holmhead 5 feb 2

…and snowdrops to the right of me.

snowdrops holmhead 5 feb 3

They are not quite fully out yet and if I get a sunny day next week, I will come to see them again.  They are early this year.

When I had left the snowdrops behind, I went as far as the North Lodge where I admired the view up the valley….

view from north lodge

…and then turned for home.

The sun hadn’t lasted long but it was still a pleasant day for a walk.  My enjoyment was boosted when I met a man who had come to Langholm from Gretna.  He told me that he had had to drive through very thick fog which had only cleared just as he reached the town.  I felt lucky that the Norwegian influence hadn’t quite got to Langholm.

I had wondered if the early snowdrops would mean early hazel flowers too, so I walked back along the riverside towards the Jubilee Bridge and peered at catkins.  With the greatest difficulty, I saw a speck of red and the faithful Lumix was able to translate this into an actual tiny flower for me.  The camera has better eyesight than I have.

hazel flower

Like the snowdrops, this wasn’t fully out yet so I will have to come back and have another look later on.

A passer by told me that the heron was waiting for me on the river bank so I passed the Jubilee Bridge by and walked down to the Meeting of the Waters.  The passer by was right.

I was happy to see Mr Grumpy…

heron behind fence

…but he wasn’t so happy to see me and flew off…

heron taking off

…leaving a gull on a fence post to keep me company.

gull on post

I went back to the Jubilee Bridge and crossed it on my way home, noting the the monument wasn’t pointing to anything today as it had its head in the clouds.

monument in mist

I was greeted by a jackdaw when I got back.

jackdaw staring

After a quick lunch of cheese sandwiches, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to do some business in the town and went out on my bicycle.

After the success of my short outing on the slow bike yesterday, I took my fairly speedy bike out today.  I had been quite warm in a light jacket on my walk so I dressed accordingly for my cycle ride.  It didn’t take me long to find that the Norwegian weather had arrived and I had to cycle into a thin and chilly wind under a heavily clouded sky while being slight underdressed for the occasion.

I pursued a policy of going slowly and carefully but still managed to go a bit further and a bit faster than yesterday without falling off.  I stopped on the top of Callister to see if there were any signs of the new wind turbines yet.  There were none but I did enjoy some very artistic tractor marks in the field opposite.  When you look at the central motif again, you realise that it took quite a bit of skill to make the pattern.

artistic tractor marks callister

I arrived home after 15 miles in perfect time to put the kettle on for Mike Tinker who was just walking round to our house in the hope of a cup of tea.  We were joined by Mrs Tootlepedal when she had finished her business, and we enjoyed some tasty oatcakes with our cuppas.

The weather is much on our minds at the moment with storms about.  We missed the one last weekend but it looks as though we are all going to get caught by an even worse one next weekend.  It has been good to have a few nice days for walks and cycle rides and Mrs Tootlepedal put up a robin nesting box today.  If the robin finds it in time, it will have somewhere to shelter from the rain and wind.

In the meantime, Mr Grumpy stars as the flying bird of the day.

heron flying with head

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

chester

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

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

goldfinch and crow

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

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

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

dam snowdrops

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

dipping dipper

They can stay under water for an amazingly long time.

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

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

felled tree with fungus

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

oak tree near jenny noble

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

laverock hide notice

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

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

Among the crowd, there were two coal tits….

two coal tits

…two blue tits…

two blue tits

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

great tit and chaffinch

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

inquisitive greenfinch

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

drinking pheasant

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

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

view from Broomholmshiels

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

sheep scraped root

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

xanthoria parietina lichen

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

british soldier lichen

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

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

skippers bridge with lorry

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

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

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

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

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

flying dipper

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who was out walking his dogs this morning.

bruce's morning mist

Bruce took his photograph at half past eleven this morning when, as you can see, it was misty on the Castleholm.

I had looked out of the window after breakfast and only seen sunshine and frost but when I went outside, I could see mist on the hills so I thought that this would be a good moment to rush up the hill (in a car) and see if I could look down from above to get some “sea of mist” shots.

It was before ten when I left and it was quite misty as I drove over the bridge on my to the White Yett so my hopes were high.  Sadly, my optimism went down in inverse ratio to the height I gained as I went up the hill and when I got to the car park, it was apparent that I had left things too late.

I left the car and walked up the track to the monument, looking down as I went.  There was only a trickle of mist running along the very bottom of the Ewes valley…

light mist ewes valley

…and not much more running along the length of the Esk.light mist over town

There were places where the mist was a bit thicker…

mist up esk valley

It was beautiful day though and the views were lovely so I wasn’t as unhappy about the lack of mist as I might have been.

mist over whole town

I should have got out earlier because the mist had risen up and was now sitting in an impressive line along the top of the hills along the Ewes valley.

clouds on ewes hill tops

As I walked, the clouds lifted a bit more and across the town, I could see the wind turbines, which had been in the clouds in previous pictures, quite clearly now.

craig windmills with diggerThe sharp eyed reader may notice something beside the left hand turbine tower in the shot above.  A closer examination shows that it is one of those machines with a lifting platform reaching up to a blade.

When I got to the summit, I walked a few yards past the monument and looked over the wall into a misty England.

view over misty england

Turning round, and looking the other way, all was clear as crystal.

monument december

I was happy to see a very decorative patch of lichen enjoying life at 1000 ft above sea level.

lichen at monument

Although I hadn’t seen as much mist as I would have liked, it was a delightful short walk and the sun took the edge off a sub zero temperature as I walked back down to the car…

sun and shadow at monument

…and made everything look very cheerful.

lichen at white yett

The mist really was very local, lying close to the rivers and very low, as you can see from this picture which I took when I was almost back down the hill and into the town…

mist over rugby club

…and it was still there when Bruce was walking his dogs an hour later (assuming the clock on his camera is set correctly.)

I made a pot of coffee and had a cup with Mrs Tootlepedal when I got home and I was pleased to warm my hands up after exposing my shutter finger to the chilly breeze on the hill.

Fortified by the coffee, I had a look at the birds.  There were a lot about today, the most this winter so far.

Goldfinches arrived with and without the use of wings…

goldfinches wings

…and jackdaws looked on disapprovingly as usual.

quizzocal jackdaw

The robin took a more quizzical view…

quizzical robin on stalk

…and a green finch showed that it too could manage without any wing flapping.

no wings greenfinch

I waited in for a delivery of hand made soap after lunch and then went for a short walk.  After the brilliantly sunny morning, the afternoon was a disappointment, being very grey and gloomy, so taking pictures was hard work.

A pheasant at the lodge was bright enough to show off its exotic colours…

pheasant at lodge

…and I saw two lots of fungus, the first a crop looking so like a heap of fallen leaves that I almost passed it by without noticing it…

fungus lodge walks

…and the second gleaming brightly on a tree branch.

fungus duchess bridge

It wasn’t as cold as when the sun had been out in the morning but it wasn’t really a great time for a photographic walk so I pressed on home, taking a final picture suitable to the conditions.

moss and fern tree

Darkness fell soon after I got home.  Following a recommendation from Sandy, we have started to watch the BBC adaptation of His Dark Materials on the i-player and this was a perfect opportunity to take in three episodes before we had our evening meal.  It is very gripping.

Checking on the train company showed that they had managed to run more of their trains today than yesterday, so we are hoping that this improvement will continue tomorrow and we will be able to find a train to go to Edinburgh to see Matilda.

The flying bird of the day is a gull which flew over my head as I walked along th Kilngreen this afternoon.

flying gull

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Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s Highland holiday.  He and his daughter Susan found a very steep gorge to walk along, but Susan made sure that he didn’t go too near the edge.

Highland gorge

After yesterday’s excitements. I was very happy to a have gentle morning with nothing more exciting than a cup of coffee and a treacle scone with Dropscone to keep me entertained.  When he left (with some of our surplus runner beans), I went out and had a wander round the garden.

After last night’s rain, it was dry and quiet and the garden was full of birds.  Some were easier to spot than others…

blackbird and thrush

…and some were very easy to spot indeed.

six starlings

Crown Princess Margareta is ignoring cold mornings and rainy evenings and producing more late flowers all the time.

four roses

And generally, flowers are lasting well.

four garden flowers

It was rather cool and gloomy though so I went back in and settled down to being baffled by a tricky crossword and this helped me pass the time until Mrs Tootlepedal returned.  She had spent the morning talking to the public about the proposed community land purchase and had had some very interesting and useful conversations.

After lunch, she went back to talk to people again and i mowed the greenhouse grass and pottered around the garden.

I am very happy to see the dahlias continuing to make up for their slow start.

two dahlias

The insects are pleased too.

pair of dahlias

The day brightened up and a couple of red admiral butterflies  arrived.

two red admiral; butterflies

I had thought that the Abyssinian gladioli had come to the end of their run but a single flower has popped up to say that they are not all dead yet.  It has been joined by a surprising lone Sweet William flower.

gladiolus, sweet william, verbena, sedum

The verbena attracted a bee but the sedum  had no friends.

When Mrs Tootlepedal came back, we decided to go for a walk and drove a few miles up and out of the Esk Valley and down into the valley of the Tarras Water to take a walk along the river there.

There was plenty of water in the Tarras…

tarras at bridge

…and the track was muddy and full of puddles in places so we had to keep an eye on where we were walking.  We were able to pause and look around though.

We were struck but the look of this conifer plantation.  It is not at all usual to be able to see the trunks of the trees like this and we wondered what had caused the trees to grow so thinly.

spruce trunks

We followed the track into a wood and met a fine crop of horsetails.

equisetum detail

We followed a trail up the hill through the woods…

tarras wood track

…which had been used by people going to fill the feeders for the pheasants….

pheasant tarras wood

…which have been put out in the woods for people to shoot at.

Although the season has just begun, there was no shooting today so we were able to enjoy our walk in peace.

The sun came out as we walked and the wood looked delightful…

tarras wood sunlit

…whichever way we turned.

tarras wood into sun

It was notable that the birch trees here had almost all lost their leaves already.

There was occasional fungus to see…

four fungi tarras wood

…and the horsetails caught the low sun as we came back down the hill.

equisetum backlit

There were hints of autumn colour

tarras wood colour

…and it had turned into a beautiful evening for a walk.

tarras wood bank

We had our flu jabs yesterday before we went to Edinburgh and we don’t seem to have had any ill effects from them but we are both still a little below par so we enjoyed a quiet evening in watching supremely talented athletes running and jumping at the World Championships, perhaps wishing that we were still young enough to run about in a vigorous way too.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow going downhill.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan.  She came across this very colourful boundary to a restaurant’s outside seating area and knowing that I like fuchsias, sent me the picture.

susans meal planting

It was another very sunny day here but not quite as warm as the last two days, presaging a slight change in the weather but probably not enough to bring some much needed rain in any quantity.

Our two resident blackbirds are busy morning, noon and night pecking at the lawn for food for their young.

blackbird family

The garage clematis is showing more flowers every day but is still not near its full glory…

garage clematis

…unlike the Japanese azalea which is opening flowers at a great rate…

japanese azalea

…and contributing to a colourful display along the back path.

back path with colour

I sat down for a moment or two on our new bench and enjoyed a purple patch with a perennial wallflower on one side…

perennial wallflower

…and many alliums on the other.

alliums in arow

Sandy is away on holiday at the moment so I got the chance to act as fill in feeder filler at the Moorland Project hide.  I went up on my slow bike, stopping as is compulsory on a sunny day, to admire Skippers Bridge yet again..

skippers in May

…and noting wild flowers on my way, including Pyrenean valerian, ajuga and another outbreak of wild garlic.

wildflowers on way to hide

The back roads are delightful at the moment and the grass roof on the hide is growing very well.

tarras road and hide

As I filled the feeders, two pheasants were squaring off with a good deal of feather flapping and barking…

pheasants squaring up

…and this was the champion of the day.

pheasant triumphant

I sat in the hide for a while with a fellow bird watcher but there was not a lot of birds to watch apart from siskins.

I did notice a coal tit…

coal tit

…and was pleased to have a brief visit from a greater spotted woodpecker.

woodepcker

When I left the hide, I cycled down the hill to see how the road repairs are coming on.  The repaired road has been completed and and surfaced so it won’t be long now until the traffic can start to flow again.  After several years of being closed, it will not be too soon.

new tarras road

On my way home, I passed a patch of what I think must be horsetail.  It had a fine contrast between its spear like head and a rather frilly tutu further down the stem.

horsetail

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden.  We are going on a short holiday next week and she has a lot to do to get everything in order before we go.  I watered the strawberries as the vegetable garden is very dry and also gave the compost in Bin A a good soaking to help the decomposition.

The sunshine is bringing the flowers on well.

trree peony and sweet rocket

…and a rook popped in to enjoy the colour.

rook in plum tree

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some business in the town and I was sitting doing the crossword when a neighbour knocked on the door to say that we had a visitor.

The partridge was back on our windowsill.

partridge on windowsill

It stayed there for most of the afternoon, moving off at one time, only to return to another sill later in the day.

I was somewhat jiggered by sore feet and asthma after I got back from cycling up to the hide and spent the rest of the day very quietly, wasting immense amounts of time at the computer which wouldn’t behave properly so I couldn’t even get useful things done.

In the end I cheered myself up by taking up Mrs Tootlepedal’s suggestion to make some ginger biscuits.  They came out well.

She continued to work in the garden and at one stage disturbed an ant colony which was hiding under some black polythene covering a potential seed bed.  The ants got to work straight away in moving some large capsules, which I presume are eggs.  Before too long they had cleared the site and found a new home.

ants and eggs

As I sat at my computer trying to work, the partridge kept an eye on me.

partridge outside window

Mrs Tootlepedal took it some seed and water.

The day drifted to a close but I felt a lot better by the evening than I had in the morning and afternoon which was a relief.

The flying birds of the day are two swallows.  I saw them heading for holes in the bank of the Esk as I came back from my morning cycle ride.

swallows

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce who visited the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway which runs (rather smokey) heritage trains between Duffield and Wirksworth, in the Derbyshire Peak District.  By the way, Henry Ellison was built in 1947 so it may be heritage but it is still younger than me.

Ecclesbourne Valley Railway

Easter Sunday was another day of splendid weather, with sun from dawn till dusk and it would have been possible to sit out in the garden all day if we had wanted to.

But we had other things to do, starting with a visit to church to sing with our choir.

We had some guest singers with us today as we sang the Hallelujah Chorus as our anthem and with six sopranos, five altos, four basses and two tenors we made a very reasonable sound.  We are between ministers at the moment and the services are being run by a sort of works committee.  They are making a very good job of it so it was an excellent start to the day.

We had a cup of coffee when we got home and then Mrs Tootlepedal planted some potatoes in the new bed.  When she had done that, she set about making a Swiss roll with lemon curd.  My Achilles tendon was still very tender so apart from wandering gently about the garden dead heading daffodils and taking occasional pictures of both delicate…

pulmonaria, lamium

…and ostentatious flowers…

end of drive colour april

…I was happy to have a particularly complicated crossword to spend time puzzling over.

After lunch, it seemed like too good a day to spend at home so we went on a small expedition by bicycle.  Our mission was to see how the repairs on the Tarras road had progressed since we last saw them two months ago, when they looked like  this…

tarras roadworks scene

Our route took us along the bank of the river Esk where we were entertained by a pair of male goosanders on a fishing trip and Mr Grumpy poising on a rock.

goosander and heron

There are definitely less attractive roads to pedal along in springtime than this one.

Broomholm road out

We saw lots of wild flowers on our trip…

violet, anemone, primrose and celandine

…so we had to stop a number of times before we got to the works.  When we finally arrived, it looked as though the re-building of the road was nearly complete…

new tarras road top

…and when we took a closer look, it was plain that a substantial embankment had been built complete with landscaping and drainage and the road put back on top of it.  The workers had been busy and it shouldn’t be too long before the road is surfaced and open to traffic again.

new tarras road banking

Instead of cycling straight home, we turned right past this tree…

tree broomholmshiels

..waved to some Easter lambs…

lambs broomholmshiels

…and puffed up the hill to the Laverock Hide bird feeders which are now being run by a new project called Wild Eskdale.

There wasn’t much wildlife about today though.  Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies in vain for any glimpse of a raptor while I sat in the hide and watched a number of chaffinches and siskins.

I did get one good march past though…

pheasant at laverock hide

…and saw a great tit too.

great tit at laverock hide

I wasn’t complaining though as it was very pleasant just to be sitting there on a beautiful warm day.

I had a look at one of the larches before we set off home.

larch tree at Laverock hide

The trip home, involving some serious downhill work…

Broomholm road back

….was over a good deal more quickly than the trip out and it wasn’t long before we were sitting down to a cup of tea and two slices of Mrs Tootlepedal’s Swiss roll which was so delicious that it took iron self control to stop at just two slices.

The six mile cycle ride had actually helped my Achilles tendon problem to ease off a lot and I was able to walk round the garden with no pain at all when I went out to look at the tulips.

pink tulip

Which were well worth a look…

orange tulip sun

…as a little late afternoon sun enhances everything in general but tulips in particular…

red tulip sun

…either singly or in a clump.

cloud of tulips

I admired a bergenia…

bergenia in sun

…and was delighted to note that the first apple blossoms are beginning to come out…

apple blossom

…before picking some rhubarb for stewing and going in to have a second helping of yesterday’s fish pie for my tea, followed by stewed rhubarb and ice cream.

As both my feet feel not too bad tonight, I am hoping to get out for some exercise tomorrow but the trick will be to take some but not too much.  The forecast is offering us two more lovely days before rain arrives so I hope to make the best of them that I can.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch approaching the feeder with care and attention.

flying chaffinch

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