Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘pheasant’

Today’s guest picture shows a fine waterfall visited by Dropscone and family on his Skye holiday.

Skye waterfall

In spite of a forecast of rain, we had yet another dry, cool day with a brisk wind until the evening.  I should have gone cycling (my neighbour Ken did 40 miles in the morning) but I was feeling lazy so I had a cup of coffee with Sandy instead

After coffee, I combined doing the crossword with some lawn mowing and compost shredding and occasionally looking at the birds.

greenfinch

A greenfinch dropped in

I had yet another go or two at photographing the rosemary.

rosemary

The slightly different colours reflect the fact that I tried with two different cameras.

I did some deadheading too and looked at flowers as I went round.

tulips

The chilly weather means that daffodils and tulips are still our staples but I was pleased to see a butterfly although I couldn’t get a very good picture of it.  It was struggling to get enough warmth to fly.

white butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal was in Attila the Gardener mode and started on giving our topiary chicken a very severe haircut after lunch so I had plenty of clippings to put through the shredder.

I had to stop though when Sandy reappeared for a prearranged outing.

We went up to the Moorland bird feeders at the Laverock Hide in the hope of seeing something interesting.  We did see a couple on unusual sights.  A hare ran across the clearing right in front of the hide and a goshawk made a pass up the clearing and then flew across it later on. All three of these events were good to see but unfortunately too quick for catching on camera.

One thing we couldn’t miss was the male pheasants….

pheasant

…strutting around and pestering the females.  Some of the females were chased about on the ground and got rather ruffled while others took to the trees to escape unwanted attention.

female pheasants

Of course there were plenty of small birds to see too.

chaffinch, blue tit and robin

After the goshawk had thoroughly cleared the clearing for the second time, we gave up and went down to the Castleholm to see if the nuthatches were at the nest by the bridge.

Two were to be seen.  One arrived at the tree and flitted from branch to branch before perching and singing furiously.

nuthatch

It flew off and almost immediately, another nuthatch emerged from the nest hole, gave a backward glance….

nuthatch

…and flew off.

After a moment or two the first nuthatch returned with something in its beak…..

nuthatch

…which it dropped into the nest hole without entering and then it too flew off and all was quiet.

We waited for a bit and then the call of teatime became too insistent and we left.

We did see some promising bluebells on our way to the nest….

bluebells

..and some fine primroses on our way back to the car.

primroses

…as well as any amount of attempted growth on the trees.

leaf buds

There had been a lot of waiting for some indifferent bird pictures but seeing the nuthatches and goshawk had made the outing worthwhile.

When I got home, the formerly plump chicken….

topiary chicken

…had been reduced to this….

thin chicken

…by Attila but she is hoping that the end result will be a slimmer and better looking bird.  Think of it as a work by Brancusi meanwhile.

A little sunshine had arrived rather late in the day and it lit up a tulip for me….

backlit tulip

…before I went in for my tea.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came and Alison and I played music in a style which fairly accurately reflected the lack of practice opportunities for us both during the preceding week.

It is the London Marathon on Sunday and while we talking about it after playing, Mike revealed that he had run no less than seventeen marathons in his younger days.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I were very impressed indeed.  We knew he had run several marathons but had no idea that he had done so many, quite a few in under three hours, a very respectable speed indeed.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch about to give a siskin a hard time.

flying goldfinch

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from Gavin’s visit to Yosemite and shows a quite well known waterfall there.

yosemite

We had another chilly but dry day today.   This was a bit of a surprise as we had been promised rain.

Dropscone is going on holiday on the Isle of Skye next week so he came round for a farewell cup of coffee.  He completely failed to bring traditional Friday treacle scones with him but made up for this with several hot cross buns which did very well instead.

After he left, I spent some fruitless time on my computer.  National Savings had sent me a letter politely suggesting that I might like to register on line as I am a premium bond holder and this would save them the trouble of constantly sending expensive letters to tell me when I have won a prize.

This seemed fair enough, though they don’t send me many prize letters I can assure you, but having gone through the online process unsuccessfully a couple of times, the website ended up by telling me to print a form out and send my application to go on-line to them in the post.  I was mildly amused.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland Project Feeding station, she to see if there were any raptors about and I to look at smaller birds.

She did get a brief view of a passing hen harrier and I saw a lot of small birds.

greenfinch

This was one of only two greenfinches that I saw today

great tit

But there were a lot of great tits about

chaffinch

And an unusually marked chaffinch

There were some slightly larger ones too.

woodpeckers

Woodpeckers chased each other round the trees,

woodpeckers

And then this one relaxed

I got a glimpse of a passing jay….

jay

…and couldn’t miss this pheasant which stood right in front of me and stared me out.

pheasant

Two visitors came into the hide hoping to see a goshawk but left fairly soon and then more bird watchers with big binoculars and a telescope arrived and they did see a goshawk…

bird watchers

….but it was far too far away for me to see at all.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I decided that goats on the moor might be a better bet so we went up onto the hill and saw three or four goats wandering around some distance away trying to look like boulders or clumps of heather.

goats

We had thought that we had seen a goat or two near the Tarras Bridge on our way out so we had hopes of seeing some nearer to hand on our way home.

We were not disappointed.

goat

A clue

We parked the car and I walked up the road with my camera at the ready.  I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible but this was a wasted effort as the goats didn’t care how close i got to them.

wild goats Langholm Moor

They just kept munching…

wild goats Langholm Moor

…though they did give me the occasional glance.

There was a small group among the bracken.

wild goats Langholm Moor

It was a very peaceful scene.

wild goats Langholm Moor

People say that kids don’t climb trees any more but some do.

wild goats Langholm Moor

And others joined in.

wild goats Langholm Moor

Weighing up the job

wild goats Langholm Moor

All hands on deck

And then back to mum for a cuddle.

wild goats Langholm Moor kid

We left them chomping away in peace….

wild goats Langholm Moor

…and drove home.

It started to rain as we got back so we went inside and had a cup of tea.  It soon stopped raining but in spite of a temperature of 10°, it felt so chilly and unwelcoming outside that we left the garden to itself and found things to do indoors.

I had a look at our own birds.  They were still arguing.

goldfinch

And even this rather placid looking pigeon…

pigeon

…had chased another three away from under the feeder.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I tootled away merrily while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal watched Gardeners’ World on the TV.

The orchestra and I found some agreeable tempos for the trickier pieces and we had moments when things sounded really good but there were also moments which indicated that a little more practice might not go amiss.  Such is life.

After TV and music, we joined together and put the world to rights.

The flying bird of the day is a garden goldfinch.

goldfinch

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who was surprised by this slice of city life when he visited London today.

dogs

The morning was rather disorientating as I was fairly sure that it was Monday but Dropscone arrived for coffee bringing a batch of treacle scones.  These are traditionally found on a Friday.  He told me that he felt that it was so long since we had had had treacle scones, that having them on a non standard day would be worth the mental disturbance that it would cause.

He was right.  We ate the Friday scones on a Monday and the heavens did not fall in.

While we sipped and nibbled and chatted, the feeder was full of goldfinches and siskins and as soon as Dropscone left to get ready to play golf, the siskins and the goldfinches departed with him.  I was left with some chaffinches.

chaffinch

This one looked as though it had hoped to find something different to eat today.

The day was a little warmer than yesterday but much windier although the windy conditions didn’t seem to stop the birds arriving.

chaffinch

A robin or two have become a frequent sight again after a prolonged absence which made me worry that they might have left the garden for good.

robin

There was a moment of bright sunshine just after lunch….

chaffinch

…which made me think of an outing but I dawdled about a bit because I realised that most of my flying chaffinches lately have been males so I thought that I would try to catch a female winging in today.  The reason that the flying chaffinches have been mostly males seems to be because we have far more male visitors in the garden than females but there are a few…

chaffinch

…but sadly, my timing was out.

While I was waiting for another female chaffinch to arrive, my eye was caught by a most unusual sight…

pheasant tail

…behind a clump of grass in the back bed.

I put my hunting shoes on and went out to investigate.

pheasant

There was a pheasant among the snowdrops.

It gave me a hard stare…

pheasant in garden

…and stamped off down the vegetable garden.

The pheasant shooting season stopped on 1 Feb so perhaps the keepers have stopped feeding the birds and they have to find food where they can now.  Mrs Tootlepedal put out some seed so we will see whether he returns.

I was encouraged by the gleam of sunshine and decided to brave the brisk wind and go for a pedal.

Once I got going, I found that the wind really was brisk so I settled for three iterations of a four mile trip to Cleughfoot and back, keeping in the shelter of the Wauchope valley.  The winds were brisk enough to make my average speed going up the gentle gradients to Cleughfoot faster than the return journey downhill.  At one stage I had my head well down and the afterburners on and could still only manage 9 mph down a slight incline.

On my third lap, a hefty gust of wind actually blew me off the road (only by a few inches fortuntaely) and I had to stop until it eased off.  I was very glad not to be out on an exposed hill road.

I stopped to take a few pictures on the road to Cleughfoot.

Logan water

Cleughfoot cottages

Cleughfoot fence

As you can see, there was some gentle sunshine and when the wind was behind me, it made the day perfect for cycling.  When the wind was against me, it made it pedalling a real challenge and between the two states, I had the most enjoyable 25 miles of cycling that I have had for some time and came home thoroughly cured of any winter blues.

My good mood was enhanced first by my flute pupil Luke, who worked very hard when he arrived for his lesson, and then further when I joined Isabel and Mike for some enjoyable trios after tea.

The flying bird of the day was not the best picture that I took today but I liked the balletic pose so I have put it in anyway.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture from my brother Andrew is an interesting addition to our bridge portfolio.  My brother tells me that it is Exeter’s old mediaeval bridge.  It had three times as many arches when in use, as the river was then quite wide, but when the first single span bridge was built in the eighteenth century, the river banks were raised to narrow the crossing, and this half of the old bridge was buried, to be rediscovered when the twin two lane bridges were commissioned in the last century!

Exeter bridge

Once again I started the day with a visit to the Moorland Feeders, this time as a stand-in feeder filler for Sandy who has gone to visit his son.  It was pretty gloomy again so taking pictures was unrewarding work but at least I saw slightly more variety in the bird life.

Among the usual flock of chaffinches…

chaffinches

…there were two or three woodpeckers about…

greater spotted woodepecker

…and even a sole brambling.  It didn’t stop long enough for me to do it justice…

brambling

…but I was pleased to see it anyway.

The tits kept away from the hide today and clustered on the far side of the clearing…

great tit blue tit coal tit

Great, blue and coal tits sharing

I wonder if this is the same ringed chaffinch that I saw yesterday.

chaffinch

I didn’t put out any seed on the stump in front of the hide today as I was fed up with the pheasant stealing it.  She was not happy.

pheasant

Not happy at all.

I didn’t stop long though, as Dropscone was due to come round for coffee.  He duly came and we enjoyed coffee and scones.  He has been troubled by a sore hip and hasn’t been able to play golf for a bit but he is improving and hopes to play again fairly soon.

When he left, I had a stroll round the garden but no new flowers had  appeared so I went back in.  It was pretty warm at 9°C but I was feeling too tired to go for a pedal, especially as there was a brisk wind blowing.   I don’t know why I am tired and I am putting it down to asthma in the gloomy damp weather.  I shall take my medicine more conscientiously and hope to improve.

Meanwhile, I stared out of the window.  A chaffinch was showing off.

chaffinch

I had a bit of variety here too as a greenfinch showed up for a quick nibble.

greenfinch, goldfinch and siskin

Instead of pedalling, I gave my fairly speedy bike a good wash and brush up after lunch.  It needed it.  I pumped the tyres up too so all I need now is a nice sunny day, no wind and a little energy and I will be good to go.

The main event of the day was the return of Mrs Tootlepedal from her visit to her mother so some time had to be spent on a little hoovering and dusting before I went off to Carlisle to collect her from the train.  I was able to track the progress of her train in real time on my phone and finding myself a little ahead of time, I stopped in Longtown to put in some petrol and took the opportunity to go down to the river and admire the fine five arch bridge there.

Longtown Bridge

I was expecting to see a little more water flowing under the bridge after the recent rain.

I noticed a fine tree on the river bank.

Tree at Longtown

Over to the west, two holes had been punched in the cloud cover…

sunbeams

…but they soon closed up again.

I drove on to Carlisle and arrived at the station with a few minutes in hand.  I took a look at the extensive scaffolding under the roof repairs….

Carlisle Station

…and wondered if they had actually started work on the new roof yet.  I walked along to the end of the platform and found that work has begun.  I watched a very skilled driver hoisting a big load of steel beams high into the sky to the waiting workers above.

Carlisle Station

A man on the lorry delivering the beams thought that I ought to be taking his picture but I told him the machine was more interesting and he promptly offered me a job as a labourer.  I said I would think about it and went off to meet the train which was pulling into the platform dead on time.

(Just to clear up the job offer for those who might raise an eyebrow, we were both being mildly humorous.)

As well as her mother, Mrs Tootlepedal had met her French domiciled sister Nicki in Marlow and my stepmother Patricia and our daughter Annie in London before catching the train so she had had a good family visit.  All the same, she was pleased to be home and we sat down to a celebratory meal of cauliflower cheese for our tea.

I am pleased that she is home too.

The flying bird of the day is an angry chaffinch.

chaffinch

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is the last from Dropscone’s trip to the south.  His daughter Susan is a great motor racing fan so she took him to visit the historic Brooklands track.  There is not much of it left.

Brooklands

Yesterday’s rain had disappeared today.  This was particularly pleasing as I had to start the day by visiting the Moorland Feeders where I was acting as a fill-in feeder filler for the regular couple who are enjoying (I hope) a holiday in New Zealand.

It was almost sunny so I was hoping for interesting birds and some good light.  I got neither.  Oddly, the light was very poor, probably because it was hazier than it looked at first sight.  We seem to be in a  period of very high humidity and it was lurking around the 90% level all day.

There were a great many chaffinches…

moorland feeder chaffinches

…and a lot of squabbling siskins…

moorland feeder siskins

…and of course, the usual seed thief.  Not sorry today, not sorry at all….and making sure that I got her best side.

female pheasant

I don’t know when the birds here were last netted and ringed but a least one chaffinch is loyal to the feeding site.

ringed chaffinch

I stayed for quite a time as it is easy to feel that the moment that you get up to go all sorts of interesting birds will turn up so you linger for another few minutes just in case….but they didn’t so I left and went home.

There were siskins and chaffinches there too.

siskin and chaffinch

We did have a brief visit from two blue tits to break the monotony…

blue tits

The one on the right has something in its beak which gives it that odd look.

…but mostly it was chaffinches.

chaffinch flying

It was warm enough to stroll round the garden and I took a picture of some very damp snowdrops in the morning and then again in the afternoon.  In spite of the dry day, some of them were still damp five hours later

snowdrops

After lunch, I went for a thirty one mile pedal.  I would have liked to have gone further but my legs were on strike and thirty one rather slow miles was my limit.  I had to work so hard just to get round that I didn’t have much energy or thought for taking pictures but I did stop once or twice, if only to get a breather.

There was some fine gorse on the Gair road.

gorse

but it didn’t stand out in the grey conditions.

Things brightened up for the second half of the ride though and I stopped to admire a wind sculpted tree…

Tree near Chapelknowe

…though the road men may have helped the effect by lopping branches on the road side.

I stopped again at our own mighty  Río Pequeño, the boundary between Scotland and England.  No need for a wall here, only a very daring person would attempt to cross this river when they came to it.

Sark

The sun was making things very pleasant as I approached the last few hills before getting home…

Tarcoon

…but my mood was slightly darkened as I plugged up the next hill when I was passed by an old geezer pedalling an electric bike….and not just passed but left for dead.  It was most annoying.

He looked thoroughly serene.

When I got home, I had a walk round the garden to check on the daffodils.  There is still only one rather depressed one out but there is promise of more soon.

early daffs

The low sunshine was so golden that I couldn’t resist a quick jaunt on the slow bike down to the river.

Town Bridge

The days are getting longer but the sun is still pretty low at 4 pm.

pine trees

The low sun brings out the colour on the trunks of the pine trees

Mr Grumpy and friend were to be seen just up from the Meeting of the Waters.

heron

It was a case of taking the rough….

mallard

…with the smooth.

I had a last look at the pine trees….

pine tree

…and went home, where I had a sit down, a shower and a massive fry-up for my tea.

In the evening, I went up to the Archive Centre to help a new archivist get to grips with our system.  It is a fairly tedious business at first with a great deal to learn but he stuck in well and we made a lot of progress.  Another session or two will be needed before he becomes a fully fledged data miner.

There was a goldfinch or two among the chaffinches and siskins in the garden and this one made flying bird of the day.

flying goldfinch

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s southern Odyssey.  He went about as far as he could go and found himself and Susan at Beach Head on a very misty day.

beachy head

We had another wonderfully sunny day today but this one was more in line with the way that things should be in January and was below freezing for most of the morning and not much above thereafter.

This made cycling an unattractive proposition so I gladly took up the offer to go up to the Moorland Feeders with Sandy.  Once again the sun was shining rather into our faces…

chaffinches

…but it has got higher in the sky lately so we were able to make out the birds better than on our last visit.

There has been a dearth of members of the tit family in our garden recently and I was pleased to see that they were thriving up here.

coal tits

There were lots of coal tits

blue tit

Many blue tits

great tit

And on the far side of the clearing, several great tits. This one is sharing with a greenfinch.

The inevitable pheasant was stealing the seeds meant for smaller birds….

pheasant

…but at least it had the grace to look a little shifty about it.

A robin brightened our day…

robin

…but it was a poor day for seeing unusual birds and as it was pretty chilly sitting around, we didn’t stay for too long.

On our way back down the road, I was just remarking to Sandy that it looked like a good day for seeing hair ice when he saw some.  He kindly stopped to let me take a picture.

Hair ice

I don’t think that I have ever seen so much around here before this year.  The fungus that causes it must be spreading.

I had time for a cup of coffee and a look out of the kitchen window when I got back…

goldfinch

A goldfinch with a gleam in its eye

…and a walk round the garden in pursuit of frosty glamour…

potential Violas

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that these are potential Violas

…and then it was time to drive to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

I noticed a door when we got to Lockerbie which I hadn’t fully appreciated before and the sun made the town sheep look very much on their toes.

Lockerbie

Our train was on time and not very busy and to make things better, there was even a train waiting for us when the time came for our return journey this week.

When we got to Edinburgh, Mrs Tootlepedal needed to do a little clothes shopping so we dodged a tram….

tram

…and I took the chance to wander along Princes Street with my camera.

Princes Street

Princes Street is well known but the shops which line the northern side of the street are a mish-mash of styles and the street gets its distinction from the fact that the southern side is building free and offers views of art galleries with the castle behind…

art gallery and castle

…the Scott monument, lit by the last of the sunshine today…

Scott monument

…and extensive public gardens.  I couldn’t show the gardens to you today as they resembled a ploughed field as they wait for spring planting.

Matilda was in very good form and honed her snap skills to a high degree.  I was absolutely jiggered after playing and reading with her for a couple of hours and extend my fullest admiration to her parents for their energy, stamina and skill in bringing up such a smart child.

The journey home went as smoothly as the journey up and although I had spent most of the day sitting down, it was very positive sitting down and I had enjoyed myself thoroughly.

The flying bird of the day is a buttoned up goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Sandy’s Mexican adventure.  He ran into this cousin of Mr Grumpy while he was there.

Mexican heron

The new year continues to put on a cheerful face and we had another bright and sunny day today but it was cold after a clear night and the temperature in the shade outside our back door only just crept above zero.  The wind was light though so being outside in the sunshine was a pleasant experience.

It was Sandy’s day to fill the Moorland Feeders and he kindly picked me up on his way.  We filled the feeders and sat for a while in the hide but the bright sunshine was not much help to us as it shone straight into our faces….

Chaffinches at the Moorland feeders

…which made spotting birds let alone photographing them quite a tricky business.  To tell the truth, there was nothing out of the ordinary to see anyway just the usual suspects…

coal tit, woodpecker and chaffinch

…and of course, many pheasants…

pheasant

The female of the species

…so with the cold air nipping at noses and fingers, we didn’t stay too long.

Sandy went on home and I was joined for coffee by Dropscone who told me that he is going to have a golf lesson tomorrow.  It just shows that you are never to old to learn…or at least he hopes that that is the case.

The colder weather brought a lot of varied blackbirds into the garden today…

blackbirds

…including one with a lot of white feathers.

The strong sun once again made my pictures a bit hit or miss…

siskin and chaffinch

The first siskin for some time and a chaffinch

flying chaffinches

Either too much shade or too little

But there were plenty of birds to look at even though some made it hard to pick them out  by lurking against a neutral background.

Dunnock

I have put some fat balls in an open feeder and they drew in some customers.  They were easier to spot.

starling

blue tit

In spite of the frost, the vegetable garden was soft enough for me to dig up a leek so I made some soup for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal set off to Lockerbie and Edinburgh to see Matilda.

I set off to make the best of a sunny afternoon and walked up to the monument on Whita Hill.

It is quite a stiff climb with a gain of 843ft in almost exactly a mile from the Market Place to the summit which gives an average gradient of 16%.  However, with the ground very solid underfoot because of the low temperature and with the aid of a couple of stout walking poles, I arrived safely at the summit….

Monument

…in good order.

I had passed the inevitable line of pylons on my way….

pylons

…and looked south to see the Lake District fells, just visible above a very misty Solway plain.

Lake District fells

The views from the top of the hill made the climb well worth while.  The view to the south west is always difficult with the low winter sun but I could see the Solway Firth gleaming in the distance

Solway

Turning to my right, the views were better.  I could see the town below me…

Langholm

…and Castle Hill and the Eskdale hills beyond it.  It was a big sky day.

Castle hill and Eskdale

In the other direction, the colour changed dramatically as grouse moors came into the picture.

Tarras

And I could see the fields at Cronksbank on the far bank of the Tarras water.

Cronksbank

But my favourite view, as ever, was looking at the hills that line the Ewes valley.

Ewes valley

Very wisely, I decided not to test the knees on a 16% descent and tacked down the hill by track and path.  This added just over half a mile to the route back to town but took 6% off the gradient so it was a good bargain.

I should say that the walking poles added considerably to the pleasure of the walk not just by helping to push me up the hill but by stopping me slipping back down it.  I know that there are people who are too proud to use walking poles but I am not one of them.

I didn’t wander lonely as a cloud as I met other walkers on my way, including Kenny, a fellow camera club member, who tells me he is up this hill almost every day.  He is a great bird watcher and sees many interesting things through his binoculars which would pass me by entirely.  If it is not close enough to snap, I probably don’t see it.

As I walked over the town bridge on my way home, I looked down and saw Mr Grumpy standing on a rock…

heron

…he was probably thinking that it would be a lot warmer in Mexico.

As Mrs Tootlepedal was away in Edinburgh and I was a little tired after my modest 3½ mile walk, I nipped out to the chip shop and acquired a pie and chips with some curry sauce for my evening meal.  It went down very well.  A guilty pleasure as they say.

As I mentioned before, when I was looking for the flying bird of the day in the morning, some birds were too dark and some birds were too light but like Goldilocks, I found one that was just right.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »