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Posts Tagged ‘pheasant’

Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s Namibian adventure.  She came across one of their famous two headed giraffes and sent me this shot.  It may have more legs than the usual giraffe too.

giraffe

Our sunny weather came to an end today and we had grey skies and rather chillier temperatures but it remained dry so we didn’t have much to complain about at at all.

After breakfast, I noticed a red poll on our feeder…

redpoll late Feb

…and I also noted that not all the birds who come to our garden visit the feeder.  Some just lurk about on trees and bushes like this blackbird and these starlings.

blackbird and starling

I had to act as fill-in feeder filler for Sandy who was visiting his grandchildren and Mrs Tootlepedal came up to the Moorland Project bird hide with me to help.  We filled the feeders and then, while she scanned the hillside opposite the bird hide for signs of raptors (in vain), I sat in the hide and hoped for woodpeckers (also in vain).

There were a lot of great tits about…

great tits at Laverock

…and colourful pheasants as usual…

pheasant head

…but mostly there were chaffinches in large numbers.

We didn’t stay there long as the light wasn’t very good and it was chilly but instead of going straight home, we parked the car not far away and walked down towards the River Tarras  to see how the repairs to the road were going.

In December 2105, the road suffered from a landslip in a big storm…

tarras road landslip

…and the council has just got round to repairing it three and a bit years later.

It is a big job, requiring endless visits from quarry lorries…

tarras roadworks

…and they are of course damaging the surfaces of many of the roads over which they travel on the way to the site.

In the picture above, the compression of distance caused by the camera lens doesn’t show that the old road stops where the brown surface ends and they have cut away the banking below by a huge amount.

You can see the line of the old road on the right of the picture below and it gives some idea of the scale of the work needed for the repair.

tarras roadworks scene

How they are going to join the road back up to its original course defies my imagination.  I shall be interested to follow the work as it progresses.

While we were walking along  the road to and from the works, we saw a great many hazel catkins and I said to Mrs Tootlepedal that there might be hazel flowers too if we looked closely.

We looked closely.

hazel flower and catkins

They were were hard to see but once we got our eye in, we could see dozens of them.

hazel flower tarras road

As we left the work site, the keen eyed Mrs Tootlepedal spotted another blotch of red and thought that it was discarded orange peel.  A second look showed that it was a scarlet elf cap (Sarcoscypha coccinea), a fungus that likes damp spots and leaf litter.

Sarcoscypha coccinea

Further up the road, she stopped to look at a tree and I pointed out that if she looked down at her feet she would see another twenty elf cups all around.

Sarcoscypha coccinea elf cup

She was impressed.

What with the excitement of seeing the road works, the elf cups and the hazel flowers, we forgot about the absence of raptors and woodpeckers and arrived home in time for coffee in a very cheerful mood.

The frogs had left the pond so I looked around for flowers.  Some hellebores keep their heads up in a helpful way….

hellebore heads up

…but others call for crouching.

head down hellebore

Fresh primroses are blooming.

new primroses

Once we got inside and started on our coffee, I was able to enjoy some busy scenes at the feeder.

busy feeder

A siskin took a moment to survey the scene from the top of the feeder pole…

siskin on feeder pole

…while down below, it was all action in siskin world.

squalling siskins

It was good to see a dozen siskins at the feeder today, the most we have seen this year.

I made some soup for lunch while Mrs Tootlepedal considered the business of making a patchwork rug for the rocking horse.  She has time to do this because the crochet blanket has now been finished.

finished crochet blanket

It has provided a very welcome distraction during the long winter nights.

Then  it was time to go to Edinburgh and see Matilda.  We had our usual enjoyable time and another good evening meal before catching the train home.  Matilda told us that she would like to come and visit us for a change so I hope that this can be arranged in the not too distant future.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch who posed more carefully than any of the siskins.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone and shows the bridge over the Tay.  He visited Dundee with his daughter Susan earlier this month.

Tay road bridge

We had another grey day here but marginally less grey than yesterday and as it was warmer, it was quite welcome.

After breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland feeders.  I was acting as a fill-in feeder filler for Bob who was away having festive fun with his far flung family.

The feeders needed filling and almost as soon as I had finished, they became very busy.  There may not be many chaffinches in our garden but there were a lot of them here.

There were a lot of pheasants too and this pair was having an ill-natured squabble outside the hide…

sparring pheasants

…which was causing some distress to a watching chaffinch.

wary chaffinch

Apart from the chaffinches, there were not a lot of other birds about, though I saw one distant woodpecker…

distant woodpecker

…and a small but noticeable selection of blue, coal and great tits.

moorland feeder great tit, blue tit and coal tit

I was very pleased to see a good number of birds about, even they weren’t very interesting but the light was rotten and if I had seen any interesting birds, I might not have been able to get decent pictures.  The flying birds were just a blur.

moorland chaffinches

We had coffee when we got back and then I went out for a short pedal.   It was breezy and I wanted to go shopping later in the afternoon so I settled for three seven mile repetitions in my outdoor gym, the road to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back.    This may sound a little boring but the challenge is to try to go a bit faster on each lap and I managed to increase my speed marginally on the outward uphill trips but the effort was too much for me and I was slower rather than faster on my third downhill leg and just failed to hit the magic (for me) 14 mph average speed.

Still, the challenge made the ride interesting and I didn’t waste any time trying to take good pictures in unsuitable light.

I had a look round the garden for any sign of colour when I got home but all I could find was this fairly bright box ball recovering from a severe pruning..

box ball

Mrs Tootlepedal had created a delicious duck soup for my lunch and after supping a bowlful and having a shower, I went off with her to do a bit of shopping in Carlisle.

I had in mind to replenish my stocks of dates and prunes and other dried fruit and would have done so if the shop we were visiting had been open but it wasn’t so I didn’t.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a particular shade of paint in her mind and we were quite excited when her shop turned out to be open but less enthusiastic when just about the only shade of paint that they didn’t have among hundreds on display was her desired one.

We drove home in a subdued mood but were cheered up by watching an excellent running of the King George VI steeplechase at Kempton Park on catch-up TV.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s fancy came a close second.

With both our choirs in recess at the moment, we were able to  have a quiet night in and the restful evening was very welcome.

No flying bird today, but a rather wary chaffinch from the Moorland Feeders is standing in.

Laverock hide chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Mary Jo from Manitoba.  She thinks that I ought to raise my lawn care ambitions a bit.

big lawn machine

It was grey,  windy and sometimes wet when I went up to the fill the feeders at the Moorland Project’s Laverock Hide.  Sandy is away in very distant parts on holiday so I am taking on his duties for a while.

As usual after filling the feeders, I had a sit down in the hide under the shelter of its fine natural roof…

laverock hide roof

…to watch the birds for a while.  It was very gloomy and my camera could only just pick out a woodpecker on the far side of the glade.

woodpecker

It had better luck with the birds just outside the hide.

There were industrial quantities of chaffinches about…

chaffinch on stump

…happy to share with the occasional coal tit.

chaffinch and coal tit on stump

A great tit….

great tit

…and a greenfinch visited the peanuts…

goldfinch at laverock

…and there were several pheasants in various states of scruffiness about as well.

pheasant bedraggled

When I got home, I had a quick look at our own feeders…

busy feeder

…and a stroll round the garden.

late sweet william

Late sweet williams have appeared.

new clematis oct

And a brand new clematis flower on a plant that has not looked promising so far

old clematis oct

There are still old clematis  flowers hanging on here and there.

The chief business of the day was a visit to Edinburgh to see Matilda.  When we got to Lockerbie station there was a great air of excitement about as it seemed that the  train would be on time today, an historic occasion.

It arrived on time, left on time and got to Edinburgh on time too.  It was surreal experience.

We walked down the hill and met Matilda and her parents just as they got back to their house in another outbreak of good timing.   We spent some happy hours being entertained by Matilda and then eating an excellent evening meal of green soup (a household speciality cooked by Clare), linguine with asparagus with garlic bread (cooked by Al) followed by a sticky toffee pudding (made by Mrs Tootlepedal and carried up with us on the train). We left to catch the train home in a very contented frame of mind as it is hard to beat the combination of good food and good company.

I apologise for the brief report today but we have to get up early tomorrow and there are still things to be done.

The flying bird of the day is one of our own chaffinches.

close up flying chaffinch (more…)

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who thought that this picture of the fernery at York on a rainy day might interest me after my fern walk with Mike a few  days ago.  He was right.  It interested Mike too.

fernery York

We had another cool and windy day here, with occasional heavy showers.  I had to go up to the Moorland Feeders as a fill in feeder filler for Sandy, who is sunning himself by the beach somewhere far to the south (lucky chap).

There were not many birds about so I enjoyed some of the tree features…

laverock hide trees

..until a few birds turned up.

pheasant

woodpecker

Maybe the very brisk wind which you can see ruffling this siskin’s feathers had put the birds off…

blowy siskin

…but it certainly put me off and as Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t seen anything interesting in the raptor line as she scanned the hillside, we went home…

…where it soon started raining.

busy feeder in the rain

However, it is April so the showers were intermittent and I got out into the garden from time to time.

The tulips are punctuating the daffodils with spots of colour…

tulips and affodils

…and standing alone too.

red tulips

In the pond many tadpoles and snails are to be seen.

tadpole and snail in pond

Mrs Tootlepedal has been trying to find out where the pond is leaking as it has been losing water whenever it stops raining lately.  She has done some serious detective work and today, she added some practical digging and stone shifting and she thinks that she has cracked the problem.

I took pictures of euphorbia and muscari to show the contrast mixture of  rain and sun we had today…

euphorbia and muscari

…for which a couple of tulips provided corroborative evidence.

tulips with rain drops

I found my daffodil of the day….

daffodil

…and then went upstairs to take a couple of general views of the garden.  Here is the front  lawn and its surrounding beds…

view of front lawn

..and here is the middle lawn with a glimpse of the vegetable garden to the right.

view of garden

It doesn’t look bad considering the miserable spring  we have had so far.

The blackbirds still seem to be busy nesting and the female had come out for a break.

blackbird

I made some soup for lunch and then we set off (through an horrendously heavy shower) for Lockerbie (where it wasn’t raining) to catch the train to Edinburgh to see Matilda and her parents.

I like to stretch my legs on the platform after the drive over and before catching the train and I always enjoy the infinite geometry of railway lines.

Lockerbie station

Our  trip to Edinburgh went well.  We caught a glimpse of the alternative grandparents and then turned some dough which Matilda had made with her other granny into bread rolls, enjoyed some football cards  and had a very tasty meal of home made pizza  before setting off to come home.

By this time the weather had cleared up and we decided to walk back to the station.  On the way, Mrs Tootlepedal spotted both some fine lichen…

Edinburgh lichen

…and a grey squirrel…

edinburgh squirrel

…while my eyes turned to the flag flying at Holyroodhouse with Arthur’s Seat behind it…

Arthurs Seat and Holyrood House

…and a selection of buildings which we passed as we walked along.

Views from Regent road Edinburgh

We were a bit alarmed to find that the incoming train from Manchester, which we catch on its way back south, hadn’t even arrived at the station by the time that we due to leave and I expected a long delay.  Mercifully and very surprisingly, the train drew in some four minutes after it was due to leave and left only three minutes later!  In the end we were only eight minutes late getting home.  What a relief.

And the pond hadn’t lost any water so it looks as though Mrs Tootlepedal has cracked the problem.

The flying bird of the day showed off the strength of the wind very well.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Gavin who is on holiday with his family in Spain.  His picture shows his grandson Elliot surrounded by trains at Vilanova Railway Museum.

Elliot Graham surrounded by trains at Vilanova Railway Museum

We got the promised sunshine today.  The whole country has been gloomy over the past few days so there were amusing remarks on the breakfast radio show that I listen to about a strange light in the sky.  The show comes from London where they had added warmth while we had ice and the remains of the snow.

ice and snow in April

Still blue sky is blue sky and always welcome.  Sandy is always welcome too and he arrived after breakfast and drove us up to the Moorland bird feeders were it was his day to refill the feeders.  I gave him a hand and we sat in the hide for a while to see what was about.

The answer was not much but the bit of sunlight gave me a chance to take a picture or two.

great tit, blue tit and siskin

Great tit, blue tit and siskin

chaffinch and blackbird

Chaffinch and blackbird

coal tit

Flighty coal tit

As you can see from some of the pictures, it was quite windy and cold and a pheasant looked thoroughly fed up.

pheasant

It was chilly, even in the shelter of the hide and interesting birds were conspicuous by their absence so we didn’t stay too long and went back to Wauchope Cottage for a cup of coffee and a biscuit.

After Sandy left, I did the crossword and looked at our own garden birds.  The usual suspects were there….

redpoll, goldfinch, siskin

…but in was very pleased to see a couple of redpolls back at the feeder.

redpoll

The siskins, as well as being very messy feeders, were as belligerent as ever.

siskins

I had decided not to go to visit Matilda today as the weather demanded a cycle ride of reasonable length and thanks to the early frostiness, I wasn’t able to get out soon enough to be able to catch the afternoon train to Edinburgh.

Matilda did very well without me and swam nearly a whole width of the swimming pool on her back with no help.  She will doubtless be aimed at the 2030 Commonwealth Games.

I had a nourishing lunch and got the slow bike out.  In spite of the sun, the thermometer was only just touching 6°C (about 40°F) so once again, I was well wrapped up.  Although it was coming from the south west and should have been warm, the wind was once again both brisk and nippy so pedalling into it at the start of my journey was hard work.

This bit of road, near Eaglesfield may not look very important…..

road near eaglesfield

…but it was the first bit of road that I had cycled on for fourteen and a bit miles which was not heading into the wind.    To give an idea of the meanness of the wind, it took me one hour and forty six minutes to do the first 15 miles of the route and only seventeen minutes longer to do the next 25, which were either across or downwind.

As my average at the end of the ride was only 10 mph, the whole thing was painfully slow.  Partly this was caused by the wind and partly it was because the road I chose for the main downhill ten mile section of the trip was full of potholes and floods…

puddles and daffs

… though it did have some fine daffodils, and few celandines…

celandine and sheep

…an interesting sheep and a fine view across the Solway Firth…

skiddaw from Rigg

…as consolations.

My asthma has not been helped by the constantly wet and chilly weather over winter so I found that I needed quite a lot of concentration just to keep going and since I had to keep a keen eye out for potholes on unfamiliar roads, I didn’t find many interesting things to photograph on my route but I did stop to note the delightful blue of the Longtown gravel pit pond….

Longtown pond and windfarm

….and the new windfarm behind it.

It is good to see that as well as annoying me, our never ending supply of wind is being put to good use.

It  was still a lovely day when I got home so I had a walk round the garden….

garden flowers early april

I was pleased to see the first of the ‘main crop’ daffodils out.

…and then I had a mile and a half  walk round Gaskells to make the most of the rare good day.

I adopted a very modest pace and this let me see quite a lot as I pottered along.

I was very interested to see buds on the hawthorn…

hawthorn buds

…as this is real sign of better things to come.

I heard some loud engine noises and was surprised to see how literally the pilots of a couple of planes were taking the phrase ‘low flying’.

low flying plane

I wouldn’t be surprised if he/she found that they had moss on the undercarriage when they got home.

I saw tiny lichen and big fungus…

lichen and fungus

…and the first rabbit that I have noticed this year.

rabbit

I like the way that rabbits equate ‘standing very still’ with ‘hiding’.

Two more tried the same stratagem a little further on.

rabbits

The main purpose of my walk was to check out the red tipped lichen on the park wall to see if it had survived the frost, rain and snow.

There was a rather scraggy patch along with a promising wild flower…

lichen and wild flower

…just to prove that our park wall is a rich habitat and not just for moss and lichens.

Finally, almost as I had given up hope, I found a healthy looking clump.

lichen

My discovery of photography in my later years has provided me with a lot of pleasure but I don’t think anything is better than the ability of a camera to let you see wonders of nature that you just can’t see with the naked eye.  These lichens are tiny, the red dots like pin heads.

Mrs Tootlepedal told me in a phone call this evening that she had enjoyed both sunshine and very pleasant warmth in the deep south but I wasn’t envious.  Honestly.  They don’t have traffic free cycling routes on public roads like us.  I hardly saw a car for 34 of my 40 miles today.  Mind you, a little warmth wouldn’t go amiss.

I am really looking forward to the coming of my new bike.  I have pedalled three hundred miles on my slow bike over the past twenty two days but in the same amount of time and probably with less effort, I might have done sixty to eighty more miles on a quicker bike.

The low flying ‘bird’ of the day is the second of the air force planes that passed me on my walk.  Credit goes to the nerve and instrument reading skills of the pilots.

P1080619

Those interested can see details of the bike ride here

And you can see Sandy’s day here.

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who found a heron in Regents Park which has taken to the law.  Well, at least it is sitting on the bench.

Mr G's London cousin 001

In contrast to the yesterday’s gloom, today dawned bight and sunny and the day was made even sunnier when Dropscone arrived with treacle scones for morning coffee.  We were joined briefly by Sandy who came to pick up some parish magazines for processing for the Archive Group website.  We arranged to go for a walk after lunch and he went off leaving Dropscone and me to finish the scones and coffee.

We managed.

Easily.

After Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to to have lunch with friends at the Buccleuch centre.

I watched birds…

chaffinch

…and was rather baffled by this chaffinch which looked at first sight as though it had been pumping iron and was auditioning  for a super hero role.

I walked round the garden in the sunshine and enjoyed the snowdrops….

_DSC1209

snowdrops

…and the magnolia by the front gate.

magnolia

In a vain effort to improve my brain power, I had sardines for lunch and then went off to pick up Sandy.  We started our outing by visiting the Moorland Feeders by car but although the light was good, interesting birds were scarce.

There were a lot of great, blue and coal tits about…

blue tits and great tits

Great tits and blue tits share the peanuts with a chaffinch.

…and a single pheasant who did some world class strutting.

phreasant

It turned out to be rather chilly sitting in the hide in spite of the sunshine so we didn’t stay long.

Our thoughts turned to snowdrops and we drove down to the Lodge Walks, stopping at the Kilngreen where I failed to take a picture of a flying seagull as they all stuck obstinately to their fence posts.

We left the car and walked through sun dappled woods….

Near Holmhead

…until we got to the snowdrops.  They were worth the walk.

snowdrops at Holmhead 2018

snowdrops at Holmhead 2018

P1070192

They are still not fully out so another visit may be in order (if we get another fine day next week).

We walked up through the snowdrops and strolled back to the car by the top path.  This used to run through woods but there has been more felling recently…

felling

…and only a few trees have been left standing.

There are soon going to be more though….

new trees

…as we passed many bags of new trees waiting to be put into the ground.

The top track offers a terrific view of Whita on a fine afternoon…

Whita

…as well as a walk through a delicate tree tunnel…

Path near pathhead

….and a look at the town through the trees.

Town from pathhead

On our  way back down to the car, we passed a splendid mossy wall but my plan to take yet more mossy pictures was sidetracked by an outstanding lichen…

peltigera lichen

…and a pair of ferns on the wall.

ferns

Asplenium scolopendrium, the harts tongue fern and Polypodium vulgare, the common polypody

In spite of the brilliant sunshine, it was exceedingly cold on our walk because the wind was very unforgiving so we were pleased to get back in the car and go to our respective homes.

If you are interested, you can see Sandy’s take on what we saw here.

By this time, the crossword and a cup of tea was all the excitement that I needed, though I did go out with Mrs Tootlepedal to see what all the banging and sawing had been about at the dam bridge.

It was totally shuttered….

dam bridge repairs

…and Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the men are going to pour concrete tomorrow.

While we were looking at the works with our neighbour  Kenny,  something glinting on the exposed bed of the dam caught Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye and Kenny kindly fished it out.  It turned out to be a 1928 penny….

1928 penny found in dam

…which may well have been lying in the dam for anything up to 90 years.

The channel through the bridge looks rather narrow but the builders say that it is exactly the same size as the previous one.

My Friday night orchestra is visiting her son and his family so there was no traditional evening tootle today and we had a quiet night in.

The flying bird if the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie, who met one of the Grumpy clan chatting with a friend, while she was on a walk in Regents Park with a friend of her own.

LOndon heron

We were promised a day of rain today after the latest storm passed over us during the night.  The storm knocked our electricity out just before we went to bed and after scrabbling about finding candles and torches and worrying about the freezer, the lights came back on again after about half an hour and we could sleep a bit more easily.

Right enough, it was raining when we got up and I had a rather soggy visit to the Moorland bird feeders to act as a fill-in feeder filler.  It was far too damp and gloomy to take pictures but I nearly had to push this pheasant….

pheasant

…off its perch before it would let me take the feeder down to fill it.

When I got home, the weather improved a bit and Dropscone was able to walk round with a bag of scones to have a cup of coffee.  He is going to Malta soon for a short holiday and hopes that he will get better weather there.

It was raining again as he left.

It stopped again not long afterwards and I got the slow bike out and set off up the road in the hope of getting twelve miles in without getting wet.

Because I was anxious to get my miles in before it started raining again, I only stopped once on my way but I took two pictures.

lichen

Lichen on a bridge parapet.

Winter sunshine up Wauchope

The only sunshine I saw while I was out.

I did get the twelve miles in but I did get a bit wet in the middle of the ride.  I also met Mrs Tootlepedal who was having a ride herself.  She was going in the opposite direction but I knew that she would turn for home soon so after a while, I turned back and joined her for the last mile home.

By the time that we got back, the light had improved again so I looked out of the kitchen window.

In the absence of a suitable robin, a chaffinch posed on the chimney.

chaffinch

A coal tit was busy flying to and from the feeder.

coal tit

And the goldfinches were very busy and dominated the feeder again, though a chaffinch and a greenfinch did try to get a look in.

goldfinches

Sandy had rung up  to ask about a walk so after a light lunch, I met him at the top of Jimmy’s Brae and we walked along to see how the felling of the Becks Wood was going.

We got a little sunshine on the way….

Becks track

There was no action at the wood but the logs had been piled up very neatly.

Becks wood

We walked down the field beside the Becks Burn as it snakes towards the Wauchope Water.

Becks burn

And then we walked back to the town along Gaskell’s Walk.

I was keeping an eye out for moss as we went.  There was any amount to see….

moss

…and many different varieties.

moss

Some small…

moss

…and some large.

moss

It will take some research even to start to get a grip on all this.

moss

Thanks to our damp climate, there is no shortage of learning opportunities.

P1060509

In these dark days, it was a cheerful moment when I spotted these.

daffodil shoots

Sandy came on for a cup of tea and a golden biscuit courtesy of a Christmas hamper from our son Tony.  They really are golden.

Then I went off to the health centre to get two injections, one regular and the other to protect me against shingles. The government recently introduced a policy to immunise the elderly against the effects of shingles and I have just come into an age category where I qualify for the jab.  Shingles is a nasty ailment so I was happy to get an extra hole in my arm.

When I got home, I was quite tired for some reason and fell asleep listening to the evening news on the radio.  Considering the state of the news these days, this was probably a sound move.

I did find a flying bird of the day (or two).

flying chaffinch and flying goldfinch

Moss is not always easy to photograph, being a bit green on green so I was playing about with one of today’s not very successful pictures….

moss

…and did this by accident.

moss

I thought it worked out quite well.

You can see Sandy’s take on the walk here.  He took some jolly good pictures.

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