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Posts Tagged ‘pheasant’

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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Today’s guest picture comes from our neighbour Liz, who recently visited the Eden Project in Cornwall and came across this giant insect.

eden insect

We had another lovely day here and the flowers were looking very cheerful as a result, whether hanging over the edge of the dam…

aubretia

..or popping up in a flower bed.

ballerina tulip

New tulips are opening on all sides…

yellow and orange tulips

…and the euphorbias are growing ever bigger and brighter.

euphorbia

I had a close peer at the magnolia because a reader had asked me if it had a good scent, but sadly, it is scentless for all its handsome looks.

magnolia flower centre

I got out some magic granules that I had bought in a garden centre.  The packet says that they will perk up my grass and eat the moss on the lawn without the dead moss needing to be raked out.  This sounds far too good to be true but nevertheless, I measured and weighed carefully and spread them on the middle lawn as per the instructions on the packet.   I await developments (without holding my breath).

It was warm enough for a blackbird to do a little cooling down on one of the hedges…

blackbird sunning on hedge

…so I resolved to go for a walk to enjoy the sunshine and look for bluebells.

I found a charming red currant beside the river…

currant beside esk

…but soon came upon a good show of bluebells along my favourite bluebell path.

bluebells 5

They are not fully out yet but could still provide the blue ‘carpet’ that makes them so special at this time of year.

bluebells 3

I don’t know who was more surprised when we met, this pheasant or me.

bluebells 4

I walked through the bluebell wood…

bluebells 1

…and took the path the leads to Gaskell’s Walk.

blackthorn stubholm

Although the larches below it are very green, Meikllholm Hill still looks bare.

meikleholm hill from gaskells

There were several peacock butterflies warming their wings on the path as I went along.

Most of them flew off as I approached but this one settled down again for a moment.

peacock butterfly sunning

The path itself was very springlike, and I think that this is the best time of the year to walk along it.

gaskells in spring

When I got to the Auld Stane Brig, I took a couple of pictures to show that we are still waiting for the leaves to appear on many of the trees around us…

stane brig

…but the bridge is attractive at any time of year on a sunny day.

auld stane bridge with reflection

Sadly, by the time that I got home, it had become apparent that while wearing gel insoles might be very good for arthritic toes, it might also put a strain on an achilles tendon and my ‘good’ foot was so sore as a result that the rest of a lovely day was wasted in sitting around and moaning.

I did get outside enough to admire a pulsatilla…

pulsatilla

…but that was the extent of the excitement.

The foot situation is very annoying as things were definitely getting better.  I hope that a good rest over night will see things back to where they were as it is a pity not get a cycle ride in when the weather is so fine.  Today taught me not to get too adventurous.

Mrs Tootlepedal made fish pie and apple crumble for our tea and that brightened things up a lot.

flying chaffinch

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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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