Posts Tagged ‘pheasants’

The guest picture of the day comes from a visit to Wakefield that my brother made a few weeks ago.   The theatre there is a  handsome but modest building as befits a down to earth town.

Opera House Wakefield

After some quite heavy rain overnight and a rather misty, murky morning,  today turned into a very pleasant day.  I might well have gone cycling after breakfast but I decided to postpone any decision about that until I had gone up to the Moorland Feeders where I was acting as a fill-in feeder filler for Sandy who is basking in the sun somewhere in the far south.

I was greeted by a rather grumpy pheasant who only got off the gate to let me through with the greatest reluctance.


I filled the feeders and found that it was warm enough to sit in the hide without a coat (which was just as well as I hadn’t bought one) and so I sat for a while and enjoyed the birds.

There were the usual suspects both big….

woodepecker and pheasant

…and small.

Greenfinch and coal tit

Greenfinch and coal tit

Great tit and blue tit

Great tit and blue tit

And one or two less usual things as well.

one legged chaffinch

A one legged chaffinch looking fit and well


A blackbird on top of the tall feeder

squabbling chaffinches

And the first squabbling chaffinches of the season

There was also a major fungus outbreak at the foot of a tree near the hide.

feeder furngus

I made it home perfectly in time for coffee and then I decided not to go cycling again.

It was a great day to be out in the garden though so I went out into the garden.

I was pleased to see, along with the usual red admirals….

red admirals

Ten a penny this year

…that we had a small tortoiseshell in the garden as well.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

These have been very scarce this year.

There was no shortage of bees and hoverflies (and smaller flies too) once again.

cornflower with hoverfly

icelandic poppy with hoverfly

bee on dahlia

It is very gratifying to find that Mrs Tootlepedal has planted so many attractive flowers   that the garden is filled with flight and sound on any vaguely sunny day.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy developing her new plans for the middle lawn and flower beds and while she was working, she noticed that our silver pear tree had actually produced a few silver pears.

silver pear

They are very small.

Nearby, a cotoneaster was much brighter.


The walnuts keep falling off the walnut tree, some of them assisted by jackdaws and crows like this one which was perched on the very top of the tree this morning.


I think that there may be a walnut just to the right of the bird.

Soon it was time for lunch and I decided not to go to Edinburgh with Mrs Tootlepedal to see Matilda this week.

After Mrs Tootlepedal drove off to catch the train at Lockerbie, I decided not to go cycling once again but I did get the slow bike out to deliver a message to Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer, with more cash from the Welcome to Langholm sales desk.  They sell postcards, local history books and DVDs on our behalf.

Since I was on my bike, I continued along the waterside in the hope of seeing the dipper.  It was not there but a goosander kindly took its place and posed for me.


It really was a lovely afternoon so I pedalled gently on across the Sawmill Brig and up the Lodge Walks.

Lodge Walks

My intention was to take another picture of the tiny fungi on a tree stump which I had seen on a recent walk but they had faded away almost to dust.  I looked around and saw a wonderful display of more conventional fungi on a tree stump on the other side of the road.

tree stump fungus

A veritable feast of fungus

tree stump fungus

A close up

I cycled gently home across the Castleholm and even on such a warm and sunny day, I could easily see why they had had to cancel our local agricultural show while we were away in Marseille.  Putting my foot down incautiously while pausing to admire the view  all too easily led to my whole foot and ankle disappearing into the glaur.  It has rained a lot recently.

When I got home, there was still plenty of time for a trip to Canonbie (or even further afield) but once again I decided not to cycle.

Instead, I retired indoors, practised the awkward song for our concert on Saturday (and all the easier ones a swell) and then had a long relaxing bath followed by a snooze.

It had been hard making so many decisions during the day and I needed a rest.

However, I have got my asthma medicine properly organised again and hope to be a great deal perkier tomorrow.

At last, a traditional flying bird of the day.  This was at the Moorland Feeders.  I am looking  forward to getting the garden feeders up again in the not too distant future.

flying chaffinch



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Today’s guest picture is a second look at the Chew Valley Lake by Venetia.  It shows the surface of the water dotted with what she thinks is a vast quantity of coots.

Chew Valley Lake

We had one of those days today which are politely described as “changeable” but which might more honestly be described as utterly miserable.

To be totally fair, there was a sunny hour in the morning but as I was stuck in the Information Hub not giving information out, the sunshine was wasted on me.  I had passed a colourful gutter on my way to the town centre….

leaves near church

…and enjoyed the poplars in the park as I crossed the suspension bridge…


…but by the time that I came home, the leaves had been swept up by the street cleaner and the rain had started again.

Two hours in the new information palace is a good deal better than two hours in the old hub.  It is warm and comfortable and as you can see the Market Place through the window, there is always something to watch in a quiet moment.

Welcome to Langholm

Sandy came round with a cup of coffee which helped the time pass painlessly.

I took a quick look at the garden before I went in.

viola and clematis

Viola and clematis thriving in spite of a heavy night of rain.

Azalea and hosta

Azalea and hosta showing that it is autumn though

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal headed off for a visit to the council dump and I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and then considered a walk.  I had to go back up to the town to pay a bill so I texted Sandy to see if he would like an outing but he declined the opportunity.

He must have felt quite pleased about this decision as it started to rain as soon as I set out…


It was grand weather for ducks.

….but I stuck to my task and the rain relented after a while and I had a damp but pleasant stroll round the Castleholm and the Pheasant Hatchery.

In spite of the gloom, I snapped away as I went along.

Lodge walks

The Lodge Walks

The felled trees showed why they had had to be dealt with.


More hole than tree in this conifer


A fungus on the felled trunk


A fungus on one of the felled beech tree stumps

In spite of the low clouds, there was no shortage of sights to catch the eye.


A view across the Castleholm


And another

Pheasants at the pheasant hatchery

Pheasants at the pheasant hatchery

Path past pheasant hatchery

The path past the pheasant hatchery

autumn leaves

Leaves beside the path.

View from Duchess Bridge

The view upstream from the Duchess Bridge

The river had risen a lot after some heavy rain.

I looked over the manse wall as I  got near home and enjoyed the sight of one of the minister’s more decorative friends.

minister's chicken

Mrs Tootlepedal had got back by the time that I returned and had even had time to make some delicious scones.  As it started to rain heavily again almost as soon as I got in, I was doubly pleased to be in the kitchen in these circumstances.

My flute pupil Luke came and we enjoyed some duets and then it was time for a quick tea.  Mrs Tootlepedal went out to the Buccleuch Centre to see a ‘live’ presentation of Cosi Fan Tutti from the Royal Opera House and I waited for Sandy to pick me up to go to a Camera Club meeting.

The fact that the rain was coming down in buckets by this time might have accounted for a modest turnout at our meeting but if we were short on quantity, we weren’t lacking in quality at all and had a very good set of pictures to enjoy.  As this was followed by tea, coffee and biscuits laced with good conversation, it was felt to be a worthwhile evening.

The flower of the day is a striking poppy….


…and the flying birds are a flock of the pheasants who would be well advised to learn not to fly up like that as people approach.

flying pheasants

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Today’s guest picture comes from Ada, one of my former teaching colleagues, and shows the remarkable Kelpies. The Kelpies are 30-metre high horse-head sculptures, standing next to a new extension to the Forth and Clyde Canal which reconnects the Forth and Clyde Canal with the River Forth, and improves navigation between the East and West of Scotland.

KelpiesThey are on our ‘must visit’ list for this summer.

I made myself useful by cycling up to the High Street after breakfast and buying some more paint for Mrs Tootlepedal’s decorating endeavours and then I went off to the monthly producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre to buy fish, honey, cheese, venison and lamb.  The venison is very seasonal and this will be the last time that it will be on offer until September and the local honey will only last for one more month.

I walked round the garden when I got back.  The daffodils were enjoying a warmer day at last.

daffodilsAnd even the frogs had their sleeves rolled up.

frogAs I was quite tired for some inexplicable reason totally unconnected with cycling some distance or walking up hills, I was happy to spend the rest of the morning grappling with a tricky double strength holiday crossword.  I finished just in time for a late lunch.

A bowl of soup and some  tasty cheese revived me sufficiently to send me out on a walk to revisit the zygomycota fungus that appeared in yesterday’s post.  I thought it deserved a bit more credit than I had given it.  (I would like to thank Allen, The New Hampshire Gardener for his generous efforts to enlighten my ignorance.)

I warmed up with a peltigera lichen….

peltigera…which I met soon after leaving the car and walked along the track without going to the top of the hill first on this occasion.

On my way, I had an unexpected treat when a small scuffling noise made me look round.

red squirrelI very rarely see a red squirrel on my walks and it is even more unusual for one to spend some time looking at me with as much interest as I was looking at it.  It looked at me, thought about climbing up the tree, looked at me again, thought about climbing again and finally climbed down the tree and scampered off across the forest floor.

After stopping to take a picture to practise using my macro lens…

fungus…I arrived at the fungus site.

fungus siteNow that it has been pointed out, I can see the resemblance to the mould that you get on bread.

It is such interesting stuff that I took several pictures.  Those not interested in fungus should scroll rapidly.

zygomycota fungus zygomycota fungus zygomycota fungus zygomycota fungus I walked right along the path to the North Lodge today and passed first a large puddle full of wriggling tadpoles…

tadpoles…and then a large netted enclosure full of pheasants laying eggs.

pheasant pensA helpful chap told me that the eggs are collected every night, washed, checked and put in incubators for three weeks until they hatch.  The chicks are then put out into these huts…

pheasant huts…before they are put out into the woods.

As I walked past the huts, I could see the top of the hill from which I had such good views yesterday.

Castle HillWhen I got back home, I had time to watch the domestic bird action for a while…


A goldfinch poses in front of the daffodils in the back bed.

horizontal chaffinch

A level headed chaffinch

…before driving up to the moor with Mrs Tootlepedal to see if we could see anything interesting.

We could and did.  There were two short eared owls ranging the moor, flying low across the ground in search of voles.  They made excellent viewing for those with binoculars but stayed too far away for any hopeful photographer to get a meaningful shot.  It is always good when we go up to the moor in the hope of seeing something and we actually do see something.

It was a warm day with light winds and I should really have been out bicycling but I am trying not to do too much too early so I enjoyed my quiet day.  It was the warmest day of the year so far and it felt as though spring might have actually arrived at last.  To celebrate, I am putting in a two for one flying bird picture today at no extra cost to readers.

flying chaffinches


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Today’s picture shows a slightly uninviting opportunity to sit outside a pub on the river in Barnes.  My daughter Annie sent it and tells me that she didn’t sit out today.  Wimp.


We had another day of mixed weather, starting with this…

snowy chaffinches

…but changing into this as the day went on.


I went across the river twice, once on the morning and once on the afternoon and took a picture each time.

View of Whita

Chalk and cheese as they say.

Even as I took the first of the pictures, the snow was melting on the other side of the river.

Elizabeth Street

No snow on the roofs this side of the river.

If you could get out of the biting wind and dodge the frequent flurries of snow, the sun was quite warm and it was a reasonable day.  If you couldn’t get out of the wind and the sun was behind the snow clouds, it was miserable with the temperature never rising much above zero except for a short while in the afternoon.

My first trip across the water was to visit the Archive Centre…

Archive Centre

…to consult with a couple of our experts who were working there this morning.  In spite of its grand name and impressive sign, the centre is nothing but a small ground floor room in an old shop equipped with microfiche readers and a computer which our group uses as a workspace.  These ladies are working on our newspaper database.  The one on the left (Nancy) is mining information from the microfiche of an edition of 1885 and the one on the right (Sandra) is entering data from other miners into the on-line database.  The pictures on the wall are from our extensive photo collection which is Sandy’s province.

My consultation successfully over, I returned home to see what was happening at the bird feeder.

chaffinch brutality

Not for the faint hearted.

Snow cover

Bramblings and chaffinches scrabble in the snow

I was still feeling rather tired so I resisted any slight temptation to do something energetic and sat and did the crossword and listened to the radio until Mrs Tootlepedal returned from work at lunchtime.

After lunch I did some more work with my music programs and started to feel that I knew what I was doing.  I was able to make some useful preparations for my flute pupil Luke.

Noticing that the sun was shining brightly and checking the temperature had risen a bit. I put on a coat and left Mrs Tootlepedal making costumes for the show that she is in next week while I went for a walk.

black headed gull

A black headed gull on a rock in the Esk


The Kilngreen heron

heron fying

It flew off in disgust when I didn’t feed it.

two herring gulls

Two herring gulls enjoyed the sun

 herring gull

They too flew off as I approached

oyster catcher

An oyster catcher who had obviously been digging for worms tried to creep by under my radar.

My objective was to look at the snowdrops at Holmhead but rather annoyingly they were in the middle of just about the only patch of snow that hadn’t melted.


My way home was interrupted by a rabbit which was hoping that I wouldn’t notice it if it stood stock still…


It nearly worked.

…and the sight of the start of the work in providing pheasants for next year’s shoots.

pheasant pens

The low sun made the trees look interesting (to me at any rate).

trees on the castleholm

moss and lichen

And there was plenty to look at on the trees too.

You can see that I am experimenting with the presentation of composite pictures.  It’s fun exploring what the photo editor has to offer.

In the evening my flute pupil Luke came.  He is going for an grade exam this week and should pass easily if he plays as well as he can.  I have told him not to be nervous because it won’t make him a better or worse player if he passes or fails.  He is making excellent progress and it is a treat for me to be able to play duets with him.

I had intended to go to Newcastleton for a meeting of the Liddesdale camera Club but Sandy rang up to say that it had been cancelled because of the weather.  We were secretly quite relieved as driving in sub zero temperatures along winding roads in the dark after a day of intermittent snowfall is not top of the lists of the things we like to do.

I had a big choice of flying birds today as you can see but I really like the twist in this chaffinch.


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