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Posts Tagged ‘pigeon’

Today’s guest picture is the last from Venetia’s trip to Madeira and shows a local flower.  It is an echium known as ‘The Pride of Madeira’.  As you can see, it is popular with the locals.

Madeira flower

The forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning is pretty gloomy with strong winds and rain predicted.  As I write this, I can hear the wind sighing round the house and the rain pattering on the windows and I can only hope that the forecasters are being excessively pessimistic as they often are and we will avoid any storm damage.

The last day of our good spell of weather was grey but still warm and with gentle winds in the morning.  We couldn’t make the best of it though as I had an early appointment at the new hospital in Dumfries to see a surgeon about my low iron count.

The drive was smooth and uneventful,  the newly planted meadows round the hospital were as interesting as before…

DGRI meadow

…and since I was seen promptly and sent home with no need for further investigations, the trip was very satisfactory.  The advice was to keep taking the tablets and eat more greens.  I shall do both.

While we were in the vicinity, we went to have coffee at the very good garden centre we visited last week and while we were there, three plants, some more lawn feed and a new garden hose reel insinuated themselves unobtrusively into our shopping trolley and we had to pay for them before we could get out.  Since we had just gone for coffee, this was very odd.

When we got home, there was a lot to do in the garden before the rain came.  During the afternoon, I mowed the drying green and sieved some compost for Mrs Tootlepedal to use in her planting out work.

Because it is a great deal easier to shift compost when it is dry, I also took the opportunity to shift the contents of Bin B into Bin C and I know that discerning readers will never forgive me if I don’t record this event.

compost bin c and d

The warm dry weather has speeded up the composting process a lot and made sieving and shifting an easy task.

I also wound on the front garden hose on to the new reel…

new hose reel

…though of course, the weather will now be so bad for the rest of the summer that we will never have to use it.

In  between times, I wandered round the garden to take as many pictures as I could to record the end of our good spell.   (I apologise for the number of pictures in today’s post.)

The vegetable garden is looking very well organised….

vegetable garden

…and I was able to have a good helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s cut and come again salad leaves with my lunch.

Of particular interest to me was this…

strawberry fruit

…as I haven’t  netted the strawberries this year and I am hoping to pick as many as I can before….

blackbird

…the blackbirds notice them.

There are new flowers about.

day lilly, loosestrife and goldfinch rose

Day lily, loosestrife and the first Rosa Goldfinch

…and old friends are doing well.

astrantias

I tend to show close ups of astrantias so I thought I ought to show you the two colours on a broader scale.

At the top of the front lawn, the two box balls are in full colour…

golden box

…and all round the garden, the Sweet Williams that Mrs Tootlepedal has planted out are bringing some zing to the flower beds.

sweet william

On the house wall, the climbing hydrangea is looking healthy…

hydrangea

…and there is a constant buzz as you walk past it.

hydrangea with bee

The ‘ooh la la’ clematis is thriving….

ooh la la clematis

…and as it is in a very sheltered spot, I hope it survives the wind and the rain.

When I went in for lunch, I took the opportunity to watch the birds.

We have had daily visits from pigeons and collared doves recently….

pigeon

…and the supply of siskins and goldfinches seems endless.

goldfinch and siksin

I got the composting and mowing done before the rain started and then after a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal, who had been busy on a task in the town, I decided to go for a walk as it was too windy for enjoyable cycling.

There was some occasional drizzle but not enough to discourage me.  We could certainly do with some rain as the ground is very dry and the rivers are extremely low.

River Esk low

Somewhere along the gravel at the left hand side of the river in the picture above are five oyster catchers but I had to walk along the grass to see them.

The five were two parents….

oyster catcher parents

…clucking away and watching anxiously over three youngsters.

oyster catcher young

I know that there are four pictures but there are only three birds.

On the other side of the town bridge, I caught up with a pied wagtail…

pied wagtail

…standing unusually still for such a fidgety bird.

I looked back from the Sawmill Brig…

Ewes Water Island

…and wondered if there would be enough rain to turn the green mound that you can see back into an island again.  It is covered with roses, knapweed and umbellifers.

The light wasn’t very good and the threat of rain ever present so I didn’t dilly dally though I stopped for long enough to look at some docks…

dock

…admire the treescape on the Castleholm…

Castleholm tree view

…and check on the wild flowers along the Scholars’ Field wall…

nettle and umbellifer

……before calling in on my fern expert Mike to talk about going on a fern walk soon…

…and then going home to cook the tea.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went out to practise with the church organist’s summer choir and I rested my voice again.

I only went to the doctor in the first place because I was having trouble with a little hoarseness and after being thoroughly checked and cleared of any other problems, the hoarseness is still there.  I have another week of rest and then I will go back to the doctor again to see what is what if things haven’t improved.  I am missing singing more than I expected.

The flower of the day is the butter and sugar iris.  I am not sure that it will survive the night’s weather.

butter and sugar iris

I may possibly have run out of guest pictures.  Just mentioning it.

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken by my sister Susan on a visit to Reading.  It shows the Maiwand Lion, commemorating the dead of the Berkshire Regiment of Foot at Girishk Maiwand and Kandahar in 1880. The British were defeated at Girishk Maiwand by the Afghan army at a high cost to both sides during the 2nd Afghan war. reading lion

As the astute reader will gather from the the title of this post, it actually rained today but as this didn’t happen until the early evening and as it didn’t last long, it didn’t make much of a dent in our spell of excellent weather.

We had a sunny morning and made the most of it.  I had to pay an early visit to the health centre for a blood test and was happy to find that I still had some but I wasted no time when I got back in getting to work on the front lawn.  It lives in cold shadows over the winter and gets very mossy and the poor weather of the first four months of the year hasn’t helped it so I gave it a scarifying with our electric scarifier.  I followed this with a rake and a mow and then I topped off the treatment with a dose of seaweed buck-u-uppo.  Did it look grateful after all this? No, it still looked mossy.  Still, I enjoy the challenge.

In between the scarifying and the seaweed, Sandy came round for a cup of coffee and a news catchup.

As Mrs Tootlepedal is busy planting stuff out, she is using the sieved compost as fast as I can produce it so I sieved another batch and the contents of Bin D are decreasing rapidly.

I found time to wander around with the camera.

I often concentrate on single flowers so today for a change,  I went for quantity over quality.

potentilla

Potentilla

peony

Peony

poached egg plant

Limnanthes douglasii or the poached egg flower.  A bit of ‘egg white’ is developing on some of the flowers.

geraniums

Geraniums

geums

Geums

Solomon's Seal

Solomon’s Seal – no sign of sawfly larva yet.

I did take one shot a single flower.  This was the clematis at the front door and I took the single flower shot to show the contrast between the clematis at the front door (two flowers) ….

front door clematis

…and the clematis at the back door (hundreds).

back door clematis

I try to keep an eye out for the new arrivals and today a nectaroscordum had developed enough to get a personal portrait.

nectaroscordum

It was very breezy but I am still a bit short of cycling miles so I got my new bike out after lunch and decided to test the conditions.  It was warm but the skies had clouded over so the temperature was perfect and I set off with hopes of 30 miles or more.

However, after a few miles at a crisp speed and with not a whisper of wind in my face, it became apparent that the wind was going to make it very hard work pedalling home if I cycled too far out and I lowered my ambitions and went round the 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

This was a good decision as there was plenty to see…

field of buttercups

A field of buttercups near Langholm

bog cotton

Bog cotton at the Kerr

tarcoon verge

Beautiful verges near Tarcoon

wild geraniums

Wild geraniums on the old A7…

Pyrenean valerian

…and Pyrenean Valerian nearby.

… and the route choice turned out well as I got a good deal more help from the wind than I expected and managed to get my average over 14 mph.  This is very good for me these days.

As I cycled down the road along our garden hedge at the end of my ride, I was detained by the old Rosa Moyesii…

Rosa Moyesii

…and the honeysuckle.

honeysuckle

I hadn’t seen these earlier as they can only be seen when you are not in the garden.

The rain started not long after I got home so I had a good excuse to spend some time watching the birds at the feeder.

It was quite busy with siskins and goldfinches…

siskins

…with the siskins demonstrating why the seed level goes down so quickly when they are there.  They drop at least half of their food as the seeds are just too big for their beaks.

We have had regular visits from a small group of pigeons recently and they were back again today…

pigeon

…keeping an eye out for fallen seed.

I am hoping for a less windy day tomorrow to get a last minute addition to my mileage for the month of May but there is a hint of more rain in the forecast so time will tell.

The flying bird(s) of the day is a collection of airborne siskins.

flying siskins

 

 

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Today’s guest picture come from Venetia’s trip to Toulouse a couple of weeks ago.  She came across this very cheerful lady with a rather macabre exhibit in a local flea market there.

toulouse flea market

Our spell of remarkably fine weather continued with temperatures so far above the seasonal average that we were quite pleased to find them moderated by a brisk wind.

We didn’t have much time to enjoy the sunshine before we went off to sing in the church choir.  The choir sang a short anthem between the bible readings and we were stunned to receive a totally unexpected round of applause from the congregation when we finished.  It might have been sparked off by the visiting minister who was taking the service. I have never encountered this in the middle of a service before but it was very pleasing to be on the receiving end of it.

My throat is not much better but as I was singing bass, I was able to croak my way through without too much trouble.

When we got back to the house, there was a few minutes to look round the garden.  There is a lot to look at as the garden has been transformed in the week that we were away.

There is a good variety of colour ranging from the white of the  clematis round the back door…

clematis

…and a new veronica beside the middle lawn (which Mrs Tootlepedal assures me is blue but it looks dead white to me)…veronica

…and some sweet rocket near the silver pear.

sweet rockety

Slightly more colour can be seen in the pale aquilegias…

aquilegia

…and more still in the potentillas along the back wall of the house beside the dam.

potentilla

This year Mrs Tootlepedal has decided to be pleased by the various Welsh poppies which tend to pop up randomly all over the garden…

welsh poppy

…this one beside a promising looking hosta.

On the opposite side of the dam, Kenny’s euphorbia is going from strength to strength.

euphorbia

Stronger shades of colour have cropped up unexpectedly beside the yellow potentilla in the shape of this blue aquilegia which has dropped in from somewhere unknown.  It is very welcome.

aquilegia

In the garden, there was more blue as the first cornflower has come out.

cornflower

But for ‘big colour’, it is hard to beat a peony.  This is the first of the year.

peony

However, all things considered, this azalea does probably carry more zing.

azalea

Mrs Tootlepedal was worried because its leaves were tinged with what looked like an unhealthy colour but as you can see, it is looking very well.

We didn’t have time to do any lawn care or large scale watering as we had to rush off to Carlisle to get to an early start for the last practice of the community choir there before its season ending concert next Sunday.  Our excellent conductor is leaving us to go on to bigger and better things and as he will be sorely missed, the practice was a bitter sweet occasion.

My croaky voice just about stood up to singing the tenor part as luckily, the parts were generally in the lower range of tenor part singing but there were times when it gave up and I was left looking a bit like a beached fish with my mouth opening but nothing coming out.  The conductor has prescribed a week of not talking.  Those who know me will gauge how likely that is to happen.

It was a beautiful evening when we got home and Mrs Tootlepedal rushed to water her seedlings in the greenhouse (the temperature was in the mid twenties) and then she was able to do some useful work in the garden while I took a few more pictures.

The clematis at the back door is at its best when the evening sun lights it up…

clematis

…and the peony looked good too.

peony

Also looking good but not quite so welcome was this striking rhubarb flower.

rhubarb flower

The rhubarb has been neglected while we have been away and may be past its best for eating but there are promising signs of meals to come in the bean department.

broad  beans

The evening light was kind to our white potentilla…

potentilla

…but a new plant, recently purchased by Mrs Tootlepedal, was looking good in a shady bed.  It is a Choisya…

choisya

…and a good one as far as I am concerned.

The ornamental strawberries are having a very good year and Mrs Tootlepedal is spreading them about a bit.

ornamental  strawberries

I had no time to linger around at the kitchen window waiting for birds to come to the feeder today…

siskin

…but I did catch a siskin having words with someone.

The best I could do for a flying bird was a couple of shots of an aggressive pigeon trying to get another pigeon to fly away.

pigeons

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows that Mary Jo has not been wasting her entire time in London going to concerts and seeing the sights.  She has looked at interesting things as well.

Mary Jo's moss

We had another grey, cold and windy day today.  To be fair, it has been pretty dry recently and if it hadn’t been for the very chilly wind, we would probably have been celebrating a good spell of weather.

I went up to the Moorland bird hide after breakfast to fill the feeders for Sandy who is still on holiday in the sun and it was so cold that even sitting in the protection of the hide was not much fun.

There weren’t that many birds to take my mind off the chill either.

blackbirds

Different blackbirds were in evidence

robin, tit and siskin

And a shy robin, a bold great tit and a tiny siskin

unknown bird

And this bird, unknown to me, which stopped for a very brief moment.  I welcome identification from knowledgeable readers.  It might be a chiffchaff.

woodpecker

A woodpecker was very busy flitting between trees and feeders…

woodpecker

…until it finally came near to me and made sure that I got its good side.

As I say, I didn’t stop long and was pleased to get back to the town and get a  little shelter from the cruel wind.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden of course so I lent a little hand here and there and wandered around as well.

New flowers are coming out, some from the soil ….

tulips

….and some from handy boxes bought from a garden centre to temporarily fill a bare patch in a bed.

pansies

Amazingly, there are still one or two daffodils waiting for the moment to burst into flower…

unopened daffodil May

…while others, like these daffodils of the day, are nearing the end of the road.

daffodil

Dozens and dozens of daffodils have been dead headed already.

There is almost always something to see.  Today it was a pulsatilla, the first of many I hope….

pulsatilla

…with some pretty ferns unfolding in the back border….

fern

..near the first Solomon’s seal of the year…

solomon's seal

…and on the other side of the garden, a fuzzy willow bud, defying the cameramen to take a sharp picture.

willow bud

And if there are no bees about, there is usually a fly on the euphorbia,

fly on euphorbia

If you get really fed up with the chilly wind, you can get your camera to take silly pictures…

tulip picture

…and go inside for a cup of coffee.

tulip picture

Once inside, you can look out of the window and see that the goldfinches have taken over the feeder…

goldfinches

…with such total domination that you can see a chaffinch banging its head against the pole in frustration in the picture above.

A pigeon cast a beady eye on proceedings from the plum tree.

pigeon

When I went out to tell Mrs Tootlepedal that coffee was ready, a blackbird demanded to have its picture taken.

blackbird

We were rather alarmed to see a man up the telephone pole behind the house as the last time that this happened, he accidentally disconnected our internet.  All was well today though as you can tell from the fact that this post has been posted.

After lunch, we went off to see Matilda and her parents in Edinburgh and had a constructive afternoon making scones, getting nails painted (some of us), playing a very non competitive form of snap and some Pelmanism.

We had a delightful evening meal and tested the scones (very good) before we walked up to the station to catch the train home.  Slightly unnervingly, both the up and down trains were precisely on time.

Mercifully, the forecast says it is going to get warmer over the next few days and as my thumb is now nearly cured and my new bike should appear either tomorrow or Saturday, things are really looking up.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches, losing a bit of seed in its anxiety to shout abuse at a friend.

goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mike and Alison’s recent visit to New Zealand where they saw this handsome NZ kingfisher.  I don’t know which of them took the picture.

NZ kingfisher

It was reasonably warm for the time of year again this morning but once again the effect was somewhat spoiled by light drizzle and a very strong wind.  I stayed indoors and did some useful stuff.

Mrs Tootlepedal had to go off to the dentist for some treatment and I filled some of the time while he was out by watching the birds.  I was able to confirm that we have at least four lesser redpolls visiting us at the moment.

busy feeder with redpolls

I am not sure if the hidden bird at the back of the feeder is another redpoll or a siskin.

There were plenty of siskins shouting and beating people up.

busy siskins

A wood pigeon brought a more stately air to the proceedings.

pigeon

The forecast was for a fine afternoon with a further rise in the temperature so after lunch, I thought of cycling although the wind was a bit off-putting.  However, I did manage to get into my cycling gear and go out.  Virtue was rewarded when it turned out that the wind had dropped considerably from the morning and although it was still noticeable, it wasn’t totally discouraging and I enjoyed pedalling in some warm air.

There were signs of spring along the road and although the prettiest was probably this primrose…

primrose

…..the most welcome was probably this larch twig, a real forerunner of the new green season.

larch bursting

As always, I looked at a wall if I stopped to take a general view and I liked this crusty set of lichen…

lichen on wall

…and was interested to find that there were some tiny red spots of colour among the stems when I put the picture on the computer.  I hadn’t been able to see them with the naked eye.

The most noticeable thing was not the roadside flowers or the larch needles but the fact that the grass has at last started growing in the cultivated fields.

Ewes valley april

We are greening up….

Ewes valley april

…although the rough hillside has some time to go yet before it goes green.

I was a bit sorry to find that the day was more amenable to cycling than I had thought that it would be as I could have gone a more interesting route if I had realised.   I made up for my dull route choice by stopping at the Kilngreen to buy a nougat wafer from the ice cream van there and I ate it while sitting on a bench by the river and enjoying the bird life.

This is a lesser black backed gull (I have to thank a reader who corrected my view that it was a herring gull last time one appeared in a post),

lesser black backed gull

And these are a small fraction of the hundreds of rooks that swirl about in the sky over the town.

rooks

I took a picture of the Langholm Bridge to show how much the river has dropped since yesterday…

Langholm Bridge

…and then I pedalled home, arriving just as the sun came out.

It was such a lovely afternoon that I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal, who was just having a cup of tea indoors after some hard work in the garden, to come and drink it outside.

Mrs T's new bench area

She has almost finished her new bench area so we put a couple of plastic chairs out and tested it.

This is the view that we had from the chairs.

daffodils

It was wonderful to be able to sit out and enjoy the warmth and the sunshine as this was our first opportunity for months.

The new lawn shaping has been completed and this is how it looked this afternoon.

new look middle lawn

You can see the new bench are on the right.

I was quite pleased to see the grass on the middle lawn trying to win the battle against the moss so I got the mower out and mowed the front lawn.  There is no picture of the result there as the moss is still winning hands down.

I had time for a camera-wander.  I got a fleeting glimpse of a tadpole in the pond….

tadpole

…which was very encouraging.  There were lots of others about too.

The first fritillaries are out…

fritillaria

…and I found a corydalis in a pot and the rosemary next to the greenhouse.

corydalis and rosemary

The temperature is due to drop back a bit but even half a day at 18°C was enough to cheer us up enormously.  We have had such a long spell of cold and cool weather that we had begun to think that things might never warm up again.

The are a lot of daffodils to choose from but this one was my daffodil of the day today.

daffodil

I made some risotto for our tea and then Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre and I went off to sing with the Langholm community choir.  Our concert with the local orchestra is in two weeks so we worked hard.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.  It is not a good picture but I think that it conveys some of the energy that these tiny birds put into their visits to the feeders  so I have put it in.

flying siskin

I would like to thank Canadian reader and Langholm exile, Joyce Lewis, for a very kind mention of this blog in an article which she wrote for our local paper.  It is very nice to think that the pictures can bring back youthful memories of the area.

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Today’s guest picture is a cheery looking cottage with a rather mournful sign.  My friend Bruce visited it in the village of Eyam in the Derbyshire dales.

plague cottage

Our spell of grey, cold and windy weather continued today and as I woke up with a pain in my side which had come from who knows where and wouldn’t go away, I got progressively gloomier as the day went on.

I started with a stroll round the garden to find the daffodil of the day…

daffodil…and then tested out the ability of the Lumix to take a bird picture through the kitchen window…

goldfinch

…and followed that by brief walk with Patricia to stretch her legs before catching the train back to London.  We walked along the river between the suspension bridge and the town bridge and then walked back along the other side.

I had hoped for some bird life to show our visitor and was pleased to see a dipper flitting about the river.  It did so much flitting that I couldn’t get a picture of it and once again had to settle for a more obliging oyster catcher.

oyster catcher

After coffee, we went off to Carlisle where Patricia caught her London train and Mrs Tootlepedal, after a brief burst of shopping and a light lunch, caught the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.  Meanwhile, I visited the bike shop to organise the pedal specification for my new bike (still two weeks away) and then went home, passing the cathedral….

Carlisle cathedral

…and a splendid bank of municipal daffodils on my way back to the car.

carlisle daffs

Once home, I had time for a light lunch of soup and cheese before an old friend came round to get my help in booking flights to and from Barcelona.   As she has no access to a computer, she finds it impossible to do this for herself.   With a bit of a struggle, we managed to find suitable flights and booked them but as I don’t fly, it was all new and sometimes baffling to me.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that it all turns out right.

I gave my friend a lift home and then took a walk round the garden, looking both down…

scilla

…and up…

forsythia

..and managing to avoid the outstretched grasp of the silver pear in between.

silver pear

I did think about a cycle ride but my ribs were sore and the wind was biting so I went back indoors and watched the birds in a glum sort of way.

Once again, there were plenty to watch in spite of occasional (unsuccessful) fly throughs from the sparrowhawk.

busy feeder

The siskins were not here today but there were a lot of goldfinches so the seed still went down at a good speed…

busy feeder

…and the regular chaffinches were as anxious to make their feelings known as ever…

_DSC3173

…either behind the back or face to face.

_DSC3172

We have been getting visits from quite a few pigeons lately.  They always seem to have slightly pursed lips and a disapproving air about them.

pigeon

Having discarded thoughts of cycling, my gloomy mood kept me from walking too and I just slouched about the house looking mean, moody but far from magnificent for the rest of the afternoon.

In the evening, I picked up Susan and we drove to Carlisle where the healing properties of playing recorder music with a sympathetic group came to the fore and cheered me up enormously.

I was cheered even more by going to the station after finishing playing, to collect Mrs Tootlepedal from the Edinburgh train before coming back to Langholm

We are going to have a quiet day tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew in Derby.  They had a spot of snow there.

Derby snow

We had a spot of snow too but not nearly so much as they did and this was the scene that welcomed us when we got up this morning.

snowy lawn

The chaffinches watched the continuing arrival of more snow rather morosely.

chaffinches and snowflake

And the daffodils and crocuses looked a bit oppressed.

daffs in snow

We went off to church where there was a rather diminished choir and came back in a mini blizzard but luckily the snow didn’t stick…

snowy lawn

…and the road surfaces must have been quite warm because in spite of the thermometer staying at a miserable 1 degree above freezing, the snow on the roads melted and we felt that it would be completely safe to drive to Carlisle after lunch for our other choir.

Over lunch, I kept and eye on the bird feeders.  The feeder  traffic was totally chaffinch.

Sometimes they all watched what was going on with interest…

chaffinches

…and sometimes, eating was  more attractive than watching squabbling…

chaffinches

…and sometimes there was so much going on that a bird simply couldn’t watch it all.

flying  chaffinch

In the snow below, a steady stream of visitors provided interest.

robin

Two old friends, a robin and a dunnock…

dunnock

…and two less frequent visitors, a wood pigeon…

pigeon

…and a collared dove.

collared dove

A blackbird kept everyone in order,  a teacher perhaps in a former life.

blackbird

The roads stayed clear and the trip to Carlisle was completed satisfactorily.  We had a substitute conductor today as Andrew had another choir’s concert to worry about.  Alison has taken us before and she is very good but as she thinks that we are bit better at picking things up quickly than we actually are it was a challenging session for someone who had not sung one of the pieces before and the other only once some years ago.

But it was all good fun.

Mrs Tootlepedal had prepared an evening meal in the slow cooker so we had a warm welcome home.

We have one more cold day in store and then things should warm up again.  Considering that in the south and west of the country roads were closed because of the snow, we seem to have got off lightly again.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  It had to be as there were no others.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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