Posts Tagged ‘pine tree’

Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s American adventure.  No prizes for guessing the name of this animal.


We woke to an unexpected scene this morning….

snowy garden

…though it was only unexpected as it had arrived sooner than I was expecting.

There wasn’t that much of a snowy scene though when I walked down to the river after breakfast….

River Esk snow

…and although it was only just above freezing all day, the snow tended to fade away as quickly as it had come.

While it was there, it made a good background for a greenfinch on the feeder….


…and the brighter light showed off the rich colours on the back of a dunnock which often looks like a rather dowdy bird.


It is one of my favourite garden birds.


I also like blue tits so I was pleased to see one in one of the sunny patches that interspersed the day.   You can see the nippy wind ruffling its  feathers.

blue tit

Because the wind was blowing briskly from the ‘wrong’ direction, the birds couldn’t hover when visiting the side of the feeder where I usually catch my flying visitors and there were very few birds today anyway, not surprising when this sort of thing happened.


I stopped trying to get a FBotD shot and went off to have lunch at the Buccleuch Centre with Mrs Tootlepedal in an effort to forget the weather.  It worked well as we had an excellent meal.

After lunch, I settled down to work at my computer and time fairly flew by.  When I looked up, the sun was out again so I put on my coat and went for a short walk.  I was hoping to see river side birds and I wasn’t disappointed.

Mr Grumpy was catching some late afternoon rays…


…and the ducks were doing likewise.


Crossing the Sawmill Brig, I looked down in the hope of seeing a dipper.


The Lumix did exceedingly well considering that it was quite far below me and in shadow.

The moss on the wall had survived the snow….


…and I was impressed by the enthusiasm of this clump which had managed to find a place to grow between two cut logs.


On the side of one of the logs, I could see the the seed holding cups of another moss.  The brown ones are empty (I think) and….


…the green ones are still in business.


In spite of the low sunshine, it was very nippy and the clouds behind Whita were beginning to look threatening…


…so I took a picture of some fine pines…


…put my camera in my pocket and headed home without stopping again.

I got in just as it started to snow.

It is promising to be colder and to snow more tomorrow.  What fun.  All the same, there are many parts of the country both to the south and north who are having a harder time than us so we mustn’t grumble.

Under the circumstances there is no flying bird of the day so the dunnock creeps into the frame instead.



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


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

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

There were a great many chaffinches…

moorland feeder chaffinches

…and a lot of squabbling siskins…

moorland feeder siskins

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

female pheasant

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

ringed chaffinch

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

There were siskins and chaffinches there too.

siskin and chaffinch

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

blue tits

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

…but mostly it was chaffinches.

chaffinch flying

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


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

There was some fine gorse on the Gair road.


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

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

Tree near Chapelknowe

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

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


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


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

He looked thoroughly serene.

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

early daffs

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

Town Bridge

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

pine trees

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

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


It was a case of taking the rough….


…with the smooth.

I had a last look at the pine trees….

pine tree

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

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

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

flying goldfinch



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Today’s guest picture from my sister Mary shows Mr Grumpy’s London relative in Regent’s Park.

Mr Grumpy making a London visitToday’s chapter of the great end wall saga started well with the early arrival of the chimney pot removal gang and progressed smoothly with the actual removal of the aforesaid pot.

chimney goneWhile this was happening, I made some ginger biscuits and was then visited by Dropscone bearing scones.  My ginger biscuits were a fraction undercooked (a fault on the right side) and Dropscone’s scones were, as always, quite perfect.

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal retired for a session on her bike to nowhere and I got togged up for a walk in the chilly sunshine.  I was just about to set out when Sandy arrived and he joined me on my expedition.

Because of the good company and the pleasant sunshine, I was happy to walk a little further than I had intended and got over two and a half miles for the first time.  My knee was very happy about this but the rest of me was pretty jiggered by the time we got back.

Our route took us over the Esk….

river eskand onto the Castleholm.

We were held up by a colourful robin.

robinWhen I looked at the picture on the computer, it looked as though it had been swimming but somehow that doesn’t seem very likely.  We saw several more robins on our walk.

There were a number of small birds flitting around and this blue tit stopped just long enough for a quick snap.

blue titThere was a lot to look at as we went round and I have picked out a tall pine tree….

pine tree….a twisted branch reaching out towards the river….

branch…a fine view of the hills…

Timpen…a bunch of catkins…

catkin…the road through the woods…

woods…a few snowdrops…

snowdrops…a tree stump rotting in a picturesque way….

tree stump…and ducks in the Ewes going this way and that.

mallardsIt is noticeable from a photographic point of view how different the colouring of both the duck and the water is considering they were taken within a few yards of each other and with minutes.  A member of our camera club was complaining about ‘cheating’ by using a photo editor at our last meeting.  He doesn’t realise how much a camera does without asking.

I stopped for a last look back as we crossed the town bridge…

Castle Hill…and collapsed gratefully into a chair when I got home.

You can see the pictures that Sandy took on our walk if you visit his blog.  He saw a waxwing in his garden this morning and although we kept an eye out, we didn’t see one on our walk.

Once again, Mrs Tootlepedal provided me with an excellent meal.  This time it was a bowl of nourishing bean and chilli soup (with croutons) and I was so perked up that after lunch, I took her up to see the new bird hide at the Moorland feeder station.  It looks very good but is still lacking a floor.

There were few birds about so Mrs Tootlepedal went off on foot to walk the two and a half miles home and I strolled along the road across the moor.

tarras roadI visited a boulder in a roadside glade that I noticed on my last walk along this road and picked out a prominent lichen.

boulder lichenAs I walked along, I startled a little bird which I can’t identify.

redpollBack at the hide, the feeders went unvisited but the usual crew of pheasants strutted about.  One caught a ray of sunshine on its breast.

pheasantThese birds are free of the chance of being shot as the shooting season has come to an end but they will have to find their own food from now on.

By the time that I had finished my short walk and driven back to Langholm, Mrs Tootlepedal had also arrived in the town and jumped into the car for the last few hundred yards.

A cup of tea and a ginger biscuit was our reward when we got home.

In the evening, I went to the Archive Centre with Sandy and we finished off the last week of my index backlog.

A very satisfactory day was made even better by the availability of a convenient black headed gull as flying bird of the day.


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Today’s guest picture is from one of my sister Mary’s walks. She was impressed by the disciplined formation of these gulls.

The seagulls do like to line up neatlyAfter a couple of tumultuous days of wind and rain, we were blessed with a day of peace today.  The wind dropped away to almost nothing and the sun shone and all was right with the world.  The temperature even played its part by keeping above 3° C and leaving the roads frost free.

It was still pretty chilly after breakfast so I had time before the thermometer crept up to a heady 4.7°C to look out of the window….


Goldfinches gather in the chilly morning light.

sparrow and goldfinch

The cold weather didn’t improve anyone’s manners.

chaffinch and goldfinch

robin….but in the end, I pulled myself together and set about getting the speedy bike out, pumping up the tyres, putting on several layers and arming myself with two bananas and a Kitkat chocolate biscuit.   I had had a route in mind but very fortunately Joyce, who works in the shop where I bought my bananas, told me that she had driven along part of it on her way to work and the farmer had been cutting the hedges so my chosen road was covered in thorns.

I changed my plan and after a quick stop to admire the larch trees at Mrs Tootlepedal’s manure mine…

larches in autumn….I headed over the hill and onto the road to Kirkpatrick Fleming.   I saw two interesting sights.  The first was Dropscone whizzing along past me in the opposite direction too quickly for me to get the camera out and the second was a large bunch of starlings in a tree.

starlingsI wondered if they had started to gather in large flocks at Gretna in the evening yet.

Dropscone told me later that he had done a thirty mile trip starting when it was still very chilly.  He had not wanted to come with me as he is suffering from saddle sores and thirty miles was his limit.

I pedalled on peering into the strong low sunshine and in the end turned down to Gretna and then crossed over into England.  My knee is a bit delicate and I was anxious not to put it under too much stress so I kept to flat roads.  I crossed the main line railway a couple of times and was impressed by the length of this goods train which was creeping up the slow lane near Todhills to let an express flash past.

goods trainIt makes the heart glad as a cyclist to see how many lorries a train like this keeps off the roads.

North Cumbria has many fine lone pine trees in its hedges.  This one was near Blackdyke.

Todhills pineI worked my way back to Longtown where I ate my second banana  just downstream of the fine bridge over the Esk there….

Longtown bridge…and then popped into our local bike shop to get an opinion on a rather loud and somewhat alarming bicycle noise.  The verdict was ‘nothing fatal’ so I pedalled on, passing this wonderfully bright gorse bush in a hedge on the way to Chapelknowe.

gorse buch

Not a common sight in late autumn.

From Chapelknowe, I took the direct route home and racked up 55 miles just as I came near the house.  Thanks to the light wind and the flat roads, I managed to keep up a respectable speed (for me)  and anyone with time hanging heavily on their hands can see the route by clicking on the map below.

Garmin 29 Oct 14After a late lunch, a relaxing bath and a quick look out of the kitchen window…..


A greenfinch glowing gently.

…I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that a trip to Gretna (by car this time) might let us see some interesting starling flocks.  I was quite wrong about interesting starling viewing although the trip was quite good fun in itself.

The evening light was lovely.

gretnaWe did see a few small bunches of starlings but there was nothing to write home about.  The views were wonderful as we drove over and the Lake District hills looked striking in the dusk on the far side of the Solway when we got there.

Lake District

You can see a tiny flock of starlings in the top left corner of this shot.

There was quite a good sunset going on too….

sunset at Gretna…and to add to the excitement, there was a terrific traffic jam on the motorway which had been completely shut because of a lorry fire further south so the normally quiet road through Gretna was awash with lorries that had been diverted.   As we drove home, I took another sunset with the outline of stranded motorway traffic in front of it.

Gretna sunset The traffic jam was so severe that the party of singers in our Langholm choir who come from Longtown were delayed on their way to the choir two hours later.

The moon was out in a light haze by the time that we got home.

autumn moonWe had time for our tea before going to the choir.  We had a very well organised and useful practice tonight.  As we have two concerts coming up in early December this was definitely a good thing.

Believe it or not the rather grainy flying bird of the day is not a chaffinch.

flying greenfinch

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