Posts Tagged ‘polypore’

My South African correspondent, Tom, thought that it was time to make the blog more attractive to the wider public so he has sent me this delectable picture of bare flesh.  They have to put up with a lot of fine weather down there.


There was once again no danger of sunburn in Langholm as the temperature stayed near freezing all day.

I had to go back to the health centre to get the dressings on my scratches from the bike crash changed again.  Things are healing up very nicely though and I should be be clear of sticking plaster by the end of the week with luck.

After his own spell of illness, Scott, the minister, proved that he had got his coffee radar working well again and appeared for a visit just as coffee was on the go.  He is a keen cyclist and in view of the continuing bad weather, he has taken out a gym membership and had been spinning away in the gym before he came to see us.  I am thinking about the possibility of going to the gym.  But only thinking about it.

We had a look at progress on the dam bridge repair while he was with us.

dam bridge repairs

The concrete has set well and the big concrete beams were being lowered into place.

After Scott left, I made some vegetable soup for lunch and kept an eye on the birds while it was cooking.

Sometimes I wonder if there are more interesting things going on round the back of the feeder than at the front.


I have put out some ground level food and it is beginning to attract some customers.

blackbird and dunnock

A blackbird and a dunnock test out the new treat.

Two greenfinches arrived and showed magnificent disdain for the attempt by a chaffinch to unsettle them.

blacgreenfinches and chaffinch

And we were pleased to see a random great tit.

great tit

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal set about stripping the old varnish off the dining room table and I went out for a walk.

I stopped at Pool Corner to show the sluice and caul that provide the water for the dam (and create the pool that gives Pool Corner its name)…

pool corner and the dam

…and while I was leaning on the wall and contemplating life, a dipper flew in and posed briefly for me.

dipper at Pool Corner

I walked up the Hallcrofts road to have a look at the progress of the felling at the Becks wood.  It is extensive.

Becks wood felling

You can click on the photo to get the bigger picture if you want.

A skilful combination of man and machine was adding to the already enormous pile of logs beside the road.


On a wall nearby, I studied a strand of moss and thought how much it resembled a conifer tree in miniature.

moss strand

I had checked the forecast before I had set out and it offered only a very small chance of any rain and I suppose it was right in a way as I had dry spells and I also went through a couple of heavy hail showers but it never actually rained.

sunshine and hail

Taken a twenty minutes apart

At least the hail stopped and looked good on some clumps of moss.

hail on moss

Although I am mostly thinking about moss, I haven’t lost my taste for lichens and fungus.

The lichen on the fence post at the Auld Stane Bridge was looking very healthy.  The red spots are so tiny that I didn’t see them until I looked at the picture on my computer.


And there was a good set of birch polypores beside the river as I went along Gaskell’s Walk.

birch polypore

After the hail showers, i would have been more appreciative if the sun had shone on me rather than on nearby hills…

sun on hill

…but at least it stayed dry for the rest of my walk.

Following some recent advice I looked at the sori on the back of ferns…

fern sori

…and following my own inclinations, I was impressed by the variety of moss within a square yard on the park wall.


The dam bridge repairs are now a spectator sport…..

dam bridge repairs

…and they are a subject of considerable interest in our neighbourhood.

I was a little tired today after all the excitements of going to Manchester yesterday so I was not as unhappy as I might have been to find that the usual Monday evening trio playing had been cancelled.  My flute pupil Luke came though and we had an enjoyable time working on a sonata so it wasn’t a totally tootle free day.

We noticed with sinking heart a telephone engineer climbing the pole outside our house in the late afternoon and were very relieved when he did what he had to do without cutting off our phone line this time.

When the workers had left, I popped out to record their progress on the bridge repair.  They and their machines had worked hard today.

dam bridge repairs

The forecast is for more strong winds, low temperatures and possible snow so I don’t think I am going to be able to test my cycling appetite and abilities for a few days yet.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch in expansive mood,

flying goldfinch




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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo Abbott, a Canadian reader, who must be visiting London as she sent me this picture of a Canada goose in Regent’s Park.  These Canadians get everywhere.

Canada Goose

Our day started very well as far as the weather went and the view from the bridge as I walked back from taking the car to the garage to get its winter tyres on might make you wonder whether winter tyres were necessary at all.

November view of church

In spite of the sunshine though, it was pretty chilly and I had had to wipe the frost off the windscreen before taking the car out.  The Buccleuch Park looked at its best as I passed it on my way home.


It was too cold for a pedal as I am very anxious to avoid cycling in anything like icy conditions so I was very happy to wait in for Dropscone to arrive with the traditional Friday treacle scones.

He came early as he had to be back to wait for a parcel delivery and my vague plan was to think about a pedal when he had left.  However, it was still on the chilly side so I set about shifting compost instead.  Because it has been so dry lately, the compost is reasonably light to shift and I managed to shift all of Bin C into the recently emptied Bin D and even moved a little of Bin B into Bin C.

Then I needed a little sit down.

The garage rang to say that the car was ready so I walked up and got it and when I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal came out to admire it because the garage had kindly washed it for us and it was looking unusually smart.  While we were out, we did some more compost shifting, emptying a plastic barrel with some of the contents going straight onto a bed and some being added to Bin C.  I took the chance to shift a bit more of Bin B into Bin C and with luck should be able to finish the job tomorrow.

Then I needed another little sit down.

I managed to rouse myself enough to have a little lunch and a look at the birds.

blue tit

Blue tits can’t help looking cute


Greenfinches can’t help looking fierce…

chaffinch and greenfinch

…or surprised

I always like it if I can catch a bird in the act of landing.

chaffinch landing

While I was looking at the feeder, I noticed that the nerines below the feeder seemed to have lost their flowers and given themselves over to berry production and went out to look.


Checking the forecast and seeing that there was no rain predicted for a couple of hours, I popped upstairs and put on my cycling gear and came down again to find it was raining.  A look outside confirmed that there was a lot of very grey cloud about so I went back up and took my cycling gear off.  I came back downstairs, looked outside and found that it had stopped raining.  How I laughed.

It still looked very gloomy so I picked up an umbrella in one hand and a camera in the other and went for a walk, planning to keep going until it started to rain again.

I needed the umbrella on occasion to help me keep my balance when scrambling about beside the river but I could have left it at home otherwise as I walked for just under three miles with the skies getting ever darker but with no sign of rain at all.

My Lumix peered valiantly through the gloom as I went along.

I walked through the park and along the Murtholm track…

Murtholm track

….admiring a pretty umbellifer and some brilliant holly berries…

umbellifer and holly

It’s a bit early to be thinking of Christmas.

…before stopping to look at Skippers Bridge from the town side for once.

Skippers bridge

The damage from last winter’s floods looks a bit alarming…

Skippers bridge

…and we are all surprised that the road authorities haven’t done any repairs during this recent dry and settled spell.

The view through the bridge was delightful even on such a grey day.

Esk at Skippers

I went over the bridge and down to the river on the far side and saw one salmon leap out of the water twice (or perhaps two salmon leaping once each) but couldn’t get my camera focussed in the right place at the right time to record this.  I hung around for a while in hope and then, thinking that I might as well try to get home while it was still dry, gave up and  walked up the steps onto the old railway…

Old railway

…and came home via the Round House and Hallpath.

There were some fine birch polypores in the woods to see on the way.


Big ones on one tree…


…and bigger ones on another

There was the odd flower to be seen too….

flowers in November

…as well as neat hedges…

hallpath hedge

…and a good view over the old Waverley Mill.

Waverley Mill in autumn

It was so dark that it felt as though it was quite late in the evening when I got home but it was only three o’clock and a reminder that I will need to get started promptly if I am going to cycle in the afternoon now.  I haven’t got a proper set of lights for pedalling on country roads in the dark.

I put in some time practising songs for our Carlisle choir as we have got quite a lot to prepare for our Christmas concert and then rang up the Archive Centre power company with some meter readings.  They offered to tell me what our account balance was but sadly but predictably they were unable to work it out and said that they would write to me.  I put the phone down quickly before I got angry again and did some more of that sitting down which is so attractive when you get to my age and have to deal with utility companies.

In the evening, I made some more apple fritters, which went down very well with Mrs Tootlepedal (and me) and then sat down to watch the telly for a bit.  There was a good programme on the Scottish countryside (which included a brief visit to the spot where Dropscone and his daughter were recently on holiday) and this was followed by some live track cycling from Glasgow so it was a better evening than usual on the box.

The flower of the day is a winter jasmine outside our back door….


…and the flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from my siblings recent visit to the Lake District.  Mary managed to capture this lovely shot of Ullswater out of the car window.

Evening light, Ullswater

One of my little plans is to have at least one cycle ride every year in which the number of miles equals or exceeds my age (and to keep doing this for as long as possible). The mathematically minded among you will realise that this will become a greater challenge as the years go by but as I am a mere 74 at the moment, it is not a great problem.

Today seemed like a good day to get it out of the way for this year as the forecast promised dry conditions with occasional sunshine and a light wind in my face on the way to my outward destination.  In addition, the wind was to get up a bit about the time that I would turn for home and blow me back so everything looked ideal.

Often reality does not meet with expectation but today it did.

I set out with the intention of reaching the cafe at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Caerlaverock in nice time for lunch and I arrived just after one o’clock.  Even a lightish wind makes for hard going on the exposed road along the Solway shore so I was quite ready for soup and a hot pie when I got there.

I had stopped on my way to catch an unexpected outburst of blackthorn blossom among some gorse near Gretna…

blackthorn and gorse

…and the bridge at Bankend.

Bankend Bridge

There was a very pretty view upstream from the bridge and the sharp eyed will notice a ruined peel tower in the distance.

Bankend Bridge

My last stop, just before lunch, was to admire some very hefty birch polypores beside the road.


I didn’t linger long after my lunch and was soon on my way home.  The road from the WWT was lined with wild flowers.


I made good progress with a more friendly wind and was a bit reluctant to stop for photo ops but the scene at the Brow Well was too good to miss.

The Brow Well is a stop on the Burns trail, as he came here to bathe in the waters shortly before his death. (Some experts feel that the waters may have helped to kill him.)

The last time that I went past it looked like this

Brow Well

The paving is modern!

Today, it looked a bit different.

brow well

I think that it is fair to say that there was a very high tide.  It was nearly up to the road.

brow well

I have passed this spot many times both on a bike and in a car and have never seen the tide this high before.

It was still quite high when I crossed the River Annan as I came into the town some time later.

River Annan

My last stop was for a banana on the international bridge over the Sark at Gretna.  I looked over the seaward parapet and was delighted to see an unexpected blackthorn in full blossom beside the river.

blackthorn at Gretna

From then on, it was full steam ahead for home and I just managed to squeeze the average speed up to 14 mph for the 78 mile ride, thanks to the kindly wind.  My distance calculations were a bit out but the extra four miles didn’t hurt too much at all.

As an additional bonus, the ride took me over 1000 miles for the year.  I should have hot this target on 31 March but being only eight days late is not too bad considering the terrible weather in January.

Those interested may click on the map below for more details

garmin route 8 April 2016

The website is wrong about the rain and the wind

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I arrived home so I joined her for a stroll round the policies.


Tulip anticipation is at fever pitch.

More flowers are growing every day.


These primulas will soon be fully out

And old friends are looking better all the time.

primula, hyacinth and fritillary

But mostly, Mrs Tootlepedal is saying it with daffodils.


On a big scale


In small bunches


And sometimes so discreetly hidden between box ball and hedge that only the privileged few can glimpse them.

I did have time for a sit and look out of the window where I saw a wood pigeon auditioning for the role of Mr Grumpy should it become vacant.

wood pigeon

Some loud quacking drew me back out of the house and I saw our resident pair of ducks beside the dam.

dam ducks

Feeling unaccountably tired, I went for a bath while Mrs Tootlepedal kindly cooked my tea and I was recovered enough to play some enjoyable music with Alison Tinker when she and Mike came round for their customary Friday visit.

Mrs Tootlepedal was feeling very cheerful today as not only had she framed some very nice Matilda pictures and hung them on the wall but she had also been granted access to a very fine manure mine.  It is on hard standing and she can back the car right up to the heap which avoids any double handling.  She can hardly wait to visit it.

In all the excitement of the day, I didn’t have much time to look for a flying bird so I was grateful to a chaffinch for turning back and doing its best to get into the shot.

flying chaffinch


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Today’s guest picture shows Queentown’s harbour taken in the evening by my brother Andrew when he visited the town earlier this month..

Queenstown Another windy day discouraged me from going cycling and I was secretly quite pleased as I am going through one of those periods when I am feeling a bit tired.  Doing nothing more strenuous in the morning than entertaining Sandy to a cup of coffee, making some sourdough bread and doing the crossword was just what the doctor ordered.

After lunch though, Sandy and I agreed to go for a short walk as the weather looked a little brighter.  No sooner did we put the phone down than it started to rain so Sandy came down and we put a week of the newspaper index into the database while we waited for the rain to stop.

It did stop and we went to Whitshiels in his car so that we could do one of my favourite short walks.  We were determined to try to use our eyes as much as possible as we pottered up the the hill.


It wasn’t too hard to see this little cascade at the start of our walk.

wild flower

A tiny pink wild flower stood out against the green background.

Moss with raindrops

This spiky moss was sparkling with raindrops.  It is amazing how such small spikes can such large drops of water.

I knew in advance that I might find some interesting lichen and moss on a gate beside the track and I wasn’t disappointed.

gateMy real target were these striking but tiny red dots.  I needed the camera to bring them up to a size that let me see them properly.


British soldier lichen

There were other items on interest (to me at least) on the way up the track.

fern spores

The underside of a fern

nettle leaf

And a nettle leaf

We went only as far as the top of the track as the fields were soggy and we weren’t wearing heavy boots but when we were there, relentless detective work was rewarded by some fine birch polypores of all ages.

birch polyporesJust how hard they were to find is illustrated by this picture of Sandy searching in vain for them.

Sandy and the polyporesWe were intrigued by a strange growth on some old trees nearby.  Is it a fungus, a lichen, a slime mold?  Surely some knowledgeable reader can help us out here.

Tree growthIt was quite large,  The central coloured section is as a large as a hand.

It wasn’t really a day for taking landscape pictures but I was quite taken by two views which I thought showed the characteristic colours of the hills at this time of year.

Across the EskTimpenWe normally do a circuit and return by the hill road when we do this route but today, in honour of my dicky knee,  we simply retraced our steps back down the track.

We rejoined the track at this leafy corner.

We rejoined the track at this leafy corner.

 Rather soberingly, we saw quite a few interesting things on the way back that we had missed on the way up.


How could we have missed this?  Sandy spotted it on the way back.


And these?  I saw some of these and Sandy saw the others.

The track itself looked more interesting when seen on the way down.

Whitshiels trackAt the bottom, I paused to take a picture of a leaf which the nature writer in my morning paper today had described as ‘unattractive’.

leafPerhaps it is when found in great heaps but it looked very nice to me, lying in solitary splendour.

We were soon back at the main road with half a mile or so to go to get home.

A7I cooked a pan of roast vegetables for my tea.  My daughter, who rang up while I was getting things ready, asked if I was using a Mediterranean vegetable selection.  Sadly, I don’t think that swedes, turnips, carrots and potatoes are Mediterranean but I did put half half a red pepper in it.  And once again, I used very expressive hand gestures while I ate it so I tried my best and I was at least eating a lot of things from our own garden which must be a good thing.

In the evening, Sandy came round again and we went up to the Archive Centre.  We put in an hour and a half of solid work and rewarded ourselves with a glass of wine afterwards.  Interestingly, in light of the current Ebola alarms, the Langholm local authority in 1888 was meeting to discuss the best ways of preventing a smallpox outbreak spreading.

I didn’t spend much time looking at the birds on account of the gloomy weather but by dint of putting the ISO up to a heady 4000, I was (just) able to catch a flying goldfinch of the day.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my neighbour Liz and shows a Spanish butterfly which she met on holiday.

spanish butterfly

We couldn’t run to any butterflies here but we did get a reasonable February day with a temperature of 6°C and not a drop of rain all day.  There was a brisk drying wind and all sorts of things happened as a result.

Some were quite normal:

The day started with a trip round the morning run with Dropscone.  The brisk drying wind added seven minutes to our standard time for the first eight miles but after that, it rather helped than hindered and we got home in a satisfactory time without having to kill ourselves.

Birds were watched.


A chaffinch showing off its full wingspan.


The wind was rocking the feeders so that landing accurately wasn’t easy.


But other activities were a welcome change from recent days:

Washing got put out (and dried and taken in again).

Some gardening was done and a little lawn spiking took place.

I walked round the garden and noticed that the snowdrops are trying really hard now.


Even a crocus is poking through.


And I had to give our primrose a chance to star in a solo role.


Mrs Tootlepedal and I were able to take a walk after lunch.  We went along the route I had used a few days ago so that we could have another look at things that I had seen then.

The things that look like flowers were really standing out from the wall on this peltigera.


As were these curious fungus stalks on the same wall a yard or two away.


I re-photographed some other fungus which I saw last time…


This is a shot from above showing the delicate blue of the surface.

I can’t find a picture of anything like this at all.  There seem to be tiny growths to the right of it.  Other shots were of fungi that I had missed last time.

These were new this time.  They look like coriolus versicolour but I am not sure about that.

They look like coriolus versicolour but I am not sure about that.

birch polypore

This is a birch polypore doing well to fight through the moss.

It almost looks like a mossy face sticking its tongue out.

We admired these well defined galls.


We had a pause on our walk while Mrs Tootlepedal put her hydro-engineering skills to use and unblocked a culvert which was full of leaves and spilling water across our path.  There was a most satisfying gurgle when she got the water away.

At the end of our woodland walk we came to an old gatepost and wall.



As we walked back along the Lodge walks to the car, we spotted a laurel ready to flower.


All this was rally quite springlike and we live in fear of a severe frost arriving and throwing everything into reverse with possibly disastrous consequences.   We were talking to our local cider maker on Saturday and he is very worried about his potential crop.

The late afternoon and evening were given over to music.  First I went up to Isabel’s to hear my flute pupil Luke play his grade pieces with her at the piano.  They have some time in hand still and the results were very promising.  After a an hour or so, Luke came for his regular lesson and we worked on some of the detail that is necessary for a good score in an examination.

Then after my tea, I went back to Isabel’s, this time to play trios with her and Mike on piano and cello.  There isn’t  a flood of music for piano, flute/recorder and cello but we have found pieces by Mozart and Quantz which are a treat to play (and not too hard which is lucky).

This brought the most satisfactory day for some time to a close.   A tootle and a pedal and a walk…..who could ask for anything more?  Well perhaps a ray of sunshine would have been welcome.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch





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Today’s guest picture shows the Old Manor House in Solihull High Street, photographed by my brother Andrew, whose birthday it is today, on a recent visit.

The Old Manor House is an architectural highlight of the High Street

Dropscone had an appointment at cycling time today so I was on my own on a dry and comparatively warm (5°C) morning.  Because there was a noticeable east wind blowing, I decided to do several laps of a five mile out and back trip to Callister so that I wouldn’t have to pedal into the chilly wind for too long at a time.  This turned out to be a good plan as the gusty wind got stronger as the ride went on and if I had gone straight out, I would have had a hard battle getting home.

To give some idea of the fresh wind’s strength, I found myself going at 25 mph up a very gentle hill near the end of my way out for the third time and when I came back along the same stretch, now slightly downhill, I was doing 11 mph.  The details of the ride may be found here.

After three laps and thirty miles, the wind made up my mind for me and I stopped.  This gave me time for an expedition with Sandy in the afternoon.

There was a moment of sunshine while I waited for him to arrive….


…but it soon vanished.

We started by driving back up the road I had cycled along earlier  because I had noticed a large flock of birds in a field which I wanted to look at.  They were still there.

flock at Bigholms

They obligingly flew into the air when we arrived…

flock at Bigholms

…but didn’t come any closer.  We walked along the wall to get a better look.  They seemed to be mainly starlings….


…but there were certainly some fieldfare in the field too.


Unfortunately, the cloud cover had thickened up and the light was too poor to get good pictures so we turned round and headed  back. We stopped to explore a little wood on our way but although it was pleasant to walk through, it didn’t offer us much photographically in the winter gloom.

We drove back through the town and parked near the rugby club and walked up a forestry track.  We had last been up this on the hottest day of the summer so it was quite a contrast today.

 Whitshiels track

We were hoping to see a bit of lichen and fungus and we were not disappointed.  This well covered gatepost….


…revealed a secret and colourful garden.


We walked on until we came to a field at the top of the wood and near an elaborate sheep fold….

sheep fold

You can see Sandy pretending to be a sheep if you look carefully.

…we met three remarkable trees.

three holey trees

How they remain standing is a mystery.

tree on tiptoe

This one is standing on tiptoe

empty trunk

This one is just a shell


And this one has a  modern art gallery inside its hollow trunk.

Sandy’s sharp eye noticed another  tree a few yards away.

tree with fungus

It had, as you can see, one or two fungi growing on it.


I think this is a birch polypore but as always, I stand to be corrected.


Seen from underneath.

The tree was festooned by fungi.


As well as the fungi, the tree had some impressive beard lichen


Gathering gloom and the threat of rain took us away from looking for more fun and we made our way back down to the car and home. For a very dark afternoon, it had been a most enjoyable short walk.

I made myself a leek and squash risotto for my tea and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to the Buccleuch Centre to the patrons’ cinema club where we watched Sunshine on Leith.  We had seen it before but it was well worth a second visit.

In between times, I found a standard flying bird in the garden.

flying chaffinch

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