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Posts Tagged ‘pond’

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Dropscone and shows the opening day of the golf season at Langholm.  Dropscone, the club captain this year,  is modestly holding the trophy which his team has just won in the opening match.

golf opening

We had an unquestionably pleasant day of weather here today, with wall to wall sunshine, light winds and no chill in the air at all.  It was lovely.

In younger days, I would have been off on my bike like a shot, but things are slower now and I was happy to have coffee and treacle scones with Dropscone instead of pounding the pedals.  Both before he came and after he left, I wandered round the garden for a while.  There was much to see.

tulips and daffs

The garden is full of tulips and daffodils at the moment.

The tulips had spread their petals wide to welcome the warmth.

two tulips

The silver pear is covered with blossom…

pear blossom

…and although I have been dead heading a lot of daffodils, there are still a lot on the go of many varieties.

three daffodils

The plum is getting leaves to go with its blossoms and I only hope that the few bees that have been around have managed to pollinate those flowers which were too far above my head for me to reach with the pollinating brush.

plum blossom

Mrs Tootlepdal’s river of blue with the grape hyacinths doesn’t go all the way round the front lawn this year but it has  produced some good splashes of colour all the same…

three flowers

…and trout lilies and a new fritillary  are keeping the garden looking cheerful.

I was so encouraged by the warmth and a good forecast, that I got the lawn scarifier out and scarified the middle lawn.  It has a little basket  of its own to collect the debris but it is so small that I find it easier not to use it and then run the mower over the lawn to tidy everything up.  I took this picture while I was having a rest in the middle of mowing.

scarifying the lawn

It is a pain free process if the lawn is firm and dry as it is at the moment.

When I had finished, I admired some more tulips…

drive tulips

…and the magnolia (which is looking well if you don’t look too closely at it).

magnolia

Mrs Tootlepedal has used the old rotten planks from the veg beds which have been redeveloped to make a little wild life hotel beside the compost bins.  We are hoping for interesting (and useful) guests.

pile of planks

I had a rest on our new bench for awhile and noticed a bee visiting a dicentra beside me…

bee on dicentra

…and then we went in for lunch.

After lunch, I went back out to look for frogs in the pond as we had heard them muttering away while we were working in the morning, but hadn’t been able to see them.

They were easy to see in the afternoon, surrounded by tadpoles.

frog and tadpoles

We had filled the pond up before lunch because it hasn’t rained for ages and the level had dropped a bit and I thought the pond was looking better as a result.

pond in April

The date stone is one of several in the garden that are a reminder that a stone mason lived and worked here once.

The better weather had obviously encouraged birds to find food elsewhere today as we had many fewer visitors than recently and the feeder was still half full quite late in the day.

three birds

I was visited by a member of our Langholm choir who is coming to sing with the church choir on Sunday and we went through the hymns and then, while Mrs Tootlepedal had a well earned snooze after a hard morning the garden, I went off for a cycle ride.

I am still looking after my foot so I chose an easy route of just under 26 miles and took things steadily.  However, I was quite daring and put on my cycling shorts and exposed my peely-wally knobbly knees to the world as I went along.  The world took this in its stride.

The hawthorns on the hillside up the Wauchope road are in leaf and we should see the blossoms soon.  In the meantime, it was hot enough for sensible sheep to seek some shade under one of the bigger bushes.

hawthorns on warbla bank

Although spring is springing, the rough pasture on the hills is still in full winter mode, and there was no colour to be seen when I stopped for a drink and a stretch and looked down a farm track after my first five miles.

kerr view

I was getting near to Canonbie when I came across a quite unusual gate…

oystercatchergate

…with a plump oyster catcher perched on each gate post.  I was very surprised that they sat still and let me take their pictures.

On the other side of Canonbie, I liked this variegated lamb and ewe scene…

variegated lambs

…and noted that it has been so long since it rained that the moss on a bridge parapet has begun to dry out.

dried out moss

When I got to Langholm, I cycled through the town and out along the Ewes valley for a couple of miles.  This gave me the opportunity to record a fine deciduous tree near the High Mill Brig…

high mill brig tree

…a rather hazy view up the valley…

ewes valley view

…and a romantic looking conifer near my turning point.

Ewes tree

When I got home, I got the washing in and made Mrs Tootlepedal a cup of tea.  Then I watered the middle lawn as I am going to put some treatment on it tomorrow and it says that the soil should be moist..

That concluded the business for the day.

Today’s flying bird of the day came a little late to the table.

flying chaffinch attempt

Footnote:

WordPress offers blog writers a wealth of statistics about their blogs if they have the energy to look at them and last night, I browsed the word count since I started this blog in mid 2010.  I was staggered to find that I have written 2,150,000 words, an average of about 700 words per post. It seems a tremendous amount of writing to use to record a fairly humdrum existence but to be fair, there has been a lot of repetition so I don’t have to constantly find new words and phrases.  If I look back, I find that life was much the same last year and the year before…and the year before….but that is how I like it.

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The guest picture from Tony shows the clouds over the Forth that make his post-dog-walking welly rack, which was featured yesterday, a necessity.

Wemyss clouds

I had an untypical day today as it was almost all given over to useful and necessary activity which didn’t involve walking, cycling or taking pictures.  We spent most of the day in Carlisle doing stuff and when we got home, it was raining.  I took a couple of shots in the garden just to have something to show for this post…

new flower

silver pear buds

The pond was doing reverse leaking and filling up with the rain…

full pond

…which was falling on goldfinches in the fake tree..

goldfinch on fake tree

…and (less heavily) on goldfinches on the sunflower stalk.

goldfinch on sunflower stalk

I filled up the seed feeder and it immediately became quite busy…

siskins coming anf going

…and soon became very busy.

very busy feeder

Then I had to settle down to phoning people to try to make sure that my bank account fraud wasn’t rippling any wider and for the moment at least, things are quiet and the bank is doing its best to keep them that way.  Fingers crossed.

In the evening, I went out for a practice with Langholm Sings which was hard work and not as rewarding as I had hoped.

As a result of the day, I am feeling rather tired and can only apologise to those who hope for a smile and a ray of sunshine when they visit the blog.

The flying chaffinch of the day in the rain rounds the post off.

flying chaffinch in the rain

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia’s African odyssey.  I don’t mind getting close to small birds but I might be a bit nervous to get so close to a lion in the open.

Lion,

We had a grey morning and a wet afternoon here today so it wasn’t really the day for a gentle pedal with a camera in my pocket.  Instead I was happy to eat very good treacle scones and drink coffee with Dropscone and wander round the garden in a faint drizzle once he had gone.

The pond has not shown any sign of a serious leak….

fullish pond

…so the reason for its sudden drop a few days ago remains a complete mystery.

My inclination is to suspect that a mighty rushing wind had swept the waters away but Mrs Tootlepedal regards that as fanciful.  She has no better explanation though.  Any suggestions are welcome.  Very thirsty birds?

Beside the pond, I couldn’t help noticing this deep red primrose.

very red primrose

I tried to photograph a small clump of scillas but the only thing that I got absolutely in focus was the stalk.  I was going to have another go but by the time that I thought of it, it had started to rain.

scillas almost in focus

Beside the bird feeder, a charming white flower is emerging and Mrs Tootlepedal is going to tell me what it is when she remembers.

small white flower

During the morning, Mrs Tootlepedal had been surprised to find that the telephone wire to our neighbour’s house, which should have been attached to a tall electricity pole in the middle of our vegetable garden, had become detached.  Instead of passing safely above our heads, it was now stretching across the garden at exactly head height.

fallen phone wire

She rang up those responsible for the wire and after a slightly bonkers conversation with a man in India, she was told that someone would come within four hours and either cut it down or put it up again .  In the event, two young men did come just four hours later but they neither cut it down nor put it up again.

It turned out that they hadn’t been fully briefed on the nature of the job so they hadn’t brought the requisite ladder for leaning against an electricity pole.  This you will understand is a special leaning against an electricity pole ladder not just any old ladder…like the one we offered to lend them for the job.

open reach men

In the end, after some head scratching, they cut the wire and added a new middle section which made it long enough to cross our garden while it was lying on the grass.  We promised not to trip over the wire over the weekend and they promised to send some men with the requisite ladder who would hang the wire up again on Monday.

Before the rain came, I watched the birds and was fatally slow in trying to catch a flying chaffinch on two occasions.

two landing chaffinches

I liked the prompt surrender of this chaffinch caught with a seed in its mouth.

chaffinch holding hands up

Once the rain came, the light was only good enough to shoot sitting birds…

posing chaffinch with seed

…some of whom looked pretty fed up with the weather.

sad goldfinch

As I couldn’t get out, I took pictures of flowers inside.

two indoor daffs

The rain did finally stop in the early evening but it was still damp and grey outside…

damp feeder scene

…so I spent some time on the bike to nowhere in the garage listening to music instead of enjoying a view.

When  I looked out of the back door, I was struck by the colour of the sky.

false sunset

In the evening, there was a special treat as my Friday night accompanist Alison came round to play some sonatas for the first time this year.  She injured her shoulder badly before Christmas and it has taken her a lot of time and hard work to get back into playing duets again.  So while Mike her husband and Mrs Tootlepedal caught up on the news, Alison and I gave some old a favourites a go with a few errors here and there and a lot of enjoyment all round.  I will have to get practising.

After playing we joined the other two to watch a Langholm lass get to the final of Masterchef, a great triumph.

We are promised drier, calmer weather for the next week so I hope to be able to get out and about if my foot allows.

A standard chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s African odyssey.  She is putting a full account of the trip on her blog which can be found here.

hippos,

Yesterday’s rest had improved my foot a little but as there is still some way to go, I had another day where I didn’t venture out of house or garden on foot until well into the evening.  I did pay two visits to shops, pedalling very sedately on my slow bike.

It was warm enough outside for Mrs Tootlepedal to get some useful gardening in.  My role was limited to sporadic supervision though I helped to lift up the little bridge over our pond.  It turned out to be acting not just as a bridge but as a home  from home for a pair of frogs too.

two frogs

I don’t know who was more surprised, them or us.

We lifted the bridge to see if we could spot a leak in the pond liner as our pond had mysteriously and suddenly gone down a lot..

empty pond

It had been absolutely full two days ago.  We filled it up and will look anxiously tomorrow to see whether it has gone down again.

I wandered around the garden but as it was a damp and misty day, there wasn’t a lot to see except the  inevitable moss which is taking over the world…

moss elder

…and any amount of rather unusual raindrop patterns on leaves…

another leaf with raindrops

…in every corner…

lupin with raindrops

…of the flower beds…

leaf with raindrops

….and on euphorbia flowers.

euphorbia with raindrops

The forsythia was  doing its best to brighten things up…

forsythia

…and pulmonarias are trying to help too.

pulmonaria

I spent most of the day indoors, killing time by doing this and that and occasionally peering through the gloom at the bird feeders.

The siskins were thoroughly at home today…

four siskins

…although they had to fight off the attentions of chaffinches….

siskin under pressure from chaffinch

…and goldfinches…

siskin under pressure from goldfinch

…not to mention other siskins.

siskin under pressure from siskin

The main business of the day was a visit to the Buccleuch Centre in the evening to see the Langholm Operatic and Dramatic Society’s production of My Fair Lady.

You always hope when you go to see a production involving friends that you are going to be able to look them in the eye afterwards and say well done without feeling shifty.  This show amply fulfilled that hope with a crisp production, good acting, excellent stage crew work and some really first class singing without a single weak member of the cast or chorus.   The show itself is one of my favourite musicals, with a good story, some very witty dialogue and a fistful of memorable tunes.  Time in the auditorium passed in the twinkling of an eye.

I am really beginning to feel the lack of exercise so I fear that I will have to put in some time on the bike to nowhere in the garage starting from tomorrow before I forget how to pedal altogether.

It wasn’t a good day for taking pictures of flying birds as the mist never lifted from the hills so I have put in two mediocre efforts, neither of which are chaffinches.

flying siskinflying goldfinch

 

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Today’s colourful guest picture comes from my sister Mary who recently visited the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park, London.

isabella plantation

Apart from a couple of brief showers, we had a much better day today.  It wasn’t a lot warmer in theory but a very welcome break from the recent strong winds made it feel a lot warmer in practice.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy morning of coffee and lunch meetings but managed to get some gardening in before she went out.  Meanwhile, I got the slow bike out and did some slow bicycling down to Canonbie and back.

Before I went, we checked the pond to see if Mrs Tootlepedal’s improvements were still keeping the water in place.

full pond

They were.

And I saw a couple more signs of spring.

willow and plum

Willow and plum

Once on the slow bicycle, it was a great relief not to have to battle against the wind for once and I enjoyed myself, although I didn’t try for any speed records.

There is enough grass growing for the farmers to be thinking about silage and I liked the rolled pattern on this field near Canonbie.

field near Canonbie

The dandelions in the verges are showing promise and I hope to be able to show some good clumps soon…

dandelion and bluebell

…and I saw my first bluebells of the year so I hope to see them in quantity soon too.

I stopped on the bridge at Canonbie to see how the ash tree flowers were coming on.

ash tree flowers

I think the branch that I looked at can truly be called an explosion of new growth.

I didn’t have to kid myself to see green leaves on the trees along the Esk at the Hollows today.  Spring is definitely springing…

Esk at Hollows

…although it has a bit to go before it is fully sprung.

When I got home, I found that the tulips were appreciating the better weather.

tulips

The euphorbias seem very popular with flies of various sorts as there is often one about when I try to take a picture of the plants.

fly on euphorbia

This is what the plant looks like when the flies have flown.

euphorbia

I went in to have lunch, soup and one of Matilda’s rolls, and took some time to watch the birds.

The siskins had gone away again so the chaffinches were getting a look at the feeder today.

chaffinches

…but there was still some waiting around on the plum tree to be done.

chaffinch and plum blossom

A goldfinch approached the feeder in the manner of one showing that he wasn’t armed and dangerous.

flying goldfinch

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal returned and found that our bench builder had arrived to cut an inch or two off the legs of the new bench.  It needed to be shifted back a bit and Mrs Tootlepedal set to work on that.  The result was very satisfactory and when she had finished,  we invited our neighbour Liz (with friend) to come and try it out

Ally and Liz on bench

By this time, as you can see, it was perfect weather for bench testing.

While Mrs Tootlepedal was gardening and working at the bench area, I mowed the front lawn and walked around with my camera.  I had the macro lens on.

white flowers

Tulips are popping up everywhere…

tulip

…and I spotted another colourful corner.

colourful corner

The plants in the foreground are dicentra and they were attracting bumbles bees again.

bee on dicentra

As were the paler variety in the back border.

bee on dicentra

Liz came in for a cup of tea and then, while Mrs Tootlepedal did some more gardening, I stayed inside to get some computer business out of the way.

I took the opportunity to look at last year’s cycling stats and found that I had done 500 miles more by this time last year so it is not surprising, considering the lack of decent cycling weather,  that our spring is quite a bit  later than usual this year.

I hope we get a good summer to make up for it.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had an enjoyable music making session while the other two chatted away.  After playing, Alison and I joined the conversation and Mike, who is a retired doctor, made us all rather gloomy with a very downbeat assessment of the shortage of general practice doctors and hospital consultants in our area.  We will have to try our best to keep ourselves healthy.

The flying bird of the day is a female chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my much travelled friend Bruce.  No prizes for guessing where he was today.

GibraltarDropscone and I set out on a somewhat less glamorous journey than Bruce.  We were on our bicycles on the way to Gair and back after breakfast.  The roads were dry, the temperature was about 10°C and the wind was behind us.

Life was good.

Soon after we got going, we were joined by a local postman out for a spin and he chatted politely to us for a mile or so before pressing the pedals and disappearing into the distance in a disconcertingly short time.

Life was marginally less good as we contemplated the 25 year difference in age that let him go off so easily and which was gone for ever for us but we rose above it and completed our run in good spirits.  My spirits were raised even higher when I discovered that Dropscone had made treacle scones today.

I didn’t have time for a stroll round the garden or a stare out of the window after coffee and scones because Mrs Tootlepedal and I had decided on an outing and with the days shortening and the light fading by four o’clock from a photographic point of view,  you have to be out promptly to get any value from an excursion.

Our target was the Eskrigg Nature Reserve at Lockerbie which Sandy and I had visited with the ladies from our course on Saturday.  We had just touched the edges of the woods then and I wanted to see the pond that I had been told was further in.

It was well worth a visit.

Eskrigg nature reserveThe pond turns out to be an old curling pond but you would never know that now as it looks perfectly natural in its situation.  The Lockerbie Wildlife Trust have done a brilliant job in creating a little wildlife haven round the pond with as many different habitats as they could possibly squeeze into a small space.  Best of all for a couple of elderly bird watchers, there is a splendidly equipped hide with comfortable seats and lots to see.  A nuthatch arrived almost as soon as we did

Eskrigg nuthatch, We walked up to the far end of the pond and Mrs Tootlepedal, who had her binoculars with her, looked back towards the hide and saw a woodpecker.  We went back to the hide and were rewarded twice for a little patience.  A greater spotted on this side…..

Eskrigg woodpecker…and a greater spotted on that side.

Eskrigg woodpeckerWe had seen a red squirrel scampering away as we entered the woodland and we hoped that we might see another at the pond.  I was not disappointed.

Eskrigg red squirrelWe had a wander around some of the paths round the pond.  There was a feast of fungus to be seen.

Eskrigg fungusEskrigg fungusWe caught a glimpse of a wren but it didn’t stay to be snapped.

Eskrigg wrenNot all the animals and birds were shy.  This owl stared back at us unblinkingly.

Eskrigg carved owlThere is a pine wood, a larch plantation and some broad leaved trees as well.

Eskrigg treesThe reserve has been created with the needs of visitors kept well in mind.

Eskrigg boardwalkWe had a last look back at the pond…

Eskrigg nature reserve…and walked back though the woods back to the car.  We took some of the route that Sandy and I and the ladies had followed on Saturday.  The paths are beautiful.

EskriggAt one corner, we were stopped by a great twittering in the branches above our heads.  There were many little birds flitting about. We recognised blue tits, and great tits but wondered if anyone can help us with this tiny bird with  a sharp beak.  I know the pictures are bad but we wondered if they might be goldcrests.

mystery birdMrs Tootlepedal spotted a pair of fine fungi on a tree which we had noticed on Saturday.   I would have walked straight past them even though I knew that they were somewhere about.

Eskrigg fungusWe got back to the car very satisfied with our walk and resolved to come again in the not too distant future.  The whole afternoon worked out well as we had a very traffic free drive home and arrived in perfect time (four o’clock) for a cup of tea and a slice of Selkirk bannock (and with just enough light left to catch a flying bird).

For our evening meal, Mrs Tootlepedal had put some braised venison with a red wine and mushroom sauce into a casserole before we went out and it was cooked to a turn when we ate it, garnished with a good dollop of mixed mashed potatoes and bashed neeps.This was another of those occasions when kings and millionaires would have been hard pressed to eat better than us.

After that, we went off to our Langholm Sings weekly practice.  We battled to get our  musical director to play the tricky bits often enough for the tenors to learn them but enjoyed singing the easier pieces a lot.

That flying bird of the day was a chaffinch approaching the feeder at full bore.

flying chaffinch

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