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Posts Tagged ‘poppies’

Today’s guest picture is a swan which was spotted by my Somerset correspondent, Venetia while on a walk.  She notes that the magnifying effect of the water gives it enormous feet.

Venetia's swan

My day started not with swans but geese, as a large skein flew over the garden just after breakfast with a lot of honking to make me pay attention.

flying geese

A short while later, I took an impressionistic  picture of my favourite poppies…

poppies

…and went off to the Laverock Hide to fill the Moorland Project feeders for Sandy.  He is still in foreign parts and feeding elephants rather than chaffinches.

The light was very grey but it is almost always a pleasure to sit in the hide and watch the birds so I stayed for a while.

There were plenty of the usual suspects: chaffinches…

chaffinch moorland

…coal tits….

coal tit moorland

…great tits…

great tit moorland

…woodpeckers…

woodpecker moorland

…and of course, pheasants both males, in an argument….

pheasant debate

…and a female above such uncouth behaviour.

female pheasant moorland

When I got home, I had a cup of coffee and did some business on the computer but I found time to pick some raspberries, which are in fine form, and have a quick look round some flowers.

poppyastantialilian austin october

The garden is looking bedraggled.

A man came round to clean our gutters and I hope that he has done a thorough job because we have a couple of inches of rain forecast for tomorrow and Saturday.  This should give the gutters a good test.

I didn’t have long to hang about at home though as it was my day to go to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.  Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that the train was late but I managed to walk down to the park near her nursery school in time to find Matilda playing with friends.

She was in a very sunny mood and gave me a big hello…

Matilda at Pilrig posing

…and made good use of the playground slide…

Matilda at Pilrig on slide

…and the death defying ‘Flying Fox’…

Matilda at Pilrig on flying fox

Wheeeee!

…before we went home for some snap, Pelmanism and railway building.

Alistair made a delicious  pasta with mushroom sauce for our evening meal and I caught the bus back up to Princes Street in a very satisfied mood.

I was early for the train so I took a picture or two.

My Lumix is very caring and if I get it out at night it says, “I know that you are old with a wobbly hand so I will see what I can do to help.”

I thought that it did quite well for hand held night shots.

national gallery edinburgh at night

The National Gallery

Bank of scotland edinburgh at night

The bank of Scotland building on The Mound

Walter Scott edinburgh at night

Sir Walter Scott looking rather ghostly as he sits under his monument.

The train back was late too but only by a few minutes so I got home in good time.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch at our own feeder.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who must be on holiday in the West Highlands as he sent me this picture of Eilean Donan Castle taken earlier this evening as the light faded.

Eilean Donan  cas

We had plenty of light here today with a lot of sunshine and and only the odd speck of rain.

We weren’t able to make much of the good weather as we spent a lot of time indoors singing.  In the morning we went to sing with the church choir and welcome the new temporary minister who is taking charge for the next few weeks after the departure of Scott, the previous minister.  Fortunately for the absent minded parishioner, the new minister is also called Scott, though as he is American is is quite easy to distinguish him from his predecessor.

The  service went well and the choir did its bit to welcome Scott to his new charge.

Mrs Tootlepedal is helping with the administration of the music at our Carlisle choir at present so we had to be there early which didn’t leave us a lot of time between choirs.  I spent as much time as I could watching the birds…

…and there were a good many to watch…

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…with chaffinches particularly active….

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…and quite ready to shout at any sparrows coming out of the shadows at them.

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It was rare not to see a small queue heading for the feeder.

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They were joined by a sleek looking jackdaw.

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I took the bird camera out into the garden and took a shot or two there as well.

Special Grandma is my current favourite….

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…though Lilian Austin has not given up yet.

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There are some cosmos remaining and they are popular with insects…

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…though the Michaelmas daisies are still the biggest draw.

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I promised to take a picture of a butterfly every day for as long as I can so here is today’s offering, a red admiral doing a bit of sunbathing on a hosta leaf.

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I had thought that the poppies might have gone over but there has been a revival in the new bed…

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…and along with an orange hawkweed, an Icelandic poppy could be found.

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I went back in and just had time for  a sardine sandwich and a blue tit (I ate one and shot the other)…

_DSC7587

..before we had to set off for Carlisle.

While Mrs Tootlepedal helped with the music, I did some useful shopping and then we settled down to two hours of hard work under our new conductor, Ellen.

My voice held up not too badly but I hope that I can get it working a bit better before the Christmas concert season comes round.

We drove home in in beautiful evening sunshine but were happy to sink down for a rest rather than rush out into the garden again.

There was no shortage of flying birds today so once again there is a gender balanced chaffinch flying bird of the day situation.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent.  She set herself up with this splendid view with the intention of enjoying the Red  Arrows display team as they flew towards her.   Unfortunately, owing to a failure of communication, they appeared from behind her and were past before she could get a good shot.  Still, the  countryside is lovely.

somerset view

We had dawn till dusk sunshine today (with the occasional cloud) and as a result, I spent a lot of time outside.

I was going to go cycling in the morning but Mrs Tootlepedal had asked if I could clean the tray which catches the fallen seed below the bird feeder so while she went off for a meeting, I did that.  Bird poop and soggy seed are difficult to get off so this took me some time.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and it was such a  fine day that it seemed like a really good time to dig up the remaining potatoes and let them dry before storing them.

There were quite a lot to raise.

potatoes on bed

Some of them were definitely not small potatoes.

big potato

And the haulms needed chopping up and putting into the compost bin.

compost bin full of haulms

And I couldn’t spend time in the garden without looking around a bit.

yellow bee

three poppies

two reggae

And after all this, it was suddenly time for lunch and I still hadn’t gone cycling.

After lunch, I checked on the butterflies.  There were a lot about and as the buddleia blooms are going over, it wasn’t surprising to find a peacock and a red admiral sharing one of the ones that is still out.

peacock and admiral butterflies

I finally got cycling and soon found out that although the sun was out, there was a brisk wind to go with it so it was warm but hard going.  I set off to go over Callister but found that the loose gravel merchants had been at work there very recently so I turned back and took a diversion.  At one stage, this entailed going along a narrow road with a very poor surface, gently uphill and  straight into the wind.  I was pleased to take a rest and nibble on a bramble in a hedge…

bramble

…and make up for the recent lack of gates in the blog.

gate

I passed several farmers in the process of getting a second cut of grass for storage.

grass cutting in field

They must be pleased because when the cold wet spring was followed by a drought, things didn’t look very promising.

In spite of the constant verge cutting, some (short) wild flowers are showing again beside the road as I pedal along.

wild flower

For one reason or another, my legs were in a very uncooperative mood and the wind was coming from a rather unhelpful direction so my progress would have made a snail feel quite comfortable.

I needed a few stops to let the legs recover and I took one of them at this small bridge over a little burn a few yards from the border with England.

bridge near Springfield

It was a pretty spot…

path at bridge near Springfield

…with a lot of Himalayan balsam about.

balsam at bridge near Springfield

I took my last breather, about three miles from home and was impressed by the seediness of the area.

rosebay willowherb seed

seed head

In spite of my lacklustre legs, I managed 43 miles and found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy while I was out.  She had collected up the potatoes…

potatoes in barrow

The ones in the bucket are damaged and have to be eaten first.

…and sorted out the bed.

potato bed

She is going to sow green manure in the bed now.

I checked on the butterflies and saw five peacocks at once….

five butterflies

…and then went in for a cup of tea and a look at the birds among the plums on the plum tree.

birds in plum tree

Mrs Tootlepedal was preparing a home made pizza for our tea (our breadmaking machine makes a very good dough for pizza bases) and while she was doing this, I had another check on the butterflies….

four butterfleis and a bee

Four butterflies and a bee on the same flower head this time.

…before going off for a shower and coming down to eat the delicious pizza.

We are taking a keen interest in La Vuelta (the Tour of Spain cycle race) and I was very envious of the beautifully surfaced roads that they were cycling along today though I was happy not to be going down the final hill with them at 76 kph.  My nose starts bleeding at 48 kph.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow threatening the position of a greenfinch.

incoming sparrow

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan.  It was taken by the friend who took her on a tour of Germany recently.  They were quite surprised to find this plaque.

trump icon

It was a day of frequent showers with bright spells in between so the trick was to get the timing right if you wanted to get anything done outside.

I was able to get about and do some dead heading and picture taking after breakfast.

The were poppies to dead head and photograph.

poppies

And yellow flowers to enjoy in the sunshine.

yellow flowers

And then Dropscone came for coffee bearing treacle scones and with the scone radar in the manse on full alert, we were soon joined by Scott, the minister.  He will have to get a fuller strength radar now as he is leaving us and going to minister in a church in Glasgow soon.

We will miss him.

Dropscone went off to play golf and Mrs Tootlepedal and the minister set the world to rights while I took the opportunity of another sunny spell to mow the lawns.

Lawn and white cosmos

The white cosmos is coming on well.

Then I sieved a bit of compost and seeing that Bin D was getting low, I shifted almost all of Bin B into the empty Bin C between showers.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been trying to keep the soil in good condition so she has been using up the compost as fast as I can produce it.

I also took a look round.  The peacock butterflies were judging the weather too and as soon as the sun appeared, they appeared as well.

Two peacock butterflies

I went in to have lunch and set the camera up in the kitchen.

The feeders were very busy, especially with sparrows but they didn’t have it all their own way…

flying sparrow

…and a greenfinch stood its ground against a host of them.

The jackdaws have us on their feeding list and appear from time to time and then fly off again.

jackdaw flapping

And I am very happy that we seem to have a whole family of blue tits as regulars.  I saw five at a time today (but only captured two of them together).

two blue tits

The composting and dead heading went on after lunch as did the showers but in the end, things looked stable enough, in spite of an impressive cloud…

fungus cloud

…to make a walk seem like a good idea.

I set off along the path beside the park wall, where the recent rain has encouraged all sorts of growth.

park wall

The red spots on the cladonia lichen were so small that I couldn’t see them with the naked eye and had to rely on my camera to show them to me.

At the  end of the wall, a flash of yellow caught my eye.  It was a small group of most uncommon flowers…

touch me not balsam

…hanging down from the leafs above them.  I had to get Mike Tinker to identify them for me and he tells me that they are ‘Touch-me-not balsam’  or  Impatiens noli-tangere.

It is a very odd flower, looking for all the world like a flying goldfish.

As I walked up the track from the Stubholm towards Warbla, there was more to see both in the verge beside the track….

seed heads, vetch and fungus

…and on a wall a bit further up.

lichen, scabious lichen

The rain has livened things up a lot for  a walker with time to look about.

Once on the hill, I left the track after a while and headed across the grass towards the summit.

The sheep hoover up most things but there were one or two growing things left among the grass.

hillside life

They had to lie pretty low though.

And of course, there are the views as you get higher up the hill.

A click on this panorama will bring up the bigger picture.

panorama warbla

The weather gods had a little joke and laid on a heavy shower just as I got near the top of the hill so I retreated and they promptly whisked the shower away and turned on the sun again.

cluds over warbla

I wasn’t going to go back up to the top though partly because of the additional climb and partly because I had spotted some cattle on the open ground behind the mast and I prefer to leave cattle to themselves when I am walking.

I took a picture of the town on my way down….

view of ewes

…and pointed the camera past the town and towards my favourite view of the Ewes valley beyond.

view of Langholm

I took a picture of the cows on the top of the hill in the rain and of two more standing in a field beside the road when I came down the hill and as always, I was an object of interest to the many sheep that I passed.

cattle and sheep

The sun lasted for the rest of my walk and as I came along the road, peltigera lichen, rose hips in the hedge and slow worms at Pool Corner all kept me busy clicking away with the camera.

peltigera, hip and slow worms

During the day, both Mrs Tootlepedal and I picked plums whenever we passed the tree but there are plenty still ripening and when I had got back from my walk, I spotted a jackdaw helping out with the plum eating.

jackdaw eating plums

It rained again in the early evening but it had cleared up by the time that Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday visit.  Both Alison and I had been practising and and although we found out that practice doesn’t necessarily lead straightaway to perfection, we had a most enjoyable session.

They went away with plums….

…and a marrow.

That is what friends are for.

I promised a picture of the new garage doors open and here it is.

garage doors open

I can’t tell you what a good idea it is to have doors that open easily.  I wheeled my slow bike in and out several times today just for fun.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

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The guest picture of the day comes from my sister Susan who has been touring Bavaria with friends.  She saw some handsome castles on her trip.

Bavarian Castle

It was another grey and windy day today and as we had to be in Dumfries in the middle of it, that didn’t leave much time at either end.

It was still dry after breakfast though and I had time for a quick turn round the garden to do some dead heading and flower watching.  The wind and the wet doesn’t seem to totally discourage bees…

two bees on poppy

…or hoverflies….

hoverfly on rudbeckia

…but there weren’t a great many of either.

Mrs Tootlepedal has tried out a small rudbeckia this year and it has come out but it can’t be said to be looking as good as it should be.

small rudbeckia

Whereas the dahlias continue to impress with their hardiness.

wet dahlia

Photographing poppies in the brisk wind was a lottery and I was lucky to catch this one at the top of its sway…

purple poppy

…but I had to hold this one steady with my hand…

held poppy

…and this one had given up.

soggy poppy

This was my dahlia of the day today.

fancy dahlia

After a quick cup of coffee, we drove steadily across to Dumfries and Mrs Tootlepedal’s check up was both exactly on time and very satisfactory in its outcome.  New and old cataract operations were given the thumbs up and she bought a pair of cheap reading glasses when we got back to Langholm and is happily reading as I write this.

We had hoped to do some sightseeing on the way home but the strong winds and persistent drizzle kept us in the car and we drove straight back.

When we got home, it was too wet and windy for a pleasant walk, cycle ride or useful gardening so I stayed indoors, ate soup, did the crossword and looked out of the window from time to time.

It is supposed to be a quiet time for birds just now as they are recovering from bringing up their young and they are supposed to be resting quietly in the woods where there is plenty of food for them, molting before winter comes.  This may be true but we are still getting some visitors.

First it was a rather scruffy chaffinch…

molting chaffinch

…while a greenfinch waited in the plum tree.

greenfinch in plum tree

A chaffinch wisely took shelter from the rain and possible predators by lurking in the shelter of the sunflower behind the feeder.

chaffinch on sunflower

Things got busier as time went by.

busy feeder

And the birds got wetter as the rain continued.

soggy greenfinch

And sadder.

sad greebfinch

It was all too gloomy for a blue tit who flew past leaving the greenfinches to their gurning.

blue tit passing greenfinches

One greenfinch had legitimate grounds for complaint when he was rudely booted off his perch by a siskin half his size.  Siskins are frightened of nothing.

siskin attacking greenfincH

I put some fatballs out and the sparrows were feeding on them in a very co-operative way at first…

sparrows on fatball peaceful

…but it didn’t last and a youngster passed a remark to another….

sparrows on fatball arguing

…and very soon regretted that he had done so.

sparrows on fatball attacking

I put the camera away and turned to the computer where I entered another week of the newspaper into the Archive Group database.  The dull weather is letting me catch up on the backlog though I am sure that the relentless data miners will be piling up more work even as I tap away at my keyboard.

In the evening, the dull day was greatly cheered up by the arrival of Mike and Alison for conversation and music.   The pleasure of their company was even more enhanced by the fact that they came armed with a bottle of fizzy wine which put some pep into our playing.  Alison and I got out some pieces which we haven’t played for some time and enjoyed getting reacquainted with them.

The weather seems to be stuck in a wet and windy groove so I may have to look out my wellies soon.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture, taken by Dropscone while he was refereeing a golf tournament at Bruntsfield Golf Club last week, shows the trough where the carriages from the big house used to get washed.

coach washing pit

The forecast was unreliable and planning was difficult.  It had said that it was going to rain all day and since we had heard the rain pattering down as we went to bed last night, we feared the worst.

When we woke up though, the rain had stopped but the forecast now said that it was 90% certain to rain heavily at nine o’clock for an hour.

I was getting ready to spend the morning indoors but a quick look at the actual weather rather than the forecast made it plain that it wasn’t raining and didn’t look likely to rain for some time.  I put my cycling gear on and took a walk round the garden before setting off.

The poppies are rather scarce but good looking when they do appear.

red poppy with stamens

This one planted itself and is hidden behind the new bench

poppy behind bench

And this Icelandic poppy came with added insect.

hoverfly on icelandic poppy

It turned out to be an excellent morning for cycling with the temperature in the high teens and very light winds.  As a result, I was able to go round my customary Canonbie circuit in the quickest time of the year without having to try too hard.

I noted the fine heather beside the road at the Kerr Wood.

Kerr heather

And there were quite a lot of these about on that section of the ride too.

white wild flowers

I stopped for a quick breather at Irvine House and looked around.

irvine house wild plants

The view back towards the new road looked quite autumnal as the sky was cloudy but I was still more than happy to be cycling in my summer shorts.

Irvine house view

When I got home, the weather was still holding so I did a bit of dead heading and had another look at the flowers.

The Japanese anemones are starting to flower.

Japanese anemone

Mrs Tootlepedal cleared a lot of them off in the winter but she has left a few and more photographs of them will undoubtedly appear as I like them a lot, even if they do spread themselves around uninvited.

More poppies caught my eye.  This was the pick of them.

red poppy

And here is the dahlia of the day.

dahlia

I was trying to take a picture of this dahlia and bee but a little hoverfly got in the way.

fly and bee on dahlia

The most notable feature in the garden was a large flock of sparrows.  They were everywhere, much to Mrs Tootlepedal’s disgust as they eat her vegetables. I think that I can count thirteen of them here in the silver pear tree but there may be more.

sparrows in pear tree

There may have been a lot of sparrows around but once again there were very few coloured butterflies about.

butterflies

Whites are ten a penny.

I did see the first Red Admiral of the year in the garden but it got away before I could digitally immortalise it.

Mrs Tootlepedal made scrambled eggs with new potatoes for lunch and then we scrambled to get the washing in just before a sharp rain shower came on.

I am letting the scientific rain gauge (©MaryJofromManitoba) accumulate at the moment and it was showing 3cm or over an inch by the end of the day.

The rain stopped and I filled the feeder and put out some fat balls and stood back to watch.

The feeder was soon busy.

busy feeder sparrow

And the sparrows went for the fat balls in numbers…

sparrows on fat balls

…leading to some sparrow sparring…

sparring sparrows

…but the arrival of a group of jackdaws soon scattered the sparrows.

jackdaw closeup

The jackdaws very nearly polished off all the fat balls by the end of the day.

In the midst of all this activity, a very calm lone goldfinch arrived for a snack.

goldfinch

I put the bird watching camera away and as this seemed like a good time to be indoors in case the heavy showers returned, I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

The heavy showers did not return but my flute pupil Luke came in the early evening and we battled away at the art of counting and playing at the same time.

We are trying to master the art of not making mistakes in music that we know and should be able to play easily.  I am very aware that I always made mistakes when playing under pressure until I read the book, “The Inner Game of Golf” to try to help my wayward golf game.  It helped my golf quite a bit but it helped my music playing quite a lot more.  This was an unexpected bonus.

After Luke went, I got out a ladder and trimmed the climbing hydrangea which grows on the wall of the house.  It has a tendency to climb under the guttering and onto the roof if not checked each year.

The flying bird of the day might well have been a sparrow as I caught several in action this afternoon but I thought that I might go for a refreshing change.

Behold, the flying fly of the day.

fly hovering

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s northern tour.  He visited Newcastle-on-Tyne and sent me this picture of a castle.  He doesn’t say if it is the new one or not.

Newcastle castle

It was relatively cool and cloudy when I got up and although it had rained overnight, once again the amount had failed to register on my scientific rain gauge so I did a little watering and took a walk round the garden after breakfast.

The Crown Princess looked lovely surrounded by phlox.

crown princess among phlox

A new flower has appeared next to the front lawn but I cannot name it without Mrs Tootlepedal’s help.

mystery flower

I can recognise this astilbe which is looking charmingly  pretty in pink.

pink astilbe

The wind was still about but as it was rather calmer than recent days, I set out on my new bike with hope in my heart, aiming at 50 miles or more.

Unfortunately, it turned out that I might have had hope in my heart but I didn’t have much stuffing in my legs and my hopes gradually faded as I pedalled along.

I did enjoy myself all the same.

The ragwort is at its best…

ragwort

..but I have been unable to find any with the colourful caterpillars of the cinnabar moth on it yet.  These caterpillars love ragwort so there should be some about somewhere.

My route took me across country to Annandale.  There is no more water in the Annan than there is in the Esk….

Annan Water at Hoddom

…but I was still glad to have a handsome bridge to cross the river when I came to it.

Hoddom Bridge

There is a lot of Himalayan Balsam on the banks of the river and although it is very pretty…

himalayan balsam

…it is regarded as an invasive pest now that it has escaped from gardens.

I toiled up a hill after I had crossed the bridge at Hoddom and then scooted down the other side until I came to the Bridge at Brydekirk which crosses the same river a few miles downstream.

Brydekirk Bridge

Here I paused for an egg roll and a chocolate biscuit.  (My cycling nutrition is about as scientific as my rain gauge.)

I was sitting on a low wall which was covered in interesting lichen.

Brydekirk lichen

Leaving the river behind, I headed homewards, thinking that I might make a detour into England at Gretna to bring up my fifty mile target.  It was at this point that it became finally apparent that my legs weren’t really up to much more than forty miles and when I looked around and saw that recent rarity, a rain cloud…

rain clouds

…and felt a few spots of rain on my knees, any thoughts of England evaporated and I headed for home.  I had obviously been lucky to avoid being rained on as quite a bit of the road to Canonbie was wet.

I arrived home after 42 miles to find that it hadn’t rained in Langholm at all.  Boo.

It was the first day for weeks when the clouds were thick enough to make the day seem quite gloomy even though it was quite warm enough to cycle in shorts again.

I had some green soup for a late lunch, checked out the birds…

bee passing birds on feeder

…which were ignoring passing bees…

,..and then settled down to watch a thoroughly engrossing stage of the Tour de France.

After the stage ended, Mike Tinker came round and we had a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit.  Any day with ginger biscuits is a good day.

When Mike left, I saw that the birds had been busy while I was relaxing and the feeder was getting empty.

sparrows and greenfinch

I really liked the cool attitude of this greenfinch, looking for all the world like a regular customer leaning on the bar in a pub.

cool greenfinch

Filling the feeder led to more birds arriving in a rush…

sparrows on feeder

…and occasional regrettable outbreaks of sparrow stamping.

sparrow stamping on sparrow

I did some more watering and weeding and noted that Mrs Tootlepedal will have a few poppies to greet her when she comes home tomorrow.

poppies

And a lot of cheerful phlox.

phlox

The bed beside the front door is looking quite welcoming too.

front door bed

After a shower, some tidying up and a basic evening meal, I went off to the church for a practice with the choir.  It is the Common Riding service on Sunday so we will have to be at our best as there will be a large turn out of people who do not normally come to services.

I am not entirely sure that my new asthma treatment is as good as it should be and this might account for my soggy legs when bicycling and certain lapses of concentration when singing.  It is useful to have something to blame of course.

The flying bird of the day is a grenfinch.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

 

 

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