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Posts Tagged ‘poppy’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He is taking an interest in wildlife now that he has moved to the country from the city and recently spotted and identified a yellowhammer.

yellowhammer

We had another grey and gloomy morning here and the memories of the fine summer months are slipping ever faster into oblivion as winter looms up ahead.

I didn’t have time to sit and mope however as we went off after breakfast to sing in the church choir.  It was a day when the hymns all seemed to have innumerable verses and since the service was followed by a choir practice, both Mrs Tootlepedal and myself felt the need for a quiet sit down when we got home.

I filled the bird feeder and looked out of the winter while I made coffee.

Goldfinches were very much to the fore today….

busy feeder oct 18

…and sparrows and chaffinches  had to look sharp if they wanted a seat at the table.

goldfinch threatening chaffinch

After a coffee and a rest, the weather looked settled enough to risk a stroll so I snapped one of the flourishing nasturtiums at the front door…

yellow nasturtium oct

…and set off round Gaskell’s Walk to see what I could see.  The light was subdued.

I saw the larches at Pool Corner beginning to change colour.

larches turning

I saw a fine beech hedge which has been allowed to get a bit out of hand

big beech hedge

The walls were topped with droplet bespangled mosses.

moss with dropletsThe trees on the bank above the river have adopted a variety of angles.

gaskell's Walk with leaning trees

Brambles provided a splash of red.

red bramble leaf

There was one last sloe on the bush at Stubholm.

last sloe

The trees in the park are still colourful but the poplars beside the Esk in the background are over.

 

Park colour

I like looking at the park wall.

park wall lichen panel

I didn’t linger as long as I would have liked on my walk as it started to rain but it had stopped again by the time that I got home and I had enough time for a very short walk round the garden.

Not dead yet.

late poppy

very late delphinium

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to do a bit of shopping and sing with our Carlisle choir.

Our new conductor is a relentless ball of energy and keeps us hard at work.  She likes a crisp pace and after a hard singing morning, I had pretty well ground to a halt by the end of the session but in spite of that, it had been a very enjoyable day’s singing and my throat stood up to the work pretty well.  I think that my recent singing lesson has had a mildly beneficial effect on my technique but I am hoping to get a couple more lessons soon as there is plenty of scope for improvement yet.

Of course the weather had greatly improved as soon as we got inside the practice room and it was a lovely evening as we drove home.   The clocks go back next week so this will be the last time that we come home from our Carlisle choir in daylight for some months and even today, it was pretty well dark by the time that we got home.

To celebrate the arrival of the flock of goldfinches, the flying bird of the day is a double goldfinch helping.

flying goldfinch 1

Another open and shut case.

flying goldfinch 2

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce, who by coincidence passed me when I was out cycling this afternoon.  He had visited a distillery on his recent highland tour and was wondering whether he had imagined the rainbow when he came out but his wife confirmed that it really was there.

highland rainbow

There was no chance of a rainbow here today as the sun shone steadily from a clear blue sky from dawn to dusk .

It wasn’t very windy and it was decidedly warm for the time of year so it was definitely a day for cycling.  I had had only one outing on my bike in the past fortnight and as a result I didn’t want to overdo things so I was more than happy to start the day with coffee and scones and a catch up with Dropscone.

He has had a busy time lately so there was a lot of catching up to do.

As the sun stays lower in the sky at this time of year, it takes some time until it gets round to shining in our garden so a breakfast shot of the feeder makes it look chillier than it actually was…

busy feeder

…but by the time that Dropscone left, the garden was full of sunshine…

october flowers in the sun

…though some flowers were still in the shade.

This was my favourite shot of the morning.

delphinium

The delphinium seems determined to go on flowering as long as possible. (The lawn needs mowing again!)

I got my new bicycle out with enough time left in the day for a reasonable ride and set out to see where my legs would carry me.

The green hills around us are definitely brown now….

View from Wauchope School Brae

..but it would be hard to find a better day for cycling in October than this one.

My legs turned out to be in a very co-operative mood and with the wind coming from the south east, I was able to have an easier start than usual and got to Eaglesfield in good time.  Thereafter, I took a route along familiar roads but with variations of direction and combinations of routes that made the ride interesting for me.  I snapped away as I went along.

I was hoping for autumn colour but it was sporadic…

autumn colour ecclefechan

…and it was warm enough for a bovine paddle near Ecclefechan.

cows in pool

I went through a good variety of road side scenery from the enclosed…

hedged in road

…to the wide open.  The sun glinting off the Solway was dazzling.

view over the solway plain

There is no shortage of peel towers in our area.  This one is beside the Annan to Kirkpatrick Fleming road…

tower near Creca

…which I left to follow the small back road down to Rigg and Gretna.  I stopped just before Rigg.

The Gretna to Dumfries railway uses the arched bridge in the foreground while the new main road uses the modern concrete bridge behind, to cross the Kirtle Water.

railway bridge at Rigg

From Gretna, I followed the course of the River Sark to Milltown of Sark.  This picture shows Scotland in the foreground, the river which constitutes the border and then England beyond.  A lot of bloodshed and diplomacy went into creating this mighty barrier between nations.

River sark on Springfield road

On my way to Milltown, while I was in England for a few miles, I passed the migrating geese which feed in the fields near Englishtown farm.  There were thousands of them and my camera could only catch a fraction of them at a  time.  They were too far from the road to get a shot of an individual goose.

lots of geese in a field

I had chosen a route with some fine beech hedges on the way, in the hope of getting some good autumn colour but the hedges were a disappointment and I had to wait until I got to the river Esk near Langholm to find something worth stopping for.

river at landslipriver from skippers looking northriver from skippers looking south

My knees are a bit creaky at the moment so I resisted the temptation to ’round up the decimals’ and settled for stopping after 47 miles at a suitably relaxed pace to match the benign day.

It was such a lovely day that I did think of a walk when I got home but for some reason got no further than the garden where a lone red admiral butterfly was to be seen ignoring the sedum.

red admiral butterlfy october

There was a contrast in clematis – ‘out there’ and ‘in there’.

two clematis

A poppy catching the low sun was the pick of the flowers this afternoon.

poppy in late sun

After tea, I went off to sing with the Langholm Community Choir and had a good time.  I think that my first singing lesson is helping already.  We are singing music from shows as well as Christmassy stuff and there is plenty of work for the basses so there was no sleeping on the job today.

A phone call to see how Mrs Tootlepedal is getting on at her mother’s rounded off the day and I was pleased to have made good use of the best day for some days to come with threats of a new storm hanging over our heads at the weekend.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch coming into the evening sun.

flying chaffinch in late sun

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Sharon’s visit to Berlin.

20180907_181837

In spite of the gloomy forecast at the beginning of the week, we had another dry day here today with a decent amount of sunshine.  Unfortunately the wind continued to blow vigorously so it took me quite a long time to get up the energy to go out on my bike.

I had several good wheezes to distract me before I got going and of course, I always have to have a look at the garden first.

I am very attached to the papery poppies that have come out of the seed packet this year.

P1140268

They have a subdued elegance.

And in spite of the brisk breeze, there were butterflies everywhere in the garden today.

P1140273

Indeed, you had to look sharp to avoid being knocked over by them as they flitted from flower to flower.

I did get going in the end and found it a hard battle.  I was pleased to stop to admire a small clump of traditional toadstools…

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…and in an effort to get some gender balance into the blog, I refrained from taking any more outstanding cows and took two sitting bulls instead.

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Near the end of the ride (my usual 20 mile Canonbie circle), I parked the bike behind a fence and walked down through the woods…

P1140279

…to get a view of the river Esk near Broonholm.

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I thought that I might see a lot of fungus under the trees but this little clump was the only fungus that I saw.

P1140286

I managed to make it home and found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work on the computer.

It was fine enough for Mrs Tootlepedal to take her lunch out to the new bench and I joined her later on.  Out of the wind and sensibly clothed, it was a good day to test the bench.

The afternoon was given over to gardening.  I was in poetic form:

 There was mowing, dead heading
And sieving and shredding.

Mrs Tootlepedal is still in full Attila the Gardener mode so there was plenty of shredding to do.  The good summer has speeded up the compost process and there are now two big buckets of sieved compost waiting to find a home.

While we were sitting on the bench having our lunch, I noticed that a second flowering of a polemonium has come out to join the late flowering delphinium.

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As they are in the same bed as the reliable golden wedding rose and the perennial wallflower…

_DSC7064

…there was no shortage of colour in that corner of the garden.

I noticed a young blackbird sitting quietly on the fence and went in to get a camera.  I was surprised to find it still there when I came out.

_DSC7059

Then Mike Tinker came to bring Mrs Tootlepedal a gift of some liquid worm compost from his wormery as it  produces more than he needs for his own garden.  He joined us for a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit and his visit was well timed as it began to rain lightly just at that moment.

I took a picture of a leycesteria before I went in.

P1140287

Although the rain stopped, we didn’t go back out to the garden when Mike left as I had to have an early evening meal because it was the first meeting of Langholm Sings, our Community Choir in the evening.

I did find time to take a few bird pictures though.

I like the shiny black feet that jackdaws have.

_DSC7072

This goldfinch has been very badly painted!

_DSC7054

I hope it gets some better feathers before the cold weather arrives.

Not all of our bird visitors are smart.  A sparrow had bitten more off a fat ball than it could chew and a coal tit was parked on a perch with no seed.

_DSC7076

The first meeting of the choir was well attended with a couple of new members and Mary, our director had brought some new music for us to tackle.  Two of the pieces were good to sing and quite easy but the third piece looks as though it will keep us busy for some time.  This seems like a good balance and I thoroughly enjoyed the singing, especially as my voice lasted reasonably well.

The flying bird of the day is another of the chaffinches which fly up to the feeder and conveniently hover for a moment before landing just so that I can snap them.

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Today’s guest picture shows a curiously cloudy South African sky spotted by my South African correspondent Tom.

SA cloudy sky

We had a cloudy day here too but there was nothing curious about it.  It was was just grey…

…and drizzly all day.  The rain didn’t come to anything, it was just that sort of annoying stuff that stops you doing interesting things outside.

In general though, we have had a very dry week and Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge only recorded 1 cm for the last seven days.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I cycled through the light drizzle to attend the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre.  I stocked up on my usual supplies of meat, fish cheese and honey and then I turned my back for a moment and Mrs Tootlepedal bought a small forest.

She said it was going cheap.

This picture shows her cycling home with two thirds of it.

cycling forest

I had the other third on the back of my bike.

Once we had unloaded the forest, we set about unblocking a drain.

Mike Tinker had noticed that it was overflowing when he visited us on Friday.  At great personal sacrifice, Mrs Tootlepedal stuck her arm down the narrow drain and cleared it out while I offered all sorts of helpful advice from the sidelines. ( I would like to say that had the drain been wider, I would have been doing the arm sticking down work and Mrs Tootlepedal the advising.)  Still, working as a team, we got the drain cleared and I had a walk about the garden.

I had had plenty of time while we were working at the drain to admire the clematis beside it.

front ddor clematis

And I have remarked before that the dahlias seem impervious to sogginess…

big red dahlia

…though some of the ‘Sunny Reggae’ were looking a bit nibbled.

holey dahlia

The poppies were looking positively glum.

sad poppies

Such is the power of suggestion that I thought I saw pools of water at the centre of this poppy because of the raindrops on its petals…

damp red poppy

…but a second look revealed that it was just white patches on the petals.

The fuschias are flowering but tend to look a bit depressed at the moment.

crushed fuchsia

I noticed that there are many little moisture spangled webs around the garden and took a picture of one of them.

wet web close

It looked very striking in close up.

wet web

After that, we went indoors and basically didn’t come out for the rest of the day, though we did do some more shopping in the evening.

I had a brief look at the birds and found some goldfinches which looked as though they were enjoying the day as much as me…

two wet goldfinches

…or even less…

wet goldfinch

…though one did summon up the energy to wave at the cameraman….

wet goldfinches waving

…shortly before being chased off its perch by an incoming greenfinch…

wet goldfinches and greenfinch

…which didn’t look very happy either.

wet goldfinches and greenfinch 2

The only dry looking bird about was a chaffinch perched under the shelter of the sunflower leaves beside the feeder.

chaffinch on sunflower

I spent an afternoon getting to know a new programme which I have purchased for my computer and buyers of new programs will know that this entails a world of pain.  I have more or less worked out its quirks.

I used some of the fish that I bought at the market this morning to make kedgeree for our tea and then we settled down to watch the highlights of La Vuelta.  This took place in such dry heat that we were quite grateful for our damp day here.

After its summer break, the church choir resumes full activity tomorrow so I will find out if my voice is working well or not.  It will certainly be rusty.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch complaining loudly about the rain.

flying chaffinch shouting

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  As well as seals and curlews, his new house offers him fine sunrises as he walks his dogs.

Wemyss sunrise

We had a lovely crisp and sunny morning here, perfect for cycling if I had had any go about me.  Sadly, my go was gone and I was still having a light snooze after breakfasts when Sandy came round on Archive Group business and roused me enough to make a cup of coffee.  When he went on his way, I looked round the garden.

There were peacock butterflies all over the place, on the red buddleia…

butterfly on ref buddleia

…on a cosmos…

peacock butterfly on cosmos

…and on the main buddleia too.

peacock butterfly on purple buddleia

They were sunning themselves on paths and flitting about in a very butterflyish way all morning.

The white cosmos are flowering freely…

white cosmos

…and after a slow start, poppies appear as if by magic on fine days like today.

four red poppies

As well as a lot of edible plums, we also have a silver pear on the silver pear tree.  You would need teeth of iron to eat one though.

silver pear

After a great rush of blackbirds earlier on, they have become rather scarce lately so I was pleased to see this one today.

blackbird

When I looked at the birds on the feeder, once again a blue tit was hanging about in the plum tree….

blue tit among the plums

….waiting for a chance while the sparrows played follow my leader round the feeder.

circulating sparrows

Beside the feeder, the accidental sunflower is going from strength to strength.

feeder sunflower

The main business of the day was going to Edinburgh to see Matilda and for once the trains were more or less on time and not too full so the journey was a pleasure and it is always a treat to see Matilda and her parents.

She took her father and me to the shops to get the ingredients for a one pot lemon and asparagus linguine for tea.

Matilda going shopping

(I have digitally scrubbed the graffiti off the board behind her as I don’t like to encourage  that sort of thing.)

Al and Clare are preparing their house for sale so while we shopped, Mrs Tootlepedal and Clare cleaned windows.  Then Al cooked the linguine and it turned out to be delicious so we went home in a cheerful mood.

The flying bird of the day is a strangely twisted sparrow.

twisted flying sparrow

(We are looking at it from behind and it has its head turned sharply to the right to check out the feeder.)

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I have kindly been sent a lot of guest pictures lately and I am working through them so I apologise to those whose great images have fallen through the sieve of time.  Today’s effort is from our younger son and shows his washing line on a typical recent day.

wet washing line

We had another grey day today here for the most part, a day when it always looked as though it was going to rain soon….but it didn’t and as a result there was lots of time for work in the garden.

As soon as the worst of the early dampness had worn off, I got various mowers out and mowed the drying green, the greenhouse grass, the middle and the front lawns and then strimmed the edges of everything that I could see.  There was hardly a blade of grass standing in the garden by the time that I had finished.

counterstriped lawn

I went for a fancy pattern to please Julie, a faithful reader from Australia, who had suggested that  a little variety in the lawn striping would not go amiss.

Then I sieved some compost.

After some slack dead heading days because of the drizzle, there was any amount of dead heading to be done and both Mrs Tootlepedal and I went round several times snipping off the ones we had missed on the previous circuit.

Some flowers survived the snippers.  The camera makes things look a lot brighter than they actually were.

white and red poppies

sunny reggae dahlias

Even on a drab day these ‘Sunny Reggae’ dahlias shine.

There are an encouraging amount of insects about.  Sometimes it seemed that every flower had one.

wild strawberry with tiny insect

phlox with insect

been on daisy

Or two!

dahlia with two insects

But butterflies were scarce.  The strong wind may have made life hard for them

peacock butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre over lunch so I set the kitchen window camera up in the vain hope of seeing the nuthatch again.

I saw a blue tit first….

blue tit on feeder

…and then the usual stramash of sparrows…

mass of sparrows

…with occasional greenfinch incursions…

incoming greenfinch

…but no nuthatch.  I am revising my nuthatch expectations down to nil.

We were having our outside doors painted for the second time as it had rained very heavily after the first effort and the work needed to be redone.  The painter went off after lunch and looking at the clouds, it seemed that it might be quite likely that the same thing would happen again but fortunately the rain held off and the doors dried.

I had received a call from a data miner in the Archive Centre to say that an unfortunate train of events had led to one of the microfiche readers losing some vital parts so after lunch, I snapped a siskin on the feeder…

perching siskin

,…and  went up to the Archive Centre to see what I could do about this, taking a picture of the clematis by the front door on my way out.

big hearted clematis

This is a late flowering and you might say that it is all heart.

It was a bit of a struggle to fix the microfiche reader as one of the errant parts had suffered minor damage but I got it cobbled back together in the end and the miners should be able to get back to work (with care).

When I got home again, Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden and I joined her, mostly in a  supervisory role but from time to time actually doing something helpful.

After a while, we both needed a sit down so we tested out the newly oiled bench and admired the flowers in the new bed beside the lawn.

new bed by middle lawn

On our other side, tall rudbeckias looked down on us.

rudbeckia

I like these rudbeckias because the flowers are durable and don’t need much dead heading.

However, there was plenty of dead heading still to do on a final tour.

There are many flowers about that don’t need dead heading all the time.

pansy and anemone

We are sawing up the old, rather rotten bench a bit at a time and I was cutting through a plank on the back when I noticed some lichen on one of the uprights.

lichen on old bench

We were probably right to think that it was time for a replacement.

I had thought of a walk (it was too windy for a cycle ride) but all this gardening had knocked some of the stuffing out of me so a cup of tea and a sit down looked like a more attractive proposition.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a delicious evening meal and there were just enough raspberries to have as a dessert.

In any spare moments during the day, I ate a plum.  More plums are ripening all the time.  The wasps and the jackdaws are dealing with a lot of them but there are more than enough left to satisfy the most enthusiastic plum eater.  I can see plum chutney looming.

I hope to widen my horizon tomorrow as the forecast is quite cheerful.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from the seaside outside our son Tony’s new house on the north shore of the Forth.  As well as seal spotting, he has been curlew catching.

curlew at Wemyss

We had very little encouragement to do anything outside here today as it rained on and off the the whole time in a very dispiriting sort of way.

wet poppy

Although a little rain doesn’t seem to deter the bees which I find rather surprising.

bee on white cosmos

And the mint is enjoying the weather.

mint spreading

(I meant to put it in yesterday’s post but I forgot so I will mention that the rain for last week, as measured by Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge, was 4 cm or just over an inch and half.)

Luckily I had plenty to do, including some local shopping in the car, preparing a beef stew for the slow cooker and grappling with a very tricky crossword so time passed quite cheerfully.

What made a gloomy day feel better was the second visit in two days of a nuthatch.  I didn’t have my camera set up and it flew off but I set the camera up at the kitchen window more in hope that expectation of a return visit and was rewarded when the nuthatch not only came back but hung about on the elder…

nuthatch on elder

…and gave me a hard stare when it caught me taking its picture.

nuthatch staring

It is a beautiful bird and a very rare visitor to our garden indeed so this was a special treat.

While I was finishing off my cooking, I was looking at the feeder again through the window as I worked.  The nuthatch was long gone and there was nothing out of the ordinary, just a couple of chaffinches…

chaffinches

…who soon gave way to greenfinches flying in from this side…

flying greenfinch 1

…and that side.

flying greenfinch 2

After lunch, with the rain still coming down, I sanded down the new garden bench which is sheltering in the garage for the moment and gave it a coat of decking oil.  Then I adjourned for some flute practice and watched a bit of the F1 race on the telly.

In this way, I passed a quiet day very comfortably.  Mrs Tootlepedal went to sing in the church choir in the morning and then devoted herself to curtains.

In the evening, while I was preparing some potatoes to go with the stew, I cast a hopeful eye  on the feeder.  There was a sole soggy goldfinch to look at…

damp goldfinch

…until, very satisfactorily, either the same nuthatch returned…

nuthatch on feeder pole

…or one remarkably like it.

It descended onto the seed feeder and waited until I had got the best picture that poor light and the handheld Lumix would allow.

nuthatch on feeder

…and then it flew off again.

I hope it becomes a regular visitor, at least for a while.

The stew turned out well and we had a few raspberries from the garden with a drop of cream to follow.  All in all, what could have been a very dismal day turned out well.

The flying bird of the day is probably jumping more than flying!

leaping nuthatch

 

 

 

 

 

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