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Posts Tagged ‘pylon’

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent, who turns out to be in Namibia at the moment.  She sent me this portrait of male and female Long-tailed Paradise Whydahs.  The males are in full display mode.

Long-tailed Paradise Whydah

Our welcome spell of fine weather continued today but with a reminder that we are still in the winter months in the shape of some early frost on the lawns.

The temperature was slow to rise and I was feeling a bit tired so I went back to bed after breakfast and read a book until midday.  It was very relaxing.

I got up into my cycling gear although it was still rather chilly unless you were out in the sun.  I gave Mrs Tootlepedal a hand in the garden for a while and then went in to make some lentil soup for lunch…

…and watch the birds of course.  There were plenty of shady characters hanging around the feeder.

shadowy chaffinch

After lunch, I had another wander round the garden and after I had visited the pond, where I found a pile of  frogs which had not been put off by the chilly morning…

three frogs get friendly

…I helped Mrs Tootlepedal set up the boards for one of our new fruit beds.  They are going to have cages on them this year to protect the crop from the birds.

I couldn’t pass by a particularly fine bunch of crocuses without my shutter finger twitching…

sunny crocus clump

…but I finally pulled myself together and got my bike out and went off for a pedal. It was genuinely warm in the sun and I passed a cyclist coming the other way in short sleeves and shorts.  I am glad that I had retained a few layers because by the time that I finished the ride and the sun was dropping in the sky, it felt pretty chilly.

My  route took me past two ruined cottages.  They are both getting more dilapidated with the passage of time not unlike the photographer.  The first one is only a couple of miles from home.

Blochburnfoot cottage

I couldn’t have asked for a better day for a pedal as there was hardly any wind and the sky was cloudless.

callister view sunny

It wasn’t quite hot enough to get the gorse flowers to smell of coconut though.

gorse flowers

A correspondent asked me recently if there were a lot of poles and pylons in our area and I thought that I would show that there are and that they cast a long shadow too.

view with pylon shadow

As I came down from Kennedy’s Corner onto the Solway Plain, I passed the second ruined cottage, which is now almost wholly holey.

ruined cottage

The tree beside it looks a lot better than the cottage does.

tree by cottage

Although the sky was blue and it was pretty clear in the hills, there was a very murky layer lying on top of the land below me as I looked ahead.  It didn’t look very appetising at all.

murky mist

When I got down that level, it wasn’t visible but it was colder.

There are telephone  and electricity poles along almost every road around us and quite often a pylon makes its presence felt as well….

pylon at the end of the road

…but if you choose the right road, nothing interrupts the view at all.

bent tree

There was quite a lot of traffic about today and I was passed by two low flying aircraft….

low flying plane

…and held up by a traffic jam near Glenzier.

traffic jam near Glenzier

The farmer told me that they were having to move the sheep out into the fields by day as it was too hot for them in the shed at the moment.  This was them going home to bed for the night.

When I got back after 30 gentle miles, Mrs Tootlepedal had finished planting out the raspberry canes in the new bed.  They are Malling Jewel and should fruit in midsummer (if we get one this year).

new raspberry bed

There are gooseberries and blackcurrants to be sorted out next.

I admired some hopeful wallflowers and went in to have a cup of tea and some ginger nuts (shop bought).

wallflower feb

I was just getting up to make a slice of toast after I had polished off the biscuits, when my eye was caught by movement under the feeder.

Our part of the town seems to have two resident partridges now…

partridge

…as neighbours on both sides of our garden have seen them perched on their fences.  I wonder where they are roosting for the night.

The day wound down with a shopping trip for me and then Mrs Tootlepedal created a delicious evening meal with the products from the shopping bag, a very satisfactory division of labour.

I was pleased to see that the proposed deterioration in our weather has now been put on hold for a day or two and we are being promised another sunny day tomorrow.  We are really being spoiled and will get a big shock when normal service is resumed.

A questing chaffinch obliged by posing as the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Sandy’s Mexican adventure.  He ran into this cousin of Mr Grumpy while he was there.

Mexican heron

The new year continues to put on a cheerful face and we had another bright and sunny day today but it was cold after a clear night and the temperature in the shade outside our back door only just crept above zero.  The wind was light though so being outside in the sunshine was a pleasant experience.

It was Sandy’s day to fill the Moorland Feeders and he kindly picked me up on his way.  We filled the feeders and sat for a while in the hide but the bright sunshine was not much help to us as it shone straight into our faces….

Chaffinches at the Moorland feeders

…which made spotting birds let alone photographing them quite a tricky business.  To tell the truth, there was nothing out of the ordinary to see anyway just the usual suspects…

coal tit, woodpecker and chaffinch

…and of course, many pheasants…

pheasant

The female of the species

…so with the cold air nipping at noses and fingers, we didn’t stay too long.

Sandy went on home and I was joined for coffee by Dropscone who told me that he is going to have a golf lesson tomorrow.  It just shows that you are never to old to learn…or at least he hopes that that is the case.

The colder weather brought a lot of varied blackbirds into the garden today…

blackbirds

…including one with a lot of white feathers.

The strong sun once again made my pictures a bit hit or miss…

siskin and chaffinch

The first siskin for some time and a chaffinch

flying chaffinches

Either too much shade or too little

But there were plenty of birds to look at even though some made it hard to pick them out  by lurking against a neutral background.

Dunnock

I have put some fat balls in an open feeder and they drew in some customers.  They were easier to spot.

starling

blue tit

In spite of the frost, the vegetable garden was soft enough for me to dig up a leek so I made some soup for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal set off to Lockerbie and Edinburgh to see Matilda.

I set off to make the best of a sunny afternoon and walked up to the monument on Whita Hill.

It is quite a stiff climb with a gain of 843ft in almost exactly a mile from the Market Place to the summit which gives an average gradient of 16%.  However, with the ground very solid underfoot because of the low temperature and with the aid of a couple of stout walking poles, I arrived safely at the summit….

Monument

…in good order.

I had passed the inevitable line of pylons on my way….

pylons

…and looked south to see the Lake District fells, just visible above a very misty Solway plain.

Lake District fells

The views from the top of the hill made the climb well worth while.  The view to the south west is always difficult with the low winter sun but I could see the Solway Firth gleaming in the distance

Solway

Turning to my right, the views were better.  I could see the town below me…

Langholm

…and Castle Hill and the Eskdale hills beyond it.  It was a big sky day.

Castle hill and Eskdale

In the other direction, the colour changed dramatically as grouse moors came into the picture.

Tarras

And I could see the fields at Cronksbank on the far bank of the Tarras water.

Cronksbank

But my favourite view, as ever, was looking at the hills that line the Ewes valley.

Ewes valley

Very wisely, I decided not to test the knees on a 16% descent and tacked down the hill by track and path.  This added just over half a mile to the route back to town but took 6% off the gradient so it was a good bargain.

I should say that the walking poles added considerably to the pleasure of the walk not just by helping to push me up the hill but by stopping me slipping back down it.  I know that there are people who are too proud to use walking poles but I am not one of them.

I didn’t wander lonely as a cloud as I met other walkers on my way, including Kenny, a fellow camera club member, who tells me he is up this hill almost every day.  He is a great bird watcher and sees many interesting things through his binoculars which would pass me by entirely.  If it is not close enough to snap, I probably don’t see it.

As I walked over the town bridge on my way home, I looked down and saw Mr Grumpy standing on a rock…

heron

…he was probably thinking that it would be a lot warmer in Mexico.

As Mrs Tootlepedal was away in Edinburgh and I was a little tired after my modest 3½ mile walk, I nipped out to the chip shop and acquired a pie and chips with some curry sauce for my evening meal.  It went down very well.  A guilty pleasure as they say.

As I mentioned before, when I was looking for the flying bird of the day in the morning, some birds were too dark and some birds were too light but like Goldilocks, I found one that was just right.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Mike and Alison’s New Zealand adventure.  Mike thought correctly that it might warm me up.  He tells me that it shows Mapua with Rabbit Island in the background.

mapua-rabbit-island

At the other end of the earth from Mapua, we had a suitably dark and grey occasion here as we approach the shortest day.

Sandy has been suffering from a cold too but he was improved enough to venture out for a cup of coffee this morning.  Mrs Tootlepedal had made some mince pies last night and these went down very well with the Monsoon Malabar.

I took a moment to look out of the window after coffee and was rewarded with a display of landing skills from the chaffinches.

Chaffinches landing

A robin arrived….

robin

And a chaffinch posed prettily for those who like a more restful bird shot.

chaffinch

Over lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to be a volunteer at the Buccleuch Centre and I thought that a walk in the woods might be a good idea, especially as a friend had suggested a spot where I might find some bullfinches and/or redpolls.

I didn’t want to walk too far so I set out in the car to get to a convenient spot but I hadn’t gone far before a slightly stuttering engine and two warning lights suggested that a visit to the garage might be prudent.  As I was just outside the garage when the warning lights came on, this wasn’t too difficult to arrange and having the left the car in the care of the mechanics, I walked on regardless.

A walked up Hallpath, past an intriguing wall….

Hallpath wall

Why the same wall should be so different just a few yards apart is a mystery to me.

…along an undulating track…

Round house track

…until I came to the spot where the birds might lurk.  There were certainly a good number of small birds high in the trees but the light was so poor that I had no way of telling what they were.

I turned off the main track and struck up the hill towards open ground….

View of Meikleholm Hill

It’s a wonderful spot for electricity wires getting in your view.

…but even when I got clear of the trees, the view didn’t improve much.

Misty view of langholm

I was following a well worn path…

 

Whita

…and heading for the pylon on the right….

whita pylon

I thought it might look more impressive in black and white

I walked on past the pylon until I came to my favourite stile…

stile at Whita quarry

…and was very surprised to see a gorse bush in full flower on the other side of the wall.

gorse on Whita

From there, my route was across the face of the hill on the old quarry track.  I passed a sheep sensibly lying down with its back to the increasingly gusty wind.

sheep on Whita

After passing a lonely tree…

whita tree

…I dropped back into the town by way of the golf course and the Kirk Wynd.

Town Hall

The clock told me that I had been out for just under an hour which was quite enough as it was threatening to turn from mist into drizzle.

Beside the suspension bridge as I crossed the Esk, an old friend was standing on a rock….

heron

Facing him, a duck had found a rock of its own.

duck

When I got home, I had time to look at a robin trying all the feeders in turn….

robin

…before the light disappeared completely.

Although it takes a week before the days actually start getting longer again, it is good to know that tomorrow is the literal depth of winter and it will be uphill towards the sunlit uplands from then on.

I got a call from the garage saying that inexpensive repairs were required and these should be completed by tomorrow.   I may complain about computers in cars from time to time but it is undoubtedly a good thing to be able to hook up your car to a machine and have it tell you within moments exactly what is wrong.

I am still suffering mildly from my cold and so the rest of the day was spent in gentle activity indoors until we went off to a film in the Buccleuch Centre in the evening.

As the film was White Christmas, this turned out to be a cheerful way to round off a dull day.

The flower of the day is a tiny yellow flower which I found on the practise fairway at the golf club…

yellow flower december

…and the flying bird of the day is an expansive chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is the view from my older son’s hotel room in Prague where he is spending a romantic weekend with his partner.  You may think he should have gone next weekend when it will be St Valentine’s Day but he was sensible enough to check the prices first.

Prague

We had a good day.  In between the series of wet and windy depressions rolling over us, we had a good day.  We saw the sun.  The wind didn’t blow very hard.  People were wandering around in a daze wondering what had happened.  Did I mention that we had a good day?

Dropscone, who has had a very busy week with things that had to be done, had yet another of these things to do this morning so I was able to sit around waiting for the temperature to get above 3°C.  I had time to look out of the kitchen window.

blackbird

A blackbird hunting for worms

robin

A robin waiting to dart up to the seed feeder above.

When the temperature had hit 4°, I put on my many layers, got the speedy bike out and set out for a circular run round Bailliehill and Paddockhole.

garmin route 7 Jan 2014This route starts with a stiff climb followed by a descent which loses nearly all the altitude that you have just gained and then eight miles of gentle climbing.  As I also had a light breeze in my face, I took my time over this section and stopped from time to time to take a picture with my phone.

In spite of the wet weather and the grey skies, the countryside is still looking remarkable green and it was a real pleasure to pedal along with the sun on my back surrounded by gentle hills and serenaded by the song of birds.

Near Benty

The roadside scene

Near Benty

The road itself

River esk

The Esk in the valley below

hill farm

A typical hill farm near Paddockhole.

After fifteen miles into the wind, I was pleased to turn at Paddockhole and get the wind behind me for the ten miles home.

Much of the road surface for the first half of the trip is very poor and non cyclists may be surprised how much this slows you down but you expend a lot of energy going up and down over bumps.  As a result, I had to pedal like the clappers for the last two miles to sneak in at just under the two hours for the twenty five and a half mile trip.

I had time for lunch before my friend Jean came round to get a bit of help looking for an embroiderer’s magnifying floor lamp.  She has been using mine recently but wanted to have one of her own.  We were able to find a suitable item on the internet and it should arrive soon.  I often get annoyed when a beautiful view which I wish to photograph is marred by pylons and electricity lines but it is the price to pay for being able to complete transactions like that from the comfort of your armchair at the touch of a button….and of course to put the experience in this post.

After Jean left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I decided to go for a walk to take advantage of the better day.  I was going to show her the walk that Sandy and I had done a few days ago.  This is a walk that she has never been along herself so we drove up to Whitshiels and parked the car.  As I pulled the handbrake on, it started to rain.  We had an umbrella and the clouds seemed to be moving past so we braved the elements and set off anyway.

This turned out to be a good decision as the rain soon stopped and the sun came out.

Ewes valley

I showed her the little lichen garden on the gatepost which I had noticed before.

lichen

My research says that it is Red crest or British soldier lichen: Cladonia cristatella

Looking up the Ewes valley, we could see snow on the hills at Eweslees.

snow

Thanks to the protection of a nearby wood, there was no wind at all where we were walking and in the sunshine it felt like a spring day.  There were certainly signs of spring about.

hazel catkins

Hazel catkins

We walked on up the hill to the open fields and I showed Mrs Tootlepedal the impressive birch polypores which Sandy had spotted on our last visit.

birch polypores

This is a magical spot on a nice day.  Even a conspicuous row of pylons can’t spoil it.

pylon

We walked on, leaving the sheep cropped fields, and followed a rough track through the hill pasture until we reached a gate onto the road back to Langholm.

Langholm road

The gate itself was worth a look with a small willow bush on the gate post on the left and a pretty moss garden on the stone pillar to the right.

willow and moss

We stopped at a quarry beside the road on our way back to the car.   It has a little bridge over a stream that must have had some purpose when it was working.

quarry bridge

The bank at the end of the quarry shows very clearly how neatly the ice sliced through the strata and smoothed our hills in the last ice age…..

quarry

…and just how long it has taken for a very thin layer of indifferent soil to accumulate on top of the rock since the ice went.

The rock was sedimentary and Mrs Tootlepedal found what looks like a record of ripples long past.

rock ripples

By this time, the sun was sinking in the west and it was time to leave the quarry and head for the car, home, and a nice cup of tea.

Langholm

The rest of the day was taken up with dipping into the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics and cooking a healthy meal of fish and vegetables for my tea.

I had taken so many photos after the poor weather of the past few days that it took me ages and some grief to decide which to keep and which to throw away but I still only had a standard flying chaffinch for the final picture of the post.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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