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Posts Tagged ‘red soldier beetle’

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who is on the Isle of Arran.  Unlike me, he saw a squirrel at breakfast time.

Arran squirrel

Our spell of good weather continued with a pleasantly warm and often sunny day.  At the moment we are getting some sunny days without it getting too hot for comfort and the only thing lacking to make things perfect is a few overnight showers to save the need for watering the vegetables.

I had time before going to sing in church to have a quick walk round the garden.  It was worth it.

poppy, lily, courgette

Perhaps the biggest and most flamboyant flower in the garden at the moment is in the vegetable patch but the courgette (bottom left in the panel above) looks quite at home.

We have got some very nice white foxgloves on the go among all the colour.

whiute foxglove

The hostas are covered with flowers,  They are doing well this year.

hosta with flowers

Our church organist has been elected cornet so he has been very busy attending common ridings in neighbouring towns lately, but he found time to come and play for us today and it was good to have him at the organ.

After church, there was time for another garden wander and some dead heading.  I noticed the last of our lupins…

new lupin

..and took a general view of the borders on the front lawn.

front lawn border

The front lawn is much better than it was, but it is still a bit patchy.  I did think about photoshopping the brown patches out but restrained myself.

Mrs Tootlepedal enjoys a bright red perlagonium which she rescued from a ‘past its best’ tray at a garden centre last year.  It has repaid her care.  I like it too, but it is so bright that it frightens the camera.

geraniums red

I went inside to have coffee and had a look at the birds.

There is a lot of blackbird activity in the garden and this looks like a growing youngster.

young blackbird

A siskin looked as though it was being distracted by an arriving sparrow from the threat from another siskin behind it.

sparrow landing

Later on, two siskins got very up close and personal.

mixed siskins

After lunch, we went off for a cycle ride.

During the ‘sit and stitch’ session at the producers’ market yesterday, Mrs Tootlepedal had been reminded by one of her embroidering friends that members of the Waterbeck village hall committee serve cream teas every Sunday afternoon in July.  Waterbeck is ten miles away from Langholm so a ten mile bike ride seemed a good way to work up an appetite and the ten miles back seemed like a good way to work off the calories acquired.

We went at a leisurely pace and kept an eye out for orchids.  Mrs Tootlepedal spotted some on the way out and some more on the way back…

two orchids

…and in the end, she saw so many that she stopped pointing them out.

As well as wild flowers, we saw animals pondering on life…

three bulls

…and a busy sand martins’ nesting site…

sand martin nests

…though my pocket camera couldn’t capture any of the sand martins which were flitting in and out of the nest holes.

The verges have not been mown recently and are very lush with waving grasses.

waving grasses

We encountered a small stream of old cars on a group outing but I only managed to get my camera out of my pocket by the time that they had almost all passed us.  This was the last in the queue (with a modern car behind it).

old car

We arrived safely at the hall and enjoyed an excellent cup of tea, a cream and strawberry scone and a delightful plate of cakes as well.  I would have shown you the scones but they had all mysteriously disappeared in no time at all.

waterbeck cream tea table

There was a light breeze in our faces on the way home and the hills are steeper going towards Langholm than on the way out, so we didn’t rush back in spite of being well fuelled with scones and cake.  We had time to stop and look at more flowers.

The vetch and the yellow bedstraw were very striking…

four wauchope wild flowers

…but the more subdued meadowsweet and two active red soldier beetles also provided photo opportunities.

The most surprising stop of the trip was to photograph a hare on the top of Callister.  It thought that the best way of hiding from me was to stand very still in full view.

hare on Callister

More animals should adopt this scheme.

We made a judicious pause half way up the steepest hill to admire the view.

view from Callister

Mrs Tootlepedal did the trip on her shopping bike.  It is the one that has been recently serviced and now has a fully functioning ‘granny gear’ on it.   The hills gave it a good test and it passed well.

An evening meal consisting of a fry-up of liver, bacon, egg and mushroom rounded off a very satisfactory day and we sat down to watch a recording of the team time trial stage of the Tour de France after we had had one last walk round the garden.

The evening light was delightful.

poppy bobbie james delphinium philadelphus

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out that one of the many Iceland poppies which spring up in the garden had developed some rather fancy petals.

ragged iceland poppy

I liked the steely gaze of the delphiniums.

delphinium

According to the forecast, we have one more good day to go before the weather changes and it starts to rain for several days, so I am pleased to have had the opportunity to cycle a few miles and have had so many pretty flowers to look at during this past week.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch heading up to the feeder.

chaffinch flying

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who stopped on Wetherby on a trip and enjoyed the colonnaded market there.  The street sign says ‘The Shambles’ suggesting it was a place for butchers at one time.

the shambles, Wetherby

I got up early and went for a cycle ride straight after breakfast, pleasantly surprising myself.

The conditions were good and having been a bit depressed by how slow I have been on recent rides, I stopped trying to blame old age today and just tried harder.  This worked well.  You can almost always cycle faster than you are going at any given time, the only question being how long you can keep it up.

I found it necessary to stop for a wild flower inspection after about 16 miles!

I was just too late to get the best of this thistle…

thistle

…but there were plenty of docks in fine fettle.

dock

Some umbellifers are already going to seed….

umbellifer seeds

…but once again there were plenty playing host to the ubiquitous red soldier beetles.

red soldier beetle

I liked this tree in a neighbouring field which seemed to be having difficulty in deciding whether to grow up or down.

irvine house tree

I caught up on a little computer work when I got home but not before I had had a watering wander round the garden.

The was enough sunshine to bring out the colour in the calendulas…

calendula

…and the rose mallows.

rose mallow

The ligularias are building up a bit each day….

ligularia

…and the doddering dillies (Sunday name Breza Media or common quaking grass) are doddering all over the place.

doddering dillies

I like this combination of delphinium and phlox beside the front lawn.

delphinium and phlox

I only shot a few bird pictures…

siskin

A regal looking siskin was the best of them

….as I didn’t have long to hang about before I went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.  I got there in plenty of time so naturally the train was a quarter of an hour late.

When I got to Matilda’s, I only had a moment to wave at her before her father took me off to visit the site where the family are going to buy a new house.  It is in the process of being built but as it is exactly the same as the show house on the site, I was able to get a good idea of what it will be like.  It looks ideal so I hope that everything goes well with the build and the purchase.

It is only a few hundred yards away from their present house so it wasn’t long before I was back playing with Matilda and then watching a first class dance routine from her followed by the usual excellent evening meal.

After some unpleasantly hot days in Edinburgh, it was much cooler and I walked back to the station keeping my eye out for things of interest on the way.

I passed a queue of runners descending from Salisbury Crags…

runners on Salisbury Crags

…and a squirrel not descending a tree.

Edinburgh squirrel

After a momentary pause to look at the old town across the roof of Waverley Station…

Waverley

I went down and caught the train home.  It was late too (but not very).

The drive home was illuminated by a sensational sunset which I was rather sad to see.  We had come through some heavy rain at Beattock on the way down in the train and I was hoping that the clouds would stretch all the way to Langholm.  They didn’t.  More watering tomorrow.

The best I could do in the way of a flying bird, since most of my intended subjects today either hid…

sparrow behind pole

…or flew off before I could catch them, was this rather curious two headed, four footed sparrow.

two sparrows

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  It shows the Houses of Parliament which is nominally the seat of our government.  Sadly, we are currently not being governed at all.

View from Lambeth Bridge

In a shocking challenge to the established order, it rained today…

wet poppy

…but as it only rained for about five minutes and not very hard at that, it didn’t make any difference and I still had to potter about watering anything I thought might benefit from it.

I also managed some weeding and a little strimming of the paths in the vegeatble garden and I edged the middle lawn.

It was cloudy and definitely a bit cooler than it has been so that was very welcome.  Encouraged by this, I got my bike out after coffee and the crossword and set out to see how my legs were feeling.

They were feeling fine so I did a 32 mile circle of familiar roads at a gentle pace (I was trying hard but the pace was gentle), keeping an eye out for anything interesting.  Once again, I found that if I stopped and looked around, there was usually something to look at.

My first stop was not far from the town.

orchid

There are orchids and red soldier beetles all over the place.

red soldier beetles

I stopped about 2o miles further on to check out a verge.

wild flowers 1

There was a good variety of flowers to be seen.

On my next stop, about 4 miles from home, there was an even greater variety.

There were all these…

wild flowers 3wild flowers 2wild flowers 4

…and many more.

wild flowers 5

Looking at the hedges and verges certainly keeps me occupied while I am pedalling along….and give me a good excuse for stops for a breather.

The light wind and cooler temperature made for very agreeable cycling conditions and I had worked up an appetite for a sardine, lettuce and potato salad for a late lunch when I got home.

I watched the bird feeder while I was in the kitchen.

Two sparrows posed artistically for me.

sparrows

An interesting time trial in the Tour de France gave me a good excuse for a rest after lunch and then a visit from Mike Tinker caused me to stir my stumps and get back out into the garden.

The sun had come out by this time and it was a lovely afternoon.

I mixed a little more watering with some flower watching.

The new iris is adding to its charm…

lily

…and the tall sunflowers are reaching ever higher into the sky.

sunflower

The calendulas don’t seem to mind the dry conditions…

calendula 1

…and have a nice assortment of styles.

calendula 2

Then I had to go in and have a shower and get ready for my flute pupil Luke to arrive.  As I hadn’t done any practice for a fortnight, I couldn’t complain too much about his lack of practice.  He has just started his first job so I suppose he has other things to think about at the moment.

I picked some peas and beans for my tea and enjoyed them with some fish cakes and then I had a selection from the cheese board to round off the meal.

One last expedition to the garden for watering followed, where I noticed that a leycesteria has flowered underneath the apple tree….

leycesteria

…checked out another of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new nicotianas…

nicotiana

…and discussed the political situation with a couple of blackbirds.

blackbirds

The flying bird of the day picture is provided by the aerial ballet department.

flying siskin and flying sparrow

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The second of the ‘trip to London’ pictures shows “Topaz”, one of the elegant Pullman coaches pulled by the steam engine which we saw at Carlisle station.  I like the little lamps with shades at every table.

Pullman coach

We had a rare outbreak of summer today with plenty of sunshine and a cooling breeze from the north in case it got too hot.

I started the day off by going up to check on the Camera Club exhibition and making arrangements for visitors to purchase prints if the mood comes upon them.  While I was there, the volunteer custodian and I got our pictures taken by the local paper which was publicising the event for us.

I then went home and promptly had to come back up to the town again as I had forgotten to buy a Common Riding tie to wear when our little choir songs at the concert on Wednesday.  It is a quirk of the Langholm Common Riding that it has different colours each year, taken from the colour of the silks worn by the jockey of the winner of the Derby.  This means that there is a different tie every year.

All this excitement and a bit of shopping thrown in, meant that I needed a sit down and a cup of coffee when I finally got home.  Then I needed a lettuce and marmite sandwich to provide fuel so it was not until after midday that I managed to get going on the fairly speedy bike.

I took a few garden pictures before I left.

sunny flowers

Once on the bike, I soon discovered that my legs were in go slow mode so I didn’t push them and I was happy to stop for pictures as I went along.

There was plenty to see in the verges….

umbellifer with red soldier beetles

Every umbellifer seemed to have at least one red soldier beetle on it.   I saw a stem hosting nineteen insects of various sorts on its flower heads later in my ride.

The road side verges are recovering after the mowing and I liked this display of hawkbits on the road up Callister.

hawkbits on Callister

Whether they are ‘lesser, ‘autumn, ‘rough’ or some other hawbits I cannot tell but they were good to look at as I puffed up the hill.  I have no idea what the little birds in the middle of the road further up the hill were doing.

I had to cross a couple of recently gravelled sections of road on my journey but there has been sufficient traffic to make them quite safe for cycling which was a relief.

I went as far west as Paddockhole and then turned north, uphill and into the wind to get to Eskdalemuir via Bailliehill and Castle O’er.  This took me past the new windfarm at Ewe Hill and I tried to get a picture that took in all the 22 turbines…..

Ewe Hill wind farm

…and failed.  The turbines are so stretched out and alternately low and high that my camera couldn’t cope at all.

There are now so many wind turbines in Scotland that on a day of good wind and low demand, they can provide just about all the energy that is needed for the whole country.  What is required now is serious work on developing storage for renewable energy and it does seem that people are paying attention to this.  I live in hope.

I pedalled on up the valley of the Water of Milk, crossing bridges when I came to them.

little bridge on Bailliehill road

When I arrived at Bailliehill, I had crossed the col between the water of Milk and the Esk Valley….

Esk valley at Bailliehill

One of my favourite views of the Esk

…and I was soon passing the spot where the Black Esk meets the White Esk….

Black Esk meets White Esk

…and I had to cross the Black Esk…..

Black Esk bridge

…to continue up the west bank of the White Esk to Eskdalemuir.

When I got there, the northernmost point of the trip, I crossed yet another bridge…

Eskdalemuir bridge

Electricity and phone wires are everywhere I go.

…to continue my journey back to Langholm down the east bank of the river.

After pedalling the last ten miles uphill and into the wind, I was hoping for a good push from the breeze to get me back to Langholm but it was fitful and flighty and often seemed to come from the side and even into my face a bit instead of wafting me home.

Still, it was a glorious day to be out in the country so I didn’t mind too much and just pedalled along in a very stately manner admiring the views.

There are prehistoric monuments along the way.  This is a stone circle, The Girdle Stanes, half of which has been swept away by the river.

Girdle Stanes

The fields really were those colours.  The whole outing was a visual treat.

I had to pause on the Crurie Brae to let my tin knee rest as I am not supposed to cycle up steep hills.  While I paused,  I looked north.  I could see the road that I had come up on the other side of the valley.

Looking back from Crurie Brae

Soon afterwards, I got my reward for the climbing I had done…..

Shaw Rigg

…as I whistled down the long straight road of the Shaw Rig.

I was soon pedalling along the back road past Georgefield, through banks of wild flowers….

Georgefield road

…until I crossed the Esk again at Bentpath by the bridge below the church….

Bentpath bridge and church

…which I see has got the builders in.

Westerkirk Church

Although the road from Eskdalemuir is theoretically downhill as it follows the river, it never seems that way when I am cycling along it. It undulates a lot and I was grateful to get to the last climb of the day.  I stopped for a breather and a final view from my ride.

View of Esk valley at Potholm

I would have taken a picture of the good crop of raspberries at the top of the hill but I inadvertently ate them before I thought of getting the camera out.  Wild raspberries are delicious.

I did 34 miles which is not far but as you can see from the elevation profile below, it was an up and down sort of ride with long uphill and short downhill sections so not very restful.  It was the slowest ride I have done for ages but also one of the most enjoyable.

Garmin route 24 July 2107

Click on the map for more details of the ride if you wish

 

When I got home, I had another wander round the garden….

poppy and roses

…edged the lawn and picked some beetroot which I then cooked.  I made a loaf of bread (with water) and went upstairs to have shower.  The front lawn looked so good from the bathroom window that I went back downstairs and got a camera.  I often say to Mrs Tootlepedal that all the work that I do on the lawn through autumn, spring and early summer is to make it look good for at least one day later in the summer.

I think that this might have been that day.

the front lawn looking good

When I came down a little later, there were forty sparrows pecking the lawn to bits.  Ah well.

Still the evening sunshine lit up a poppy very nicely so that soothed my ire.

poppy in sunshine

And a very cheery clematis at the front door completely restored my good humour.

front door clematis

Then my flute pupil Luke came and we played through our trio and that rounded off a very good day indeed.

After tea, I picked the very last of the blackcurrants and I hope to find time to make a pot or two of jelly tomorrow.

The flying birds of the day can’t make up their minds and are sitting on the fence for the time being.

blackbirds

Oh all right, it’s a hedge and not a fence.  Perhaps they are hedging their bets.

 

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Today’s guest picture shows that Bruce was not just looking at trams on the Great Orme. He was looking at the view of Llandudno too.

Great Orme

After yesterday’s miserable day, we had a very pleasant, warm and often sunny day today.

I didn’t make the most of it but I didn’t entirely waste it.

The better weather certainly encouraged my trigger finger and when I downloaded my camera card onto the computer in the evening, I found that I had taken a lot of pictures.  I ruthlessly pruned them down and discovered that I still had 54 so in the end, the number that appear on this post are just a shadow of the ones that I took.

While Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir, I made a beef and mushroom stew for the slow cooker and mowed the greenhouse grass.  No speed records were broken during this process.

I did have time to admire the rambler roses on the arch…

rambler roses

…and to reflect on the downside of a camera which sees the greenhouse, the whirlygig and the houses beyond while the human eye just sees the roses and ignores the rest.

I walked round to the back of the house to admire the excellent display of flowers along the dam.

Dam flowers

In the garden, the privet is attracting bees and it was quite hard to get a shot without a bee in it.

privet

The sparrows stopped eating Mrs Tootlepedal’s vegetables for a moment or two and started pecking my lawn.

sparrows

There are so many berries on our blackcurrant bush that our neighbour Liz came in and picked a colander full…

blackcurrants

…and then passed them on to another neighbour and came back and picked the same amount again, all without making a serious dent in the number still on the bush.  I will have to make more jelly.

After lunch, we settled down to watch the Tour but I felt a bit guilty about wasting such a good day so I put it on to record and went for a walk.

I went along the Kilngreen seeing sparrow and gull….

sparrow and gull

…and thought that the sparrow will enjoy the blackberries when they ripen.

I walked along the road to Whitshiels and then took the track up through the woods.

The track was covered in self heal and occasionally decorated with ragged robin.

self heal and ragged robin

At the top of the track, I took a picture of a remarkable tree.

Tree with hole in trunk

It is one of a row of three which defy the odds and flourish in spite of having only half a trunk and a tenuous connection to the earth.

tree

I walked onto the rough pasture and and saw a good selection of interesting (to me) things.

meadow pipit, cyclist, pylon

The bird is a meadow pipit which was trying to hide from me, the energetic cyclist was in the process of doing five repetitions of the climb to the White Yett and back down again and the pylon was doing nothing much at all.

I enjoyed the views of course…

Ewes valley

Ewes valley

…and took a panorama to show the extent of them.

ewes panorama

Click to enlarge

You can see why I like being up here on a sunny day.

I walked back across Whita Hill, passing these pretty pink flowers on the way….

pink flowers

…which may be lousewort (I am open to correction of course).

I came back to the town by way of the Kirk Wynd.  I was very distracted by the large number of red soldier beetles doing their best to contribute to the survival of the species.  There seemed to be several on every flower I passed at one point.

red soldier beetles

The Kirk Wynd was very flowery.

trefoil, daisy and bedstraw

rosebay willowherb

At the bottom of the Wynd, I passed the old graveyard wall which is hidden by a metal fence while repairs are being done.  I peeped through a gap.

The wall is supposed to be fully repaired by next week.  This seems like one of those targets which may be missed.

Old Kirkyard wall

I will doff my chapeau to the wall builders if the job is finished on time.

At the bottom of the Wynd, I stepped into the Market place and noticed that the Common Riding bunting is up at the Town Hall.

Town Hall bunting.

The Common Riding will take place on the last Friday in July so we are getting very excited already.

I walked down to the river….

River esk

On the gravel bank below the suspension bridge, a man was making a circular bench out of the river stones.

stone bench on Esk bank

This is a real labour of love as it is very likely that it will either be covered up or swept away by the next flood to come down  the river.

I got home and sat and watched the end of a very exciting stage of the Tour and followed that by eating the beef stew with peas and potatoes from the garden for our tea.  The presence of peas in the meal was a tribute to the fine pea fortress erected by Mrs Tootlepedal.  The sparrows’ frustration was our treat.

After tea, I got out the fairly speedy bike and had a fairly speedy trip down to Canonbie and back by my usual route but in the opposite direction.  It was a lovely evening but the brisk wind made the return part of the journey quite hard work.  Fortunately, I didn’t take my camera with me!

The sitting bird of the day is a blackbird which was keeping an eye on Liz as she picked the blackcurrants.

blackbird on fence

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my son Alistair and shows what Attila the Gardener can do when she visits her granddaughter with a pair of shears in her handbag.

Al and Clare's hedge

We had another grey and generally rainy morning today and I was happy to stay inside and prepare a lamb stew for the slow cooker while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir.  What made me even happier was that I was able to use the first onion of the year from the garden and one of the little white turnips in the cooking.

The gloomy weather made me think that an indoor picture might be good insurance in case going out was not going to be suitable for flower shots.

sweet pea in kitchen

The sweet pea was in the kitchen and outside the window, the feeder aerial ballet was relentless…

siskins

…and the sparrows and siskins had emptied the feeder before Mrs Tootlepedal had returned from church.

Happily, the rain eased off and I was able to go out.  The packets of dahlia seeds have produced a good variety of shape and colour in their flowers.

dahlias

Various lilies are doing well in spite of the cool damp weather.

lilies

I visited the vegetable garden and admired the flourishing main crop potato plants.

potatoes

The trouble with potatoes of course is that you never know how good they are, no matter how good they look, until you dig them up.  The proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say.  (Not that we use potatoes in puddings.)

As it stayed dry, I shifted a bit more compost from Bin C into Bin D and might have completed the job if Mrs Tootlepedal, back from church and needing coffee, and a heavy shower of rain hadn’t arrived at the same time.

I went in and prepared the bread maker to make a dozen rolls.

After lunch I had intended to go across to the Castleholm and watch some horse racing there but a persistent drizzle and a severe lack of light for action shots persuaded me that watching another potentially exciting stage of the Tour de France followed (hopefully) by the end of Andy Murray’s triumph at Wimbledon might be a better bet.

This was a good decision.

The cyclists had an interesting day of weather starting with searing heat at 30°C and ending up pedalling up a mountain at 10° in a torrential hailstorm.  They seemed very cheerful afterwards in spite of it all.

Andy Murray won without giving his supporters a heart attack, a very rare event.

After the tennis was over, I looked out of the window and seeing that the rain had stopped, I went off for a short walk.

The Sweet Williams made a gloomy day look very cheerful as I left the house.

Sweet William

There was plenty of water in the Wauchope as I went past the caul at Pool Corner….

Pool Corner

…and plenty to look at as I went round Gaskell’s Walk.

capillaris smooth hawksbeard

If I had paid more attention on our recent wild flower field day, I might know what this is.  There was a lot of it about and I am going to plump for Crepis  capillaris or smooth hawks-beard.  Our lecturer at Maryport told us that he had once given a well attended whole day class purely on ‘little yellow flowers that look like dandelions’ so I don’t feel too bad about not being certain.

As usual, it paid to give the flowers a close look.

insects on flowers

The Umbellifer on the left has a tiny insect on nearly every other flower when you look carefully.  The flower on the right is meadowsweet.

The umbellifer below had more than tiny insects on it.

umbellifer with hoverfly and red soldier beetles

I was pleased to see that there should be plenty more red beetles for me to photograph in the future.

Some things were easier to spot.

Thistle

And I could even see the Monument today as the clouds lifted.

Monument

The weather seemed to be quite good for the moment so I dawdled along taking anything that caught my eye…

stubholm gate

…until I got back down to the Esk at the park.

Esk

The wet weather after the warm and sunny month before has ensured that everything is growing at full belt.

I disturbed a family of ducks who paddled off rather crossly…

ducks on Esk

…before getting home just in time to take a picture of Mrs Tootlepedal’s latest poppy….

poppy

Yes, it is a poppy and not a peony. Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t like it much. I had to hold its head up.

…before dashing indoors as another heavy shower of rain arrived.

The weather is set to look up in the week ahead so a couple of quiet days won’t do me any harm as long as I can get out on my bike again soon.

The (wild) flower of the day is a ragwort which I met on my walk.

ragwort

And the flying bird is one of the seed demolishing siskins in the light drizzle.

flying siskin

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