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Posts Tagged ‘redpoll’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Canadian correspondent Mary Jo.  She was on a long drive when she took this picture near McLean, Saskatchewan.They have had several foggy days with no wind, and the resultant hoar frost is spectacular.

canadian hoar frost

There was no frost here today but it was still pretty cool and with a brisk wind blowing, it took me a little time to get up the energy to put on my cycling gear and go for a pedal.

As it was, I battled into a 20 mph plus wind up to the top of Callister Hill and then it started to rain so I turned round and came home.  Still, I managed 12 miles in  almost exactly an hour of cycling so it was slow and short but still better than nothing.

I found Mike and Alison in the kitchen chatting to Mrs Tootlepedal when I got back.  Alison has had a recent fall and dislocated her shoulder so there won’t be any Friday evening sonatas for a while.  Under the circumstances, she was remarkably cheerful.

Not long after Mike and Alison left, Mrs Tootlepedal went off too.  She was going to enjoy  a Christmas lunch with her embroidery group at a local hotel.  I set up my camera on a tripod and watched the birds for a bit.  Traffic was slow and the light was poor but there is always something to enjoy.

I liked the sight of the chaffinch on the right looking out for incoming goldfinches.  As it is the panto season, I thought that I could hear a faint cry of “It’s behind you!”

chaffinch on the lookout

It was a day of goldfinches and chaffinches again for the most part…

chaffinches to and fro

…but I did spot a robin…

robin on chimney

…and we got a visit from a redpoll too.

redpoll and goldfinch

I was intending to go for an afternoon walk just to take a picture or two but the light was terrible and drizzly rain put me off so I just lounged around watching a combination of Call Me Madam with Ethel Merman and some rather dull English rugby on the telly.

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from her lunch, well fed and well pleased with the company and shortly afterwards, Mike arrived with an old electric fire of his which he is lending us to fill the gap left by gas fire which we have recently had removed.  There is a bewildering number of possibilities in the electric fire market so this will give us leisure to research the possibilities and keep warm at the same time.

Falling seems to be the fashionable thing at the moment as I learned that my sister Susan fell this morning and has broken a bone in her arm.  When I rang her up, she was remarkably up beat too but very, very cross.  I can sympathise with that.

Tomorrow, we have a church service in the morning followed bu a choir practice and then a practice followed by a concert in Carlisle in the afternoon.  An early bed is called for I think.

The flying bird of the day is chaffinch of no great distinction.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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As well as looking for fossils, my Newcastle correspondent Fiona likes to take her family to interesting places and today’s guest picture shows the ruins of Finchdale Priory which she visited with them a week or two ago.

Finchdale Priory

We had a warm and calm day today, ideal for cycling.  Hmmm.  I didn’t even have company for coffee as both Dropscone and Sandy were away from home.

As a result, I had a lot of time to watch the birds and fortunately, there were a lot of birds to watch.

Although we mostly had the usual suspects seen here hanging around in the plum tree…

birds in plum tree

Finches on the top branches.

great tit in plum tree

A great tit further down.

dunnock on ground

And a rather fierce dunnock on the ground below.

…we did get some unusual visitors too.

A small brown bird with an unremarkable back view….

redpoll from behind

…revealed itself as a redpoll when it turned round.  They are winter visitors and cheer the gloomy days up.

redpoll on feeder

There were a few of them around and while some sat in the plum tree looking demure…

redpoll in plum tree

…others got on with the business of terrifying chaffinches…

redpoll attacking

…which are much bigger than them.

However the real surprise of the morning was a visit from a greater spotted woodpecker which suddenly appeared in the plum tree as if by magic.

greater spotted woodpecker in tree

Although I often see them up at the Moorland feeders, we hardly ever see one in the garden and especially not one so happy to pose for me.

greater spotted woodpecker in garden

However, it didn’t pose for long and soon flew off, not to be seen again.

A curiosity of looking at pictures of the birds when the feeder is busy is to see flying seeds everywhere.  How did the seed in the top of the picture below get there?

flying food

I got a visit from my part time neighbour Ken, a fellow cyclist.  He is in the opposite situation to me and after being poorly earlier in the year, he is now getting some good miles in.  I was very envious of him as he had been of me in the spring.

The morning drifted away but after lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal set to work in the garden and that galvanised me into action, or at least into as much as I could manage without flexing my leg.

I took a leisurely photographic tour in search of colour.  There are flowers about if you look hard enough.

november flowers

The perennial wallflowers in the bottom left frame above started flowering in April and been in bloom ever since.  That is what I call value for money.

The warm summer has encouraged roses to produce hips this year.  Although the rosa Gallica (on the left) always produces some rather subdued hips, we have never seen hips on the Goldfinch (on the right) before.

november rose hips

In the absence of flowers, the spireas are a source of pleasure at this time of year.

november spirea

I did a little shredding and sieved some more of the compost from Bin D as Mrs Tootlepedal is planting out bulbs and needs compost.  I know that readers have been eagerly awaiting compost pictures so here is the result of sieving Bin D.

bucket of sieved compost

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, I also turned a very full Bin A into Bin B and took a picture of Bins A to D.

compost bins a to d

Mrs Tootlepedal is responsible for the plastic bin on the left of Bin A and I have no idea what is in it.  It is a closely guarded secret.

The next task will be to finish the little bit of sieving left in Bin D and turn Bin C into it.  It is good for a man to have a purpose in life.

While I was having fun, Mrs Tootlepedal was preparing for next year.

fern dug up

She removed a fern from a spot where, if all goes well, a fine display of tulips will appear in spring.

I had made a lamb stew in the slow cooker in the morning and while I played duets with my flute pupil Luke,  I left the sous-chef to fettle up the gravy.  She did an excellent job and we had a tasty evening meal.

To end the day, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  We played Mozart, Telemann and Quantz and that was the perfect way to forget the many little inconveniences that come to all of us with advancing years.

The flying bird of the day is another ‘just-in-time’ chaffinch.

just flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture shows an elegant little lighthouse at Fleetwood on the Irish Sea coast.  My brother Andrew was visiting the town.

fleetwood

After several weeks of good weather, it was very unfortunate that for the weekend of the Muckeltoon Adventure Festival, a feast of mountain biking and trail running today, we should have got a miserable day of rain.

I was hoping to go and get some good action pictures but it was raining too heavily to make that any fun.

wet goldfinch

The goldfinches took badly to the rain too.

As a result, I spent a very quiet day inside until the rain stopped in the afternoon and I didn’t do much after that either.

The wet weather gave me a chance to watch the birds during the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s windowsill treats are still drawing in  sparrows….

sparrow on windowsill

…and the seeds were going down regularly on the feeder.

goldfinch

A stylish goldfinch keeping things tight to avoid the raindrops

busy feeder

More birds than perches leads to arguments

redpoll and siskin

Wet redpoll, wet siskin, bad temper all round.

incoming siskin

There was almost always a siskin in the offing

 

I got some Archive Group work done in the morning which was a bonus and I went out to check on the flowers when the rain stopped.

The roses were soggy but surviving…

wet roses

…and when the sun came out, the low lying plants looked positively cheerful

sunny flowers

…and I was happy to see that the Ooh La La clematis had stayed together.

clematis ooh

After some time to dry, things were looking good again….

wet flowers

…and I went for a very short walk to stretch my legs before any more rain came along.

You wouldn’t know that it had been such a miserable morning.

parish church

River Esk between bridges

Although the river was up a little bit, there was still plenty of gravel for the oyster catchers  and their chicks to patrol.

oyster catchers

young oyster catchers

young oyster catcher

It was such a dull day that I even found myself watching a bit of a World Cup football match.  The game seemed to consist of muscular Danes barging over skilful Peruvians and I was sorry to see that the Peruvians squandered every good chance that they got and let the Danes win.

I looked out of the window as I was writing this post in the evening and was impressed enough by a new(ish) moon to get my tripod out and as a reward to get bitten by a thousand midges.

new moon

The flower of the day is one of the durable peonies.

peony

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Hull  yesterday.  As well as Roman bakers, he saw Hull Minster.

Hull minster

We had another dry day here today, cool and cloudy in the morning but (very) warm and sunny in the afternoon.

I inspected the flowers after breakfast.  Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t think that I have done justice to the back door clematis yet so I had another go.  It is terrific.

back door clematis

That one stem should produce so many flowers is a wonder.

However, Mrs Tootlepedal’s favourite flower of the moment is this elegant iris.

 

iris

I like the Rosa Moyesii which has done very well this year with bigger flowers than usual.

moyesii

Mrs Tootlepedal  bought this meconopsis at the Buccleuch Centre pant sale last week and it is settling in well.

mecanopsis

I had hoped to get a good long cycle ride in today but I got a call to go and see the doctor who had had a look at my recent blood test results so I had to  leave the garden and  see what she had to say.

It turns out that my blood iron level is very low so she gave me me a small iron girder* to nibble on to get my levels back up.   This may explain why I have been finding it quite hard to get the energy up to go cycling lately.  Once I am going, all is well but I have been struggling a bit actually to get on my bike in the first place so it was pleasing to discover that there may be a good excuse for this rather than just natural laziness and old age.

When I got back home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden and we went in to have a coffee and read the newspaper. Our peace was disturbed by some very excited calling from blackbirds so we went out to investigate.

There was an extremely vocal female blackbird on the fence behind the greenhouse…

agitated blackbird

Other birds were agitated too so I was walking  round behind the greenhouse to see if there was a cat among the pigeons so to speak when my eye was caught by a slight movement in the green house itself.

sparrowhawk in greenhouse (2)

No wonder the blackbirds were agitated.  There was a sparrowhawk in the greenhouse and it was getting pretty agitated itself.

sparrowhawk in greenhouse

Mrs Tootlepedal opened the greenhouse doors fully and she went round one side and I went round the other and the sparrowhawk took the hint and flew safely out and away.

The blackbirds calmed down.

I took a picture of one of the nice effects of Mrs Tootlepedal’s planting…

daisies

…and went back inside from where I watched more peaceful bird scenes.

We had visits from jackdaws…

jackdaw

…a dunnock…

dunnock

…siskins and redpolls…

siskin and redpoll

…and a pigeon in the plum tree.

pigeon

Some sparrows tried to get a fight started but it quickly fizzled out.

sparrows

After lunch, I went out to check on the bees in the garden.  There were plenty about today, both honey and bumble.

bees

Then I got into my my cycling shorts and was ready to go for a ride when I was interrupted again by more heart-rending alarm calls from blackbirds.  I went out to investigate.  This time it was a pair….

agitated blackbirds

…who were constantly flitting about and calling.  We couldn’t find out what the trouble was as there was no hawk or cat in sight.  We had seen a youngster earlier in the day and we wondered in the end whether it had been taken by a predator and the parents were distressed.  It was a mystery.

In the end, I left them to their crying and went off for a short trip round my twenty mile Canonbie circuit.  I passed the first a few of these in a soggy verge…

march thistle

…and I think, though I am not sure, that it may be a marsh thistle (I would be happy to be corrected).

Nearby among the grasses, there was a lot of this red plant…

grass

…which Mrs Tootlepedal tells me is some kind of dock.  Between the two plants, the verge was very cheerful there.

Further on I stopped to admire the relaxed attitude of some local worthies…

galloway cows

…and then didn’t stop again until I came to Skippers Bridge, where I found the old distillery looking very handsome.

Langholm Distillery

Once home, I mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass and did some watering in the vegetable garden.  There is no rain in the forecast for several days as the jet stream continues to snake round the top of the British Isles, keeping the fine weather trapped over Scotland.  This means that quite a bit of watering will be on the menu  if the garden is to continue to do well.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing with a small choir that our church organist, Henry is getting up for the summer and I obeyed the doctor’s orders and gave my singing voice a rest. The doctor has told me not to sing for two weeks and see what happens.  If my throat is no better then, further investigation will take place.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin…

flying siskin

…and the flower of the day is a front door clematis.

front door clematis

*The iron girder came in handy pill form.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Highland correspondent Jennifer and shows her lovely garden, proving that they have had good weather up there too.

IMG_0168

After the brief interlude with rain here, we are back to dry, warm weather.  New flowers are appearing in the garden.

euphorbia, wiegela, philadelphus

The new euphorbia in full flow, the weigela and the first philadelphus

It was cloudy today but warm enough for me to go out for a bicycle ride exposing my knees to the grateful public.  From a cycling point of view, the fact that it was cloudy was a bonus as it meant I didn’t get cooked as I pedalled but from a photographic point of view,  it meant my eyes were more often turned to the verges than the views.

There was plenty to see in the verges.

The umbellifers are out in force and no plant is so reliable in my experience at attracting insects for photo opportunities.

insects on umbelliferhoverfly on umbellifer

The grasses are also at their peak in many and various forms.

grasses

grasses (2)

I cycled down to Gretna and then took the service road beside the new motorway.  The road makers have given the new road very decorative bankings.

motorway daisies

There was red and white clover all along the way.

clovers

And I saw my first hedge rose today.

hedge rose

The hawthorns are beginning to go over and fading to a delicate pink as they go.  This one was at the bridge over the river Lyne near Longtown.

hawthorn

There is no shortage of food for sheep or cattle.

sheep in meadow

And no shortage of wild flowers  for me to enjoy.  This is the old A7, now by-passed by the Auchenrivock diversion.

Old A7 verge

Not long before I got back to Langholm, I stopped at Hollows Tower for a cup of coffee and a Tunnock’s Tea Cake at their new little ground floor cafe.  The tower celebrates the Armstrong reiving family…

 

Hollows Tower

…so I was relieved that no one stole my bicycle while I was drinking my coffee.  I prudently parked it round the back.

When I got home, after a very enjoyable 50 mile excursion into the flatlands of England, I had enough energy left to mow the front lawn and take a few pictures in the garden.

The sun had come out by this time and it was a pleasure to be out in the garden with leisure to sit down from time to time and enjoy the views.

My eye was drawn towards pink.

Fru Dagmar Hustrup rose

Fru Dagmar Hastrup, new in the garden this year,

aquilegia

A pink aquilegia which Mrs Tootlepdal likes

astrantia

And the wonderful astrantia, a whole garden in a single plant

Newly out was this excellent iris….

iris with lining

…and Mrs Tootlepedal’s geum garden is a riot of colour.

geums

I took a moment to check on the birds.  Sparrows are coming to the feeder in style.

landing sparrow

And we still have redpolls, though not quite as bright red as before.

redpolls

Later on, Mrs Tootlepedal was doing some weeding when she saw this frog.

frog in garden

She thinks that the frogs in the garden may well account for her slug free hostas.

My flute pupil Luke came and we had a productive time.  Rather to my surprise, it turns out that he has been coming to play for so many years that he has now finally left school.  Time flies when you are enjoying yourself.

Mrs Tootlepedal made some lemon curd ice cream from a recipe card that she had come across and we ate it for our pudding after a second go at the slow cooked beef stew. This came with a side order of fresh spinach from the garden and we had an excellent meal to round off a  very enjoyable day.

I made an effort at a flying bird of the day and caught a sparrow checking to see who was about.

flying sparrow

Those interested may see more detail on the bike ride by clicking on the map below.  You can see that it was a very flat route.

garmin route 4 June 2018

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who has returned from Spain and found this fine windmill at Lytham in Lancashire.

windmill at Lytham

A spell of good weather has crept up on us surreptitiously.  It has gone gradually from being cold and grey to generally warm and fine.  It has been raining in the night but by day, the sun has developed a habit of coming out and the wind has lost some of its usual fierceness so we are finding ourselves in the unusual condition of having nothing to complain about.  It is most annoying.

Being Sunday, it was a day of singing rather than cycling or gardening but I found a moment or two to walk round the garden and see what was going on.

Before church I checked on the progress of the alliums…still a bit slow.

allium

There are plenty of buds but precious few petals.

In one of the new beds in the vegetable garden, beans are looking healthy.

beans

And near the bird feeders, the first wallflowers are beginning to show.

wallflower

After church and before lunch, I had another look.

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted a perennial wallflower this year which is looking good…

perennial wallflower

…but a closer look showed that some evil leaf nibbler has been hard at work on it.  Hmm.

Nearby, the first rhododendron buds are giving promise of a great show to come soon.

rhododendron

They are a contrast to the restrained white dicentra.

dicentra

I went to check on the pond and saw these bright flowers along the edge.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that they are poached egg plants (Limnanthes douglasii for their Sunday name) but the white of the egg is not very much in evidence yet.

poached egg flower

In the pond itself, a frog was banging its head against the wall.  It had possibly been considering Brexit.

frog

I made some potato soup for lunch and there was time for a last visit  to the garden before going off to Carlisle for our afternoon choir.

We did some bench testing but I was tempted into chasing after a white butterfly which flitted from flower to flower so briskly that this was the best that I could do.

butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal eyed some tulips in the bed opposite the bench with some satisfaction…

tulips

….and resolved to buy a few more for next year.  A sensible decision in my view.

We had a good session with a substitute conductor with the Carlisle Community choir.  The drive down through the fresh green leaves of spring was worth the journey alone but the singing was enjoyable too.

During the day the blackbird male was assiduous in attending to the needs of his two offspring. ..

blackbirds

…although, as usual, they never seem very cheerful about things.

A keen eyed jackdaw visited the feeder to sample the fat balls…

jackdaw

…and left enough for a sparrow to enjoy later on.

sparrow

On the seed feeder, goldfinches sparred…

goldfinches

…siskins loomed up…

_DSC4018

…and a pair of redpolls made a determined effort to dislodge some siskins.

siskins and redpolls

We had a vague plan for making the best of a sunny evening as we drove back from the choir but once we had got settled into the kitchen over a cup of tea on our return, the rest of the day slipped away before we could rouse ourselves to action.

We seem to have been quite busy lately and as neither of us sleep as well as we would like, we were a bit tired and the sitting room sofa held a lot of charm.

I am hoping to get the new bike out again tomorrow if the good weather holds.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

goldfinch

 

 

 

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My sister Mary has been visiting Kew Gardens and with a guest picture like this, who can blame her?

kew gardens

Our spell of good weather is rapidly receding in the memory and we are back to ‘business as usual’ –  grey skies, brisk winds and occasional rain.

Still, the first part of the day was forecast to be the least windiest so I got out on my bike after an early breakfast and did twenty miles and was home in time for coffee.  It was quite strenuous as I did nearly as much climbing in my twenty miles today as I did in Monday’s fifty miles.  I creaked alarmingly but got home safely.

I stopped beside a violet at ten miles…

wild flower

…and the camera played its usual trick of focussing on the dull background more clearly that the colourful  intended subject.  I should have taken more pictures just in case this happened.

On my way home, I passed a superb bank of wild garlic near Waterbeck….

wild garlic

…and several examples of Jack by the Hedge or garlic mustard a bit further along the road.

garlic mustard

I have passed this little glen at Falford many times but I don’t think that I have ever seen it looking better than today in spite of the grey weather.

Kirtle water

As forecast, the wind got a little stronger as time went by and thanks to sound route choice, I got blown home in  a very helpful way.

When I got back, I shifted a little of Mrs Tootlepedal’s manure heap and put some buck-u-uppo on the middle lawn in an effort to encourage more grass among the moss.

I had a look round too.

We have dead headed the vast majority of the daffodils now and only a few remain.  This one was my daffodil of the day today.

daffodil

There are ferns springing up all round the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal’s current favourites are the ostrich feather ferns…

ostrich feather fern

..which are gently unfurling in the back border.

There is a smaller fern growing between the stones behind the pond.

fern

There are other things going on.

We are getting very excited by the development of the azaleas.

azalea

A bergenia is hiding its light under a bushel.

bergenia

An alpine clematis is flowering modestly.

alpine clematis

And the river of grape hyacinths is still flowing.

grape hyacinth

I didn’t have much time to watch birds today but I was pleased to get my first sighting of a baby blackbird today before I went out cycling.

blackbird baby

Ironically the baby is the larger looking of the two birds.

I saw the mother again later.

blackbird

The birds are making a mess of the lawns.  Both blackbirds and jackdaws are busy digging things up.

A jackdaw sat on Mrs Tootlepdal’s bean frame and tried to look not guilty…

jackdaw

…but I caught one at it later in the day.

jackdaw

There was plenty of seed eating on the feeder today, perhaps because there wasn’t so much gardening being done on account of the gloomy weather.

flying goldfinch

The birds didn’t look very grateful though.

redpoll and goldfinch

I made some soup for lunch and then a persistent rain started which lasted on and off for the rest of the day.

I found a dry moment to walk up to the garage to collect the car.  Mrs Tootlepedal had dropped it off there while I was cycling as we have decided that it is time to take the winter tyres off and have the summer ones put on.  Surely it can’t snow at this time of year……can it?

We put the afternoon to good use by doing the sort of tasks that need a wet day to get done and then we were cheered up by a visit for a cup of tea of not just Mike Tinker but by Scott, the minister too.

In the evening, I walked through the rain for the weekly practice of Langholm Sings where I sang several notes that were in the right place and at the right time.  Some of my other notes were not quite so accurate.  Home practice needed.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch supervising traffic at the feeder.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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