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Posts Tagged ‘redpoll’

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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Our friend Gavin must have been in Yorkshire today as he sent me this shot of the breakaway in the Tour de Yorkshire going through Leyburn for my guest picture.

tour de yorkshire

The promised better weather arrived today but it took its time and didn’t really arrive until the afternoon.

As a result, I cycled along the road to the producers’ market in just a hint of drizzle.  Still, the purchase of fish, cheese and good meat cheered me up.  The trouble with buying seasonal local food though is that it is seasonal and local so there was no honey or venison at the moment.  It makes the anticipation for their return to the market all the keener.

Mrs Tootlepedal wasn’t letting a little dull weather spoil her gardening and spent almost all of the day hard at work.  I helped where I could and took time out to mow the front lawn and take a few pictures.

Mrs Tootlepedal said today that she sometimes wishes that she could freeze garden time at this time of year because she loves the colourful state of things so much.

I took a  few pictures to try to capture some of that feeling.

Who could resist this?

tulips and daffs

Mind you if the colour was like this all the time, maybe we wouldn’t appreciate it as much as we do when it comes after a long, cold, grey six months.

The tulips are in full swing.

tulips

In all shapes and colours….

tulips

…and designs.

_DSC3809

And some have friends too.

fly on tulip

We have dead headed daffodils by the bucket full but still plenty survive…

daffs

…to take their place as daffodil of the day.

daff

There are other colours, even though they are not as prominent as the tulips and daffs.

pulsatillasilver pearviolet

And I was pleased to see bees busy all over the garden, although the fruit pollination is what I like to see best.

bees in garden

While I was looking at flowers, creatures big and small intruded into the frame.

The small were very small.

insects on flowers

And the big came in the form of a blackbird which flew onto a garden seat a few feet away from me, gave me a very hard stare and then did its keep fit routine…

blackbird

…breaking off to give me some more hard stares from time to time.

And in between, a lone butterfly appeared.

comma butterfly

I think that this is a comma, a rare visitor for us.

In the afternoon, we were visited by Mike with his daughter Liz and her husband and daughter.  Liz is a professional gardener and had come to look at a sick shrub to suggest a course of action.  Targeted pruning was suggested and Mrs Tootlepedal will put this into action.

The expert party went on to look at a gift which Mrs Tootlepedal has recently received.  They considered what should be done with it…

bamboozled

….but I am sorry to say that they were bamboozled.

In between times. the feeder was busy with siskins, goldfinches, chaffinches and redpolls…

redpoll and siskinsredpoll and chaffinchgoldfinches

I had to refill it.

Mrs Tootlepedal reported that she had been watched by a robin while she worked which is good news because we haven’t seen one around for several weeks.

When we needed a rest, we watched bits of another good stage of the Tour de Yorkshire bike race on the telly.   I didn’t envy the riders at all as they ground up the 1 in 4 slope at Sutton Bank.  Even these superb athletes had to go at a very sedate pace to get up such a hill.   I would have needed a lift in a car!

In the evening we went to the Buccleuch Centre to listen to a jazz trio led by a very good lady singer who has lived locally for the last few years and with the piano played by our Langholm Sings accompanist, Nick.  He turned out to be a very accomplished jazz player with a great sense of rhythm and good invention and as the singer and bassist were very good too, it was just my cup of tea and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

In all the gardening, I didn’t have time to get a solo flying bird of the day so once again it is a pair, this time seen from behind.

siskin and chaffinch flying

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to the park in Madrid.  This was his favourite fountain.

madrid fountain

After some heavy rain overnight, we had a generally pleasant day today, often sunny but still with a brisk “feels like” wind to keep our coats firmly buttoned up for the morning and most of the afternoon too.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day doing some early gardening and then going to the dentist for the final bit of her treatment.  When she had recovered from that, she went back out into the garden and planted the rest of her potatoes.  The strong winds may have kept us cold but at least they have been drying out the soil.

I had a very quiet morning, being firmly resolved not to make my hand any worse and to try to make it better.  To this end, I acquired a packet of frozen peas and used that as a cold compress in between some self administered massage and bending and stretching the thumb.  And of course I put plenty of turmeric into the soup that I made for lunch.

I walked round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal after breakfast.

The pond repairs are holding up well and the tadpoles are grateful as it gives them plenty of swimming room.  A lot have survived the cold spring.

tadpoles in pond

If you look closely, you can see almost two dozen in this small area.

The tulips are flourishing, though the wind is damaging some almost as soon as they are out and the grape hyacinths are looking good.

tulips and muscari

At the back of the house, our neighbour Kenny has an exciting looking plant developing.

damside plant

In general though, I did very little before lunch and I felt the benefit as the swelling in my hand went down noticeably.  I did find a moment to watch the birds with the big camera on a tripod.

A regular stream came flying in…

flying birds

…and there were a good few redpolls among them and on one occasion at least, they monopolised the perches.

redpoll

One posed for a portrait.

redpoll

I would have liked to go for a pedal on the slow bike after lunch to get my May mileage under way but as it is quite possible that doing several hundred miles on a bike with straight handlebars had caused my arthritis to flare up in the first place, I sensibly shelved this plan and went for a gentle walk instead.

My route took me through the town and up the Kirk Wynd to the top of the golf course and out onto the hill.

There was plenty of new growth to catch my eye as I went up the hill…

Kirk Wynd

…but when I got out onto the hillside, one plant trumped all the rest.

It was that striking member of the pea family, gorse, a.k.a. furze or whin.

gorse

It wasn’t hard to spot.

P1090558

And framed many of the views.

Ewes valley with gorse

I walked through the gorse and enjoyed a grand view up the Ewes Valley….

ewes valley

I walked on as far as the road to Copshaw, where the water was bubbling along under this very old bridge.

donks quarry bridge

Then I turned downhill to follow the road.  It has a rewarding wall.

lichen

And I enjoyed these dogs looking keen to get to work in rounding up a sheep or two.

dogs on quad

I didn’t go right down to the man road at Whitshiels but walked along the track on the Lamb Hill, enjoying (almost) fifty shades of green…

spring trees

…whichever way I looked.

spring colour

I strolled through the little wood at the end of the path…

Lamb Hill

…and made my way down to the Kilngreen where I enjoyed an ice cream from the van and a selection of waterside birds….

oyster catchers and wagtail

…as I walked home.  The oyster catcher in the third panel was between the town and the suspension bridge.  I took this picture of that stretch of water to remind Mary Jo of our walk on Monday when we crossed the suspension bridge.

suspension bridge spring

When I got home, I was able to give Mrs Tootlepedal a small helping hand to get the very last of the potatoes in.  I took a quick tour round the garden and was pleased to see the first apple blossom developing, catch a late opening daffodil of the day and admire a couple of clumps of yellow tulips beside the pond.

apple blossom, daff and tulips

Then we sat on our bench and found that the late afternoon had got quite warm (if you could keep out of the wind).

Our neighbour Liz joined us for some serious bench testing and conversation until it was time to go in to cook our tea.

This was one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pies and it went down very well.

Fortified by fish pie, I went off to sing with Langholm Sings.  In spite of just having had a concert, we are facing two more at the end of the month so there was a lot of work to be done.  I found it hard going and was pleased when it was time to go home for a rest.

The flying bird of the day is one of the few siskins to visit us.

flying siskin

I am very hopeful that the combination of frozen peas, massage, careful use and a tube of magic cream are going to ensure that my hand will soon be fully back in operation again.  And of course the good wishes of readers help too.  Thank you.

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