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Posts Tagged ‘redpoll’

Today’s guest picture comes from my camera club friend Simon. He has been taking walks round Canonbie during the lockdown and wonders why anyone might prefer city life to scenes like these.

It was not a promising morning today here in any way, being windy and wet from the start. I did pop out into the garden when the rain was very light and have a look around. Mrs Tootlepedal has a choisya which she doesn’t think is looking well but it is producing flowers to join the ranunculus…

…and a Rodgersia which is is looking healthy. Just to prove me wrong, the clematis by the front door has produced more flowers but it is hiding them behind its leaves to annoy.

The original flower is going over in style.

I didn’t linger long and was soon back inside wasting time on trivial but time consuming activities. Once again, we felt grateful that the weather has been fine for most of our lockdown as two months of wet and windy weather would have been very hard to bear.

I did spend some time trying out Google Meet with my sister Susan but it didn’t work satisfactorily so we will probably stick to Zoom for our regular meetings.

When I stopped doing the trivial things, the birds were there to keep me entertained.

The feeder was busy all day and new birds were constantly arriving to the disapproval of the incumbents…

…and this led to some collisions and cantankerousness.

I think that my current favourites among the visitors are the redpolls in their spring get ups.

We have many young sparrows in the garden but I haven’t seen many young blackbirds. I wondered if this was a teenager. It looked as though it wouldn’t mind being fed but no one came.

We had planned to go for a walk after lunch but the rain persisted and we didn’t start until after three o’clock in the end. We went out with some trepidation as there was still a light drizzle and the wind was boisterous to say the least.

A trail of leaves littering the track up to the Stubholm told the story of how strong the wind has been.

We met some friends at the Stubholm and they told us that they had abandoned their intention to walk up the Warbla Track because of the strong wind and advised us to keep to low level sheltered spots.

We were headed down to the Murtholm and Skippers Bridge so we were able to follow their advice without changing our plan. We passed this fine tree on our way.

We crossed the bridge and walked along the road beside the river as far as the track that leads up Jenny Noble’s Gill. A movement ahead caught our eye and we spotted a grey squirrel, and it froze for a moment as it climbed a tree.

Lovers of red squirrels have been trying to keep grey squirrels at bay for some years but I fear that they are fighting a losing battle as I see more and more greys all the time.

The walk up the gill among the birch trees was lovely….

…and the seed heads of the grasses were whispering to each other as we passed.

The track back to the town was as delightful as ever, even on a dull grey day….

…but it didn’t seem as windy as it was when we set out so we left the track and ventured out of the woods onto the open hill…

…and after passing through some bluebells, we soon enjoyed good views over the valley and town below us.

The church stands out now that it has been released from the shadows of the trees.

The golf course is waiting for the arrival of keen golfers like Dropscone as soon as the traps are opened in a day or two.

Dropscone is looking forward to it in spite of his advanced age. (He advanced another year yesterday and is now officially older than me for the next six months.)

As well as the views, there were other things to look at as we went along.

We saw wild strawberries, small cow wheat (not a thing that we have seen before), a patch of white flowers which Mrs Tootlepedal told me “is that weed which grows on your lawn”, and a bunch of smiling buttercups.

An old leafless tree caught Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye.

We had had to climb up a pretty steep hill to get above the golf course and we were happy to have reached a point as we passed that tree when it was all downhill on the way home.

We walked past Whita Well and pressed on until we reached the Newcastleton Road. This let us descend gently back to river level and we walked back to Langholm along the main road from Whitshiels.

I noted some of the points of interest that we saw on our way: exuberant crosswort, fresh green hazel leaves, herb Robert and a real novelty these day, an actual puddle.

As we crossed the Castleholm towards the Jubilee Bridge and home, the sun actually came out…

…and just as promptly, it went in again and we had to increase out pace as a light rain encouraged us to get a move on.

It had been a strenuous five mile walk and never has a cup of tea and a slice of cake been more welcome.

That finished the day off for us as we had not an ounce of energy left for anything else except a small plate of rhubarb and custard as a late supper.

The flying bird of the day is one of the young sparrows who frequent the garden at the moment.

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Today’s guest picture comes from ever sunny East Wemyss, where our son Tony found a forest of stones on the beach and added his own effort (complete with flower on top).

Tony's tower

It was far from sunny here after a second night with rain and the hills were covered with mist when we got up.

There was a faint but persistent drizzle about and this put paid to the delights of the street coffee morning but it did let me get out for a quick look round the garden.

The sweet rocket looked unperturbed by the weather…

sweet rocket

…while other flowers had noticed the overnight rain.

four wet flowers

New geraniums are coming out….

geranium white

…and a few flowers on azaleas and rhododendrons have survived the frost with the Japanese Azalea coming out by far the best at the moment.

three azalea survivors

I went in to grapple with a technological problem and on my way past the front window, I admired a rook in the plum tree.

rook inplum tree

The technological problem concerned a little device for converting old cassette recordings  to digital formats.  My brother had kindly sent it to me, as he had no further use for it but it just wouldn’t work properly.  I did all those technological things one has learned to do over the years; using strong language, turning things on and off, uninstalling and reinstalling software, kicking furniture, plugging and unplugging wires, blaming the government, but nothing worked until I swapped the lead that my brother had sent with the device for one I use with my bike computer.  Then miraculously, all was well.

We had lunch.

The next problem, as my brother remarked, was listening to cassettes that I bought years and years ago and wondering why I had bought them.

After the tech problem had been solved, we checked on the weather.  The drizzle had almost stopped so Mrs Tootlepedal resolved to go and do some gardening and I embarked on a bicycle ride.

By the time that I left home, the drizzle had given up and it was quite windy, but it was not long before I was cycling on dry roads as the weather had obviously been better outside the town.

The lying down cows were lying flat out again but a couple of them spoiled my picture when I got to there by standing up before I could get my camera out.

sitting and standing cows

As you can see there were plenty of grey clouds about but I was cycling in pleasant sunshine…

three trees grainstonehead against clouds

…and I kept my fingers crossed that the sunshine would last.  If it had rained though, I was well equipped in a rainproof jacket, and in fact, I was far too hot when the sun was out and the wind was behind me.

I saw a fine display in the hedgerow of these alkanet flowers just after I passed those three trees at Grainstonehead…

blue wild flower woodhouselees

…and there were some more striking flowers at Canonbie when I had crossed the bridge there.

daisy canonbie

More and more of the Pyrenean Valerian is to be seen each time I got out and it was joined by docks and birds foot trefoil today.

three wild flowers canonbie

The sun went behind the clouds as I got near Langholm and one or two drops of rain added a little speed to my pedalling but I got home dry (and over hot).

Two nights of rain have left a measurable amount of water in the unscientific rain gauge..

unscientific rain gauge

…but Mrs Tootlepedal had welcomed the moist soil as she planted her sweet peas out while I was bicycling.

sweet peas planted out

I took a picture of one of the last of the tulips, perked up by the warmth after the rain…

last of the tulips

…and enjoyed the look of the lawn when the sun came out again…

lawn in evening sunshine

…noting that a little well placed shadow covers a multitude of sins.

The sun brightened up a fancy geum, just out today…

fancy geum

…and brought out the best of a second iris.

new iris

The plants hadn’t forgotten that it had been raining though.

drops on spirea

I went in and looked at the feeder as I went past on my way to a much needed shower.

A redpoll and a greenfinch provided a good contrast.

redpoll and greenfinch

A Zoom meeting with my brother and sister and an evening meal of pasta with a meat and tomato sauce rounded of a day which ended more cheerfully than it had begun.

We are promised a gloriously sunny day tomorrow, getting warmer and warmer as it goes on and then the temperature is going to drop on Thursday but not to frostiness again, thank goodness.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

Footnote:  patient readers may have noticed a slight similarity in the posts from the last two months and they would be right.  I have a routine; have breakfast, do the crossword, get up, have coffee, do a little gardening, have lunch, take some exercise, Zoom the family, have tea, do the blog, go to bed.  It is a simple life but the very routine helps to make the tedium of the lockdown bearable with not too much time left in the day to sit about and worry about the future.   The way things look at the moment, the patient reader can expect quite a lot more of the same.  I thank you for your patience which is commendable.  We are very lucky in having varied countryside available right on our doorstep.

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Today’s guest picture is a fine Welsh tree spotted by my fine welsh correspondent Keiron.

keiron's tree

Finally we got some steady rain here overnight, and although it wasn’t a downpour, there was enough rain to leave the ground looking definitely damp when we got up in the morning.

It was deemed to be too cold and windy for an enjoyable outside coffee morning so we had to eat our chocolate biscuits and drink our coffee by ourselves indoors.

I did go out into the garden to see if the rain had sparked huge new growth but things were much as they had been yesterday, only a bit damper.

garden after rain

There didn’t seem much point in staying out so I went back in, waving at a hellebore as I did so.

hellebore

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy with work for the proposed community land buy out * and I found inessential ways to pass the time until lunch.

It was technically a cycling day, but it was grey, with a vigorous and blustery wind, and as there was also a promise of rain in the forecast, I thought that a walk with Mrs Tootlepedal would be a much better bet.

We took the path up the river past the Duchess Bridge.  Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t been along this path for some time and was impressed by its mossy trees with lichen covered trunks surrounded by wild garlic.

duchess bridge walk

We emerged out of the woods and followed the road towards Potholm.

There was plenty to catch our interest along the way, a romantic tree, copious stitchwort and crosswort….

milnholm road

…two men planting trees in a felled area on the opposite bank of the river, lichen on the wall beside the road and a great heap of lambs.

The star of the show to me was some fresh hawthorn flowers in a hedge.

hawthorn flowers

Passing Milnholm farm we saw a potato field and more lichen on a branch…

milnholm hedge and field

…and signs of the recent frost in the shape of damage to a beech hedge on our left and then more damage all along the hedge to our right.

As we got near to the bridge over the Esk at Potholm, an oyster catcher tiptoed through a field, trying to avoid our scrutiny

oyster catcher potholm

Once across the bridge, we walked up the track into the woods…

climb past potholm

…passing fresh  ferns, poppies growing in wall and ajuga growing beside the track.

potholm wild flowerrs

At the top of the hill, we left the main track and walked up a minor track through the woods.

forest track longfauld wood

This was the track I had followed on a  recent walk but it was new to Mrs Tootlepedal who enjoyed the woods and the wild flowers in them.

wild flowers longfauld wood

We were interested to see that the recent frost had pretty well put paid the the yellow pimpernel but had left the tormentil unscathed.

We passed two very green spots, first what Mrs Tootlepedal thought was a moss like liverwort on a bank….

liverwort

…and then a grassy clearing at the end of the forestry track.

green in wood

We followed a bluebell lined path back to Holmhead…

path above north lodge

…and walked down to the road  through the snowdrop wood where we were brought up short by this magnificent soup plate sized fungus on a tree stump.

huge fungus holmhead

The road itself, with bluebells shimmering through the woods to our  left…

holmhead road

…brought us down to the Lodge Walks where we were happy (but a bit jealous) to find a fine azalea which had escaped frostmageddon.

azalea lodge walks

We walked across the dandelion covered football pitch…

soggy dandelion head

…crossed the Jubilee Bridge (after Mrs Tootlepedal had spotted a nuthatch) and made our way round the Scholars’ Field.  There I stopped to take a picture of the most common wild flower that we had seen almost all the way round out walk.

red campion

Mrs Tootlepedal was moved by the sight of the children’s play area, unused and neglected because of the virus.

deserted playground

We were both ready to polish of what was left of the boiled fruit cake with a cup of tea when we got home after a very varied and enjoyable five miles.  Although it had threatened to rain more than once as we walked, an added bonus was the fact that we got round dry, with even an occasional hint of sunshine.  In fact it didn’t start raining until quite a bit later in the day and I had plenty of time to watch the birds after the tea and cake.

Pairs of siskins (dropping food as usual) and goldfinches were joined by a lone siskin and a curious redpoll.

siskin, redpoll and goldfinch

Siskins and redpolls continued to appear…

flying siskins and redpolls

…and I watched them until it was time for us to Zoom with my siblings.

When she had first got up, Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a lot of birds feeding their young in the garden, but they were never there when I was looking, so I was pleased to see a young thrush in the plum tree right at the end of the day.

thrush in plum

It is due to be warmer and wetter tomorrow, with a fine warm day to follow on Wednesday, so I hope that things will really start growing in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is not a siskin or a redpoll but a traditional chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

*If you haven’t looked at it before and are interested, details of the proposed community land buy out can be found here, and Mrs Tootlepedal wants me to add that any contribution to the scheme, however modest, will be very warmly welcomed and much appreciated.  Our thanks go to those readers who have already helped us.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo in Manitoba.  She went for a little toot in her plane today, and as she flew south of Riding Mountain National Park, she saw these patterns from last year’s harvest. She said, “This is the kind of farmland that I think you’d have to be crazy, desperate, or both, to farm. You’d get dizzy driving around the sloughs.”

Mary Jo's farming picture

One day in the lockdown here is very much like another and the discerning and patient reader may have noticed a distinct similarity between one post and another recently.   There will be no change in that pattern today.

It was a day with little in the way of distinguishing features.  It was cold and windy when we got up and there was even a little annoying drizzle in the air,  annoying because it was undoubtedly wet, but also not nearly wet enough to do the garden any good at all.

The run of chilly mornings means that things are very much on hold so there was nothing new to photograph in the garden, with perhaps a slight increase in the number of flowers on the white rhododendron…

white rhododendron

…and the merest hint of a flower opening on an aquilegia.

aquilegia not coming out

But that was it.  (Sadly there were quite a few tulips to dead head.)

We did have the socially distanced street coffee morning where slices of farmhouse sultana cake were consumed without complaint, but it ended early with claims of frozen fingers.

Mrs Tootlepedal dug up a potentilla growing beside the dam behind the house.  It was past its best and I turned most of it into useful compost by putting it through the shredder.

It was still cold and both Mrs Tootlepedal and I had tasks to do indoors so the garden was left to fend for itself.

I did find time to look out of the window and was cheered up by the presence of a colourful redpoll doing some semi pro posing in the drizzle.

redpoll posing

In fact there was more than one redpoll, the first that I have seen of them for six weeks.

They were flying in all directions.

flying redpolls

They are tiny birds, very similar to siskins and not afraid to tell a siskin where to go.

redpoll shouting at siskin

We were visited by rooks too.

rook in garden

After lunch, things brightened up a bit and I went for a cycle ride.  The wind from the east was cold and occasionally gusty but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the outing.

Fresh leaves on trees lift spirits…

trees near ryehill

…and I was impressed to see this considerable growth on a tree that had been blown over.

fallen tree in leaf

I was on a well tried route through Canonbie and the relentlessly mowed verges didn’t hold much interest so I stopped at the little wood beside Hollows bridge…

hollows wood

…to see if the inhabitants were still there.

They were.

statues hollows 2

There is quite a little community of them.

statues hollows

Last time I came this way, I took a picture in bright sunlight which showed the leaves of silverweed near the bus stop well but didn’t do justice to the flowers.  Today’s light caught the flowers but took all the silver out  of the leaves.

silverweed flowers

The are a lot of bluebells dotted along the roadside and this patch beside the old road is what remains of a magnificent bluebell wood before the building of the new road changed things.

bluebells old A7

I incorrectly identified some Jack by the Hedge as Pyrenean Valerian recently so I was happy to see some real Pyrenean Valerian getting ready to come out beside the river near the end of the bike path today.

pyrenaean valerian

A little further on, I saw  this development on a young larch tree.  Cones in the making.

larch flowers

When I got back to Langholm, the weather was cheerful enough to encourage me to go another three miles north of the town where I found the Ewes valley once again with a mixture of sunshine and shadow.

ewes valley sun and shadow

I was blown back home by the kindly wind and finished my 26 miles in a better state of mind than I had been in when I had started.

As has become customary, I had a Zoom meeting with my brother and sisters and then I sat down to eat a tasty evening meal prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal.

It wasn’t an a exciting day but it wasn’t wasted as there was cake to eat, I got started on a process of changing one of my email addresses, and I packed up a camera to be sent away for repair.

Also our helpful corner shop included currants in our delivery so I am going to attempt a Garibaldi biscuit in a day or two.  Lockdown is increasing my limited repertoire.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch in a determined mood.

flying greenfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Mary Jo’s trip to New Zealand.  It shows South Taranaki Bight, a fierce place, Mary Jo says.  She is back in Canada and having to spend a fortnight ‘self isolating’ on her return to the country.

South Taranaki Bight

We were promised a dry day and we got one so that was a bonus and then a woodpecker appeared on the plum tree after breakfast, a very rare occurrence indeed…

woodpecker on plum tree

… so that was another bonus.  It was altogether a very good start to the day.

On the down side, it was only 6°C and with a brisk wind blowing, it felt pretty chilly for mid March.  I was determined to go for a cycle ride, but I wasted some time on doing the crossword and looking at goldfinches and redpolls on the feeder….

feeder picture

…while vainly hoping that it would get warmer.

After I had had a cup of coffee and it became apparent that it wasn’t going to get any warmer, I finally set off on my cycle ride.

I was hoping to go a reasonable distance and my plan, in the face of the brisk west wind, was to go as far west into the wind as my legs would stand, and then to get blown home again.

This plan took me past the Chapelcross Nuclear Power station near Annan.  It is being decommissioned very slowly.

This was it in 2010….

chapelcross1

…and this was it today.

chapelcross

When I got to Annan itself, I was intending to take a moody shot of the high water running under the bridge over the River Annan but I got distracted by rabbits and shot them instead.

rabbits at annan bridge

I left Annan and followed the coast road to Powfoot where I hoped to see the sea.  However, following Mary Jo’s example, the sea was self isolating.  Indeed, it was so far out that it looked as though it might be quite possible to walk to America.

sea at powfoot

I looked across the Nith Estuary towards Criffel…

criffel from powfoot

…noted a daisy and some salt marshes…

daisy and marsh powfoot

…ate a honey sandwich and headed for home.

Battling into the wind, which was gusting at 25mph, had kept my outward speed to a measly 11.2 mph.  Floating home with the wind behind was a much more sprightly affair and I was happy to stop to record my first sighting of blackthorn blossom this year…

 

blackthorn

…and a generous clump of lesser celandine beside the road.

celandine

I was even more happy to stop to admire the church at Kirkpatrick Fleming as it is halfway up a steep hill.

 

kpf church

I had two more convenient stops, the first with the barrier of this motorway bridge to rest my bike against…

motorway brodge kpf

…and the second with these steps set into the churchyard wall at Half Morton to rest my bottom on while I had my second honey sandwich.

wall at half morton

After that, it was a case of pressing on, though I did make one last stop to record an outbreak of lambs at the Hollows.  You don’t often see lambs in jackets but it has been cold and wet so perhaps it is a wise move from the farmer.

lambs at Hollows

I was able to up my average speed thanks to the kindly wind and I managed 14.1 mph on the way home.  This meant that I just squeezed under four hours of cycling time for my 50 miles journey by a few seconds.

It was still only 6°C when I got back.  I had hoped for a little warming sunshine on my trip but it remained cold and grey and I was pleased to have been well wrapped up.

The sun did come out after I got home.  Mrs Tootlepedal was out too and she had left me a note to say that she was up on the moor looking for hen harriers.  She got back soon afterwards but with no sightings of harriers at all.  She had done some useful gardening while I had been off cycling though.

I watched some more reliable birds.

warring birds

It was a pleasant evening so after I had had a shower, I went for a little three bridges walk.

I expected blossom and there was blossom beside the river….

blossom beside esk

…and I hoped for interesting waterside birds but there were only ducks.

They are paired up at the moment and I saw a hopeful third party getting short shrift when he tried to muscle in on a spoken for lady.

two pairs of ducks

As I crossed the sawmill Brig, I noticed that it hadn’t taken very long for lichen to start to colonise the new parapet stones which were installed in 2016..

lichen on sawmill brig

I liked this moss which looked as though it was gently snoozing on a more established wall a few yards further on..

moss on wall

It was still cold but the evening sunshine made it feel more cheerful than it actually was.

sunny castleholm march

When I got home, we had venison stew for our evening meal and we both felt that we had earned it.

Reducing our social interactions drastically has not been so bad for me because I have always got Mrs Tootlepedal to talk to.  Of course it is not so satisfactory for her as she has got me to talk to.  I managed to irritate her  so much at one time yesterday that she looked at me witheringly and summoned up the worst insult she could think of. “You’re just like Boris Johnson!”

I was chastened.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

For those interested, details of the ride can be found by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 18 march 2020

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Today’s guest picture comes from my camera club friend Simon.  He was walking along the Esk near Canonbie when he saw these people having fun.

canoeists

It was a better day here today with outbreaks of sunshine and no rain until the evening.  Unfortunately, the persistent strong wind was on the go again and it made things feel very chilly unless you could find a sheltered spot in the sunshine and out of the wind.

I had a busy morning, starting with a visit to the shop to panic buy a bottle of milk.  Fortunately, there were quite a lot of bottles to choose from as the people of Langholm are keeping very calm.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy on envelope business as more addresses appear which need deliveries.  I went off to visit Sandy and take him some newspaper index sheets to put into the Archive Group database.  He has two weeks to go before the plaster comes off his leg so he was quite pleased to get something to occupy his time.  I was quite pleased to get an excellent cup of Brazilian coffee and a ginger biscuit or two (or three).

I couldn’t stay long as the final business of the morning was to go with Mrs Tootlepedal to the funeral of a man with whom I used to play in the Town Band and who was the father of one of our daughter’s first friends when we came to Langholm.

When we got home from church, we set about copying more inserts and stuffing them into yet more envelopes.  Luckily another member of the team arrived to take a load to deliver to Canonbie.

While this was going on, I had a moment to watch the birds.  There were plenty about.

busy feeder

Including quite a lot of chaffinches….

flying chafinches

….one of whom made a very stylish approach to the feeder.

flying chaffinch with style

I tried to take a few posing birds for Mrs Tootlepedal’s pleasure but the strong wind was making perching on the fake tree a tricky business.  This greenfinch was hanging on to a wildly swaying twig for dear life, its feathers thoroughly flattened.

greenfinch hanging on

A siskin enjoyed a lull in the wind.

siskin posing

While a greenfinch…

greenfinch on stalk

…and a redpoll found more stable perches.

I think that this one may be a female…

quizzical redpoll

…and this one is a male with its courting court on.

red redpoll

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off in the car to deliver some brochures to far flung houses and I went for a walk.  I had hoped for a cycle ride but it was far too windy for cycling to be fun.

I walked down the Esk and was pleased to see a male goosander, even if it was too far away for a good picture.

male goosander

As I walked up Hallpath, I saw a bird of a different feather, or rather no feathers at all, as it is another of the fine wood carvings that grace the town.

wooden peacock

I was walking out to the Laverock bird hide to see if the planned felling of the diseased larch plantation there had begun.

It is a frequent walk but I never tire of it.  I noticed this tree which in its ample girth was strangely reminiscent of the photographer.

P1030989

The path was muddy in places but not nearly as wet as I had expected after another four inches of rain last week.

jenny noble track

The oak wood looked as inviting as ever…

oak wood

..but I plugged on past this fine gorse bush…

gorse on broonholmshiels track

..pausing to look back at the view up the valley…

view from Broom holm

…before getting to the hide.

The plantation was still there and although the bird feeders have been taken down, there were still a lot of birds about, particularly a large flock of chaffinches.    It will probably take them a bit of time to realise that the feeders are not going to magically reappear.  I hope that they find a new source of food soon.

On my way back to Langholm (down the road) I noticed something odd in a pylon.  A closer look showed that it was a man with a good head for heights.  Considering that the wind was blowing briskly, I was very glad that it was him and not me up there.

man up pylon

On my way back down the hill, I passed my favourite wall covered with moss which comes in many styles…

A small forest.

moss forest

A waving meadow.

moss meadow

And a mini mountain.

moss mountain

I crossed over Skippers Bridge and walked home along the west bank of the Esk.  The hazel catkins are flourishing at last and I was able to see both catkins and flowers close together today.

hazel flower and catkin

Mrs Tootlepedal had just got back before me and we enjoyed a well earned cup of tea and a slice of fruity malt loaf after our endeavours.

My flute playing friend Luke arrived on cue and we had a very successful play.  We are trying to develop a bit more style in our playing so a contrasting set of pieces, an arrangement of Easy Winners by Joplin, a slow movement form a trio sonata by J J Quantz, and a couple of fiddle hornpipes certainly gave us something to work on.

I made a simple evening meal of baked potatoes and then Mrs Tootlepedal and I sat down to try to make some sense out of the news.  It was hard work.

I thought that I had detected the hand of the prime minister’s special adviser in last week’s bold plan to let a lot of old people die in order to provide acquired immunity for the young and fit.  Today, I sensed that the sudden dawning on the prime minister that the age of the average Tory voter might not make this an election winning plan could have caused this week’s volte face, and the sudden concern for the health of the elderly.   We wash our hands.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  As long as there is seed, they are content.

flying chaffinch

Footnote: I took my cycling computer in my pocket for today’s walk and it tells me that I did 5.7 miles at just over 4 miles an hour, though I did spend an additional  half an hour taking pictures along the way.

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s Moroccan adventure.  Thinking that my flying birds are getting a bit prosaic, she sent me these flying goats.

venetia's moroccan goats

We had another miserable grey day here today, dull in the morning and getting wetter later.

Mrs Tootlepedal was extremely busy all day delivering the letters with the brochures regarding the community land buy out.  Helpful volunteers did a lot of delivering too but she had a good deal to do herself.

I was really creaky in the morning so I didn’t help but I did manage to do some shopping and cook tomato soup for lunch.

I took a couple of peaceful birds in between times.

chaffinch on stalkrepoll posing

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal had a rest for a while while the birds on the feeder went into full action mode in the rain.

siskins in the rian

A siskin showed off his kung fu moves…

kung fu siskin

…while a greenfinch dared anyone to come near him.

greenfinch unmoved

While siskins flew in every direction, a goldfinch got its head down and tucked into as many seeds as it could eat before it got attacked.

goldfinch tucking in

The hustle and bustle was relentless…

siskin attack

…and even the redpolls joined in.

redpoll attack

An unfortunate chaffinch found itself getting abused by siskins from in front and a redpoll from behind.

chaffinch getting a shouting

The bedraggled blackbird was back again to have a peck at a fat ball which I had put out.

injured blackbird and ball

The rain stopped and I had a quick look for frogs in the pond, but there were none to be seen.  One of the Forsythia buds had made it into flower though…

forsythia flower

…and there is a yellow theme developing.  The small daffodils are out but a bit oppressed by the rain…

small daffs drooping

…and the bigger ones will soon be out.

regular daffs starting

While there was a gap in the rain, we went up to visit Sandy and deliver more letters.  He lives in Holmwood, a large group of houses which are mainly perched on the side of the hill.  This means that almost every house is up or down a path or steps so we got plenty of exercise as we posted the brochures.  Sandy provided us with a welcome cup of tea and some ginger biscuits to keep our strength up.

We went back home after a couple of hours of work and while I settled down to putting another two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive database, the indefatigable Mrs Tootlepedal went off on her bike to deliver yet more letters.  In the rain.

(If non Langholm based readers want to see what the fuss is about, the details of the project can be found here.  Click on the button for the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve to get a picture of the possibilities)

The are more letters to be delivered tomorrow!

The flying bird of the day is a siskin battling through the rain.

flying siskin

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