Posts Tagged ‘robin’

Today’s guest picture is another from camera club member Simon.  He took a walk along the old railway line to Longtown and managed to find himself under three bridges at the same time, the main road, the old railway and a footbridge.

simon's bridges

The weather, which likes to have its little joke, decided that a day when there was no time for  walk and when Evie was due to go home would be just the day to put on a show of sunshine after a week of more or less continuous rain.

Now I like a joke as much as the next man, but even I thought that this was going a bit far and allowed a smidgeon of bitterness to enter my soul.

Leaving Mrs Tootlepedal and Annie to combine Evie care with talking to the project leader about the proposed community land purchase, I went to church where a diminished choir and a service with few hymns made for a thin singing experience.

As we were preparing for Annie and Evie’s departure after lunch and I had to some shopping, there wasn’t even a lot of time to look at birds when I got back.

Still, it was good to see them perching in the sun.

sunlit siskin

sunlit robin

sunlit chaffinch

When I went out into the garden for a moment, I turned my eyes to the hills and wished that I had had time to climb.

Castle hill with Cattle

In the garden, there were still no frogs to be seen but the first of the miniature daffodils has come out…

miniature daffodil

…the chives are looking promising…

chives early

…and the rhubarb is developing.

rhubarb developing

I used to think that hellebores were a bit dull but in recent years, I have changed my mind.

hellebore backlit

Back inside, there was another moment to watch the birds.  The sunshine hadn’t improved their manners at all…

two siskins vs chaffinch

…but at least one chaffinch made it safely to the feeder and enjoyed a seed.

sunlit chaffinch looking round

After lunch, I had a quick look to see if the sun had brought the crocuses out…

open crocuses

…and then it was time to pack Annie, Evie, the pushchair and an enormous case in to the car and pray that the Zoe would behave and take us to Carlisle.

The Zoe behaved impeccably and we arrived at the station in plenty of time and found that the train was more or less on time.  These days the railway experience wouldn’t be the same without some excitement, so a train from another railway company got stuck at the platform at which our train was due to arrive.  With a couple of minutes to go, there was a rush of pushchair, case and passengers over the footbridge to catch the down train from the up platform.  All was well  though and we got Annie, Evie, the case and the pushchair onto the train and it pulled out on time as we shed a tear and waved goodbye.

It really was a lovely day in Carlisle as they left…

citadel in sunshine

…but we ignored the lovely day and headed indoors to our Carlisle Community Choir practice.  Fortunately, it was a very good session and the tenors recovered some of their self esteem after last week’s travails.

And even better, it was still light as we drove home so we were able to watch a pretty spectacular starling murmuration over our heads as we went back through Longtown.  If we get a decent day, we will try to go down to see the starlings with camera in hand next week.  There seemed to be a lot more birds than when we watched them a month ago.

The house seems very quiet.

The flying bird of the day is a choice between this rather impressionistic study of a goldfinch…

impression of flying goldfinch

…and this neater but duller shot.

flying goldfinch

Take your pick.

I have time on my hands tomorrow: the forecast is for sleet and snow.  Ha ha.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who visited Stourhead with her friend Venetia.  As she knows that I like a bridge, she sent me this picturesque example.


I am still quite tired as having a very youthful visitor is not straightforward.  Getting down with the kids is fine. It’s getting up again that is such hard work.

We had a look at the forecast and as it said that it would rain all afternoon, we prudently went for a walk with Evie in the morning.  It was quite chilly so it was just as well that Evie was ready for any weather.

Evie in pushchair

By co-incidence, we met three people on our walk who were very happy to see Evie.

On our way out, we met our neighbour Margaret…

Evie meets margaret

…at the furthest extension of our stroll, we met our neighbour Liz (and Riley, who was pleased to see Evie too)….

Evie meets Liz and Riley

…and just as we got home, we met Archivist Nancy.  Our friend Gavin was on hand to record this final meeting.

Evie meets nancy pic by GG

We wanted to show Evie the best of the area so this is us going past the sewage works.

Evie going past sewage works

On the river side of the path, we could see marks left by the recent flood.  Evie was very impressed by the hardiness of these snowdrops.  They had been many feet under water on Saturday night but they had survived to flower another day.

snowdrops beside river after flood

We reached the end of the town where we took this picture to record the distinguished visitors Evie and her mother Annie along with Mrs Tootlepedal.

Evie at lands End

I must admit that while Mrs Tootlepedal and Annie were talking to Liz at this point, my attention wandered to a favourite fence.

lands end lichen

All these delights were within a yard or two.  A little further along the fence was the longest streak of this lichen that I have ever seen.

lands end lichen strip

On our way back, we noticed a pussy willow…

first pussy willow

…and a delightfully scented Mahonia near the co-op.

mahonia at Co-op

Mrs Tootlepedal and Annie went into the Co-op to do some shopping while I wheeled Evie three times round the car park.  She was asleep so I didn’t need to chatter away to her and once again found myself distracted by lichen, this time on the metal bars separating the car park from the road.

co-op lichen 1co-op lichen 2

Evie did raise a finger in protest at the delay, so I pushed on when the others came out of the shop….

Evie's fingers

…and apart from stopping to identify the source of some very loud singing near the river…

robin beside river

…we didn’t dilly dally and got home just before the rain started.

Evie was very good and didn’t cry at all.

I made some soup for lunch from the remains of yesterday’s chicken stew with some added lentils and then we settled down for a quiet afternoon in, from time to time looking out of the  window to watch the rain come down and some birds appearing at the feeder.

busy feeder rain

Annie was happy to see siskins which she  doesn’t get at her feeder in London  The siskins weren’t very happy to see a chaffinch approaching….

siskins being rude to chaffinch

..but at least one chaffinch did land and enjoy a seed or two.

siskins and chaffinch rain

Mike and Alison came round for afternoon tea and the chance to get to know the current holder of the title of The World’s Greatest Baby.

There was a teatime treat too as Mrs Tootlepedal had known that Annie and Evie were coming and had baked a cake.

We had macaroni cheese for our evening meal and Evie took to it with great gusto and some of it even made it into her mouth.

Once again she is sleeping peacefully as I write this, the perfect guest.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

Footnote:  To greet is the Scots word meaning to cry.  Evie is the least crying baby that I have ever met, I think.

Further footnote:  Our own robin was so cross about a foreign robin getting into the post that it insisted that I put this picture in too, even though it is not very good.

robin close up


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Today’s guest picture comes from camera club member Simon.  He was taken for a walk on our local hills by a friend.  They walked yesterday morning before the storm came.  A good choice.

simon's hill picture

The storm arrived with some force yesterday evening, and we had a rather restless night  as the wind howled round the house and rain hammered on the windows.  We opened the curtains with some trepidation this morning but everything still seemed to be there so we breathed a sigh of relief.

It became clear that there had been quite a lot of rain though when we went to church.

Storm Ciara rivers

As it was still raining hard when we went in, we did offer a small prayer that we wouldn’t need a boat to get home.

storm ciara esk

In fact, it had stopped raining by the time that we came out and although the Wauchope still looked high, a glance at the tidemark on the river bank showed that the water level had already begun to drop.

storm ciara caroline st

While Mrs Tootlepedal went home to make a pot of coffee, I walked up to the Kilngreen to take a contrasting picture…

storm ciara meeting of waters

…to the one that I took yesterday morning at very much the same time of day.

view of timpen before storm ciara

When the River Esk is high, I always wonder at how much the bridge acts as a dam to the flow with the river level on one side of the bridge being a good two feet higher than the other.

storm ciara langholm bridge

I got home and enjoyed Mrs Tootlepedal’s coffee.  The wind had calmed down a lot by this time and the rain had kept away so I was able to spot a few birds on the feeder.

A greenfinch arrived and thought that it would prefer the perch above it, occupied by a siskin.  A siskin is feisty but no match for a determined greenfinch so an exchange was negotiated.

greenfinch and siskins

In spite of the slightly better conditions, Mrs Tootlepedal and I were in two minds as to whether it would be sensible to drive to Carlisle for our afternoon choir as there were reports of flooding on the road.  Discussion was cut short though when we read an email from the choir saying that the practice had been cancelled anyway.  A good decision, we thought.

A few more birds caught my eye both on the feeder…

robin, dunnock, chaffinch, siskin

…and below

The robin wanted to make sure that I got a close shot.

robin on stalk

A check with the forecast suggested that we were in for a spell of sunshine and showers with wind gusts at no more than 40 mph so I decided that a walk would be in order, hoping to get more sunshine than showers.

There was remarkably little debris about and the flow of the Wauchope under the Auld Stane Brig was nothing like the storm last year where the level was so high that the trees washed down the stream couldn’t get under the bridge and ended up on the bank above the bridge.  The roots of one are still there.

debris and auld stane brig

I walked up the Becks road and took the path down to the bridge across the Becks Burn.  Mrs Tootlepedal had been mildly worried that the burn might pose a threat to an elderly walker, but by the time that I got there, the sun had come out and the water was running at a comparatively gentle rate.

Becks Burn storm ciara

I crossed the bridge and walked back to the town along the track in pleasant conditions.

whita from becks

In fact conditions were so pleasant that instead of going directly home, I walked through the Galaside wood and round the Scholars’ Field…

scholars storm ciara

…and over the Jubilee Bridge.

jubilee bridge trees

A glance down from the bridge reminded me that it hadn’t been so pleasant a few hours ago…

swollen esk

…and although the path round the bottom of the Castleholm looked inviting….

new path storm ciara

…frequent puddles had to be navigated…

puddle new path storm ciara

…and the river was not far away.

full esk new path storm ciara

When I got to the Kilngreen, the waters had dropped far enough for an oyster catcher to perch on a fence post in safety.

oyster catcher on post

As I walked back past the church, a small flock of oyster catchers swirled through the sky above my head.

flock of oyster catchers

I got home from a three mile walk which I hadn’t expected to be able to take let alone enjoy and then sank into sloth for the rest of the day.  Mrs Tootlepedal did get out to do a little gardening so the day wasn’t entirely wasted.

We have been lucky again as there was enough water at Hawick 20 miles up the road to seriously damage a building beside the river.

Looking at the forecast now, it seems that the worst may well have passed us by and we can expect some damp and windy weather for the next couple of days but nothing worse.

We are grateful.

The flying bird of the day is that greenfinch avoiding the first siskin that it met..

flying greenfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another Lake District study from cyclist Paul.  He visited Buttermere on a lovely autumn day a couple of years ago.  It is one of my favourite spots.


The day here was a forecasting mixture, with the BBC having the upper hand in the morning and the Norwegians taking over in the afternoon.

So the morning was calm and not too cold.  There were very few birds about in the garden.  The robin has got the hang of using the basket to act as a launching pad to the seeds.

robin at feeder

I am not quite sure what I did in the morning but it must have been quite dull because I have forgotten all about it.  There was coffee and a crossword involved but there was something else unimportant too because I didn’t get out for a walk until nearly midday.

It turned out to be a very good morning for a walk along the river.  I was greeted with suspicion by a sparrow on the hedge as I walked down to the Meeting of the Waters….

sparrow on hedge clinthead gardens

…where the gulls obligingly flew up and down until I had had my fill of watching them.

four flying gulls

They then returned to their perches on the fence posts and I turned round to see what the noise was behind me.  It was men preparing to put in new telephone poles.

new poles bar brae

It is good to see our infrastructure being taken care of.

I crossed the Sawmill Brig and strolled along the Lodge Walks.  Looking down, I could see that the supply of beech nuts has greatly exceeded the demand for them this year.

beech nuts

I took the upper road to Holmhead.  As I went through the woods, I was serenaded by the music of little streams.

little stream longfauld

The sun came out as I walked and I was in a happy place.

road to holmhead

I daresay that this pheasant, a survivor of the recent war against birds, was quite happy too.

surviving pheasant

When I got to Holmhead, I walked up the path through the snowdrops.

snowdrops holmhead 5 feb 1

There were snowdrops to the left of me…

snowdrops holmhead 5 feb 2

…and snowdrops to the right of me.

snowdrops holmhead 5 feb 3

They are not quite fully out yet and if I get a sunny day next week, I will come to see them again.  They are early this year.

When I had left the snowdrops behind, I went as far as the North Lodge where I admired the view up the valley….

view from north lodge

…and then turned for home.

The sun hadn’t lasted long but it was still a pleasant day for a walk.  My enjoyment was boosted when I met a man who had come to Langholm from Gretna.  He told me that he had had to drive through very thick fog which had only cleared just as he reached the town.  I felt lucky that the Norwegian influence hadn’t quite got to Langholm.

I had wondered if the early snowdrops would mean early hazel flowers too, so I walked back along the riverside towards the Jubilee Bridge and peered at catkins.  With the greatest difficulty, I saw a speck of red and the faithful Lumix was able to translate this into an actual tiny flower for me.  The camera has better eyesight than I have.

hazel flower

Like the snowdrops, this wasn’t fully out yet so I will have to come back and have another look later on.

A passer by told me that the heron was waiting for me on the river bank so I passed the Jubilee Bridge by and walked down to the Meeting of the Waters.  The passer by was right.

I was happy to see Mr Grumpy…

heron behind fence

…but he wasn’t so happy to see me and flew off…

heron taking off

…leaving a gull on a fence post to keep me company.

gull on post

I went back to the Jubilee Bridge and crossed it on my way home, noting the the monument wasn’t pointing to anything today as it had its head in the clouds.

monument in mist

I was greeted by a jackdaw when I got back.

jackdaw staring

After a quick lunch of cheese sandwiches, I left Mrs Tootlepedal to do some business in the town and went out on my bicycle.

After the success of my short outing on the slow bike yesterday, I took my fairly speedy bike out today.  I had been quite warm in a light jacket on my walk so I dressed accordingly for my cycle ride.  It didn’t take me long to find that the Norwegian weather had arrived and I had to cycle into a thin and chilly wind under a heavily clouded sky while being slight underdressed for the occasion.

I pursued a policy of going slowly and carefully but still managed to go a bit further and a bit faster than yesterday without falling off.  I stopped on the top of Callister to see if there were any signs of the new wind turbines yet.  There were none but I did enjoy some very artistic tractor marks in the field opposite.  When you look at the central motif again, you realise that it took quite a bit of skill to make the pattern.

artistic tractor marks callister

I arrived home after 15 miles in perfect time to put the kettle on for Mike Tinker who was just walking round to our house in the hope of a cup of tea.  We were joined by Mrs Tootlepedal when she had finished her business, and we enjoyed some tasty oatcakes with our cuppas.

The weather is much on our minds at the moment with storms about.  We missed the one last weekend but it looks as though we are all going to get caught by an even worse one next weekend.  It has been good to have a few nice days for walks and cycle rides and Mrs Tootlepedal put up a robin nesting box today.  If the robin finds it in time, it will have somewhere to shelter from the rain and wind.

In the meantime, Mr Grumpy stars as the flying bird of the day.

heron flying with head

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Today’s guest post is another from Joyce’s Bermuda collection.  As well as glorious beaches she visited the zoo at Flatt Island where she found this lovely lemur.

ring tailedlemur flatts village aquarium

When we woke up, we were very pleased to find the Norwegian weather forecast had been reliable and we had a second sunny day in succession.  What was even more satisfactory was that there was no sign of the strong winds with which we had been threatened so it was as good a day as one could reasonably expect in early February.

We had to wait in for the gas man to come and service our boiler so I had time to admire the smash and grab technique of the robin…

smash and grab robin

…and cycle to the corner shop, passing an oyster catcher on the way.

oyster catcher on gravel

When I got home again, there were starlings on every side.

There was one on top of Irving’s holly tree and one  on top of the walnut tree …

starling on walnut and holly

…and when I went round the back of the house to investigate loud twittering, I found many more starlings in a bush at the back of Henry Street. (There were noisy sparrows in there too.)

starlings back henry street

While the gas boiler inspection was going on, I walked round the garden.

The crocuses had opened to greet the sunshine…

first open crocus

…and there were signs of life all over the place.

wallflower, euphorbia, crocus, magnolia

In defence of the often criticised service industries, I have to report that the gas engineer came on time, did the job cheerfully and quickly, and went on his way with a smile.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy morning at the computer on the proposed community land purchase business and she had more to do after lunch.  While she slaved away, I took the opportunity to test my cycling head to see if there was any dizziness still in it.

I got the slow bike out because it has wide handlebars for a steadier grip and it doesn’t have toe clips on the pedals so if I needed to stop quickly, I could put my foot down immediately.  I cycled at a very sensible pace so that I wouldn’t put pressure on my breathing. As a result, I enjoyed the outing.

It was still a lovely day…

field near Bloch

…and I stopped after three miles for a little rest and a chance to view a favourite cascade on the Wauchope Water.

I took a bird’s eye view from above…

Wauchope Schoolhouse cascade from above

…and a trout’s eye view from below.

Wauchope Schoolhouse cascade from below

I turned up the Cleuchfoot road and followed the Logan Water for a mile.

Logan Water

I looked politely at the lichen on the wall when I parked my bike for that photo.

wall lichen

In the end, I managed ten miles in just over an hour and got home without having to stop for a dizzy spell.  This was most satisfactory and if the weather stays friendly, I will try to go a little further tomorrow.

Mrs Tootlepedal had finished her work by the time that I got back, and she kindly agreed to forgo a gardening opportunity and come for a walk with me instead.

We went along the Lamb Hill….

Lamb Hill tree

…and on to the road to Newcastleton.

There is a gap in the trees there which gives a fine view up the Ewes valley.  I like the way that the hills meet each other on the diagonal just as a child might draw hills in a colouring book..

view from Copshaw road

We walked up the road and then took the path across the lower slopes of Whita which leads to Whita Well.   We couldn’t see much ahead of us as we were walking straight into the sun but when we stopped and looked back, we were well rewarded for our little climb.

ewes valley from Whita

After a soggy start, the path across the hill became very acceptable.

grass path on Whita

Above us, we could see the monument pointing out where to look to find the moon.

monument and point

When we got to Whita Well, we came to the bench which kind people have put there for the convenience of elderly walkers who are in need of a sit down.

We sat down.

bench at whita well

We were well sheltered from the light breeze, and it was a great treat after so many damp and gloomy days to sit in the sun and take in the rays.

As we walked back down to the town, we passed a good show of gorse, though it wasn’t warm enough to generate the coconut scent that gorse has in summer.

gorse at whita well

We also passed this sign at the top of the golf course.

helicopter warning sign

It was laid flat on the ground though as the helicopter wasn’t flying today.

We got home after two and a half miles of quite hard work and were very happy to have a sit down, a cup of tea, and several slices of fruity malt loaf which doubtless more than made up for any calories we might have expended while going up the hill.

Although the atmospheric pressure is due to stay high tomorrow, we might find ourselves in some misty conditions and the temperature might be low enough for a morning frost.  Looking at the BBC weather forecast for the temperature in the afternoon, I find it is two degrees better than the Norwegian offering, so I will opt for the BBC this time.

The slow cooked lamb stew made a third and final appearance for tea, this time in the guise of a light curry with rice.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

A literal footnote:  Sandy has sent me a message to say that his operation has gone well.  Thank you for the kind wishes that you expressed.

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Today’s guest picture comes from camera club member Simon.  He lives in Canonbie and took a walk to visit the old railway bridge over the Esk below the village.  He sent me this picture to add to my bridge collection.

railway bridge kirkandrews

I followed doctor’s instructions to have a quiet day in again today, and the pain that such slightly boring activity brought was alleviated by the fact that it was a dull, windy, grey day outside in the morning and it got worse and wetter in the afternoon. I wasn’t missing much.

My brain is not quite at its peak so I spent some time making bread twice. The first time was a complete failure because I think that I didn’t make sure the the paddle in the bread maker was securely in position and I ended up with a very curious but definitely dead concoction.  The second effort was more successful.

I made some soup for lunch which worked at the first time of asking.

There weren’t a lot of birds about today but a couple of siskins did appear on the feeder…

two siskins

…although the light was so poor that I couldn’t take a good picture of them.

Our garden residents put in an appearance, with a dunnock…

dunnock on tray

…and a blackbird on the tray…

blackbird looking around

…and the robin on a hedge.

robin on hedge

A dunnock kindly tried some trampolining to keep me entertained…

dunnock trampolining

…but mostly I kept myself occupied by doing some Langholm Archive work.  I put a couple of weeks of the Eskdale and Liddesdale Advertiser index into the database and tried to make some progress with my PHP problems.

Reading the manual made my head hurt so I phoned up our younger son and called for help.  He is a computer programmer to trade and had written a lot of the original code for the affected pages.  He generously offered to help and at the time of writing the repairs are going well and most of the repair work has been done.  Mrs Tootlepedal is going to make a sticky toffee pudding to take up as a reward tomorrow.

In the evening a friend came round for a little singing practice and I demonstrated breathing techniques with such enthusiasm that I had another dizzy spell and alarmed her considerably.  You might think that I should be old enough to be sensible but you would be wrong.

However, I recovered after a few minutes and was able to eat the excellent evening meal which Mrs Tootlepedal had provided.  As it involved bubble and squeak, I was pleased not to have missed it.

I am going to have another very quiet day tomorrow with light breathing only.  It is going to be wet and windy again which will help.

A siskin is trying to see where the flying bird of the day went.  I didn’t see it either.

siskin with head screwed on


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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s recent visit to Amsterdam.  It shows the station clock.  Unusually for a clock, it doesn’t show the time on this face.  By a curious mechanism it is able to show the direction of the wind which the weather vane on the tower is recording.  (There is also a flying bird in the frame!)

amsterdam station

My day started with a visit to the doctor, occasioned by a few short dizzy spells over recent days.  The doctor took my blood pressure, felt my pulse, peered into my eyes and ears, and listened to my heart.  Having discovered that I was alive and well, he sent me home to sit quietly for three days, which I fully intend to do.

If I am still dizzy after that, he will prescribe some pills.  As I don’t like taking pills if I can help it, I intend to be steady as a rock after the three days of rest are over.  In the meantime, blogs are going to be quite dull.

Luckily, Dropscone came round for coffee in the morning and Mike Tinker came round for tea in the afternoon so I was not devoid of good company and Mrs Tootlepedal was on hand with constant support.

And there were several birds to look at to help to pass the time.

A siskin started the bird day off with a watching brief on the fake tree…

siskin on fake tree

…and soon siskins arrived at the feeder itself.

siskin on feeder

Then a chaffinch got tucked in…


…and made sure that I knew what it was eating.

chaffinch with beakful of seed

A goldfinch sized up the position…

goldfinch checking

…and flew down to get a seed for itself.

goldfinch landing

Another perched on a stalk…

goldfinch on stalk

…before heading for the feeder and lunch.

goldfinch off stalk

Soon goldfinches and siskins were eating, but still keeping an eye out for…

full feeder

…incoming traffic.

full feeder with visitor

Below the feeder, the ground nibblers were about.  A dunnock crept past some promising daffodils…

duunnock hiding

…while a robin looked around…

robin peering

…and a blackbird took up a solid position.

quizzicval blackbird

Looking down on it all was a rook in the walnut tree.

rook on walnut

The kind people who run the servers where the Archive Group website sits have updated the version of PHP which they will allow me to use.  As a result the page which produces the results for a picture search no longer works.  This gave me a lot of headaches and after some to-ing and fro-ing, I now know where the problem lies.  Solving it will be more difficult as it involves understanding things like this:

PHP Fatal error:  Uncaught Error: Call to undefined function
mysql_escape_string() in
Stack trace:
#0 {main}
thrown in /home/****/****.com/****.php
on line 16

This code is no longer supported so I will have to find out what the new version is or at least find someone who can tell me.  (The asterisks are the file names).    I might have understood this some years ago when the website was first written but I certainly have forgotten all about it now.

Still, I have time on my hands for the next couple of days!

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

flying siskin

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