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Posts Tagged ‘robin’

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

canadian hoar frost

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

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

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

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

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

chaffinch on the lookout

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

chaffinches to and fro

…but I did spot a robin…

robin on chimney

…and we got a visit from a redpoll too.

redpoll and goldfinch

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

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

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

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

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

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother Andrew’s recent encounter with the terrifying invaders of Derby.

derby militia

We had a really good sunny day today and with nothing on our calendar, I tried to make good use of it.

The down side of a bright and sunny morning at this time of year is that it tends to be pretty chilly and that was the case today.  Although it wasn’t freezing, it was only just above zero so I decided that a morning walk was a better bet than a cycle ride.  Having hit the deck last winter after meeting unexpected ice on a ride on a cold but sunny day, I am going to be more cautious this time round.

The moss on the wall at the park was gently sighing as I went past on my way to the top of Warbla.

breathing moss

The Stubholm track had delights of various kinds.

fungus and robin stubholm track

When I got out on to the open hill, I could look across the Wauchope valley towards the recently felled Becks wood.  The plastic tubes show that they are planting deciduous trees there rather than replanting the conifers.   I shall be interested to see what sprouts out of the tubes in the course of time.

new planting in becks wood

You don’t have to go far up the track to the modest summit of Warbla (275m) before you are rewarded with splendid views. (A ‘click on the pic’ should bring up a larger version)

panorama from Warbla

I cut up hill off the track and was taking the direct route to the summit when I was halted by this obstruction.

warbla web

I carefully made my way round it and was soon beside the mast looking down towards England where the mist was rolling along one of the river valleys.

mist in Engalnd

It was altogether more cheerful to look towards Whita and the town and I tested out my new phone on the bigger picture.

dav

Looking down at the New Town with the Lumix in hand again, I could see the Kirk Wynd heading uphill from the centre of the town.  This was the route that I had taken on our last sunny day.

View of kirk wynd from Warbla

I rang Mrs Tootlepedal to tell her, “I made it,  top of the world, Ma” but it was no good waving as our house is in the part of town that is tucked under the hill out of view.

View of town from Warbla

I took the track on my way back down…

track down warbla

…and was surprised to find that it was still reasonably firm under foot in spite of the rain.  It was slippery in places though and once again, I was glad that I had taken my walking poles with me.   They are helpful going up hill but indispensable when going down wet grass.

track down warbla with tree

Once again, I looked across the valley to the Becks Wood and could see a major operation in progress as a digger was lifting up great chunks of cleared brashings and dropping them into a large chipper from which they were being taken up a conveyor belt and fed into a lorry.  It was a noisy business.

jenkinson timber lorry

I decided to come home  by a different route and left the track and dropped down onto the Wauchope road where I was hailed by a passing cyclist who stopped for a chat.  It turned out to be my old friend and ex colleague Nigel, who was also enjoying the good weather.  He was on an electric bike and told me that it was going to let him go up hilly routes which he couldn’t have managed under his own steam as he has not been in the best of health lately.

He thought that I might rather scoff at an e-bike but I am totally in favour of them as they extend people’s cycling life and range.  Which is better: getting a little help or sitting at home wishing that you were out on a bike?   It is as they say, a no brainer.  I wished him well and he went off to climb the steepest hill that he could find.

Nigel

I walked home past Pool Corner where an elegant set of catkins caught my eye.

catkins pool cornee

Nigel and I were not the only ones enjoying the sunshine.

two sunny goldfinches

greenfinch in plum tree

The temperature was not exactly climbing to the heights as it was still a meagre 4°C when I got back from my walk but as there had been no sign of ice anywhere, i decided to have lunch and go for a bicycle ride in the afternoon.

It took a bit of time for my legs to throw off the morning walk (going downhill really tests them) and to get used to the chill but after a few miles I began to enjoy myself and cycled happily round my standard 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

I had already taken 50 pictures while on my walk so I didn’t stop too often to add to the total as I pedalled along but these two belted Galloways were irresistible.

belted galloways

Shortly after I passed the cows, I encountered Nigel on his way home from his hilly ride,  Considering that he had been out for well over two hours, he looked very cheerful.

I was so pleased to be out on  a familiar route that I took a picture of my old friends at Grainstonehead…

three trees grainstonehead

…and the Hollows Tower was tempting too.

Hollows tower

The sun gets low really early now so I couldn’t hang around and pressed on home, feeling the chill when I entered the shaded road along the banks of the river Esk as I headed back into town.

A cup of tea and a slice of toast were just the thing to revive me and after a shower, I sat down at my computer and checked out a set of pictures which I am showing at a lunch in the Buccleuch Centre tomorrow.

I finished that just in time to welcome Luke for our weekly flute session.  Once again, we had an entertaining time playing duets and we worked at getting a little more speed into our playing.  I don’t know if it is helping Luke but all this work is certainly helping me.

The usual Monday evening trio playing was on hold this week and while I always enjoying playing with Mike and Isabel, I was quite pleased to have a quiet evening in as after having had the whole of November off, I am finding that walking and cycling are harder work than they used to be.

I tried to find a flying gold or green finch of the day but I couldn’t get anything nearly as satisfactory as this chaffinch so once again a chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

It is going to freeze hard tonight they say so I am glad that I got a tootle and a pedal in today.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He was surprised to hear gunfire as he came towards the centre of Derby and even more surprised to see this when he got there.

derby marchers

It was a grey day here when we got up and that turned out to be the best of the weather as it had started to rain before we left church and it was still raining when we got back from our Carlisle choir in the early evening.

I made a lamb stew for the slow cooker before we went to church and when we got back from church, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the vegetable garden and dug up a turnip to add it to it.  I had hoped to use the time between church and the Carlisle choir in the afternoon to go for a short bike ride, or at least a walk, but the weather was just too depressing….

chaffinch in rain

…whichever way you looked at it.

goldfinch in rain

For some reason goldfinches always look the most miserable of our birds when it is wet.

damp goldfinches december

I was pleased to see a siskin or two even if they came at the gloomiest part pf the morning.

siskin

A blue tit looked in vain for some shelter in the plum tree.

blue tit among the droplets

Another welcome visitor was a robin.  They are great shape shifters and it is hard to believe that this stubby little bird on the chimney pot…

robin on chimney

…is the same bird as this sleeker model on the feeder but it is.

robin on feeder

As well as birds, I saw a different creature as I looked out of the window.

spide outside the window

Time for a visit from the window cleaners perhaps.

After lunch we set off to Carlisle to combine a little shopping with our singing.  The journey was more exciting than we would have wished because one of those illuminated  spanners appeared in the dashboard display as we left Langholm.  This all too often presages a transfer of money from me to the garage.

Sometimes these dashboard warnings are just false alarms but on this occasion it was obviously more serious as we were greatly lacking in power when it came to going up hill or trying to accelerate.  Against Mrs Tootlepedal’s advice, I pressed on to Carlisle and was very relieved to get there without the engine giving up the ghost.

I was pretty sure that the fault resulted from our very wet drive through puddles when we came back from our visit to Edinburgh on Thursday night and optimistically hoped that when the car was parked at the supermarket, the warmth from the drive in would miraculously cure the problem.

It did.  Phew!  We got safely to the church car park and had a good sing, the last before our concert next Sunday.  Then we had another nervous moment, waiting to see if the car was still working properly when we started it up to go home.

It was.  And even though we drove home through some more torrential rain, it kept working and we arrived safely in Langholm.  Whether it will be working again tomorrow after this second very soggy drive is another question of course.

The lamb stew turned out very well so we were able to relax a bit after all the singing and automotive stress.

I did find one slightly brighter moment in the rain which coincided with an obliging chaffinch so here is the flying bird of the day.

flyingh chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is a break with tradition and is in fact a pair of pictures as Bruce sent me a fairly standard view of the famous ‘Bridge over the Atlantic’ between the mainland and Seil Island…

seil bridge

…but also included his view from the bridge.  He was surprised to find that someone had painted a white line down the middle of the channel, presumably to keep marine traffic on the right track.

seil bridge view

I was listening to a radio programme about the Roman poet Horace today.  One of his most famous phrases was ‘Carpe Diem’ which might be translated as ‘make good use of your day’

We had a beautifully sunny and reasonably warm morning and if there ever was a dies that needing carping, this was it.  Sadly, as my knee still needs cossetting, the dies remained totally uncarped.

I looked at birds instead.

In the dark months, the shadow of our house looms over the bird feeder and so the brighter the sunlight is on the plum tree….

sunny chaffinch

…the darker the shadows are on the feeder…

coal tit profile straight

…though this can produce an interesting silhouette from time to time.

coal tit profile landing

It was about midday when the sun and birds both appeared on the feeder.  Once again there were not many birds about so this gave the blue, coal and great tits plenty of scope for visiting.

blue tit with seedcoal tit with seedgreat tit

A robin popped in and although I took a very poor picture of it just as we were going out, I have put it in for the record.

robin

While I was bird watching, I couldn’t help noticing the berberis….

berberis November

 

…and I went out for a closer look.  One part of the bush has gone bright red while the other remains fairly subdued.

sunny berberis

The perennial wallflower is a marvel.  We have two and the other has now given up but this one looks as though it is ready to go through the winter.

november perennial wallflower

The calendulas are very diminished but they are still trying to produce new flowers.

november calnedula

Apart from the berberis, the brightest thing in the garden was this stone ball wrapped in a blanket of moss.

mossy stone ball

I raised my eyes to the hills and sighed…

cattle on Castle Hill

…and went back inside for lunch.

Then we went to Edinburgh.  Our up train started late from Lockerbie but arrived on time in Edinburgh.  Our down train left Edinburgh on time but arrived ten minutes late at Lockerbie.  Variety is the spice of life!

We found Matilda in very good form and she absolutely trounced me at snap though I held my own in a game of Pelmanism.   We enjoyed other games as well and after an excellent meal, cooked by her father, Matilda ended our visit with a ballet display.  We went home feeling very cheerful.

I just managed to catch today’s flying bird by the merest fraction of a millimetre.

just flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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The guest picture of the day comes from my sister Mary.  She has been recovering from a hip operation and hasn’t been able to get about taking pictures lately so she kindly sent me this picture of Darwin’s house in Kent which she visited in August.

I had a pleasantly busy day today, with plenty to do and people to talk to and this made up for the quality of the day itself which was dull and grey, very dull and grey.

After breakfast, I went up to the Archive Centre where I met Sandy and we were joined by Ron, one of the trustees of the Langholm Reference Library.  He is providing a home for all the various bits and pieces which the Archive Group have collected over the years and came to see what we had got.

He was able to take all that we wanted and we put it in some handy boxes which, with great foresight, Ron had brought with him.  We loaded the boxes into Sandy’s car and off it all went to the library to be catalogued and stored.   I wish everything in the world went as smoothly as this bit of business.

Leaving Sandy and Ron to do anything that looked like heavy lifting or hard work, I went round the corner and got a lift home from Dropscone, accompanied by some his traditional Friday treacle scones.  We ate these while drinking some coffee.   Dropscone has recently suffered an attack of torticollis and so he is well up the pecking order when it comes to interesting ailments.

After he had gone off, I spotted an interesting bird in the garden and took this very interesting picture of it.

 

I did mention that it was a very dull day.  But I must admit that in my haste to capture the bird, I failed to check my camera settings.

The camera was recording in RAW and it shows shows just how much the camera records that it doesn’t tell you about when I can reveal that after processing the image, I could find this welcome visitor under all the gloom

I hope to get a chance to look at the robin again soon with the right camera settings in place.

I then grappled with a very contorted crossword which was in the end  even duller than the weather.  I got fed up and went out into the garden.

It was too grey and windy to take pictures so instead of going for a walk, I did a little gardening.  I shredded and sieved and shifted the contents of compost bin C into compost bin D.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the garden and I followed on to take a picture of her waving to to the world.  My camera skills again let me down and by the time that I got organised, she was hard at work.

Once again, I discarded any idea of a walk and made myself useful.  I shredded, and mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass and then did a little digging of what will be our fruit cage area next year (if everything goes to plan).

By this time, although it was still quite early, the light was so poor that we went in and had a cup of tea.  That concluded the active part of the day.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal caught up on the news, Alison and I played duets.  We got out a Telemann sonata which we haven’t played for years and found that we remembered it remarkably well and resolved to put in a bit of practice and play it again soon.

As it was too gloomy to take a flying bird picture today, I have delved into the archives to find a rare shot of a flying robin from four years ago.

flying robin

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Marianne, our son Tony’s partner.  It shows Tony getting some sausage making tips at the ‘Bowhouse Food Weekend’ in St Monans yesterday.  Marianne tells me that they intend to eat the sausages that he made.  They are very brave.

Tony at St Monans

After two days of miserable rain and wind, the weather gods relented and laid on a calm, fairly warm and dry day today, ideal for cycling.  Of course they knew that I had choirs to go to both in the morning and the afternoon with no time for serious cycling in between so they must have laughed themselves silly.

Still, the choirs were very enjoyable so I had no complaints.

After the church choir,  I had time to walk round the garden.

We have a little horizontal cotoneaster against the house with bright red berries and colourful leaves.

berries and leaves

Wet flowers were to be found. The striking clematis in the top row is is the only flower that the plant has produced all year.

Octcober flowers

We have our own autumn colour provided by the climbing hydrangea and one of the azaleas.

hydrangea and azalea in autumn

I looked at the birds while I attended to the tricky culinary task of preparing baked beans on toast for my lunch.

A collared dove appeared and didn’t start a fight.  This was possibly because it was the only dove there.

Collared dove at rest

There were several goldfinches only too ready to argue.

goldfinches sparring

I got the chance to catch  welcome visits from a dunnock…

dunnock Oct

…and a robin.

october robin

After my baked beans, I had just enough time to go for an amble round Easton’s Walk.

As I got to the Wauchope Water, I found that it had gone down enough to allow a dipper to do some dipping in the calmer current near the bank.

dipper dipping

The recent rain has encouraged the moss on the park wall.

spangles moss

I came down the track to the edge of the Murtholm fields….

Easton's Walk in autumn

…and enjoyed the colourful trees behind the farmhouse at the far end.

Murtholm in autumn

As I walked back along the river to the park, I spotted two ghostly fungi, one on a fallen tree…

white fungus

…and one unusually white one, part of a small bunch of fungi on the banking in the shadow of old tree roots.

very white gungus

The thorny hedge round the war memorial provided a resting place for water droplets.

thorn hedge with raindrops

When I got home, the sight of the winter jasmine in full flower at the back door  was a reminder of the march of the seasons.

winter jasmine

The weather gods had one last little joke to play.  The sun came out just as I was preparing to go to Carlisle for the afternoon choir so I only had time for a glance out of the kitchen window to watch a siskin hanging about…

siskin depending

…and a chaffinch weighing up his options …

flying chaffinch in sun

…before I went off to Carlisle to sing, driving down the road in beautiful weather and muttering under my breath as I went.

Our new musical director continues to be very lively and amusing so we all worked hard for her in return and as a result, we had a useful practice.

I am hoping for some kindly cycling weather tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow in torpedo mode as it heads for the feeder.

flying sparrow missile

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce.  He was impressed by the size of this nail brush.  Its owner must have very big hands.

Bruce's big brush

I was awoken by a loud cry from Mrs Tootlepedal.  “There’s a partridge in the garden,” she said.  I had hoped that by the time  that I had got organised with a camera, the partridge would have flown up into our pear tree, which would have been a great gift.  No such luck though as the partridge had walked out of the front gate and down the road.

partridge

It will do well to stick around in the town and take the risk of being run over.  It it goes back out into the country, it is likely to get shot.

The forecast had been for another cloudy day but we were lucky and the clouds had passed over us and gone on their way and it was sunny all day.

The elder tree feeder lived up to its promise this morning and attracted interesting small birds to the garden.

great tit and robin

A great tit and the first robin for some weeks.

It was a little chilly after breakfast so I took my time getting ready to pedal and made some apple jelly after breakfast.  Sadly, I might have rushed the job a bit and although the result tastes quite nice, it hasn’t set properly and may need reboiling.

Then, even when I had pumped up the tyres and filled my water bottle, I took more time to admire the poppies…

thre poppies

…and salute the butterflies on the buddleia.

three butterflies

Small tortoiseshell, peacock and red admiral

The wind was coming from the north east so instead of heading south as usual and then having to face the wind coming home, I headed north out of the town.

The trouble with starting in this direction is that there is a steep hill almost as soon as you leave the town.  I am not supposed to cycle up steep hills with my tin knee but I adopted a very low gear and eased up the hill so gently that my knee did’t even notice.

Peden's View

Looking back from the top of the hill.

It was a good day for a pedal as the wind was light and even when it was in my face, it didn’t make me cry.  The hills were looking good with bracken and grasses making a patchwork of greens and browns.

Criag hills

I had to stop to take my favourite view, The Gates of Eden.  It really was that green today.

Gates of Eden

I was cycling up the Esk towards its source and this is the peaceful view of the valley at Bentpath.

esk at bentpath

You can see that the farmers have been busy getting silage cut and bagged.

The Black Esk and the White Esk join forces about ten miles north of Langholm and this is the bridge over the Black Esk just before the junction.

 

Black esk bridge Tanlawhill

I crossed the bridge and followed the White Esk for the rest of my outward journey, stopping in this delightful wood beside the King Pool for my first snack of the day.

King Pool wood

The valley of the White Esk is a perfect example of the ‘sunlit uplands’ on a day like today…

Upper esk valley panoramaIt may not be so welcoming in the winter though.

I pedalled past the Samye Ling Tibetan Monastery without taking a picture (which took a lot of restraint) but was stopped in my tracks a little further on by a beautiful rose and some impressive hips in a bush beside a bridge.

rwild rose and hips

The bridge looked interesting so I followed a steep path down to the river and was most alarmed when I heard an almighty splash as I got near to the water.  What had fallen in, I wondered.

It turned out that nothing had fallen in, but a large family of goosanders had been disturbed by my arrival and had taken off from under the bridge in a great hurry.  I caught a glimpse of them as they disappeared downstream.

flying goodsanders

Not a great picture but it was just to record that ten or eleven goosanders taking flight can sound like a boulder falling into a river.

The bridge itself was worth a look.

Eskdalemuir birdge

Although it looked like a traditional stone bridge, the arch had been strengthened by concrete.  This was doubtless to withstand the battering it gets from the many timber wagons which roll over it.  I am not entirely sure but I think the stream is Garwaldwater.

I pushed on, climbing gently but steadily until I could see the start of the White Esk where the Glendearg Burn comes down from the hills to join another little stream and turns in to the Esk.

Upper Esk

When I got to my turning point, the regional  boundary between Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders….

County boundary

…I could hardly recognise it as the timber farmers had been hard at work here and cut down all the trees that used to mark the border.  It looks rather nondescript now.

Nevertheless at 1100 feet above sea level, it seemed like a good spot to rest and munch an egg roll before rolling down the 22 miles back to Langholm.  I say ‘rolling back’ but in spite of losing 850 feet overall, there is a never ending amount of undulation on the way so it was still hard work.  As the route back was exactly the same as the route out, I have not illustrated it.

I was extremely pleased to find that my knee stood up well to this hilly ride and might try to do some more adventurous rides if time and weather permit.

When I got home, I mowed the middle and front lawns.

When i say that I mowed them, of course it was the wonderful Webb Witch which did the work…

Lawn mower

…I just walked along behind it saying encouraging things.  They don’t seem to sell push mowers like this any more.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy sowing some field beans for green manure in the now empty potato bed and we took time out to watch the many flights of bees and butterflies on the buddleia and Michaelmas daisies.  I actually saw a bee push a small tortoiseshell off a daisy flower.   The butterfly came back sharply and knocked the bee off in turn.

The same three varieties that I had seen in the morning were still about ….

P1130964

…but they were joined by a couple of beautiful painted ladies in the afternoon.

painted lady butterfly

One posed for me on a daisy.

The garden was full of insects.

insects in garden

I finished my camera tour with an Icelandic poppy.

icelnadic poppy

Then we uprooted the gooseberry bush as part of the vegetable garden remodelling.  We are going to try to do a little work on this scheme every day that the weather allows so that the work doesn’t overwhelm us.

We were spoiled in the evening with the highlights of both the Tour of Spain and the Tour of Britain bicycle races to watch.

The flying bird of the day is another sparrow.  Birds do keep their heads still when they are flying.

flying sparrow

 

 

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