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Posts Tagged ‘robin’

Today’s guest picture comes from my Australian correspondent Stephen.  Having read about the Langholm Christmas tree illumination, he sent me this shot to show that Australians can do Christmas too.

australian Christmas tree

Talking about Christmas, our resident robin is working hard to get us into a Christmas mood.

sunny robin

As you can see, we had another sunny day today but once again, it was pretty nippy and the thermometer didn’t get above zero all day.

The odd goldfinch braved the cold and made it to the feeder, but they didn’t stay long.

goldfinch departing

Mrs Tootlepedal had a quiet morning in after yesterday’s very long day, so I went off to sing in the church choir by myself.  Our potential new minister has been voted in by the congregation but will not start work for ten days so we had a visiting minister today who chose cheerful hymns and gave us an interesting sermon.

When I got home, the feeder was still quite busy but the bright sunshine is a mixed blessing when it come to taking pictures of the visitors and I settled for a flying chaffinch…

flying chaffinch

…and a sitting greenfinch…

greenfinch on feeder

…before getting ready for a walk.  The robin appeared again before I could go out…

sunny robin 2

…but I managed to resist the temptation to take even more pictures of it and went out into the cold.

Out of the sun, it really was cold in the garden and this was the side window of our car.

car window ice

After three days of frost, the leaves in the garden are no longer just fringed with crystals, they are covered with them.

garden leaf ice

…and even our wooden heron has got signs of a runny nose.

garden heron drip nose

A box ball summed up the two sides of the day…

half frozen box ball

…and Lilian Austin was frozen stiff.

frozzen rose

The chilly conditions had turned every leaf on one of the golden box balls into little ice flowers.

frozen golden box leaves

I left the garden and walked up to Pool Corner where a lone larch tree has retained some its needles.

last of the larches

I liked this contrast in tree shapes as I passed the Wauchope graveyard.

three trees wauchope

Expert navigators are supposed to be able to tell the points of the compass by looking at moss growing on tree trunks.  Today, the ice on fence posts gave a pretty good indication of East and West.

frozen fence post

Who needs diamonds when its frosty?

fence post ice

I crossed the Auld Stane Brig and walked back towards the town along Gaskells Walk.  I was keeping an eye for hair ice and I was pleased to find an example beside the path.

hair ice gaskells

The track runs along the side of the hill and was in shadow so it was occasionally icy underfoot and always chilly.

 

icy gaskells

My hands had got pretty cold from taking my gloves off to use the camera and I had to keep a good eye on the where I was putting my feet so the camera stayed in my pocket and I concentrated on walking fast enough to keep warm.

I added Easton’s walk to the end of Gaskell’s walk and found another example of hair ice as I walked back along the river.

hair ice eastons

I was pleased to get back into the warmth when I got home.

When we drove to Carlisle after lunch to go to our Carlisle Choir, the temperature was -5°C and we hit a fairly thick patch of fog not long after we started.  I wondered how the electric car would enjoy these conditions but it seemed unworried, although the battery charge went down a lot more quickly than it does in the summer.

Luckily the fog didn’t last for long and we got to the choir in lovely sunshine. This was the last practice before two concerts next weekend so we worked hard to polish up some of the awkward corners that had remained a little rough.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I agreed as we drove home (-6°C) that time will have to be found during the week for some final homework on the songs.

The temperature should get above freezing tomorrow (fog permitting) and we are due to get up to double figures by Friday.  I hope we do as I have done very little cycling lately and I am getting distinctly tubby.  Two mile walks taking pictures are fun but they don’t burn calories.

The flying bird of the day is a rather dashing chaffinch, showing great determination in the pursuit of a seed.

flying chaffinch lunge

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Today’s guest picture is another from the files.  On his visit to Blackpool last month, Bruce was brave enough to venture onto the glass floor looking down from the top of the famous tower.  Rather him than me!  I don’t like the way that the thing seems to be held together by baler twine.

blackpool tower glass floor

We had an unequivocally sunny day here today with not a cloud in the sky.  The payback was that the thermometer hardly scraped above freezing all day.

It was chilly when I had a look round the garden after breakfast and even our wooden heron had got a new hairstyle.

frozen garden nov

However, the sun showed off the walnut tree well.

walnut tree sunny morning

It was far too cold and potentially icy to go cycling so I was very happy that it was a Friday and Dropscone came round with the traditional Friday treacle scones. They were very tasty today.

We ate them while we drank coffee and chatted.  Dropscone had been playing golf at Powfoot and had played a few holes with an elderly member of the club.  He was impressed to discover that the stranger had an even larger collection of second hand golf balls than he had.  It must be large, for as far as I know, Dropscone has never bought a new golf ball in all the time that I have known him.

Mrs Tootlepedal had coffee at the Buccleuch Centre with her ex-work colleagues and one of them mentioned that she has an aunt who lives in Kent who enjoys reading these posts, so I am sending greetings to Kent today in the hope that she reads this one.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a walk to the top of one of our local hills.

The walk up Warbla is on a good track, especially when it has been hardened by frost but is still not icy.  This was the case today.  We could hardly have had a better day for a November walk.

There was very little wind and in the sun, it was warm but in the shady spots, it was pretty chilly.  This horse looked as though it might have preferred to have been in the next door field.

horse in shadow

On our way to the summit, we passed trees both anguished….

bent ree warbla

…and relatively cheerful.

bare tree warbla

After a steep section, the final part of the track levels out and Mrs Tootlepedal strode out at a good pace.

warbla track Mrs t

I had stopped to take a panorama picture of the Wauchope Valley.

warbla panorama 1

Click on the pic for the full scene.

It was cold enough for the puddles along the track to be artistically icy.

warbla icy puddle

When we reached the top, we could look down into England.  A low mist covered the Eden Valley and obscured the northern hills.

warbla mist over england

I wasn’t surprised because I have seen it before, but I am still amazed to find molehills right on the top of the hill.  The soil must be very thin here and you would think that there would be slim pickings for the little creatures.

warbla mole

I walked to the edge of the hill and took another panorama, looking right over the town in the valley below.

 

Mrs Tootlepedal leaned reflectively on the trig point for a while, contemplating the glorious views…

mrs t warbla summit

…and then we headed back down the hill.  We cast a long shadow as the sun went down behind us.

long shadows warbla

The hills were casting shadows as well.

sinking sun warbla

When we got to the wall at the bottom of the open hill, there were things to be seen as usual.  I was very excited when I saw the subject of the middle frame of the panel.  It looked very exotic at first sight,  but it turned out to be common or garden heather so I got less excited.

three things warbla wall

As we got down towards the Stubholm, I looked across the valley to Whita Hill where the dying bracken added a strong touch of colour to the view….

whita from warbla1

…and the clever zoom lens on my pocket camera could read the yardage signs on the golf course practice area, nearly three quarters of a mile away.

golf course signs

I put this picture in just for Dropscone

The lights on our town Christmas tree are going to be switched on tomorrow.  I noticed that nature has been doing its own work too.

nature's christmas tree

The light was already fading when we got home and the frosty weather had been keeping birds away from the feeder so there were not a lot to look at.  I  did catch a visit from our robin who hopped from stalk to feeder…

robin panel

..before quickly flying off again.

As a photographer, I was interested in this picture of a chaffinch when I looked at it on the computer.  The low sun was definitely behind him and yet he appears to be lit from in front.  I can only assume that a reflection from the feeder was responsible.

frontlit chaffinch

Later on, Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday evening visit and I tried to put all the useful advice I have been giving Luke to good use in my own playing as Alison and I played Telemann and Loeillet sonatas.  (More work is needed but at least it is good advice.)

A rather gloomy chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

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I have run out of current guest pictures so I looked in my files and I am using one from last month again.  I  was so impressed by my sister Susan’s guerrilla gardener’s work that I am showing his/her earlier effort to brighten the neighbourhood.  Everyone should be doing this.

20191004_142951 (1)

We had a brighter morning.  Hooray.  We could even see quite bit of blue sky as we ate our breakfast.  It wasn’t quite as good as it might have been because the blue sky was on one side of the house and sun was on the other side where the clouds were, so we didn’t actually get any sunshine in the garden.

All the same it looked like a day for a bike ride.  There is a gap between looking and being and that gap was filled by coffee, toast and the crossword.  I am still finding it quite hard to discover where I have put my get up and go in the mornings.

I killed a little time by looking at a greenfinch.

_DSC5928

And then I cleaned the feeder and refilled it.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Hawick on embroidery business before I finally managed to get the wheels turning and hit the road.  The temperature was still in single figures and with a north easterly wind, the ‘feels like’ factor was strong enough to make me grateful for every one of the many layers  in which I was encased.

This picture, taken three miles after my start, summed up the day quite well, I thought.

P1190346

But it wasn’t raining and the chilly wind was behind me so I pedalled along cheerfully, stopping from time to time to take pictures.

This is an old mission or outreach church at Kirtleton, now converted to a private dwelling.P1190347

I like the potential oxbow lake near Waterbeck.  The tree on  the left of the recent landslip must be considering its position nervously.

P1190348

Considering their size and the enormous weight of wire that they carry, pylons have very dainty feet.

P1190350

It is a curiosity that beech hedges retain their leaves long after beech trees have shed theirs. I am told that this is because by routinely cutting hedges below 2 metres the plants are kept in their juvenile state, so retaining their dead leaves which get pushed off the tree with emerging new growth in the spring. 

It cheers up the roadside on a dreary day.

 

P1190351

Any hint of blue sky disappeared as I pedalled along, but the rain stayed away so I could stop to indulge my liking for bare trees without getting the camera wet.

This one was leaning politely to one side to make room for passing traffic (only me today).

P1190353

And this one was retaining a little foliage in spit of its exposed position.

P1190354

The hedges here are hawthorn and have lost their leaves.

The wind had helped me on the way out and for the first twenty five miles of my outing, I was able to average a respectable 13.3 mph.  Coming home into the wind and up the gentle hill was a different matter and for the last 15 miles, 12 mph was all that I could muster.  I was happy to stop and admire the well appointed village centre at Glenzier, with its refurbished hall, bus stop, post box and telephone kiosk.

P1190355

The bus service is infrequent however, and in general, cycling to Langholm is the quickest way to go.

I have done very little cycling in November so my legs were more than happy to suggest ending the journey after forty miles when I got back to Langholm.  As it was getting gloomy again by this time, I was quite happy to fall in with my legs.

I had a cup of tea and checked on the birds.

Our resident robin was hopping about under the feeder.

_DSC5931

…and a lone siskin was testing out the peanuts.  I expect to see a lot more of these before the winter is over.

_DSC5938

On the feeder, resident birds were keeping an eye out…

_DSC5940

…for incoming traffic.

_DSC5941

I had a shower and spent some time going over songs for the Carlisle choir Christmas concert.  With ten days to go, any spare moment can be usefully spent doing more of this as we are slightly under rehearsed and there are quite a few tricky  corners to be negotiated.

On consulting my spreadsheet, I see that today’s bike ride took my total distance for the year to over 3000 miles.  As I was hoping for 4000 miles when the year started, this is well below target but trouble with my feet in the early part of the year kept my cycling miles well down for three months, so I am quite pleased to have hit this B target.  I have done 2000 miles in the last six months and that has been very satisfactory.

If the weather is kind in December, I may be able to add a few more miles before the years end.

I didn’t get a chance to catch a good flying bird at the feeder so I have sneaked in a few low flying gulls in a field near Glenzier to act as flying birds of the day.

P1190352

 

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Looking through my files. I found that I had overlooked this guest picture sent to me by my sister Susan last month.  It shows the good work of a guerrilla gardener who is brightening up her neighbourhood.

guerilla gardener

After spending some time devoted to the essentials of life, reading the papers and doing the crossword, I felt the need for some novelty and went off to visit our corner shop to buy milk.

“Where is the novelty in that?” I hear the attentive reader cry.

Well, in a deeply unsettling event, our corner shop, which has been on a corner about 100 yards from our door for decades, has suddenly upped and moved 150 yards further away, round a corner and down the road.  It is now a quarter of a mile away and not on a corner any more.  The world has shaken on its foundation.

I managed to find it without too much of a problem.

When I got back though, I needed a coffee to settle my nerves.

After coffee and a few ginger biscuits, I felt that the lack of actual rain outside on a very grey day justified the putting on of cycling gear and getting out my bike.

As I was going out of the door, I passed Mrs Tootlepedal coming in.  “It’s just starting to rain,” she said.

Was I discouraged?  Well, I was a little discouraged but the rain was light and the day was reasonably warm so I pedalled off in good spirits, helped by having a friendly wind pushing me along.

I managed to last for twenty miles, pedalling up the top of Callister and back down to the town, and then up as far as  Wauchope Schoolhouse and back so that I was never too far from home in case the day turned nasty.  It rained pretty well all the time, but generally so lightly that it wasn’t a drawback to enjoyment.  It was wet enough for me to keep my camera in my pocket until just outside Langholm, I came across a small river of fungus flowing down a bank beside the road.

river of fungus

I had never seen fungus there before so I stopped for a look.

Springhill fungus

When I got home, I was just about to have some soup which Mrs Tootlepedal had made while I was out, when I thought that I saw two robins in the plum tree.

I took two pictures with my cycling camera.  Whether they were of two different birds or the same one on two different branches, I cannot say for sure.  This one looks familiar…

robin in plum tree

…but this one has been ringed and is certainly not our usual friend.

ringed robin

The day got greyer and greyer, if that was possible, so photographing birds through the window was a bit of a thankless task, made harder by a distinct lack of birds. (I blame encroaching cats among other things.)

I did see some birds enjoying our sunflower hearts, among them this chaffinch, who like me had been getting a little wet…

chaffinch eating seed

…and this goldfinch who apparently wasn’t enjoying the meal as much as it might.

goldfinch eating seed

I did catch another glimpse of a robin, this time lurking under a hedge.

shy robin

I put a grey afternoon to good use by practising some of our Carlisle choir songs and Mrs Tootlepedal and I were singing away when Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea.

When he left, I lit a fire in the front room and got ready for the arrival of my flute pupil Luke.  He has been practising a bit in a most satisfactory way and I will definitely have to work hard to keep up with him.

I thought that today might be as grey as it could get but it looks as though it is going to be even greyer tomorrow.  Flying birds might be in short supply.  This ‘just landed’ flying bird was the best that I could do today.

nearly flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s canal walk with my sister Mary.  I like a bridge with legs.

regent's canal bridge

After a chilly night, we had a chilly morning followed by a chilly afternoon.  Sandy, who dropped in for a coffee told me that his thermometer showed an overnight low of -7°C which is unusually cold for November for us. Indeed, we have had some mild winters lately so this came as a bit of a shock to us.

The temperature hardly crept above zero all day so I was happy when Dropscone also dropped in for a coffee as it was far too cold to go out for a bicycle ride.

In the end  though, I had to stop drinking coffee and lend a hand about the house as we are expecting a visitor tomorrow.

I did find time to check on the birds, but the cold weather had affected them too and there were not many about.

I got a fleeting glimpse of a chaffinch…

shy chaffinch

…and after a while, a goldfinch appeared.  The reflection in  the window made it look a bit as though it was dropping down a glass tube.

descending goldfinch

The robin paid several visits to the feeder area in pursuit of fallen seed…

robon panel

…but in general there was not a lot to look at, so I made some lentil soup for lunch instead.

After lunch, I went for a walk.  The skies were rather leaden by this time, but there was hardly a breath of wind and it was not icy underfoot, so it was pleasant enough for a stroll, especially as I was well wrapped up.

I checked the ice crystals on a sedum in the garden…

ice on sedum

…and saluted a hardy perennial wallflower before I left.

perennial wallflower late november

The larches are rapidly going  over and only the needles at the very tops of the trees are left to give a little late colour.

last of the larches

There was more colour on this tree growing out of a memorial in the Wauchope graveyard.  It is doing severe damage to its host.wauchope graveyard

I had a look at my favourite lichen garden on the fence post beside the Auld Stane Brig.  The pixie cups had been bejewelled….

pixie cxup lichen ice

…while other lichen on the same post was unaffected by ice.

fence post lichen

The moss on the bridge parapet was almost invisible under its icy coat.

moss with ice

It was too cold to hang around taking many pictures and I had an appointment fairly soon so I was pleased that the path was easy to walk on…

gaskells frosty

…even though there was ice on every plant beside it…

frosty leaf

There hadn’t been much melting during the day!

ice crystals

The smoke rising lazily from the chimney at Stubholm showed how still the day was….

stubholm view november

…and there were still a few colourful leaves to be seen when I had passed the house.

top of park steps

When I got home, I was amazed to see the phlox was having a phinal phlourish.  This is the plant that looks as though it will never die.

last phlox

Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer came round to show me  the accounts for the year.  They are in a very satisfactory state and we should be able to go on with our work during 2020.

In the evening, Sue, Susan and Jenny, the other three members of our recorder group arrived and we had a very enjoyable hour and three quarters playing early music.  The selection of music was good and we played it quite well.  Who could ask for anything more?

The weather  has warmed up a bit during the evening and it looks as though we might have a day above freezing tomorrow.  It will still probably be too cold for me to cycle so I am going to get indoor cycling sorted out as I haven’t had a pedal for ages thanks to the cold spell.

Flying birds were few and far between today and I didn’t get many good pictures so I was tempted to use a fancy filter on my photo editor to make the best of this female chaffinch…

posterized chaffinch

…and this male will be the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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I would welcome some more contributions to the guest picture of the day, but in the meantime, I am very happy to have another fine waterfall from Tony and Marianne’s awesome holiday beside Loch Awe.

tony's awesome waterfall

I am currently having terrible trouble with my computer.  It has been very moody recently, and frequently refuses to talk to me at all.  As a result I have had to resort to a back up device which doesn’t have my usual photo editor on it, so some pictures in this post are a bit hit and miss for which I apologise.

The main business of the morning, after a rainy night, was to look out of the window and stay inside.  Luckily Sandy came down for a cup of coffee so that cheered the day up a bit.  When he had gone, I had a look to see how the new bird feeder was doing.

A goldfinch was having a look too.

goldfinch waiting

A brave soul paid a visit to the upstairs dining room…

first goldfinch on new feeder

…while a chaffinch tried out the mezzanine.

chaffinch on new feeder

A greenfinch arrived to give it the seal of approval…

greenfinch on new feeder

…and before long, the whole thing was in use, upstairs and downstairs.

full house at new feeder

In fact at times it got extremely busy.

busy time at new feeder

A goldfinch arrives and weighs up the merits of the upstairs and downstairs accommodation.

goldfinch deciding at new feeder

A greenfinch lets a goldfinch know who is the top banana.

greenfinch threateningf goldfinch at new feeder

It was a day of constantly changing weather with rain on and off and even the occasioal blink of sunshine.  After lunch, I peered out of the window and thought that it looked as though it might stay dry for a while so I went for a walk.

In sheltered spots, there are still leaves on some of the trees but as everything is rather damp, it feels as though autumn is pretty well over.

becks track november

I walked along the track to the Becks Burn and saw that there were still some crab apples hanging on.

crab apples becks

I was more interested in getting round before it started to rain again than in taking pictures in poor light, but a fence post caught my eye…

fence post

…and a few oak trees hanging onto their colour gave a bit of contrast to a dull view.late autumn colour

I liked this gloomy combination of trees at the top of the hill before I got back to the town…

tress at Manse Brae

…and I appreciated the efforts of the young larches as I walked down the hill to Pool Corner.

larches at pool corner

The peltigera lichen on a wall nearby have survived a couple of frosty mornings.

peltigera lichen

My timing was good because it started to rain just as I got home.  Although it was only half past two, it was so dark that it felt as though it was early evening already.

I spent some wasted time trying to get my computer to run a bit faster, but it wouldn’t co-operate at all, so I gave up and had a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal instead.

In the evening, Luke came round and we made some more progress in our flute playing.  I have had to work hard to improve my own playing in order to keep up with him and we both showed results from practice today.  I will soon have to stop thinking of him as my pupil and start to regard him as someone who is kind enough to come round and play duets with me.

I made a dish of baked eggs in spinach with a cheese sauce for our tea and reflected as we ate it that if the weather doesn’t cheer up soon, I will have to get the bike to nowhere in the garage into action.  My weight gain programme of comfort food eating is going very well.

Because the light has been so poor, getting flying birds is hard and I was thinking of having a robin shot of the day instead….

robin under new feeder

…but that belligerent grteenfinch saved me.

greenfinch flying

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He lives in Derby, one of the places affected by the recent heavy rain and found his route home blocked.  Luckily another route was possible so he got home safely.

derby underpass

After two visits to two cities in two days, I was very happy to have a quiet day at home today.  This decision was helped by a low single figure temperature and a cool wind to go with it.

I  roused myself enough to make some onion and potato soup for lunch and wave Mrs Tootlepedal off as she went to an embroidery meeting.

There was quite a lot of bird traffic in the garden in the morning so when I wasn’t doing anything else, which was most of the time, I watched the birds.

The chaffinches are beginning to return in larger numbers and they were hiding behind the old sunflower stalk…

chaffinch on sunflower stalk

…trying to stand up straight like their mothers taught them…

straight back chaffinch

…and flying off when they had had enough seed.

chaffinch fly by

One of the perches on the seed feeder has become unscrewed and fallen out, as a goldfinch discovered when it tried to perch on it.

goldfinch missing perch

Later on another goldfinch mastered the art of hanging on to the rim of the feeder.

goldfinch hanging on

Mrs Tootlepedal has put down some wire netting to stop the birds trampling down the soil near the feeder and the dunnocks are quite happy to tread on it.

dunnock on wire netting

Our robin was back again, looking pensive today.

sparrow on edge of tray

We only see one greenfinch at a time at the moment and it is hard to tell if it is always the same greenfinch coming every time, or a string of different greenfinches coming once each.

lone greenfinch

There are definitely at least two blue tits about as I have seen them at the same time but whether the seed fancier and the nut fancier are one and the same bird, I leave for others to decide.

blut tit on seed and nuts

After I had eaten my soup, I decided that I ought to stretch my legs a little at least and maybe see if I could find something interesting to photograph, so I went for a walk.

Although I did see a lot of black headed gulls…

four gulls on Ewes

…the walk was not a success.  Firstly, my sore feet played up, cutting down the distance I could walk considerably, and secondly my pocket camera gave up the ghost.  I had got sand in the zoom lens mechanism during our holiday in North Berwick in the spring and the camera has been moaning and groaning every time that I have turned it on since.  Finally, it has all got too much for it and it is refusing to focus at all.  It stayed firmly in my pocket and as I had a bird lens on my other camera, taking pictures of anything close was impossible.

I took a long view of some fading larches…

fading larches

…and admired some late colourful leaves…

late leaves

…before walking very carefully home.

As it was a very gloomy day and what little light there had been had faded, I didn’t even walk round the garden when I got home, but went straight in and found something reasonably useful to do at the computer.

I made a sausage and onion stew with green peppers and mushrooms for tea and then we sat down to watch Strictly followed by some excellent racing from the Glasgow velodrome World Cup meeting.  Watching other people taking vigorous exercise was the best way to finish off a slightly disappointing day.

I did get several flying bird pictures though and because I didn’t take any interesting pictures on my walk, I have put in joint flying birds of the day today to fill the gap.

A flying mallard passed me while I was gull watching…

flying duck

…and a traditional flying chaffinch of the day took a dim view of the missing perch.

flying chaffinch

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