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Posts Tagged ‘robin’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who was passing Tamworth castle the other day when the sun came out.

Tamworth Castle

We had another cool morning here but with added sunshine and the day soon became suitable for gardening and cycling.

I had a walk round the garden after breakfast and had to duck as a low flying aircraft passed by.  I got the camera out as quick as I could and caught it just as it got framed in electricity wires.

hercules

Looking at the picture above, you may think that I am exaggerating about having to duck but it really was low.

hercules

 

Sandy came round for coffee in the morning which gave me a good excuse to delay cycling until the things warmed up a bit.

After he left, I had another garden wander.  I was pleased to see crocuses looking perky…

crocuses

…and surprised to see and early bee about.  The forecast is for chilly days ahead so it might well have to go back and hide.

bee on crocus

The first daffodil also appeared and it was unfortunate that it was growing in the middle of a bush so it was not easy to capture its full beauty!

first daffodil

However, the moss was looking wonderful in the sun.

moss

I would never have believed that moss could look like this before I started this mossy chapter in my photographic journey.

Like the bee, the frogs in the pond may find that things are too chilly for them soon but this one seemed quite happy for now.

frog

After the sunny garden stroll, I did think of trying to have both a walk and a pedal during the day but looking out of the window and seeing a brisk wind coming out of the north west and making the walnut branches wave about persuaded me that just cycling might well be enough.

I was right, as the windy was strong and cold enough to make sure that my average speed stayed quite low so it took me some time to get round a 31 mile circuit.

I got my fairly speedy bike to check whether it had been harmed by the accident.  It looked all right and I gave it a good wash and brush and oiled the chain before I set off. I wasn’t going to hurry though, just in case.   In addition, after the recent frosts and snow, the roads are beginning to crack up so I kept my eyes fairly firmly on the road ahead, not wanting a repeat of the unplanned flying dismount so soon after the last one.

As a result I decided to stop every 5 miles and take a picture both of the road I was cycling along and whatever was there.  I also hoped that this might give readers unfamiliar with our area, a picture of a typical cycle ride for me.

5 miles:

callister and buzzard

The road up Callister and a passing buzzard: a two lane minor road

10 miles:

Between the waters and gair road

The road to Gair and a local farm: single track road

14 miles:

I made an extra stop as i crossed it to show the M74, the main road between Carlisle and Glasgow.

M74

While I was taking the picture, a car drew up and the lady inside asked me if I was Tootlepedal.  She had seen the blog and recognised the ski goggles that I was wearing.  She is a relative of our neighbour Liz and her son and our older son had met at the Lauder Common Riding last year so we had a good chat before going our separate ways.

15 miles:

I stopped a mile later on the old A74, once a dual carriageway but now returned to single carriageway and used as a service road for the motorway and very handy for cyclists.

Old A74

This was an interesting place to stop as there was history all around.

(Clockwise from top left) The old road which replaced the original coaching road, Robgill Tower, Burnswark, a site of both Roman and iron age forts and, coming bang up to date, a wind farm in the distance.  And I had the motorway on one side of me and the mainline railway on the other.  People have been passing this spot for thousands of years,

20 miles:

Glenzier road

In farming country near Chapelknowe.  Still a minor road but a slightly more busy one.

25 miles:

Broadmeadows road

The back road to Canonbie.  I am in the Esk valley now…..with a nice gate.

30 miles:

A7 bike track

The end of the bike path where it joins the A7, the road from Carlisle to Edinburgh and the A7 itself just before Skippers Bridge.

And to complete the picture, here is the route itself.

garmin route 20 Feb 2018

Click to see the route details

Because I am supposed to avoid big hills with my new knee, these quiet unadventurous routes are just my cup of tea.

As you can see , it was a sunny ride so I enjoyed it in spite of an unhelpful breeze.

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden, making the most of the warmer weather.

The frogs had gone but there was a colourful bunch of crocuses to catch the eye.

crocuses

I hadn’t had any time to watch birds earlier in the day so I took a moment when I got in to stare out of the kitchen window but the light was a bit too far gone to be ideal….

chaffinches

…so I was pleased to see a robin in posing mood.

robin

I was ready for a cup of tea and a quiet sit down by this time.

Later in the day, I made the mistake of ringing up a software company to sort out a problem and when the lady had asked several times for me to produce an email confirmation of sale for a product which I bought in 2012 and I had replied patiently each time that I didn’t keep emails for 5 years, she then asked me if there was any one else in the house she could speak to who might be able to understand what she was talking about.  I was mildly offended to say the least but we didn’t get anywhere with our conversation after that.

In the absence of a flying bird of the day, I can only put up a bird that was very nearly flying.

robin

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset Correspondent, Venetia.  Her aeroplane was obviously efficiently de-iced at Schiphol because she has sent me this icy picture from near Bedford, New Hampshire in the USA.  (I wonder if she bumped into a noted gardener while she was there.)

Bedford New Hampshire
We had a frost, snow and ice free day here today which was very welcome.  We couldn’t entirely escape the rain though.

Even if the day had been fine,  I would have had a rather limited time photographically as I went off with Mrs Tootlepedal to sing with the church choir in the morning and the Carlisle Community Choir in the afternoon, leaving little time for anything else.

I did get a moment after church to watch the birds.

When I first looked, siskins were in charge of the feeder…

siskins

…but it didn’t take long until some goldfinches loomed up.

siskins and goldfinches

One even got a toehold for a brief moment.

_DSC1431

It got dislodged but was soon back trying again.

siskins and goldfinches

Away from the turmoil above, a robin quietly enjoyed the ground level refreshments.

robin

Later on, goldfinches found themselves in control of the perches…

goldfinches

…and roles were reversed when a siskin had to look tentatively around for a free place.

siskin and goldfinches

I didn’t have much voice today and as I was the only bass present in the church choir, I didn’t add a lot to the proceedings.   I enjoyed myself  all the same.  Things were better at the  Carlisle choir where I sing tenor, as there was more support and the conductor went as far as to say that the tenors sounded quite good.

We were chuffed.

On our way to the choir, we stopped off at a well known food shop and topped up on the bare necessities of life.  We now have adequate supplies of tea, coffee, cheese, dates, prunes and cherries so we will not starve.

However,  since Mrs Tootlepedal had made an excellent beef and vegetable stew in the slow cooker which we ate for our tea when we got back from Carlisle, there was in fact very little chance of us starving anyway.

The flying bird of the day is a standard chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from former Archive Group member Ken who has gone back to the east coast where he is celebrating the twentieth birthday of the ‘Angel of the North’.

angel of the north

It didn’t snow today.  This was quite unexpected but to make up for it, a shrewd and biting wind made going outside a bit of a trial.

I had to go out after breakfast for a final visit to the health centre for a look at the scratches and grazes on my arms from the bike tragedy.  Like my face, they have healed up well and I was pronounced fully cured and discharged.  Hooray, I can have a bath or shower at last.

It was sunny when I walked across the suspension bridge on my way to the centre and I spotted four white dots on the river gravel.  I only had my phone with me and this is what it saw.

oyster catchers

If you look carefully at the end of the gravel, you can just make out that the white dots are four oyster catchers, the first that I have seen this year.

To our great relief, the bridge builders returned and started work….

dam bridge repairs

…..and to our great amazement, a new tea shack and office appeared as well.

dam bridge repairs

Upon enquiry, it turned out that the junior worker had broken the key in the door yesterday and so great was the security of the triple lock that the whole container had to be taken away to get it opened up again.  Meanwhile, a substitute had been delivered.

On my way back into the house, I walked past a pile of stones in our back garden which had come from the repairs to our house wall three years ago.  It shows how well moss grows in our climate.

moss in garden

The roads were still icy in places so I stayed in and got my bigger lens out and peered at the birds through the kitchen window.

goldfinch

blackbird

robin

A lot of siskins turned up after a while and started quarelling.

siskins

Rather annoyingly, our water supply first reduced itself to a trickle and then gave up entirely.  Water is one of those things that you don’t realise how much you need until you don’t have them.

We naturally assumed that it was the bridge builders who had done it since they cut the pipe not long ago but they protested their innocence and it was true that the pipe looked untouched.  In the end, a water board man came round in the early evening and solved the problem by turning on a stopcock which a person or persons unknown had turned off at the end of our road.   First our phone and then our water.  Can we put out a plea for people not to turn off our utilities.

Anyway, while we were waiting for the water board man to come, I went shopping in the town and then took a diversion on the way home.

I got a rather distant view of a single oyster catcher as I went along the river.

oyster catcher

I was disappointed that the other three had gone somewhere else.

I am learning how varied mosses are and trying to find out what to look for in a moss so I was pleased to find a good example of two different sporangia side by side on the Castleholm wall.

moss  sporangia

The ones on the left, standing up and brown and the ones on the right, hanging down and green.    I still can’t tell you what the mosses are but it is a start.

There were ferns on the wall too.

fern sporangia in sori

This might be a broad buckle fern but there are a lot to pick from.

Later on, I saw some ferns on a tree.  They look similar but when you look again, you see that they might be different.

fern and sori

This might be Dryopteris carthusiana,  spinulose woodfern, but then again, it might not be.

I am having a lot of fun looking at mosses and ferns and lichen.

I realise that not all readers might share my enthusiasm but when you are retired, you have plenty of time to look around.

moss

Oh look, some more mosses, one creeping along the wall with stealthy fingers and one standing up straight with interesting cups.

It was pretty chilly….

snow on Timpen

….so I didn’t dawdle too much but I did stop for some snowdrops near the Lodge….

snowdrops castleholm

….and a hint of spring.

hazel catkin and bud

We were very pleased when our water came back on and we were able to do the washing up and make a cup of tea.

I went out as usual to take a picture of the bridge works at the end of the working day.  They are busy preparing to connect the bridge to the existing road.

dam bridge repairs

In the evening I drove to Carlisle to play with our recorder group.  Susan didn’t come with me as she is preparing to go to Ireland with her father and some of her siblings for a holiday tomorrow.   I hope to get a picture of two from them while they are away.

The recorder playing was most enjoyable as Heather brought her keyboard round with her and we played sonatas for two or three players and B.C. instead of our usual consort music.

It made a refreshing change.

I was so busy peering closely at the birds today that I forgot to take a good flying bird of the day and this was the best that I could find when I looked on the camera card.

flying chaffinch

And I cycled two hundred yards to the shop and back, the first time I have been on a bike for a fortnight.  The shop was closed by the time that I got there but I enjoyed the cycle ride!

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my ex-colleague Ada.  She has been enjoying the sun in Tenerife and sent me this picture to torment me as we watched the snow come down here.

Down below is the busy resort of Playa de Las Americas

Down below is the busy resort of Playa de Las Americas

Here is the contrasting view from our bedroom window this morning.

snowy garden

And it kept on snowing for some time…

chaffinch in snow

…leading to some poor manners at the ground feeding station.

blackbird and robin

Dropscone dropped in for coffee, not only bringing the traditional scones but also rich gifts of sardines which he had picked up at a very reasonable price on his way back from a meeting up the borders last night.  He is an expert at finding very good ‘end of day’ offers at supermarkets.

The price of the sardines reflected the fact that today was their last use by date so Mrs Tootlepedal and I enjoyed pan fried sardines for our lunch.  They were very good.

The snow stopped and the day brightened up a lot….

starlings and goldfinches

A couple of starlings joined our usual visitors

….so when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop, I put on my wellies and went for a walk.

I checked on the bridge as I set out.

dam bridge repair

The men had only worked for a relatively short time this morning but whether that was because of the snow or because they are waiting for things to set, I don’t know.

I left the bridge and headed for the top of Warbla, hoping to get there before any new snow showers appeared.

In fact, as I walked up the hill, the skies cleared and the sun came out, first on nearby hills….

snow on the hills Arkleton

…and then, as I followed the advice of the pheasants to go this way…

pheasant print in snow

…on the track where I was walking.

Warbla in snow

Even more pleasingly, it stayed out for the rest of my walk and I was able to enjoy a view across the valley to the felled Becks Wood which I visited a  day or two ago.  They have been very busy tidying the felled trees up.

pBecks wood from Warbla

At the top of the hill, there is an old trig point, elevation 276m, which showed which way the wind was blowing this morning…

Warbla trig point snow

…and some good views.

Esk valley with snow

By this time, the sun had removed all the snow from the lower slopes.

langholm with surrounding snow

I met a man in a car at the summit, where there are several masts, who told me that he was working for EE.  As EE is the telephone company that provides my mobile reception, I was pleased to see that they were on the job even in snowy conditions.

I used the phone connection while I was up on the hill to show that my face is pretty well back to normal after the ugly business of 12 days ago.

selfie on Warbla

I put the fairly rapid healing down to liberal use of arnica.

I thought that the redundant stile at the top of the hill was looking good but went through the new gate beside it on my way down.

stile on Warbla

I had noticed as I had come up the hill, that the telephone engineer’s car had stopped several times and the driver had got out for some curious reason.  As I followed it back down the hill….

EE car on Warbla

…it stopped several times again.  The mystery was solved when I saw the driver get out and take photographs.  It was good to know that he was enjoying the views as much as I was.  He kindly offered me a lift but it seemed like too good a day not to walk.  Besides, I wanted to take more photos.

Looking across the valley, I could see three timber wagons waiting to pick up logs from the enormous pile at the Becks Wood.

Becks wood timber wagons

When I got to the wood at the bottom of the hill, I stopped to look at the moss on the wall.  Although moss often looks rather short and stumpy on a wall, if you pull a single strand out, it turns out to be longer and thinner than expected.

moss

Once again, there were a lot of different sorts of moss close together.

moss

I passed a very sunny horse….

sunny horse

…and made my way back to the garden where I got quite excited by a daffodil bud.

daffodil bud

I had made a lamb stew in the slow cooker in the morning and Mrs Tootlepedal cooked some potatoes and green veg to go with it and the resultant evening meal made a good ending to day which turned out to be a lot better than it had looked likely to be when we woke up in the snow.

The flying (jumping) bird of the day is one of the starlings leaving the feeders.

flying starling

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan.  She was told by our brother Andrew that she might find an interesting house in Chiswick.  This was it.

London House

As we are going to have a very long day in a bus going to Manchester to sing in our choir competition tomorrow, I had a very easy day today to try to get myself in good condition.  My face has got a lot better over the week so I won’t look quite such a fright when I am standing on stage.  This is a relief.

I had a lie in after breakfast and finally got round to topping up the bird feeder after coffee.  This stimulated a lot of action.

chaffinch and goldfinch

But the nearest that a robin got to it was peeping out from behind a leaf some distance away.

robin

After a rainy start to the day, the weather cleared and there was even a little sunshine to encourage the birds.

busy feeder

I rather think that the chaffinch approaching the feeder is more concerned about getting his photo taken than shifting the siskin.  He certainly seems to be checking on where the cameraman is.

The bridge repairers turned up early and poured some concrete in the rain.  I don’t know much about concrete  (I don’t know anything about concrete to be more truthful) so I hope that getting wet doesn’t bother it.

Dam bridge repairs

You can see the ‘in’ and ‘out’ pipes on the pump in the picture and how close the bridge is to our house.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a meeting of her Embroiders’ Guild branch and I went for a short walk which included getting some snacks for tomorrow.

There was not much in the way of views as the sun had gone in and it was rather grey so I kept my eyes down today.

There were plenty of opportunities to look at mosses….

mosses

…and for once, the light seemed to be just right for looking at catkins and tree buds.

catkin and bud

The alder catkins are colouring up well.

alder catkins

I liked this oak branch near the old distillery.  There is some wood under all that lichen.

branch with lichen

The retaining wall on the far bank of the river looks as though it might need a little work.

Wall damage

I crossed Skippers Bridge and walked back on the town side of the river.  There is a fence on the way which had some good lichen on it last time that I passed and it was still looking good today.

The yellow lichen is absolutely tiny and needed a really close look look.

lichen on fence

I did my shopping and continued home.  When I was walking up Caroline Street, I noticed a quartet of ducks all having a siesta.

headless ducks

And on my side of the river, a little patch of jewelled moss caught my eye.

wet moss

Just down the road from our bridge, there is a pile of concrete beams and I presume that these are going to make up the new bridge once the concrete has set.

dam bridge repairs

I walked along the dam and crossed it by stepping stone and went through the gate into our garden.  As I went past the drying green a lone crocus stood out among the grass….

crocus

…though when I looked at the picture later, I saw that it was actually standing out in the middle of a lot of moss with hardly a blade of grass to be seen.  Did I mention that it has been a very wet year?

Looking up at the walnut tree before I went into the house, I could see a good number of starlings perched on the highest branches….

starlings

…and knowing that they like pink pellets, I put some out.  In less than ten minutes, they had scoffed the lot.

starlings

Three collared doves also visited us and I was quick enough to catch one today.

collared dove

Once inside, I settled down to catch up on the Winter Olympics and the rugby and in this way, the rest of the day slipped by.  I did take time out to practise the songs for tomorrow and make some bread for sandwiches to eat during the day.

We have got to get up not long after six in the morning tomorrow so it will be an early night for us tonight.  I am not expecting to have the opportunity to post anything as we won’t get back until late.

Not one but two flying birds today, both of them goldfinches, neither of them very good pictures.  I couldn’t choose between them.

flying goldfinch

flying goldfinch

 

 

 

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One sided

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s recent walk.  He met an old quarry.

quarry

It depends on how you look at things.  If you catch my good side, I look pretty well undamaged.  From the other side, I am still a mess but fortunately my good looks seem to be all that has been damaged as I was able to walk up to the town after breakfast and then go to the producers’ market to do some shopping without any trouble.

As far as I can see (which I admit is not very far because my good eye is a bit swollen), the only bad result of my careless moment is a stiff neck and a sore cheek so I count myself very fortunate.

I did think it wise to have a quiet day at home today and in this I was helped by some grey and drizzly weather which didn’t encourage frolicking about outdoors.

It left me with time to watch the birds and there were a lot of birds to watch today.

busy feeder

Chiefly goldfinches and siskins….

siskins

….but we had a visit from a brambling, the first I have seen in the garden this year…

brambling

…though Mrs Tootlepedal saw one earlier in the winter when I was out.  I hope it comes again with some friends as bramblings are very handsome birds.

brambling

I was pleased to see two robins at the same time as they have been a bit scarce lately and I always worry that visiting cats may catch them as they robins seem to like walking about as much as flying.

robin

The constant activity at the feeders led to some head to head confrontations.

chaffinch and siskin

goldfinch and siskin

goldfinch and siskin

I noticed a very brown blackbird….

blackbird

…and in fact it was so pale and brown that I wondered if it really was a blackbird but I think that it is.

My favourite shot of the day was two goldfinches in the plum tree.

goldfinches

My afternoon didn’t go quite as well as I had hoped as I made the mistake of watching Scotland trying to play rugby.  After a very promising autumn series, they reverted to type today and dropped the ball on every possible occasion.

Still, I had been able to purchase ample supplies of cod’s roe at the market in the morning so I cheered myself up with a large plate of my  favourite food for tea. Fried lightly in a bit of butter and sprinkled with a little salt, there is no better meal to be  had than cod’s roe.

Mrs Tootlepedal is bearing up as well as can be expected considering that she is living with a gargoyle and I was reminded of the poem that goes

For beauty I am not a star,

There are others more perfect by far,
But my face I don’t mind it,
For I am behind it,
It is those in front that I jar.

How true.

This poem is often attributed to Woodrow Wilson, who quoted it a lot, but it was written by man called Anthony Euwer.

You can tell that I am bit bored.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Sheffield correspondent Edward.    He has acquired a second bird for his backyard.

CrazyCraneAndCompanion

We woke to a light snow shower and I took the hint and retired back to bed for a snooze and a crossword after breakfast, while alternating snow and rain showers appeared beyond the windows.  I felt very snug.

I got up after coffee time and was happy to find a very large bird attendance at the feeders.  I took my camera upstairs to get a different view of our visitors.

robin

There were a great many siskins and goldfinches in the garden today, perhaps as many as forty at times.

busy feeder from upstairs

Looking down on the feeder gave me a chance to catch some action shots but the background isn’t as satisfactory as shooting from eye level.

busy feeder from upstairs

 

In the end, I went back downstairs and took up my normal station while I made some lentil soup for my lunch.

There was some siskin bad behaviour to record.

siskin attack

I admired the rather restrained response of the female siskin to being booted in the back by an aggressive male but in this day and age, she should have probably been a bit more outspoken about the outrage.

A male siskin certainly didn’t hold back when a chaffinch tried to sneak round the pole unobserved.

chaffinch and siskin

The victor on his perch.

siskin

After eating my soup, I rang up Sandy to see if he would like a walk as it looked as though the showers might hold off for a bit.

He was not in peak condition but thought that a walk might perk him up so we met at the corner of the Scholars’ Field and walked round the pheasant hatchery.

It was dry but evidence of the earlier snow was not hard to find.

monument in snow

I was keeping an eye out for moss and the wall at the Scholars’ Field held a good store, flowing over the coping stone on top of the wall and creeping downwards.

moss

I am reading a moss book which tells me that where you think that there might be just one sort of moss, there is probably at least one other sort as well.  That was true here.

P1060921

We walked up the river to the Duchess Bridge and passed this mossy tree, set at an alarming angle on the banking….

mossy tree

… so it was not a total surprise when we found that the slope and the wet and the recent windy weather had been too much for another tree perched on an equally steep bank further up river.

fallen tree

The going was slippery and wet underfoot so we had to pay attention to where we were putting our feet and as a result, pictures were few and far between.

When we came out of the shelter of the trees…..

snow Timpen

….a very eager and nipping wind made us grateful that we had chosen a well protected route.

We went up to Holmhead to see how the snowdrops were getting on, not really expecting to find any showing and were delighted to be proved wrong.

snowdrops Holmhead

They are not fully out yet but I would say that this is a week earlier than we would usually expect to see this much growth and that is in spite of a chilly and gloomy winter.

P1060935

I will come back in a week or two on a sunny day to see if I can do them justice.

I was still looking for mosses as we walked down the Lodge Walks and I enjoyed this two coloured display on a tree stump beside the road.

moss

I took a close up of the darker green variety and added a small clump of a different moss which was on the back of the stump.

moss

There was very little bird life along the river banks as we walked back to the town and what there was seemed to be as fed up with the cold wind as we were.

mallards

This is the correct practice for birds when the north wind doth blow.

We were just about to cross the suspension bridge by the church….

Suspension bridge and parish church

…when we had to stop and let an old man cross in the opposite direction.  It was Dropscone.  He had been checking on the progress of his wounded car and had taken the opportunity to extend his walk and drop a map of Malta off at Wauchope Cottage.

Sandy didn’t stop for a cup of tea but headed home, anxious to discover whether the walk had aided his state of health or not.  Time will tell.

I have put extra bird food out but it doesn’t seem to be pulling in visitors and this chaffinch, late on the day, was the only one I saw…

chaffinch

…and I think that it was only resting and not eating.

I felt better for the little bit of exercise.  I had lit a fire in the front room before I went out and I was very pleased to find it had heated up the room a lot so I spent a very relaxing couple of hours reading the newspapers and listening to Oscar Peterson tinkling away on the piano with his trio.

I am hoping that some time in a hot environment might help to clear my lungs a bit but once again, only time will tell.

Although it is cloudy now, looking at the weather forecast suggests that I might be able to get a look at the moon later tonight.  I live in hope though the chance of seeing it low in the sky will have gone.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch seen from above approaching the feeder.

goldfinches

 

 

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