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Posts Tagged ‘robin’

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who visited Denholm on a recent sunny day and took this picture of the Leyden memorial.  (If Denholm looks familiar to attentive blog readers, it is because I have been to two recorder playing days there.)

Denholm

Mrs Tootlepedal’s plans to get up early and do some gardening before breakfast were foiled by a frost which had left the ground rock hard.   By the time that I got up, the temperature was above freezing and it rose steadily through the morning until it reached 5 degrees where it stubbornly stuck for the rest of the day.

This wasn’t too bad in the early part of the morning when the sun was out but by the end of the day, when the sky was covered in thick cloud, it made for a fairly dismal welcome to spring.  A brisk and chilly wind didn’t help matters.

The birds didn’t think that it was a day for visiting and the seed level in the feeders hardly dropped at all.  This saves me money but starves me of photo opportunities and I didn’t take any kitchen window shots before leaving for a short run on the slow bike while the weather was at its best.

I stopped off at my favourite Wauchope cascade just to show how dry it has been recently (a most unusual state of affairs for us).  There was little more than a trickle going through the  narrows…

Wauchope cascade

…but it did give me a chance to admire the cruelly folded rocks in the river bank.  This gives an insight into the strong forces that shaped our seemingly gentle landscape.

Wauchope bent rocks

It also provided a quiet corner for this elegant eddy to form.

Wauchope cascade eddy

And I found myself standing on a rock covered with a combination of moss and lichen.

Wauchope cascade lichen

A couple of miles further on, I turned up the road to Cleuchfoot and stopped to take a picture of our gentle landscape.  It shows one of the flats or holms that have provided a place for farmers to live and work for centuries.

Cleuchfoot

A little further on, the man who farms the land stopped for a chat as he passed me on his quad bike and his passenger had to wait patiently while we discussed the ins and outs of the battle between our local landowner, who feels that there is more money to be made from trees on our hills than tenant farmers and the farmers and many  others who feel that the land should be kept for sheep who have been farmed on the hills and the men and women who have worked them for two hundred years and more.

farmer's dog

Everyone is agreed at the estate has not handled the matter at all well so there is considerable debate ongoing.

Because of the brisk and chilly wind, I skulked about in the valley bottom for the most part of my 20 mile pedal but I did make one short excursion into open country where an oyster catcher gave me a look.

oyster catcher in field

I also saw a curlew but it was too quick for me so it went unrecorded.

At the top of the hill, I could see that a recently replanted felled wood is looking good.

Kerr wood

These trees grow amazingly quickly which is why the estate likes them of course.

When I got back, I noticed that the first of the hellebore flowers was in evidence in our garden.

hellebore

And in spite of the cold, a couple of frogs were relaxing in the pool.

frogs

I did try to catch a bird or two in between making some soup for lunch but didn’t have much luck.  As I enjoy alliteration I shall point out that I made just a soupçon of soup in a saucepan and subsequently supped it.

After lunch, I finally got a bird…

robin

…and then a few others.  They tended to appear one or two at a time and were quite upset if a third bird appeared.

chaffinch and goldfinch

It was very gloomy by this time but I felt the call of a walk.  Mrs Tootlepedal ignored the cold and an occasional light drizzle while she toiled in the garden and I went out to stretch my legs.

I saw another oyster catcher at the Meeting of the Waters…

oyster catcher

…but birds were scarce, the light was rotten…

monument in mist

…and it was always threatening to rain so I didn’t spend much time looking for interesting things.  I saw some.

conifer

noble fir cone

lichens on tree

When I got home, I took steps to get detached from the power company which supplies electricity to the Archive Centre.  This is not as straightforward as it should be but as all my dealings with the company have been extremely tortuous, this came as no surprise.

I also took steps to get  my new bike purchased.  I have decided to spend our children’s’ inheritance on it.  I hope that they don’t read this post.  It won’t arrive in a hurry so I have all the pleasure of anticipation to enjoy meanwhile.

In the evening, I went to our Langholm community choir and enjoyed the singing.  This helped take a bit of the glumness out of the day.

One flying bird appeared so it is the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture, absolutely the last in my locker, is an Irish sheep which wondered what Dropscone was doing in Ireland.

irish sheep

We had a sub zero night but a sunny day and the temperature soon rose above zero although it didn’t make a serious effort to get much higher.

If you were sheltered and out in the sun, it wasn’t too bad a day but if you were exposed to the brisk north easterly wind, it was just as well to be thoroughly wrapped up as the sun was no protection form the bitter chill.

A robin shrugged off the early morning cold…

robin

…while a dunnock tried the ostrich method of keeping warm.

dunnock

As I spent the morning in the Welcome to Langholm office (not welcoming any visitors but doing some useful archiving work), the weather was a matter of indifference to me but I certainly didn’t dilly dally on the way home.

The snow had gone and so had most of the birds at the feeder and we had a very quiet day today with a small gang of greenfinches the most notable visitors over lunch.

greenfinch

I did think of going for a ride on the slow bike after lunch but the thought of pedalling home into the strong and biting wind made me choose to go for a walk with Sandy instead.  The innocent may think that there is little difference between a bike ride and a walk on a cold day but if you pedal at 10mph into a 15mph wind, you are turning it into a 25mph blast and that makes a cold wind even colder.  And for some reason, walking into a wind is not as soul destroying as cycling into one.

Anyway, Sandy and I went for a walk.

I looked at a couple of flowers in the garden as I went out…

winter aconite

crocus

…but it wasn’t warm enough to tempt the frogs to come out and play.

It was a blue sky day and almost all but the faintest of traces of the snow had gone.

view from Scott's knowe

We walked along the track to see how the Becks Wood had fared and found it had disappeared entirely.  Later in the walk we looked back from the other side of the valley and not a conifer had been left standing.

becks woodI was just saying to Sandy as we stood on the edge of the felled area and looked at the scene that it used to be a spot where you could find scarlet elf caps and at that moment, Sandy looked down and saw that one or two had survived the felling.

scarlet elf cap

Somehow this was very heartening.

We left the wood and walked down to the Wauchope road where an array of walls and fence posts played host to some good looking lichen…

lichen

…and some less charming varieties.

lichen

We struck up the lower slopes of Warbla to get the view of the felled wood and took advantage of the good weather to look at some other views as well.

Here is Sandy surveying the countryside…

sandy on warbla

…and here is the countryside that he was surveying.

view from warbla

I liked this arty shot with the view framed between two trees.

view from  warbla

As we took the track down to the Stubholm, we couldn’t help noticing some very active moss on the wall.

moss

I must have passed moss like this before without looking at it twice but now that I am more moss aware, I looked at it a lot.

moss

The sheds at the Stubholm looked cheerful enough in the sunshine and we were pleased to get out of the wind as we dropped back down into the town.

sheds at Stubholm

Mrs Tootlepedal was enjoying herself in the garden and the benefit of some outdoor work in the sunshine on reasonably dry ground stayed with her for the rest of the day.

I helped out with a little shredding of some pruned roses but I had to go in soon as there was preparation to be done for the monthly camera club meeting in the evening and my flute pupil Luke was also due.

He turned up with every evidence of having done some practice so we had a good session.

After he went, the phone rang.  It was my neighbour Liz making sure that I didn’t miss the striking effect of the setting sun on the slopes of Whita.  It was worth a look.

sunset on Whita

After tea, I went off to the Day Centre for the camera club meeting.  We had a better attendance this month and the members had brought in an interesting and varied selection of images for us to look at so that ended the day in a very satisfactory way.

The flying bird is one of the relatively few chaffinches that turned up at the feeders.

chaffinch

Sandy has posted a selection of pictures from our walk here.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew in Derby.  They had a spot of snow there.

Derby snow

We had a spot of snow too but not nearly so much as they did and this was the scene that welcomed us when we got up this morning.

snowy lawn

The chaffinches watched the continuing arrival of more snow rather morosely.

chaffinches and snowflake

And the daffodils and crocuses looked a bit oppressed.

daffs in snow

We went off to church where there was a rather diminished choir and came back in a mini blizzard but luckily the snow didn’t stick…

snowy lawn

…and the road surfaces must have been quite warm because in spite of the thermometer staying at a miserable 1 degree above freezing, the snow on the roads melted and we felt that it would be completely safe to drive to Carlisle after lunch for our other choir.

Over lunch, I kept and eye on the bird feeders.  The feeder  traffic was totally chaffinch.

Sometimes they all watched what was going on with interest…

chaffinches

…and sometimes, eating was  more attractive than watching squabbling…

chaffinches

…and sometimes there was so much going on that a bird simply couldn’t watch it all.

flying  chaffinch

In the snow below, a steady stream of visitors provided interest.

robin

Two old friends, a robin and a dunnock…

dunnock

…and two less frequent visitors, a wood pigeon…

pigeon

…and a collared dove.

collared dove

A blackbird kept everyone in order,  a teacher perhaps in a former life.

blackbird

The roads stayed clear and the trip to Carlisle was completed satisfactorily.  We had a substitute conductor today as Andrew had another choir’s concert to worry about.  Alison has taken us before and she is very good but as she thinks that we are bit better at picking things up quickly than we actually are it was a challenging session for someone who had not sung one of the pieces before and the other only once some years ago.

But it was all good fun.

Mrs Tootlepedal had prepared an evening meal in the slow cooker so we had a warm welcome home.

We have one more cold day in store and then things should warm up again.  Considering that in the south and west of the country roads were closed because of the snow, we seem to have got off lightly again.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.  It had to be as there were no others.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo from Manitoba.  From Manitoba but not in Manitoba as she has taken a break from endless winter to catch a ray or two in Antigua.  It looks like a good decision as more snow has arrived at home.

Mary Jo's holiday

We had a generally sunny, almost totally dry day here which was very welcome.  A nippy wind kept us from discarding many layers of outdoor clothing though.

I started the day by going to a warehouse on the banks of the Wauchope to collect some bags of potting compost for Mrs Tootlepedal and I admired one of the many little Wauchope cascades as I waited for  the compost treasure house to be opened.

Wauchope cascade

When  I got back to the garden, a song thrush was living up to its name by giving a recital from a branch of the walnut tree.

thrush

Down below a blackbird was engaged in a worm hunt.

blackbird

And in the pond, frogs were being shiny.

frog

Dropscone dropped in (with scones) for a cup of coffee and I got an update on a Scottish Golf meeting which he had attended where revolting members had gone against the wishes of the executive.  That is par for the course these days.

While we sipped and chatted, a robin flew in.

robin

After Dropscone left (to go and play golf), I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden only to be greeted by some rain.  Luckily, it didn’t last long and after this shock, the day behaved itself admirably.

All our neighbours were out in their gardens too and Mrs Tootlepedal took the opportunity to pass a surplus rhubarb plant across a fence to Irving and Libby who are establishing their new garden.

I wandered around counting bees….

bees on crocus

…and finding that there were a lot to count.  I was trying to catch them while they were still flying with variable success…

bees on crocus

…this one seems to be flying with one wing and resting with the other.

Still, it was very encouraging to see so many bees among the crocuses.

The frogs were providing a musical background for the bee hunt and I went to visit them too.

Some were getting together….

frogs

…and some were just thinking about it.

frog

After lunch, I put on some cycling clothes, went outside and tested the wind and then went back in and put another layer on. Then I got the slow bike out and went off for a gentle pedal with pictures in mind.

I didn’t go along the Wauchope road as I usually do but went up the Esk valley towards Bentpath.  This route is very up and down and luckily gives me plenty of excuses to stop for a photo as I go along.

It was a glorious day for being out and about but in spite of the sunshine, there were still traces of snow about….

breckonwrae

Just before I reached the village of Bentpath, I passed a hare which had been run over by a car and got a bit of a shock when there was a tremendous flapping of wings and crying and mewing as two buzzards rose up and flew above my head.  Usually buzzards just fly off quietly when anyone approaches but the reason for their agitation became clear when I saw this:

buzzard on road

I take it that is a young buzzard and the cause of its parent’s excitement.  I passed it by and went on for a good few yards before looking back, expecting to see the parents swoop down and go off with the youngster but nothing happened.

There was no sign of the other two birds and the buzzard on the road stayed stock still even when a car could be heard approaching.  I waved the car down and it slowed and passed within a few feet of the bird which didn’t move an inch.

I was considering my options when another car approached.  Once again, I waved it down and its driver summed up the situation very well.  He drove up to the buzzard, stopped and sounded his car horn gently.  At this, the buzzard flew off and normal service was resumed.

I pedalled on but not before admiring a tree, wall and gate composition on the other side of the road.

Benty gate

I crossed the bridge over the Esk at Bentpath…

Benty bridge

…but couldn’t get a good view of the bridge because of the scrub beside the river.  I couldn’t get a very good view of the church beside the bridge either because the powers that be have thought it best to put as many posts, wires and road signs in front of it as possible.

Westerkirk Church with poles

It would be nice if they could all be made to disappear but the camera never lies…

Westerkirk Church without poles

…or does it?

I pedalled on and just as I was wondering if they still kept alpacas at Georgefield, I got the answer in the middle of the road.

alpaca on road

As I didn’t want to chase it along the road, I was worried about not being able to get past the animal but the alpaca took the matter into its own hands and trotted past me into its own farmyard.

Having been delayed by a bird and and an animal, I was expecting to be waylaid by a fish later in the journey but they kept themselves to themselves and I managed to get home with no more alarums and excursions.

I recrossed the Esk by the Enzieholm bridge and headed back down the valley.  I got a better view of the Benty bridge…

Benty bridge

…and spotted a pair of oyster catchers beside the river nearby.

oyster catchers Benty
I have cycled over the bridge across the Boyken Burn at Old Hopsrig many times but never stopped to take its picture before.

Boyken Burn bridge

As usual, I had a look at the bridge parapet to see if there was any interesting lichen or moss there and was very surprised to find a tiny but perfectly formed tree growing in a gap between stones.

Boyken Burn bridge tree

The route I was taking has been used for many hundreds of years and I could see the site of a hill top iron age fort at Craig.

Iron age fort

When I got home, needless to say I found Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden.  She had planted out her primroses but hadn’t been able to put them all where she had planned because, rather unexpectedly, some winter aconites had poked their heads above the soil.

winter aconite and primrose

Still, that is welcome problem to have and she found a home for the primroses elsewhere.

By this time, even on a fine day, the light was beginning to fade and the temperature drop so we went in for a cup of tea and a slice of toast.

We are expecting a light frost tonight but we are keeping our fingers crossed that it is light enough to do no harm.  It is the price to pay for a bit of fine weather at this time of year.  (A quick look at our local weather station tells me that it is zero degrees C  as I write this.)

In spite of the fine weather, I didn’t manage to get a picture of a flying bird today so I have had to make do with this big bird scraping the roof tiles of our neighbour.

low flying plane

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who came across this frozen tableau in Regents Park yesterday.

Regent's Park frozen fountain 004

It must have been a good bit colder in London than it was here but my sister tells me that it was 9°C there today and all the snow has disappeared.

Our snow is creeping away more slowly….

snow

…..and the most we managed here was a measly 3°.

The slight thaw meant that it was possible to walk to the church choir in the morning wearing shoes and not boots and to drive to the Carlisle choir in the afternoon with confidence in the state of the roads.

Our church choir was neatly balanced with three sopranos, three altos, two tenors and two basses and our organist thought that this was quite enough for us to sing Mozart’s Ave Verum as an anthem.  He is ever optimistic but we managed pretty well which was a relief.

When we got back from church, I took a moment to look at the birds as it was too grey and miserable to go for a quick walk.

The birds were  a bit discouraged too and mostly stayed away but there were three male blackbirds about….

_DSC1858

…not fighting with each other and this  gave me the chance to take a few blackbird portraits.

My ability to differentiate between individual blackbirds is not great so these may all be pictures of the same bird.

blackbird

_DSC1857

blackbird

blackbird

I was not so successful in taking pictures of the chaffinches though…

chaffinches

…and just missed a great opportunity here.

The robin unsportingly stayed too far away from my lens…

robin

…but a lone goldfinch brightened things up…

goldfinch

…and at least one chaffinch turned up when I had the camera ready.

chaffinch

After lunch I went off to the Carlisle choir on my own as Mrs Tootlepedal had other things to do and was pleased not only to find that the main road was drivable but  also that our conductor and accompanist had managed to get down to Carlisle from Glasgow in spite of the railway line being blocked.  They had caught the replacement rail bus and were remarkably cheerful under the circumstances.

As all his Glasgow choirs have been cancelled for the last few days because of the snow, Andrew was as pleased to see us as we were pleased to see him and we had an excellent practice.  I sang the Ave Verum with this choir too but with about 70 singers in attendance, it was a different experience altogether.

The forecast is for warmer weather for the next ten days but in the absence of much in the way of sunshine and temperatures in single figures C, we are not getting too excited about spring yet.

The best flying bird of the day I could get was this….

_DSC1854original

…and you may rightly regard that as a pretty poor effort but I am not a purist and a few minutes work in the photo editor produced an image which I thought was worthy of the title of flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a very cool customer who turned up in my son Tony’s back garden yesterday.

Tony's snowman

Tony was busy again today.

tony's igloo

I notice that he got out of the igloo before he let anyone stand on it.

The snow was still here this morning in Langholm too.  The wind had sighed and moaned round the house all through the night but it hadn’t blown the snow away and we didn’t have much in the way of drifts which was a relief.

After a quiet morning, having coffee with our neighbour Liz and laying in a fresh supply of milk and potatoes, I went out to see if I could turn our snow laden hedges into castle walls….

hedge with snow

It wasn’t very successful.  To make it work at all, I would have to leave a layer of snow on top of the hedge under each cut and that seemed like more hard work than it was worth.

The birds were rather quiet today again with only a single goldfinch showing up all day…

goldfinch

…with no siskins or greenfinches at all.

This left the feeder to the chaffinches…

flying chaffinches

…and the ground below to robin and dunnock.

robin and dunnock

The chaffinches didn’t appreciate being left alone and showed a regrettable tendency to kick each other.  I liked the rather grand operatic feel of this little battle.

fighting chaffinches

After lunch, I had to go to a volunteers’ meeting at the Welcome to Langholm office and took a small diversion on my way home.

It was cold.

ice

In John Street, the natives were clearing ice off the road.

Big Dave

Where the cars had compacted the snow, it was so hard that Big Dave was using a pick axe to loosen it before shovelling it away.

For once it didn’t start snowing as soon as I went for a walk….

Langholm Bridge

….but the wind made it the coldest day of the present spell by far.

ice in Ewes

Because I didn’t have my big camera and lens with me, the sky was full of gulls circling above my head.

gulls

On the wall by the Sawmill Brig, a small outcrop of moss had broken through the snow…

moss in snow

..whether it had got some heat about it or whether it was just the added moisture that it retained, I couldn’t say.  Nearby, a bigger patch had thrown off the snow and was looking very happy.

P1070856

It was too cold to hang around snapping so I looked at the castle ruins…

Langholm Castle

…and kept walking.

The most outstanding feature of the walk was the number of icicles above my head as I walked through the town.

icicles

Two views of Henry Street.

P1070840

Oddly, only one side of the street had icicles.

There were one or two that I made sure I didn’t step under.

icicles

On a wall near our house, I saw this sheet of ice….

icicles

…and having seen a sheet of ice on Venetia’s blog describing a visit to Bedford NH, I took a closer look with my camera set to video record.  She had seen tadpoles under her ice and sure enough, there were tadpoles under this one too.

I was grateful to Venetia because if it hadn’t been for her blog, I would never have given this sheet a second look.  I thought that the tadpoles were fascinating.

It was rather a gloomy day with no break in the clouds and a chilly wind so I was glad to get back home and I didn’t go out again.

At least the cold weather means that I am getting some hymn singing practice in.

The flying bird of the day is a female chaffinch.  It is not the sharpest picture that I have ever taken but it is one of the most elegant.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s Irish holiday.  As well as an interesting wall, he found an interesting house.

irish house

After more snow overnight, the first task of the day was to clear the path along our drive and go to the shops for some milk.  The path was cleared but the milk hadn’t got through to the shop so we just have to hope that there will be some there tomorrow.

The path clearing had the unhappy effect of bringing on the snow again and it then snowed on and off for the rest of the day, leaving us with nine inches by the evening.

As there was a brisk wind blowing and the snow is light and fluffy, it was sometimes hard to tell whether we were seeing snow falling or just blowing past the window.  Either way, it wasn’t a good day for watching the birds as the kitchen window was often covered with snowflakes.

Dropscone and Sandy braved the snow to come for coffee and as Dropscone brought some of his excellent treacle scones with him, we were all greatly cheered up.

After coffee, I cleared the path again and spotted a robin on the feeder…

robin

…before making some soup for lunch.

There was a promise of occasional sunny spells in the afternoon so I was mentally prepared for a walk after lunch and when things lightened up, I put on my coat and shot out.

I sneaked across the unfinished dam bridge and saw that the dam itself was pretty well snowed up.

dam filled with snow

I had to run the gauntlet of some dangerous looking icicles on a gutter in Caroline Street…

icicles in caroline Street

…but after I passed, a resident was doing his best to knock them off with some well aimed snowballs.

There has not been a lot of driving about lately and you can see why.

snow covered car

Although the main roads are reasonably clear, the advice is not to drive unless it is absolutely necessary.  Because we get so little snow, it is hard to be prepared for it when it comes and also unreasonably expensive to get all the gear suitable for snow and ice which you might then use for perhaps only three days over two years.

Fifty years ago, lots of people, including us,  had chains for their car tyres because it snowed a lot more and cars were trickier to drive but I doubt if anyone still has them now.  Many of the problems on our roads come from the fact that so many businesses operate on a ‘just in time’ basis and in effect have mobile storage depots on motorways.  It only takes one sliding articulated lorry to block a road. Mind you, optimistic and inexperienced car drivers don’t help either.

It was reasonably clear when I started my walk….

Langholm bridge

…but by the time that I had crossed the bridge, far from the sun coming out, it had started to snow again.

Langholm bridge

I plodded on, making heavy weather of the deep snow but not tempted to to take a rest on this bench.

kilngreen bench

When I needed a breather, there was always something to look at.

kilngreen trees

It was a lot easier when I had some car tracks to walk in along the Lodge walks.

Lodge walks in snow

gate

When the snow stopped and the tops of the hills came into view, I was interested to see that the wind was so strong  that it looked as though the higher up the hill you went, the less snow there was.  I could see a hint of green on the summit of Timpen.

Timpen in snow

The trees were very neatly outlined.

snowy bare tree

The gas canisters were the only spot of colour on my walk but there were many good patterns.

snow shots

There is a lot of ice on the edges of the river but it doesn’t look as though it will be anywhere near cold enough for the whole river to ice up.

esk with ice

I certainly hope so.

I crossed the Duchess Bridge which looked quite handsome in the snow…

duchess bridge

…and this was more than could be said of the view from the middle of the bridge as it had started snowing heavily again as soon as I stepped onto it.

view from duchess bridge

As it was mostly buried under the snow, there had not been much in the way of lichens or moss to look at on my walk but the wall at the Scholars’ Field had small piece of iced moss on display.

moss

Once again, I was interested to see how different the moss looks from a distance and in close up.

When I got home, I cleared the snow from on top of and around our car which is parked up the road a bit during the bridge repair works.  As a kind passer by noted, this may have been a bit of a Sisyphean task and it started snowing again not long after I had finished.  I also cleared the path along our drive and that was soon covered up again.

snowy path

With a forecast of more snow showers tomorrow, a continual 25 mile per hour wind and the temperature at or about freezing all day,  I may have a busy drive clearing day in front of me.  Still, it keeps me occupied which must be a good thing.  And on the plus side, the snow is the easiest shovelling snow that I can ever remember meeting.

As the alert reader will have realised, we didn’t go to Edinburgh to see Matilda today, even though it was a Thursday.   Honestly, as superior newspaper columnists tend to ask on these occasions, what is wrong with us?  Two flakes of snow and the whole country shuts down.  Get a grip Britain!  But we are old and cautious these days.

The individual flying bird was not easily found in the whirling snow and poor light and strong winds make them unwilling to hover if they can avoid it so an ensemble piece will have to do.

busy feeder

 

 

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