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Posts Tagged ‘rook’

Today’s guest picture comes from cyclist and Lake District lover Paul. He sent me this picture to show that the sun doesn’t always shine on Buttermere.

The sun certainly shone here in Langholm today, and once again watering was needed in the garden.

Mrs Tootlepedal spotted strange goings on on one of the paths off the middle lawn. Liverworts were up to something.

A bit of research told me that these umbrellas are female flowers of the liverwort. They are very tiny and credit goes to Mrs Tootlepedal for spotting them.

I just had time to check that the decking oil on the new bench had dried out over night…

…before it was time to join the street coffee morning. We had a busy time as we were joined by various passers by (at a safe distance) as we sipped and chatted.

After coffee, Mrs Tootlepedal went in to do some business on the computer and I had a traditional garden wander.

The usual suspects were enjoying the sunshine….

…and a variegated hosta caught my eye.

The state of the rhododendrons depends on whether they were flowering before the frost came. The pink one has one flower in action for every two or three killed by the frost…

…while the later deep red one, is pretty well untouched.

The less said about the poor azaleas, plums and apples the better. And the walnut tree suffered badly with all the early leaves blackened. We are keeping our fingers crossed that enough late leaves arrive to keep it healthy. (Late news: Mrs Tootlepedal came in this evening saying that she might have seen one surviving plum.)

I was so tired by my wandering in the hot sun, that I sat on the newly oiled bench and admired the view of our shady front door for a while.

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted sunflowers on each side of the path. I look forward to photographing them in due course.

I went out to look at the poorly fuchsia against the back wall of the house but my eye was irresistibly drawn to those shocking poppies again.

Our neighbour Charlotte, who was nearby while tending the flowers with which she decorates a bicycle attached to our new bridge, suggested a that a shot of the centre of the flower would be good thing. I am always anxious to please.

After lunch, bacon, tomato and lettuce rolls again, we dealt with the fading fuchsia on the back wall, and nine tenths or more of the bush got the chop, leaving a few promising green shoots to carry on.

In spite of the hot sunshine, Mrs Tootlepedal was happy to go for a walk and we thought that a stroll up the road to the moor might be a good way to spend the afternoon. The thermometer by the house said that it was 66°F in the shade so we dressed appropriately, donned a hat and cap respectively, put a small bottle of water in my bag and set out hoping that we hadn’t bitten off more than we could chew.

We were happy to spot an oyster catcher with its child on a rock in the river…

…surrounded by oddly green water. The river is very low still.

We walked along the Lamb Hill until we came to the Newcastleton road and then headed uphill at a very steady rate, cheered by a gentle cooling breeze as we got higher up the hill.

We passed a group of men erecting large scaffolding structures at each side of the road where the power lines cross it. By the time that we passed them again on our way back down, they had finished the structures and pulled a safety net across the road.

I hope that I am in the right place at the right time when they come to renew the actual power lines themselves.

We took advantage of two handily placed benches beside the road to have sensible rests as we climbed the hill. I liked this view of sinuous walls from the first one.

Although it was a sunny day, it was also a bit hazy and the light wasn’t at all good for taking landscape pictures, being very flat indeed, so although there were good views from the second bench, I didn’t take pictures of my favourite subject, the Ewes Valley.

When we got to the White Yett, we went on a few yards over the summit so that we could look down into the Little Tarras Valley in the hope of seeing interesting birds.

Our hopes were dashed and all we saw was bog cotton waving in the gentle breeze.

At my suggestion, we followed one of the Langholm Walks routes for a few hundred yards up the line of a wall to the north of the road…

…making for a minor summit in the hope of good views along the ridge. We got an interesting and unusual view of the track from the White Yett up to the monument when we looked back…

…but the minor summit proved to be very minor and the only view we got was of the next minor summit just along the ridge.

Mrs Tootlepedal sat for a moment on a convenient tussock with her binoculars in hand in the hope of seeing interesting birds….

…while I looked in the other direction to see if there was a landscape to be seen in the haze.

There wasn’t a landscape but there was an interesting bird, probably a short eared owl, hunting over the rough ground. Sadly the light was too poor to let my camera get a good focus on the bird against a dull background, however hard I tried…

…but we got a fine flying display for a while before the bird disappeared over the edge of the hill and we started for home.

I did see a more static bird on the way down but it was hiding behind some long grass.

The light breeze kept blowing and the haze thickened as we went back down the hill with the result that it wasn’t nearly as hot as we had feared. All the same, a five mile walk with a bit of climbing on a warm day is still quite hard work so we were more than ready for a cup of tea when we got home.

The most surprising and beautiful thing that we encountered on the walk was this bank of wild flowers beside the path from the Lamb Hill down to the Drove Road.

The yellow and orange colours were provided by Welsh Poppies. The orange ones were very striking…

…and Mrs Tootlepedal pocketed a few seed heads as we went past.

The day seemed to have been too hot for the garden birds and the level of seed in the feeder had hardly gone down at all by the time that we got home but a rook did its best to lower the level later in the evening.

According to the forecast, we are going to have a week more of warm, dry and sunny weather so I watered the front lawn while I was preparing the evening meal. It looks as though this will be a regular task, very unusual for May.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

Footnote: While I have been writing this post, the lighting wizards have been lighting up the monument on the top of Whita Hill again. This is their version of clapping for the NHS. They are having fun.

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Today’s guest picture comes from a reader in Bucks Co., Pennsylvania. Spurred on by my biscuit making efforts, Lisa has produced her own Garibaldi biscuits which are very nicely presented.

It was a day of constant wind here today, often gusting at over 40mph. As a result, apart from going out for a very short street coffee morning, we had a quiet day indoors as there was definite danger of being blown over if you were not paying attention when you were in the garden.

To be truthful, I did spend a few moments in the garden after coffee seeing if I could get plants to stop waving about for long enough for me to get a picture. One or two obliged.

There were dancing feet to be seen on a Jacob’s Ladder….

…and a Veronica.

More flowers that survived the frost are showing which is a cheerful sight.

Old tulips are fading away gracefully while the Welsh poppies are doing their best to fill any gaps

A shy ranunculus has just come up. Its delicate colour is a challenge to my camera but the dull light this morning was helpful.

I couldn’t miss a second flower on the clematis at the front door. The front door variety may not have the huge number of flowers that the back door clematis has but each of its flowers packs a bit of a punch.

It didn’t take me long to get back inside out of the wind and I frittered away much of the rest of the morning reading newspapers, doing the crossword and looking at birds (and occasionally mentioning to Mrs Tootlepedal that there was a bit of a wind out there).

There were plenty of birds to watch. While the feeder was not very full, sparrows congregated on the bottom plate…

…and when I filled it, a siskin sensibly took the high road.

During the afternoon, a tentative beak appeared…

…which was followed by the rest of the bird…

…and a hearty snack ensued.

Now you know what a happy rook looks like

We did think about going for a walk after lunch but several punishing gusts of wind in quick succession, persuaded us that the chance of fun was strictly limited and we found more things to do indoors.

I put some accompaniments onto the computer so that I can play trios without breaking any isolating rules.

We have been cooking for ourselves since the lockdown began but following a suggestion from a friend, we applied to a local hotel for a hot meal to be delivered this evening, and bang on schedule delicious portions of fish and chips and vegetarian lasagna arrived from The Douglas, fully as tasty as they would have been if we were eating in their dining room.

However, this was a much more substantial amount of food than we have been used to eating, so afterwards I felt the need to ignore the elements and go for a walk to shake the meal down.

Luckily the wind had dropped a bit and the sun had come out and it was by no means a hardship to do a quick three bridges.

The church was looking good without the trees in front of it…

In spite of an inch of rain recorded by Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge over recent days, there was still not much water in the river but there were plenty of oyster catchers and a wagtail to be seen.

The nesting mother, the anxious father, and another pair further upstream The wagtail was wagging its tail.

I saw a goosander but as it had its head continuously under water and was trawling at speed, it didn’t offer a photo opportunity.

The brisk wind made things a bit chilly and I didn’t hang about too long as I went round the new path on the Castleholm and crossed the Jubilee Bridge…

…but as always, there were things to see along the way, like a thrush in the Clinthead Garden

It was very tame and hopped about until I had got my picture.

…and some neat planting there….

….trees and flowers on the Castleholm and Scholars’ Field…

…and the the heavily tree lined banks of the Esk as I crossed the bridge.

I was pleased to have taken some exercise, especially as the wind is due to continue for a day or two, so cycling is not on the menu until Monday at the earliest.

The flying bird of the day is one of the many sparrows about at the moment.

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Today’s guest picture comes from ever sunny East Wemyss, where our son Tony found a forest of stones on the beach and added his own effort (complete with flower on top).

Tony's tower

It was far from sunny here after a second night with rain and the hills were covered with mist when we got up.

There was a faint but persistent drizzle about and this put paid to the delights of the street coffee morning but it did let me get out for a quick look round the garden.

The sweet rocket looked unperturbed by the weather…

sweet rocket

…while other flowers had noticed the overnight rain.

four wet flowers

New geraniums are coming out….

geranium white

…and a few flowers on azaleas and rhododendrons have survived the frost with the Japanese Azalea coming out by far the best at the moment.

three azalea survivors

I went in to grapple with a technological problem and on my way past the front window, I admired a rook in the plum tree.

rook inplum tree

The technological problem concerned a little device for converting old cassette recordings  to digital formats.  My brother had kindly sent it to me, as he had no further use for it but it just wouldn’t work properly.  I did all those technological things one has learned to do over the years; using strong language, turning things on and off, uninstalling and reinstalling software, kicking furniture, plugging and unplugging wires, blaming the government, but nothing worked until I swapped the lead that my brother had sent with the device for one I use with my bike computer.  Then miraculously, all was well.

We had lunch.

The next problem, as my brother remarked, was listening to cassettes that I bought years and years ago and wondering why I had bought them.

After the tech problem had been solved, we checked on the weather.  The drizzle had almost stopped so Mrs Tootlepedal resolved to go and do some gardening and I embarked on a bicycle ride.

By the time that I left home, the drizzle had given up and it was quite windy, but it was not long before I was cycling on dry roads as the weather had obviously been better outside the town.

The lying down cows were lying flat out again but a couple of them spoiled my picture when I got to there by standing up before I could get my camera out.

sitting and standing cows

As you can see there were plenty of grey clouds about but I was cycling in pleasant sunshine…

three trees grainstonehead against clouds

…and I kept my fingers crossed that the sunshine would last.  If it had rained though, I was well equipped in a rainproof jacket, and in fact, I was far too hot when the sun was out and the wind was behind me.

I saw a fine display in the hedgerow of these alkanet flowers just after I passed those three trees at Grainstonehead…

blue wild flower woodhouselees

…and there were some more striking flowers at Canonbie when I had crossed the bridge there.

daisy canonbie

More and more of the Pyrenean Valerian is to be seen each time I got out and it was joined by docks and birds foot trefoil today.

three wild flowers canonbie

The sun went behind the clouds as I got near Langholm and one or two drops of rain added a little speed to my pedalling but I got home dry (and over hot).

Two nights of rain have left a measurable amount of water in the unscientific rain gauge..

unscientific rain gauge

…but Mrs Tootlepedal had welcomed the moist soil as she planted her sweet peas out while I was bicycling.

sweet peas planted out

I took a picture of one of the last of the tulips, perked up by the warmth after the rain…

last of the tulips

…and enjoyed the look of the lawn when the sun came out again…

lawn in evening sunshine

…noting that a little well placed shadow covers a multitude of sins.

The sun brightened up a fancy geum, just out today…

fancy geum

…and brought out the best of a second iris.

new iris

The plants hadn’t forgotten that it had been raining though.

drops on spirea

I went in and looked at the feeder as I went past on my way to a much needed shower.

A redpoll and a greenfinch provided a good contrast.

redpoll and greenfinch

A Zoom meeting with my brother and sister and an evening meal of pasta with a meat and tomato sauce rounded of a day which ended more cheerfully than it had begun.

We are promised a gloriously sunny day tomorrow, getting warmer and warmer as it goes on and then the temperature is going to drop on Thursday but not to frostiness again, thank goodness.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

Footnote:  patient readers may have noticed a slight similarity in the posts from the last two months and they would be right.  I have a routine; have breakfast, do the crossword, get up, have coffee, do a little gardening, have lunch, take some exercise, Zoom the family, have tea, do the blog, go to bed.  It is a simple life but the very routine helps to make the tedium of the lockdown bearable with not too much time left in the day to sit about and worry about the future.   The way things look at the moment, the patient reader can expect quite a lot more of the same.  I thank you for your patience which is commendable.  We are very lucky in having varied countryside available right on our doorstep.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He came across this very colourful field on one of his permitted walks.  He can’t say what it is that the farmer is growing.

andrew's red field

My day started with a Zoom visit to Australia. My sister Susan’s friend Stephen has contributed guest pictures to the blog and as she was scheduled to talk him, she thought that I ought to take this opportunity to visit him digitally too.  The technology is amazing and there seems to be no difference at all in talking to someone in Edinburgh or someone in Sydney.  My sister and I had a very enjoyable conversation with Stephen and his wife and I hope to get more guest pictures from him when he is able to get out and about freely again.

It was very cold here today and there had even been a little rain overnight.  A very brisk and cold wind was making an urgent case for a return to winter clothing and this was particularly annoying as it was the 89th birthday of our socially distanced street coffee morning participant Margaret.  We had hoped to give her a socially distant street birthday party.  In the end, it was a rather brief and huddled experience but we sang Happy Birthday and ate cake so we did our best.

All being well, we will have a really good street do for  Margaret’s ninetieth next year.

Although it wasn’t really a day for gardening, some gardening needed to be done.  Things needed watering as the overnight rain was pathetic, and things needed to be propped up and protected from the cold wind, and of course, things needed to be photographed.

I like the contrasts that Mrs Tootlepedal has between the softness of cow parsley and honesty and geums, and the brilliance of hostas and rhododendrons.

rhododendron, wild garden flowers, hosta

And I liked the prospect of lettuce and marmite sandwiches for lunch today and mashed potato in the future.

lettuce and potato

We didn’t stay out for too long and I was soon looking out of the window at the birds on the feeder.

There were contrasts there too, between small greenish birds having a nibble…

greenfinch and siskin

…and very big black birds eating us out of house and home..

rook on feeder

We went back out into the garden to check on a new bench.  It had been delivered with such expert social distancing that we didn’t even realise that it had arrived.

new bench

It will replace an old favourite which unfortunately has started to fall to pieces becuase people will insist on sitting on it.  As this one has been made long enough for Mrs Tootlepedal to stretch out and relax on it during those lazy, hazy days of summer still to come, we think that it might need another plank on the seat to stop her falling through the crack at the back.

While we were out, I noted the first flowers on a Sweet Rocket…

sweet rocket

…more euphorbia madness….

euphorbia

..and some lilac blossom.

lilac blossom

Not everything in the garden is full colour though.  There is always an element of greenness about too.

green garden

Then it was back inside for lunch and another look at the birds.

There was considerable goldfinch and greenfinch traffic…

goldfinches

…and one naughty goldfinch thought that it could hide behind the feeder pole and behave badly undetected.

goldfinches kicking

The forecast had been very gloomy and the morning matched the forecast, but by the afternoon, the sun was shining brightly enough to persuade Mrs Tootlepedal to go out for a walk, ignoring the still very chilly and brisk wind.  As it wasn’t an attractive day for bicycling, I was more than happy to go with her.

We stood on the town bridge and looked down. The rocks appeared under the clear water in the shadow of the bridge and the sun glinted on the ripples beyond giving this curious result.

reflection on bridge

We saw a gull, a small tortoiseshell butterfly and a thrush all enjoying their moment in the sun as we walked along.

gull, small tortoiseshell, thrush

We headed up the hill for the track along the top of the wood above the Lodge Walks and marvelled at the freshness of the colour…

track abive pathhead

…and the bluebells which were to be seen on every side.

bluebells near north lodge

I showed Mrs Tootlepedal the track above the North Lodge which I had followed for the first time a few weeks ago.  It ended at this beautiful tree.

bright tree

Going along the forestry road at the end of the track, we passed a lot of this lysimachia nemorum or yellow pimpernel.

lysimachia nemorum

I haven’t seen it anywhere else this year, but perhaps I haven’t been looking carefully enough.

There has been tree felling here, and as is often the case, the timber company has left one or two lone trees still standing.

tree above longfauld

Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a particularly strong violet and it made the blues of the bluebells and bugleweed look a bit pale in comparison.

bluebell, violet and ajuga

We dropped down through another patch of bluebells…

bluebell woods longfauld

…and joined the track back to the Castleholm, passing any number of lovely trees on the way.

trees on castleholm may

If we had stopped for every photo opportunity on our walk, we would never have got home in time for a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit or two.  (I had providentially made the biscuits during the morning.)

The walk was three and a half miles of pure springtime pleasure, and it was all the more enjoyable because we hadn’t expected the weather to let us get out for a walk at all, let alone one that was so sunny and relatively warm (when we were sheltered from the wind).

I had my second Zoom conversation of the day with my brother and sisters and then enjoyed an excellent evening meal prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal (I did the washing up).

Looking at the forecast, we are due for another near freezing morning tomorrow but there is still no proper rain in sight so it looks like more watering in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch, probably searching for someone to kick.

flying goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo in Manitoba.  She went for a little toot in her plane today, and as she flew south of Riding Mountain National Park, she saw these patterns from last year’s harvest. She said, “This is the kind of farmland that I think you’d have to be crazy, desperate, or both, to farm. You’d get dizzy driving around the sloughs.”

Mary Jo's farming picture

One day in the lockdown here is very much like another and the discerning and patient reader may have noticed a distinct similarity between one post and another recently.   There will be no change in that pattern today.

It was a day with little in the way of distinguishing features.  It was cold and windy when we got up and there was even a little annoying drizzle in the air,  annoying because it was undoubtedly wet, but also not nearly wet enough to do the garden any good at all.

The run of chilly mornings means that things are very much on hold so there was nothing new to photograph in the garden, with perhaps a slight increase in the number of flowers on the white rhododendron…

white rhododendron

…and the merest hint of a flower opening on an aquilegia.

aquilegia not coming out

But that was it.  (Sadly there were quite a few tulips to dead head.)

We did have the socially distanced street coffee morning where slices of farmhouse sultana cake were consumed without complaint, but it ended early with claims of frozen fingers.

Mrs Tootlepedal dug up a potentilla growing beside the dam behind the house.  It was past its best and I turned most of it into useful compost by putting it through the shredder.

It was still cold and both Mrs Tootlepedal and I had tasks to do indoors so the garden was left to fend for itself.

I did find time to look out of the window and was cheered up by the presence of a colourful redpoll doing some semi pro posing in the drizzle.

redpoll posing

In fact there was more than one redpoll, the first that I have seen of them for six weeks.

They were flying in all directions.

flying redpolls

They are tiny birds, very similar to siskins and not afraid to tell a siskin where to go.

redpoll shouting at siskin

We were visited by rooks too.

rook in garden

After lunch, things brightened up a bit and I went for a cycle ride.  The wind from the east was cold and occasionally gusty but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the outing.

Fresh leaves on trees lift spirits…

trees near ryehill

…and I was impressed to see this considerable growth on a tree that had been blown over.

fallen tree in leaf

I was on a well tried route through Canonbie and the relentlessly mowed verges didn’t hold much interest so I stopped at the little wood beside Hollows bridge…

hollows wood

…to see if the inhabitants were still there.

They were.

statues hollows 2

There is quite a little community of them.

statues hollows

Last time I came this way, I took a picture in bright sunlight which showed the leaves of silverweed near the bus stop well but didn’t do justice to the flowers.  Today’s light caught the flowers but took all the silver out  of the leaves.

silverweed flowers

The are a lot of bluebells dotted along the roadside and this patch beside the old road is what remains of a magnificent bluebell wood before the building of the new road changed things.

bluebells old A7

I incorrectly identified some Jack by the Hedge as Pyrenean Valerian recently so I was happy to see some real Pyrenean Valerian getting ready to come out beside the river near the end of the bike path today.

pyrenaean valerian

A little further on, I saw  this development on a young larch tree.  Cones in the making.

larch flowers

When I got back to Langholm, the weather was cheerful enough to encourage me to go another three miles north of the town where I found the Ewes valley once again with a mixture of sunshine and shadow.

ewes valley sun and shadow

I was blown back home by the kindly wind and finished my 26 miles in a better state of mind than I had been in when I had started.

As has become customary, I had a Zoom meeting with my brother and sisters and then I sat down to eat a tasty evening meal prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal.

It wasn’t an a exciting day but it wasn’t wasted as there was cake to eat, I got started on a process of changing one of my email addresses, and I packed up a camera to be sent away for repair.

Also our helpful corner shop included currants in our delivery so I am going to attempt a Garibaldi biscuit in a day or two.  Lockdown is increasing my limited repertoire.

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

flying greenfinch

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Today’s guest picture is a very painterly photograph of a nesting swan on a canal taken by my Welsh correspondent Keiron on his way to work today.

Keiron's swan

There was a theoretical chance of rain today but once again we had a sunny morning and the street socially distanced coffee group (fortified by date rolls)  was able to chat away while sitting in warm sunshine, caressed by light winds.

All through the morning, Mrs Tootlepedal busied herself with watering in the garden.  The soil is very dry.

I did a little compost sieving and aimless wandering.  Well, actually it wasn’t entirely aimless as I pointed my camera at a lot of things as I went by.

There is no shortage of tulips to look at, although I have been dead heading quite a lot for a few days now.

tulip sextet

I was particularly pleased to see that we have got three perennial wallflowers showing life.  These tend to go on flowering for months and provide a photographer with a subject when all else has faded.

perennial wallflower panel

Sometimes anticipation is as good as realisation…

icelandic poppy bud

…with plants bursting with potential…

allium bud

…and just waiting for another warm day.

rhododendron bud

However, there is not much to beat Mrs Tootlepdal’s geums when they are actually out.

geum in garden

The collared dove arrived back on the seed feeder and let me get very close before it flew off

collared dove panel

When I went in to make lunch (soup and bread and cheese again) a rook posed on the plum tree for me.

rook in plum tree

A greenfinch paused for a moment on Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree before lunch…

greenfinch in fake tree

…and another one made an awkward landing on the feeder after lunch, surprising a siskin.

greenfinch landind

Once again, the forecast was rather shifty about when and if it would rain and my afternoon planning was made more difficult by the arrival overhead of some seriously thick and ominous black clouds.

However, beyond the clouds, the skies were lighter so in the end, I got my shopping bike out and went for a bike ride.

I was hoping to leave the dark clouds behind me…

dark clouds over Langholm

…and even to see a little sun as I went round my usual Canonbie circuit.

spot of sunshine

In the event, the blackest clouds kept away but sun was hard to find as I went round and from time to time a few tentative drops of rain made me nervous but came to nothing.

Curious cows checked on my progress…

two cows under trees

…and garlic mustard and cow parsley brightened up the verges.

mustard garlic and cow parsley canonbie

I didn’t stop a lot because being on the slow bike makes the journey long enough as it is but the view from Hollows Bridge was worth a minute or two on the journey time…

esk at Hollows

…and the sight of some very cheerful silverweed flowers near the Hollows village stopped me again a hundred yards further on.

silver leaf

I liked this lonely grass nearby.

grass

The rain threatened on and off for almost the whole ride but only once was there enough to get the road even mildly wet so I was perfectly dry when I got back to Langholm. Just to annoy me, the sun came out as I crossed the River Esk.

sun over timpen from bridge

I got back in time for my daily Zoom conference with my brother and sisters.  I did take a picture of the four of them as they appeared on the screen of my phone but I will have to try again when they are not all making faces.

While I was waiting for our evening meal, there was a lot of activity at the feeder to keep me occupied.  You may think that it was raining when I took this picture of a chaffinch and a goldfinch discussing Brexit but it is just seed flying in every direction.

flying chaffinch and goldfinch

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked mince and tatties for our tea and that brought to an end a day that was remarkably like the 40 or so that have preceded it since our ‘lockdown’ started.

We have settled into a comfortable routine in the past month and are enjoying the sense of time on our hands.  We have excellent neighbours, no food shortages, easy communication with our children on a daily basis, a lovely garden in which to while away the time and quiet roads and paths round the town for cycling and walking.  We know that we are blessed and we are properly grateful for this.

An additional blessing was the arrival through the post today of a big box of Palestinian Medjoul dates, another surprise from our ever thoughtful daughter Annie.  As I now have the addresses of reliable providers of both fine cheeses and good dates, I am in a happy place as they say.  Some of Marjorie’s dates were very tasty in the date rolls.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

Footnote: If all goes well, I will pick up my road bike from the bike shop tomorrow.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone.  On one of his permitted walks, he found a friend.

deniis rabbit

As far as light for taking photographs went, it was a day of two halves with some good sunshine to start off.  This brought the best out of the tulips…

tulips and azaleas

…and got us quite excited about the coming of the age of azaleas.

In a break with tradition, the street coffee morning never got going as our neighbour Liz was out on a longer walk than she had intended and Mrs Tootlepedal was on a conference call regarding the proposed moorland buy out.  (There will be no living with her now that she has been on a conference call.)   I chatted with Margaret, the other participant for a while, and then we gave up.

As well as colour in the garden there are promising green shoots too.  The hostas are coming, the ferns are chatting and the alliums are getting ready to burst out.

three green garden things

I sieved some more compost.  I am reaping the benefit of trying to cut things up well before putting them in Bin A last year and doing my best to layer green and brown materials.  The present material in Bin C and D is the easiest to sieve that I have ever achieved.  (The dry spell helps too.)

I then scarified the front lawn and managed to take some pictures to record the results.

A run over the lawn with the electric scarifier left a lot of loose moss on the surface.  I raked it up into two heaps of a good size and Mrs Tootle[pedal took the moss away and made use of of it….

scarifying the front lawn

…leaving the lawn still looking rough.  I ran over it with the mower and collected another wheelbarrow load of moss which went in a bin.  The process left the lawn looking like this.

scarified lawn

(I mowed round in ever decreasing squares until I met myself coming back in the middle.)

There is still plenty of moss left in the lawn….to say the least.

I had time to appreciate the apple blossom…

apple blossom

…before going in for lunch and a chance to watch the birds at the feeder.

A rook was a surprise.

rook on bird feeder

…and two argumentative goldfinches were a delight.

super goldfinch

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal persuaded me to accompany her on a circular walk round Whita Hill.

This is Walk 10 of the Langholm Walks Project and the website says: It is on road and good tracks. Boots not needed in dry weather.  It adds: A long circular walk round Whita Hill. It is pleasant walking with a good variety of environments as you go round. At the far corner of the walk there is a real feeling of remoteness.

This is all true.

The only potential fly in the ointment was the appearance of some dark clouds in sky as we set off.

blossom and clouds esk

They held off as we walked up the track to Broomholmshiels and as I have walked this way a couple of time recently and put a lot of pictures in posts, I held off taking any pictures on this part of the walk….

…except this one.  The light was right.

yellow nettle

…oh, and this one too.

juniper

When we got to Broomholmshiels the clouds were covering more and more of the sky…

clouds over whita

…and by the time that we got to the bird hide, a few hundred yards up the road, the sun had gone for the day and it turned rather gloomy.

The larch trees at the bird hide have been felled and the hide looks rather lonely now with a forestry track where the glade used to be.

bird hide trees felled

However, the road down to the Tarras Water from the hide looks as inviting as ever and we continued our walk.

road from bird hide

We walked through a delightful wood on our way to the bridge over the river and having crossed over, we passed a small forest of horsetail and a boulder well covered with lichen…

birch horsetail lichen

…on our way up to Cronksbank.

As we went up the hill, we looked left over the Tarras Water to Rashiel and Whita…

view of rashiel and whita

…and straight ahead up the Little Tarras Water Valley…

little tarras valley from bottom

…before coming to the well sheltered farmhouse at Cronksbank itself.

cronksbank

We followed the track to Peterburn where we had a choice between crossing the Tarras Water again by a bridge or using the ford.

We chose the bridge…

perterburn bridge

…which was just as well, as the ford would have entailed us getting very wet shoes or taking  our shoes and socks off and paddling.  The water has not warmed up yet!

perterburn ford

Once across the water, we got to that remote corner of the walk….

view of the moor from middlemoss road

…and had to walk up this steady hill track to get to the road back to Langholm.

 

road from Middlemoss

We had an excuse to stop for a breather when we met the local farmer on his quad bike on his way to check on the lambs.  He was in a very cheerful mood as the recent spell of good weather has been perfect for his lambing season.

We were able to look back down the Little Tarras Water Valley towards Cronksbank as we walked along the road to the White Yett …

little tarras valley from top

…but the light was very poor by now and I couldn’t do the landscape justice.  Mrs Tootlepedal was hoping to see hen harriers in the sky on this section of our walk but although we saw several grouse and two curlews, we didn’t see any harriers.

We walked back down the hill enjoying trees, lambs and tiny bridges…

trees lambs and mini birdge

…and then turned across the hill to get to the top of the golf course and the Kirk Wynd.

A burst of white blossom among the gorse just before the gate was a pleasant surprise..

gorse and blossom

…but the Wynd itself has been so savagely cleared of growth of all sorts, that it is rather dull to walk down.

The steep slopes back into the town slowed us down as we find going down more troublesome than going up these days, but we finally made it to the suspension bridge where we were greeted by the welcome sight of swallows, both perching on the electric wires…swallows

..and flashing to and fro under the bridge as we crossed it.  I will have to come back with my bird camera to try to get a picture of them in better light.

This was a nine mile walk with a fair bit of up and down in it, the furthest we have walked for many years, so we were more than pleased to sit down to a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit or two when we got in.  We had a feeling of a job well done.

Between us, we had enough strength left to cook and eat an evening meal but we may well be a bit creaky tomorrow.  As it is due to rain at last, this may not matter too much.

The flying birds of the day are two goldfinches going this way and that.

two flying goldfinches

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