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Posts Tagged ‘silver pear’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He noticed a small water wheel which has been installed not far from his house.  It has a helpful explanatory diagram drawn on the side of its hut.  It is providing power for some lights on a bridge.

burst

Just how lucky the agricultural show was to get a fine day yesterday was made clear by the rain which greeted me as I got up today.  It kept raining as I went to church to sing in the choir.  It was the harvest festival service today so it would have been nice to have some better weather to go with it.

When I got home, the rain died down to a drizzle and in between drinking coffee and doing some desultory tidying up against the return of Mrs Tootlepedal, I went out into the garden to have a look around.

I always like to see how raindrops sit on flowers and leaves….

wet michaelmas daisy

…and I found that I was not the only one interested in the Michaelmas daisies.

wet michaelmas daisy with hoverfly

The astrantia was attractive too.

astrantia with insect

One of the fuchsias that Mrs Tootlepedal moved has finally decided that some flowers would be a good thing….

transplanted fuchsia

…but it looks as though they might be too late with some cold weather forecast later in the week.

An insect visiting Crown Princess Margareta seems to be a bit lost.

Princess margareta rose

The silver pear has got quite a lot of little pears on it this year.  They are about the size of a cherry and unfortunately they are hard and inedible.

silver pear

The nasturtiums are still bringing their own little bit of sunshine into the garden…

yellow nasturtium

…and the late flowering nerines are looking very cheerful too.

nerine close up

By the back gate, the old fuchsia continues to surprise after a couple of very poor years.

backgate fuchsia

I went back indoors and looking out of the kitchen window, I though that I saw a sparrow on the lawn but a second glance told me that it was something else, so I snatched a poor picture of it as it hopped away.   I wonder if it is a wheatear but I would welcome a suggestion from a knowledgeable reader as to what it might be.

unknown lawn bird

At the far end of the lawn, a thrush was having its head turned by a showy begonia.

thrush and begonia

After lunch, I drove to Carlisle to sing with the Carlisle Community Choir and on my way, I passed over the bridge at Longtown.  There were traffic lights in place but there was no restriction on the traffic going over the bridge and the damage which had caused it to be closed yesterday looks minor.  I hope that the repairs won’t be a major business.

We were very pleased to welcome back our regular conductor Ellen at the choir practice and we worked as hard as we could to keep her happy.

After the choir was over, I was even more pleased to drive to station and pick up Mrs Tootlepedal.  She arrived back from London on a very punctual train having had a very enjoyable week there with our daughter and new granddaughter.

After a gloomy week of miserable weather in her absence, it is very good to have a ray of metaphorical sunshine back in the house.

The flying bird of the day was just passing by during the rainy morning.

flying rook

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo’s visit to Vancouver  and shows that they have silly cars there as well as silly buildings.  By the time that you make a car this small, you would be better off on an electric bicycle.  I might get into such a car but I don’t think that I would ever be able to get out again.

vancouver car

Mrs Tootlepedal was already up and about this morning when I got up but she wasn’t feeling well enough to sing in the church choir so I went off on my own.  Once again we had a very small choir but there were some enjoyable hymns to sing so we did our best.

The forecast had hinted at rain by the time that church was over and there were a few drops but the day stayed largely dry.  I had to fill the feeders as the traffic had been heavy once again and as soon as they were filled, birds started to arrive.

goldfinch and siskin

The arrivals were almost all chaffinches, goldfinches and siskins but it is good to see a busy feeder even if there is not a great variety of different birds.

traffic stacking at feeder

The birds are working on a controlled stacking system copied from Heathrow airport.

My foot was very sore after yesterday’s cycling efforts which was a bit of a disappointment to me as the cycling itself had been very pain free.  As a result, I limited my walking to the garden and didn’t stay out long when I was there.

I prepared a  pot of mince for the slow of cooker and went out when I had finished.

I like this avenue of little daffodils and the sharp eyed will just be able to see the ground level telephone wire going across the grass at the far end.

row of daffs and fallen wire

Signs of things happening are all around.  I saw the first colour in a tulip of the year…

first tulip bud

…and a little cluster of buds on the silver pear.

silver pear buds

When I went back in to make some coffee, I had time to look at the busy feeder again. A siskin was giving a chaffinch a hard time for undue encroachment…

siskins ganging up on chaffinch

…and a female of the species showed that it was deadlier than the male by trampling on an unsuspecting  siskin in return.

stamping chaffinch on siskin

I switched between indoor and outdoor activities and went out to consider the grape hyacinths.  Mrs Tootlepedal is not going for a continuous river of blue this year but she has several promising pools developing.

pool of hyacinths

Back inside again, I saw a chaffinch trying to get organised for a landing…

wonky chaffunch

…and a goldfinch who had safely arrived using a mixed overhand and underhand grip.

secure goldfinch

On my next garden excursion, I walked across the road to talk to our neighbour Liz and in the course of a very interesting conversation about sore feet, I admired her mossy gatepost…

Liz's mossy gatepost

…and she directed my attention to some more moss a bit further along her wall.

Liz's mossy wall

As I went back inside, the sun came out and a goldfinch showed off the pattern on its wings.

flying goldfinch

I had time for one last excursion to the garden where I wondered what had leapt up and taken this chunk out of the trumpet of a daffodil and left the rest untouched….

eaten daffodil

…and was impressed by the growth in the tree peony in the back bed.

tree peony bud

As Mrs Tootlepedal was not feeling at her best, I left her watching Gardeners’ World on the telly and went off after lunch to do some shopping on my way to sing with our Carlisle choir.  As I not only remembered to write a shopping list but I also remembered to take it with me, the shopping was very satisfactory.

The choir was most enjoyable and we had a lot of good singing but as Ellen, our proper conductor,  wasn’t there for the second week running, we didn’t get quite as much done as we should have.  It is interesting to get different conductors and you can always learn something from a new approach but it doesn’t get the songs for our next concert practised as thoroughly as they would be if Ellen was in charge.

It was really good to drive home in broad daylight as the long winter months have finally come to an end.

The slow cooked mince turned out well and we had it with mashed potatoes and spinach for our tea.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Friday night orchestra, Alison, who recently visited Caerlaverock Castle with her granddaughter (and got served in the cafe).

caerlaverock castle Alison

I was mugged by the weather today.  It was generally cloudy but still very warm and with no wind about, it felt very airless and close.  I noticed that as I sat down to write this post in what should have been the cool of the evening, our local weather station was saying the the temperature was 70°F and was feeling like 78°F.  That summed up the day well.

I filled the feeder at breakfast time and watched the birds for a while.  There was a steady demand for seed.

flying sparrow

Later in the day, we were visited by a collared dove looking quite smart…

collared dove

…and a blue tit, looking decidedly scruffy.

blue tit

I did a little early watering after breakfast and also took a look at the flowers.

The Wren and Lilian Austin roses have been hanging in very delightful bunches this year…

rose Wren

…and it dawned on me that this is a by product of having had no rain.

rose Lilian Austin

Usually by now, any fragile heads would have been pummelled to the ground by our standard summer rain showers.

Some roses are always clumpy and Bobbie James is one of those.

rose Bobbie James

The Ginger Syllabub rose doesn’t look very ginger but it does have pretty pink fringes.

ginger syllabub

The poppies are thriving and were working in pairs today.

white and red poppies

pink poppies

I had to work hard to find a poppy which didn’t have a bee on it.

These tiny little white flowers don’t seem to mind the dry conditions…

little white flower

…but in Mrs Tootlepedal’s absence, I can’t tell your their name.

 

I put down the camera and the watering can and went off to sing with the church choir but as there were only six of us there (there were road closures in the town which made getting to church tricky), we didn’t add a lot to the service.

When I got home, I spent an hour pottering around the garden doing useful tasks and taking a couple of pictures.  I picked all the blackcurrants left on our bush but it only came to a very small pile.

The Martagon lilies have gone over but fortunately other lilies are available…

lily

…and the hostas are flowering furiously.

hosta flower

This burst of activity pretty well finished me for the day as I had to go in and sit in a darkened room.   Because the house has got pretty warm too, this was not as much help as it might have been.

I picked some beetroot and a lettuce and dug up a potato and had a very healthy home grown vegetarian lunch before collapsing and watching almost the whole of a Tour de France stage, falling asleep from time to time.

When it was over, I staggered out into the garden and did some more watering and mowed the middle lawn.

The growth of grass on the lawn was very variable but in places it had defied the dry weather and grown vigorously and in other places weeds were shooting up too so the lawn needed trimming just to stop it getting out of hand.

I was very interested to see this little burst of colour…

flowers in lawn

…in the middle of the lawn after I had mowed it.  Talk about lying low. I try not to use weedkiller on the lawn as it means that you always have to use the box while cutting and composting the mowings is a problem.

I checked on the Queen of Denmark and found that she is well….

rose Queen of Denmark

…and while I was passing the cotoneaster, I noticed a young blackbird lurking on a branch deep within the bush.

young blackbird

I was watering the carrots when I saw this handsome flower beside the carrot bed.  I wondered if it had arrived by chance…

french marigold

…but talking to Mrs Tootlepedal on the phone later in the evening, I learned that it is a French marigold and it was planted on purpose as it is supposed to deter the carrot root fly.

I found a silver pear on my little pear tree…

silver pear

…but I haven’t been visited by the Queen of  Spain’s daughter.

I took another wider view.  This is one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new beds this year, made by remodelling the lawn a bit.

P1120130

The bright red flowers that you can see are miniature nicotiana.

nicotiana

Our local council, instead of mending potholes, sometimes puts white lines round them.  I wonder if they got the idea from these flowers.

I picked some peas and beans and dug another potato as a gift for our neighbour Irving and then went in to have home made fish and chips (with beans) for my tea.  Irving rang up later to say that Libby and he had had some of the potatoes for their tea and found them very good.

With Mrs Tootlepedal away at the moment, we definitely have more veg than I can eat on my own so it was good to find an appreciative home for some of the surplus.

We are promised a cooler day or two before the temperatures rise again and there is some wild talk of a millimetre or two of rain later in the week.  It will be most welcome if it actually arrives.

I did find a genuine flying bird of the day today as a chaffinch squeezed between the feeder and the pole.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who strayed as far as Berkshire to take this picture on a sunny walk in Twyford a day or two ago.

Twyford, Berkshire

Our brief summer has gone and we are back to normal spring temperatures.  It felt a bit chilly as a result this morning but it was quite a fine day and there was even a brief glimpse of sunshine to light up Dropscone and Sandy who were doing a bit of bench testing after our morning coffee.

Dropscone and Sandy

They are both keen travellers and as Sandy has just come back from a holiday in the Canary Islands, he was complaining of feeling the chill as a result.

Needless to say we had some good scones with our coffee.

While I waited for them to arrive, I spent a little time staring out of the window in the effort to catch a flying bird.  Birds were scarce though and only goldfinches arrived in any numbers…

golfdfimch

…and they either spent their time deliberately turning their backs on me…

_DSC3857

…or nipping quickly into the feeder before i could catch them.

goldfinch

When Dropscone and Sandy had gone on their way,  I wandered about the garden.

I ignored the tulips today and spent a lot of time dead heading daffodils as the day of the daffodil is almost done.  There are some late comers to the feast…

daffodil

…and this is my daffodil of the day…

daffodil

…but most of them are gone now.

They will soon be replaced by these…

allium

…which are lining up to come into flower.

The silver pear is doing its best…

silver pear

…but although it is covered in flowers, they are so discreet that a casual passer by would hardly notice them.

A single clump of  apple blossom packs more punch than the whole pear tree.

apple blossom

I heard a lot of buzzing on the gooseberry bush and managed to take a striking but indeterminate shot of a visitor to the flowers on its way.

wasp

It looks like a wasp but I couldn’t get it to pose nicely for me.

wasp

It has been a regular visitor to the gooseberry so I hope that I will get a better look at it soon.

Things are going over….

hellebore

The hellebores have been great value this year

…and things are coming on

willow

The willow showing three stages of development on one twig.

Mrs Tootlepedal has three trilliums in the garden and although they are not quite showing up like the carpets of trilliums that appear in America, two of hers are looking quite healthy.

trillium

This is the best of them

I got the hover mower out and mowed the grass round the greenhouse.  Just to annoy me, it has been growing more quickly than the grass on the lawns.

I woke up very early this morning and was nearly deafened by the dawn chorus outside.  Some of the noisiest birds in the garden are the blackbirds and one has taken to sitting on the silver pear during the day and singing as loudly as possible.

blackbird

Mrs Tootlepedal has seen a mother blackbird feeding a youngster and I hope to be able to catch some blackbird family action with the camera.  There are plenty of blackbirds about…

blackbird

…but I haven’t seen a baby blackbird yet.

It started to rain after lunch but that didn’t affect us very much as we spent the afternoon going to Dumfries where Mrs Tootlepedal had an eye appointment.  The eye department is still in the old hospital which has recently been superseded by a brand new building elsewhere in town.  This has the wonderful effect of  letting us park without problem in the vast and largely unoccupied car park.

It made going to hospital a pleasure and we added to the jollity of the day by stopping off at a garden centre on the way home.  We met another Langholm couple there who had been visiting the new hospital.  They told us that parking there was a nightmare.  Land values in the UK are curious and it is an oddity that they can find millions to build a new  hospital but still can’t afford to acquire enough land for adequate car parks for the patients.

A little rain won’t come amiss in the garden after some hot dry days but we just hope it knows when to stop.  The forecast is ominously unsettled.

I couldn’t get a good flying goldfinch today and this rather pointillist effort was the best that I could manage but at least it is flying and it is a bird.

goldfinch

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Today’s guest picture is a cheery looking cottage with a rather mournful sign.  My friend Bruce visited it in the village of Eyam in the Derbyshire dales.

plague cottage

Our spell of grey, cold and windy weather continued today and as I woke up with a pain in my side which had come from who knows where and wouldn’t go away, I got progressively gloomier as the day went on.

I started with a stroll round the garden to find the daffodil of the day…

daffodil…and then tested out the ability of the Lumix to take a bird picture through the kitchen window…

goldfinch

…and followed that by brief walk with Patricia to stretch her legs before catching the train back to London.  We walked along the river between the suspension bridge and the town bridge and then walked back along the other side.

I had hoped for some bird life to show our visitor and was pleased to see a dipper flitting about the river.  It did so much flitting that I couldn’t get a picture of it and once again had to settle for a more obliging oyster catcher.

oyster catcher

After coffee, we went off to Carlisle where Patricia caught her London train and Mrs Tootlepedal, after a brief burst of shopping and a light lunch, caught the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.  Meanwhile, I visited the bike shop to organise the pedal specification for my new bike (still two weeks away) and then went home, passing the cathedral….

Carlisle cathedral

…and a splendid bank of municipal daffodils on my way back to the car.

carlisle daffs

Once home, I had time for a light lunch of soup and cheese before an old friend came round to get my help in booking flights to and from Barcelona.   As she has no access to a computer, she finds it impossible to do this for herself.   With a bit of a struggle, we managed to find suitable flights and booked them but as I don’t fly, it was all new and sometimes baffling to me.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that it all turns out right.

I gave my friend a lift home and then took a walk round the garden, looking both down…

scilla

…and up…

forsythia

..and managing to avoid the outstretched grasp of the silver pear in between.

silver pear

I did think about a cycle ride but my ribs were sore and the wind was biting so I went back indoors and watched the birds in a glum sort of way.

Once again, there were plenty to watch in spite of occasional (unsuccessful) fly throughs from the sparrowhawk.

busy feeder

The siskins were not here today but there were a lot of goldfinches so the seed still went down at a good speed…

busy feeder

…and the regular chaffinches were as anxious to make their feelings known as ever…

_DSC3173

…either behind the back or face to face.

_DSC3172

We have been getting visits from quite a few pigeons lately.  They always seem to have slightly pursed lips and a disapproving air about them.

pigeon

Having discarded thoughts of cycling, my gloomy mood kept me from walking too and I just slouched about the house looking mean, moody but far from magnificent for the rest of the afternoon.

In the evening, I picked up Susan and we drove to Carlisle where the healing properties of playing recorder music with a sympathetic group came to the fore and cheered me up enormously.

I was cheered even more by going to the station after finishing playing, to collect Mrs Tootlepedal from the Edinburgh train before coming back to Langholm

We are going to have a quiet day tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.

flying goldfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Gavin in America.  He says that he has never been so close to a deer before.

deer

Our spell of dry and windy weather continued today, with the wind even stronger than yesterday so that it felt decidedly chilly when the sun wasn’t out.

I started the day off with a visit to the Moorland Feeders with Mrs Tootlepedal.  My plan was to fill the feeders (the usual fillers are on holiday) and then leave Mrs Tootlepedal to scan the skies for raptors while I sat in the hide and took interesting bird pictures.

The plan would have worked well if the hide hadn’t already been filled to bursting with eager schoolchildren having holiday fun with the Moorland Project staff.  I filled the feeders and we drove back through the town and up onto the hill to see if we could see harriers and goats instead.

The hill looked and felt a little bleak as I stood at 1000ft on the county boundary in a whistling wind.

Langholm Moor

…but it was more cheerful when the sun came out as we drove back from the summit.

Langholm Moor

We did see a harrier and a buzzard but they were both too far away to photograph.  We also saw a small flock of goats quite far away on the open hill….

goats

…but they were not the group with kids that we had seen before.

There were two goats nearer the road further down towards the Tarras…

goats

…and I got a hard stare for my impertinence in taking pictures of them.

goats

There were a couple of serious bird watchers looking down the valley so we paused for a while to see if we could see what they were looking at but when we had realised that they weren’t seeing anything at the moment, we left them to it and went home, stopping for a look up the Ewes Valley on our way.

Ewes valley

We had a cup of coffee and then Mrs Tootlepedal settled down to some serious gardening while I pottered about doing some dead heading and taking pictures. Things come and go….

daffodils

The very orange trumpets mean that this bunch is nearing the end of its flower time and the flowers will soon be line for dead heading

tulip

A rather striking miniature tulip variety came out today

…and some things keep going.

silver pear

The silver pear is producing ever more blossom

The birds were as busy as ever.

Goldfinches and siskins

Goldfinches and siskins compete for space

redpoll and chaffinch

A redpoll goes to some length to discourage a chaffinch 

In spite of the warm afternoon sun, it was far too windy to contemplate a cycle ride and I got in touch with Sandy and arranged a walk.

While I waited for the appointed time to arrive, I looked at the magnolia…

magnolia

…and came face to face with a rather odd looking chaffinch perched on one of the box balls.

chaffinch

Sandy arrived and we went off to the Kilngreen and the Castleholm.  Our aim was to see wagtails, dippers and nuthatches and we saw them all but as, with the visit to the moor earlier in the day, the photo opportunities were very limited.

The wagtails and the dippers were generally moving too much or a bit too far away for good pictures.

wagtail and dipper

A grey wagtail, a pied wagtail and a pair of dippers

Growing things were easier to catch.

The gardens at Clinthead stayed very still for a portrait.  They are looking very fine at the moment.

linthead garden

And laurel flowers on the bridge let me get very close.

laurel

Trees are looking more springlike by the day…

spring 2017

linthead garden

…and there was even a small clump of bluebells in the wood beside the Lodge Walks.

bluebell

We stopped to have a good look at the nuthatches at the Jubilee bridge but in spite of hearing a lot of rather strident calling going on, we didn’t see much at first.  One appeared for a moment but the reason for all the noise became apparent when we finally saw two nuthatches on two trees shouting at each other  from a range of about five yards.  The shouting got louder and finally three nuthatches whizzed past us as they chased each other round the tree at high speed.  One broke off and sat for moment on a twig near us…

nuthatch

…in a highly indignant state.  I just had time to click the shutter once before it rushed off up a tree where it was able to express some even higher dudgeon.

All this activity was great to watch and to listen to but it didn’t give us much opportunity for taking pictures as the combatants were mostly high up among the branches.

nuthatches

It is not clear what was going on.  Was it two couples both wanting the same nest site or was it a competition between two males for a single female?  We definitely saw three nuthatches at the same time but there might well have been another judging from all the noise.  Another visit will be needed to see how it turns out.

There are days when I only see three interesting things and get good pictures of them all and there are days like today when I saw a mass of interesting wildlife and didn’t get one very satisfactory picture.  Still, it was fun trying.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

goldfinch

 

 

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Todays’ guest picture shows the Monteath Mausoleum which overlooks the Lilliardsedge Golf Course where Dropscone was playing at the official opening of the Borders Golf Association season on Sunday.

Monteath Mausoleum

It was another fine day in Langholm but slightly marred by a persistent and chilly wind which made me glad that I had an excuse not to go cycling in the morning.  I was due to spend a couple of hours in the Welcome to Langholm centre so first I pottered around the garden in the sunshine….

lamium

…where the lamium, after a false start earlier in the year, has got going for real.

It lurks beneath our little silver pear tree which is just starting to blossom.

silver pear

The ‘river of blue’ has not quite swept through the garden with as much force as Mrs Tootlepedal would have liked but it is very pretty in places…

grape hyacinths

…and comes in two shades of blue.

I was pleased to find that all the moss on the middle lawn was of some use to someone.

lawn moss

It had been extensively harvested for nesting material by birds before we got up.

I went off to the tourist office armed with a laptop computer and a week of the newspaper index to enter into the Archive Group database and the combination of a steady trickle of visitors and the archive work kept me fully occupied for the two hours so I hardly minded people coming in and saying what a lovely day it was outside, hardly at all.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was at work in the garden, having had a busy morning catching up with business herself.

I noticed that a new fritillary had come out but it needed a helping hand to show its full colour to the world.

fritillary

A fancy tulip needed no help at all.

tulip

My favourite though was the more modest pulsatilla nearby.

pulsatilla

It packs a lot into a small flower head

However, I stopped watching Mrs Tootlepedal gardening and went composting.  I set about finishing turning the contents of Bin A into Bin B.  When that was done, old Bin A made way for the sparkling new Bin A and with the help of Mrs Tootlepedal it was made level and built up.  Compost City is now complete.

 compost city

The beauty of the system is that Bins A and B are adaptable to the needs of the composter.  At present, as it is in the process of getting filled up with new material, Bin A is kept low to make putting the material as easy as possible.  As it fills up, the extra sections from Bin B can moved to Bin A.  The compost in Bin B will have reduced in volume considerably and the bin can then be lowered layer by layer when the time has come to turn it into Bin C.    The nameless plastic bin on the left can be used for anything that we don’t want to put in the main compost and can be left untouched for as long as is necessary.

I went off to look at the Euphorbias which grow more fantastic every day.

euphorbia

This one is like some crazy hat worn by a fashionable lady on Ladies’ Day at the races.

euphorbia

And this one has stuck all its tongues out

It is hard to imagine the small gains that have led the process of natural selection to come up with these elaborate designs.

Then I went in and had a toasted cheese sandwich for a late lunch.

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to buy a hedge trimmer.  We have been impressed by the new Li-ion batteries so we laid out good money to get a hedge trimmer with one.   On our way there, I went into the bird food place and bought another big bag of birdseed and two new feeders.  On our way back, we went into a garden centre and Mrs Tootlepedal bought a Spirea so we both came home feeling pretty cheerful.

Unlike yesterday, it was a really clear day today and from the garden centre car park, I could see the northern fells very clearly.

Northern Fells

It would have been good to be out among the hills but you can’t do everything.

I tested the bird feeders on the birds when we got back.  The old ones had got rather tatty and battered and have now gone in the dustbin so I hoped that our garden visitors would appreciate some better eating arrangements.

A chaffinch gave one a very wary look…

chaffinch new feeder

…but soon both feeders were being fully used.

goldfinches and a chaffinch

goldfinches

A chaffinch gave a slouching goldfinch a lesson in how to sit up straight at the dinner table.

goldfinches and chaffinch

In the absence of siskins, the goldfinches were the biggest users and approached the new feeders with verve.

goldfinches

Though some waited calmly among the plum blossom.

goldfinch

While it was not the most active day that I have ever spent, it was enjoyable and fruitful and it was rounded off by a very good plate of rhubarb crumble and ice cream. Mrs Tootlepedal had forced some rhubarb under a bucket as an experiment and used the resulting crop in her recipe so perhaps this was why the dish tasted so good.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches giving the new feeders a hard stare.

goldfinch

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