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Posts Tagged ‘siskin’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who has returned from Spain and found this fine windmill at Lytham in Lancashire.

windmill at Lytham

A spell of good weather has crept up on us surreptitiously.  It has gone gradually from being cold and grey to generally warm and fine.  It has been raining in the night but by day, the sun has developed a habit of coming out and the wind has lost some of its usual fierceness so we are finding ourselves in the unusual condition of having nothing to complain about.  It is most annoying.

Being Sunday, it was a day of singing rather than cycling or gardening but I found a moment or two to walk round the garden and see what was going on.

Before church I checked on the progress of the alliums…still a bit slow.

allium

There are plenty of buds but precious few petals.

In one of the new beds in the vegetable garden, beans are looking healthy.

beans

And near the bird feeders, the first wallflowers are beginning to show.

wallflower

After church and before lunch, I had another look.

Mrs Tootlepedal has planted a perennial wallflower this year which is looking good…

perennial wallflower

…but a closer look showed that some evil leaf nibbler has been hard at work on it.  Hmm.

Nearby, the first rhododendron buds are giving promise of a great show to come soon.

rhododendron

They are a contrast to the restrained white dicentra.

dicentra

I went to check on the pond and saw these bright flowers along the edge.  Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that they are poached egg plants (Limnanthes douglasii for their Sunday name) but the white of the egg is not very much in evidence yet.

poached egg flower

In the pond itself, a frog was banging its head against the wall.  It had possibly been considering Brexit.

frog

I made some potato soup for lunch and there was time for a last visit  to the garden before going off to Carlisle for our afternoon choir.

We did some bench testing but I was tempted into chasing after a white butterfly which flitted from flower to flower so briskly that this was the best that I could do.

butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal eyed some tulips in the bed opposite the bench with some satisfaction…

tulips

….and resolved to buy a few more for next year.  A sensible decision in my view.

We had a good session with a substitute conductor with the Carlisle Community choir.  The drive down through the fresh green leaves of spring was worth the journey alone but the singing was enjoyable too.

During the day the blackbird male was assiduous in attending to the needs of his two offspring. ..

blackbirds

…although, as usual, they never seem very cheerful about things.

A keen eyed jackdaw visited the feeder to sample the fat balls…

jackdaw

…and left enough for a sparrow to enjoy later on.

sparrow

On the seed feeder, goldfinches sparred…

goldfinches

…siskins loomed up…

_DSC4018

…and a pair of redpolls made a determined effort to dislodge some siskins.

siskins and redpolls

We had a vague plan for making the best of a sunny evening as we drove back from the choir but once we had got settled into the kitchen over a cup of tea on our return, the rest of the day slipped away before we could rouse ourselves to action.

We seem to have been quite busy lately and as neither of us sleep as well as we would like, we were a bit tired and the sitting room sofa held a lot of charm.

I am hoping to get the new bike out again tomorrow if the good weather holds.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

goldfinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows an old bridge with more arches than water.  It came from my brother Andrew.  He tells me that it is the Segovia bridge in Madrid, over the river Manzanares. Completed in 1584, it is the oldest bridge in the city – the architect was ‎Juan de Herrera

bridge

The over night rain had stopped by the morning and I was able to get out for a standard twenty mile pedal down to Canonbie and back.  I hope that this will be the last on my slow bike for some time.

I wasn’t going to stop but my legs had other ideas so you can thank them for this view of bluebells in a roadside wood…

bluebells

…and the first look at some wild geums and a marigold which was playing host to a lot of insects.

geum and marigold

I had a choice between a chilly early start and a warmer windier later one and chose the windier option which resulted in a very slow bike ride indeed.  Still, I was pleased to get again as it meant that my hand is not suffering because of cycling.  I don’t know what set it off last week but I hope that it doesn’t do it again.

When I got home, I found that our friends Bob and Nancy were helping to reduce Mrs Tootlepedal’s manure mountain by taking some of it away to their allotment.  That is what friends are for.

I went upstairs and looked out of the window.

front lawn may

The daffodils have almost disappeared and we are relying on tulips for colour until the azaleas and alliums come out.

middle lawn may

I took this picture of the veg garden before cycling.  It is looking well organised.

veg garden may

More is getting planted out in it every day.

The tulips are holding up well…

tulips

…though the very earliest to come out are now over.

Other things are coming along nicely.

lilac and solomons seal

It is nearly lilac blossom time.

Some flowers are so small that the camera finds it hard to pick them out.  This is berberis and rosemary.

small flowers

There was plenty of evidence of yesterday’s rain.

P1090843

I had a few moments to watch the birds.  This sunny moment was before breakfast.

GOLDFINCHES

After my cycling, siskins arrived in force.

flying siskin

busy feeder

I had to refill the feeder before we went to Edinburgh.

After lunch, we set off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.  It rained on us as we drove across but the sun shone for our train journey and our stay in the city.

Matilda was in good form and came out to play in the garden.  Alistair had mowed the pocket handkerchief sized lawn just as we arrived and Mrs Tootlepedal took the opportunity to smarten up the edges while I played with Matilda and her mother Clare and snipped away at protruding meadow grasses with some shears.  Both the gardening and the playing were most enjoyable in the warm sunshine and we looked back down on the lawn as we went in for tea with some satisfaction.

Al's lawn

Apart from Matilda being offended when I remarked that she was a small person  (“I am not small.  I am four!”), the visit went well and Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked back to Waverley Station in beautiful early evening sunshine.

Arthurs seat

I hadn’t noticed before that the architect of the Scottish parliament building had intentionally or unintentionally echoed the line of the Salisbury Crags with his roof.

salisbury crag and parliament

Mrs Tootlepedal’s wildlife detector was working well and she spotted this rabbit in the gardens beside the road.

edinburgh rabbit

I like the way that this old churchyard has survived in a valuable piece of real estate…

Edinburgh graveyard

…but as in all the cities we visit, the cranes were very busy.  These ones were a few yards up the road.

Edinburgh cranes

Our journey home was smooth and uneventful and as a mark of the passing of the months, we got home in the remains of daylight for the first time this year.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

 

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Our friend Gavin must have been in Yorkshire today as he sent me this shot of the breakaway in the Tour de Yorkshire going through Leyburn for my guest picture.

tour de yorkshire

The promised better weather arrived today but it took its time and didn’t really arrive until the afternoon.

As a result, I cycled along the road to the producers’ market in just a hint of drizzle.  Still, the purchase of fish, cheese and good meat cheered me up.  The trouble with buying seasonal local food though is that it is seasonal and local so there was no honey or venison at the moment.  It makes the anticipation for their return to the market all the keener.

Mrs Tootlepedal wasn’t letting a little dull weather spoil her gardening and spent almost all of the day hard at work.  I helped where I could and took time out to mow the front lawn and take a few pictures.

Mrs Tootlepedal said today that she sometimes wishes that she could freeze garden time at this time of year because she loves the colourful state of things so much.

I took a  few pictures to try to capture some of that feeling.

Who could resist this?

tulips and daffs

Mind you if the colour was like this all the time, maybe we wouldn’t appreciate it as much as we do when it comes after a long, cold, grey six months.

The tulips are in full swing.

tulips

In all shapes and colours….

tulips

…and designs.

_DSC3809

And some have friends too.

fly on tulip

We have dead headed daffodils by the bucket full but still plenty survive…

daffs

…to take their place as daffodil of the day.

daff

There are other colours, even though they are not as prominent as the tulips and daffs.

pulsatillasilver pearviolet

And I was pleased to see bees busy all over the garden, although the fruit pollination is what I like to see best.

bees in garden

While I was looking at flowers, creatures big and small intruded into the frame.

The small were very small.

insects on flowers

And the big came in the form of a blackbird which flew onto a garden seat a few feet away from me, gave me a very hard stare and then did its keep fit routine…

blackbird

…breaking off to give me some more hard stares from time to time.

And in between, a lone butterfly appeared.

comma butterfly

I think that this is a comma, a rare visitor for us.

In the afternoon, we were visited by Mike with his daughter Liz and her husband and daughter.  Liz is a professional gardener and had come to look at a sick shrub to suggest a course of action.  Targeted pruning was suggested and Mrs Tootlepedal will put this into action.

The expert party went on to look at a gift which Mrs Tootlepedal has recently received.  They considered what should be done with it…

bamboozled

….but I am sorry to say that they were bamboozled.

In between times. the feeder was busy with siskins, goldfinches, chaffinches and redpolls…

redpoll and siskinsredpoll and chaffinchgoldfinches

I had to refill it.

Mrs Tootlepedal reported that she had been watched by a robin while she worked which is good news because we haven’t seen one around for several weeks.

When we needed a rest, we watched bits of another good stage of the Tour de Yorkshire bike race on the telly.   I didn’t envy the riders at all as they ground up the 1 in 4 slope at Sutton Bank.  Even these superb athletes had to go at a very sedate pace to get up such a hill.   I would have needed a lift in a car!

In the evening we went to the Buccleuch Centre to listen to a jazz trio led by a very good lady singer who has lived locally for the last few years and with the piano played by our Langholm Sings accompanist, Nick.  He turned out to be a very accomplished jazz player with a great sense of rhythm and good invention and as the singer and bassist were very good too, it was just my cup of tea and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

In all the gardening, I didn’t have time to get a solo flying bird of the day so once again it is a pair, this time seen from behind.

siskin and chaffinch flying

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother’s Spanish tour.  I was excited when I saw compost in his email header but it turned out to be Santiago De Compostela and not interesting garden products. Santiago De Compostela looks quite interesting though.

Santiago de Compostela

We had another grey morning after some overnight rain and once again a keen wind made it feel pretty cool.

My morning was greatly brightened up by the arrival of Dropscone, bearing treacle scones and reports of his recent holiday in Majorca. As the temperature there had been about 24°C, he felt that he had made a good choice of destinations.

After he left, I went out into the garden to see what Mrs Tootlepedal was up to.  Wisely, considering the chilly breeze, she was working in the greenhouse and I was impressed by how well her seedlings are coming on in the indoor warmth.

greenhouse seedlings

My hand is a lot better so I felt able to get the push mower out and give the middle lawn a cut.  After that I needed some refreshment so I went in for lunch and a look at the birds.

The siskins were back today and eating as if there were no tomorrow.

siskins

I had to fill the feeder three times.

There was some more regrettable siskin behaviour though.

siskin attacking goldfinch

After lunch, I should have been going to Carlisle to pick up my new bike but the bike shop got in touch to say that some parts hadn’t arrived yet and the pick up was to be delayed until sometime next week.  I was  very disappointed but we watched the start of the men’s race in the Tour of Yorkshire on the telly instead…

….and then went back out into the garden.

Some plants were in the pink.

hellebore

And Mrs Tootlepedal was very pleased with this purchase of these primulas as they came from the bargain tray at the garden centre .  Although they are  basically for next year, they are adding a good dash of colour in the short term.

primula

I was very pleased to see bees buzzing around among the gooseberry flowers.

bee on gooseberry

They were still busy there when I checked again in the early evening.

In the absence of my new bike, I contemplated a ride on the slow bike but as I think that riding the slow bike with its straight handlebars may have contributed to my sore hand, I thought that I would wait until my hand was completely cured before going out on it again and went for a walk instead.

I went to see if it was possibly to walk through the newly felled Becks Wood, a favourite walk before the loggers got to work.

On my way, I passed a dead nettle…

dead nettle

…a rapidly maturing lamb…

lamb

…any amount of dog’s mercury and sprouting leaves…

dog's mercury and new leaf

…and two sheep.

sheep

There wasn’t a tree left standing in the wood when I got to it and all the felled timber had been removed. More in hope than in expectation, I followed the old path and found that it was easy to get down to the bridge across the Becks Burn…

Becks bridge

… looking a little forlorn in the open air, devoid of mystery now the trees beside it have gone.

The path up the other side was in good condition and I could soon look back at the way that I had come..

Becks wood

…and be thankful that the path through the woods has been reinstated and exists again, even if the woods don’t.  The area will soon be replanted and many new plants will grow now that there is light and air about so I am not sad about the change.  It makes life interesting.

Having crossed the Becks Burn, I made my way down the road and then crossed the Wauchope Water by the Auld Stane Brig…

auld stane bridge

…and climbed a short way up Warbla on the other side of the valley so that I could look back at the felled wood.

Becks wood from Warbla

They have made a thorough job of the felling and taking the timber away.

The day was getting warmer but the taller hills were still shrouded in low clouds…

Castle hill from Warbla

…so there was not much in the way of views.

There was plenty of other interest though as I walked back home past ash trees laden with male flowers…

ash tree flowers

…primroses peeping out of a  wall and rabbits trying hard not to be noticed…

primrose and rabbit

…and hints of this and that.

garlic, bluebell and fern

The woods are covered in wild garlic and bluebells just waiting for a bit of heat to burst into action.

This weekend has a very good forecast so perhaps by Monday, the promise will be fulfilled.

The Beechy Plains are looking beechier by the day…

Beechy Plain

…and one or two wild garlic plants have tried their best.

garlic and fly

That fly gets about.

I got home in time to watch the last few kilometres of the Tour of Yorkshire.  It had an excellent finish.

After tea, the sun came out and we went back into the garden again to make the best use of the day.  I zipped round the drying green with the light mower and felt quite positive about my hand.

Unfortunately my Friday night orchestra was otherwise engaged but Mike, her husband came by himself so we enjoyed a glass of beer and conversation with him with no musical accompaniment.

The flying bird of the day is two sparring goldfinches.

goldfinches quarrelling

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to the park in Madrid.  This was his favourite fountain.

madrid fountain

After some heavy rain overnight, we had a generally pleasant day today, often sunny but still with a brisk “feels like” wind to keep our coats firmly buttoned up for the morning and most of the afternoon too.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day doing some early gardening and then going to the dentist for the final bit of her treatment.  When she had recovered from that, she went back out into the garden and planted the rest of her potatoes.  The strong winds may have kept us cold but at least they have been drying out the soil.

I had a very quiet morning, being firmly resolved not to make my hand any worse and to try to make it better.  To this end, I acquired a packet of frozen peas and used that as a cold compress in between some self administered massage and bending and stretching the thumb.  And of course I put plenty of turmeric into the soup that I made for lunch.

I walked round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal after breakfast.

The pond repairs are holding up well and the tadpoles are grateful as it gives them plenty of swimming room.  A lot have survived the cold spring.

tadpoles in pond

If you look closely, you can see almost two dozen in this small area.

The tulips are flourishing, though the wind is damaging some almost as soon as they are out and the grape hyacinths are looking good.

tulips and muscari

At the back of the house, our neighbour Kenny has an exciting looking plant developing.

damside plant

In general though, I did very little before lunch and I felt the benefit as the swelling in my hand went down noticeably.  I did find a moment to watch the birds with the big camera on a tripod.

A regular stream came flying in…

flying birds

…and there were a good few redpolls among them and on one occasion at least, they monopolised the perches.

redpoll

One posed for a portrait.

redpoll

I would have liked to go for a pedal on the slow bike after lunch to get my May mileage under way but as it is quite possible that doing several hundred miles on a bike with straight handlebars had caused my arthritis to flare up in the first place, I sensibly shelved this plan and went for a gentle walk instead.

My route took me through the town and up the Kirk Wynd to the top of the golf course and out onto the hill.

There was plenty of new growth to catch my eye as I went up the hill…

Kirk Wynd

…but when I got out onto the hillside, one plant trumped all the rest.

It was that striking member of the pea family, gorse, a.k.a. furze or whin.

gorse

It wasn’t hard to spot.

P1090558

And framed many of the views.

Ewes valley with gorse

I walked through the gorse and enjoyed a grand view up the Ewes Valley….

ewes valley

I walked on as far as the road to Copshaw, where the water was bubbling along under this very old bridge.

donks quarry bridge

Then I turned downhill to follow the road.  It has a rewarding wall.

lichen

And I enjoyed these dogs looking keen to get to work in rounding up a sheep or two.

dogs on quad

I didn’t go right down to the man road at Whitshiels but walked along the track on the Lamb Hill, enjoying (almost) fifty shades of green…

spring trees

…whichever way I looked.

spring colour

I strolled through the little wood at the end of the path…

Lamb Hill

…and made my way down to the Kilngreen where I enjoyed an ice cream from the van and a selection of waterside birds….

oyster catchers and wagtail

…as I walked home.  The oyster catcher in the third panel was between the town and the suspension bridge.  I took this picture of that stretch of water to remind Mary Jo of our walk on Monday when we crossed the suspension bridge.

suspension bridge spring

When I got home, I was able to give Mrs Tootlepedal a small helping hand to get the very last of the potatoes in.  I took a quick tour round the garden and was pleased to see the first apple blossom developing, catch a late opening daffodil of the day and admire a couple of clumps of yellow tulips beside the pond.

apple blossom, daff and tulips

Then we sat on our bench and found that the late afternoon had got quite warm (if you could keep out of the wind).

Our neighbour Liz joined us for some serious bench testing and conversation until it was time to go in to cook our tea.

This was one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pies and it went down very well.

Fortified by fish pie, I went off to sing with Langholm Sings.  In spite of just having had a concert, we are facing two more at the end of the month so there was a lot of work to be done.  I found it hard going and was pleased when it was time to go home for a rest.

The flying bird of the day is one of the few siskins to visit us.

flying siskin

I am very hopeful that the combination of frozen peas, massage, careful use and a tube of magic cream are going to ensure that my hand will soon be fully back in operation again.  And of course the good wishes of readers help too.  Thank you.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who thought that this picture of the fernery at York on a rainy day might interest me after my fern walk with Mike a few  days ago.  He was right.  It interested Mike too.

fernery York

We had another cool and windy day here, with occasional heavy showers.  I had to go up to the Moorland Feeders as a fill in feeder filler for Sandy, who is sunning himself by the beach somewhere far to the south (lucky chap).

There were not many birds about so I enjoyed some of the tree features…

laverock hide trees

..until a few birds turned up.

pheasant

woodpecker

Maybe the very brisk wind which you can see ruffling this siskin’s feathers had put the birds off…

blowy siskin

…but it certainly put me off and as Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t seen anything interesting in the raptor line as she scanned the hillside, we went home…

…where it soon started raining.

busy feeder in the rain

However, it is April so the showers were intermittent and I got out into the garden from time to time.

The tulips are punctuating the daffodils with spots of colour…

tulips and affodils

…and standing alone too.

red tulips

In the pond many tadpoles and snails are to be seen.

tadpole and snail in pond

Mrs Tootlepedal has been trying to find out where the pond is leaking as it has been losing water whenever it stops raining lately.  She has done some serious detective work and today, she added some practical digging and stone shifting and she thinks that she has cracked the problem.

I took pictures of euphorbia and muscari to show the contrast mixture of  rain and sun we had today…

euphorbia and muscari

…for which a couple of tulips provided corroborative evidence.

tulips with rain drops

I found my daffodil of the day….

daffodil

…and then went upstairs to take a couple of general views of the garden.  Here is the front  lawn and its surrounding beds…

view of front lawn

..and here is the middle lawn with a glimpse of the vegetable garden to the right.

view of garden

It doesn’t look bad considering the miserable spring  we have had so far.

The blackbirds still seem to be busy nesting and the female had come out for a break.

blackbird

I made some soup for lunch and then we set off (through an horrendously heavy shower) for Lockerbie (where it wasn’t raining) to catch the train to Edinburgh to see Matilda and her parents.

I like to stretch my legs on the platform after the drive over and before catching the train and I always enjoy the infinite geometry of railway lines.

Lockerbie station

Our  trip to Edinburgh went well.  We caught a glimpse of the alternative grandparents and then turned some dough which Matilda had made with her other granny into bread rolls, enjoyed some football cards  and had a very tasty meal of home made pizza  before setting off to come home.

By this time the weather had cleared up and we decided to walk back to the station.  On the way, Mrs Tootlepedal spotted both some fine lichen…

Edinburgh lichen

…and a grey squirrel…

edinburgh squirrel

…while my eyes turned to the flag flying at Holyroodhouse with Arthur’s Seat behind it…

Arthurs Seat and Holyrood House

…and a selection of buildings which we passed as we walked along.

Views from Regent road Edinburgh

We were a bit alarmed to find that the incoming train from Manchester, which we catch on its way back south, hadn’t even arrived at the station by the time that we due to leave and I expected a long delay.  Mercifully and very surprisingly, the train drew in some four minutes after it was due to leave and left only three minutes later!  In the end we were only eight minutes late getting home.  What a relief.

And the pond hadn’t lost any water so it looks as though Mrs Tootlepedal has cracked the problem.

The flying bird of the day showed off the strength of the wind very well.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows the Cave of Drac on Majorca.  Dropscone visited it while on holiday on the island.  He got to listen to a concert while he was there.

majorca cave

We had to agree with T S Eliot today.  The weather was very cruel.  If I went out on my bicycle, it rained and if Mrs Tootlepedal hung out the washing it rained and if we left the washing out in the hope that it would dry after the shower had passed, it rained again just as we were thinking of getting it in.

And then when it had got fed up with raining, it started to hail very heavily.

Finally, when  all hope was lost we got this….

rainbow

…followed by a calm and beautiful evening, unfortunately too late to be of practical use to anyone.

Under the circumstances, Mrs Tootlepedal did an amazing amount of gardening, well wrapped against the cruel wind and I at least got a few miles in on the slow bike before the combination of wind and rain got so discouraging that I packed it in.

The weather made sure it was a rather itty-bitty day but I did find a sunny moment to have another go at the violets.

violet

They require a good deal of crouching which is not my strongest point.

P1090320

Even on a cold and soggy day, Mrs Tootlepedal’s heart is lifted by tulips….

tulips

…and as they are coming out all over the garden, she should find some consolation in the days to come.

tulips

The daffodils give me  a lot of pleasure and here is the daffodil of the day.

daffodil

And I think that this is definitely a colourful corner and I hope that there will be many more to come.

colourful corner

I didn’t take any pictures on my cycle ride as I had to have a rain cape on and every time that I thought of getting at the camera out from underneath it, it started to rain again.

The battle against the wind left me feeling my age a bit and so I had a gentle time for the rest of the day, with a short snooze on my bed included.

I did manage to keep an eye on the birds though and noted that some but not all of the siskins were back.

siskins

Male and female

It was their turn to queue up for the feeder…

siskins

…and they defended their position vigorously when they got there.

siskins

They were not immune from outside attack themselves though.

goldfinch and siskin

Once again, redpolls maintained an observer status.

redpoll

It is not just their heads which are red at the moment. a sign of the mating season I believe.

The weather improved enough for me to be able to walk dryshod to my Langholm Sings choir practice, the last regular practice before our concert on Saturday, though we will have a go with the orchestra in the afternoon before the show.

We worked through the whole programme with the result that we got a lot of enjoyable singing in.  We are doing mostly familiar material and it is gratifying to find that some things which I found very hard to get right a few years ago seem miraculously to have got easier.  You are never too old to learn.

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

flying redpoll

 

 

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