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Posts Tagged ‘siskin’

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce and shows his dog, Guthrie considering the pros and cons of a quick swim in the leisure pool  on the Castleholm.

Guthrie

The changeable weather came as forecast but luckily for us, all the rain came during the hours of darkness and the day was dry and even occasionally sunny.  There was a lot of rain in the night though and when I crossed the river after breakfast, I could see the result.

Esk in spate

I was on my way to the doctor to find out about my iron levels.  They are fine and I am now certified as fully attractive to any passing magnet.

On my way across the river, I noticed an old friend so I pedalled back to the house to get a camera and came back in the hope that he would still be there.  He was there….

heron

….tucked away in a sheltered spot in the lee of the Kirk Bridge while the river roared past.

Some vigorous bird calls made me look about and I saw a pair of very active grey wagtails, one of whom stopped still long enough for me to take a picture.

grey wgtail

When I got back to the garden, there was a pair of active blue tits there on the fat balls.

two bluetits on fat balls

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy painting a door in the kitchen and when she had finished, we had coffee.  After coffee, I applied myself to the crossword and then, when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre, I applied myself to lawn care.

I mowed both the front lawn and the greenhouse grass which were remarkably firm and dry after the night’s rain.  A brisk wind and some sun had helped.

In order to get a breather from the mowing, I broke off from time to time to look around.

In spite of the strong wind, the garden was full of butterflies again…

tortoiseshell, red admiral and peacock butterflies

…and there were bees and other insects everywhere.

bees on daisies

We have had quite a good selection of bumble bees this year as well as lots of honey bees.

three bees on flowers

This was my favourite moment.

big and little insects

One of the astrantias has come again but oddly for such a bee magnet, it was bee free today.

late astrantia

I did a little bird watching too.

Sparrows and blue tits took turns on the fat balls.

sparrow coming blue tit going

A siskin had its feathers ruffled by the breeze.

blowy siskin

And a coal tit dropped in a couple of times but was rather camera shy.

coal tit

After lunch, I decided that I should brave the wind and go for a pedal as the weather looked set fair.

Once out of the shelter of the town, it was very breezy, with gusts of up to 30 mph so I settled for a ride to the top of Callister and back followed by another turn up the Wauchope valley as far as the schoolhouse and this gave me 20 miles, quite far enough for my legs.

There is no doubt that the hills are beginning to turn brown…

Wauchope road brown view

..but the overnight rain had made my favourite cascade quite dramatic and worth a scramble down the banking to see it in action.

Wauchope cascade Sept 2018

The level in the Esk had dropped though and a gull could stand on a rock by the water’s edge without risk of being swept away.

gull beside river

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy afternoon and arrived home after me and we spent a little time in the garden.

Second flowerings are to be seen on all sides.

second delphinium

Delphinium

second vebascum

Verbascum

And the golden wedding rose keeps producing new flowers.

golden wedding roses Sept 18

We are still dead heading in an effort to keep things going but it can’t be denied that the flowers are gradually fading away.

The plums are over but we are awash with apples and the raspberries are ripening steadily so we are not starved of fruit just yet.

Mrs Tootlepedal made an interesting one pot evening meal which involved almond milk, cauliflower and linguine.    It was very much to my liking though Mrs Tootlepedal thought that she could take it or leave it alone.

After previous predictions of gloom and doom, the forecast is now for another dry but windy day tomorrow.  It is difficult to plan when things change so frequently.

Under the circumstances, I thought it only proper to have two flying birds of the day today, one in the sunshine…

flying chaffinch in sunshine

….and one on the shade.

flying chaffinch in shadow

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia, my Somerset correspondent, who visited Forde Abbey recently in the company of my sister Mary.

Forde Abbey

It was a very changeable day today with constant rain showers interspersed with occasion brief dry spells and even the odd bit of sunshine.  The addition of a very brisk wind to the weather mix made it a day that was unsuitable for serious outdoor activity.

I therefore lurked indoors for the most part, except when Mrs Tootlepedal and I went off to sing in the church choir. I spent a fair amount of time cooking.  I made a lamb stew with a plum and red wine gravy for the slow cooker after breakfast and a potato and carrot soup for our lunch.

Then I put a so called ciabatta mixture into the breakd making machine and watched the birds for a bit.

Things were quiet, perhaps because of the brisk wind.

A lone jackdaw surveyed the scene for a while…

_DSC6978

When I started watching, there were no sparrows about and a single siskin and a goldfinch commanded the feeder.

_DSC6983

A sparrow and a chaffinch tried to move in…

_DSC6984

…and after that, chaffinches….

_DSC6985

…and sparrows….

_DSC6987

…flew in at regular intervals…

_DSC6989

…sometimes at the same time.

_DSC6991

All the same, there were long periods when the feeder was unattended.

Goldfinches returned and this one was not happy about an impending chaffinch.

_DSC6988

A hungry blue tit didn’t cause as much distress.

_DSC6993

We had a quiet afternoon watching the cyclists of the Tour of Britain going round n circles in the middle of London and then as the rain had stopped for a moment, I went out into the garden and did a little dead heading and picked up windfall apples.

The dahlias, as I have remarked before, seem to be pretty weather proof and were still smiling.

P1140184

But for once, there were no bees on the Michaelmas daisies…

P1140185

…and no butterflies about at all.

As the weather seemed to be quite good, I cycled off to do some shopping.

The path along the riverside looked inviting…

P1140186

…and I pedalled a bit further in search of fungus.  I  didn’t see fungus and had to be content with some flowers.

P1140187

As I came out of the shop and headed for home, the weather had taken a gloomy turn again…

P1140192

…but it hadn’t started to rain so I paused for a moment beside the Esk and watched a stream of riders, who had been out on a charity event, crossing the Langholm Bridge…

P1140199

…and a dipper living up to its name.

P1140203

The delay meant that the rain was coming down before I got home but it did provide a rainbow for me, although it was only half a rainbow when I looked at it closely.

P1140208

We had the slow cooked stew for our tea and the  ‘ciabbata’ came out of the bread machine.   Say what you like about bread machines (I am a devotee) but they make a good looking loaf.

P1140210

The result is nothing like a hand made ciabatta loaf but it tastes delicious and that is what matters.

In keeping with the day, the evening was spent very quietly doing nothing more exciting than making a couple more jars of apple jelly.  I didn’t rush the job this time and it set properly first go.

The flying bird of the day is a distant goldfinch.

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I have kindly been sent a lot of guest pictures lately and I am working through them so I apologise to those whose great images have fallen through the sieve of time.  Today’s effort is from our younger son and shows his washing line on a typical recent day.

wet washing line

We had another grey day today here for the most part, a day when it always looked as though it was going to rain soon….but it didn’t and as a result there was lots of time for work in the garden.

As soon as the worst of the early dampness had worn off, I got various mowers out and mowed the drying green, the greenhouse grass, the middle and the front lawns and then strimmed the edges of everything that I could see.  There was hardly a blade of grass standing in the garden by the time that I had finished.

counterstriped lawn

I went for a fancy pattern to please Julie, a faithful reader from Australia, who had suggested that  a little variety in the lawn striping would not go amiss.

Then I sieved some compost.

After some slack dead heading days because of the drizzle, there was any amount of dead heading to be done and both Mrs Tootlepedal and I went round several times snipping off the ones we had missed on the previous circuit.

Some flowers survived the snippers.  The camera makes things look a lot brighter than they actually were.

white and red poppies

sunny reggae dahlias

Even on a drab day these ‘Sunny Reggae’ dahlias shine.

There are an encouraging amount of insects about.  Sometimes it seemed that every flower had one.

wild strawberry with tiny insect

phlox with insect

been on daisy

Or two!

dahlia with two insects

But butterflies were scarce.  The strong wind may have made life hard for them

peacock butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre over lunch so I set the kitchen window camera up in the vain hope of seeing the nuthatch again.

I saw a blue tit first….

blue tit on feeder

…and then the usual stramash of sparrows…

mass of sparrows

…with occasional greenfinch incursions…

incoming greenfinch

…but no nuthatch.  I am revising my nuthatch expectations down to nil.

We were having our outside doors painted for the second time as it had rained very heavily after the first effort and the work needed to be redone.  The painter went off after lunch and looking at the clouds, it seemed that it might be quite likely that the same thing would happen again but fortunately the rain held off and the doors dried.

I had received a call from a data miner in the Archive Centre to say that an unfortunate train of events had led to one of the microfiche readers losing some vital parts so after lunch, I snapped a siskin on the feeder…

perching siskin

,…and  went up to the Archive Centre to see what I could do about this, taking a picture of the clematis by the front door on my way out.

big hearted clematis

This is a late flowering and you might say that it is all heart.

It was a bit of a struggle to fix the microfiche reader as one of the errant parts had suffered minor damage but I got it cobbled back together in the end and the miners should be able to get back to work (with care).

When I got home again, Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden and I joined her, mostly in a  supervisory role but from time to time actually doing something helpful.

After a while, we both needed a sit down so we tested out the newly oiled bench and admired the flowers in the new bed beside the lawn.

new bed by middle lawn

On our other side, tall rudbeckias looked down on us.

rudbeckia

I like these rudbeckias because the flowers are durable and don’t need much dead heading.

However, there was plenty of dead heading still to do on a final tour.

There are many flowers about that don’t need dead heading all the time.

pansy and anemone

We are sawing up the old, rather rotten bench a bit at a time and I was cutting through a plank on the back when I noticed some lichen on one of the uprights.

lichen on old bench

We were probably right to think that it was time for a replacement.

I had thought of a walk (it was too windy for a cycle ride) but all this gardening had knocked some of the stuffing out of me so a cup of tea and a sit down looked like a more attractive proposition.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a delicious evening meal and there were just enough raspberries to have as a dessert.

In any spare moments during the day, I ate a plum.  More plums are ripening all the time.  The wasps and the jackdaws are dealing with a lot of them but there are more than enough left to satisfy the most enthusiastic plum eater.  I can see plum chutney looming.

I hope to widen my horizon tomorrow as the forecast is quite cheerful.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

 

 

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The guest picture of the day comes from my sister Susan who has been touring Bavaria with friends.  She saw some handsome castles on her trip.

Bavarian Castle

It was another grey and windy day today and as we had to be in Dumfries in the middle of it, that didn’t leave much time at either end.

It was still dry after breakfast though and I had time for a quick turn round the garden to do some dead heading and flower watching.  The wind and the wet doesn’t seem to totally discourage bees…

two bees on poppy

…or hoverflies….

hoverfly on rudbeckia

…but there weren’t a great many of either.

Mrs Tootlepedal has tried out a small rudbeckia this year and it has come out but it can’t be said to be looking as good as it should be.

small rudbeckia

Whereas the dahlias continue to impress with their hardiness.

wet dahlia

Photographing poppies in the brisk wind was a lottery and I was lucky to catch this one at the top of its sway…

purple poppy

…but I had to hold this one steady with my hand…

held poppy

…and this one had given up.

soggy poppy

This was my dahlia of the day today.

fancy dahlia

After a quick cup of coffee, we drove steadily across to Dumfries and Mrs Tootlepedal’s check up was both exactly on time and very satisfactory in its outcome.  New and old cataract operations were given the thumbs up and she bought a pair of cheap reading glasses when we got back to Langholm and is happily reading as I write this.

We had hoped to do some sightseeing on the way home but the strong winds and persistent drizzle kept us in the car and we drove straight back.

When we got home, it was too wet and windy for a pleasant walk, cycle ride or useful gardening so I stayed indoors, ate soup, did the crossword and looked out of the window from time to time.

It is supposed to be a quiet time for birds just now as they are recovering from bringing up their young and they are supposed to be resting quietly in the woods where there is plenty of food for them, molting before winter comes.  This may be true but we are still getting some visitors.

First it was a rather scruffy chaffinch…

molting chaffinch

…while a greenfinch waited in the plum tree.

greenfinch in plum tree

A chaffinch wisely took shelter from the rain and possible predators by lurking in the shelter of the sunflower behind the feeder.

chaffinch on sunflower

Things got busier as time went by.

busy feeder

And the birds got wetter as the rain continued.

soggy greenfinch

And sadder.

sad greebfinch

It was all too gloomy for a blue tit who flew past leaving the greenfinches to their gurning.

blue tit passing greenfinches

One greenfinch had legitimate grounds for complaint when he was rudely booted off his perch by a siskin half his size.  Siskins are frightened of nothing.

siskin attacking greenfincH

I put some fatballs out and the sparrows were feeding on them in a very co-operative way at first…

sparrows on fatball peaceful

…but it didn’t last and a youngster passed a remark to another….

sparrows on fatball arguing

…and very soon regretted that he had done so.

sparrows on fatball attacking

I put the camera away and turned to the computer where I entered another week of the newspaper into the Archive Group database.  The dull weather is letting me catch up on the backlog though I am sure that the relentless data miners will be piling up more work even as I tap away at my keyboard.

In the evening, the dull day was greatly cheered up by the arrival of Mike and Alison for conversation and music.   The pleasure of their company was even more enhanced by the fact that they came armed with a bottle of fizzy wine which put some pep into our playing.  Alison and I got out some pieces which we haven’t played for some time and enjoyed getting reacquainted with them.

The weather seems to be stuck in a wet and windy groove so I may have to look out my wellies soon.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo in Manitoba, or to be more precise, over Manitoba in her aeroplane from which she could see the effect of having a pivotal irrigation system.

pivotal irrigation

A variety of forecasters were offering a variety of forecasts today but they all involved rain at some time or other.  I decided to believe the ones that suggested rain in the morning and a better afternoon and spent some time putting another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  As I still have a pile of two months sitting beside the computer, I will need a lot of rainy days to get through them.

There was a bit of rain in the morning but I found a dry moment to go up and get my medicine from the chemist and arrange to book the hall for the camera club which will be starting again in September.

This all took most of the morning and I didn’t take my camera out until after midday.

In spite of dead heading dozens of calendulas every day, or maybe because of dead heading dozens of calendulas every day, there are still a lot around.

calendula

The clematis on the fence beside the vegetable garden are thriving and the Ooh La La is still gamely producing flowers.

fence clematis

Then it started to rain so I went in and made some vegetable soup (including courgettes) for my lunch.

After lunch, the sun shone again and almost immediately a peacock butterfly appeared on the buddleia.

lone peacock butterfly

Our neighbour Liz and I were considering where the butterflies live and what they do on wet days.  Do butterflies have a home to got to?  How far will a butterfly fly to get to a buddleia?  This are questions to which I don’t know the answer.

I do know where my bike is though so, after photographing a pigeon on a pole…

pigeon

…I got it out and went for a ride while the sun was shining.

The wind was also blowing and it was pretty vigorous so I confined my efforts to a very slow tour round my usual 20 mile Canonbie circuit.  I was quite pleased to stop for pictures on my way.

I always enjoying looking at this slightly mysterious row of trees in a field.

row of trees

Nearby, belted Galloway cattle were too busy eating the fresh grass to look up as I passed.

belted Galloway

Things have greened up well and on my ride yesterday, I  saw that some farmers have been able to take a second cut of silage.  The view from Tarcoon back to Langholm seemed to promise fair weather all the way for my ride today.

view of whita from tarcoon

And the view ahead, showed another descent from the hills to the plain.

Tarcoon view

I was a bit less confident about getting round dry as I passed Hollows Tower with five miles to go as the black clouds looked threatening…

Hollows Tower under a cloud

…but my timing was good and it had rained in Langholm and then stopped raining by the time that I got back.

Mrs Tootlepedal was entertaining our neighbours Gavin and Gaye to a cup of tea indoors when I arrived.  They had intended to try out our new bench but had been driven inside by the shower.

We had had a painter working on the  outside doors at the front of the house through the day and I hadn’t seen many birds as a result so I set up the camera to watch the birds when Gavin and Gaye left….

plump siskin

…but then left it to go outside and join Mrs Tootlepedal who was working in the garden.

The poppies are trying their best…

three poppies

…and we have two sorts of crocosmia out…

two crocosmia

…but it was hard to take a picture of a dahlia without a bee getting in the way.

bees on dahlias

I thought that the helenium was looking a bit more cheerful today.

helenium with necklace

Going back inside, I watched the birds again.

Sparrows replaced our greenfinches today.

These two were having a discussion….

two sparrows

…when they broke off to shout encouragement to another who was experimenting with vertical take off.

vertical sparrow

Siskins brought their usual behaviour to the party.

sparring siskins

I had got the timing for my cycle ride doubly right because it started to rain very heavily while I was having my post ride shower and I recorded over 1cm of rain for the day in Mary Jo’s rain gauge, all from short sharp showers.

The combination of the house moving last week and some regularly pedalling in brisk winds have left me a little tired so I was more than happy to settle down after tea and watch highly skilled athletes and swimmers battling each other in the European Championships.

The flying bird of the day is another sparrow,

flying sparrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Highland correspondent Jenni.  She went even further north from Inverness for a cruise and found herself in Alaskan waters.

alaskan cruise

We had an uncharacteristically dull day here both as far as the weather went and my level of activity.  Mrs Tootlepedal was up and at it early with a trip to Carlisle and back by bus before lunch but drizzly rain and a brisk breeze discouraged me from doing much more than a little garden tidying and a trip to the corner shop in a dry spell.

I didn’t even get my camera out until after lunch.

The dahlias don’t seem to mind the rain much…

yellow dahlia

…but a hellenium…

hellenium

..and a rudbeckia appear rather depressed.

rudbeckia

The small sunflowers make up in numbers what they lack in height…

short sunflowers

…and both the plums…

crowded plums

…and the apples can’t be accused of any lack of effort.

apples

Indeed, I have thinned the plums several times already and took off another twenty today without making any noticeable difference to the crop.

The Christmas tree, which is having its summer holiday in the vegetable garden, doesn’t seem very sure about which way it is going at all.

christmas tree august

I had some fun trying to photograph a fine red poppy.  It was exposed to the breeze and after several complete failures…

red poppy in wind 1

…I finally managed to catch it at the top of its swaying motion.

red poppy in wind 2

This little excursion completed my outdoor work for the day and I went in to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and have another unavailing round in my battle against the recalcitrant printer. Printer 4 Tom 0.

A gloomy afternoon was improved by the arrival of Luke for our weekly flute playing efforts and I got a couple of new studies from the internet for us to play.  The internet is an endless source of free flute duets and I put that in the balance against the greed and manipulation of the big internet companies.

Our good spell of weather looks as though it has finally come to an end, with cooler temperatures and rain forecast for every day this week until the weekend.  I will have to remember what it is like to bicycle in less than perfect conditions if I am not to fall behind my schedule again.

For some mysterious reason, there have been hardly any birds in the garden for the last two days after a very busy spell so the flying bird of the day is a solitary siskin sitting down.

siskin

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows an interesting robin, seen in Nottingham by my brother Andrew.

robin from nottingham

After many weeks absence, we saw a robin in our garden today….

robin in July

…but it was a rather more modest bird than the Nottingham one..

Alert readers will have noted the absence of Sandy from the blog in recent weeks.  The reason for this is that he has been very busy building a shed in his garden with the help of a friend who is knowledgeable about such things.  The shed is finally finished and he was able to come for a coffee today.  It was good to see him and catch up on his news.  I hope to go for a visit to the shed soon and get a picture of it.

The forecast was as unreliable as the weather today and we had a mixture of sunshine and showers.  Some unexpected sunshine  in the morning allowed time for gardening and while Mrs Tootlepedal did what she called ‘editing’, I did a little mowing, some hedge shortening (vertically rather than horizontally), dead heading, shredding and wandering about with my camera in my hand.

The first focus was on white things.

A set of hostas are producing very pretty white flowers….

white hosta flower

…and I like this paper white poppy.

white poppy

Although there is an occasional peacock butterfly about, I haven’t been able to get a good shot of them so I had to make do with a white butterfly on the buddleia again.

white butterfly on buddleia

More colourful flowers were to be seen.

yellow flowers

red flowers

I like sweet peas a lot so I am pleased to see them doing well this year.

sweet peas

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that this flower is a California poppy or eschscholzia californica…

californian poppy

…but she is at a loss as to how it came to be where it is.  She had a packet of seeds at some time but she didn’t sow them there.

A lot of the tall sunflowers have fallen victim to the wind and the rain but happily, some have survived.

sunflowers

And Mrs Tootlepedal is particularly pleased that the zinnias have come through too.  She was giving them some extra support today.

zinnia survived

I liked the cheerful colours of her new berberis.

berberis

During the morning,  chief data miner Nancy called in with another pile of weeks of the newspaper index ready for entering in the database.  I shouldn’t complain as it gives me something useful to do on rainy days.

Having checked the forecast, which offered ‘rain later’, I had an early lunch and went out for a bike ride.  It was a day for skulking in the valley bottom with heavy clouds and a noticeable wind blowing.

“Rain later’ turned into ‘rain now’ when I got about four miles from town so I turned back with a view to considering my options when I got home.  Fortunately the rain stopped after about nine miles and I pottered back up the road again to the gate on Callister…

callister gate

…which is getting ever more overgrown.

The weather was set fair for a while…Callister view

…and with the wind now behind me, I whizzed back down the hill.  After four day with no cycling, the twenty miles just kept me ahead of my schedule for the year.  My timing was good as it started to rain soon after I got back.

I went upstairs to have a shower and took the opportunity to look down on the bird feeder from above for a change.

A chaffinch perched on the feeder pole…

chaffinch

…which was probably the safest place to be as down below a greenfinch was taking revenge for the kicking one of the family got from a chaffinch yesterday.

greenfinch kicking chaffinch

The unfortunate kickee made off at speed.

chaffinch departing

I had a closer look at the sparrow on the feeder…

bald sparrow

..and noticed that it has a bald patch.  The siskin on the right has been trapped and released by the bird ringers.

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and was not allowed to leave without taking some courgettes.

Then my flute pupil Luke came and I had a useful idea which led to an improvement in his playing.  It is always helpful for a teacher to remember that if a pupil isn’t learning something, then the teacher not the pupil is probably almost certainly at fault.

In the evening, I went to play Telemann trios with Mike and Isabel.  I was a bit short of puff by the time that we got to the end of the third sonata but it was very enjoyable all the same.

The unsettled weather is set to continue and with strong winds and rain showers about tomorrow, I may have already completed my cycling for July!

The flying bird of the day is a siskin.

flying siskin

 

 

 

 

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