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Posts Tagged ‘siskin’

Today’s guest picture is a Maltese bird.  Dropscone spotted it.

Maltese bird

It was a variable day, starting and finishing with steady rain and in between being broken up by some periods of unexpected sunshine and more rain showers.

I felt quite cheery when I got up in spite of the rain and spent some time printing out cards which the newspaper shops sells on behalf of the Archive Group.

The rain stopped so I looked out of the window from time to time.

There was plenty of activity….

busy feeder

…and then the rain started again but didn’t discourage the visitors.

greenfinch and chaffinch

Then it stopped and four siskins glowed gently in some thin sunshine….

siskin

…but a greenfinch looked as though it was expecting the rain to start at any moment.

siskin and greenfinch

In one of the sunny periods, I thought about a little cycle ride but with the weather so changeable, I didn’t want to get stuck out in the country in a shower so I went for a walk round Gaskells instead.

I set out feeling good and enjoying the lichens beside the river at the park….

lichen

…which have obviously liked our weather a lot.  The lichens in general are thriving.

However, as soon as I came to the short and gentle slope up to the Stubholm, I found that I wasn’t nearly as well recovered as I had thought and nearly ground to a halt going up the hill.

This was a real blow and I had to creep round the rest of the walk at a snail’s pace to stop my chest hurting.  I was really glad to have embarked on a low level and short walk and at least I completed it.  It would have been frustrating to have had to turn round and go home.

It was a pity because, for a while at least, it was a very nice day, though still cold and raw.

Stubholm

Meikleholm

I was concentrating on where I was putting my feet quite a lot as I didn’t want to add slipping over to my day but occasionally a bit of lichen intruded on my consciousness.

script lichen

peltigera lichen

And a tuft of moss too.

moss

I reached home in one piece, pleased to have had a bit of fresh air even if the exercise hadn’t amounted to much and was very cheered to find a fine clump of snowdrops in evidence on the bank of the dam behind the house.

snowdrops

Roll on spring.

The walk had showed that more rest was needed so I rested for the rest of the day.  In the evening, my flute pupil Like came and we had a productive lesson and I was able to blow a few notes on my own flute so the rest had done me good.

After tea, I went off to the first camera club meeting of the new year and although the turnout was on the small side, we had some very good pictures to look at and a new member from Canonbie to welcome so it was a worthwhile evening.

We had been asked to do a portrait and since I don’t like to take pictures of other people very much as I feel that I lack the skills to do them justice, I took a picture of an old man who was hanging around in the front room.

_DSC0798

It always comes as a shock to see just how old I am!  I am not like that on the inside.

One of our fellow camera club members showed us a wonderful picture of a flying nuthatch this evening.  He had found a moment of good sunshine for the shot. My flying siskin of the day in the rain is rather gloomy in comparison.

_DSC0775

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a spectacular water meadow on my brother’s recent walk from his house in Derby.

flooded field

We had a slightly less gloomy day today both medically and meteorologically.  I felt quite positive, though still pretty wheezy and I noticed an improvement on Mrs Tootlepedal, though she thinks she is never going to get better!

I had an errand to run for Mrs Tootlepedal in the morning and a couple of bills to pay in the town as well so I made two excursions to the High Street and, very daringly, I went on the slow bike to discharge the business.

Although it was still chilly, the clouds were a lot higher and the wind was very light so it seemed like a pleasant day.

Certainly there was much better light for watching the birds when I got home.

Our little gang of robins are still skipping about and posing for the camera.

robin

And plenty of birds kept me busy refilling the feeder a couple of time during the day.

chaffinches

The better weather seemed to have calmed things down and there was no violence to be seen today.

siskins

There was no trouble in finding flying birds either.

flying chaffinches

In the absence of a lot of goldfinches and siskins, the chaffinches had a quiet day and I thought that the tableau below had the sober look of a Victorian gentlemen’s club.

flying chaffinches

The clouds got even thinner as the morning went on and there was even occasional glimpses of brightness so I took Mrs Tootlepedal up a light lunch and then got the slow bike out to see if my legs were up to a short excursion up the Wauchope road.

To say that I took things easily would be correct.  Indeed, I proceeded with such care up one short hill that my bike computer actually thought that I had stopped and went into pause mode.  I did stop and few yards further on and went down to look at the river.

Bessie Bells

You could almost say that the sun was shining but there was no blue sky, just moments when the clouds were so thin that the sun could shine right through them.

It made for kindly cycling though so I got back on and went as far as Mrs Tootlepedal’s old manure mine where I had another walk to break up the cycling.

Manure mine

It’s a grand spot for a walk, with interesting trees….

lichen and cones

cones

….a gate….

gate

…a delightful riverside path through a little wood….

Woodland walk

…with both moss….

mossy tree

…and lichen to add interest…

lichen

…and then another gate to bring you out of the wood and back into the field.

gate

Although it was well above freezing, there was still an icy patch or two in well sheltered spots….

field with icy puddle

…and these were surviving even though the puddles that had caused them had long since drained away from underneath them.

field with icy puddle

I have received a letter from the association of Langholm lichens complaining about my statement yesterday that the only colour on the go at the moment is being provided by mosses.  They felt that I was underselling the wonders of lichen so I was happy to stop a bit further up the road where there is a vibrant lichen display on a wall.

lichen

lichen

I got up to Wauchope Schoolhouse and then resisted the temptation, which was quite strong, to add a few more miles and turned and headed home.  I was very happy to find that I could do seven miles of gentle pedalling without any bad consequences and even had a little tootle on my flute to celebrate.

I added to the glory of the day by doing a load of washing and giving the car a rather superficial wash.  If all this seems to indicate a miracle cure, I would have to point out that everything was done at a snail’s pace with plenty of serious resting in between.  I have some way to go yet.

The New Hampshire Gardener asked whether the lichen on the plum tree which appeared a couple of posts ago might be a tree lungwort so I used the better light today to take another picture of it….

lichen

…and my book suggests that it might be Lobaria scrobiculata, the textured lungwort rather than Lobaria pulmonaria, the tree lungwort but since I know nothing, any lungwort wizard out there is welcome to put me right.

After a relatively lively day, I settled down to a very quiet evening in and Mrs Tootlepedal and I enjoyed a light meal of scrambled eggs on toast for our tea.

I am looking forward to a little more progress for us both tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day caught what brightness there was.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was taken by our younger son and shows his wife and daughter obediently saying “cheese” when requested.

Clare and matilda

There was continued slight movement on the road to health in the Tootlepedal household today with Mrs Tootlepedal feeling well enough to take in a little nourishment.  I wasn’t quite as perky as I had hoped to be but I was well enough to wander about the house moodily and I did walk up into the town as far as the chemist in the afternoon to replenish our stock of paracetamol.

Having said that, it was still a rather gloomy day all round both literally and metaphorically.

I took time out to peer at the birds.

Everyone seemed to be looking for something.

robin

blackbird

bendy chaffinches

Often it was chaffinches looking for a perch.

busy feeder

busy feeder

And sometimes it was siskins looking for a fight.

siskin violence

I don’t think that the male siskin above who can be seen putting the boot into a female is quite in touch with the spirit of the moment.

Our robins were scurrying about again.  It is very difficult to know whether you are photographing the same one all the time but there are definitely three birds in the garden and I think that I got two different ones today.

robin

plump robin

The cat scarer is a favourite perch but we think it is also working as a cat scarer as there haven’t been any cats lurking under the feeder trying to catch birds lately.  Maybe though, it is just the cold weather that is keeping the cats at home.  Time will tell when spring comes.

I took my camera with me when I walked to the chemist for the sake of having a picture on the blog which was not taken out of the kitchen window….

misty whita

…but it was a grey and raw day so I abandoned plans for taking the longer and more scenic route home.

All the same, as I know that many readers will be feeling that their lives are strangely empty because of the lack of moss pictures on the blog recently, I did take a very small diversion on my way back to visit the park wall.

I have been reading the moss book that our daughter gave me for Christmas and though it doesn’t help me identify mosses, it is helping me to learn how to look at them and when we get some better light I hope to get some better pictures.  For some reason, I hadn’t really thought of moss as having leaves but of course, that is basically what moss is, a collection of leaves and the occasional sporophyte.

moss

moss

moss

moss

For those who can take a moss leaf or leave it alone, I throw in a fern complete with sori, also from the park wall.

fern

I had a quick tour of the garden in pursuit of more moss when I got home and I was wondering of thus was moss or not….

moss

…but I got easily distracted by some fine lichen in the plum tree and photographed that instead.

lichen

lichen

One of the bad things about being poorly and mooching about is that it leaves me with any amount of time to listen to the radio and watch the TV and this can only have deleterious effects on my mind and body because it involves taking in the news of the day many, many times.

On the plus side, watching the poor Californians, having been plagued by fire, now being consumed by mud slides does make me count my blessings quite gratefully.

I was intending to go to Glasgow tomorrow to help Matilda and her parents clear their old flat but having actually listened to some sound advice, I am going to stay at home and try not to make myself worse.

Another grey day post impressionist flying bird today.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture is the second portrait of Tony’s dogs by Tash.  It looks as though the dogs had had a New Year’s splash even if Tony hadn’t.

Tony's dog

We were promised better weather today and we got it but it took some time to arrive as we were covered in mist for most of the morning.

I had an early start as I had to take our car to the garage.  It had been sending us intermittent signals of distress through the dashboard display recently.  Intermittent distress signals can be very annoying as they always disappear as soon as you take a car to the garage and that is what happened on this occasion.  The garage’s diagnostic machine though is very smart and can tell what a car was thinking yesterday as well as today so the garage was confident that they could get to the bottom of the trouble.

I walked home and had breakfast and then there was a pause in the day as I waited for the mist to go.  It was too thick for safe cycling and at 2°C, it was a bit chilly anyway.

This gave me a chance to do a tricky crossword and occasionally look out of the window.

The robin was upset by being substituted by a chaffinch in a recent post so it made sure I got its best side today.

robin

The other birds weren’t posing.  They were too busy trying to get at the seed.

busy feeder

Although the picture is not of good quality, I liked this shot of a siskin sizing up its chances of knocking a goldfinch off a perch.

siskin

The mist thinned enough after coffee for me to put my cycling gear on and get the fairly speedy bike out.  Mrs Tootlepedal went out to do some gardening and after putting away some bread and marmalade and a banana as fuel, I went off up the road, hoping that the mist would clear.

It took its time and while I was going along the valley bottom, things looked a bit gloomy…

Mist over the wauchope

…but as soon as I turned up into the hills, things brightened up and I got above the mist.

Misty windmills

Soon, I could look back and see the mist lying along the Wauchope valley that I had just cycled through.  It looked denser from above than it did when i was in it.

Mist in wauchope valley

Once I got over the hill and looked down into the Esk valley, more mist was to be seen.

Mist in Esk valley

And the windmills at Gretna were up to their knees in it.

Misty windmills gretna

Looking across from Tarcoon, Whita Hill was an island in a sea of mist…

Misty Whita from tarcoon

…and looking ahead to where I was going, a solid bank of mist lying along the Esk made it look as though there might be dangerous conditions for cyclists when I got down to the river.

Mist from tarcoon

But once again, the mist wasn’t as bad when I was in it as it looked from above and although my favourite trees at Grainstonehead  had a misty background….

Misty trees grainstonehead

…by the time that I had gone a couple of miles further, the mist had gone and the river was bathed in sunshine.

Esk at Byreburnfoot

As was the tower at the Hollows…..

Hollows Tower

…and the Ewes valley when I had cycled through the town and out of the other side.

Ewes valley

Having cycled a bit along all our three rivers, I felt that it was time to give my ice cold feet a break and head for home and a bit of warmth.  It was still only a meagre 3°C in spite of the sunshine.

When I got back, I had a look at Mrs Tootlepedal’s new path….

garden path

…and went in for a late lunch, pretty happy with 26 miles on such a chilly day.

Mrs Tootlepedal had got some useful gardening in while I was out.

I kept an eye on the birds while I had my lunch.

I could see seven blackbirds round the feeder at one time but couldn’t get them all in one shot so I took some individuals.

blackbird

One popped up onto a hedge to make things easier for me.

blackbird

The goldfinches had given up fighting and were concentrating on eating.

goldfinch eating

goldfinch

While Mrs Tootlepedal went and fetched the car from the garage (it got a clean bill of health), I had time for a shower and some singing practice and then Mike and Alison came round for their regular Friday visit.  They usually come in the evening but once again, we had something to do in the evening so an afternoon visit with music, conversation, tea and shortbread was arranged instead.  All four were very enjoyable.

Making music in the home is always a pleasure but in the evening, we went to the Buccleuch Centre and got real musical joy in spades.

It was the annual visit to the Buccleuch Centre of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra for their New Year Viennese Gala.   We are incredibly lucky to get this treat on our doorstep as the Buccleuch Centre concert is their only appearance in the whole of the  south of Scotland, the other three appearances on this tour being in Dunfermline, Inverness and Stirling.

They don’t stint either, bringing a 60 piece orchestra to play a programme designed to bring joy to the hearts of a full house.

The orchestra’s players are not particularly fond of playing in the Buccleuch Centre because they find the acoustic dry and don’t get the feedback that they would wish but I love listening to an orchestra here because of the superb clarity of the music.  Sometimes a big orchestra just makes a big noise but you can hear every instrument in its place here and the excitement of having a 60 piece orchestra playing only a few yards away from you is immense.

As an ex schoolboy viola player myself, I took a particular interest in the viola players in the Roses from the South, a piece we played with our school orchestra.  It seems a bit extravagant in a way to bring a bunch of talented players down and then just make them go “rest, bom, bom” on the same note for bars on end.  But that’s orchestral music for you and it was wonderful to listen them all.

The flying bird of the day is a crowd.

busy feeder

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Sue who sent me this shot of a Christmas visitor to her bird feeders.

IMG-20171224-WA0000

Either my eyes are getting dimmer (and my camera’s sensor too) or the cloudy days are getting greyer and greyer.  It was a really miserable day today with very little light filtering through from above so it was just as well that there were things to do indoors while the rain pattered down outside.

Mrs Tootlepedal did some serious clearing out of our utility room and I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.

I did look out of the window from time to time but there was not much to see.  Just a lot of raindrops…

raindrops

…a soggy looking siskin…

wet siskin

….and a clueless coal tit.

coal tit

The utility room clear out led to many agonising decisions regarding throwing away things that had sat unused and unloved at the back of the same shelf for thirty years but which were still obviously entirely necessary for the well being of the house and/or far too good to throw away.

We managed to get rid of quite a lot of stuff.

After lunch, the weather improved to the extent that it actually stopped raining but it was still tremendously grey.  Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some shopping and I got out the slow bike again and set off for a short spin.

Although it looked very gloomy when I started, it improved a little and I got an hour of gentle pedalling in before I thought it was dark enough to come in again.

I did take a camera with me but it wasn’t a day for cheery scenic photographs so I concentrated on some water shots and visited a couple of my favourite little cascades on the mighty Wauchope.

wauchope cascade

After the rain, there was a fair bit of water coming down the river…

wauchope cascade

…with more rushing to join it from across the road.

wauchope cascade

I did basically the same ten mile trip up to Callister and back as I had done yesterday but put in a diversion to Cleuchfoot to add an extra couple of miles.   This took me across the Glencorf Burn…

Glencorf burn

…which has a handy sheep catching gate.

Glencorf burn

There was not much to see today but a couple of well furnished fence post tops caught my eye.

My lichen grip is sketchy but this might be Parmelia sulcata or a similar lichen

lichen on fence post

It looked very striking on a dull day.

The second fence post was more varied and seems to have two different sorts of lichen on it.

lichen on fence post

I put one of these images into the Google image search and it suggested that it might be a lilac!  Maybe AI still has a bit to go.

When I got home, we were visited by Mike Tinker, who had enjoyed his walk yesterday too.  When we told him that Mrs Tootlepedal had been doing some heavy  “spring cleaning” in winter, he told us not to mention it to his wife Alison under any circumstances.  Mike likes a quiet life.

If you read this Alison, it was just a little decluttering, nothing serious at all.

My ambition to eat a bit less has been hampered by the fact that I keep on eating more.  I am afraid that 12 miles on the slow bike won’t do much good but it can’t do any harm so I will continue to take any small window of cycling opportunity that appears in the gloom and hope for some better light to go with it.

No chance at all of a flying bird of the day today so a paddling blackbird will have to do instead.

paddling blackbird

 

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Today’s guest picture is a snapshot of the weather in Manitoba.  It was sent to me by Mary Jo.  It makes even a very gloomy winter’s day in Langholm look toasty.  As Mary Jo said, it provided an excellent excuse for a prolonged lie-in. These are degrees C.

Manitoba weather

Shakespeare posed the rhetorical question, “O, who can hold a fire in his hand / By thinking on the frosty Caucasus?” so although I felt a great deal of sympathy for Mary Jo’s deep freeze, it didn’t make our miserable day here seem any better.

It was above freezing and much of the snow had melted but there was enough slush about to make walking an activity which required attention and the low mist didn’t make being outside attractive anyway.

We had a quiet morning indoors and even watching the birds wasn’t much of a distraction as there weren’t many about today and the light was appalling.

If they sat very still, I could catch them…

siskin

robin

siskins

….but there was no much point in wasting time with a camera.

After lunch, we were promised a slight lift in the gloom and when it came, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went out for a stroll with a bit of shopping thrown in.

The walking turned out to be less problematic than we feared and there were  parts of the walk where the snow and slush had almost disappeared.

Stubholm

A bright spot on a dark day was a burst of flame in the heap at the stables on the Stubholm.

fire

When we got to the Murtholm, it was almost possible to believe that it hadn’t snowed yesterday at all….

Murtholm

….but a look up at the  slopes of Warbla told a different story.Warbla with light snow

We crossed Skippers Bridge for the last time in 2017….

 

Langholm Distillery

…and as usual were impressed by the detail in the lichen on the parapet of the bridge…

skippers lichen

…and I took the last photograph of the bridge for the year as we walked back to the town.

Skippers Bridge

There was a promise of brighter skies behind the trees on the opposite bank…

trees

….but it was only a promise and it soon faded back to grey.

We did our shopping and then walked home, happy to have had some exercise and to have met some friends on the way.

The little Lumix which sits in my pocket when I go for walks is a marvel of technology but it has odd quirks and one that came to the fore today is its positive dislike of catkins.  I saw some very chirpy reddish hazel catkins in the hedge while we were talking to a friend whom we had met on our walk so I got up close and tried to take a picture of them.

The Lumix simply wouldn’t focus on them.  It didn’t focus on anything else but just wouldn’t focus on them.  It claimed it was focussing on the catkins but it was lying.

catkins

There is just something that it doesn’t like about catkins.  It’s a great mystery to me and I sometimes think that I have spent the best part of my later life trying to get a decent catkin picture.

We had a quiet evening in.

Fortunately, it is going to be a degree or two warmer tomorrow so we shouldn’t be troubled by frozen slush but unfortunately, it is going to be wet in the morning and  a lot windier in the afternoon so it looks as though 2017 is going to end in a way that will typify the whole year….with rotten weather.   We are investing a lot of hope in a better year in 2018 as Mrs Tootlepedal has big gardening plans and I want some enjoyable cycling days.

This was the best effort at a flying bird of the day that I could manage.

goldfinches

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture from Irving, taken earlier on,  shows the Black Esk reservoir, the source of our drinking water these days.

Black esk

After yesterday’s crisp and sunny weather, we could hardly have had a more different day today.  It was soggy, grey, cloudy and cold…

…but there were compensations.

snowy garden 2017

The view from an upstairs window in the morning

snowy garden 2017

Untrodden snow on the drive

It was a winter wonderland.  Or at least, it would have been a winter wonderland if there hadn’t been a persistent damp drizzle and if the clouds had lifted to reveal the hills.  As it was, it was somewhat of a damp squib of a day.

The birds really appreciated the feeder and there were dozens on the ground, on the feeder, on the plum tree and even more waiting off stage on the walnut tree.

snowy birds

Some birds seemed quite happy as more snow fell…

chaffinch, goldfinch, siskin

…but some just couldn’t contain their impatience.

chaffinches

I got out a shovel and cleared a path along the drive and some of the pavement outside the house and then after a look around…

snowy garden 2017

…went back in.

The day took a turn for the better when Dropscone came round with some traditional Friday treacle scones and my coffee blend worked out well.

We caught up on Dropscone’s golfing adventures and his family news and then he walked off through the snow again.

It had stopped snowing by this time so I thought that I ought to take a bit of exercise.  I strapped the Yaktrax to my wellies and set out to see where my fancy would take me.

It took me past the church…..

parish church snow

…with its details neatly picked out by the snow.

Then I passed the Meeting of the Waters, presenting a marked contrast to the sunny scene when we were here feeding ducks with Matilda a couple of days ago.

meeting of the waters snow

There was no golden winter light today and a rather ghostly scene appeared when I looked at the trees across the Castleholm.

snowy trees

Individual trees had been picked out by the falling snowflakes.

snowy trees

I met a jogger on the Lodge Walks.  She was running rather gingerly on the icy surface but remarked as she passed that the conditions on the track to Potholm further back had been more comfortable.

My fancy turned to the track to Potholm.

It would mean a five and a half mile walk in total but the lure of snowy scenes and good conditions underfoot led me on and I pushed ahead, ringing Mrs Tootlepedal first to stop her worrying about a longer absence than was expected.

The decision turned out to be a good one.

There were plenty of snowy scenes.

View of Potholm from Langfauld

And excellent walking on the track through the Langfauld wood.

Langfauld

The bridge at Potholm marked the furthest point of my walk.

Potholm Bridge

I met a second jogger coming towards me on the road from Potholm.

jogger on Potholm road in snow

The scene was white enough to make a sheep look quite grey by comparison.

sheep in snow

The snow and the grey sky made a good backdrop for this tree at the Breckonwrae.

tree in snow

And I finished up taking the same shot a the end of my walk as I had taken at the start of our walk yesterday.

Today:

langholm in snow

Yesterday:

View from Scott's Knowe

Both walks had been really enjoyable.

I got back in time to have a very late lunch and enjoy a robin in the snow….

robin in snow

…and a couple of the many blackbirds scavenging under the feeder.

blackbirds

Because the weather was expected to be rather inhospitable later in the evening, Mike and Alison came round for the usual Friday evening visit in the afternoon.  Alison and I enjoyed playing pieces by Rameau, Loeillet and Woodcock and then we sat down with Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal to a cup of tea, some excellent home made (by Alison) mince pies and a few ginger biscuits to dunk in the tea.  It was a good way to round off the Christmas holidays.

Now we are preparing for the New Year.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch once again.  They are very reliable birds if you don’t have a lot of time to look out of the window..

flying chaffinch

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