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Posts Tagged ‘siskin’

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

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

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

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

…and a Veronica.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

During the afternoon, a tentative beak appeared…

…which was followed by the rest of the bird…

…and a hearty snack ensued.

Now you know what a happy rook looks like

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and some neat planting there….

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

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

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

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

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Today’s guest picture is a fine Welsh tree spotted by my fine welsh correspondent Keiron.

keiron's tree

Finally we got some steady rain here overnight, and although it wasn’t a downpour, there was enough rain to leave the ground looking definitely damp when we got up in the morning.

It was deemed to be too cold and windy for an enjoyable outside coffee morning so we had to eat our chocolate biscuits and drink our coffee by ourselves indoors.

I did go out into the garden to see if the rain had sparked huge new growth but things were much as they had been yesterday, only a bit damper.

garden after rain

There didn’t seem much point in staying out so I went back in, waving at a hellebore as I did so.

hellebore

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy with work for the proposed community land buy out * and I found inessential ways to pass the time until lunch.

It was technically a cycling day, but it was grey, with a vigorous and blustery wind, and as there was also a promise of rain in the forecast, I thought that a walk with Mrs Tootlepedal would be a much better bet.

We took the path up the river past the Duchess Bridge.  Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t been along this path for some time and was impressed by its mossy trees with lichen covered trunks surrounded by wild garlic.

duchess bridge walk

We emerged out of the woods and followed the road towards Potholm.

There was plenty to catch our interest along the way, a romantic tree, copious stitchwort and crosswort….

milnholm road

…two men planting trees in a felled area on the opposite bank of the river, lichen on the wall beside the road and a great heap of lambs.

The star of the show to me was some fresh hawthorn flowers in a hedge.

hawthorn flowers

Passing Milnholm farm we saw a potato field and more lichen on a branch…

milnholm hedge and field

…and signs of the recent frost in the shape of damage to a beech hedge on our left and then more damage all along the hedge to our right.

As we got near to the bridge over the Esk at Potholm, an oyster catcher tiptoed through a field, trying to avoid our scrutiny

oyster catcher potholm

Once across the bridge, we walked up the track into the woods…

climb past potholm

…passing fresh  ferns, poppies growing in wall and ajuga growing beside the track.

potholm wild flowerrs

At the top of the hill, we left the main track and walked up a minor track through the woods.

forest track longfauld wood

This was the track I had followed on a  recent walk but it was new to Mrs Tootlepedal who enjoyed the woods and the wild flowers in them.

wild flowers longfauld wood

We were interested to see that the recent frost had pretty well put paid the the yellow pimpernel but had left the tormentil unscathed.

We passed two very green spots, first what Mrs Tootlepedal thought was a moss like liverwort on a bank….

liverwort

…and then a grassy clearing at the end of the forestry track.

green in wood

We followed a bluebell lined path back to Holmhead…

path above north lodge

…and walked down to the road  through the snowdrop wood where we were brought up short by this magnificent soup plate sized fungus on a tree stump.

huge fungus holmhead

The road itself, with bluebells shimmering through the woods to our  left…

holmhead road

…brought us down to the Lodge Walks where we were happy (but a bit jealous) to find a fine azalea which had escaped frostmageddon.

azalea lodge walks

We walked across the dandelion covered football pitch…

soggy dandelion head

…crossed the Jubilee Bridge (after Mrs Tootlepedal had spotted a nuthatch) and made our way round the Scholars’ Field.  There I stopped to take a picture of the most common wild flower that we had seen almost all the way round out walk.

red campion

Mrs Tootlepedal was moved by the sight of the children’s play area, unused and neglected because of the virus.

deserted playground

We were both ready to polish of what was left of the boiled fruit cake with a cup of tea when we got home after a very varied and enjoyable five miles.  Although it had threatened to rain more than once as we walked, an added bonus was the fact that we got round dry, with even an occasional hint of sunshine.  In fact it didn’t start raining until quite a bit later in the day and I had plenty of time to watch the birds after the tea and cake.

Pairs of siskins (dropping food as usual) and goldfinches were joined by a lone siskin and a curious redpoll.

siskin, redpoll and goldfinch

Siskins and redpolls continued to appear…

flying siskins and redpolls

…and I watched them until it was time for us to Zoom with my siblings.

When she had first got up, Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a lot of birds feeding their young in the garden, but they were never there when I was looking, so I was pleased to see a young thrush in the plum tree right at the end of the day.

thrush in plum

It is due to be warmer and wetter tomorrow, with a fine warm day to follow on Wednesday, so I hope that things will really start growing in the garden.

The flying bird of the day is not a siskin or a redpoll but a traditional chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

*If you haven’t looked at it before and are interested, details of the proposed community land buy out can be found here, and Mrs Tootlepedal wants me to add that any contribution to the scheme, however modest, will be very warmly welcomed and much appreciated.  Our thanks go to those readers who have already helped us.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Sandy.  He has attached a bird box to his shed and is very happy to see that it is getting used by blue tits.

sandy's blue tit

The day started with a WhatsApp conversation with Annie and Joe and our granddaughter Evie.  Evie is ten months old now and very grown up.

We had another chilly morning here but it was sunny again and when I went out into the garden, I was happy to see a hoverfly visiting and allium.

hoverfly on allium

All seemed reasonably well with the world until I went across to look at the azaleas with the intention of getting some colourful shots.

Alas, it had been just too cold in the night and the azaleas (and rhododendrons) were ex azaleas (and rhododendrons) now.  Pretty well everyone of them was  damaged beyond repair.  We were told that it had been -3C overnight and that had been enough to finish them off.

six dead azaleas

Mrs Tootlepedal was very sad, to say the least.  Her garden comes on in a succession of spring waves; the snowdrops, the daffodils, the tulips and then the crowning glory, the azaleas.

Not this year.

Annoyingly, some of the tulips, which are at the very end of their useful gardening life, survived the frost.

last of the tulips

I didn’t really have the heart to look round for other flowers but the sight of iris buds was at least a promise of something to come…

iris bud

…and the magnificent poppy on the back wall of the house laughed at frost.

oriental poppy out

Instead of having a cup of coffee with the regular street gang, I took some Garibaldi biscuits up to Sandy and got some of his flapjack in return.  His foot is very slowly on the mend after his operation, but it is a slow business and he has been cooped up in his house for far longer than the rest of us.  Under the circumstances, he is still remarkably cheerful.

I met a butterfly on my way.

white butterfly

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal was increasing the wideness of her wider view and more box bushes had bitten the dust.

cut box

I gave a hand with some of the tugging and pulling needed to uproot the toughest of the bushes and had a look round while I did so.

A sparrow was on the look out for tasty vegetable shoots to plunder.

sparrow on fence

I tested out the new bench and found some lily of the valley nestling beside it.

lily of the valley

The morning slipped away and I went in to make lunch and watch the birds.

I saw a siskin socially distancing itself from a sparrow.

socially distanced siskin

After lunch, we had a video conversation with Clare, Alistair and our other granddaughter, Matilda and then we downloaded a clever app that let us play games with Matilda in real time.   It was nowhere near as good as seeing Matilda and her parents in person, but it was a lot better than not seeing them at all.

Then Mrs Tootlepedal went off in search of some more horse manure, and I went  for another very slow cycle ride round my Canonbie circuit.

For some reason, my breathing is not good at the moment, possibly the combination of pollen and dust after all our dry weather, and I didn’t have much get up and go at all so I was quite pleased to have managed to get out for a ride  however slow and I quite enjoyed it

I stopped to see a new addition to a local Belted Galloway herd…

belted galloway calf

…and when I looked up, I was rather alarmed to see a hole in the sky.

hole in te sky

However, nothing fell through it and I pedalled on unscathed.

I passed a field full of cows who were feeling much like I was from the look of them.

lazy cattle

I don’t think that I have ever seen so many collapsed cattle before.

As I got near to the Canonbie by-pass, I cycled by some fields that had been mown for silage.  I can’t feel that there has been much growth in the grass but maybe the farmer felt that it needed to be mown before it dried out completely.

mown field with crows

As I got near Canonbie itself, I noticed the first hawthorn blossom of the year in a hedge.

first hawthorn

I liked this copper beech among all the greenery as I got nearer home….

copper beech

…and there were wild flowers in the verges a little further on…

gernaium and red campion

…and fine new cones on a larch tree by the river on the bike path.

larch cones

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was still busy taking out more box bushes and shaping some of the ones that are left.  She should finish the task tomorrow.

Near what is left of the hedge, a cheery potentilla has started flowering.

potentilla

I said good afternoon to a blackbird making use of what is left of the hedge…

blackbird on hedge

…and went in for a Garibaldi biscuit and a cup of tea.

After my regular sibling Zoom conference, I made cauliflower cheese for tea and then finished a day of video conversations by calling our recorder playing friend Sue.  Living in England, she is now able to go and visit her daughter who lives not far away, and this has cheered her up immensely.

That sharp frost and the death of the azaleas has really cast a long shadow over the day, especially as the azaleas were looking in good shape after a poor season last year.  Ah well, gardening is a vale of tears.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

flying goldfi nch

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

andrew's red field

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

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

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

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

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

rhododendron, wild garden flowers, hosta

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

lettuce and potato

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

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

greenfinch and siskin

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

rook on feeder

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

new bench

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

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

sweet rocket

…more euphorbia madness….

euphorbia

..and some lilac blossom.

lilac blossom

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

green garden

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

There was considerable goldfinch and greenfinch traffic…

goldfinches

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

goldfinches kicking

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

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

reflection on bridge

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

gull, small tortoiseshell, thrush

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

track abive pathhead

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

bluebells near north lodge

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

bright tree

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

lysimachia nemorum

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

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

tree above longfauld

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

bluebell, violet and ajuga

We dropped down through another patch of bluebells…

bluebell woods longfauld

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

trees on castleholm may

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

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

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

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

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

flying goldfinch

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

Mary Jo's farming picture

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

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

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

white rhododendron

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

aquilegia not coming out

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

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

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

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

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

redpoll posing

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

They were flying in all directions.

flying redpolls

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

redpoll shouting at siskin

We were visited by rooks too.

rook in garden

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

Fresh leaves on trees lift spirits…

trees near ryehill

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

fallen tree in leaf

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

hollows wood

…to see if the inhabitants were still there.

They were.

statues hollows 2

There is quite a little community of them.

statues hollows

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

silverweed flowers

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

bluebells old A7

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

pyrenaean valerian

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

larch flowers

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

ewes valley sun and shadow

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

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

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

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

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

flying greenfinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from East Wemyss.  Our son Tony was supposed to restart work today but thanks to an administrative mix up, he had leisure to walk the dogs and enjoy this very clear view across the Forth instead.

sunny forth

We keep being promised a change in the weather but it was another glorious morning today and instead of lounging about and doing the crossword, I got up quite promptly and walked round the garden.

We have bluebells there too.

bluebell in garden

There were a lot of sparrows about but they were in flighty mood and this was the only one that stood still for long enough to get its picture taken.

sparrow on lawn

I strolled along the back path and was impressed by the trilliums (do we have milliums of trilliums?) and got very excited by a the first hint of colour on a nearby rhododendron.

trillium and rhododendron bud

In a break with lockdown tradition though, the main business of the morning was not loafing round the garden but heading off into the wider world.

If I am to keep riding my bicycle for my daily exercise, it needs servicing so I checked to see if the bike shop in Longtown was open and expecting my bike.  It was and they were and for the first time in what seems like ages, I got into the car and drove out of the town.

It felt rather daring and dangerous doing a journey by car that I have done many times recently on my bike, and I wondered if I would remember how to drive.  All went well and the bike was delivered to the bike shop and will come home with everything tightened up and a change of oil in the gear box.

I got back in time for the end of the morning street coffee gathering and while we were sipping and chatting, a passer-by presented Mrs Tootlepedal with large bag of horse manure.  I was quite surprised but Mrs Tootlepedal seemed pleased.

The horse manure was being ferried in a push chair and the designated occupant of the chair was running ahead and crying out, “Look at me, I’m running.”  I might have been running too if the alternative was to share my ride with a load of horse poop.

Still, the manure acted as a stimulant when we got back into the garden and I sieved a barrowload of compost from Bin D, and then shifted the contents of Bin A into Bin B, layering in the horse muck as I went.

Having done that, I scarified the middle lawn and produced mounds of moss.  Mrs Tootlepedal took most of it away to cover exposed soil in the back border and I mowed the remains off.  The result looked surprisingly good and a blackbird turned up to look for worms when I had finished.

scarified lawn april

Then, it was lunch time and there was a moment for gold and green finches to stare accusingly at me.

goldfinch and green finch

A siskin turned up and, as is usual when a siskin comes in, manners flew out of the window.

siskin and chaffinch

After lunch, I had a walk round the garden and turned my attention to the tulips.

white tulip panel

It is no hardship to look at tulips.

two tulips

In the back border shuttlecock ferns are unfurling.  They looked uncannily like a collections of penguins having a serious discussion.

shuttlecock ferns

There are things to look forward to…

aquilegia buds

…but I couldn’t wait and went out for a bike ride.

With my road bike in the bike shop, I turned to my shopping bike and went for a shorter ride than usual.

Just as I was about to set off, some drops of rain fell so I had to take the washing in first and then reconsider my cycling apparel.

I crossed my fingers and hoped that the rain wasn’t serious, and although there were some heavy clouds about….

clouds over langgholm

…in all directions…

clouds over the kerr

…I had a dry ride with only the smallest amount of rain to make sure that I didn’t dilly dally too much.

It was brighter over in England…

view of english hills

…but the wind turbines were only turning gently…

view of skiddaw

…and there was enough sun to show off cow parsley and a very interesting little green plant beside the road at Tarcoon.

cow parsley and another

As I dropped down into the Esk Valley, things looked gloomier, with the sun over there…

canonbie sunshine

…and not where I was.

This stand of trees at Brookwoodlees sums up the time of year, green but not totally green.

Brockwoodlees trees

What wind there was blew me home from here and I rolled in after 14 very enjoyable miles, with a scattering of raindrops to speed my final few rotations of the pedals.

I got home in nice time for the daily sibling Zoom and then I had a moment to appreciate a full turn out on the feeder which I had refilled…

busy feeder

…before having two lightly boiled eggs for my tea.

After  the excitement of actually going somewhere today, I aim to have a quiet day in tomorrow.

The authentic flying bird of the day is a sparrow with its eye on the prize.

fling sparrow

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of my brother’s permitted walks.  He tells me that the bluebells were much more exciting in real life than they are in the picture, but that is always the case as any photographer will tell you.  That is why photo editing programs sell so well.  I think the bluebells look good.

Andrew's bluebells

We had a some rain overnight and although it had stopped by the time that I got out into the garden, there was still evidence of it to be seen…

drops on leaf

…and this was my favourite example.

drop on lupin leaves

The feeder was getting more attention than of late, with a siskin, a sparrow and greenfinch among the visitors.

siskin, greenfinch, chaffinch

Goldfinches appeared too, waiting their turn in Mrs Tootlepedal’s fake tree….

two goldfinches fake tree

…and so did this pair of chaffinches, who appeared to be a bit hard of hearing.

deaf chaffinches

During the morning I didn’t do much in the garden while Mrs Tootlepedal transplanted some alliums, though I managed some light daffodil deadheading.

I had a look in the greenhouse and marvelled at just how whiskery meconopsis plants are.

meconopsis greenhouse

Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that they are not looking quite as well as she would hope.  I have my fingers crossed for them as they are being specially grown for me to take pictures of them later in the year.

Lettuces and peas in the greenhouse are looking good.

lettuce peas greenhouse

Mrs Tootlepedal recently transplanted some tulips and in the course of the action, one tulip suffered fatal injuries.  The garden’s loss is the kitchen windowsill’s gain.

tulips indoors

When I came out of the greenhouse, I couldn’t resist taking another look at the rosemary plant just beside it.  It has really enjoyed the rather odd weather this year.

rosemary flowers april

After lunch, I went for my permitted walk.

My friends Nancy and Bob had told me two days ago that they had seen a few early bluebells on a recent walk so I went in the direction that they indicated to see if I could spot some for myself.  It didn’t feel like bluebell weather so i wasn’t very hopeful.

It still looked rather wintery as I got on to the Stubholm track on a chilly, grey afternoon…

stubholm track april

…but it is April and there were lots of sprouting leaves to be seen, and a bluebell.

green shoots stubholm track

Yes, a bluebell.

And not just one bluebell but several more as I went along….

early bluebells

…and a small carpet of bluebells when I got to the track up into the Kernigal wood.

bluebells kernigal

Just as my brother says, they looked better in real life than they do in the picture, but a few days growth and some sunshine should make a difference.  I will return.

While I was looking at them, I met fellow camera club member Mairi, also out for her permitted walk, and we chatted (at a distance) for a few minutes.

Like me, she is rather fed up at having to do the same walks all the time and longs for freedom but the coming of the bluebells had cheered her up a bit.

I walked up through the wood, pleased to see fresh green leaves on the young birch saplings beside the path..

young birches kernigal

…and then went onto the track that leads to the top of Warbla.

Even on a grey, chilly day it is an inviting prospect, especially when things are dry underfoot as they at present.

track to warbla

Not long afterwards, I heard a strange gasping noise behind me and I found myself being passed by a young fellow on a mountain bike.  He pedalled off up the track in front of me and must have been quite surprised when he passed me again before he got to the summit.  The track takes a wide route to the top of the hill and I had walked briskly up the more direct route across the grassy hill.

As the cyclist had parked his bike against the trig point at the top of the hill and was busy putting on a jacket for the descent, I didn’t linger.

It wasn’t a great day for views anyway…

view from warbla

…and after taking a single shot, I set off down the rough track towards Skippers Bridge….and was surprised to be passed by the cyclist again.  He soon disappeared from view though and I took my time over the tussocky terrain and didn’t see him again this time.

I had met a lady early on my walk who uttered those fateful words, “You should have been there with your camera yesterday.”   It seemed that she had been sitting under Skippers Bridge in the sunshine when she had seen an entertaining frog.

I thought that since I was there, I should see if I could see an entertaining frog today.

I couldn’t, but the view of the bridge never fails to please so I didn’t miss the frog too much.skippers bridge

The water is so low at the moment that I could get close to the bridge and look up to see how much it was widened to cope with increasing traffic.  It was built in 1690 and widened in 1807.

skippers two tone brodge

I took a puzzle picture while I was there.  The water was so calm below the bridge that is difficult to see what is above the surface and what is under it.

esk rocks at skippers

I walked back home along the right bank of the river and enjoyed this tree stump with a skirt of daisies and a lone lady’s smock flower on top, looking much like a candle on a birthday cake.

tree stump land's end

Some fresh green leaves down on the river bank caught my eye and I saw many little yellow flowers among them.  I had no idea what they are and indeed, I wasn’t even sure if the leaves and the flowers were related or just coincidental.

yellow flowers beside esk

(I have consulted Mrs Tootlepedal and she thinks that flowers are marsh marigolds and the leaves are not.)

When I got home, I once again reflected that you can get a lot of value out of a four mile walk round Langholm.

My good mood was further enhanced by an excellent meal of roast chicken, roast potatoes with stuffing and peas.  It had been prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal as an Easter treat.

Tomorrow is going to be even chillier than today, but with a bit of luck, the sun may come out in time for an afternoon bike ride.

The flying bird of the day is one of the starlings that zoom about above the garden.  They have very neat wings.

flying starling

 

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