Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘siskin’

Today’s guest picture is another from Tony, proving that he can take in the bigger picture but not miss interesting detail at the same time.

tony's stone

Encouraged by the splendid picture of a loaf bread which our daughter Annie sent us, I checked the recipe which she had also sent me and decided that it might be within my capabilities to make a similar loaf.   It has an interesting method requiring no kneading at all and cooking in a Dutch oven so it was a journey into the unknown for me.

The result was pretty good for a first go and I would have had a picture for you if half of it hadn’t mysteriously disappeared already.  I can report that as it is made from what is virtually a batter rather than a stiff dough, it tastes much like a crusty crumpet and is very delicious, especially when it is still warm.  I will have another go.

I had plenty of time to look at birds this morning while I was cooking and for once, there were plenty of birds to look at…

busy feeder

…including another visit from our resident robin.

robin on chair

I liked these two goldfinches keeping a communal eye out…

two contrary goldfinches

..perhaps checking for siskins, one or two of which made a welcome re-appearance.

siskin

I did think of going for a cycle ride while the mixture was rising but a rather gloomy forecast persuaded me that a walk was a better option so I went along to check out the Becks wood.

It was reasonably warm but grey and windy so I resolved to try a few black and whites on my way.

bw bench

I thought that this old tree stump, entirely given over to moss deserved the full colour treatment….

moss covered stump

…as did this elegantly gesturing tree…

expressive tree

…but an old shack often looks better in monochrome.

shed bw

In among the hundreds of new trees in tubes in the recently felled Becks wood are some rather weedy looking survivors of the cull.  This one looked as though it was bending down to greet the newcomers.

bending tree bw

The wood has been thoroughly cleared of felled trees and brashings and the scale of the new planting is impressive.  Although some locals mourn the loss of the commercial conifer plantation, I for one look forward to the new deciduous wood and enjoy the much improved views in the meantime.

view down becks burn

I went through the wood, down the road and across the Auld Stane Brig before climbing up the lower slopes of Warbla on the far side of the valley.  I kept an eye out for interesting stones and was much struck by this one with lichens on it nearly as decorative as a Maori tattoo.

warbla stane with lichen

An old tree trunk posed for a picture.

rotting log

I had thought of taking the track to the top of the hill but when I looked around, I could see low clouds coming in from all sides…

mist coming down

… so I took a more direct route home through the Kernigal wood and along the Stubholm track..

bw wood walk

…before dropping down into the park and passing a favourite wall.

moss on wall

When I got back to our house, the snowdrops on the bank of the dam were out…

dam snowdrops flourishing

…as was much of the moss on the middle lawn which had been pecked by jackdaws…

lawn pecking

…and Mrs Tootlepedal who had gone off to an Embroiderers’ Guild meeting.

My timing was good as it started to drizzle as I got home and it kept it up for the rest of the day.

Left to myself, I baked the bread, did the crossword and settled down to trying to learn a Carlisle Choir song off by heart.  This was a thankless task because as soon as I had mastered one phrase, I found that I had forgotten the previous one.

Mrs Tootlepedal returned and in the evening, we went off to the Buccleuch Centre for one of the highlights of its annual programme.   Fresh from touring China and playing in Inverness, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, with 60 players, had come to play their Viennese New Year’s concert to a full house.  I cannot speak too highly of the privilege it is for us to get a full scale symphony orchestra playing in our town of 2500 inhabitants.  We sit so close to the orchestra that the experience is absolutely thrilling and the slightly dry acoustic, which the players find hard work, means that the audience can appreciate every note that is played by every instrument.

The conductor even told several very amusing jokes.

A grand night out in every way.

As we have a full singing day tomorrow, I am expecting the weather to take turn for the better.

Although there were a lot of birds, poor light made finding a good flying bird of the day hard work and this was the best that I managed.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture from Joe comes from his Highland holiday with our daughter Annie and shows a deer taking a breather before getting ready to pull Santa’s sleigh.

Joe's deer

In a contrast to yesterday’s wall to sunshine, we got wall to wall mist today…

Christmas day view

…so it was lucky that it was Christmas Day and there was feasting and general jollity indoors to pass the time.

While preparations were being made for roast duck and all the trimmings, I cast occasional glances out of the window.  It was far too gloomy for good pictures but I could record the welcome visits to the feeder of an occasional siskin and greenfinch…

siskin and greenfinch

…and although we couldn’t run to a partridge in our pear tree, we did at least manage the nearest thing to two turtle doves that is available round here.

pair of collared doves

After a Christmas lunch that could best be described as very full filling, I decided that if I was going to eat any more, I needed a walk.

It was very gloomy indeed outside…

black day from park bridge

…and I needed my flash to show the moss on a tree trunk along the river side.

moss with drops

I walked up the track to Stubholm and was surprised to see a fallen tree.  I didn’t think that we had had bad enough weather to cause a collapse like  this.

fallen tree on Stubholm track

Once at the top of the hill, the views were even more circumscribed, with ghostly animals and buildings in the fields….

view of field from stubholm in mist

…a very limited view of the town….

view of town from stubholm in mist

…and no view of the hills at all.

view from stubholm in mist

Once again my flash came to the rescue and added a little colour and seasonable sparkle to my walk…

park wall grass baubles 2

…as the park wall once again held items of interest to the passer by.

park wall grass baubles 1

I got back in time for afternoon tea with tasteful canapes, ginger biscuits and Christmas cake in company with Mike and Alison.  Alison’s shoulder is recovering slowly but it will be some weeks before our Friday evening music making is resumed.

There followed traditional sofa slumping in front of the telly and as we had eaten very well already, the evening meal was abandoned for selective grazing of left overs with a modest helping of plum pudding to round things off.

Thanks to the wonders of telephony, we had conversations with family members all over Britain so we were not short of seasonal good wishes and all in all, it has been a very satisfactory day.

There is no flying bird of the day today because of the gloom but at least a seasonal robin popped up to pose for the occasion.

robin on back of seat

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Jenni, my Highland correspondent.  We have been having some good sunrises here and may be there is something in the air at the moment because she had a spectacular one too.

Highland Sunrise

It was another cold day with the thermometer hanging about the 5 degree mark at best but a nipping and an eager air made the wind chill factor a neat zero.

Under the circumstances, I was pleased to get out on my bicycle, if not early, then at least before I had sat down to waste time over coffee and a biscuit, my usual delaying tactic.

I took a simple out and back route to avoid any long effort cycling straight into the chilly wind though I did take a short diversion up to Cleuchfoot…

Cleuchfoot glen

…where I stopped to take a picture of a tiny valley that runs down to the road.  It looks as though it might lead somewhere exciting but in fact it only leads out onto a boggy and featureless moor.  Once I was back on the Lockerbie road, I was very pleased to see men and machines hard at work at the site of the recent landslip.

mending the Lockerbie road 2

No one had expected work to start so promptly.

I passed them and cycled on to the top of the hill at Callister where I was passed by half a dozen quarry lorries who were busy at the site of the new wind farm there.  There is no sign of the turbine towers yet so they are either improving the access road or building the bases.

I stopped at the road works on my way back and was very impressed by how well they have sorted the problem.

mending the Lockerbie road 1

I was curious about the black plastic pipes sunk into the surface of the works and one of the men told me that they are going to be holders for the new fence posts. He said that he thought that the repair was sound and would last well and as he turned out to be one of my ex-pupils, I have every confidence that he will be right.

On my return to Langholm, I cycled through the town and out of the other side and since the sun was now fully out, I stopped to record my favourite view up the Ewes valley….

Ewes Valley

…and the neighbouring farmhouse.

Terrona

I clocked up twenty miles and was quite happy to stop before I got chilled.

I had a quick look at the birds and was shocked to see a male chaffinch being beastly to a female…

cahffinch misogyny

…but pleased to see that our lone siskin was back again.

siskin

I made some soup for my lunch and while it was cooking, Mrs Tootlepedal headed off to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda.

Fuelled by the soup and a couple of tomato rolls, I went out for a walk.

I started off along the riverside path and then headed uphill through the Kernigal wood.  There has been a lot of wind blow lately and it was good to see that someone had been out with a saw and done some tidying up.

kernigal wood tidying

Perhaps this is because I was walking along the track you can see on the right of the picture below which is much used by local mountain bikers.

kernigal wood

It is very welcome for walkers as it provides a good path through a tangly bit of forest.

I came out at the top of the wood and walked back down the track towards Skippers Bridge.  I didn’t have my thinking head on when I chose my route and I was rather upset to realise that if I had been walking on the other side of the valley, I would have been enjoying a sunny day.

winter sunshine on whita

In fact when I looked around, I found that almost everywhere was bathed in sunlight except where I was walking.

winter sunshine on Castle Hill

When I got down to the main road, I found that winter had cleared enough foliage away to give me a view of the large bridge for a small stream which almost all motorists probably pass over without noticing as they leave the town for the south.

Culvert at Skippers

I didn’t dilly dally on my way home as it wasn’t getting any warmer but I did stop to check out the black smudge on the fence at Land’s End which turns out to be this very attractive lichen, still in excellent condition…

fungus on fence at lands end

…and to see if the fungus on the tree at the Co-op had survived the cold weather.  It had and was even bigger than when I saw it last…

fungus at Co-op

…and it too looked to be in good condition.

fungus gill

As I walked back along the river bank, a glimpse of brightness among the gloom on the far bank caught my eye.  It was an old friend disguised as a twig.

heron in shadows

Back in the garden, I found a little remaining colour on the leycestaria…

leycesteria

…but there was nothing else of note so I went inside and did the crossword.

As Mrs Tootlepedal had taken our car away and my friend and customary chauffeur Susan was on holiday in Glasgow, I had no way of getting to Carlisle and back for the monthly meeting of our recorder group.  They are kind people though and on the Mohammed and the mountain principle, since I could not get to them, they came out to me and we had a most enjoyable evening of music making.

We were just having our post-playing cup of tea and biscuit when Mrs Tootlepedal returned safely from Edinburgh and that rounded off a cold day very warmly.

I didn’t find a moment with both good light and a flying bird in it so that is the reason for a very scrappy flying bird of the day picture.

flying chffainch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture, the very last from Bruce’s Highland tour shows the photographer and his wife casting long shadows beside the Crinan Canal near Lochgilphead.

Lochgilphead

It was a miserable cold and wet morning about which the less said the better.

Some winter visitors appeared in the shape of a siskin…

december siskin

…and a brambling.

december brambling

Having ignored the morning, we set off for Lockerbie after lunch to catch the train  to Edinburgh and we were very pleased to find the the rain had eased off.  By the time that we got to Edinburgh, the day was dry although the light has already gone by the time we get to Matilda’s house at this time of year..

We had a lot of fun of fun.  Matilda spent a good deal of time shooting me with a bow and arrow and to be fair, I spent some time shooting her too.  She is a better shot than me.  We were well armoured with cushions to avoid any lasting injury.

After the bow and arrow session, Matilda obliged with a short ballet demonstration in front of the splendid Christmas tree which has appeared in her sitting room.

mde

The performance ended with an elegant bow and then we had a nourishing meal of soup and a two bean, pepper and chipotle sauce stew cooked by Matilda’s dad.

Once again a visit to Matilda provided us with first rate entertainment and a quality meal.  Who could ask for anything more?  Trains that run on time perhaps but that may be asking too much.

No flying bird today as it was too gloomy so two sitting chaffinches are standing in.

two chaffinches side by side

We might see a drop of golden sun tomorrow.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew.  He was surprised to hear gunfire as he came towards the centre of Derby and even more surprised to see this when he got there.

derby marchers

It was a grey day here when we got up and that turned out to be the best of the weather as it had started to rain before we left church and it was still raining when we got back from our Carlisle choir in the early evening.

I made a lamb stew for the slow cooker before we went to church and when we got back from church, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the vegetable garden and dug up a turnip to add it to it.  I had hoped to use the time between church and the Carlisle choir in the afternoon to go for a short bike ride, or at least a walk, but the weather was just too depressing….

chaffinch in rain

…whichever way you looked at it.

goldfinch in rain

For some reason goldfinches always look the most miserable of our birds when it is wet.

damp goldfinches december

I was pleased to see a siskin or two even if they came at the gloomiest part pf the morning.

siskin

A blue tit looked in vain for some shelter in the plum tree.

blue tit among the droplets

Another welcome visitor was a robin.  They are great shape shifters and it is hard to believe that this stubby little bird on the chimney pot…

robin on chimney

…is the same bird as this sleeker model on the feeder but it is.

robin on feeder

As well as birds, I saw a different creature as I looked out of the window.

spide outside the window

Time for a visit from the window cleaners perhaps.

After lunch we set off to Carlisle to combine a little shopping with our singing.  The journey was more exciting than we would have wished because one of those illuminated  spanners appeared in the dashboard display as we left Langholm.  This all too often presages a transfer of money from me to the garage.

Sometimes these dashboard warnings are just false alarms but on this occasion it was obviously more serious as we were greatly lacking in power when it came to going up hill or trying to accelerate.  Against Mrs Tootlepedal’s advice, I pressed on to Carlisle and was very relieved to get there without the engine giving up the ghost.

I was pretty sure that the fault resulted from our very wet drive through puddles when we came back from our visit to Edinburgh on Thursday night and optimistically hoped that when the car was parked at the supermarket, the warmth from the drive in would miraculously cure the problem.

It did.  Phew!  We got safely to the church car park and had a good sing, the last before our concert next Sunday.  Then we had another nervous moment, waiting to see if the car was still working properly when we started it up to go home.

It was.  And even though we drove home through some more torrential rain, it kept working and we arrived safely in Langholm.  Whether it will be working again tomorrow after this second very soggy drive is another question of course.

The lamb stew turned out very well so we were able to relax a bit after all the singing and automotive stress.

I did find one slightly brighter moment in the rain which coincided with an obliging chaffinch so here is the flying bird of the day.

flyingh chaffinch

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He was up early today and walking his dogs along Buckhaven beach.

Buckhaven beach

We had a sunny but chilly day here too, with a brisk northerly wind keeping temperatures down to 6°C at their highest.

It didn’t matter to me as I got out of bed but never got dressed.  This was to ensure that I didn’t succumb to temptation and go out for a walk while the sun was shining.

I woke up to find that my leg was a lot less sore and as the day went on, and applications of gentle massage, magic ointment and frozen peas occurred, my leg continued to improve.  Any thoughts of a serious tear have receded and the injury has now been re-categorised as a minor sprain or strain which needs considerate treatment….and a lot less moaning and groaning.

As a result of looking after the sprain, I hardly did anything all day.  I managed lying back in bed in the morning while listening to an interesting programme about Bach’s music, and then making a loaf of bread and putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database in the afternoon.

I did cast the occasional look out of the kitchen window.

Knowing that I was laid up, the weather gods provided a cloudless day to torment me…

sunny garden

…but mother nature laid on a good supply of birds to entertain me.

siskin oct

A siskin

I did go out of the house for about 30 seconds or so to change the feeder and a chaffinch gave the replacement a very quizzical look.

quizzical chaffinch

A blue tit liked it more as it has better perching facilities for  very small birds.

blue tit on clean feeder

It was all the same to the jackdaws.  They only come for the fat balls.

sleek jackdaw

We entertained Mike Tinker to a cup of tea on his return from holiday in Wales.  He came bearing rich gifts of delicious cheese and other delicacies.

We have a heavy day of church singing tomorrow as our church choir is going to sing at a four church choir festival of music in Lochmaben and we will have our own service in the morning, a practice in the afternoon and then the festival in the evening.  I am looking forward to it.

It was a day for sideways looks from flying chaffinches.

sideways flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Marianne, our son Tony’s partner.  It shows Tony getting some sausage making tips at the ‘Bowhouse Food Weekend’ in St Monans yesterday.  Marianne tells me that they intend to eat the sausages that he made.  They are very brave.

Tony at St Monans

After two days of miserable rain and wind, the weather gods relented and laid on a calm, fairly warm and dry day today, ideal for cycling.  Of course they knew that I had choirs to go to both in the morning and the afternoon with no time for serious cycling in between so they must have laughed themselves silly.

Still, the choirs were very enjoyable so I had no complaints.

After the church choir,  I had time to walk round the garden.

We have a little horizontal cotoneaster against the house with bright red berries and colourful leaves.

berries and leaves

Wet flowers were to be found. The striking clematis in the top row is is the only flower that the plant has produced all year.

Octcober flowers

We have our own autumn colour provided by the climbing hydrangea and one of the azaleas.

hydrangea and azalea in autumn

I looked at the birds while I attended to the tricky culinary task of preparing baked beans on toast for my lunch.

A collared dove appeared and didn’t start a fight.  This was possibly because it was the only dove there.

Collared dove at rest

There were several goldfinches only too ready to argue.

goldfinches sparring

I got the chance to catch  welcome visits from a dunnock…

dunnock Oct

…and a robin.

october robin

After my baked beans, I had just enough time to go for an amble round Easton’s Walk.

As I got to the Wauchope Water, I found that it had gone down enough to allow a dipper to do some dipping in the calmer current near the bank.

dipper dipping

The recent rain has encouraged the moss on the park wall.

spangles moss

I came down the track to the edge of the Murtholm fields….

Easton's Walk in autumn

…and enjoyed the colourful trees behind the farmhouse at the far end.

Murtholm in autumn

As I walked back along the river to the park, I spotted two ghostly fungi, one on a fallen tree…

white fungus

…and one unusually white one, part of a small bunch of fungi on the banking in the shadow of old tree roots.

very white gungus

The thorny hedge round the war memorial provided a resting place for water droplets.

thorn hedge with raindrops

When I got home, the sight of the winter jasmine in full flower at the back door  was a reminder of the march of the seasons.

winter jasmine

The weather gods had one last little joke to play.  The sun came out just as I was preparing to go to Carlisle for the afternoon choir so I only had time for a glance out of the kitchen window to watch a siskin hanging about…

siskin depending

…and a chaffinch weighing up his options …

flying chaffinch in sun

…before I went off to Carlisle to sing, driving down the road in beautiful weather and muttering under my breath as I went.

Our new musical director continues to be very lively and amusing so we all worked hard for her in return and as a result, we had a useful practice.

I am hoping for some kindly cycling weather tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow in torpedo mode as it heads for the feeder.

flying sparrow missile

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »