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Posts Tagged ‘siskin’

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia’s African adventure.  As well as many wild animals and birds, she found time to take in the countryside as well.

Etosha Pan, Namibia,

We were spared the worst of some inclement weather today with towns to the north of us getting a heavy snowfall.  We did get constant rain and wind so we didn’t escape entirely.

It was very wet and windy at first and it was still raining heavily at lunchtime when there was just enough light to let me look out of the window at the birds.

siskin and green finch

It eased off a bit from time to time, but even when it wasn’t visibly raining, a trip to the back door showed a fine mist of drizzle being blown across the garden at a brisk pace.

The birds didn’t come to the feeder in great numbers, probably because of the wind as much as the rain, but there were still moments when they had to queue.

chaffinches and goldfinches

These two summed up the day quite well, I thought.

siskin and goldfinch wet

And as usual, some chaffinches would prefer to get in an argument than to go to an empty perch.

shouting chaffinh

I did step out into the garden and found a washed out chionodoxa….

chionodoxa in the rian

…and daffodils hanging their heads down….

daffs hanging herads

…but as it felt cold in the drizzle and wind, I soon went back indoors.  Luckily there was an afternoon of rugby on the telly to help me pass the time, and I watched Wales thoroughly outclass a rather dispirited looking Irish team.  It was a game with a single try very near the start and another right at the end and in between there was a lot of bash, bash, bash which was quite tense without being very interesting if that makes sense.

After the game, I made a pot of sausage stew and then, since it was still drizzling outside, I sat down with foreboding in my heart to watch England walk all over Scotland.   This they proceeded to do with some style and they were more than twenty points up in less than  twenty minutes.

I checked the weather.  The rain had stopped and there was a hint of blue sky.  Phew, I could go for a walk and leave them to it.

Under normal circumstances, I would have walked as far as the evening light would have let me and I would have come home well after the game had finished but as my foot is still a bit iffy, I merely walked down to the river to admire the daffodils…

daffodils along esk

… check on the flow rate…

bridge in flood

…and say hello to a couple of pairs of mallards…

pair of mallards on wauchope

…who had managed to find pockets of calmer water.

pair of mallards in calm water

I was laughed at by a bunch of rude starlings in the tree beside the Buccleuch Centre…

starlings buccleuch square

…and pottered home to find that the first half had finished with England leading by 31-7.

At least Scotland had scored a try.

Rather against my better judgement, I sat down to watch the second half and was rewarded by a modest miracle.  Scotland played a lot better, England played a lot worse and it was one of the days when fortune favoured the brave and the bounce of the ball went Scotland’s way.  As a result, with two minutes to go, Scotland were actually leading by 38 points to 31 and in sight of a famous victory, but it couldn’t last and they gave away a crucial penalty with only seconds to go.  England kept their heads and scored a well worked try under the posts.  The subsequent conversion tied the match at 38 all.  So it really  was a match of two 31-7 halves, most remarkable and a privilege to watch.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch who was unmoved by the whole rugby thing.

flying chaffinch

I have two footnotes to today’s post:-

The first was sent to me by my friend Bruce, who for reasons that he can’t explain found this scan of a ceefax page from roughly thirty years ago relating to a local school on his computer.  All I can say is that the lucky head teacher must have had an excellent staff to impress the inspectors.

Canonbie report

The other footnote is a composite shot of the pictures that I have framed for the exhibition in the Canonbie church cafe.  They have all appeared on the blog before and I have tried to pick out ones that might have general appeal and have some impact printed at A4 rather than seen at 800px on a screen.

P1170586

I realise that the top left picture needs re-framing.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who was alarmed to see some bears while he was out on a walk  in the town.  He calmed down when he noticed that there was a stout fence between them and him.

bears townfoot

It was a very unreliable day today as far as both the weather and the weather forecast went.  The forecast changed every time that I looked at it and the weather changed even more frequently.  At one moment the sun shone brightly and at the next it was raining or even sleeting.  There was one consistent factor however, a strong and cruel wind that cut like a knife.

As a result, I gave up any thoughts of cycling and watched the birds for a bit.  There are still plenty of them to watch at the moment, with twenty or thirty chaffinches and goldfinches on the plum tree and at the feeder….

invading chaffinches

…and siskins hanging about too.

siskin acrobat

There finally came a moment after coffee when the weather seemed to be set fair for long enough to let me out for a short walk, so I chanced my arm and went for a stroll round Easton’s and Gaskell’s Walks.

There was blossom in the park…

blossom in park

..and plenty of signs of wild garlic growing on the bank beside the river as I went along Easton’s.

wild garlic shoots

Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t like this walk much as she thinks that the trees don’t look quite well grounded enough…

bare roots

…and she may well be right as there are always little landslips happening along the path and many of the trees are leaning in a threatening manner, but I got along safely today.

As I turned back up the hill at the end of the riverside track, I saw a rich bank of moss…

mossy bank

…and the promise of a good show of bluebells to come later on in the spring.

bluebell shoots

When I got up to the Stubholm there were more signs of spring…

hawthorn buds

…and as long as I could keep out of the wind, it was a very pleasant day for a walk.

stubholm path

I didn’t dawdle though as I went along Gaskell’s because I wouldn’t have enjoyed being out in a heavy rain shower so I kept my camera in my pocket and stretched my legs until I was well on the way home.  Then I stopped to appreciate a tree at Wauchope Kirkyard…

graveyard tree

…and an ash twig on the road down to Pool Corner…

ash twig…and some alder catkins beside the caul.

alder catkins pool corner

The daffodils along the road sides are just beginning to come out, although it will be a week or two at least before they are out in full force.

daffodils moodla point

I got back home to find Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work in the garden, making metaphorical hay while the sun shone..  I looked around and was happy to see the first chionodoxa of the year.

chionodoxa

We went in for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal went off to her monthly Embroiderers’ Guild meeting and I settled down to watch Scotland getting beaten by Wales in the Six Nations rugby tournament.  I was so certain that we were going to get beaten that I ended up  mildly pleased when we give the Welsh a good fright before going down.  Even a blatant but unpenalised forward pass in the run up to the first Welsh try failed to significantly dent my equilibrium.

After Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her meeting, another spell of sunny weather tempted me out for a second short walk, this time over three bridges.

Once again, the sunny weather made for a cheerful scene but the  sharp eyed…

Castle Hill and gritter

…will notice a bright yellow gritting vehicle parked on the Kilngreen.  The driver told me that he had been out gritting the country roads to the west and north of the town as frost and snow to quite low levels are expected tomorrow.

Mr Grumpy was out enjoying the evening sunshine while he could and as I passed…

heron one leg

…he raised a languid foot in greeting.

heron two legs

On the Castleholm, I stopped for a chat with a camera club member, retired postman Stan, and by the time that we had finished talking, the sun was dropping behind the hills. It was getting quite chilly so once again, I put more effort into walking than snapping and only stopped to salute some willows at the Jubilee Bridge…

willow

…before hurrying along to get to home and some welcome warmth.

It started to rain again not long after I had got in.

Quite apart form the forecast of sleet or snow for tomorrow, it looks as though the unsettled weather is going to continue for at least a week so my cycling mileage for the month (zero miles so far) is likely to be very poor.  I don’t much mind cold conditions and I can cope with wind if it is dry and I can live with some rain if it is not too windy but I have passed the age when cycling in cold, wind and rain at the same time has any appeal at all.  I will try to sneak in as many walks as I can between showers.

The flying bid of the day is one of the large flock of chaffinches.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia who got to see the wonderful Mosi-oa-Tunya or ‘The Smoke that Thunders’, better known perhaps as the Victoria Falls, on her African trip.

Victoria Falls

Our spell of very poor cycling and photographing weather continued with yet more rain, accompanied by a chilly wind today to make matters worse.  We had had a clear spell but as it had been over night, all it gave us was an early morning frost and then it went away.

Since it was actually Susan’s birthday today, we pulled out all the stops to celebrate the occasion.

susan's birthday

It could hardly have been grander.

Sadly, the birthday girl didn’t stay long as she had arranged to meet my brother and one of my other sisters in Derby for another celebratory meal so Mrs Tootlepedal took her off to catch the train south from Carlisle.

I stayed at home as I had had enough driving yesterday and went up to theArchive Centre base to put a new ink cartridge in our printer.  To my relief, I had ordered the correct one and the printer worked.

When I got home, I watched the birds for a bit.

The feeder is going down very steadily at the moment and needs to be filled at least once a day.  I put this down to the siskins who are regular visitors and keen eaters…

four siskins

…and keen arguers too.

siskins attack each other

There are still plenty of chaffinches ready to make a dash for the feeder when the siskins go off.

pair of incoming chaffinches

I did go out for a walk round the garden but it was too wet and windy to be fun.

daffodil in wet

I made some soup for my lunch and settled down to a quiet afternoon of doing the crossword and putting music on to the computer.

I did look out of the window at one point and I saw two partridges in the garden (right under the pear tree) so I went out to try to get a picture, but they sloped off before I could shoot them.

Luckily for me, one turned up later just outside the kitchen window and…

partridge head turned

…gave me a hard stare and portrait pose.

partridge

While I was looking at the partridge, I noticed a blackbird so I took a gloomy shot just to record that it had been there….

blackbird

…and then a sparrow popped up too.

sparrow

Mrs Tootlepedal returned safely, having visited a garden centre where she made many judicious purchases, including a tiny plant just for me. I hope to show pictures of its development if I can mange to keep it alive.

It is an argyranthemum.

Argyranthemum

I have put it in a pot and watered it and it hasn’t died yet.  A good start, I think.

In the evening we went off to the Buccleuch Centre to hear a performance by an enterprising troupe of Japanese style drummers, Mugenkyo Taiko, who are based in southern Scotland, not far from us.  We have seen them before and enjoyed them so we were in optimistic mood as we settled down for the concert.

We were not disappointed and thoroughly enjoyed the evening.   I had a minor grump as they brought fewer drummers with them than before, and so there was more talking this time to allow them to recover between numbers.   The grump was only because, if offered a choice, I would much prefer to hear a Taiko drummer drumming than hear him or her talking.  Still the chat was educational so I shouldn’t grumble.

For those who are interested to find out what a Japanese style drumming group are doing in Scotland, here is a link to their website.

There were five drummers tonight and when they were all busy at the same time knocking six bells out of their instruments, it made a powerful and moving sound.

A stately chaffinch outshone the siskins when it came to the choice of flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who came across this giant nut weevil in his local supermarket.

weevil

After another night of rain here, I went out after breakfast to check on the state of the river and was surprised by how low it was.

fairly full Esk

I was expecting quite a spate but although it had rained steadily for some time, it had obviously not rained very hard and the river drainage system had coped very well.

It kept raining for most of the day so I had another quiet morning indoors, keeping an eye on the goings on at the feeder.

Siskins were very active in the shouting department, most aimed at passing chaffinches.

Sometimes they shouted up….

siskin shout up at a chaffinch

…and sometimes they shouted down…

siskin shout down at a chaffinch

…and sometimes two of them got in on the act and shouted horizontally in unison.

two siskins shout at a chaffinch

All in all, it was quite a busy morning….

very busy feeder

…although there was time for quiet reflection on the weather too.

goldfinch in the rain

In the afternoon, I went down to Carlisle station…

dig

…where I enjoyed the contrast between the wall panels of steam driven giants of the past and the less glamorous diesel railcars in use today.

 

dig

I wasn’t there to train spot though.  We are being visited by my eldest sister Susan who is on a birthday tour of her young relatives in Scotland and will be coming to Edinburgh with us tomorrow to visit our two sons and their families.  I was in Carlisle to collect her from the London train.

Her train arrived on time to the exact minute and we drove back to Langholm where Susan was greeted by some delightful fairy cakes cooked by Mrs Tootlepedal.

In the evening, Susan kindly took us out for a meal at the Douglas Hotel and while she and Mrs Tootlepedal enjoyed a leisurely coffee before going home, I scurried off to a Langholm Sings choir practice.

They day ended in quiet conversation centred upon the deplorable state of politics and the country.

I hope that the weather is kind to us as we go to Edinburgh tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin (in the rain).

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture finds my Somerset correspondent, Venetia on the Ovango River.  It looks like a good place to be.

Okavango River

After yesterday’s gadding about all over the country, I planned for a quiet day at home today, starting with a cup of coffee with Sandy.

There was a slight hiccup in the proposed placidity when fellow archivist Nancy phoned me up to say that one of the microfiche readers in the Archive Centre wasn’t working.  I cycled up and after a great deal of head scratching, I took some advice from Sandra, another archivist, searched online for solution and found one.  Phew. I cycled home again.

Sandy was in good form when he arrived and we hope to be able to get out for a walk soon.

When he left, I watched the birds for a bit and once again there was a fair bit of action on the feeder.  Chaffinches flew in double handed…

two chaffinches incoming

…but the siskins were more than up to defending a perch.

chaffinch and siskin arguing

A collared dove was an oasis of peace and quiet in a furiously fluttering feathery world.

collared dove

The snow from last night had disappeared and from time to time the sun came out and shone on the siskins…

siskin posing in sunshine

…and I even thought of a gentle pedal.  However I went out to help Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden instead and trimmed a couple of berberis bushes.  Then I made some soup for lunch and after we had eaten it, I went out to help in the garden again.

Since we are making new soft fruit beds this year, the old ones are being re-purposed so I dug over the old raspberry and strawberry beds…

rasps and strawbs dug up

…and after some work on the gap  between them, they will become the the home for the potatoes this year.

We also put the Christmas tree in its new place…

christmas tree planted out 2019

…where it will sit quietly until next December.  It is looking healthy and sturdy so we have every hope that it will see a bauble or two when the time comes.

It is sitting beside the remains of our rhubarb patch.

early rhubarb

I saw quite a few daffodils on my travels yesterday and we are getting more out here in the garden every day now.

daffodil

I went in for a sit down, leaving Mrs Tootlepedal working away outside and then Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea.  He is much better after having had a chest infection and it is good to see him getting out and about again.

When he left, I went out for a  quick three bridges walk just to stretch my legs.

A dipper stood on a rock in the turbulence of the Meeting of the Waters and showed off the special white nictitating eye membrane which keep its eyes protected when it is dipping.

over the shoulder dipper

A cluster of ducks lurked behind daffodils on the bank at the Kilngreen…

three ducks

…and a bit further upstream, a second dipper was doing some lurking of its own.

hidden dipper

I was hoping to take more pictures but there was a large crowd of children and parents on the Castleholm attending a running event so I passed by and made my way home without lingering, stopping only to record two more signs of spring, a willow at the Jubilee Bridge…

willow bud

…and some blackthorn in bloom beside the Esk.

blackthorn

I got home in time to meet Luke for our regular flute lesson.  We had a hard working half hour, trying to develop the correct style in our playing.

That concluded the excitement for the day.

There are two flying chaffinches of the day today as I couldn’t choose between them.

There is the vertical lady…

flying chaffinch vertical

…and the horizontal gent.

flyimng chaffinch horizontal

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Today’s guest picture comes from one of our son Tony’s walks with his dogs.  He met a fine crop of fungus in a wood.

more fungus from Tony

I had a busy morning which started with a visit to the Buccleuch Centre with Mrs Tootlepedal to attend the producers’ market where stocks of meat, fish, cheese and honey were obtained.  The cheese vendor looked at me as I packed my cheese purchases away and said, “You must eat quite a bit of cheese.”  I thought that he was very perspicacious.

When we got home, I had enough time to notice a redpoll on the feeder, looking rather disapprovingly at a pair of argumentative siskins….

redpol; looks on

…before we had a cup of coffee and then went out to do some useful gardening.  It was very grey but reasonably warm and dry so it was a good day to get some work done.

We are preparing beds for soft fruit so while Mrs Tootlepedal prepared the ground and planted out a new gooseberry bush, I dug up the old autumn fruiting raspberries which have run their course and are being replaced.

It had rained overnight so the ground was soft and relatively easy to dig.

When we had finished with the berries, we turned to pruning a rose….

rose shoots with rain

…which has some promising new shoots.  We took off the old shoots and Mrs Tootlepedal trimmed and organised the new shoots until everything looked very neat and tidy.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the result.

There are signs of growth all round the garden.

spring buds

By the time that we had gone in and had lunch, it had started to rain and I took this as a hint to have a quiet day before going to Manchester tomorrow.

Out in the garden, the idea of a quiet day was alien to the siskins and they continued in full active mode.

siskins threaten siskins

And the chaffinches found time to argue with each other too.

chaffinches squabble

The rain got harder and harder, the wind got stronger and the day got darker so we were happy to sit in front of the telly while the birds got wet outside…

siskins and redpoll in the rain

…and in this way, we passed the rest of the day, though Mrs Tootlepedal found some time to work on a patchwork rug which will cover the rocking horse when it is finished.

The flying bird of the day is a suitably fuzzy siskin to reflect the miserable weather outside.

fuzzy flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s recent walk along the canals of Birmingham.

birmingham canal

We kept our dry weather today but there was no sign of sunshine so the temperature was at a more natural level for the first of March.

Following on the experience of the garden playing host to a partridge (though not in a pear tree), we saw the arrival today of two doves (though collared and not turtle).

two doves

Now we are expecting three foreign hens (though probably not from France).

In the absence of three French hens, I was happy to welcome Dropscone with some of his very best treacle scones at coffee time.  After coffee and conversation, he left to discuss the problems of installing a water meter in premises with no water supply with a man from the water company who wanted to install a water meter in the old Archive premises which don’t have a water supply.   I wished him luck.

Meanwhile, the siskins had got busy back in our garden.

A chaffinch sensibly kept its head done while two siskins squabbled…

siskin and siskin cinfrontation

…and a goldfinch did its best to ignore some challenging behaviour.

siskin and goldfinch confrontation

There were enough birds about to make putting out a second feeder seem like a good idea but in no time at all, both were being monopolised by more siskins.

siskins at both feeders

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to the Buccleuch Centre for lunch with two of our neighbours and I made some ginger biscuits to give to a friend of ours as a birthday gift.

Once the biscuits were cooked, I went out and  sieved some compost.  The gentle back exercise involved had a very beneficial effect on my feet.  They had been rather sore after pounding the streets of Edinburgh yesterday.  As a result, when Mrs Tootlepedal returned from her lunch and gave the biscuits the thumbs up, I went out for a short walk.

The pale hellebores in the garden had taken note of my complaints about them hanging their heads down and had made an effort to look up a bit.

pale hellebores

I walked down to the river and was happy to see that the trees along the bank between the bridges were bursting into flower…

riverside blossom

…and below them, the daffodils are starting to make a show.

riverside daffodils

It is beginning to feel like spring.

There were no gulls or oyster catchers about at all but I did see a dipper standing on a rock below the town bridge.

dipper below bridge

And along the Kilngree, a female mallard was doing the same.

duck on a rock

I crossed the Sawmill Brig and was impressed by the fruitful mosses on the wall.

four mosses

Instead of walking along the Lodge Walks, I headed up the hill and walked along the top of the woods, passing this gate on the way….

pathhead gate

…and seeing two unusual sheep in the field behind the gate.

varied sheep

As I walked along the top track, there was a hint of blue sky…

blue sky

…but it was not enough to bring the sun out as the blue sky was over there =>  and the sun was over there <=. along with a lot of clouds.

Although the individual snowdrops are going over fast, there are still enough about at Holmhead to make a delightful scene.

snowdrops Holmhead

There was not a lot of peace and quiet on the walk as the birds are getting the spring spirit and I was serenaded all along my route.

black bird

The many hazels along the river bank as I walked back to the town were dripping with catkins and covered in the tiny red flowers but I resisted the temptation to take yet another hazel flower picture and settled for this white flower growing on the wall at the top of the Scholars’ Field.

wild flower

As I passed my old school, I was saddened to see that the windows are not being maintained.  Although it is unoccupied and unused, it is still sad to see a building going to seed.

school window

I dropped in on Mike and Alison on my way home to enquire about their health and was offered a cup of tea and a ginger biscuit, which I accepted.  When I left, Mike came out into the garden to show me his dog’s tooth violets which are looking very pretty.

dog tooth violet

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I set off in the car with some of our home cooked ginger biscuits, tastefully wrapped in a special bag which Mrs Tootlepedal had sewn while I was out walking.  They were to be a gift for our recorder playing and choir friend Sue who was having a birthday meal with her daughter.  Her daughter had secretly organised an after meal invasion by Sue’s friends and Sue took it very well when more and more people kept appearing through her daughter’s front door.

We had a very enjoyable and social time talking to Sue and her friends and eating the snacks provided by her daughter.

In a break from the endless line of flying chaffinches, the (only just) flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

just flying goldfinch

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