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Posts Tagged ‘Skippers Bridge’

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  She has been suffering from a bad cold but has recovered enough to walk up to Kenwood House to have a coffee and a mince pie in the cafe.  She found a very fine day for her excursion.

kenwood house in sun

We had another calm and sunny day here today but we paid the price for a clear night by having a frosty morning.

frosty chaffinches

The chill encouraged a few birds to come to the feeder and it persuaded me to go for a walk rather than a cycle ride after coffee as the the thermometer was still showing a meagre 1°C at 11 o’clock.  This may have been too cold for pedalling but it was ideal for walking as the ground was nicely firm under foot when I got on to the hill.

I walked up the track to Whita from the town.

I was surprised to find a dandelion out as well as a garden escape on my way up the Kirk Wynd but the blooming gorse on the hill was no surprise as it is out all over the place.

dandelion, shrub and gorse january

There was no lichen looking cheerful on the wall at the top of the track but the moss was remarkable.  I don’t think that I have ever noticed it looking quite like this before.

moss heads

The view up the Ewes Valley did not disappoint and the weather seemed set fair for a stroll.

ewes valley from kirk wynd

When I got to the open hill, I didn’t continue straight up to the monument but turned right along the face of the hill following the old quarry track along the contours.

Looking across the town, I could see the Craig Wind Farm turbines rotating very lazily in the light breeze.  It was a pleasure to be out on such a day.

craig wind farm

I had a look at the trig points on the top of Warbla and Timpen.  In these days of digital mapping, they serve no useful purpose but I am glad that they haven’t been taken away as they provide a punctuation mark at the summits.  Both of them were dwarfed, the one on Warbla by the communications mast beside it, and the one on Timpen by a blade of a turbine nearly a mile away behind it.

two trig points

Three sheep pondered on my activities.

three sheep

When I reached the wall at the end of the track, I paused to look over the town.

town from quarry track

Below me, a field lined with tall trees vividly showed the difference between sunshine and shade.  I was glad to be in the sun.

shadowy frost

There are many photo opportunities round Langholm and this stile over the wall at the quarry is one of the most popular and I hardly ever cross it without stopping to take a picture.

quarry track stile

Today, this turned out to be slightly embarrassing for a gentlemen who was having a pee behind the gorse bush and hadn’t seen me coming.  He soon drifted out of shot though, muttering as he went.

I went diagonally down the hill towards the oak wood and followed the track through the wood down to the road…

oak wood round house

…passing an elegantly decaying tree trunk….

tree trunk

…and some fine hair ice on my way…

hair ice skippers

…to Skippers Bridge.  It was far too good a day to miss the photo opportunity there.

skippers bridge reflection

I walked back along the river without seeing anything exciting enough to make me stop again and got home after four miles just in time for lunch.

I was reflecting as I got back to town that I had just crossed moor and mountain and passed field and fountain and as it is Epiphany, I thought that  perhaps I ought to bring Mrs Tootlepedal some rich gifts.  I stopped at our corner shop and purchased milk and honey.  These would have been a pleasant surprise for her if I hadn’t met her cycling home from an errand just outside the shop.  She came in with me.  Still, she appreciated the thought.

Over lunch, I looked out of the window and saw some sparrows.

sparrow eating seed

The males have rich colours on their backs which show up well in sunshine.

sparrow in sun

Once again, there were not many birds about so I let my lens stray towards the sedums round the feeder.

sedum

After lunch, I had an appointment with the speech therapist in Dumfries, 35 miles away but once again, thanks to the magic of the internet, I was able to see and speak to her online which saved me a lengthy drive and a lot of time.  It is a very efficient system which has worked perfectly both times we have used it.  As a result of this week’s consultation, I will be humming down a straw into a glass of water for the next seven weeks.  She assures me that it will work wonders.

Later in the afternoon, I settled down to putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group’s database and finished putting the choir songs onto the computer.

This took longer than I expected and when I finally finished, it was time to cook some corned beef hash for my tea.

I have decided this year to keep a record of my walks as well as my cycle rides, partly to stop feeling that I should be cycling even when the conditions are not suitable and partly out of interest to see how far I walk.  I am only counting actual expeditions like today’s, not the ordinary pottering about house and garden.

As a result, I find that I have walked or cycled every day in 2019 so far, cycling 77 miles and walking 20.  That seems like quite a good balance.

I did find a flying bird of the day today as a chaffinch, some sunshine and a camera in hand all appeared at the same time for once.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from a trip which my brother Andrew made to Shipley Park a while ago, when there as still some colour in the trees.

Shipley Park

We woke to a fine calm and often sunny day but in spite of this, I had a very restful morning.  Indeed, it was so restful that for most of the time, apart from a visit to the shop to buy a bottle of milk, very sensitive cameras would have had to have been deployed to detect any movement in me at all.

I did occasionally cast an eye out of the window to see if there were birds about but they were not much more active than me.  Goldfinches arrived in small numbers…

goldfinch crowd

…and a chaffinch glowered at me from the chimney pot.

chaffinch on chimney

More chaffinches arrived and in the end…

chaffinch landin November

…it was hard to avoid a flying chaffinch for a short while at least.

four flying chaffinches

After lunch, I was a bit ashamed of my lethargy, feeling that I was wasting a day which was perfectly usable so I got into my cycling gear, wrapped up well and went out for a pedal on my slow bike (my new bike being at the cycle shop for a service).

When I was in the bike shop yesterday, I had purchased some bamboo socks which claimed to be waterproof and I tried them out today to see if they were warm as well.  With the temperature at 7°C as it was today, cycling can easily lead to cold feet which make pedalling literally a pain.  The socks turned out to be very good and I had an enjoyable if sedate 15 mile ride.

As I was in no hurry, I stopped for photographs as I went along.

There was some low cloud about and although the hills in the distance were bathed in sunlight as I went past Bloch Farm…

ewe hill windmills

…I was under a cloud as I passed my favourite tree.

bloch tree

When I got to the top of the hill at Tarcoon, I could see sunshine and clouds over England ahead of me…

clouds over england

…and by the time that I got to the road down to the Hollows, the clouds seemed to be laughing at me.

laughing cloud

…although I was basking in the sunshine by this time.

two trees november

It had turned into a lovely day for a pedal where I was….

View of Glenzier road

…so I sailed down this road to the Hollows, crossed the Esk by the Hollows Bridge and puffed up the hill on the other side of the valley and returned to Langholm through Claygate.

This gave me an additional river to cross as the Tarras lay among the trees between me and Whita..

Looking from Mumbie

I enjoyed the sweep down to the river…

dav

…crossed the bridge when I came to it and was able to take a breather on the way up the steep hill on the other side of the bridge because this is where the road has been closed for three years.

Tarras road 2018 closed

Luckily there is a small gap between the blocks for an elderly cyclist to push his machine through and take stock of the damage…

Tarras road 2018

…before passing through the barriers at the far end and getting back to work.

The light had turned quite golden by this time….

tree with seeds

…and I had one last swoop downhill to get back to the Esk…

golden light

…which was well in the shadows by this time.

skippers bridge in November

I was very pleased to find that I had been able to cycle up two quite steep little hills without having to get off and walk and without, so far as I can tell, having set back my leg recovery.

I hope that there are a few more good days like this before the end of December. As long as I am well wrapped up, winter cycling is very satisfying .

We had thought of going out in the evening but the charms of a comfy sofa and Strictly Come Dancing persuaded us to stay in.

The flying bird of the day is one of the goldfinches.

flying goldfinch

Endnote:  My brief remarks about hope in yesterday’s post caused some comments.  They came after I had been listening to an interesting radio programme in which Melvyn Bragg and guests discussed the development of ideas about hope, which was left in Pandora’s box either as a consolation or as another evil, and which later became the companion of faith and love.  You can find the programme here if you are interested.  I am not sure whether it will be available to overseas readers.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce’s northern trip.  He had got as far as the Isle of Harris when he took this shot of the  famous beach at Seilebost on a day that was not encouraging any sunbathing…but the view was still good.

Seilebost

It was both less windy and warmer than yesterday here today in spite of the complete absence of any sun.

As I sipped coffee and nibbled scones with Dropscone, who had come in search of a spare mouse for his computer as his had died, Mrs Tootlepedal was clearing off the remaining dahlias from the front beds.

She made short work of the task…

P1140817

…and by the time that Dropscone left, the beds were cleared.  It didn’t take us long to shred  them and add the remains to the green mulch on the back bed.

P1140835

Mrs Tootlepedal has become very fond of green mulching and I have to take care not to to linger for too long in one spot while taking flower photographs for fear of being covered in mulch myself.

I nipped around with the camera just to show that although the dahlias may have gone, there is a good deal still left to delight the eye.

All this….

P1140829

…and these too.

P1140836

We even have what passes for a colourful corner in October…

P1140837

…and of course, there are Special Grandmas.

P1140824

I had a quick check on the birds while we having coffee.  We are getting a steady supply of  greenfinches again though they were rather rude today and turned their backs on me…

_DSC7669

…and a blue tit wasn’t any more helpful.

_DSC7672

Still if the birds won’t ‘watch the birdie’ then there is nothing to be done about it.

After lunch, the warmer weather persuaded me to ignore the possibility of some light rain and go for a cycle ride.  I took the precaution of having my big yellow rain jacket on from the start and a persistent drizzle, which came on almost as soon as I had left the house, made me grateful for the decision.

It was a gloomy day….

P1140845

…with the hills shrouded in clouds and there was quite enough wind to make pedalling into it seem like hard work.

There were reminders along the way of even stronger winds in the recent past.

P1140846

However, as I dropped down into the Esk valley at Canonbie, the rain stopped and the wind became my friend and pushed me back up the hill into Langholm.  The trees along the riverside are among the most colourful around at the moment and the bridges at the Hollows…

hollows bridge view oct 3

Looking north

hollows bridge Oct 3 south

Looking south

And at Skippers…

view from skippers oct 3 2018

Looking north

skippers bridge view south 3 oct 18

Looking south

…gave me the chance to have an uninterrupted view of the colour.

All this tree watching was very tiring and my new bike had to have a short rest on the old A7 between the bridges.

old A7 oct 3

Although it was only my usual 20 mile Canonbie circuit, the ride gave me great pleasure, both because of the views and because my legs had appreciated four days rest since my last cycle outing.

I had a shower and a sit down and then, after a nourishing meal of corned beef hash,  it was time to go out to sing with the Langholm Choir and put my singing lesson to the test.  My teacher, Mary was too busy to take the choir herself this week and sent her husband along to take her place so I don’t know what she would have thought of my efforts but I enjoyed myself a lot so I thought that the lesson had been worthwhile.

I have got several busy days ahead and posts might become a little sketchy or even totally invisible after tomorrow for a while.

Meantime here is a flying goldfinch as a change from the incessant chaffinches.

_DSC7676

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony just to show that his life isn’t always glorious sunrises.

Fife stormy weather

We had a dry day today that became increasingly breezy as time passed.  If I had been extremely well prepared and keen, I could have got up at the crack of dawn and done twenty miles in calm conditions before breakfast…but I wasn’t and I didn’t.

What I did do was to have a late breakfast and then enjoy a cup of coffee and some excellent scones with Dropscone when he came to call.  His golf is still causing him some grief but he did tell me that he had noticed the toadstools were out in force among the trees beside the fifth fairway on the golf course.

I couldn’t go up straight away as I had a visit to the health centre to get my three monthly vitamin B12 top up to fit in first.

I had a look at the birds when I got back and was happy to see a calm blue tit on the feeder pole…

blue tit on feeder pole

…and several lively chaffinches coming in for seed.

scary chaffinches

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre cafe and after a light lunch, I headed up to the golf course on a toadstool quest.

On my way there, I saw horses at the bottom of the Kirk Wynd having a snack on the way to their field….

horse on Kirk Wynd

…and a bee having a snack on a dandelion at the top of the slope.

bee on dandelion

I was a bit worried about the toadstools when I passed the green keeper and he told me that they had been mowing the rough but when I got to the trees, there were still plenty to be seen.

They were a little past their best but there was a lot of variety and colour….

golf course fungus panel 1

…and both old and new were to be seen along with other varieties.

golf course fungus panel 2

This was the top toadstool of the day in my opinion.

golf course fungus star

While I was on the course, I took a moment to admire the wonderful new 7th tee, built since my golfing days….

seventh tee

…and the old shelter for benighted golfers on stormy days, still standing after many years but only just.

shelter on golf course

I left the course and headed for the open hill.

I had passed this way last in the middle of the dry spell and the wall at the gate onto the hill had had very little lichen or moss but the recent rains had got things going again…

lichen on moss at top of Kirk wynd

…and both lichen and moss were thriving.

The skies clouded over as I walked along the track to the quarry so I have taken the liberty of ‘zinging up’ the pictures that I took along the way a bit as otherwise the skies looked very dull in the images and the results didn’t reflect the pleasure that I got from the scenery.

My route took me along the hill with views up the Ewes Valley to the north…

 

view of ewes from whita

…past the town….

view of Langholm from Whita

…over the wall at the quarries…

wall and stile at quarry

…and down into the woods….

oak wood path

…which gave me some welcome shelter from the stiff breeze.

oak wood near round house

I walked down to the river at the Skippers Bridge and stopped for the obligatory picture opportunity.

Skippers bridge Sept 18

It is a tall bridge when viewed from the upstream side as can be seen by the tiny figure crossing it in the shot above.

Peering through arch of the bridge, I thought that the river was looking at its best.

Esk below skippers

(Not zinged up at all)

The recent storms have left a lot of broken trees and branches around and I saw a couple on my walk today.

fallen trees

I walked along the Beechy Plains on my way home and in the rather gloomy woods beside the river, I saw both script lichen and fungus…

Easton's walk

…of various sorts.

fungsu on tree stump

I ended my walk with a visit to our corner shop.  It really is on a corner.

corner shop

Mrs Tootlepedal had brought back a slice or two of a delicious sponge cake from the Buccleuch Centre and I ate them with a cup of tea while I rested for a while after battling the breeze.

Then I started the task of sanding down the garage doors which are going to be painted.  Luckily this didn’t require any great skill and I was able to get on with it while Mrs Tootlepedal did some shopping.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do front-of-house for a ballet screening and on this occasion, I left her to it and spent time messing about with the photo editor instead.

The flying bird of the day is another chaffinch.  There are a lot of them about.

flying chaffimnch sept 18

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  Her cat brought in a most unexpected visitor not long ago.  Luckily it wasn’t an adder but a harmless grass snake and it survived.

grass snake

We were promised some rough and windy weather  from Storm Ali and we got some rough and windy weather with gusts between 50 and 60 mph in the middle of the day.  Luckily the rain stayed away for the most part and we got off lightly.  30 miles to our west, Dumfries declared a major emergency such was the strength of the wind there and 100 miles to the north, winds of over 100 mph were recorded so on the whole, we can’t complain.

We were distracted from the weather by the arrival of an old university friend for coffee and lunch and catching up with his news gave us plenty to do while we ignored the roaring sounds outside.

We walked along to the Buccleuch Centre to lunch in a comparatively calm moment and then watched as twigs, leaves and small branches whistled past the windows propelled by a savage gust.

The strongest gusts had gone by the time that Murray left to go back to Carlisle so Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked round the garden and shook our heads at fallen plants but also picked up a great number of walnuts which had descended from above.

I filled the bird feeder and wondered whether the birds had enough strength to battle the winds.

They had, though they could only approach the feeder into the wind at the start and had to fly round the feeder to get the correct landing path.

goldfinches

goldfinches and chaffunch

As the winds continued to gradually ease off, the birds filled up the perches….

chaffinch approaching goldfinch

…though the ones waiting higher up in the plum tree still had to hold on tight and keep their heads into the wind.

windy goldfinch in plum tree

It started to rain again so we went inside but after a while, it stopped and I took the opportunity to stretch my legs with a walk down one side of the river to the Skippers Bridge with a return up the other bank.

There had been a good deal of wind assisted leaf fall…

leafy path in park

…and acorns littered the paths and tracks.

acorns fallen

There are definite signs that the equinox is nearly upon us.

fist autumn colour

fallen leaf

I stopped to admire the Skippers Bridge, looking at it from below….

skippers at the equinox from downstream

…and above….

skippers at the equinox from upstream

…before walking along the newly repaired leaf and twig strewn pavement back towards the town.

fallen twigs and leaves

I had to brush this branch aside as I went along the riverside path…

branch across path

…and was also stopped in my tracks by this lovely show of clematis in the hedge.

sewage works clematis

I would like to see this in our garden but Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is ‘rampageous’ and more trouble than it would be worth.

When I got to the suspension bridge, I noticed that the regular gull was standing in its regular spot on the edge of the river.

gull in Esk on rock

It seems as if it is waiting for a friend and I imagine it humming the gull equivalent of “I’m leaning on a lamppost at the corner of the street until a certain little lady comes by.”

There was evidence of the brisk breeze under the town bridge.

tree washed up

There was a very short shower when I was at the far end of my walk but having had their little joke, the weather gods relented and turned off the rain again.  Gradually the clouds lifted, the wind died down and it morphed into a fairly calm and pleasant day by the evening.

The forecast is for improving weather over the next few days so I am hoping that my bicycle may see the light of day again.

I had a look round the garden when I came back and picked up more walnuts and took a couple of pictures.

veg garden seedswhite pansies

In the evening, I went off to sing with the Langholm Community Choir but had to come home without singing.  The session had been cancelled as our conductor had been warned that too many fallen trees on her route had made the journey unsafe.

Ah well, you can’t have everything and it was a small price to pay for escaping the worst of the storm.

Today’s flying bird is a diagonal chaffinch, sneaking up under the wind.

diagonal flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by my son Tony, is a slightly fuzzy snapshot of members of his family enjoying the rock pools at East Wemyss.  They seem to be settling in well.

dogs at Wemyss

I did some settling in myself today.  I got up, had breakfast and then settled back in bed for a snooze.  It turned out that I was slightly tired for some mysterious reason.

I got up when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to church and mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass.  Although Mary Jo’s rain gauge was registering 0mm this morning, there has been enough rain recently to keep the grass growing at a great rate.

I couldn’t help noticing the butterflies on the buddleia beside the drying green.

There was the usual peacock…

four eyed peacock butterfly

…enjoying the morning sun enough to spread out its wings and show all four eyes and a painted lady posing prettily nearby.

painted lady butterfly

Beside the butterflies was the first of the Michaelmas daisies…

michaelmas daisy

…which is an uncomfortable reminder that the year is inexorably on the march towards autumn.

I had a walk round while doing a bit of dead heading.  The calendulas rise and fall with great regularity.  We have a great number in the garden and if you keep dead heading them, they keep on coming. The same applies to the poppies so we have to keep busy with the snips.

The dahlias were attracting bumble bees.

bumble bee on dahlia

And the red buddleia had a single butterfly on it.

butterfly on red buddleia

While I was wandering, I was once again struck by the glory of the new lilies.

colourful corner

More of them come out each day.

The gaura, which I thought was going over, has got a second wind and is flowering furiously.

gauraIt seemed to have been out for a long time so I checked and found that I had taken the first picture of it on June 23rd so it has been good value for money.

The golden wedding roses have done so well in our warm summer…

many golden wedding roses

…that Mrs Tootlepedal purchased a couple more roses of a similar type but different colours a couple of days ago to add a bit of variety to our view from the kitchen window.

new roses

The test will come when they have to put up with our winter.

New poppies appear daily at the moment.

pink and white poppy

Some with added insect.

red poppy with hoverfly

And a second flush of orange hawkweed has replaced the first flowering which was trimmed off when it went over.  It has been a very good summer.

orange hawkweed

I had intended to go bicycling in the morning but having failed to do that, I made the mistake of sitting down after lunch and didn’t get up again until four o’clock when Mrs Tootlepedal summoned me out to help drive in a stake to support a really tall sunflower.

very tall sunflower

It really is really tall.

The drying green buddleia was awash with peacocks…

four peacock butterflies

…and it was tempting to hang around to try to take the definite peacock picture but now that I was up and active, I thought that I ought to make something at least of a really good summer’s day.  Our temperatures recently have been perfect for me, hovering around 20°C.

I rolled round my customary 20 mile Canonobie circuit, trying quite hard but not going very fast and only stopped for a picture when I crossed Skippers Bridge on my way back into Langholm.

Langholm distillery

I looked both ways.

River Esk from Skippers Bridge

When I got home, I took a self indulgent picture of the middle lawn which has survived a miserable winter and a drought not too badly.

middle lawn

You can see the very tall sunflower in the background.

A gentle and enjoyable day was rounded of with an excellent meal of roast chicken with vegetables from the garden all provided by Mrs Tootlepedal.

I didn’t find the time or the energy to take any bird pictures so the flowers of the day are the phlox which continue to dazzle.

phlox

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary’s visit to Kew Gardens.  The sedentary minded can view the gardens from this land train.

Kew Gardens 6 May 2018 006

We had a fair day here today with very occasional sun, a good breeze and some late rain.  It meant that Mrs Tootlepedal could garden until she was exhausted and I could do some lawn care and go for a walk.

I had hoped to have my new bicycle by now but an enquiry to the bike shop revealed that it might not even be ready for tomorrow.  I hope that it will be but I have steeled myself for more delay.

Anyway, in the absence of cycling, I scarified the front lawn and collected up huge quantities of moss to the great interest of our resident blackbird who followed behind me pecking up food for his family.

baby blackbirds

I got a better picture of one of the youngsters later in the morning.

baby blackbird

They seem to be bigger than their parents so it is no wonder that the parents have to keep busy to feed them.

The dead heading of daffodils goes on (Mrs Tootlepedal must have hundreds of daffs in the garden) and the dead heading of the tulips has just started (she has hundreds of these too)  I counted over eighty of the red tulips in the narrow bed at the end of the drive and as Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that she only planted twenty, they have done remarkably well.

There is other colour about.

lithodora and primula

But still some daffodils and lots of tulips….

daff and cowslips

…and the long lasting cowslips too.

tulips

I sieved a little compost which Mrs Tootlepedal promptly used for planting out a recent purchase and then it seemed to be lunchtime.  Time flies when you are having fun.

After lunch, I went for a walk in the hope of seeing bluebells.

I saw fine blossom in the park as I walked though…

park shrub

…and many unfolding ferns along the way…

fern unfolding

…but best all, I saw the bluebells.

bluebells

I had time on my hands so I followed a track that the local mountain cyclists use through the woods.  At times it looked very inviting…

cycle track through wood

…and at times it looked truly terrifying.  I wouldn’t be able to tackle a track over bumpy roots and  fallen trees, through small streams and up and down steep banks so I take my hat off to those who do.

I am more interested in looking at things as I walk along.

There was a lot to look at.  As I took too many pictures, I am going to add only the barest number of words.

ajuga

Ajuga

larch cones

Larch keeping its cones over the winter.

view

A view at the end of the track down the hill

lichen

Lichen on a wall

blossom

Blossom

blossom

And more blossom

bluebells

I went to another bluebell wood but it wasn’t quite ready yet.

moss

There was interesting moss to make up for the lack of blue

hairy moss

Very interesting moss

dandelion

The dandelions were in good condition

distillery

Spring comes to the old Langholm Distillery

river esk

Looking down the river Esk from beside Skippers Bridge

skippers Bridge

And looking back at the briodge

wildflower

Wild flowers beside the river

heron

An old friend getting his feet wet

cherry blossom river esk

Blossom between the bridges

It was a delightful stroll and only needed a drop or two of golden sun to make it perfect.  I got a little splash of sunlight near the end of the walk but it only lasted a moment or two.

Mrs Tootlepedal had been working hard in the garden while I was out and by the time that I got back from my walk, we were both quite tired enough to make going inside and having a cup of tea seem like a really good idea.

Once inside, we got planted and didn’t go out again.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Mike I enjoyed a small glass of Old Speckled Hen, a quality bitter beer, and then, while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal caught up on all the news that was fit to hear, Alison and I enjoyed some good music, ending with a Partita in G by Telemann .  This was a really good way to end an enjoyable day.

If only my new bike would appear all would be well with the world.

I have put out some fat balls at the feeder and they attracted the attention of a sparrow today.  It is the perching bird of the day.

_DSC3957

 

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