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Posts Tagged ‘slow worms’

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone and reveals that the path in yesterday’s guest picture did indeed lead to a lighthouse, though the lighthouse is rather unusual.  It is opposite the port of Port Ellen next to Carraig Fhada at Kilnaughton Bay. The lighthouse was commissioned in 1832 by Walter Frederick Campbell in memory of Lady Eleanor Campbell. This is a very characteristic lighthouse with two square towers connected to each other.  It is a working lighthouse.

Islay lighthouse

Both Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a lie in today so things started slowly and it was very hard to distinguish between breakfast and morning coffee.

It was a cool day but dry and with not anything like as much wind as we have been having recently so I eventually got my bike out and set off to see how far my legs would carry me.  I was feeling pretty creaky at the outset but once again the good Dr Velo provided if not a complete cure, at least some relief from creakiness and my legs took for me for an enjoyable 30 miles.  I might have gone a bit further but I had no food with me and I had told Mrs Tootlepedal that I was going to do 20 miles so 30 miles seemed sensible.

The farmers have managed to get a second cut of silage in and my route was dotted with green fields where the sheep were grazing and pale fields where the grass had gone.

fields near gair

I kept my nose to the wheel for the most part and didn’t stop to take pictures, except for one of the river at Irvine House with just one hint of autumn among the trees.

Irvine House

There was a bigger hint a few hundred yards further along the road.

autumn bracken

When I got home, I found Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden chatting to our neighbour Liz. Liz was taking a break from hard work in her own garden but it wasn’t long before both the gardeners were back at work.  I had a sandwich and then came out to do some dead heading and supervising.

We have got some late orange hawkweed to keep things looking bright.

orange hawkweed

And if you think that this dahlia looks a little crowded with insects…

insects on dahlia

…what about this dandelion?

insects on dandelion

I went in for a cup of tea and then there was a smir of rain which brought Mrs Tootlepedal in too.

The rain didn’t last long and the afternoon brightened up again so Mrs Tootlepedal went back out to the garden and I went for a short walk.

The park wall showed that moss is getting back into its stride after the dry spell in the summer.

park wall moss

..with some spleenwort too.

There was lichen and a flower on the wall…

park wall lichen and flower

…and sloes and fungus beside the path as I walked up past the Stubholm…

sloe and fungus

…where I found that there was indeed light at the end of the tunnel.

Stubholm track

Gaskell’s walk had a lot to look at as I went along.

seed head

There were rosebay willowherb seed heads in abundace.

fireweed seed

…and a lot more fungus…

gaskell's fungi

…although one patch turned out to be fallen leaves.

The small lichen garden on the fence post at the Auld Stane Brig was still flourishing

Auls stane brig lichen

It has been there for years.

On the other side of the bridge, two cows did formation grazing.

two cows eating

The road back to town was colourful in places….

wildflowers by the road

…and there was another hint of autumn when I looked back over the graveyard to the woods that I had just walked through on the far side of the Wauchope Water..

A hint of autumn

At Pool Corner, the slow worms, both old and young, were still above ground (but under a sheltering piece of roofing felt).

slow worms

My walk was noted by interested spectators.

cows and sheep

Between the late start, the cycling and the walking, I didn’t have much time for looking at birds but in spite of that I did recognise how lucky we are to have a good variety of bird visitors.  Today we had starlings, blackbirds, blue tits, coal tits, sparrows, goldfinches, chaffinches, greenfinches, siskins, jackdaws, pigeons and collared doves.

You will have to take my word for that though as the only pictures I have is of the flying bird of the day, a chaffinch, going to join a goldfinch, sparrow and greenfinch on the feeder.

busy feeder

Looking at the picture, I notice that the chaffinch looks a little upset and this may have been because the perch that the chaffinch was hoping to land on has become unscrewed.  I will have to look for it tomorrow.

Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge shows 6 cm of rain for the week or just about 2¼ inches, almost all of which came in one night early in the week so our weather has been better than expected.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who appears to be spending May Day in Madrid.  He visited El Parque de Buen Retiro where he admired the colossal statue of Alfonse XIII, best viewed from across the boating lake.

8 of 96 El Parque de Buen Retiro

After putting on a good show for the visit of Mary Jo yesterday, the local weather gods fell back exhausted today and we reverted to mostly grey skies, a very cold wind and rain later. It didn’t matter all that much to me but Mrs Tootlepedal has got very fed with gardening in the cold.

She had woken up early and done quite a bit of good work in the garden before breakfast and then after breakfast, she decided to drive to the council dump, 18 miles away to get rid of the old vegetable bed boards, the old bench and sundry other items.

I had woken up with a very tender and arthritic thumb with a considerably swollen right hand so my plan was to let Mrs Tootlepedal do any work that was going and to try to rest the hand as much as possible.  While she went off to the dump, I took a  very gentle walk with my pocket camera clasped in my left hand.  Even with the light camera, taking pictures was not easy.

I had hoped that the bluebells might be out so I walked along the river past great banks of wild garlic, just about to burst into flower….

wild garlic

…and a lot of golden saxifrage and the occasional bluebell…

golden saxifrage and bluebell

…but it has been too cold and not sunny enough so when I got to my preferred bluebell spot, only a few were showing and the path up through the woods was still waiting for the blue carpet to be rolled out.

early bluebells

I walked up the path all the same and enjoyed what there was to be seen along the top.

hawthorn

Views over the town are disappearing behind fresh leaves.

leaves on Stubholm

leaves on Stubholm

When I got to the Stubholm, I continued along Gaskell’s Walk with just a hint in the blue sky above Meikleholm Hill to cheer the day up.

Meikleholm hill in spring

The path through the young birches was at its most magical.

gaskells in spring

There were a lot of grasses coming into flower along the path.

grass

When I got to the Auld Stane Brig, I stopped to look at the permanent little lichen forest that grows on the fence post beside the bridge.  At only a little over an inch high, it stubbornly resists rain, snow, hail, wind and the road of passing traffic.

lichen at auld stane brig

Further along the road some of the hedge was full of different lichens.

lichenA lone butterbur was in flower beside the Wauchope Water…

butterbur

…and on the wall at Pool Corner there was enough heat under the shelter for the slow worms to have come out.

slow worm

They like to snooze in a heap.

slow worm

When I got back to the garden, i was welcomed by the magnolia at the gate and Mrs Tootlepedal who had got back from her visit to the dump…

magnolia garden from gate

…and she, with a little help from me, gave the car a good clean up, even going as far as getting the vacuum cleaner on to the job.

The nearby tulips caught my eye…

P1090503

..and I went off to look at some more.

P1090505

I couldn’t hold the big camera up or get the tripod into position so there are no bird feeder pictures today.  I did take a picture of the chimney pot underneath the feeder though….

P1090508

…before going indoors.

That concluded my activity for the day and I spent the rest of the day sitting down reading the papers or working at the computer, typing carefully with gentle fingers and holding the mouse in the loosest possible grip.

As it started to rain heavily, this was no great hardship.

I did take one more picture of some flowers in a vase on the kitchen table with Mrs Tootlepedal kindly holding up one of her scarves to make a background.

P1090509

The quiet day certainly did my swollen hand no harm and I may need to look after it again tomorrow as I have learned that my new bike might be ready for collection on Friday and I shall want to be in as good condition as possible for a test ride.

There being no flying bird of the day, I have put in standing still and swimming ducks of the day instead, shot in a sunny moment on my walk.

mallards

Mary Jo kindly sent me a picture of an old man she saw at the blogging computer in our front room yesterday.   I don’t know who he is.  He looks much older than me.

blogger

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from our older son’s visit to Anstruther and shows that he took his friends with him.

Tony's dogs

Another of the regular Moorland bird feeders was away on holiday today so I had a second opportunity this week to act as a fill-in feeder filler so I went up after breakfast to do my duty.  If the weather is good, which it was today, the duty is also a pleasure as it gives me a chance to sit in the hide and watch the birds.  We are not feeding birds in the garden at present so it is an extra pleasure to do a little bird watching from the comfort of the hide.

I had a good variety of birds to watch today.  There was a host of siskins….

siskins

…but only one greenfinch and tree sparrow that I could  see.

tree sparrow and greenfinch

Either a jay paid several visits of several jays paid one visit each but one way or the other, there were plenty of opportunities for jay watching.  (I was hoping to get a shot of jay walking but alas, no.)

Jay

There were a very few blue and great tits about…

blue tit great tit

…but I didn’t see a coal tit today at all.

My chief entertainment came from some very obliging woodpeckers who came up close to the hide and stayed nice and still and sometimes even ‘watched the birdie’.

My Lumix was on its best behaviour after having refused to work at all and it came in handy.  (It knows that I have ordered a new camera. Too late now.)

greater spotted woodpecker

The one in the bottom left corner was the first arrival.  The other three pictures are all of another bird which arrived twenty minutes later.

After our recent warm weather, it was a lot cooler today and I began to feel a little chilly and left the woodpeckers to it and came home.

I had a cup of coffee, did the crossword and then went out into the garden to see what Mrs Tootlepedal was up to and to take a picture or two while I was out there.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy planting out new flowers and I looked at some old friends.

Rosa Wren and Rosa Mundi

Rosa Wren and Rosa Mundi

A Rodgersia and a Spirea had a competition to see which could pack most flowers into the smallest space.

Rodgersia and Spirea

I think that the Rodgersia won

At lunchtime, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre which was putting on a show for children and I had some potato soup and cheese to get my strength up and went out and mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green and then sieved some compost.

There was a lot of buzzing so I paused from time to time to look at the cotoneaster and the astrantia which are still attracting a lot of interest.

bees

Mrs Tootlepedal came back and got straight down to some more planting and tidying and I lent a hand and did some dead heading and tidying of my own.   I even did some weeding on the middle lawn.   The large amount of grass and flower pollen floating about at the moment is not helping my breathing so any work I do is done at a very gentle pace with regular visits indoors for a little rest.  Mrs Tootlepedal on the other hand just carries on regardless.  She is a human dynamo in the garden.

She notices things too and called my attention to a red admiral butterfly sunning itself on a path.

red admiral butterfly

Like the woodpeckers earlier in the day, it sat very still for its portrait.

red admiral butterfly

I love the little torches it has sticking out of its head.

I took a last set of flower pictures….

melancholy thistle

Melancholy thistle, Martagon Lily and just about the last pale blue Iris Siberica

…and then we went off shopping to stock up on food and supplies.  By great fortune, our food shopping managed to include some scones and clotted cream.  We are not quite certain how this happened but we managed to get rid of them when we got home by eating them with the recently made strawberry jam.  We haven’t had a cream tea for ages so this was a real treat.

I was considering an evening cycle ride in the hope that the wind, which had been boisterous all day, would have died down by then but the fresh wind persisted so I went for a walk instead.

It was a lovely evening as long as you could keep out of the wind.  I chose a sheltered route and enjoyed my stroll a great deal.

I divided my attention between things that were close….

slow worms at Pool Corner

A heap of slow worms at Pool Corner

yellow wild flower

I would welcome a suggestion as to what this pretty flower might be called

….things that were a bit further away…

A sandpiper on the Esk

A sandpiper on the Esk

Stables on the Stubholm

Stables on the Stubholm (Arty shot)

….something that was quite far away…

The round house seen from Easton's Walk

The round house seen from Easton’s Walk

…and some views.

Wauchope graveyard and Warbla in the background

Wauchope graveyard and Warbla in the background

Castle Hill

Castle Hill

Stubholm and Whita Hill

Stubholm House and Whita Hill

It was a much better choice than battering into a strong wind on my bike and getting depressed.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had her tea and was back out in the garden trimming hedges when I got home.

In a vain effort to improve my brain power, I had fish cakes for tea.  It hasn’t helped my typing.  I could get the blog done in half the time of i didn’t have to correct eevry other wird.

The flying bird of the day is the jay seen from a distance……

flying jay

…and I normally would have been quite happy to finish a post with it it but it is outshone today, in my view, by a relaxed greater spotted woodpecker.

greater spotted woodpecker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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