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Posts Tagged ‘snowdrops’

Today’s guest picture shows an interesting wall which Dropscone encountered on his Irish holiday.

irish wall

Our spell of calm, dry and chilly weather continued today with a bright, sunny morning making it possible to overlook the 2°C temperature.

It looks as though this pattern will stay with us for several days with the only difference being that it will be well below freezing every morning.

Under these circumstances, I thought it would be best to get a walk in today while the going was still good.  On the same basis, Mrs Tootlepedal did a little gardening.

I started my walk by passing the mouth of the dam, just where it joins the River Esk.  After flowing under the bridge and then past the back of our house, the dam disappears under roads and into a factory, where it supplies water, before it comes back into daylight here:

dam

I was hoping to see interesting riverside birds while I was there but the cold weather has discouraged them and I had to make do with one of the resident ducks when I got the Kilngreen.

mallard

There were plenty of black headed gulls about but they stuck to the fence posts on the far bank of the river…

black headed gull

….where any flying action was largely confined to playing a game of musical posts.

black headed gull

They did occasionally rise high enough in the air to be described as flying….

_DSC1527

…but nor often.

I got fed up in the end and walked on to find somewhere where more reliable subjects could be found.

Surprise, surprise, it was a wall.

It had a  wealth of interest on it.  I am getting more confused every day but there seems to be moss, liverwort and lichen all in a heap here.

moss liverwort

 

My favourite patch was this one.

moss lichen

As I may have remarked before, it is amazing what you can see when you look.   I should acknowledge my debts both to Sandy, who showed me how to use a camera, and the New Hampshire Gardener, who consonantly inspires me  to look closely at the things I see.

I found another wall and met two very contrasting ferns on it.

ferns

I walked along the top of the wood above the Lodge Walks and once again admired the skill of the tree fellers who can leave a selection of trees standing while felling all around if they wish.

trees

On my way, I was inspected by the locals…

sheep

…and was intrigued by this tree.

tree with moss

Would that little window open and a gnome pop out and ask me to buy a ticket for my journey?   (I think that the political situation may be destroying my mind.)

I walked down through the snowdrops at Holmhead.  They are just about at their best.

snowdrops

When I got down to the flat, I could see the ridge that I walked along yesterday.

Timpen

I have to say that it seemed a lot steeper when I was walking up to the summit on the right yesterday than it did when I was looking at it today.

Further on, I saw more moss…

moss on wood

…which was not too difficult as there is moss everywhere at the moment after some very wet years.

I got home in time for a cup of coffee, fairly swiftly followed by lunch and the traditional Thursday trip to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.

We always leave in plenty of time as there is a bumpy and winding road on the way to Lockerbie but this leaves me with time to stand on the platform and look around.  I love the tower of Lockerbie Town Hall.

Lockerbie Town Hall

I like the fact the clocks show slightly different times and often wonder if anyone has ever stood on the balcony and addressed the crowds below or perhaps blown a fanfare.

I didn’t have as long on the platform as I usually have as incredibly the train was on time today.  Not only that, it actually arrived in Edinburgh a little ahead of schedule and there was a bus at the bus stop to take us down to Matilda’s almost as soon as we had stepped out of the station.

We were punctual to the dot so it was no great surprise to get a text from Alistair to say that they hadn’t got home yet.

Still, the great thing about cities is that they have shops there so we were able to kill a little time without any difficulty.

We had a most enjoyable visit, being thoroughly entertained by Matilda and well fed by her parents.  And Mrs Tootlepedal had bought one of her sticky toffee puddings with her.

The journey home went as well as the  journey up and we arrived back to find that not only had the builder finished installing the pavement kerb on the bridge but the gaps had all been filled up and things look as though they are now ready for tarmac.

dam bridge repair

The state of play when we left in the afternoon and when we got back in the evening.

I did find one sympathetic gull this morning and it is the flying bird of the day.

black headed gull

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who is on holiday.  He and his family visited Mizzen Head.  It is not on my list of places to visit for obvious reasons.

mizzen head Ireland

For the first time for what seems like ages, we had quite a warm day today with the thermometer gently pushing at 10°C and it was genuinely pleasant to step out of the door into the garden.

I had to go up to the Day Centre to collect the key for the camera club meeting in the evening and I took the opportunity to do a little shopping and gossiping in the High Street while I was about it.

By the time that I had strolled home, made a cup of coffee and done the crossword, I didn’t have much time left to look at the birds…

chaffinch

…who were generally….

starling

…looking left today….

siskin

…and take a walk round the garden, which was full of soggy snowdrops (it had rained again in the night)….

wet snowdrops

…interesting moss…

moss

…and more interesting moss….

moss

…some of which looked liked this when viewed in close up.

moss

After fortifying myself with sardine sandwiches, I got my slow bike out and went for another test ride to see how I was.

I managed to go a bit further (20 miles) and a bit faster (11mph) than two days ago so this was encouraging.  I would have more pleased if the last few miles hadn’t been such an effort but I got round and that was the main thing.

I completed my usual Canonbie circuit and was never more pleased to go past my three favourite trees on the way.

three trees Canonbie

I was concentrating quite hard on the actual pedalling (and trying to avoid any potholes) so I didn’t stop for many photos but I always enjoy the silhouette of this monkey puzzle tree near Canonbie….

Monkey puzzle

…and of course, a wall has enough attractions to stop you in your tracks at any time.

This one had gorse on top of it and lots of very emerald green moss clumps on its face.

gorse and moss

I took a close look at the moss. Some of the clumps resembled bracket fungi in the way that they stood out from the wall.

moss

And there were ferns too.

fern

Mrs Tootlepedal was making good use of the warm day by busying herself in the garden when I got back so I had a look round.  Crocuses are beginning to show up well….

crocuses

…and the avenue of snowdrops along the back path is looking good too…

snowdrops in garden

…but the most interesting thing in the garden wasn’t a flower at all.

frog

A real sign of spring.

The frogs may not be too happy though when it gets cold again later in the week.

The evening was quite busy as my flute pupil Luke came and we worked at  a couple of sonatas, very satisfactorily in the slow movements but leaving a bit of room for practice on the allegros.

And then, after tea, it was time for the camera club meeting and thanks to rival meetings, we were a bit short of numbers but the quality of the images supplied by the members more than made up for this.

As usual there was plenty to admire and quite a bit to learn as well so it was a thoroughly worthwhile evening.

It has been a quiet time as far as the dam bridge repairs go but some more shuttering was put in place today…

dam bridge repairs

…and concrete will be laid tomorrow so progress is being made.   We are wondering if the Queen will be available for the official opening.

I had several flying birds of the day to choose from but as they were all chaffinches and all at the same angle, I couldn’t make up my mind and so I have put them all in.

flying chaffinches

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She saw these de-icers at work at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on her way to America.  They would make me very nervous if I was flying.

20180212_114951

We had a day out today.  One of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fellow sopranos from our Carlisle choir had invited us for a walk and lunch so we set off for the south after an early coffee.

Google may come in for some well justified criticism but the ability of Google Maps to predict how long it will take us to get from A to B by car is uncanny. It suggested that it might take us 45 minutes and it took us 44.

We had a second cup of coffee when we arrived and I was pleased to find that Melanie and Bill have bird feeders outside their kitchen window so we felt at home straight away.

They have more varied visitors than us.

Mistle Thrush

A Cumbrian mistle thrush wonders who the intrusive photographer is.

After chatting for a while, we donned our wellies and coats and set out for a three mile walk.

We started by passing the very square church in the village….

P1070424

…and walked down the road, passing this fine house set among mature trees…

Raughton head dwelling

… on our way to crossing the River Caldew on the handsome Rose Bridge.

rose bridge

It is not only a good looking bridge but has convenient steps down for pedestrians to join the Cumbrian Way which runs along the river Bank here.  They have even cut down a tree which would otherwise have blocked my view.

The Rose Bridge gets its name from Rose Castle, the erstwhile home of the Bishop of Carlisle, which overlooks the river.

Rose Castle

The castle was much battered about during the English Civil War and has been extensively rebuilt in succeeding years.

Those interested may find out a bit more about the history of this building here.

We were walking through the Castle’s parkland and there were any amount of excellent trees to enjoy as we went along.

Some by the river.

Rose Castle tree

Some with added castle.

P1070440

And some with reflections in the storm channel of the river.

P1070441

I found one view of the castle without any trees in the way.  the original building is the Peel tower on the right.  Two wings of the main building are missing

Rose Castle

The River Caldew takes a lot of water from the Lake District hills in heavy rain and we passed several channels created by floods in the past.  It is  still shifting its course on a regular basis and I was impressed by the way it had disposed of half a wood here.

River Caldew

I was also impressed that two new trees had been planted to maintain a row of trees on the skyline.

trees

We passed another fine house, many centuries old, on the far bank of the river…

River Caldew

… but as I went to take the picture, I was even more delighted to find a good crop of lichen on a riverside tree branch.

lichen

After a last look back at the parkland…

Rose castle estate

….we crossed the river on a new bridge built to replace a previous bridge which had been damaged by a falling tree.

new bridge over Caldew

The rest of the party posed for a picture.

The final section of the walk took us back to the village up farm track and back roads.  There were many clumps of snowdrops to be seen….

cumbrian snowdrops

…but the pick of the late winter flowers were several sensational spreads of winter aconites.

winter aconites

We have had extreme difficulty in getting any aconites to grow in our garden and the ones that do show were nothing like as strengthy as these.  It was a real treat to see them.

We finished out circular walk by arriving back at the square church.  Melanie told us that when there are weddings at the church, string is put across the gate and wedding guests may be encouraged to disburse coins to the local children before the string is lowered and they can go in.

raughton head church

We were treated to an appetising meal of ham shank and vegetable soup followed by parsnip cake.  They were both delicious.

After more conversation, we had a final cup of tea and then drove home while there was still daylight to see by.  Excellent food, two interesting birds, a new and very enjoyable walk, good weather and good conversation….who could ask for anything more?  It qualified as a Grade A, Grand Day Out.

We got home safely and settled down for a quiet night in.

Although I didn’t have my flying bird camera with me, I was able to take a good static bird of the day shot when an obliging greater spotted woodpecker  perched on Melanie’s feeder for me.

woodpecker

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who found a heron in Regents Park which has taken to the law.  Well, at least it is sitting on the bench.

Mr G's London cousin 001

In contrast to the yesterday’s gloom, today dawned bight and sunny and the day was made even sunnier when Dropscone arrived with treacle scones for morning coffee.  We were joined briefly by Sandy who came to pick up some parish magazines for processing for the Archive Group website.  We arranged to go for a walk after lunch and he went off leaving Dropscone and me to finish the scones and coffee.

We managed.

Easily.

After Dropscone left, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to to have lunch with friends at the Buccleuch centre.

I watched birds…

chaffinch

…and was rather baffled by this chaffinch which looked at first sight as though it had been pumping iron and was auditioning  for a super hero role.

I walked round the garden in the sunshine and enjoyed the snowdrops….

_DSC1209

snowdrops

…and the magnolia by the front gate.

magnolia

In a vain effort to improve my brain power, I had sardines for lunch and then went off to pick up Sandy.  We started our outing by visiting the Moorland Feeders by car but although the light was good, interesting birds were scarce.

There were a lot of great, blue and coal tits about…

blue tits and great tits

Great tits and blue tits share the peanuts with a chaffinch.

…and a single pheasant who did some world class strutting.

phreasant

It turned out to be rather chilly sitting in the hide in spite of the sunshine so we didn’t stay long.

Our thoughts turned to snowdrops and we drove down to the Lodge Walks, stopping at the Kilngreen where I failed to take a picture of a flying seagull as they all stuck obstinately to their fence posts.

We left the car and walked through sun dappled woods….

Near Holmhead

…until we got to the snowdrops.  They were worth the walk.

snowdrops at Holmhead 2018

snowdrops at Holmhead 2018

P1070192

They are still not fully out so another visit may be in order (if we get another fine day next week).

We walked up through the snowdrops and strolled back to the car by the top path.  This used to run through woods but there has been more felling recently…

felling

…and only a few trees have been left standing.

There are soon going to be more though….

new trees

…as we passed many bags of new trees waiting to be put into the ground.

The top track offers a terrific view of Whita on a fine afternoon…

Whita

…as well as a walk through a delicate tree tunnel…

Path near pathhead

….and a look at the town through the trees.

Town from pathhead

On our  way back down to the car, we passed a splendid mossy wall but my plan to take yet more mossy pictures was sidetracked by an outstanding lichen…

peltigera lichen

…and a pair of ferns on the wall.

ferns

Asplenium scolopendrium, the harts tongue fern and Polypodium vulgare, the common polypody

In spite of the brilliant sunshine, it was exceedingly cold on our walk because the wind was very unforgiving so we were pleased to get back in the car and go to our respective homes.

If you are interested, you can see Sandy’s take on what we saw here.

By this time, the crossword and a cup of tea was all the excitement that I needed, though I did go out with Mrs Tootlepedal to see what all the banging and sawing had been about at the dam bridge.

It was totally shuttered….

dam bridge repairs

…and Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that the men are going to pour concrete tomorrow.

While we were looking at the works with our neighbour  Kenny,  something glinting on the exposed bed of the dam caught Mrs Tootlepedal’s eye and Kenny kindly fished it out.  It turned out to be a 1928 penny….

1928 penny found in dam

…which may well have been lying in the dam for anything up to 90 years.

The channel through the bridge looks rather narrow but the builders say that it is exactly the same size as the previous one.

My Friday night orchestra is visiting her son and his family so there was no traditional evening tootle today and we had a quiet night in.

The flying bird if the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Sheffield correspondent Edward.    He has acquired a second bird for his backyard.

CrazyCraneAndCompanion

We woke to a light snow shower and I took the hint and retired back to bed for a snooze and a crossword after breakfast, while alternating snow and rain showers appeared beyond the windows.  I felt very snug.

I got up after coffee time and was happy to find a very large bird attendance at the feeders.  I took my camera upstairs to get a different view of our visitors.

robin

There were a great many siskins and goldfinches in the garden today, perhaps as many as forty at times.

busy feeder from upstairs

Looking down on the feeder gave me a chance to catch some action shots but the background isn’t as satisfactory as shooting from eye level.

busy feeder from upstairs

 

In the end, I went back downstairs and took up my normal station while I made some lentil soup for my lunch.

There was some siskin bad behaviour to record.

siskin attack

I admired the rather restrained response of the female siskin to being booted in the back by an aggressive male but in this day and age, she should have probably been a bit more outspoken about the outrage.

A male siskin certainly didn’t hold back when a chaffinch tried to sneak round the pole unobserved.

chaffinch and siskin

The victor on his perch.

siskin

After eating my soup, I rang up Sandy to see if he would like a walk as it looked as though the showers might hold off for a bit.

He was not in peak condition but thought that a walk might perk him up so we met at the corner of the Scholars’ Field and walked round the pheasant hatchery.

It was dry but evidence of the earlier snow was not hard to find.

monument in snow

I was keeping an eye out for moss and the wall at the Scholars’ Field held a good store, flowing over the coping stone on top of the wall and creeping downwards.

moss

I am reading a moss book which tells me that where you think that there might be just one sort of moss, there is probably at least one other sort as well.  That was true here.

P1060921

We walked up the river to the Duchess Bridge and passed this mossy tree, set at an alarming angle on the banking….

mossy tree

… so it was not a total surprise when we found that the slope and the wet and the recent windy weather had been too much for another tree perched on an equally steep bank further up river.

fallen tree

The going was slippery and wet underfoot so we had to pay attention to where we were putting our feet and as a result, pictures were few and far between.

When we came out of the shelter of the trees…..

snow Timpen

….a very eager and nipping wind made us grateful that we had chosen a well protected route.

We went up to Holmhead to see how the snowdrops were getting on, not really expecting to find any showing and were delighted to be proved wrong.

snowdrops Holmhead

They are not fully out yet but I would say that this is a week earlier than we would usually expect to see this much growth and that is in spite of a chilly and gloomy winter.

P1060935

I will come back in a week or two on a sunny day to see if I can do them justice.

I was still looking for mosses as we walked down the Lodge Walks and I enjoyed this two coloured display on a tree stump beside the road.

moss

I took a close up of the darker green variety and added a small clump of a different moss which was on the back of the stump.

moss

There was very little bird life along the river banks as we walked back to the town and what there was seemed to be as fed up with the cold wind as we were.

mallards

This is the correct practice for birds when the north wind doth blow.

We were just about to cross the suspension bridge by the church….

Suspension bridge and parish church

…when we had to stop and let an old man cross in the opposite direction.  It was Dropscone.  He had been checking on the progress of his wounded car and had taken the opportunity to extend his walk and drop a map of Malta off at Wauchope Cottage.

Sandy didn’t stop for a cup of tea but headed home, anxious to discover whether the walk had aided his state of health or not.  Time will tell.

I have put extra bird food out but it doesn’t seem to be pulling in visitors and this chaffinch, late on the day, was the only one I saw…

chaffinch

…and I think that it was only resting and not eating.

I felt better for the little bit of exercise.  I had lit a fire in the front room before I went out and I was very pleased to find it had heated up the room a lot so I spent a very relaxing couple of hours reading the newspapers and listening to Oscar Peterson tinkling away on the piano with his trio.

I am hoping that some time in a hot environment might help to clear my lungs a bit but once again, only time will tell.

Although it is cloudy now, looking at the weather forecast suggests that I might be able to get a look at the moon later tonight.  I live in hope though the chance of seeing it low in the sky will have gone.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch seen from above approaching the feeder.

goldfinches

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She was happy to see a pied wagtail on her lawn.

wagtail

We were pleased to see a bit of blue sky in the morning and although the temperature had dropped, it was still well above freezing.

The snowdrops are nearly out.

snowdrops

The birds were visiting the feeder….

goldfinch and siskin

…so it looked like a day to go for a short ride on my bicycle.  A short ride was indicated as my chest was still a bit cloudy after Friday’s longer ride and a busy day of singing yesterday.

Things looked fair enough as I went along.  I had to stop at Tarcoon to let a car by so I took a picture of one of my favourite views….

Whita from Tarcoon

Looking back at Whita

…and then I looked across the road and was struck by the coincidence of seeing a tree that had obviously suffered from strong winds….

tree and gretna turbines

…which doubtless helps to explain the line of wind turbines you can see behind it.

When I got down to Canonbie, it was still sunny and two Highland cows kept an eye on me as I passed.

highland cow canonbieP1060880

I had a number of other photo opportunities in mind for the rest of the trip back to Langholm but unfortunately I was unlucky and my route coincided with a very heavy rain shower for three miles.  It was all the more annoying that there was still plenty of blue sky about.  I got pretty cold and wet though so even though the rain stopped, I didn’t stop until I got home.

Looking out of the window after lunch, there was more rain about…

goldfinch and siskin

…which led to some bad temper….

_DSC0925

,,,but it soon stopped again and more peaceful coming and going ensued.

_DSC0930

A robin looked on.

robin

This is the time of year when Mrs Tootlepedal thinks of things to come so we paid a visit to a garden centre near Carlisle where she purchased a stock of seed potatoes and some onions.  There is an excellent fresh fruit and veg stall outside the centre so we stocked up there as well.

On our way to the garden centre, we passed a bird food store so I popped in and purchased a big bag of sunflower hearts.

The trip left us both very happy.

It was a beautiful afternoon by the time we got home, too good to waste so I nipped out for a quick walk before the sun went down, hoping for a good view or two.

I took the route that got me up a hill with the least effort and looked about.

Castle Hill January evening

It was well worth the effort.

Golf and bauchle hill

I could see the moon about which there has been a lot of talk, though I gather that I would have to be in America if I wanted to get the best view of it when it is full.

moon and monument

I was hoping to catch another very long shadow but the sun wasn’t in quite the right place….

Warbla

…but it was in the right place to give me some fine winter colour.

Castle hill from Warbla

view from warbla

It was pretty chilly on the hill as there was a brisk wind blowing so I didn’t go too far up and was soon making my way home along the Wauchope road.

I have been reading an interesting moss book, which I was given for Christmas, and am learning a lot about reproduction in mosses.  It is more exciting than you might think.

moss

There was no shortage of moss to look at beside the road.

moss

When I got home, I had time for a cup of tea and then my flute pupil Luke came.  He has been suffering from a cold and we didn’t have as progressive a session as we might have wished for but there is always next week.

Mrs Tootlepedal is in an adventurous culinary mood at present and we had a parsnip curry for our tea.  It was very good.

Fortified by the evening meal, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel for the first time this year and it was a great pleasure to get back to making music.  Carried away with enthusiasm, we perhaps played for a moment or two longer than we should have and my chest is feeling that it has had a busy day as I write this post.  Still, I take the view that doing things is better than lying around and moaning so I look back on the day with great pleasure.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch trying to sneak up on some siskins.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia, who went to watch a murmuration of starlings recently.  You can see more pictures  of her visit on her blog.

starlings

I too went to look at some birds today with Mrs Tootlepedal.  It was a glorious morning and it was no hardship at all to take my turn as a fill-in feeder filler at the Moorland Feeders.  While I sat in the bird hide, camera at the ready, Mrs Tootlepedal sat in the car outside, binoculars in hand, scanning the sky for raptors.  Her view…

View of Whita

…was better than mine but I had more birds to watch.  She saw a single buzzard while I watched siskins….

siskins

…and tits, great….

great tit

…and small…

coal tit, great tit and blue tit

Coal tit, great tit and blue tit

…and a greater spotted woodpecker flitting from tree to feeder.

woodpecker

I stopped the car on the way home to take a picture of the  road beside the river just because it felt so cheerful.

riverside road

It was a good day for cycling as the wind had moved round a bit so it was warmer and it was also a lot lest gusty than it has been lately.  I should have got out straight away when we got home because the forecast suggested that the sun might fade as the day went on but with characteristic feebleness, I footered around for the best part of an hour before finally getting going.

I took some pictures out of the kitchen window while I wasted time.

female chaffinch

Just too late to catch a flying female again

flying chaffinch

No problem with a male of course

It was still sunny when I set out but the sun disappeared on cue about half way round and I even had to put up with some light rain as I got near home but I only had myself to blame for this.

Because of the lighter winds, I took to the open country and went over Callister and then followed the route of the Kirtle Water from Falford down to the coast for fifteen miles.

I crossed the stream four times on my journey but didn’t stop to take pictures of all the bridges.  I followed a little road which I don’t usually take at one point and after plunging under the main railway line via a  surprisingly modest bridge…

Railway bridge

…I did stop to take the much more impressive bridge over the water at the bottom of the hill.

Kirtle water bridge

Riverside landowners should be compelled by law to cut down stuff that blocks a photographer’s view.

The view from the bridge showed a fine tower looking down over the little valley.

Robgill

The Kirtle Water is not short of bridges and near Rigg there are four within a hundred metres.

I stood on this very functional one…

Kirtle water bridge

…to get a shot of the next two downstream, the Dumfries railway line bridge and the new road bridge just beyond it.

Kirtle water bridge

I only had to go a few metres further to find the bridge over the old road.

Kirtle water bridge

Not long afterwards, I crossed the water for the last time.  The final bridge before the Kirtle Water meets the wine dark sea (sadly it actually joins the estuary of the river Esk rather than the sea) is a bit of a disappointment stylistically…

Kirtle water bridge

…but at least it meant that I was now on my way home with the wind behind me at last.  In spite of the rain over the last few miles, I enjoyed my 41 mile ride, though I would have been happier if I could have gone a little faster.

Those interested can click on the map below for more details of the ride.

garmin-route-15-feb-2017

That, as they say, concluded the business for the day, though I did have enough energy to co-cook a cauliflower curry for tea with Mrs Tootlepedal.  Mostly though, I relaxed in a genteel sort of way with hardly any moaning.

The flying bird of the day was a female chaffinch which I just got into a frame and no more.  A male was so surprised that he dropped his seed.

flying chaffinch

The flowers of the day are the luxuriant snowdrops along the back path.

snowdrops

While I was cycling this afternoon, Mrs Tootlepedal was splitting up some of the bigger clumps and spreading snowdrops round the garden.

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