Posts Tagged ‘sparrow hawk’

Today’s guest picture has gone all Instagram and shows a rather dainty meal that my two oldest sisters enjoyed on  a bank holiday outing last Monday.  It is only here because I have run out of up to date guest pictures again.  I thank everyone who sent me pictures that I didn’t use because I had too many at the same time and if necessary, I will delve into the archives to retrieve one or two.

sisters' lunch

We had another frosty morning here today but things warmed up quickly and with a light wind and some sunshine, it turned unto a very reasonable day.

I echoed the frosty start by applying a pack of frozen peas to my ankle and this had the effect of enabling me to walk about a bit more comfortably than I had been able to do yesterday evening.

All the same, I kept pretty quiet and cycled very carefully up to town to run a couple of necessary errands.

When I got back, the sun tempted me to walk round the garden.

There are Welsh poppies on every side now…

welsh poppy in sun

…and it is lilac blossom time too.

lilac in shade

Edible and decorative strawberries are showing new flowers…

two straberries

…but the alpine clematis looks as though it has had one too many chilly mornings and seems a bit depressed.

droppy alpine clematis

Generally though, the garden looked a bit more cheerful in the sun and there were more bees about…

three purple flowers

…though not nearly as many as we would like.

The house was in some confusion as we had the joiner in doing repairs but I found a quiet corner to do the crossword and catch up with the news in the paper and when the joiner had finished, I made some lentil soup for lunch.

I wasn’t the only one thinking of food…

jackdaw on peanuts

…but at least I got something to eat unlike the sparrowhawk who flew through without success and turned its back on the feeder in disgust.

back view of sparrowhawk

I don’t know whether this is a young bird but we have have several visits from it without losing any of our smaller friends lately so maybe it needs practice.

After lunch, I had another wander around.  With a forecast of warmer weather to come, perhaps the rhododendrons and azaleas will at last come fully out.  They are ready.

early rhododendron

I lied this composition of straight lines provided by alliums in front of the vegetable garden fence…

starightlines with alliums

…and I was very pleased to see the first pair of Dutchman’s Breeks of the year.

dutchman's trousers

It is also known as Bleeding Heart and I would call it a Dicentra but I see that I should really call it Lamprocapnos spectabilis now.   It is easier to spell Dicentra so I may keep calling it that.

The sun had persuaded the last of our tulips to stop being so straitlaced and relax a bit…

late tulip

…and in the pond, this tiny little creature was whirling round in circles creating waves.

small circulating pond creature

I think it may be the aptly named whirlygig beetle.

With a walk being out of the question, Mrs Tootlepedal came out with me for a short drive.  We started by visiting a very fruitful conifer a little way up the Wauchope road

red cones

It is very colourful sight with its mass of cones, some red and some brown.  I would welcome information from those who know as to whether the red cones are flowers and different from these cones on another branch…

cones in plenty

or whether they just the first stages and in the end they will all look the same.

We turned and drove back through the town and then up the hill onto the moor in the hope of seeing a hen harrier for Mrs Tootlepedal.  And on this occasion, her hopes were fulfilled as she was able to track a harrier flying across the moor and then soaring into the sky.

She followed it with binoculars but it was too far away for a photograph so I settled for a scenic view instead.

view up Tarras valley from Whita

The moor is not being grazed by sheep at the moment and this has led to young trees being able to take root and grow without being nibbled and I liked the symbolism of fresh trees growing in a disused sheep pen down in the valley below.

sheep pen on moor

Driving our new electric car is a roller coaster experience and as we went up the hill, the gauge which shows how many theoretical miles we have left dropped like a stone and we lost many more miles than we actually travelled.  However, as we came gently back down the hill, the gauge rose like a lark and we got back all our lost miles.  From a purely driving point of view, the car floats up the hill effortlessly.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and while Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike discussed gardening, Alison and I played a few sonatas.  We haven’t played for a bit and I found my fingers were very rusty but we had an enjoyable time nevertheless.

It was election night in Langholm, the time for the townspeople to chose the young man who will be cornet and carry the town’s standard at the Common Riding in July.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I had cycled along to vote earlier and as Alison and I played, the Town Band marched past our window, leading latecomers to the ballot box.  As they weren’t playing at the time, I didn’t notice them until they had gone past.

election night

I didn’t find a flying bird today and I name the guilty (but hungry) party.

sparrowhawk on garden chair

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother Andrew’s cycle ride through Duffield.  As well as the pub, he saw a fine bridge over the Derwent  there.

duffield bridge

I had a subdued day today.  I was meaning to take a bit of exercise, but cold wet windy weather once again suggested that more rest for the feet was the best policy.

I was consoled by the arrival of Dropscone with scones warm from the pan to go with morning coffee. We had a short competition to see who was in the worst condition and although it was a close thing, I think that Dropscone just won.  He has got a lot of trouble with a knee.  I easily won the moaning competition though.

When Dropscone left, I did the crossword, lounged around a bit, had some soup and waved Mrs Tootlepedal off on a trip to Edinburgh.  She was going to listen to our church organist’s degree recital in St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh along with other supporters from the town.  I would like to have gone too but I felt that I needed to go and sing with my Langholm choir as a concert is looming up.

I did a lot of useful work on the computer during the afternoon but took time out to look at birds.  A greenfinch appeared…

greenfinch may

…and became one of a quartet of four different birds on the feeder…

mixed feedr

…although it wasn’t long before things had reverted to type.

siskin feeder

Siskins were everywhere.

siskin heading for feeder

I put another week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and have now caught up with my backlog.  I imagine that the data miners will have been busy behind my back though and more sheets will soon arrive.

There is often something interesting in the Eskdale and Liddesdale Advertiser of 1899 among the reports of temperance meetings and rugby matches.  Today’s nugget was a visit to Langholm by a champion cyclist who was in the process of cycling 100 miles every day for a year.  His name was Teddy Hale and I found this entry in Wikipedia:

On the 30th of July of that year he started a record attempt to ride a 100 miles daily on British roads. This attempt was sponsored by Acatène, a company that produced a shaft-driven bicycle. One year later, at the 31st of July 1900, he completed a total of 32,496 miles with which he set a first mark for this endurance record. Afterwards Hale ended his cycling career. He died in 1911, only 47 years old, leaving behind a wife and five children.

You can find an interesting article about him here if you have time to spare.  He won a big race in America too.

Sometimes, when I am looking out of the kitchen window, my eye is drawn away from the birds towards the flowers round the feeder…

wallflowers through window

…and today they were drawn even further afield by the sight of devastation on the middle lawn.

pecked lawn

Those pesky jackdaws had been at work again.  !!!

I put my jacket on and went out into the garden and though I was delayed by finding a third flower out on the garage clematis…

three clematis flowers

…and a tulip…

ballerina tulip

..or two…

pink tulip

…I managed to get the mower out and combine a quick cut with collecting the pecked moss.

mowed lawn after jackdaws

I mowed the front lawn too.

An hour and half later, I looked out again.

Jackdaws on lawn


The sparrowhawk might have felt the same when it arrived on a fruitless mission shortly afterwards.

sparrowhawk head

It just couldn’t believe that there were no birds down there.

I am happy to report that at least one pigeon regained its focus today.

focused pigeon

After tea, which consisted of the farewell appearance of Mrs Tootlepedal’s quorn sauce, this time in the guise of a mild curry with rice, I went out to the choir.  In spite of resting pretty seriously for several days, things did not go well on the way.

My feet may be fairly considered to be items of great aesthetic beauty by connoisseurs but as aids to actual walking, they are still pretty hopeless at the moment.  I am confused as to whether rest or exercise is the best thing and I really hope that I get to see the physio soon.

Still, the singing was both enjoyable and useful so I hobbled home cheerfully enough.

The house was rather empty as Mrs Tootlepedal went to stay with Matilda in Edinburgh after the recital.  I will see them both tomorrow if the new car and the trains run as scheduled so that isn’t too bad. And, as a Tottenham Hotspur supporter I was mildly surprised but not entirely displeased with the result of their match against Ajax this evening.  (This an example of litotes.)

!!!!!!!!!!!!! (It was a day of !!!!)

The flying bird of the day is one of those siskins.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture comes from ex-archive group member Ken, who now lives in the north east.  He spotted a mother gull teaching her children where food comes from if people are careless enough to overfill their bins.

scavenging gulls

We had a dry, often sunny but breezy day today and I might have gone for a pedal if I hadn’t had a hospital appointment in Dumfries to look into my hoarse voice.

There was time before we left, for Mrs Tootlepedal to start work in the garden clearing the flower beds beside the front lawn.  The combination of the passing of time and the strong winds and rain had left the mixture cosmos, cornflowers and poppies looking past their sell-by date…

border before

…even though some of the tallest cosmos haven’t even started to flower.

We left for Dumfries with enough time in hand to visit a garden centre near the hospital for lunch and for Mrs Tootlepedal to buy two plants for for next year’s garden.

The hospital appointment was very satisfactory, being bang on time and very short.  The consultant poked a tube up my nose and by some magic declared that my throat was free from any damage, other than, he said looking me in the eye, that caused by the ageing process.  Still, he is referring me to a speech therapist which was what I wanted to happen three months ago so I am very happy.

To make the most of the day out, we visited a farm shop near the hospital on our way out and made some judicious purchases.   Then we took a round about route home, starting with the road along the Nith estuary.

We parked the car and went down to the river’s edge…

Nith estuary shore

…or at least to where the river’s edge would have been if the tide had been in.

The breeze was ruffling the reeds nearby.

reeds in the wind

We drove down to the very corner of the estuary and walked through the Caerlaverock nature reserve.

We could hear the cry of a curlew but couldn’t pick it out against the marsh so I looked for fungus instead as we went along.  There was a good selection.

caerlaverock fungus

We mostly walked through an old wood but occasionally we could look across the marsh and the Solway Firth to the English side

caerlaverock view across solway

We ate a few blackberries as as we went along but weren’t tempted to try any of this rich bunch of elderberries.

caerlaverock elderberries

It is a place of big skies.

caerlaverock big sky

I enjoyed this notice beside the path as it was living up to its words and providing a temporary haven for a butterfly.

caerlaverock butterfly

The clouds scudded past overhead and the when the sun came out, the wood looked at its best.

caerlaverock wood walk

We went back to car and drove a mile or so onward until we came to Caerlaverock Castle, where….

caerlaverock castle view

…Mrs Tootlepedal sat in the cafe and enjoyed a cup of tea, while I took a brief tour round the premises.

The battery gave out on my phone as I approached the front door but luckily I had my phone in my pocket.

caerlaverock entrance

I love this castle and enjoyed my short tour of the inside…

caerlaverock big building

…and then a walk round the moat on the outside.

caerlaverock side views

caerlaverock moat

caerlaverock view across moat

I like the way that a late owner of the castle built a rather smart town house in the middle of the fortifications.

We left the castle and drove home in an unhurried manner and this enabled us to miss a sharp shower over the town, judging from the sodden state of the roads for the last few miles of the trip.

The sun was shining when we got out of the car and after a cup of tea, Mrs Tootlepedal went out to finish clearing the flower beds along the lawn.

border after

I had done a lot of shredding by the time she had finished.

I looked around in the evening sunshine.  There are still plenty of flowers left.

evening colour september

..but the stars tonight were two lots of ‘pretty in pink’.


Lilian austin rose

We had driven about eighty miles for a ten minute hospital appointment, but as we had fitted in a garden centre, a farm shop, a nature reserve and a castle, we felt that the day had been a genuine outing and very worthwhile.

I got out my bird watching camera when we went in but after a short spell of bird watching, the odds of seeing many more birds were greatly shortened by the arrival of a sparrow hawk…


…who reduced our resident population by one while it was there.

I cooked some of the purchases from the farm shop for tea and that rounded off the day very nicely.

The light was a not quite right for flying birds but quite a few tried to get into the picture before the sparrow hawk came so I have included them all.

four flying birds

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My Glastonbury correspondent, Venetia, sent me today’s guest picture.  It is a sign of the times, being a mock funeral procession to mourn the closure of the last bank branch in the town earlier this month.  Glastonbury bank closure

After several chilly and rather grey days of north easterly winds, the wind completely changed and blew from the west…and we got another chilly, grey day….but dry so mustn’t grumble (much).

It wasn’t as cold overnight as they had suggested that it might be so there was no danger of icy roads but the cold wind was more than enough to keep me happily occupied in making a spaghetti sauce in the slow cooker and then enjoying a cup of coffee before going out on my bike.

It was still only a miserable 5°C but I was well wrapped up so I was warm enough.  I managed to find a circular 20 mile ride which avoided most of the potholes and enjoyed it in a gentle way.  I stopped on the Hollows Bridge when I saw what might have been a suspicion of green in the trees beside the river.

Esk at Hollows

The bright green on the left is the Mill’s Archimedes screw, turning merrily and providing pollution free power.  Every home should have one.

I didn’t have much time when I got home because Sunday is Carlisle choir day and we had pencilled in a shopping trip on the way.  I had a quick walk round the garden.

The euphorbias are thriving.  I love their little crab’s claws…


…and often wonder what evolutionary advantage they brought.


The chilly weather is holding back new arrivals but I was pleased to see that it hasn’t affected the health of the fritillary.


A dogwood showed a little tightly wrapped parcel of future cheer…


…and a tree peony also seems to be going in the right direction.

tree peony

While I made and ate a jam sandwich or two for my lunch, I was able to stare out of the window.  Sometimes it was all siskins….


…and sometimes it was all goldfinches…


…and sometimes it was  multicultural.

siskin, redpoll and goldfinch

I feel rather sorry for the chaffinches which had the almost uninterrupted use of the feeders over the winter but have been pushed out by the newcomers more recently.  They had a small fightback today.


…but they haven’t learnt the value of co-operation even now.


We duly went off and did our shopping and singing.  The shopping was very successful but the singing had a double handicap as our substitute conductor had nearly lost her voice and our accompanist’s train was late for the second week running (or not running in this case).

However we all tried our best, a microphone was found for the conductor, the accompanist turned up and we started to learn a new song so the time wasn’t wasted.

I got yet another opportunity to photogrpah my new friend when we got home.


There were some birds down there a minute ago!

It posed before it went off disappointed.


I am fairly sure that this is an adult male bird

The spaghetti sauce from the slow cooker turned out to be quite tasty  so a grey and chilly day was not so bad as it might have been.  The forecast says that it might get a little warmer for the next few days.  That would be very nice.

I had two choices of flying goldfinches as flying bird of the day but it seemed unfair to pick one over the other so I have put them both in.

flying goldfinches

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Another picture from Susan’s trip.  I like a hydro electric scheme as, after the capital investment, it is money for nothing.


I felt a lot better today but I didn’t want to push my luck so I had another gentle morning of crossword and coffee interrupted by walking round the garden and staring out of the window.

I walked round the garden first in case it started to rain later.  The sun is going in all round the garden.

sunflower head

There’s a lot of bird food in there.

Mind you, as some suns go in, other smaller ones come out.

little sunflowers

Mrs Tootlepedal planted some mixed dahlias this year and has been a bit disappointed with what came up.  This one is trying hard but it is rather sparse.


When my brother and sisters came for tea in the garden recently, Mrs Tootlepedal gave a severe clearing out to a large clump of Japanese anemones which had grown through the paving stones and covered our seating area.  I like Japanese anemones a lot so she spared a bunch just for me.


Once established, they are very low maintenance.

After my walk, I went into the house and started staring.  In the absence of jackdaws, starlings and rooks at the moment, I have left the fat ball fortress cover off.  It makes for easier eating and photographing.

blue tit and greenfinch

The greenfinch is heading for the seeds. They don’t like fatballs.

It was a hard life at the seed feeder though, particularly for this poor greenfinch.


Young birds these day just don’t have any respect.


The supply of blue tits doesn’t look as though it is going to dry up any time soon.

blue tits

I am training them to take artistic poses for the synchronised bird Olympics.

And the supply of young chaffinches is inexhaustible.

young chaffinches

I had sat down and turned to the crossword when I fortunately glanced up on the off chance of seeing a nuthatch.  I saw this instead.

woodpecker on the plum tree

We don’t get many lesser spotted woodpeckers on our plum tree.  I am glad that I spotted this one.

woodpecker on plum tree

The spherical peanut feeder is too close-meshed for a woodpecker so it set off up the tree.

woodpecker posing on plum tree

It paused for a pose and then flew off.

Dr Barlow, if she reads this, will be able to tell me if it is a young or mature bird.  It looks like a young male to me but I am not certain at all.

I was able to show Mrs Tootlepedal these pictures when she came back from work.  We were just clearing up after lunch when a shadow crossed the garden.  I wondered aloud if it was a sparrow hawk and Mrs Tootlepedal, who was at the sink in front of the window, was able to confirm that it was and moreover that it had parked on one of our hedges.

sparrow hawk

It flew into a bush and I went out to see if I could creep up on it.  I thought that I could hear it talking but I couldn’t see it so I took a picture of a day lily instead.

day lily

I had forgotten about the hawk and was doing something else when forty minutes later I heard a call from Mrs Tootlepedal.  “The bird!” she cried,”It’s the bird!”  I knew what she meant and reached for my camera.  The hawk was back, sitting on another hedge.

hawk on hedge

I don’t know whether it had been in the garden the whole time or whether this was a return visit.  Either way, it didn’t linger long and soon it rose gracefully into the air and made its way off.

flying hawk

I don’t go out to watch birds all that often and spend most of my bird time photographing birds that come to me so it was doubly lucky that Mrs Tootlepedal and I were looking out of the window at exactly the right time three times in one day.  On another day, these birds could have visited us unobserved.

I didn’t think that I would be able to top these shots so I put the camera down and got the (fairly) speedy bike out and did a fiddly 15 miles, going to and fro to avoid having to pedal into a strong wind for too long at a time.   During the day, I had a call from the rehabilitation therapist from the hospital to see how I was getting on. She was pleased at my report and said that I have to expect good and less good days but saw no reason why 50 miles should be beyond me with a careful build up.   This cheered me up.

In the evening, I went with Sandy and Jean to do some work at the Archive Centre.  Once again, useful stuff was done and rewarded with a refreshing interlude at the Douglas.

There is no flying chaffinch of the day today because in the excitement of the woodpecker and the sparrow hawk, I forgot to take one.









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