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Posts Tagged ‘sparrow’

Today’s guest picture is another from the camera club visit to Beamish late last month.  Peter took this charming shot.

Peter's Beamish

There was heavy rain overnight but the garden seemed strangely dry when we went out for a look.  Some strong winds had done damage though, and Mrs Tootlepedal had a good deal of propping up and clearing away to do.

I took the opportunity to put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive group database and found the first entry regarding a motor car in Langholm that I had come across.  This was 1900 so it must have been an early model.

I went out into the garden to give Mrs Tootlepedal some moral support and the occasional helping hand too.  We picked some peas, beans, turnips and potatoes to make a summer soup and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted this moth among the potatoes.

potato moth

She found a home for it and just hoped that it isn’t a dangerous potato eating insect.

I had a look around before going in to cook the soup.  It was rather a dull day and the very brisk wind made getting flower pictures a bit tricky so I was pleased to catch not just one poppy in mid sway…

red poppy grey insides

…but another one as well.

open poppy

I like the different centres that the poppies have just as much as I like the different colours and textures of their petals.

The clematis at the front door is more sheltered and offered less of a problem.  It has come on very well after a slow start and I like its multi coloured petals.

front door clematis lots

While I was in the garden,  I sat on the bench outside the kitchen window and got a different angle on the bird feeder.

The siskins were keeping a sharp eye out for competition and a sparrow thought better of trying to get some seed.

siskins keeping eye out

In general, it was a busy scene.

busy feeder from outside

I went down to the river to see if the rain had put some water into it.  It was far from full but there was a lot more flow than we have had recently…

river up

…and all three arches of the Langholm Bridge had been called into action.

three arches Langholm Bridge

The vegetable soup (with added barley) turned out well, with a nice fresh taste.  It went well with some new bread and a selection of cheeses.

I was so perked up by the soup, that after lunch I decided to brave the wind and go off for a cycle ride.  It was tough going into the teeth of a breeze gusting at over 30 mph so I stuck to doing two laps of the seven miles trip to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back, hiding from the wind in the bottom of the valley.  This gave me the chance to visit the little cascade near the schoolhouse…

wauchope schoolhouse cascade

…and to stop and check for riverside birds when I went along the Esk on my way through the town.  There was a small collection of oyster catchers…

Three oyster catchers

…one of whom posed nicely for me…

oyster catcher on rock

…and a dipper living up to its name.

dipper dipping

My legs were quite cheerful so I added a short three mile trip over the bridge and out of the other side of the town after my two laps and ended up with 17 miles more than I had expected to ride when I had read the forecast yesterday.

The seventeen miles were accomplished at a steady pace but they took me up to 270 miles for the month, so although I still can’t walk any distance without upsetting my feet, at least I can keep going on my bike.  Mustn’t grumble.

I  sat down for a cup of tea when I got home and we were joined by Mike Tinker.  Like Mrs Tootlepedal, he had spent quite a bit of time in  his garden repairing the ravages of wind and rain and cutting back excessive growth so we were all pleased to rest a while for refreshment and conversation.

When Mike left, I mowed the two lawns, sieved a bit of compost and had another look round the garden.

I like nasturtiums.

nasturtiums's mouth

This is the very last of the flowers on the rosa complicata.

last rosa complicata

Although some of our heavily petalled roses survived the wind and the rain, like this Wren…

rose Wren

….many were looking rather soggy.  Mrs Tootlepedal gets a bit sad when these roses show the effects of our damp climate and ‘ball up’, so she is thinking of planting more of the simple roses, which are perhaps better suited to our garden.

It was brighter now than it had been earlier in the day, but the sun had not quite come out so I had another go at the white astilbe with better results.

white astilbe

Nearby, a yellow potentilla flower winked at me.

yellow potemtilla

It is impossible to miss the rambler roses which are sensational this year.  We hope that some of them will appear in the rose crown at the Common Riding on Friday but if ours are anything to go by, there should be so many about that the crown builders may not need to come to us at all.

red rambler roses

Later in the evening, I leaned out up of an upstairs window to greet the sun which had finally appeared, and enjoyed a general look over the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been clipping the hedges.

the garden in the evening

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow using every limb available to persuade a siskin to give up its seat at the table.

flying sparrow flailing

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Susan’s old friend Stephen who has been spending a week with his wife in Port Douglas, in Far North Queensland. He tells me that it is mid-winter there, and so the temperature is down to a chilly 25-26 degrees.  He sent me this suitably wintry illustration.

queensland beach

It is summer here of course and it rained all day and the temperature barely crept up to 18 degrees.  As a result, I spent a very quiet day indeed doing nothing more interesting than a little data entering into the Archive Group database and a short shopping trip with Mrs Tootlepedal.

She spent the morning at a meeting regarding the possible community purchase of the Langholm Moor and I sat at my computer.  It was sorry about its bad behaviour last night and worked very competently and quickly today.

I did take time to look out of the window.

siskins in rain 1

…and it is easy to see why I preferred to stay indoors.

The siskins were out in force….

siskins in rain 2

…and spent a lot of time squabbling rather than getting on and eating seed.

siskins beak to beak rain

A sparrow looked disgusted but whether it was because of the weather or the siskins’ behaviour, it is hard to say.

siskins in rain 3

The rain eased off and a blue tit appeared.  The tits prefer the nuts to the seeds…

blur tit on nuts 1

…which ever way they look at it.

blue tit on nuts

We must have a small family of blue tits nearby because several appeared at the same time…

two blue tits

…and unfortunately seemed to have learned from the siskins’ bad habits.

two blue tits arguing

I made some celery and stilton soup for lunch and I enjoyed it in company with Mrs Tootlepedal who had returned from her meeting.

After lunch I took a quick walk round the garden at a moment when the drizzle had slackened off.

The overnight rain had not been heavy enough to beat down the flowers…

wet red poppy

…but there was a soggy feel about the garden….

wet pick foxgloves

…although some of the effects were quite decorative on leaf…

spirea with raindrop

…and petal.

sweet pea with droplets

Yellow lilies are appearing…

wet yellow lily

…and the ligularia is coming on…

ligularia in flower

…so things were still cheerful in places.

I like the sweet peas that Mrs Tootlepedal has grown this year.

sweet pea with droplet

Then, for the want of anything better to do, we drove down to Gretna to do a little shopping.

Then we drove back again.

That ended any excitement for the day as the Tour de France and Wimbledon combined to provide a lengthy excuse for testing the comfort of the sofa.

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea and Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a meal of chicken and asparagus for our evening meal and we tried very hard not to think of the political situation as it is even more depressing than the weather.

I had hoped that I had captured one of the blue tits for the flying bird of the day…

flying blue tit

…but it was just too quick for me so a sparrow kindly offered to stand in, beating off a siskin who was trying to get the job.

flying sparrow in rain

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from our son Tony’s Highland holiday.  He has sent me a lot of good pictures but this one gets my seal of approval.

Tonys highland seal

We had another fine day and I had hoped to get some useful cycling in, but a sore back when I got up put paid to any expansive ideas.  As it happened, it was just as well that I was at home as the power company men turned up to put up a new fence.  The old one had been knocked down when they replaced one of the poles in our garden.

They turned out to be as handy with hammer and saw as they were with big poles and the new fence was soon in place.

new fence

While they worked, I hobbled round the garden doing some weeding, dead heading and snapping.

There was a lot to look at.

I was pleased to see a red admiral butterfly…

red admiral butterfly

…though I would be even more pleased to see more than one.

Poppies and an anemone caught the eye….

poppies and anemone

…and Bobbie James has come out to join  Goldfinch on the fence between the middle lawn and the vegetable garden.

bobbie James and goldfinch roses

I picked some sweet peas and thought that this one was the pick of the bunch.

sweet pea

Mrs Tootlepedal’s new Salvia sclarea var. turkestanica (to give it its Sunday name) proves to be a very interesting plant with a lot going on.

salvia turkestanica

And as always, the astrantias attracted me….

astrantia

…and a great number of wasps as well.

wasp on astrantia

We haven’t found out where the wasps’ nest is yet and just hope that it isn’t in some hole in the roof.

Looking up at the walnut tree, I could see that we should have walnuts to eat again this year.

walnuts July

After the power company men left, Mrs Tootlepedal and I did some watering in the vegetable garden and then I mowed the front lawn , and then it was time for lunch.

Mrs Tootlepedal had Moorland business to attend to after lunch and went off to collect more signatures of interest in the possible purchase while I watched the birds.

A goldfinch took poorly to being menaced by a greenfinch…

goldfinch and greenfinch

….but was fast asleep a moment later to the possibility of getting a rude awakening from a sparrow.

sparrow kicking goldfinch

I got a message from Mrs Tootlepedal that she had forgotten something so I was galvanised into action. I got my cycling gear on, delivered the item and then kept cycling southwards.

I took the main road out of town and stopped to admire the substantial field of daisies on one side of the road…

daisies on new A7

…and two orchids on the other.

orchids at Auchenrivock diversion

I didn’t stop again for a while, as a kindly wind was blowing me down the hill to the end of the Canonbie bypass and I was going too fast to notice much as I passed.

The way back was a slower business altogether, uphill and with an unhelpful wind so I was happy to stop to note hedges thick with honeysuckle and privet…

honeysuckle and privet in hedge

…and a field of interested bullocks.

a load of bullocks

I usually do this route in the opposite direction so I am often whizzing down this hill without looking.

kerr wood road

Today I had time to look and the inclination to take a breather.

kerr wood road wood flowers

The wind helped me along the last three miles and I arrived home after 20 miles in a cheerful frame of mind, considering how sore my back had been when I got up in the morning.

I had a wander round the garden….

foxglove trumpets

…before Mrs Tootlepedal came home and then I went to have a shower.

That concluded the business of the day apart from rather gloomily watching England’s ladies not quite being up to the task of winning their semi final in the world cup in spite of the USA kindly offering them some chances to do so.  The better team won.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow with its eyes on the prize.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony’s Highland jaunt.  They went on a boat trip and saw eagles fishing.  He took this picture with his phone.

oznor

We had a better day today.  I managed to get up and stay up and Mrs Tootlepedal’s cold was much improved.

She had another very busy day in connection with the plans to try to get a community buy out going for part of the Langholm moor which our local duke is selling.  She is part of a steering group which is considering possibilities and encouraging local interest.  Part of her day involved a visit to the moor with our local expert and as she saw stonechats, meadow pipits, wild goats and a hen harrier in flight, she felt very happy about her day’s work.

I took things more easily and spent a lot of time doing some desultory weeding and dead heading, before some compost sieving.  Mrs Tootlepedal has been using a lot of our home made compost recently.

Among this, there was plenty of time to look at flowers both old and new.

It was a day for new poppies to pop up.  Expect many more poppy portraits in the days to come.

three new poppies

Owing to having a very twitchy shutter finger in the sunshine, flowers will appear in mostly colour coded panels.

four pale flowers

From top left clockwise: Ginger syllabub, peony, campanula and water lily

four roses

From top left clockwise: Queen of Denmark, Lilian Austin, Goldfinch, and unknown to me.

four reddish flowers

From top left clockwise: Frau Dagmar Hastrup, wiegela, nasturtium (first of year), spirea

four blueish flowers

From top left clockwise: Delphinium, iris, clematis and clematis

My neighbour Liz called in and was much struck by the beauty of the rosa complicata in the front bed which she said looked exactly like a rose should look like.  Who could disagree with her?

pretty rosa complicata

 

Not all he flowers in the garden stand out.  I had to peer through the tree peony to find this new lily which is blushing unseen.

hidden lily

Among all the other colour, the little forest of orange hawkweed is still one of the best things in the garden at the moment.

orange hawkweed

I sat down for long enough to do the crossword and watch the birds.  A goldfinch had an interesting slant on things…

slanted goldfinch

…while a sparrow clutched at straws (or in this case, the old sunflower stalk).

sparrow on stalk

I made some lentil soup for lunch and Mrs Tootlepedal appeared in time to have a bowl too.

After lunch, I mowed the front lawn.  The moss eating treatment seems to be working but I applied the mixture, which also contains buck-u-uppo, with such a free hand that the grass is growing at a furious rate.

Then, since it was a fine day and my back and feet were not complaining too much, I went out for a cycle ride.  As the wind was gusting at 25mph, it was quite a short ride because I didn’t want to put too much pressure on my legs.

I was keeping an eye out for orchids and when a flash of colour appeared in the verge, I stopped to investigate.  It turned out to be vetch but still well worth a look, I thought.

vetch

I pottered along and turned at this gate on Callister.  Like the photographer, it is a bit past its best.

overrun gate at callister

With the wind behind me, I whistled back to the town and out of the other side until I had got far enough to get a view up the Ewes Valley which the low cloud had denied us yesterday.

view of ewes with wild flowers

Satisfied, I pedalled home and clocked up 16 miles.  At least I had started the new month with something.

Mrs Tootlepedal was out when I got home.  She had been off doing more moorland business while I was pedalling but she soon returned and she noticed this strange object on a nettle  while she was getting the washing in.

thing on nettle

A search on the internet tells me that it may be a fungal gall caused by rust.

We had a discussion as to whether it was time to try digging up an early potato.  After some debate, we resolved to give it a go.

It turned out to be a reasonable decision and we ate a lot of them with our evening meal.

new potatoes 2019

My flute pupil Luke came and I was rustier than him as I hadn’t played a note for two weeks.  I will have to put in some practice.

After tea, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went for a walk.  I was hoping to see something to photograph and she was hoping to nab a few more townspeople to sign her petition regarding the moorland purchase.

She added two more to her total as we crossed the suspension bridge, and I enjoyed the wild flowers beside the Esk.  For reasons that may have more to do with economy than deliberate planning, the usual strimming of the banks has not taken place and although many townspeople like the banks to look neat and tidy, I prefer the wildflowers.

daisy on river esk bank

The view upriver looked like a painting.

view of Langholm Bridge sunny evening

We walked round the new path on the Castleholm and were impressed by the huge size of the cones on the noble fir.

noble fir cones

There were insects to be seen on the umbellifers beside the path.

insects on umbellifer

And the path itself was treat on a summer evening like this.

new path in shadows

Mrs Tootlepedal added another four names to her petition as we walked along Douglas Terrace and then we dropped in on Mike and Alison (another signature added) where I enjoyed a beer before finally getting home.  Mike and Alison’s garden is looking very fine.

I felt better at the end of the day than I did at the beginning and you can’t ask for anything more than that.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin with its mouth full, byt still going back for more.

flying siskin

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Today’s guest picture is a wall which Venetia met on her Highland holiday.  She liked its varied colouring.  I like it too.

Highland wall

After two sunny, dry days with quite brisk breezes, we got a less sunny day with an even brisker breeze and occasional showers.  Under the circumstances, I took the opportunity to have a quiet day with nothing more exciting happening than a visit to the dentist to collect a replacement for my recently extracted tooth in the morning and a trip to do some shopping in the afternoon.

Other than that, I managed to do very little for the rest of the day (but I did it very well).

The birds were a lot busier than I was, with a full of house of siskins occasionally threatened by other siskins…

siskins at feeder

…and horizontal and…

horizontal sparrow

…diagonal sparrows.

hopeful sparrow

But mostly it was other siskins.

fierce siskin

The sun shone and I went out into the garden.

The brisk wind made taking flower pictures tricky so I had to look in sheltered spots.  This rhododendron has outlasted all the other azaleas and rhododendrons but even it is beginning to look a bit part worn.

long ;asting rhododendron

The alliums are over but Mrs Tootlepedal likes to leave them standing until they fall over of their own accord.  They are still quite decorative.

dead allium

The roses are tending to wait for some better weather to appear but some are doing their best…

red rose

…even if they look a little tired.

yellow rose

After lunch, the sun shone again for a while and I had another look round outside.  The little potted fuchsia which had flowered so brilliantly while it was waiting in the greenhouse…

fuchsia out of greenhouse

This was it at the end of May

…lost all its flowers when it was confronted by the outside world.  Mrs Tootlepedal has planted it out in the chimney pot and it is showing signs of coming again.

fuchsia in chimney buds

The hydrangea on the house wall is a mass of flowers and is loud with bees whenever you walk past it.

bees on hydrangea

The surprise yellow iris is doing well, hidden away in the middle of a clump of daisies.  We are interested to see if it is a singleton or whether others will appear to join it.

new yellow iris wet

One of the flowers which has enjoyed the cooler weather is the lamium.  I don’t think that I have seen it doing better than it is this year.

close lamium

The sun went in and shopping looked like a good way to spend some time so we set off to a garden centre and the Gretna Shopping Village.

The shopping was successful and I came home with another bag of the alleged moss eating lawn food and Mrs Tootlepedal acquired some suitable clothing.

When we got  home, I gave the front lawn a dose of the lawn mixture as there is still plenty of moss there waiting to be eaten.  It had rained on us while we were shopping at Gretna and the rain caught up with us again as I was treating the lawn, so I had to scurry to get it done before getting soaked.

After that, I returned to doing nothing, although I did perk up for long enough to watch Andy Murray’s return to competitive tennis.

We are going to London tomorrow for a few days to see family so I am hoping to post a brief phone blog each day while we are away.  It promises to be quite warm while we are down there, and as we are not used to high temperatures, I hope we survive and don’t melt away.

The flying bird of the day is a welcome sighting of a lone chaffinch which paid us a visit.

flying chaffinch June

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Today’s guest picture comes from my ex-work colleague Ada.  She is in Tours and in spite of seeing a goat and a pink elephant in the street, she assures me that she hardly touched a drop.

Ada in Tours

The day started with some promise as far as the weather went.  There was sunshine as we cycled to church to sing in the choir but by the time that we got home, the sunshine had become fitful and every time that Mrs Tootlepedal hung the washing out, it started to drizzle.

The peonies were happy about what sun there was and made steady progress.

two nearly peonies

After church, we had coffee and I spent a little time watching the birds get through the seed on the feeder at a great rate.  I had filled the feeder before going to church and it was already down to halfway.

I enjoyed seeing a goldfinch and a siskin looking intently in the wrong direction  when it came to impending threats.

misdected siskin

This siskin knew where to direct its attention.

siskin being mean to sparrow

Having seen tow fellow siskins on the top shelf, I reckon this approaching siskin was weighing up its chances of shifting the goldfinch instead.

siskin hexing siskins

With the perches so busy, there was quite a lot of waiting for hungry birds, either on the feeder pole…

sparrow on pole

…or on the sunflower stalk that Mrs Tootlepedal has thoughtfully provided near the feeder.

siskin on new stalk

I went back out into the garden and checked on the fruit and veg.  Mrs Tootlepedal has put down a generous amount of straw for the strawberries and we are just waiting for some better ripening weather now.   The potatoes are producing more flowers every day.

strawberry and potato

Among the flowers, this Sweet William stopped me in my tracks…

sweet william stunner

…and I made a respectful bow as I passed the Queen of Denmark.

queen of denmark rose

Bees were to be seen on many flowers but I was taken by the flying skills that this one showed in reversing out of a foxglove.

bee in foxglove flower

The educated yellow onion is a tricky flower to photograph and this is the best that I have managed so far.

yellow educated onion

I like cornflowers…

conflower bud

…and it was evident today that bees like them too.

two bees on conrflower

There is still only one flower on the purple clematis.  Mrs Tootlepedal thinks that it is very early so perhaps this flower mistook the chilly weather for autumn and came out early by accident while the other flwoers knew better.

sole clematis flower

A feverfew has started to produce flowers and it will soon have more than a few by the look of it.

little daisielike plant

Next to the drive, a small forest of orange hawkweed is developing nicely…

sea of hawkweed

…and the climbing hydrangea is producing a positive galaxy of flowers.

hydrangea constellation

I put my camera down and mowed the middle lawn and after a quick check on the birds…

sideways look from greenfinch

…. Mrs Tootlepedal and I drove up the road to collect another load of wood chips for the vegetable garden paths.  We didn’t spread them out though because when we got home, it was well past lunch time….and it was raining.

After lunch, the sun came out and I put my cycling gear on and it immediately started to rain again.  I passed some time relaxing in front of the telly until I noticed that the sun had come out again, so I got my bicycle out and set off to do a few miles.

I hadn’t gone much more than half a mile before it started to rain again, but fortunately, I had a rain jacket with me so I put it on and pressed ahead. It continued to rain for an hour by which time I had done thirteen miles and got a bit fed up so I stopped.  I had hoped to take some pictures of sunlit hills while I was out but not only was there no sunlit but there were very few hills to be seen.

I stopped to take this single picture on my way home just to show all the hills that I couldn’t see behind that bank of cloud ahead..

poor view of Whita

Fortunately Mrs Tootlepedal was cooking a very tasty meal of roast chicken with stuffing, roast potatoes with carrots and Brussels sprouts for our evening meal so I was soon warmed up and cheerful.

There is often a sliver lining to a cloud and the enforced rest of the past two days means that my feet don’t hurt at the moment.  Always look on the bright side of life…..de dum…de dum…etc

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow, frozen in time.

flying sparrow

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo from Manitoba.  Her Christmas cactus responded to a programme of benign neglect indoors over the winter by bursting into flower when it was put outside for the summer.

christmas cactus

Perhaps unsurprisingly my hopes of waking up with no pain after yesterday’s tooth extraction were not realised and far from cycling around in a free and easy way, I spent the day rather quietly at home.  This was disappointing as it is the weekend of the Muckletoon Adventure Festival in Langholm and the town is full of mountain bikers and runners dashing up and down our hill.  I would have liked to have been out and about taking pictures.

As it was, I was confined to the garden but some reasonable weather meant that there were things of interest even there.

The bees buzzed around again and this one was visiting the perennial wallflower.

bee on wallflower

Roses showed their faces and I liked this combination of rosa complicata and philadelphus in a corner of the garden.

roses and philadelphus

Almost all the azaleas flowers are gone but one or two remain and they have been joined by honeysuckle, pinks and orange hawkweed (with both fox and cubs).

azalea, honeysuckle, pink,hawkweed

In the vegetable garden there is now a sea of mustard.

mustard fiekd

It is in a bed which is likely to get a bit of a thumping when the new electricity pole is put in next week so Mrs Tootlepedal has just let it grow, which it has done with great enthusiasm (or keenness).

The warmer weather has made us very excited by the peonies which definitely look as though they are going to flower properly.

two near peonies

I mowed the front lawn and gave it a good feed of buck-u-uppo which it badly needs.  The long spell of cool weather has not encouraged the rather sparse grass to grow much so I am pinning my hopes on a spell of warmer weather which we are promised.

After this brief burst of exercise, I retired indoors and spent most of the rest of the day resting and looking out of the window.

The birds did their best to keep me entertained.

Goldfinches looked sideways…

goldfinch looking sideways

,..and sparrows look downwards.

sparrow looking down

A sparrow tried to out stare an incoming siskin…

siskin looming

…while a siskin resorted to shouting when it was threatened.

siskin staring at siksin

Goldfinches demonstrated aerial combat skills…

goldfinch aerial combat

…while a siskin relied on the old fashioned method of putting the boot in when approached by a goldfinch.

siskin and 2 goldfinches

A siskin threatened a redpoll as some light rain started later on in the afternoon…

rain at the new feeder

…but the redpoll was more than equal to the challenge and munched away placidly when it had seen the siskin off.

redpoll nf

The rain got heavier but did nothing to cool tempers down.

siskins sparring nf

…and a brisk traffic to and from the feeder continued all afternoon.

goldfinch going nf

The rain stopped and a blackbird posed for me on the feeder pole.

blackbird posing nf

I had another walk round the garden and was very pleased to see that the ‘butter and sugar’ iris had come out while I had been sitting inside.

butter and sugar iris

The geums have quite enjoyed the cool weather and although it is a little faded round the edges, the deep colour of this one was outstanding.

deep red geum

I had a close look at the argyranthemums in the chimney pot…

argyranthemum centre

…and went back inside.

All this means that after a very promising start to the cycling month when I did 100 miles in the first week of June, I have only managed 10 miles since.  Some settled weather is required if I am to improve matters but it looks as though that might be in short supply.

If I can’t get out for a walk or a bike ride, I will have to start thinking of going for a drive to get some scenic views to add a bit of variety to the daily posts (and our lives).

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch cruising through the raindrops.

flying goldfinch

Note:  I will need to do something about the reflections in the window when I am looking at the re-positioned feeder.  The view of the birds is good but the streaky lines down some of the pictures is not satisfactory.

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