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Posts Tagged ‘sparrow’

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Dropscone.  He claimed it shows a golf course near Glasgow but in fact it shows a path to a lighthouse on Islay.  If he has a picture of the actual lighthouse, I hope that he sends it to me.

Islay

I was completely wrong footed by the forecast today.  It had claimed with great confidence for some time that it was going to rain all day today, sometimes heavily. Under the circumstances, I left a lot of work on the computer to be done while it rained.

And then it didn’t rain much and sometimes not at all. And from time to time the sun came out.  All the same, the computer work had to be done so I did it.

I also had a visit from Dropscone for coffee.  He came with treacle scones and left with apples so we were both happy.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy painting an internal door and helping out at the Buccleuch Centre so I had quite a quiet if workmanlike day.  I did pop out into the garden for a breath of fresh air and some dead heading and of course, I took a look about.

There is still a lot to see.

Some things have come back for a second go.

yarrow

Yarrow

sweet rocket

Sweet rocket

choisya

Choisya or Mexican orange

Some things are keeping going.

lobelia

Lobelia on the chimney pot by the bird feeder

nasturtium

Nasturtium on the bench

geranium

Geranium beside the front lawn

fuchsia

A fairly fancy Fuschia

sunny reggae dahlia 2

One of the Sunny Reggae dahlias

sunny reggae dahlia

Even on a damp and gloomy day, they make the sun shine

I took a picture of a corner of the bed beside the new path.

new path bed

It has a lot going on: nasturtium, potentilla, verbascum, euphorbia, pansy, viola, cosmos and feverfew.  The sharp eyed may even see a glimpse of a dodddering dilly on the left.  Mrs Tootlepedal has had most of them up to stop them spreading too wildly.

I did see a butterfly or two…

peacock butterfly

…but not on a sedum yet.

sedum

Presumably there is a bit more opening to be done before the butterflies get attracted.

sedum close

I didn’t have much time to watch the birds but, as always, I was happy to see a blue tit visiting…

bluetit

…and just lately, we have had a pair of collared doves about too.

collared doves

A lot of the birds are in the process of getting their paint job renewed like this chaffinch.

chaffinch

I had to go back in when it started to rain.

It stopped when I had been for a short while but by the time that I had spent enough time crouched over the keyboard and was thinking of a short walk, it started to rain again.

I shouldn’t complain though because I had got quite a lot done that had needed doing.

The flying sparrow of the day was just passing through.

sparrow passing

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce.  He was impressed by the size of this nail brush.  Its owner must have very big hands.

Bruce's big brush

I was awoken by a loud cry from Mrs Tootlepedal.  “There’s a partridge in the garden,” she said.  I had hoped that by the time  that I had got organised with a camera, the partridge would have flown up into our pear tree, which would have been a great gift.  No such luck though as the partridge had walked out of the front gate and down the road.

partridge

It will do well to stick around in the town and take the risk of being run over.  It it goes back out into the country, it is likely to get shot.

The forecast had been for another cloudy day but we were lucky and the clouds had passed over us and gone on their way and it was sunny all day.

The elder tree feeder lived up to its promise this morning and attracted interesting small birds to the garden.

great tit and robin

A great tit and the first robin for some weeks.

It was a little chilly after breakfast so I took my time getting ready to pedal and made some apple jelly after breakfast.  Sadly, I might have rushed the job a bit and although the result tastes quite nice, it hasn’t set properly and may need reboiling.

Then, even when I had pumped up the tyres and filled my water bottle, I took more time to admire the poppies…

thre poppies

…and salute the butterflies on the buddleia.

three butterflies

Small tortoiseshell, peacock and red admiral

The wind was coming from the north east so instead of heading south as usual and then having to face the wind coming home, I headed north out of the town.

The trouble with starting in this direction is that there is a steep hill almost as soon as you leave the town.  I am not supposed to cycle up steep hills with my tin knee but I adopted a very low gear and eased up the hill so gently that my knee did’t even notice.

Peden's View

Looking back from the top of the hill.

It was a good day for a pedal as the wind was light and even when it was in my face, it didn’t make me cry.  The hills were looking good with bracken and grasses making a patchwork of greens and browns.

Criag hills

I had to stop to take my favourite view, The Gates of Eden.  It really was that green today.

Gates of Eden

I was cycling up the Esk towards its source and this is the peaceful view of the valley at Bentpath.

esk at bentpath

You can see that the farmers have been busy getting silage cut and bagged.

The Black Esk and the White Esk join forces about ten miles north of Langholm and this is the bridge over the Black Esk just before the junction.

 

Black esk bridge Tanlawhill

I crossed the bridge and followed the White Esk for the rest of my outward journey, stopping in this delightful wood beside the King Pool for my first snack of the day.

King Pool wood

The valley of the White Esk is a perfect example of the ‘sunlit uplands’ on a day like today…

Upper esk valley panoramaIt may not be so welcoming in the winter though.

I pedalled past the Samye Ling Tibetan Monastery without taking a picture (which took a lot of restraint) but was stopped in my tracks a little further on by a beautiful rose and some impressive hips in a bush beside a bridge.

rwild rose and hips

The bridge looked interesting so I followed a steep path down to the river and was most alarmed when I heard an almighty splash as I got near to the water.  What had fallen in, I wondered.

It turned out that nothing had fallen in, but a large family of goosanders had been disturbed by my arrival and had taken off from under the bridge in a great hurry.  I caught a glimpse of them as they disappeared downstream.

flying goodsanders

Not a great picture but it was just to record that ten or eleven goosanders taking flight can sound like a boulder falling into a river.

The bridge itself was worth a look.

Eskdalemuir birdge

Although it looked like a traditional stone bridge, the arch had been strengthened by concrete.  This was doubtless to withstand the battering it gets from the many timber wagons which roll over it.  I am not entirely sure but I think the stream is Garwaldwater.

I pushed on, climbing gently but steadily until I could see the start of the White Esk where the Glendearg Burn comes down from the hills to join another little stream and turns in to the Esk.

Upper Esk

When I got to my turning point, the regional  boundary between Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders….

County boundary

…I could hardly recognise it as the timber farmers had been hard at work here and cut down all the trees that used to mark the border.  It looks rather nondescript now.

Nevertheless at 1100 feet above sea level, it seemed like a good spot to rest and munch an egg roll before rolling down the 22 miles back to Langholm.  I say ‘rolling back’ but in spite of losing 850 feet overall, there is a never ending amount of undulation on the way so it was still hard work.  As the route back was exactly the same as the route out, I have not illustrated it.

I was extremely pleased to find that my knee stood up well to this hilly ride and might try to do some more adventurous rides if time and weather permit.

When I got home, I mowed the middle and front lawns.

When i say that I mowed them, of course it was the wonderful Webb Witch which did the work…

Lawn mower

…I just walked along behind it saying encouraging things.  They don’t seem to sell push mowers like this any more.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy sowing some field beans for green manure in the now empty potato bed and we took time out to watch the many flights of bees and butterflies on the buddleia and Michaelmas daisies.  I actually saw a bee push a small tortoiseshell off a daisy flower.   The butterfly came back sharply and knocked the bee off in turn.

The same three varieties that I had seen in the morning were still about ….

P1130964

…but they were joined by a couple of beautiful painted ladies in the afternoon.

painted lady butterfly

One posed for me on a daisy.

The garden was full of insects.

insects in garden

I finished my camera tour with an Icelandic poppy.

icelnadic poppy

Then we uprooted the gooseberry bush as part of the vegetable garden remodelling.  We are going to try to do a little work on this scheme every day that the weather allows so that the work doesn’t overwhelm us.

We were spoiled in the evening with the highlights of both the Tour of Spain and the Tour of Britain bicycle races to watch.

The flying bird of the day is another sparrow.  Birds do keep their heads still when they are flying.

flying sparrow

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Newcastle correspondent Fiona’s visit to the Netherlands.  She and her family camped beside the river Vecht.  She tells me that she passed up the opportunity to swim in its welcoming waters.

Vecht

We had plenty of water on hand today but most of it was coming directly from the sky which was not very helpful and we have had more rain in the first two days of this week than we had in the whole of last week.

The result was another very quiet day, though it was brightened up by a visit from Scott the minister which quite coincidentally turned out to be at coffee time.  He is off to his new parish near Glasgow soon and we shall miss him.

I watched the birds while I made some potato and carrot soup for lunch.

Sometime it is easy to imagine that birds are chatting to each other across the feeder….

chaffinch and sparrow chewing

…but a closer look reveals that they are simply finding the seed hard to swallow.

sparrow chewing

I did spot the occasional chaffinch and blue tit again….

chaffinch and bluetit on feeder

…but mostly it was the sparrow maelstrom as usual.

sparrow whirlwind

I have put up a subsidiary feeder on the elder tree and filled it with seed which, according to the packet, will entice an extraordinary variety of small birds to the garden.

It is attracting sparrows.

sparrow on elder feeder

I live in hope.

It stopped raining after lunch and I might have gone for a walk but by this time I had embarked on a scheme to make apple jelly with our windfalls so I cycled down to the Co-op to buy some preserving sugar.

The river was up enough after the rain to make use of all three arches of the Langholm Bridge….

Langholm Bridge in early September

…and create a bit of a ripple here and there.

Esk in minor spate

As I cycled along the river bank, I could see the first signs of impending autumn.

early autumn leaves

I stopped for a look on my way home and was delighted to see a dipper on a rock.  It was one of a pair but the other one flew off before I could catch it.

dipper september

I noticed how well the potentillas along the dam are doing  as I got home.  They started slowly this year but are making up for lost time now.

potentilla along dam

I walked round the garden when I got in.

The dahlia with apparent internal lighting was brightening up the gloomy day…

internally lit dahlia

…but this one looked more as though it was huddling up for some warmth.

huddled dhalia

Mrs Tootlepedal has at least four different sorts of cosmos on the go (one from a free packet of seeds on a magazine) and they are generally thriving.

four cosmos

There are even two buds on the Lilian Austin rose but they may need some better weather if they are to come out properly.

two rose buds september

Fuchsias are appearing in several different parts of the garden which is good as I like them a lot.

old fuchsia

The chives have produced some late flowers which are a bonus for insects.  I can see at least four on this flower.

chive with insects

And the sedum is getting ready to welcome butterflies should the sun ever come out again.

sedum nearly out

I went in and set about making the apple jelly. Our apples are not ideal for this task and I will have to leave the mush to drip over night to get enough liquid to make the jelly.

Mrs Tootlepedal came out into the garden and while she dug up the rest of the roots of the blackcurrant bush, I cut down the gooseberry bush as part of the projected remodelling.  It is an ambitious plan and we hope to have the energy (and the weather)  to carry it through.

The evening was devoted to music making as first my flute pupil Luke arrived and showed the value of practice once again and then I went off after tea to play trios with Mike and Isabel (and demonstrate my need for more practice).  The playing was as enjoyable as ever and rounded off an otherwise rather quiet day in a very pleasant way.

The flying bird of the day is one of the great tribe of sparrows.

flying sparrow

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who started a nine mile walk today by crossing the River Manifold over this handsome bridge.

Manifold Bridge

We had a lovely day here as well but it was decidedly chilly at first so it took me some time to get going on my bike.

I checked on the buddleia after breakfast….

Three butterflies

Mixed sunbathing for two peacocks and a small tortoiseshell

…and I was just in time to take a gift of eggs from Scott, the minister (but not offer him coffee in return) just before I set off.

I was slightly nervous about how my legs would be feeling after the slow and arduous effort on Wednesday but a day visiting Matilda had worked wonders and they were in a cooperative mood today.  I took care not to upset them by going up any steep hills.

I hadn’t gone far before I noticed two buzzards which were very agitated about something and circled around above my head crying out loudly.

One hovered long enough for me to take a picture.

buzzard

I rode past banks of rosebay willowherb seed heads as I went along…

rosebay seeds

…and was impressed by the fact that the wind hadn’t dislodged them yet.

I rolled down out of the hills and into Gretna where I saw a wedding party get ready to attend their ceremony at the ‘Famous Blacksmith’s Shop’.

Gretna wedding

They avoided getting run over.

I continued down into England, passing churches with steeples and square towers.

Rockcliffe Church

Rockcliffe

Scaleby Church

Scaleby

The church at Scaleby had a shiny new padlock on the door and warning notices from the police.  Not the most welcoming of sights.

I turned off at Scaleby and followed this unassuming road.

new road to Smithfield

It was a moment to note for me though, as it was one of the few roads in the area that I had never cycled along before.

Thanks to my perky legs, I didn’t need to stop for many breathers so there are fewer pictures today and  this picture of the welcoming sight of the monument on Whita Hill is the only one that I took in the last fifteen miles.

Whita

The jaunt was almost exactly 50 miles and this took me over 3000 miles for the year so it was a satisfactory ride both for itself and statistically.  It also brought up 565 miles for the month, my biggest monthly tally for four years.  It is amazing what some good weather will do.

When I got home, I did a bit of bird watching….

goldfinch

The single goldfinch soon got swept away by an incoming tide of sparrows.

sparrow melee

…and then I had a look around the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.

She spotted a ladybird…

ladybird

…and I spotted a small tortoiseshell stretching its wings….

small tortoiseshell butterfly

…and then I spotted it again!

small tortoiseshell butterfly 2

Among the more flashy flowers, the feverfew sparkles away quite modestly…

feverfew

…but persistently.

And Mrs Tootlepedal’s new cosmos, which is improbably called ‘Double Click Cranberries’ raised its head to the sun.

cosmos

I cut down the head of the giant sunflower and put it out for the birds…

sunflower head

…and picked up one of the fallen flower heads and rested it on my knee.

sunflower flower

My neighbour Liz was trimming her cherry tree and the job seemed to call for a tall person so I went across to give her a hand and ended up with a good collection of branches for shredding and adding to our compost heap.

I had a relaxing bath and came downstairs to a delicious evening meal prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal, the highlight of which was an enormous courgette fritter.

It took some time to recover from this but I was back in good order by the time that Mike and Alison came round for their customary Friday evening visit.  Alison and I were playing early music in the French style and had  a hard working and enjoyable time getting to grips with some tricky pieces.

It was a good way to spend the last day of summer.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow, putting down the landing gear.

flying sparrow

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  As well as seals and curlews, his new house offers him fine sunrises as he walks his dogs.

Wemyss sunrise

We had a lovely crisp and sunny morning here, perfect for cycling if I had had any go about me.  Sadly, my go was gone and I was still having a light snooze after breakfasts when Sandy came round on Archive Group business and roused me enough to make a cup of coffee.  When he went on his way, I looked round the garden.

There were peacock butterflies all over the place, on the red buddleia…

butterfly on ref buddleia

…on a cosmos…

peacock butterfly on cosmos

…and on the main buddleia too.

peacock butterfly on purple buddleia

They were sunning themselves on paths and flitting about in a very butterflyish way all morning.

The white cosmos are flowering freely…

white cosmos

…and after a slow start, poppies appear as if by magic on fine days like today.

four red poppies

As well as a lot of edible plums, we also have a silver pear on the silver pear tree.  You would need teeth of iron to eat one though.

silver pear

After a great rush of blackbirds earlier on, they have become rather scarce lately so I was pleased to see this one today.

blackbird

When I looked at the birds on the feeder, once again a blue tit was hanging about in the plum tree….

blue tit among the plums

….waiting for a chance while the sparrows played follow my leader round the feeder.

circulating sparrows

Beside the feeder, the accidental sunflower is going from strength to strength.

feeder sunflower

The main business of the day was going to Edinburgh to see Matilda and for once the trains were more or less on time and not too full so the journey was a pleasure and it is always a treat to see Matilda and her parents.

She took her father and me to the shops to get the ingredients for a one pot lemon and asparagus linguine for tea.

Matilda going shopping

(I have digitally scrubbed the graffiti off the board behind her as I don’t like to encourage  that sort of thing.)

Al and Clare are preparing their house for sale so while we shopped, Mrs Tootlepedal and Clare cleaned windows.  Then Al cooked the linguine and it turned out to be delicious so we went home in a cheerful mood.

The flying bird of the day is a strangely twisted sparrow.

twisted flying sparrow

(We are looking at it from behind and it has its head turned sharply to the right to check out the feeder.)

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I have kindly been sent a lot of guest pictures lately and I am working through them so I apologise to those whose great images have fallen through the sieve of time.  Today’s effort is from our younger son and shows his washing line on a typical recent day.

wet washing line

We had another grey day today here for the most part, a day when it always looked as though it was going to rain soon….but it didn’t and as a result there was lots of time for work in the garden.

As soon as the worst of the early dampness had worn off, I got various mowers out and mowed the drying green, the greenhouse grass, the middle and the front lawns and then strimmed the edges of everything that I could see.  There was hardly a blade of grass standing in the garden by the time that I had finished.

counterstriped lawn

I went for a fancy pattern to please Julie, a faithful reader from Australia, who had suggested that  a little variety in the lawn striping would not go amiss.

Then I sieved some compost.

After some slack dead heading days because of the drizzle, there was any amount of dead heading to be done and both Mrs Tootlepedal and I went round several times snipping off the ones we had missed on the previous circuit.

Some flowers survived the snippers.  The camera makes things look a lot brighter than they actually were.

white and red poppies

sunny reggae dahlias

Even on a drab day these ‘Sunny Reggae’ dahlias shine.

There are an encouraging amount of insects about.  Sometimes it seemed that every flower had one.

wild strawberry with tiny insect

phlox with insect

been on daisy

Or two!

dahlia with two insects

But butterflies were scarce.  The strong wind may have made life hard for them

peacock butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help at the Buccleuch Centre over lunch so I set the kitchen window camera up in the vain hope of seeing the nuthatch again.

I saw a blue tit first….

blue tit on feeder

…and then the usual stramash of sparrows…

mass of sparrows

…with occasional greenfinch incursions…

incoming greenfinch

…but no nuthatch.  I am revising my nuthatch expectations down to nil.

We were having our outside doors painted for the second time as it had rained very heavily after the first effort and the work needed to be redone.  The painter went off after lunch and looking at the clouds, it seemed that it might be quite likely that the same thing would happen again but fortunately the rain held off and the doors dried.

I had received a call from a data miner in the Archive Centre to say that an unfortunate train of events had led to one of the microfiche readers losing some vital parts so after lunch, I snapped a siskin on the feeder…

perching siskin

,…and  went up to the Archive Centre to see what I could do about this, taking a picture of the clematis by the front door on my way out.

big hearted clematis

This is a late flowering and you might say that it is all heart.

It was a bit of a struggle to fix the microfiche reader as one of the errant parts had suffered minor damage but I got it cobbled back together in the end and the miners should be able to get back to work (with care).

When I got home again, Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work in the garden and I joined her, mostly in a  supervisory role but from time to time actually doing something helpful.

After a while, we both needed a sit down so we tested out the newly oiled bench and admired the flowers in the new bed beside the lawn.

new bed by middle lawn

On our other side, tall rudbeckias looked down on us.

rudbeckia

I like these rudbeckias because the flowers are durable and don’t need much dead heading.

However, there was plenty of dead heading still to do on a final tour.

There are many flowers about that don’t need dead heading all the time.

pansy and anemone

We are sawing up the old, rather rotten bench a bit at a time and I was cutting through a plank on the back when I noticed some lichen on one of the uprights.

lichen on old bench

We were probably right to think that it was time for a replacement.

I had thought of a walk (it was too windy for a cycle ride) but all this gardening had knocked some of the stuffing out of me so a cup of tea and a sit down looked like a more attractive proposition.

Mrs Tootlepedal cooked a delicious evening meal and there were just enough raspberries to have as a dessert.

In any spare moments during the day, I ate a plum.  More plums are ripening all the time.  The wasps and the jackdaws are dealing with a lot of them but there are more than enough left to satisfy the most enthusiastic plum eater.  I can see plum chutney looming.

I hope to widen my horizon tomorrow as the forecast is quite cheerful.

The flying bird of the day is a greenfinch.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from our older son Tony’s morning dog walking.   You don’t see sights like this in Langholm.  I shall expect porpoises next.

wemyss seals

We woke to another rather chilly and damp morning and things hadn’t got any drier or brighter by lunch time when I took this picture while doing some dead heading.

soggy calendula

A visit from Sandy for coffee and conversation brought a little metaphorical light into the day but otherwise it was a morning for getting Archive Group business done on the computer and making some potato and courgette soup. (The supply of courgettes is endless.)

Sandy helped me take the new bench, which I had treated with decking oil yesterday,  out into the garden and we put it back in its place.

oiled bench

In spite of the drizzle, it looked very cheerful surrounded by flowers.

I set the bird watching camera up over lunch in the hope of seeing a return of the nuthatch but had to make do with birds just failing to hit the perches at the first attempt instead.

blue tit landing

greenfinch missing

The feeder was intermittently busy…

busy feeder

…with sparrows and greenfinches but the nuthatch didn’t come back.

Jackdaws did.

jackdaw on fat balls

When we a have been out in the garden recently, we are occasionally startled by great whooshing of wings as large flocks of sparrows rise up and fly from one spot to another.

They are very fond of the seed feeder….

two sparrows with seed

…and the fat balls….

sparrows on fat balls

…but today when I was upstairs, I looked out of the window and saw that the philadelphus at the front gate had become the preferred perch for a while.

sparrows on philadelphus

The drizzle gave up and down in the garden, Mrs Tootlepedal was preparing the ground for a transplant of a spirea while I cut up a huge amount of green waste for composting.  The waste had come from the work that Mrs Tootlepedal with the help of our neighbour Liz had done on Saturday as part of cleaning up the bushes at the far end of our hedge along the road.

neat hedge

They had acquired two wheelbarrow loads of soft clippings that needed cutting up before being put into the compost bin.  I would have shredded them but our shredder has not been working well lately so I laboriously cut the stuff up with secateurs and shears.

Then I wandered round with the camera for a while.

There was life in the garden.

cosmos and hoverflywhite dicentra and bee august

Mrs Tootlepedal found this woolly bear caterpillar in some long grass and it wriggled about on her glove as I tried to take its picture.

woolly bear caterpillar

There is still plenty of colour in spite of the gloomy clouds above.

four colourful flowers august

And there were even one or two butterflies.  This is a red admiral, looking a little part worn I thought.

red admiral butterfly

Beside the buddleia, the Michaelmas daisies are in full flow.

Michaelmas daisies

At this point, we were visited by Mike Tinker.  This was very fortunate as I know that he has a taste for repairing machinery so I suggested that he have a look at our shredder and before you could say “Jack Robinson”, he had the front plate off, the insides cleaned out and the thing back in full working order.  This is just the sort of visitor that you need in the garden.  We went inside and had a nice cup of tea.

After he went, my flute pupil Luke arrived and we had a very worthwhile session.  Luke guiltily admitted to practising again.  Where will this all end?

Late in the day, I spotted a couple of goldfinches at the feeder.

two goldfinches

They are infrequent visitors at the moment.

I am hoping that the weather gets either warmer or drier, or preferably both, as I would like to get another pedal or two in before the end of the month and it has not been attractive cycling weather for the last two days.

Meantime, here is the flying chaffinch of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

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