Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘sparrow’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He is taking an interest in wildlife now that he has moved to the country from the city and recently spotted and identified a yellowhammer.

yellowhammer

We had another grey and gloomy morning here and the memories of the fine summer months are slipping ever faster into oblivion as winter looms up ahead.

I didn’t have time to sit and mope however as we went off after breakfast to sing in the church choir.  It was a day when the hymns all seemed to have innumerable verses and since the service was followed by a choir practice, both Mrs Tootlepedal and myself felt the need for a quiet sit down when we got home.

I filled the bird feeder and looked out of the winter while I made coffee.

Goldfinches were very much to the fore today….

busy feeder oct 18

…and sparrows and chaffinches  had to look sharp if they wanted a seat at the table.

goldfinch threatening chaffinch

After a coffee and a rest, the weather looked settled enough to risk a stroll so I snapped one of the flourishing nasturtiums at the front door…

yellow nasturtium oct

…and set off round Gaskell’s Walk to see what I could see.  The light was subdued.

I saw the larches at Pool Corner beginning to change colour.

larches turning

I saw a fine beech hedge which has been allowed to get a bit out of hand

big beech hedge

The walls were topped with droplet bespangled mosses.

moss with dropletsThe trees on the bank above the river have adopted a variety of angles.

gaskell's Walk with leaning trees

Brambles provided a splash of red.

red bramble leaf

There was one last sloe on the bush at Stubholm.

last sloe

The trees in the park are still colourful but the poplars beside the Esk in the background are over.

 

Park colour

I like looking at the park wall.

park wall lichen panel

I didn’t linger as long as I would have liked on my walk as it started to rain but it had stopped again by the time that I got home and I had enough time for a very short walk round the garden.

Not dead yet.

late poppy

very late delphinium

After lunch, we went off to Carlisle to do a bit of shopping and sing with our Carlisle choir.

Our new conductor is a relentless ball of energy and keeps us hard at work.  She likes a crisp pace and after a hard singing morning, I had pretty well ground to a halt by the end of the session but in spite of that, it had been a very enjoyable day’s singing and my throat stood up to the work pretty well.  I think that my recent singing lesson has had a mildly beneficial effect on my technique but I am hoping to get a couple more lessons soon as there is plenty of scope for improvement yet.

Of course the weather had greatly improved as soon as we got inside the practice room and it was a lovely evening as we drove home.   The clocks go back next week so this will be the last time that we come home from our Carlisle choir in daylight for some months and even today, it was pretty well dark by the time that we got home.

To celebrate the arrival of the flock of goldfinches, the flying bird of the day is a double goldfinch helping.

flying goldfinch 1

Another open and shut case.

flying goldfinch 2

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Marianne, our son Tony’s partner.  It shows Tony getting some sausage making tips at the ‘Bowhouse Food Weekend’ in St Monans yesterday.  Marianne tells me that they intend to eat the sausages that he made.  They are very brave.

Tony at St Monans

After two days of miserable rain and wind, the weather gods relented and laid on a calm, fairly warm and dry day today, ideal for cycling.  Of course they knew that I had choirs to go to both in the morning and the afternoon with no time for serious cycling in between so they must have laughed themselves silly.

Still, the choirs were very enjoyable so I had no complaints.

After the church choir,  I had time to walk round the garden.

We have a little horizontal cotoneaster against the house with bright red berries and colourful leaves.

berries and leaves

Wet flowers were to be found. The striking clematis in the top row is is the only flower that the plant has produced all year.

Octcober flowers

We have our own autumn colour provided by the climbing hydrangea and one of the azaleas.

hydrangea and azalea in autumn

I looked at the birds while I attended to the tricky culinary task of preparing baked beans on toast for my lunch.

A collared dove appeared and didn’t start a fight.  This was possibly because it was the only dove there.

Collared dove at rest

There were several goldfinches only too ready to argue.

goldfinches sparring

I got the chance to catch  welcome visits from a dunnock…

dunnock Oct

…and a robin.

october robin

After my baked beans, I had just enough time to go for an amble round Easton’s Walk.

As I got to the Wauchope Water, I found that it had gone down enough to allow a dipper to do some dipping in the calmer current near the bank.

dipper dipping

The recent rain has encouraged the moss on the park wall.

spangles moss

I came down the track to the edge of the Murtholm fields….

Easton's Walk in autumn

…and enjoyed the colourful trees behind the farmhouse at the far end.

Murtholm in autumn

As I walked back along the river to the park, I spotted two ghostly fungi, one on a fallen tree…

white fungus

…and one unusually white one, part of a small bunch of fungi on the banking in the shadow of old tree roots.

very white gungus

The thorny hedge round the war memorial provided a resting place for water droplets.

thorn hedge with raindrops

When I got home, the sight of the winter jasmine in full flower at the back door  was a reminder of the march of the seasons.

winter jasmine

The weather gods had one last little joke to play.  The sun came out just as I was preparing to go to Carlisle for the afternoon choir so I only had time for a glance out of the kitchen window to watch a siskin hanging about…

siskin depending

…and a chaffinch weighing up his options …

flying chaffinch in sun

…before I went off to Carlisle to sing, driving down the road in beautiful weather and muttering under my breath as I went.

Our new musical director continues to be very lively and amusing so we all worked hard for her in return and as a result, we had a useful practice.

I am hoping for some kindly cycling weather tomorrow.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow in torpedo mode as it heads for the feeder.

flying sparrow missile

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who was more adventurous than me and went for an outing in the rain.  His reward was a picture of the Byreburn in full flow over the Fairy Loup. (I have put a little video that he took at the bottom of this post for those who like loud noises.)

fairy loup

As you can see from Bruce’s picture, there was a lot of water about today.  It had started raining before two o’clock in the morning and it rained until it got dark in the evening.  At that point 35 mph winds started to blow so it wasn’t in general a very pleasant day.

Dropscone arrived with bonus scones as he had left his hat and gloves here yesterday  and we had a cup of coffee before we went off with them firmly in his grip.

While we were sipping, there was a mass flight of birds from the feeder and when we looked, we could see the reason for the excitement.

sparrowhawk in plum tree

The sparrowhawk lurked in the plum tree for some time but no little birds were foolish enough to come back to the feeder and it eventually flew off.

As it had been raining for 8 hours by the time that Dropscone went off to do some shopping,  I walked down to the river under a capacious umbrella to see if the water was high.  It was surprisingly low…

Wauchope fairly full

…and you can see from the grass on the far bank that it had been higher yesterday after a much shorter but much heavier shower.

Two goosanders found it calm enough to paddle about.

goosanders on wauchope

…and I noticed the usual autumn outbreak of fungus around an old tree stump next to the church wall.

church mushrooms

The rain started to come down a bit more vigorously so I went home and looked at the birds as there was nothing much better to do.

Although the rain was very persistent, it was quite light at times and the birds didn’t get as soggy as they sometimes do in the wet.

I don’t know if we just have one coal tit who visits a lot or several coal tits who come one at a time but I never see more than one at the feeder though I do see it/them a lot at present.

coal tit paying flying vivit

We had a good number of greenfinches today and at times they dominated the feeder, shouting at sparrows…

greenfinch being rude to sparrow

…and grumbling at other greenfinches.

greenfinches squabbling

Between the greenfinches and the sparrows, goldfinches could only sulk in the background.

goldfinch sulking

Some sparrows tried enchantment to get rid of a fellow sparrow on a perch…

greenfinch witching

…while others took a more direct route to eviction.

sparrow kicking sparrow

A greenfinch…

greenfinch on arch

…and a goldfinch rose above the bad behaviour.

goldfinch on arch

A touch of class was brought by the arrival of some collared doves…

collared dove

…but sadly, in a sign of the times, even the doves fell to fighting each other.

fighting doves

I couldn’t look any longer and went off to put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database and practise some singing as I will have two choirs tomorrow.

Since it was still raining in the afternoon, I went down to look at the rivers again but although the water in the Esk was high, it was still lower than it had been yesterday.  I was surprised…

esk fairly full

…but it shows how well our rivers drain the rain away. There was plenty of water going under the bridge…

town bridge with water

…but not enough to wash away a tree which has been stuck under one arch for some time.

I passed another very similar crop of fungus on a different tree stump on my way home.

more fungus

And that more or less completed the events of the day though I did have some stewed apple and custard for my tea which was quite exciting.

The flying bird of the day is one of the greenfinches…..

flying greenfinch

…and the flying water comes courtesy of Bruce and the Fairy Loup.

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother who walked though five villages the other day and looked at one of them across a valley. This is Holbrook seen from Horsley.

Holbrook from Horsley

I was expecting a wet day today but after some heavy rain overnight, it was quite dry and calm in the morning and Dropscone was able to cycle round with treacle scones at coffee time.

I had a quick look round the garden before he came.

A couple of frosty mornings while I was away have done for a lot of the flowers but the nasturtiums under the protection of the front wall of the house are still looking excellent.

nasturtium

Sadly, only a very few fuchsias are left standing…or more accurately, hanging.

fuchsia

Dropscone has been checking on the well being of his tin knees which are now ten and twelve years old.  He got them put in at different hospitals and as a result, he had to go to two different places to get them x-rayed as one hospital couldn’t possibly x-ray another hospital’s knee.  This was rather annoying but he is pleased that the check has been completed.

I put the camera on its tripod at the kitchen window and took a variety of shots during the morning, while the weather was still dry.

A small flock of goldfinches were keeping the usual chaffinches at bay today…

goldfinch and chaffinch

…although one chaffinch at least made it to the feeder.

landing chaffinch

The birds have been complaining to their agents that I do not do them justice with my obsession with grainy shots of them in flight so I took some grainy head and shoulder shots today instead.

portrait goldfinch

Goldfinch

portrait greenfincj

Greenfinch

portrait sparrow

Sparrow

They are all very handsome.

It was still dry when Dropscone left after coffee so I had another look round the garden…

delphinium october

veg garden flower

…and then I took a chance and went for a short ‘three bridges’ walk to seek out autumn colour.

As I approached my first bridge, the pedestrian suspension bridge across the Esk, I couldn’t fail to be struck by the poplars beside the church.

river esk oct 12

And as I walked along towards my second bridge, this colourful garden hit me in the eye.

bar brae garden

I didn’t cross the town bridge today but I did look back at it from the Kilngreen…

autumn over the town bridge

…and I looked up the Esk from the same point.

esk from meeting of waters

I was pleased to see that for once I had all my ducks in a row.

ducks in a row

The Sawmill Brig over the Ewes Water was my second crossing.

sawmill brig october

And once across, I could admire the Langholm Castle ruins on the Castleholm…

castle in autumn

..and the glow of the trees at the start of the Lodge walks.

lodge walks oct

Across the playing fields, the trees on the far bank of the Esk were well worth a glance…

Castleholm trees oct

…or two.

castleholm trees oct (2)

Although not as brilliant as the maples that draw the tourists to New England in the fall, they give me a lot of quiet pleasure.

As the rain was threatening to come, I crossed the Duchess Bridge as my third bridge…

duchess brig in autumn

…and scuttled home as quickly as I could, propelled onward by a short but sharp little shower that encouraged me not to linger and look for fungi.

I did see this little specimen as I went through a gate on the Castleholm…

fungus on gatepost

…but mostly I had eyes only for yew deciduous trees on my walk today.

I got home in good time for lunch and shortly afterwards, the rain started in earnest….

feeder in the rain

…and kept going for several hours.

It has stopped as I write this but if the forecast is to be believed, it will start again in the early hours of the morning and rain until tea time tomorrow.

I will have a quiet day in.

Mike Tinker braved the rain and dropped in for a cup of tea and he told me that there has been an invasion of chaffinches from the continent.  I should recognise them if they arrive in the garden as they are more colourful than the natives.

Mrs Tootlepedal is doing well in the south but is looking forward to coming home next week and getting to work on preparing the garden for the winter.

I tried to catch a flying goldfinch but only managed another chaffinch today to be the flying bird of the day. They hover very obligingly.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony in East Wemyss.  He wanted to show me that they have butterflies there too but their ones come indoors.

wemyss butterfly

It was a stop start sort of day.

Our car had two warning lights when we got back from Carlisle yesterday and they were still sending out bad vibes when I switched on the engine this morning.  I rang the garage to see if they could do anything and there was a good deal of sucking of teeth and sighing.  “Very busy….not taking any more work this week…(sound of Tootlepedal crying) ….oh well, bring it in and we’ll see if we can look at it….no promises.”

I took it in.  They looked at it.  No more warning lights.  I collected it.  It was raining lightly by this time but I was very sunny.  Fingers are firmly crossed as I have to drive fifty miles tomorrow.

When I got home, the sun was shining so I went out into the garden for a walk round with Mrs Tootlepedal.  There had been ice on the car windscreen with a temperature of 2°C before breakfast and a lot of the dahlias had turned up their toes as a result.  However, it had warmed up quite quickly and there were survivors all around.

late garden flowers

Clockwise from top left: Gaura, calendula, rudbeckia and perennial wallflower

The upside of the demise of the Sunny Reggae dahlias was more space and light for the two fuchsias behind them.

fuchsia October

fat fuchsia october

And I did see a red admiral butterfly.  It was on the remains of the French marigolds which did such a good job of protecting the carrots earlier in the year.

red admiral on marigold

In the vegetable garden, chive and mint are still in flower.

chive and mint

Mrs Tootlepedal was mourning the loss of some nasturtiums to the cold when she noticed that there was some damage that wasn’t weather related.

cabbage white caterpillar (2)

Cabbage white caterpillars were chomping their way through leaves and flowers.

cabbage white caterpillar

Our kitchen was being painted and I had to wait in for the call from the garage so I put the morning to good use by entering two weeks of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database.  I am well behind schedule at this task so this was not before time.

When the painter went off to let the first coat of paint dry, I watched the birds from the kitchen window.  It was another busy day.

There was a mixture of greenfinches, sparrows and chaffinches at first…

busy feedr

…but a small gang of goldfinches soon turned up too.

goldfinches

Political discussions grew heated and a sparrow had to fly in to calm down two goldfinches who were debating the merits of Canada ++ and/or of falling of a cliff.

goldfinches in discussion

Greenfinches pursued sparrows…

greenfinch in pursuit

…and then goldfinches pursued sparrows.

goldfinch and sparrow

But the goldfinches couldn’t stop arguing.  The one on the left is practising the ‘no deal’ Brexit position.

goldfinch coming and going

A coal tit rose above the bickering…

coal tit on pole

…and a chaffinch showed her disgust at the whole situation.

fierce chaffinch

One of our visiting jackdaws has some elegant white wing feathers to show off.

jackdaw with white

Over lunch, we watched a re-run of the last kilometres of the men’s world championship cycling road race and felt for the riders as they had to battle up an extremely steep hill.

When the painter came back, we went out into the garden and did some useful work.  I mowed the drying green and the green house grass, did some shredding and sieved some compost.  The compost went on to the first of the new beds at the top of the vegetable garden which Mrs Tootlepedal had been preparing.

new bed back veg

I trimmed the top of the white clematis round the back door as it was creeping up in to the gutter and while I was in clematis mode, I noticed that we still have two clematis on the go in a modest way.

late clematis

I rounded off my photographic day with a glimpse of a dunnock…

dunnock

….the first to appear on the blog since early June.

Mike Tinker dropped in to report that his son David and family were safely on their journey back to New Zealand.  They will be looking forward to some warmer weather no doubt.

In the early evening, Luke came to play flute and once again we made steady progress (hemidemisemiquavers are meat and drink to us now) and then after tea, I went off to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  What with one thing and another, we haven’t been playing a lot recently and it was good to get together again even though some rustiness was apparent all round.  The Reader’s Digest used to suggest that laughter is the best medicine but I think it is music.

The flying bird of the day is a determined chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone who has been in Glasgow getting a knee checked out.  He took the opportunity to sample the Glasgow underground train service, popularly known as the ‘Clockwork Orange’.

Glasgow underground

We woke to a beautiful sunny morning today but the late September downside was in evidence in the form of a layer of ice on the car window with the temperature at 2°C.  That was too cold for me to go cycling as I have already had one bad experience with a patch of ice on a sunny day this and I definitely don’t want another.

Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a fund raising coffee morning with friends and I hung about until the temperature hit 5°, finally getting going a bit later than was intended.

The wait was worth it though as it was a perfect morning for cycling, with light winds and hardly a cloud in the sky.

Callister road new lines

The newly surfaced road at Callister has got a sparkling fresh white line and was looking at its best.

I cycled through Gair and Eaglesfield and joined the old A74, going north through Ecclefechan…

Ecclefechan

..which is notable both as the birthplace of Thomas Carlyle, the sage of Ecclefechan, and the home of the world famous Ecclefechan Tart.

I kept going north until I passed the biggest wood burning stove in Dumfriesshire…

Wood burning power station

…where I turned west to cross the River Annan, passing the delightful Applegarth Church…

Applegarth Church

…and a charming cottage with its own clock tower at Millhousebridge just before I crossed the river.

Millhousebridge

I must say that if I had a clock tower on my house, I would keep the clock running on time.

Once over the river, I turned south and had a stop for a roll and a banana beside the Mill Loch in Lochmaben.

Mill Loch Lochmaben

I found a bench in a sheltered spot beside the loch…

bullrushes

…and ate my roll beside Weigela and Himalayan balsam flowers.

wiegela and balasam

I pedalled on southwards  to the little village of Dalton where they had a really good idea in 2000….

Dalton handprints

…though the tiles are getting a bit discoloured with age.

My tour continued as I passed beneath the Repentance Tower at Hoddom…

Repentance Tower

…and then I followed the course of the river Annan down to the town of Annan.

Having crossed the fine bridge there, I was blown home by a friendly wind, stopping only to admire a fireless engine at the Devil’s Porridge museum at Eastriggs….

Fireless engine Eastriggs

A fireless engine is a very good idea in a large munitions factory.

…and an even larger quantity of migrating geese than last time in a field near the border..

geese in field

The noise was ferocious.

…with a few swans  keeping themselves to themselves at the other end of the field.

swans in field

Those interested may find further details of the ride by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 28 Sept 2018

The skies clouded over for the last part of the ride and I was glad to have been well wrapped up to counter the chill at the beginning of the outing. I was able to shed a few layers as I went round though.

Mrs Tootlepedal had had a busy day with the coffee morning followed by some serious gardening in the afternoon.  This involved a lot of digging as part of the new plan for the top of the vegetable garden.

After a cup of tea and a look at the feeder, which I had to fill as it had obviously been busy during the day…

busy feeder

..I went out to inspect the works and take a picture or two of things that had survived the chilly morning.

floodlit fuchsia

The fuchsias continue to shine.

triple special grandma

More Special Grandmas have come out

late september flowers

The last of the yellow crocosmia, a small rudbeckia and a late burst of phlox.

Mrs Tootlepedal made herself some very good looking courgette fritters for her evening meal and I cooked up a calorie heavy dish of macaroni cheese to make sure that I didn’t fade away after my cycling efforts.  (In fact, there is no chance of that as I am at my winter weight already and winter hasn’t even begun.)

The TV provided Gardener’s World and highlights from an exciting day of golf in France to give us both a good excuse to sit down and put our feet up in the evening.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture shows a wonderful sunrise over the Forth captured by our older son Tony as he walked his dogs near his new house on the shore.

wemyss sunrise

We had a sunny day here but after a clear night, it was only 2°C when Mrs Tootlepedal got up and she was worried about the garden.  The cold had done for the courgettes which had collapsed but a lot was untouched by the chilly hand of autumn and she was able to garden usefully through the day and into the early evening.

After a leisurely breakfast, I cycled up to the Archive Centre to take a meter reading  and then cycled home again to collect the key which I had forgotten.  The second journey was uneventful and the meter got read.

In spite of the cold start to the day and the fact that it never got very warm out of the direct sun, the butterflies were not discouraged.

The buddleias are fading so a red admiral tried a cosmos.

red admiral butterfly on cosmos

On the red buddleia, the flowers are now so scarce that multi occupancy was the order of the day.

red admiral butterfly groups on buddleia

I watched the birds when I went in.

There were a good number of goldfinches about….

goldfinch group

…and some rough sparrows too.  A hefty one footed kick soon dislodged the bird on the right.

sparrow stamping

I had an early lunch and got my new bicycle out and set off to see how strong the wind was.

It was gusty at times but after a slow first 14 miles over Callister and out to Eaglesfield, I had chosen a route that made it more of a friend than a foe and I enjoyed a peaceful ride back to Langholm by way of Gretna.

Although it was sunny when I set out, there were some dark clouds about…

dark cloud over callister

…and I had to stop and put my rain jacket on for a few miles between Gair and Eaglesfield.  It was unfortunate that a buzzard should have chosen some poor light to pose for me on a telegraph pole….

buzzard pn pole

….because they usually fly off long before I can get my camera focused so this would have been a rare opportunity.

My bike routes often taken me along rivers and over their bridges but today’s route took me to the motorway….

M74 from bridge

…which I crossed by a bridge.  Then I pedalled against the stream of traffic down the old road which runs beside this new road before crossing under the motorway this time on my way home.

I stopped to take my rain jacket off while I was on the bridge because as you can see, the sun was out by this time.  For the rest of my trip I was often cycling on wet roads  but in broad sunshine as the rain clouds were pushed just ahead of me by the wind….

windmills in the sun

…which was very busy making electricity as it shoved the clouds along.

The sound of honking caught my attention as I approached Englishtown near the border and looking through a gate in the hedge, I could see a flock of geese in the field…

geese at Englishtown

…another sign that autumn is here to stay.

I added 37 miles to my total for the year and now I am at just under 300 miles for September.

Before I had my shower after cycling, I went out into the garden to help Mrs Tootlepedal chop up some of the rhubarb roots which have come out of the new back bed.  Then as Mrs Tootlepedal was rather gloomy about prospects for the garden if the cold nights continue, I made a quick record of just some of the flowers left standing.

I thought that they might be saying, “Nos morituri, te salutumas” to the readers….

garden flowers 24 Sept (3)

From top left clockwise: potentilla, verbascum, niocotiana and Japanese anemone

garden flowers 24 Sept (2)

From top left clockwise: geranium, fancy primrose, nasturtium and fuchsia

garden flowers 24 Sept

From top left clockwise: euphorbia, lamium, potentilla and dahlia

special grandma

Special Grandma with buds still hoping for some more warm weather.

…but I hope that Mrs Tootlepedal’s gloom is unjustified as the forecast is offering us some generally warmer weather to come over the next few days.  Fingers crossed.

My flute pupil Luke came and we did more work on a Quantz trio sonata with my computer supplying the continuo.

There was no trio playing with Mike and Isabel tonight so I had a quiet evening at home.

There is another gender balanced flying bird of the day scenario today with male and female chaffinches sharing the duty.

flying chaffinchflying chaffinch (2)

 

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »