Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘sparrow’

Today’s guest picture comes from my eldest sister Susan, an inveterate traveller, who has just come back from Italy.  She saw this handsome church door in Ortesi in the Dolomites.

ortesi door

Like King Lear, I was going to do such things today but also like the King, I didn’t know what they were so in the end, I didn’t do them.  Instead, I took a leaf out of Brer Terrapin’s book and did a lot of lounging about and suffering.

The lounging was serious but the suffering was very slight and was greatly alleviated by the arrival of Dropscone for coffee bearing the traditional Friday treacle scones.

I had done some watering and weeding before he arrived and I did some more afterwards and as always looked at the flowers as I went along.

The first sweet peas are out…

sweet peas

…and ever more lilies appear each day.

lily

Mrs Tootlepedal planted two new roses this year and I saw that one was looking rather dry and droopy a day or two ago so I have watered it carefully and it was looking much more cheerful today.

rose Fru Dagmar Hastrup

The Queen of Denmark has responded to some water too.

Queen of Denmark

And the Common Riding rose is just sensational without any water at all.

rose excelsa

The camera simply can’t do its luxuriant growth justice at all.

While I was having coffee with Dropscone, the phone rang and a mystery voice asked if I was Tom.  I admitted to this and the voice said my wife was having trouble with her mobile phone and since I was the account  holder, he wanted to ask me a few security questions.   This was so obviously a scam that I put the phone down without saying any more.

A moment or two later, Mrs Tootlepedal rang up to say it wasn’t a scam and she was having trouble with her phone and I was the account holder for it.  I checked for a reputable number for the phone company, rang it, got a really helpful human on the line with minimum delay, talked the problem through and solved it within minutes.   The shock of getting a sensible and prompt  corporate response was so great that I had to have a sit down to recover.

Then  I watched birds for a bit.

A greenfinch arrived to take advantage of the sunflower seeds.

greenfinch

Greenfinches are a lot bigger than siskins but don’t always get their own way.

siskin and greenfinch

On the ground below the feeder, a blackbird with an elegant grey feather was finding its own food.

blackbird with grey

I had lunch and thought of a walk or a bike ride but actually did some more lounging instead and had to suffer by sitting through much of a Tour de France stage and two simultaneously  never ending tennis matches from Wimbledon.

Mrs Tootlepedal rang up to say that although her phone was working, now she was having trouble reading her emails on her tablet although she was properly connected to her brother’s internet router.  This was a puzzle.

I popped out from time to time to do more watering and weeding and dead heading too.

The melancholy thistle is looking more  cheerful every day…

melancholy thistle

..and looming over it, is the prettiest sunflower that I have ever seen.

tall sunflower

In the vegetable garden Mrs Tootlepedal has planted many small sunflowers and they are blooming freely with a great heap of honeysuckle on the fence behind them.

sunflowers and honeysuckle

Also in the veg garden, the French marigolds are thriving and time will tell whether they have helped to keep the carrot root flies of the carrots.  I thinned out a test carrot the other day and it looked straight, clean and promising…

french marigold

…but it was rather small still.

A new potentilla has come out.

new potentilla

In the course of time, I dug up another potato, picked lettuce, peas, beans and gooseberries and a large turnip for my evening meal.

broad beans

There are many more beanfeasts in store

The turnip was so large that I cut it in two and gave half to Mike and Alison when they came round in the evening for their customary Friday night visit.  Alison and I enjoyed some good playing of sonatas by old English masters while Mike, in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal to talk to, watched the tennis.

I had further talk with Mrs Tootlepedal on the matter of her internet connection and suggested that although she was connected to the router, maybe the router was not connected to the internet.  This turned out to be the case and the problem was solved by the time honoured method of turning the router off and then on again.  I wish all problems were as simply solved as Mrs Tootlepedal’s technical glitches were today.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow.

flying sparrow

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who stopped on Wetherby on a trip and enjoyed the colonnaded market there.  The street sign says ‘The Shambles’ suggesting it was a place for butchers at one time.

the shambles, Wetherby

I got up early and went for a cycle ride straight after breakfast, pleasantly surprising myself.

The conditions were good and having been a bit depressed by how slow I have been on recent rides, I stopped trying to blame old age today and just tried harder.  This worked well.  You can almost always cycle faster than you are going at any given time, the only question being how long you can keep it up.

I found it necessary to stop for a wild flower inspection after about 16 miles!

I was just too late to get the best of this thistle…

thistle

…but there were plenty of docks in fine fettle.

dock

Some umbellifers are already going to seed….

umbellifer seeds

…but once again there were plenty playing host to the ubiquitous red soldier beetles.

red soldier beetle

I liked this tree in a neighbouring field which seemed to be having difficulty in deciding whether to grow up or down.

irvine house tree

I caught up on a little computer work when I got home but not before I had had a watering wander round the garden.

The was enough sunshine to bring out the colour in the calendulas…

calendula

…and the rose mallows.

rose mallow

The ligularias are building up a bit each day….

ligularia

…and the doddering dillies (Sunday name Breza Media or common quaking grass) are doddering all over the place.

doddering dillies

I like this combination of delphinium and phlox beside the front lawn.

delphinium and phlox

I only shot a few bird pictures…

siskin

A regal looking siskin was the best of them

….as I didn’t have long to hang about before I went off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.  I got there in plenty of time so naturally the train was a quarter of an hour late.

When I got to Matilda’s, I only had a moment to wave at her before her father took me off to visit the site where the family are going to buy a new house.  It is in the process of being built but as it is exactly the same as the show house on the site, I was able to get a good idea of what it will be like.  It looks ideal so I hope that everything goes well with the build and the purchase.

It is only a few hundred yards away from their present house so it wasn’t long before I was back playing with Matilda and then watching a first class dance routine from her followed by the usual excellent evening meal.

After some unpleasantly hot days in Edinburgh, it was much cooler and I walked back to the station keeping my eye out for things of interest on the way.

I passed a queue of runners descending from Salisbury Crags…

runners on Salisbury Crags

…and a squirrel not descending a tree.

Edinburgh squirrel

After a momentary pause to look at the old town across the roof of Waverley Station…

Waverley

I went down and caught the train home.  It was late too (but not very).

The drive home was illuminated by a sensational sunset which I was rather sad to see.  We had come through some heavy rain at Beattock on the way down in the train and I was hoping that the clouds would stretch all the way to Langholm.  They didn’t.  More watering tomorrow.

The best I could do in the way of a flying bird, since most of my intended subjects today either hid…

sparrow behind pole

…or flew off before I could catch them, was this rather curious two headed, four footed sparrow.

two sparrows

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary.  It shows the Houses of Parliament which is nominally the seat of our government.  Sadly, we are currently not being governed at all.

View from Lambeth Bridge

In a shocking challenge to the established order, it rained today…

wet poppy

…but as it only rained for about five minutes and not very hard at that, it didn’t make any difference and I still had to potter about watering anything I thought might benefit from it.

I also managed some weeding and a little strimming of the paths in the vegeatble garden and I edged the middle lawn.

It was cloudy and definitely a bit cooler than it has been so that was very welcome.  Encouraged by this, I got my bike out after coffee and the crossword and set out to see how my legs were feeling.

They were feeling fine so I did a 32 mile circle of familiar roads at a gentle pace (I was trying hard but the pace was gentle), keeping an eye out for anything interesting.  Once again, I found that if I stopped and looked around, there was usually something to look at.

My first stop was not far from the town.

orchid

There are orchids and red soldier beetles all over the place.

red soldier beetles

I stopped about 2o miles further on to check out a verge.

wild flowers 1

There was a good variety of flowers to be seen.

On my next stop, about 4 miles from home, there was an even greater variety.

There were all these…

wild flowers 3wild flowers 2wild flowers 4

…and many more.

wild flowers 5

Looking at the hedges and verges certainly keeps me occupied while I am pedalling along….and give me a good excuse for stops for a breather.

The light wind and cooler temperature made for very agreeable cycling conditions and I had worked up an appetite for a sardine, lettuce and potato salad for a late lunch when I got home.

I watched the bird feeder while I was in the kitchen.

Two sparrows posed artistically for me.

sparrows

An interesting time trial in the Tour de France gave me a good excuse for a rest after lunch and then a visit from Mike Tinker caused me to stir my stumps and get back out into the garden.

The sun had come out by this time and it was a lovely afternoon.

I mixed a little more watering with some flower watching.

The new iris is adding to its charm…

lily

…and the tall sunflowers are reaching ever higher into the sky.

sunflower

The calendulas don’t seem to mind the dry conditions…

calendula 1

…and have a nice assortment of styles.

calendula 2

Then I had to go in and have a shower and get ready for my flute pupil Luke to arrive.  As I hadn’t done any practice for a fortnight, I couldn’t complain too much about his lack of practice.  He has just started his first job so I suppose he has other things to think about at the moment.

I picked some peas and beans for my tea and enjoyed them with some fish cakes and then I had a selection from the cheese board to round off the meal.

One last expedition to the garden for watering followed, where I noticed that a leycesteria has flowered underneath the apple tree….

leycesteria

…checked out another of Mrs Tootlepedal’s new nicotianas…

nicotiana

…and discussed the political situation with a couple of blackbirds.

blackbirds

The flying bird of the day picture is provided by the aerial ballet department.

flying siskin and flying sparrow

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who was on a bus crossing Waterloo Bridge when she came over all Wordsworth and admired the view.  (I know, I know; he was crossing Westminster Bridge but that is not far away).

View from bus window while crossing Waterloo Bridge

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:

After rain overnight, we had a fine and occasionally sunny day today so Mrs Tootlepedal made the most of it and toiled away in the garden morning and afternoon with a break for a committee meeting after lunch.

I went out for a look around after breakfast and saw Mrs Tootlepedal’s least favourite bird sighting , a sparrow in the vegetable garden looking for vegetables to destroy.

sparrow in veg garden

Sometimes when we got out there are twenty or more sparrows lurking about among the plants.  This one didn’t stop long though.

flying sparrow

I noticed that a young bird was lost in the greenhouse and looking pensive….

sparrow in greenhouse

…but it found its own way out in the end.

It was quite damp as you can see but it soon dried out and I mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass rather carefully.  We keep the grass there quite long so I even took the trouble to get the grass rake out first and make sure the grass was standing up to meet the mower.  In an uncooperative way though, quite a lot of the grass lay down again between me putting the  rake away and getting the mower out.

I had a look at the gooseberry bush to check for sawfly….

gooseberry bush

…and was pleased to find that there were none about.  The Solomon’s seal is being eaten by sawfly so the gooseberry may well be next.

I then got some lawn feed out and finished feeding the middle lawn.

While I was at work, our neighbours Liz and Ken walked over to see what was going on and I was telling them about my fern walk yesterday.  I lifted up the leaves of one of the ferns in our garden and they were impressed by what lay behind.

fern

So was I.

After all this excitement, I went in and watched the birds.

I saw a blue tit, an infrequent visitor…

blue tit…and several regulars too.

goldfinch and siskin

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went to her committee meeting and I got the new bike out and pedalled round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit.

I checked to see if all the recent rain had put a bit more water into the Wauchope….

Wauchope Water cascade

…and found the little cascade was busy but not overflowing.

The grass beside the river was full of these little yellow spikes.

yellow wild flower

I need help in identifying them

Not long after I set off,  I became a bit worried about the weather, both behind me…

bloch view

..and in front…

bloch road view

…but the grey clouds passed me by and I had an enjoyable ride with the brisk breeze being more helpful than not.

When I got into the Esk valley, it was easy to see by the river that it had been raining quite a lot.

River esk at hollows

I said confidently to a reader the other day that there was lots of yellow rattle about but since then it has been hard to find so I was pleased to find a good sprinkling about beside the old A7 today.

P1110652

And there was a lot of knapweed there too…

knapweed

…and a mini meadow of daisies, knapweed and meadow vetchling as well.

wild flowers old A7

Thanks to the helpful wind, I got home in good time and found Mrs Tootlepedal back from her meeting and busy improving the back border.

I mowed the front lawn.  It is showing the benefit from the feed that I gave it last week and now definitely has more grass than moss on it.  I regard this as a minor triumph considering that earlier in our very wet and cold spring, I was seriously thinking about digging the whole thing up and starting again .

Then I went to sieve compost as Mrs Tootlepedal is using it by the bucket to improve the soil in the back border.

I checked and found that the bees are still finding pollen on the astrantias.

bee on astrantia

This concluded my outdoor activity for the day except for a few minutes of thinning out the gooseberries.  I stewed the thinnings and had them with cream in the evening.

Following my new schedule, I put a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database before tea.  I am trying not to take too many photographs so I don’t have to spend so much time looking through them but it is hard.

The flower of the day is a Martagon Lily, taken in the morning when things were still damp.

martagon lily

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture shows an elegant little lighthouse at Fleetwood on the Irish Sea coast.  My brother Andrew was visiting the town.

fleetwood

After several weeks of good weather, it was very unfortunate that for the weekend of the Muckeltoon Adventure Festival, a feast of mountain biking and trail running today, we should have got a miserable day of rain.

I was hoping to go and get some good action pictures but it was raining too heavily to make that any fun.

wet goldfinch

The goldfinches took badly to the rain too.

As a result, I spent a very quiet day inside until the rain stopped in the afternoon and I didn’t do much after that either.

The wet weather gave me a chance to watch the birds during the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s windowsill treats are still drawing in  sparrows….

sparrow on windowsill

…and the seeds were going down regularly on the feeder.

goldfinch

A stylish goldfinch keeping things tight to avoid the raindrops

busy feeder

More birds than perches leads to arguments

redpoll and siskin

Wet redpoll, wet siskin, bad temper all round.

incoming siskin

There was almost always a siskin in the offing

 

I got some Archive Group work done in the morning which was a bonus and I went out to check on the flowers when the rain stopped.

The roses were soggy but surviving…

wet roses

…and when the sun came out, the low lying plants looked positively cheerful

sunny flowers

…and I was happy to see that the Ooh La La clematis had stayed together.

clematis ooh

After some time to dry, things were looking good again….

wet flowers

…and I went for a very short walk to stretch my legs before any more rain came along.

You wouldn’t know that it had been such a miserable morning.

parish church

River Esk between bridges

Although the river was up a little bit, there was still plenty of gravel for the oyster catchers  and their chicks to patrol.

oyster catchers

young oyster catchers

young oyster catcher

It was such a dull day that I even found myself watching a bit of a World Cup football match.  The game seemed to consist of muscular Danes barging over skilful Peruvians and I was sorry to see that the Peruvians squandered every good chance that they got and let the Danes win.

I looked out of the window as I was writing this post in the evening and was impressed enough by a new(ish) moon to get my tripod out and as a reward to get bitten by a thousand midges.

new moon

The flower of the day is one of the durable peonies.

peony

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary who went with my sister Susan to visit the refurbished temperate glass house at Kew Gardens.  It was worth the trip.

Kew glass house

The big question, after a night listening to the wind howling round the house and rain battering at the windows, was would there be anything left?

We got off lightly with no structural damage and the electricity still working but the plants were not quite so lucky.  Tall thin plants did the worst….

foxglove collapsewindblow in gardenlupin collapse

…while flowers sheltered behind stout hedges did the best.

peonyLilian Austinrose

It all depended on your point of view.  I felt that we had done well with plenty left still standing for me to photograph while Mrs Tootlepedal, who of course had done all the work to get the flowers to grow in the first place, mourned those that were gone.

The wind was still blowing rather alarmingly in the morning even though the rain had stopped.  Indeed, it didn’t seem to have rained as much as the noise in the night would have indicated and the garden soon dried up.  By the afternoon, the sun had come out and if you could get out of the persistent wind, it was quite a nice day.  I mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some shopping.

I also took a look at the birds.  I saw this young blackbird sitting on a fence when I glanced out of the back window while passing through the sitting room.

young blackbird

Out of the usual window I could see that here were plenty of sparrows at the feeder today….

sparrows at feeder

…and Mrs Tootlepedal had put out a suet ball on the kitchen windowsill in the hope of attracting sparrows there too.  It worked.

sparrows on windowsill

I had used the gloomy morning weather as a motivation to put a couple of weeks of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive Group database but the afternoon looked good enough for an expedition so I got my new bike out and tested the wind.

It really is an excellent bicycle.  It turns out to be extremely stable in strong and gusty crosswinds and for some reason which is hard to explain, it is also almost a pleasure to cycle into the wind when riding it.  Whether it is the frame design and riding position, or the aerodynamics of the bike or the very user friendly gear system, or a combination of all three, riding into a strong breeze is not at all a discouraging experience.

This was lucky as the wind was certainly strong today, gusting to well over 30mph as I went along.

I stopped to see how much water was going over the little cascade near Wauchope Schoolhouse after the overnight rain.

wauchope cascade

The answer was not a great deal.

I noticed a pretty yellow wild flower in the grass beside the river.  It is probably a meadow vetchling.

vetch

A bit of the roadside verge had become waterlogged through poor drainage during the wet winter. Now it is home to a small forest of horsetail.

horsetail

Because of the strong wind, I skulked about in the valley bottom and did two laps of the seven mile trip to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back.   I cycled  through the town and down to the river when I got home and checked to see if the young oyster catchers were still at the water’s edge.

young oyster catcher

They were there with their fluffy feathers getting ruffled by the wind.

The parents were there too, rather indignant at my presumption in  taking pictures of their children.

oyster catcher

I surprised myself by really enjoying my 14 mile windy ride and I had enough energy left to mow the middle lawn.

In the evening, Susan arrived and we drove to Carlisle to play with our recorder group. As we drove down there was a little rain but some sunshine too and this provided us with a splendid rainbow which we took as a sign that the stormy weather was over.

As always, some of the pieces we played went better than others but there were enough of the sound performances to make the evening good fun and the biscuits with the after-playing cup of tea  were very tasty too.

A flying bird of the day today, one of the sparrows at the feeder.

flying sparrow

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to Hull  yesterday.  As well as Roman bakers, he saw Hull Minster.

Hull minster

We had another dry day here today, cool and cloudy in the morning but (very) warm and sunny in the afternoon.

I inspected the flowers after breakfast.  Mrs Tootlepedal doesn’t think that I have done justice to the back door clematis yet so I had another go.  It is terrific.

back door clematis

That one stem should produce so many flowers is a wonder.

However, Mrs Tootlepedal’s favourite flower of the moment is this elegant iris.

 

iris

I like the Rosa Moyesii which has done very well this year with bigger flowers than usual.

moyesii

Mrs Tootlepedal  bought this meconopsis at the Buccleuch Centre pant sale last week and it is settling in well.

mecanopsis

I had hoped to get a good long cycle ride in today but I got a call to go and see the doctor who had had a look at my recent blood test results so I had to  leave the garden and  see what she had to say.

It turns out that my blood iron level is very low so she gave me me a small iron girder* to nibble on to get my levels back up.   This may explain why I have been finding it quite hard to get the energy up to go cycling lately.  Once I am going, all is well but I have been struggling a bit actually to get on my bike in the first place so it was pleasing to discover that there may be a good excuse for this rather than just natural laziness and old age.

When I got back home, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden and we went in to have a coffee and read the newspaper. Our peace was disturbed by some very excited calling from blackbirds so we went out to investigate.

There was an extremely vocal female blackbird on the fence behind the greenhouse…

agitated blackbird

Other birds were agitated too so I was walking  round behind the greenhouse to see if there was a cat among the pigeons so to speak when my eye was caught by a slight movement in the green house itself.

sparrowhawk in greenhouse (2)

No wonder the blackbirds were agitated.  There was a sparrowhawk in the greenhouse and it was getting pretty agitated itself.

sparrowhawk in greenhouse

Mrs Tootlepedal opened the greenhouse doors fully and she went round one side and I went round the other and the sparrowhawk took the hint and flew safely out and away.

The blackbirds calmed down.

I took a picture of one of the nice effects of Mrs Tootlepedal’s planting…

daisies

…and went back inside from where I watched more peaceful bird scenes.

We had visits from jackdaws…

jackdaw

…a dunnock…

dunnock

…siskins and redpolls…

siskin and redpoll

…and a pigeon in the plum tree.

pigeon

Some sparrows tried to get a fight started but it quickly fizzled out.

sparrows

After lunch, I went out to check on the bees in the garden.  There were plenty about today, both honey and bumble.

bees

Then I got into my my cycling shorts and was ready to go for a ride when I was interrupted again by more heart-rending alarm calls from blackbirds.  I went out to investigate.  This time it was a pair….

agitated blackbirds

…who were constantly flitting about and calling.  We couldn’t find out what the trouble was as there was no hawk or cat in sight.  We had seen a youngster earlier in the day and we wondered in the end whether it had been taken by a predator and the parents were distressed.  It was a mystery.

In the end, I left them to their crying and went off for a short trip round my twenty mile Canonbie circuit.  I passed the first a few of these in a soggy verge…

march thistle

…and I think, though I am not sure, that it may be a marsh thistle (I would be happy to be corrected).

Nearby among the grasses, there was a lot of this red plant…

grass

…which Mrs Tootlepedal tells me is some kind of dock.  Between the two plants, the verge was very cheerful there.

Further on I stopped to admire the relaxed attitude of some local worthies…

galloway cows

…and then didn’t stop again until I came to Skippers Bridge, where I found the old distillery looking very handsome.

Langholm Distillery

Once home, I mowed the drying green and the greenhouse grass and did some watering in the vegetable garden.  There is no rain in the forecast for several days as the jet stream continues to snake round the top of the British Isles, keeping the fine weather trapped over Scotland.  This means that quite a bit of watering will be on the menu  if the garden is to continue to do well.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing with a small choir that our church organist, Henry is getting up for the summer and I obeyed the doctor’s orders and gave my singing voice a rest. The doctor has told me not to sing for two weeks and see what happens.  If my throat is no better then, further investigation will take place.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin…

flying siskin

…and the flower of the day is a front door clematis.

front door clematis

*The iron girder came in handy pill form.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »