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Posts Tagged ‘sparrows’

Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He found himself being watched by a troop of little monkeys as he walked round his garden.

monkey faces

We had another cold morning here, and another dry and sunny day that never really warmed up.

Mrs Tootlepedal got down to the serious business of protecting her potential peas from serial attacks from scavenging sparrows.

pea fortress

With frozen peas readily available at reasonable prices in the shops, she sometimes wonders why she tries to grow her own peas at all.  It is the principle of the thing though that counts.  She is a gardener, she grows peas and sparrows will not stop her.

It was so chilly that the morning street coffee gathering did not take place at all and I must admit that I spent quite a lot of time lurking indoors grappling with a very tricky crossword puzzle indeed.  It was one of those with ‘special instructions’  and in this case the instruction were so special and impenetrable that it took the combined might of my sister Mary and me over several days to get the bottom of them.  We managed in the end and felt quite triumphant.

I did go outside a bit.

Mrs Tootlepedal had decided that more of the box hedge should be removed to get an even wider view of the front garden and she applied herself vigorously to the task of uprooting the box plants.

I shredded a lot of the casualties and in between times, I wandered round the garden, enjoying the sunny light.

six may flowers 2

When  indoors, I looked out at the birds.  Mrs Tootlepedal is not necessarily very happy when she sees that I am feeding up sparrows.

sparrows on feeder

Another anemone is doing its best to come out and it was joined by a cornflower and a magnificent oriental poppy which added to the colour provided by geum, lamium and rhododendron.

six may flowers

After lunch, we moved the new bench into roughly the position where it will live under the walnut tree and you can see that Mrs Tootlepedal has considerably widened the view already…

wider view of lawn

…but she tells me that more widening is on the cards.

The bench can be seen sitting beside its dilapidated predecessor.  There was some hope of repairing the old bench, but so many bits fell off when we moved it, that that doesn’t seem likely now.

new bench in situ

When the bench had been moved, I mowed the middle lawn.  The moss eating treatment is working but the lack of rain and constant chilly mornings have inhibited the growth of the grass and it will be a week or two at least before the lawn begins to look respectable.

To console myself, I made a batch of Garibaldi biscuits.

garibaldi biscuits

My arithmetic and measuring was much better on this occasion.  They could be neater but they passed the taste test.

I had thought of going for a walk in the afternoon, but when the time to go came, I was overcome by feebleness and stayed at home.

A couple of years ago, I bought a new pocket camera and very unwisely took it down to the sandy beach at North Berwick where we were on holiday with Matilda.  It saw a lot of sandcastle and sea bird action but it never really recovered from sand in the works and finally the zoom and focus stopped working.

It was under guarantee but as I had no-one to blame but myself, I didn’t like to send it back to the manufacturer and it lay unused for some time.  My son Tony has the same sort of camera and when his failed (not through his fault) he got it mended under guarantee, and this motivated me to do something about my camera.

I found a repairer, got a very reasonable estimate, sent the camera away a week ago and got it back yesterday.

I opened the parcel today and took the camera out for a trial run in the garden.

bee on polemonium

I thought that it coped very well…

tulips

…and since it was obviously back in working order…

aquilegias

…after Zooming with my siblings and making omelettes for our tea, I went out for an evening walk with Mrs Tootlepedal to give it the camera a good go.

We went for a traditional three bridges walk, but Mrs Tootlepedal thought it would be good to go the opposite way to my usual direction and we came to the Jubilee Bridge first.

It is guarded by two fine trees.

jubilee bridge may

On the Castleholm. the castle itself was nearly invisible.

castle in spring

I spotted one of the grasses that may have led to my earlier decision not to go for a walk. My breathing is not at its best at the moment.

grass seed

Another source of pollen was spotted too.

pine flowers

It was chilly, but all the same it was a lovely evening for a stroll, as this view of Warbla from the Sawmill Brig shows.

view of warbla from sawmill brig

The rivers are extraordinarily low at the moment and the still of the evening provided us with some unusual reflections.  We could see the mission hall both over and under the town bridge..

mission hall reflection

…and George Street in the bottom of the river.

george st reflection

Looking at the river itself, we spotted a goosander resting on a rock…

goosander on rock

…not far from a pair of oyster catchers.

oyster catchers

Instead of rushing off as goosanders normally do, this one stood up and made sure that I got its good side too.

goosander

A little further along the river, Mrs Tootlepedal, who pays attention to telegraph poles, drew my attention to the interesting patterns in the wood grain on one.

I can see a magnificently bearded wizard and a goblin but you can see whatever you like or nothing at all.

telegraph pole patterns

The walk rounded off the day very pleasantly.  There is hope that it is going to get slightly warmer as the week goes on.  This will be welcome, but I just saw a forecast of 27 degrees for the end of next week.  If this is true and there is still no rain in the offing, the garden may get burnt to a crisp.

The flying bird of the day is a thrush leaving the garden fence at speed.

flying thrush

Footnote:  Mrs Tootlepedal asked me how long our little walk had been.  I checked and found that it was about 1.3 miles but following the government policy on the statistics regarding testing, I told her that we had walked two and a half miles.  She was very impressed.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  It shows a view of her garden from an upstairs room.  She tells me that her grass is left long to encourage wildlife and it has been sown with wildflowers which she hopes will appear later in the year.

venetia's garden

After yesterday’s glorious warm weather, it rained overnight and today was colder and even windier at times than yesterday.  But it didn’t rain.

This didn’t discourage the tadpoles who are now into independent swimming.

tadpoles on lily leaf

The tulips weren’t very keen on opening wide though, but they still added interest to the garden along with a very pale fritillary…

six garden flowers

…while pulmonaria, lamium and berberis added more discreet colour.

We had a leisurely morning with a little sporadic gardening and time to watch birds, sometimes through the window, sometimes in the garden…

chaffinch, blackbird, sparrows, bee

…and sometimes while sitting in the warmth of the greenhouse like these two sparrows on the fence. Mrs Tootlepedal spotted the bee on the rosemary while we were in there too.

After some lawn edging, time wasting, music making, cooking, laughing at a poem which my friend the cello playing Mike had sent me and looking at promising tulips…

new tulip

…I went out for a late afternoon permitted walk.

The river is exceedingly low after weeks with little or no rain….

esk very low april

…but no one is currently wishing for more rain after February’s exceptional rainfall.  Or at least, not out loud.

I walked through the town and then up the Kirk Wynd and onto the golf course.  It is a good golf course because if you are playing badly, which I almost always was, there is a selection of fine views to take your mind off your foozled shots.

view f Potholm Hill ridge

The greens are getting some green back onto them after the greenkeeper’s dramatic treatment, and as there are no golfers on it, the course is looking very well maintained.

golf course green

I enjoyed a final view from the course…

view up ewes from golf course

…and walked out onto the open hill, passing gorse, lichen and fresh hawthorn leaves on my way.

lichen gorse hawthorn

From Whita Well, I followed the track along the contour of the hill.  It was a lovely day, although I couldn’t see the Lake District hills as the Solway plain was covered in mist.

track toi quarry

The lovely day got a little less lovely as I went along the track because the sunshine retreated up the valley….sunshine up the valley

…thanks to this annoying cloud which hovered straight above me, leaving sunshine to both the north and the south.

clouds over whits

Dropscone had been this way on a walk lately, and he told me that he would have sent me an arty picture of a pylon if only he had remembered to take his camera with him.

So this is for him.

whita pylon square

And this one too, as I didn’t know which angle he would have chosen.

whita pylonn diagonal

Looking  south from the pylon, I could only just make out the windfarm at Gretna which shows how hazy it was down there.

gretna windfarm from whita

That dark cloud over my head was soon blown away though, and I walked back down the hill  in glorious sunshine again as i went through a little birch wood that has grown up in recent years…

birch wood on Whita

..and the sun lit up the floor of the wood as I joined the main track back to the Round House and Langholm.

jenyy noble's wood

I turned down the opportunity of a sit down on the bench at the Round House…

roundhouse bench

…and walked down the track that goes through the little oak wood…

oaks below round house

…past this fine tree…

oak tree longwood

…and ontothe old railway line.  I got to the path that leads steeply down to the road at Skippers Bridge…

steps down walk 7

…and the bridge drew me into yet another photograph.

skippers bridge april

At this stage, I realised that I was going to be late for tea if I didn’t get a move on so I got a move on.

The tea arrived on the table just as I arrived home.

At about three and a half miles, it was another walk which packed a lot of variety into a short outing.

During the afternoon, I had prepared the dough for a set of lockdown teacakes. The supply of ginger biscuits has run out and we need something to cheer us up in these troubled times.

They went in the oven after our evening meal and came out looking like this.

lockdown tea cakes

We test drove one or two and they seemed pretty cheerful to us.

The flying bird of the day is a starling, whisking across the garden in the strong wind this afternoon. (Too fast for my camera.)

flying starling

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Gavin.  He is visiting his son in California where he was impressed to see that every other parking space at his son’s place of work had an electric charging point..

Apple EV charging

We had an unusual day here today in that it didn’t rain at all.  People were walking round the town looking nervously at the sky and wondering what had gone wrong.

It was an early autumn sunny day though, being quite chilly in the morning and not warming up until later in the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal spent the whole morning manning a stall at the producers’ market in the Buccleuch Centre where she gave out information about the proposed community land purchase scheme.  I went along for the more mundane purpose of buying fish and meat.  I would have bought cheese and honey too, but the cheese man has stopped coming, and the honey will not be ready for another month or two.

When I got home, I prepared for a cycle ride by drinking coffee and doing the crossword until it got a bit warmer.

I went out into the garden to check the temperature and spotted not one, not two, but three butterflies, a peacock by itself, a red admiral with a small tortoiseshell, and finally all three together.

three butterfly panel

The Abyssinian gladiolus and the mallow were pleased to see the sunshine….

galdiolus and mallow

…but the pick of the flowers for me today was this cosmos.  It was very happy not to be bowed down with raindrops.

cosmos

I went back in and fuelled up on some haggis and finally got going just before midday.

For once, the wind was behind me as I cycled out of town and I had a most enjoyable time cycling through the peaceful pastoral countryside…

pastoral scene

…though the verges have been so heavily mown that there was not much in the way of wildflowers to be seen.  This ragwort was growing in a crack in the concrete on a motorway bridge.

ragwort and insect

My route took me down into England.  There are many good things about cycling on the back roads of North Cumbria; the generally excellent road surfaces, the lack of traffic and the absence of hills among them, but one of the things that I like best are the many lone pine trees that I pass along the way.

Some are tall and thin…

pine tree harker

…and others, shorter and stout.

pine tree 2 harker

After 30 miles with the wind being mostly helpful, there came the inevitable time when I had to turn into the wind to pedal home.  It wasn’t very strong so I made reasonable progress but I was happy to stop and look at the cliff beside the River Lyne where it is crossed by the Longtown road.

It is a strikingly coloured sandstone cliff, all the more surprising…

cliff cliff

…because it sticks out like a sore thumb in an otherwise gentle and flat  landscape

river lyne at cliff

Looking  from the bridge, I could see the Longtown windmills slowly tuning in the light breeze.  The fact that they were facing directly in the direction that I was going to have to pedal to get home was not encouraging.

longtown windmills

Still, as I say, the wind was not strong so I made steady progress.  On the longer rides, I like to stop roughly every five miles for a minute or so just to stretch and to make sure that I remember to eat and drink regularly.

My next stop after the bridge over the Lyne gave me the chance to look across the River Esk and see Netherby Hall, the site of Young Lochinvar’s daring feat.

netherby hall

On this occasion there was no “racing and chasing on Canonbie Lea” as I maintained what could charitably be described as a steady pace for the rest of my way home.  The journey was enlivened by having to listen to remarks made by  my legs on the lines of,  “Whose idea was this then?” and “Any chance of a cup of tea soon?” and “I hope you’re happy because we aren’t.”

I had to stop to talk to them severely at the bus stop at the Hollows and this let me enjoy some orange hawkweed and a hedge full of convolvulus.

hawkweed and convolvulus

I don’t know why my legs were reluctant to co-operate over the last few miles.  Perhaps the hilly walk yesterday had put them off.  Still, they got me home and 50 sunny miles had been completed so I wasn’t complaining (much).

Mrs Tootlepedal, with great forethought, was cooking a large heap of drop scones when I got in and half a dozen of these with some homemade raspberry jam soon made everything right.

So right, in fact, that I was able to go out and mow the middle lawn.  When I had put the mower away, I had a last look round the garden.

The verbena is looking very fine.  I wasn’t very taken with it when it first came out, as I thought that it was rather spindly and insubstantial, but it has got better and better as time goes on, and it is another of those flowers of which each head is a little garden in itself.  I like that.

verbena

Mrs Tootlepedal likes the gorgeous blue of the gentians which are growing in a pot beside the chimney.

gentian

The sedums were glowing in the evening sun and they had attracted several visitors.

sedum and insect

As well as flowers, the garden is full of flying things.  The starlings which live in our neighbour’s holly tree have taken to perching on our new electricity lines and there are often several to be seen.

starling on wire

The mint is still very busy with these bright green flies…

greenbottle on mint

… and every time you walk past it, there is a mighty buzzing as they all fly up into the air..

There was a family of sparrows lined up on the house gutter and I was interested to see that as in all families, there was one that was sulking and refusing to get its picture taken.

sparrows on gutter

Mrs Tootlepedal rounded the day off by cooking some the fish from the morning’s market for our tea.  It went well with potatoes, turnips and beans from the garden.

Then we had the double pleasure of watching the highlights of both the Vuelta and the Tour of Britain.  The Tour of Britain is in Scotland for a couple of days and it was nice to see the peleton on familiar roads.

The flying bird of the day is a mechanical one.  It passed over the garden in the evening and as it was carrying a big TV camera, I wondered if it had been busy photographing cyclists earlier in the day and was on its way to Kelso for tomorrow’s stage.

helicopter

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He gets up very early to walk his dogs before going to work and thus can take pictures like this with his phone.

ANT'S SUNRISE

We had yet another day of intermittent showers, some very heavy and almost all quite short.  The shortest lasted about a minute but was quite intense while it was in action.

I started the day by filing down a key.  When we moved the Archive Group to its new premises, we got some keys cut to let members in to work.  Some of the keys fitted the lock but others didn’t and I have been meaning to sort the ill fitting ones out for some time.  Like many of my little plans though, nothing actually happened until I got a call today to do something about it.  Galvanised by this, I got busy with a little file and went up to the office where, rather to me surprise, the key now fitted and opened the door.  I delivered the key to the member who had asked for it, and she was probably even more surprised than I was.

Encouraged by this, I resolved to risk getting wet, and went off for a bike ride.  Once again the wind was very unhelpful and made cycling hard work, so I settled for fifteen miles, making sure that I had the wind behind me on the return journey.   The sun came out as I pedalled home and Wauchopedale looked very inviting.

Wauchopedale view

When I got back, I had a cup of coffee and then walked round the garden.

This poppy had given all it had to give to passing bees…

exhausted poppy

…but the buddleia still has plenty left to attract butterflies….

peacock butterfly

…and the Michaelmas daisies are not short of pull either.

fly on daisy

Sadly, the sweet peas have had their day and I gave Mrs Tootlepedal a hand as she demolished the imposing structure which had given them support.

Nearby, I admired the fine mint plant next to the greenhouse.  It is, as they say, in mint condition.

mint in mint condition

Round the front lawn, the yellow crocosmias are making a good show.

yellow crocosmia

It was a pleasantly warm day, and after we had finished with the sweet peas, Mrs Tootlepedal and I sat on the new bench and had a rest.  From the bench I could see a good crop of Japanese anemones climbing above a hedge…

Japanese anemone clump

…and a good flock of sparrows clustered on the silver pear.

sparrows in silver pear

Then it was time for lunch.

After lunch, we went out into the garden again.

When Mrs Tootlepedal had been cutting down the potentillas on the dam side yesterday, I had noticed that the fuchsia further along the house wall was looking good, so I took a picture of it today.

fuschia beside dam

I had also noticed a plant with many tiny white flowers on it and Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is lemon balm.

lemon balm

The camera club has had a small exhibition running in the community cafe in Canonbie for some time, but it is coming to an end this week and we are going to take the pictures up to The Hub in Eskdalemuir, where they will be on show during September.  The organiser there had asked me to paint a pen portrait of the camera club and provide a poster for the exhibition, so I went in and did my best to meet her requirements.

Then there was time for another garden check to see if there were any birds wanting to have their picture taken.

A blackbird gave me that fashionable over the shoulder pose…

blackbird back

…and a dunnock tried for the same effect but didn’t quite have the neck and shoulder for it.

dunnock on fence

I took a final picture…

clump of calendula

…and went back in.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I checked over our potato crop fairly carefully to take out any tubers which had been forked or were suffering from slugs.  We put the rest of the crop into storage.  For one reason or another, we had managed to spear quite a lot of potatoes when we were digging them up but the slug damage was very slight so we were pleased to have enough to last for some time.

Although there was a hint of rain in the air when we had finished sorting the potatoes, I went for a short walk.   Along the way, there were unwelcome signs of the turning of the year to be seen.

leaves in puddle

…and unwelcome, although pretty, invasive plants to be found.

himalayan balsam park

And there was a token of how strong the winds have been in the form of a pile of branches beside the path…

fallen oak branch easton's walk

…which turned out to be from a substantial limb which had split from a tree.

fallen oak branch easton's walk 2

I didn’t walk as far as I intended as I fell into conversation with a friend whom I met on the way and we had a lively discussion about life and politics which took some time.  There were a couple of short, sharp showers while we talked but as we were under a well leafed tree, we were unaffected.  In the end, we broke off our debate and walked back together, heeding the call of the evening meal.

No flying bird of the day today, but I felt that the resident dragons in the park were taking a keener interest in me than usual as I walked by them today, so I have put them in to keep them happy.

park monsters

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Today’s guest picture comes from my correspondent Elaine who saw the noble fir cones on yesterday’s post and has topped them with this wonderful set of lilac coloured cones which she saw in Half Morton churchyard a month ago.  I think that they may be Korean Fir cones.

Elaine's cones

After some showery days, we had a better day today with little wind so I managed to get out and get going on my bike after breakfast and did the twenty mile Canonbie circuit.

I didn’t stop for a lot of pictures as I was a bit pressed for time but when I had to stop to let traffic past at the end of the bike path, I noted some promising looking blackberries…

brambles on A7

…and a fine thistle.

thistle on A7 bike path

The recent walks have left my legs a little under par and I although I tried quite hard to pedal fast, I actually went round at a slightly slower average speed than I had managed on my much longer ride last Friday.  Such is life.

I still had some energy left though because when I got home, I mowed the front lawn and trimmed another of the box balls.

clipped box ball

Mrs Tootlepedal and I were wondering where the butterflies go when it is wet and windy. Wherever it is, they must be well sheltered because as soon as the sun came out and the wind dropped, they were back in the garden in force today.  The bees made room for them.

butterfly and bee on buddleia

There were small tortoiseshells …

small tortoiseshell butterfly

…red admirals…

red admiral butterfly

…and peacocks…

peacock butterfly

…lots of peacocks…

two peacock butterfly

…but no painted ladies today.

The opium and Shirley poppies are going over but the Icelandic poppies are more durable and go on for ever.

iceland poppy

Mrs Tootlepedal is very pleased with the way that the plants that she has put in round the old chimney pot are doing.

old chimney pot

And we are pleased to see the first sign of the runner beans actually beaning. This is timely, because the broad beans and the peas are just about finished.

small runner beans

The huge crop of plums on the plum tree continues to worry Mrs Tootlepedal.  She is afraid that the crop might break branches.  We have already taken what must be hundreds of plums off the tee and she took another lot off today.  The weight of the plums bends the branches and brings new fruit into the reach of the picker.

redundant plums

There are plenty of plums left!

The hosta was still beckoning bees.

bee approaching hosta

And the silver pear was still acting as a home for sparrows…

sparrows in silver pear

…though one sparrow preferred a lonely perch among the rowan berries.

sparrow in rowan

I didn’t have long to wander about the garden, and I soon went in for a shower, a shave and some soup. Then, as it is a Thursday, we drove off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.

Regular readers will not be surprised to learn that the train was twenty minute late.

We had a very pleasant visit, and although Matilda had been at a dancing competition in the morning, she was still so full of dancing that she treated me to a comprehensive display of various styles of dance until it was time for our evening meal.

This was a lentil dahl cooked by Alistair and it was delicious.

By the next time we see Matilda, she will have have turned into a schoolchild as she starts school next week.  How the years have flown.

The only sad thing about the day was the discovery that I had lost my old age pensioner’s bus pass somewhere.  I am hoping that it is in Matilda’s house and that it might yet turn up.  Otherwise, I will have to go to get a replacement as a bus pass is a very good thing to have.

I couldn’t catch a flying bird of the day today so a very small insect visiting a dahlia will have to do instead.

hoverfly visiting dahlia

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Alistair.  He knows that I like cascades, so he sent me this picture of the Calton Steps in Edinburgh today.

calton steps cascade

We had showers here today but nothing like they must have had in Edinburgh.  It was the sort of day when every time that you poked your nose out into the garden, it started to rain and as soon as you went back in, it stopped.

Nevertheless, it stayed dry in the morning long enough for us to cut back the climbing hydrangea and the clematis over the back door.

wall trimming

These two plants are very fine, but they will send new shoots up the wall and under the gutter every year so they have to be kept under control.

After we had cleaned up, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a meeting and I walked round the garden to check on the flowers. There were enough bright blooms to offset the general gloominess of the day…

four flowers

…though I noticed that the bloke whose job it is to paint the blackbirds hadn’t got any better.

badly painted blackbird

As it was still dry, I got the mower out and began to mow the middle lawn.  It immediately started to rain quite heavily so I retreated back inside, taking the mower with me.

I put some pea and potato soup on to cook and as soon as the rain stopped, I dashed out and finished mowing the  lawn.  I noticed that we have had over 7 cm of rain recently and it is a tribute to how dry it was earlier in the year, that I could easily mow the lawn even after a sharp shower.

There have been no coloured butterflies about because of the rain over the past two days but the white butterflies are a hardier breed and there were several fluttering about today.

white butterfly on lily

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal set about trimming some more of our low hedges and I put on the computer hoping to catch up with a backlog of work.  My hopes were dashed by one of those Windows updates when I switched on.  As this one took well over two hours, I had time on my hands so I went out into the garden.

It started to rain.

However, on this occasion, the rain was light and intermittent so I joined in the trimming business and turned a golden box ball back into a green box ball.

trimmed box ball

Then Mrs Tootlepedal and I took a break from our labours (and the rain), and sat on the bench under the shelter of the walnut tree and contemplated the phine phlox at the phar end of the lawn.

phlox at end of lawn

The geraniums have been flowering for months and today they were joined by the first Michaelmas daisy….

four more flowers

…while the calendulas and pink astilbes are providing some brighter colour.

The butterflies may have been put off by the weather but we had plenty of bees in the garden.  This one was visiting a hosta.

bee on hosta

And wherever you look at the moment, you are almost sure to see several sparrows.

crowds of sparrows

Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea.  He is dog sitting for his daughter and Alison and he had taken the dogs for a walk and just got home before the next shower arrived.  He was very cheerful about that.

After he left, I returned to my computer and found that it had finally finished updating.  This was a relief.

I had thought of going for a cycle ride before our evening meal, but I am glad that I didn’t because there was yet another heavy shower of rain and I would have got soaked.

After tea, the weather looked as though it might be better for a while so I went out for a short walk.

Down at the river, the habitually lone gull had been joined by youngsters….

gulls on the esk

…one of whom posed nicely for me.

young gull

My gull knowledge is extremely sketchy but I think this is an adult and two first year young.

Further along the river, the mallards had settled down for a snooze.

ducks at bedtime

By the time that I had got to the Kilngreen, the sun had come out and for the rest of my walk I enjoyed some late evening warmth.

sawmill brig august evening

I crossed the Sawmill Brig and took the new path round the edge of the Castleholm.  The trees beside the path were full of life…

four tree fruits Castleholm

..but the outright winner was the noble fir with its masses of enormous cones.

noble fir cones castleholm

It was a perfect evening for a walk and even the midges kept away.

new path castleholm

I walked round the Scholars Field, entertained by the merry cries of footballers practising on the artificial pitch and then, after a noticing a final set of cones…

larch cones scholars

…I made my way home as the low sun lit up Warbla.

warba august evening

It looks likely that there will be more rainy days to come so it was lucky that I got that long ride in when the weather was good last Friday.

On one occasion when I was out in the garden today, I looked up and saw half a dozen starlings sitting on the power cables but I was too slow to get my camera and catch them sitting in a neat line.

The upside of this is that I have a flying bird of the day today, even if it was by accident.

flying starling

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Today’s guest picture comes from my sister Mary and it features another Dale Chihuly glass artwork which she saw on her recent visit to Kew Gardens.

glass sculpture chihuly

We had some very heavy rain showers today but when they stopped, it was a pleasantly warm if rather muggy day.  It was too wet to do any gardening and too unreliable to plan for a bike ride, so I was very happy to welcome Sandy for a cup of coffee in the morning.

We had other visitors too as Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a thrush on the lawn and I saw another one on the top of our new electricity pole.

two thrushes

There are a lot of blackbirds about at the moment and some of them have been rather badly painted.

four blackbirds

I didn’t go out into the garden much as it was soggy underfoot, but whenever I did go out, there were sparrows on every available perch…

sparrows in a row

…and at one time we counted eighteen of them pecking away on the lawn.

One blackbird sat in the rowan tree looking rather dishevelled,

ruffled blackbird

The only garden flower picture that I took all day was this crocosmia.

crocosmia

I am eager to take a bit of exercise before I go and see the physio next week to make sure that I have got a good idea of what is working and what is not, so I suggested to Mrs Tootlepedal that we should go for a walk after lunch.  There seemed to be a gap in the rain showers.

She agreed on condition that we drove a little out of town first to find a fresh walking route.  This seemed like a good idea, so we drove a few miles up the road towards Bentpath and walked up the track beside the Boyken Burn.

There were plenty of hazel nuts on the trees beside the track…

hazel nuts

…and plenty of water coming down the burn after the heavy rain showers over night and in the morning.

Boyken burn

The track winds gently uphill and we could soon look back to get some fine views.

Boyken burn track

The side streams coming off the hill to join the Boyken Burn were naturally full of water too and I was glad that we didn’t have to cross this one on the old bridge.

Boyken burn waterfall

There was a lot of stone walling to be seen round the lower fields on the hill sides and we wondered what had driven the dry stane dykers of old to add this little kink to their wall building.

Boyken burn crooked wall

Tucked away beside the river, an old barn was collapsing under the weight of time.

Boyken burn ruin

The weather brightened up as we made our way along the track…

Boyken burn view

…and some weak sunshine picked out the lichen on an old telephone pole…

Boyken burn telephone pole

…and lit up the house at Calkin.  We stopped to chat to the farmer on the road and he told us that this house is now in such a state of disrepair that it it is going to be demolished.

Boyken burn Calkin

We thought that this little stream rushing down the hill to join the Boyken Burn near Calkin was picture perfect…

Boyken burn side issue

…and the lichen on the rocks beside the track looked like works of art too.

Boyken burn lichen

There were plenty of little cascades to enjoy as we climbed further up the valley….

Boyken burn in spate

…but the best of them always seemed to be hidden behind trees.

We followed the track until we came to a point where the forest took over from open hill…

Boyken burn planting

…and as the clouds had come in and a light drizzle threatened, we took the hint and turned for home.

We watched buzzards circling over our heads and listened to their plaintive calls as we walked along.

There was plenty to look as well as the birds and the views, with quite a lot of fungus…

Boyken burn fungi

…a very old and twisted tree…

Boyken burn tree

…and lots of wild flowers.  There was yarrow, harebells, hawkweed and tormentil and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted a cluster of insects on some  knapweed…

Boyken burn wild flowers

…and she also noted this tiny white flower ( I would be grateful if anyone can suggest what it is) while I couldn’t miss a large thistle.

We got back to the car just in time because as we shut the door to drive home, the light drizzle turned into some pretty heavy rain, and this continued on and off for the rest of the day.

When we looked at the map, we found that we had walked about 5 km or 3 miles and as I haven’t done much walking at all recently, I was pleased that we had turned back when we did.  It was a lovely walk though, and I hope that we will go back again and be able to walk further up the track to the head of the valley next time.

We were both quite happy to sit down and rest our feet when we got home.

The flying bird of the day was having a pause, refuelling and resting its wings, when I caught up with it.

sparrow on fence

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