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Posts Tagged ‘starling’

Today’s guest picture comes from Camera Club member Simon who was at work in Winson in Germany when he found himself being observed.

simons caterpillar

After a rather wild and wet night while Storm Dorian had its last faint fling over Scotland, we had a generally dry and occasionally sunny day today so we got off pretty lightly.

It was still breezy but that didn’t discourage the birds and the garden was fully occupied by feathered friends all day.

When I went out to have a look around in the morning, I spotted this little dunnock looking askance at a blackbird which was stretching its wings in a flowerbed.

dunnock and blackbird

As well as birds, there was a considerable number of red admiral butterflies about too, and I found one on Michaelmas daisy.  I got too close to it though and it flew off, leaving a bee to enjoy some peace and quiet.

butterfly and bee on daisy

I stood for some time watching stream of blackbirds and some starlings feeding on the rowan berries.

Unlike Mrs Tootlepedal who has picked all the low hanging fruit from the plum tree…

plums in bowl

…the birds have eaten all the topmost berries from the rowan and are now having to look at lower fruit, often on the end of branches.

stretching for a berry

I was surprised to see how often the birds dropped a berry before being able to swallow it, but all the same, a lot of berries went down a lot of throats today.

A starling posed for me…

blackbird and rown berry

…and any number of blackbirds were too busy eating to mind me pointing a cameras at them.

four berry and blackbird panel

Sometimes when they had pecked a berry off the very end of the branch, gravity was too much for them and they had to fly off with the berry or risk being pushed off by the  next customer.

three blackbirds on rowan

Underneath the rowan tree, a snowberry was a haven of peace for a visiting insect.

snowberry

In the garden, many flowers had survived the night of wind and rain.  Mrs Tootlepedal wishes to point out that all the sunflowers in the shot below came from the same packet of seeds, advertised as short sunflowers.  Quality control at the seed merchants looks a bit lax.

contrasting sunflowers

The Japanese anemones are not discouraged by anything.

japanese anemones bunch

In the middle of the day, I made some plum jam with some of the plums that we have picked.  A number of things conspired to make the result unsatisfactory.  The plums were too ripe, it has been raining a lot recently, I didn’t have proper jam sugar, and I was probably too impatient.  As a result, the jam didn’t set properly and I had to give it a squoosh of lemon juice and a second boil later in the day.  Mrs Tootlepedal stewed a lot of the rest of the plums.  They will be frozen.   There may well be more chutney in the offing too.

In the afternoon, I got my bike out, and after having another look at blackbirds in the rowan tree…

shady blackbird in rowan

… I went for a short ride.  There was evidence of the recent rain.

water running on Wauchope road

We had a very good dry spell earlier in the year but the persistent rain has finally got things soggy again and the water is running off the hills and onto the roads in several places.

A cow kept an eye on me as I photographed the puddles.

cow spectator

The forecast was for a gusty wind.  Usually round here it is hard to tell if the wind is gusty because it just blows all the time, but today it really was gusty.  One minute I would be pedalling along merrily, whistling a happy tune, and the next minute I would have my head down, battling to make any progress at all.

Still, I got to the top of Callister and back and stopped as I pedalled through the town to salute our lonely gull on its regular rock.

gull on rock

Although it was not in flood, there was enough water coming down the Esk to create a fine back ripple.

big ripples in Esk

As I crossed the Langholm Bridge, I could see that the cormorant was back at the Meeting of the Waters, so I parked my bike at the Kilngreen and walked along to get a closer look.  It was drying its wings.

cormorant at meeting of the waters

I looked up from watching the cormorant and enjoyed the view of the hills.  The mixture of blue skies and heavy clouds summed up the day.

view of timpen and esk

I only got rained on for a very short time during the ride and got home after 15 miles in good order.  I had enough energy left to mow the middle lawn.  For the first time for a few months, I thought that the rate of growth in the grass had slowed down.  It has stayed quite warm recently, around 15°C most days, but the shorter days are getting noticeable now.  We are only ten days away from the autumn equinox and facts are facts.

As the flowers and leaves are showing.

creeper and sedum

The starlings were lined up on the electricity wire as I went in to have my evening meal.

starlings on wire

As well as plums, we are beginning to get quite a lot of apples from our espalier trees.  I have been picking up the windfalls and we decided to take a step into the unknown and convert some of them into a Tarte Tatin.  We were handicapped by not having a suitable pan for the job but we battled on and the result was good enough to eat even if it definitely would not have won even second prize in a beauty pageant.  I am going to try again soon.

As the blackbirds had taken my advice to try to pick berries from above their heads rather than below their feet, there was no shortage of flying birds today so here is the genuine flying bird of the day.

flying blackbird

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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 my brother Andrew.  He cycled from Derby to Belper (about 10 miles) to enjoy this slice of joy in the book cafe there.  Then he cycled home again.

belper book cafe

We had a generally sunny day today and I tried to make the best of it.

I started off by putting a load of washing on before breakfast and hanging it out before going to church to sing in the choir.  By chance, we had a lot of very sunny hymns to sing so that fitted very well with the day.  There were only five of us in the choir so I don’t suppose that we made a lot of difference but I enjoyed the hymns.

The washing was almost dry by the time  I got home.  I left it on the drier and went for a walk round the garden.

I looked up at the very tall sunflowers and thought that I ought to go and see what they looked like out of an upstairs window, the only way to see them properly.  It was a bit of a disappointment.

taall sunflowers two views

I came back down and had a close look at a geranium and an argyranthemum…

geranium, argyranthemum. mustard nicotiana

…and a wider view of some nicotianas and Mrs Tootlepedal’s latest mustard crop. (She’s very keen on mustard, as I may have mentioned before.)

My favourite was this poppy.

late poppy

In spite of the sunshine, there was a flurry of rain and I worried about the washing.  The flurry came to nothing though and I was able to cut the greenhouse grass and get the washing in without any bother.

In spite of the sun, it was a bit cooler than it has been so the butterflies needed to spend as much time as possible getting some warmth as well as feeding and  they were spread out all over the place on any convenient flat surface.

four butterflies getting warm

I was able to sit out on the garden seat and have my coffee and the last iced bun, but I had to shift the butterfly which is bottom left in the panel above before I could sit down.

Although they are nowhere near fully out, the sedums have enough flowers open to attract traffic already.

forst bee on sedum

It always seemed touch and go as to whether we were going to get wet as you can see from this picture showing sun on the rowan and very dark clouds just behind.

garden weaher contrast

In the end, the wind turned out to be in just the right direction to send the rain clouds past us and not over us, so all was well.

Readers may wonder if I am managing to look after myself in the absence of Mrs Tootlepedal who is living the high life in the south, so I thought I would use a picture of my lunch to show that I am not starving. (Home made soup, home made bread, butter from a farm and a cheerful cheese board, with a small side dish of beetroot from the garden.)

lunch alone

I will survive!

After lunch, I checked the forecast and ignored its warnings of the possibility of rain and went out for a walk.  I did take a waterproof jacket with me.

I drove a couple of miles before I started my walk and walked up through some woods just in case it did actually rain.  This chestnut tree, possibly afflicted by a disease of chestnut trees, gave an early warning of the seasonal changes to come.

chestnut turning

The recent rains have brought life back to the mosses and encouraged fungi.

moss and fungus longwood

I walked up through a birch wood…

jenny noble path

…and then came to an oak wood.  The sun persuaded me not to take the short route back to the car through the oak wood…

oak wood jenny noble

…but to walk on past this butterfly enjoying the sunshine…

buttefly on hill

..and take a track along the open hill.  When I looked back along the track, all was fine…

oak on path to Broomholmshiels

…but out of the blue, a shower of rain started up.  I put my rain jacket on but I hardly needed to have bothered as the shower only gave me gentle kiss and didn’t embrace me at all.

I walked on under sunny skies, happy to see a few elderberries and some rose hips.  Hooray.

elderberries and hips

As it looked set fair for a while at least….

road to Hide

…I walked up this road to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland bird feeders…

Laverock hide

…and watched a very busy collection of small birds at the feeders while I rested my feet.

I saw great tits, coal tits, blue tits, chaffinches, greenfinches, siskins, a robin, blackbirds and a nuthatch (which unfortunately saw me at the same time as I saw it it, and flew off before I could get the camera up), but no woodpeckers or pheasants today.

four birds laverock hide

A buzzard flew down the clearing and all the little birds disappeared as if by magic so I left the hide and walked back down the road to the car.

The countryside was looking at its best…

view from Bromholmshiels

…and there was a lot to look at as I went along.

wild flowers broomholm road

My route took me down this road which used to be lined by sombre conifers.  They were felled for timber though and the road is now a different place.

broomholm road

Half way down the hill, I came to my favourite mossy wall, home to ferns, mosses and lichens.

moss and lichen broomholm road

I managed to stop taking pictures in the end and arrived back at the car after a walk of under two and a half miles, a short walk but one which had offered enormous variety on my way.

When I got home, i was pleased to find a starling keeping an eye on things.

starling keeping watch

Under its supervision, I mowed the middle lawn, edged the front and middle lawns and trimmed a small hedge.  Then I made a sausage stew and prepared a small loaf for the bread making machine.  While they were cooking, I got out my borrowed bike and cycled to the top of Callister and back.  As I had already taken over seventy pictures, I resolved not to take any more on my cycle ride unless I met something really interesting like, say, a charging rhinoceros.

Rather disappointingly, charging rhinoceroses were thin on the ground so my camera stayed in my pocket while I battled uphill against a brisk wind, and whooshed down the hill back home.

The stew turned out to be OK and I followed with it stewed plums and custard for a pudding so in the end, I probably didn’t take nearly enough exercise during the day to offset all the eating.

There is a genuine flying bird of the day today but not a very good one.

flying rook

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who visited a Book Cafe but found that reading one of their books might be tricky.  He tells me that he didn’t bolt his coffee and cake though.

book cafe

This morning couldn’t have offered a greater contrast to yesterday’s summer weather.  The clouds were clamped down on the hills, the town was engulfed by gloom and there was a persistent drizzle.  The drizzle did fizzle out though and I was able to walk up to the town after breakfast to do some archive group  and camera club business.

I had hoped to have a cup of coffee with Dropscone when I got back, but he had a golfing engagement so I went out to check the garden.

It was warm enough, but the results of the drizzle could be seen hanging about on dahlias….

dahlia with droplets

…and in a hundred neat pockets along the front hedge.

hedge with jewels

I had several goes at capturing the beauty of the water filled webs…

triple panel droplets

…and this was my favourite as I thought that it caught their jewelled nature best.

web with drops

Since it wasn’t a gardening moment, I went in and made half a dozen pots of plum jam, using early plums which we had picked that were not suitable to eat yet.  Our jam thermometer is a bit like the jam maker himself, old and unreliable, and I may have overcooked the jam a bit, but I had a test helping on some new bread in the evening and it wasn’t too bad.  We are researching digital jam thermometers and if any reader has had a good experience with one, we would be pleased to learn about it.

After the jam making was finished, I went out into the garden and was happy to find that the clouds had lifted and the rain had cleared away altogether.

I had a walk round to admire the late colour.

lily, crocosmia, astilbe and rose

…and noted that sometimes, one plant gets overtaken by another as these two clematis flowers, peeking out through alien foliage, show.

two lonely clematis

Elsewhere, clematis has a clear run.

clematis on fence

I made some soup for lunch and then Mrs Tootlepedal headed off to collect embroidery exhibits, the work of her local group, which have been on display in Hawick.  I went back out into the garden where the sun was now shining and found myself ducking to avoid being mowed down by hordes of butterflies and sparrows which were circling the garden.

Although it was pleasantly warm in the sun, it was not as hot as yesterday and the butterflies all had their wings wide open.

red admiral, two peacocks, white butterfly

Once again, there were far more peacocks about than any other sort…

peacock butterfly wings spread

…though the whites came a close second.

white butterfly

The large family of blackbirds are still around at various stages of development…

young blackbird on ground

…and they and the resident starlings and sparrows were joined by a tuneful thrush today.

starling, thrush and sparrow

There were so many butterflies about that I had to persuade them to shift over to give me a bit of room on the bench to sit….

two butterflies on bench

…and enjoy a small plum snack.

four plums on bench

It had dried up enough to let me mow the middle lawn and then I got my bike out and pedalled round my 20 mile Canonbie circuit.  It was a good day for a cycle ride…

view over Bloch

…with the country looking at its most benign.

view down wauchopedale

Farmers had been busy cutting grass in every corner of their fields.

tree with cut grass

All new deciduous trees seem to be planted in plastic tubes these days and this view as I climbed the hill over the Kerr seems to show that it is a good idea, with a flourishing little forest well under way.

successful tree tubes

As I came back home along the Esk valley, there was more evidence of grass cutting to be seen.

grass cut at grainstone

I would have liked to have had time to have gone a bit further but there was the front lawn to cut and my flute pupil Luke to welcome.

I did find time when i got home to watch a blackbird in the rowan tree.  It was eyeing up the berries and bending to check on them, but the big question was, would it pose for the ‘money shot’?

blackbird panel in rowan

It did.

blackbird with berry

Mrs Tootlepedal arrived safely back from Hawick, and while my flute pupil Luke and I practised, she made a delicious cauliflower cheese, garnished with beans and courgettes from the garden for tea.  We ate it with a side dish of beetroot which our friend Nancy had given us and i had cooked earlier.  She has grown so much beetroot on her allotment this year that she can hardly face eating any more.

We rounded off the day by watching the highlights of the Vuelta, the cycling tour of Spain.  It took our minds off the political situation.

The flying bird of the day is a bee visiting one of the last big poppies.

flying bee with poppy

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Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  A friend, a fellow allotmenteer, brought her round some dahlias from Annie’s plot.  They are doing a lot better than ours are.

annie dahlia

We had another unsettled and unsettling day.  It is difficult to have a plan of action when the weather (and the forecast) is so changeable. In the forecast yesterday morning, we had been promised a calm and sunny day today so I was looking for a good cycle ride, staring early.

By the time that I got up today, there was no sign of sun and the forecast was now promising showers in the morning and a sunny afternoon.  I settled down to coffee and the crossword, thinking of an early lunch and an afternoon pedal.

There was rain.

Having finished the coffee and the crossword, I ventured out into the garden.

There were no butterflies to be seen but we were not short of other insects.

I saw a hoverfly vising an Icelandic poppy

hoverfly icelandic poppy

…and a bee well into a poppy…

bee in poppy

,,,while another hoverfly had caused a small pollen storm.

hoverfly in poppy

Another bee took a more refined approach to a geranium.

bee on geranium

Not every small creature was so welcome though.  Our turnips have taken a bit of a bashing.

nibbled turnip

Mrs Tootlepedal hasn’t planted as many cosmos as usual because the plants have tended to suffer from disease in recent years, but there she has some and they are just coming out.

cosmos

Although the bird feeders are not out at present, there are still plenty of birds about, particularly starlings…

fluffy starling on holly

…and blackbirds.

blackbird on bench

I looked at the forecast just before noon.  The sunny afternoon had disappeared and rain showers were back in.  I did put my cycling clothes on but cycling was once again postponed and we were busy out in the garden, looking at some ominous clouds, when a pair of strangers appeared at the front gate.

Were we the owners of Wauchope Cottage, they asked.  We confessed that we were and the man said that he had come especially to see the house as his name was Wauchope too and he had often seen pictures of our garden when he researched Wauchope on Google.

We invited him and his partner Cassandra in to tour the garden in real life. They turned out to come from New Orleans and were in Scotland to find as many Wauchope connections as they could.  They had been to a Wauchope family mausoleum in an Edinburgh churchyard and now they had come to visit the mighty Wauchope Water and Wauchopedale in all its glory.

After their garden tour, they sat our bench for a moment’s rest before continuing their adventure.

Mr Wauchope

When they left, I took a picture of the work that Mrs Tootlepedal, in the guise of Attila the Gardener, had been doing in the garden when the visitors came.  The age of the salvias is ended and they are no more.

no salvias

However, I shredded them all and they are now serving a useful purpose as either garden mulch or an addition to the compost bin.

As the weather continued to look gloomy, I went back indoors and did some work on the computer until finally a good forecast and some fine weather actually coincided and I went out for a cycle ride.

Nothing is perfect though, and a stiff breeze made cycling into it more of a duty than a pleasure so I cut my intended distance down and settled for a comfortable 20 miles round my customary Canonbie circuit.

In spite of the wind, it was warm enough to make being out and about enjoyable, and as I pedalled along, the clouds were being blown away and the sun shone for the whole of my trip.

retreating clouds

The River Esk drains well and there was little sign of the recent rain as  I looked over the bridge at The Hollows.

esk at hollows

I stopped when I got to the old A7 just before getting back to Langholm and enjoyed the view across the valley.

view from old A7

Beside the road, an umbellifer was playing host to a crowd of insects.  I can count seven but there may be more.

umbellifer and insect

The amiable sunshine made even a very ordinary dock look rather gorgeous…

dock close up

…and  I was able to find some refreshment before getting back on my bike again.

brambles

The blackberries were delicious.

When I arrived back, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been very busy cutting down  potentillas at the back of the house along the dam while i had been away.  After the recent flood had put water through the ventilators under our floor, she thought that clearing away the vegetation in front of the ventilators would allow more flow of air which could only be a good thing.

This provided me with an opportunity to do a lot more shredding and more beds were mulched and the compost bin was once again enhanced.

I just had time to some black and white photography of nicotiana..

three nicotiana

…and our strikingly dark pansies…

black pansies

…before going in to cook baked eggs with spinach and a cheese sauce for our tea.

In the evening, we were visited by Mairi, the camera club member whose pictures I had printed.  She had framed them, and she brought them back so that they could be part of our next camera club exhibition.  She stayed on for a while to chat to Mrs Tootlepedal and we soon had the world put to rights.

The flying bird of the day is a gull which I caught when it was passing over the garden near midday.

flying gull overhead

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia who went to the Taunton Flower Show.  You can read about her adventures here. Sad to say, her favourite arrangement in the ‘At the Garden Gate’ class was disqualified for using artificial grass.

Taunton Flower show

We had quite a lot of rain and wind overnight and it was raining very heavily after breakfast when I had to go up to the Town Hall to inquire about getting a replacement bus pass.  It was a fitful sort of day though, and by the time that I came back, the rain had stopped.  That set the pattern for the day.

Dropscone dropped in with traditional treacle scones to go with a cup or two of coffee. He told me that he had been at a golf tournament earlier in the week and had only managed to get six holes in before the competition was called off because the course was flooded.  The dry spell earlier in the summer seems a distant memory now.

When he left, I looked out of the back door across a rainy garden to see the robin at the far end of the lawn…

sparrow at end of lawn

…and two birds on opposites sides of the great Brexit debate on a neighbour’s rooftop.

two birds not speaking

Badly painted blackbirds are all around…

badly painted blackbird

…though the painter’s work is improving.

better painted blackbird

When the rain stopped, I went out to have a look round and was impressed by Mrs Tootlepedal’s large lily.

bif lily

There are still new flowers coming out and the yellow crocosmia has just started to flower.

yellow crocosmia

The phlox has done so well, undaunted by wind and rain, that Mrs Tootlepedal plans to have even more  next year.  Who could blame her?

fiery phlox

A late honey suckle has come out on the vegetable garden fence.

late honeysuckle

I went back in and made some leek and potato soup for lunch with a leek and potatoes from the garden.  Together with a tomato and feta cheese salad (not from the garden), it made a tasty meal.

After lunch, it looked as though there might be a window in the changeable weather that would allow me to go for a short cycle ride, so while Mrs Tootlepedal went off to do some shopping, I set out to go as far as I could without getting wet.

It was sunny when I started but there was plenty of water running across the road up the Wauchope valley after the morning’s showers, and plenty of water in the little streams rushing down to join the Wauchope Water

bigholms burn

The powers that be have mowed every road verge in the district and there are now no wild flowers to look at, so my camera took a wider view today.

I went to the top of Callister and looked down the other side.

callister panorama

Click for the bigger pic (I may have put this one through a heavy filter.)

The dark clouds coming up from the left told me that it was time to turn and go home.

When I looked back towards the town from the top of the Wauchope Schoolhouse brae, I could see my sunny weather disappearing up the valley

Wauchope view

When I got back to the town, I thought of stopping while the going was good, but it was warm enough and it hadn’t started to rain, so I pressed on and crossed the town bridge and headed north.

 

three arches flood on Esk

I had walked under the near arch dry shod on Common Riding day when I wanted to cross the road which was full of horses.

I kept thinking of those grey clouds that I had seen on Callister and feeling that it would be wise not to go too far, but the road is well surfaced and it was still dry so I went a few miles up the road….

ewes panorama

Another clickable bigger picture.

…and the view is always worth looking at…

ewes view

 

…but I left it a fraction too late to turn round and within a mile of home, the heavens opened and I got wet.  As soon as I got home though, the rain stopped again. Those weather gods like a laugh.

The dry spell gave me a chance to have another walk round the garden.  I was hoping to catch a flying bird…

starlings on wire

….but the starlings stayed rooted to the electricity wire while I watched them and then all moved off in a body as soon as I turned my back for a moment.

A young dunnock tried out the fake tree but sat there quietly.

dunnock on fake tree

I gave up and went in to have a shower.

As we sat down for our tea, the sun came out and it was a glorious evening.  We agreed to go for a walk after our meal but of course, it started to rain again when the time came, so we stayed in.  Then the sun came out as the rain continued and to emphasise what a patchy day it was, when I looked out of the window at the back of the house to try to see a rainbow, I found that it wasn’t raining at all on that side of the house.

I went out into the garden and it wasn’t raining as I went out of the door but it was raining quite hard on the lawn only a few yards away.  I don’t think that I have ever seen quite such local rain.

We have two more days of this sort of weather to come and then, according to a reliable forecast, it is going to get cooler but drier.  It will be nice to be able to plan a day’s activity with confidence.

The flying bird of the day is the dunnock that we saw before.  By the time that I saw it again, it had flown up into the rowan tree.

dunnock in rowan

 

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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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