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Posts Tagged ‘starlings’

Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia’s African adventure.  As well as many wild animals and birds, she found time to take in the countryside as well.

Etosha Pan, Namibia,

We were spared the worst of some inclement weather today with towns to the north of us getting a heavy snowfall.  We did get constant rain and wind so we didn’t escape entirely.

It was very wet and windy at first and it was still raining heavily at lunchtime when there was just enough light to let me look out of the window at the birds.

siskin and green finch

It eased off a bit from time to time, but even when it wasn’t visibly raining, a trip to the back door showed a fine mist of drizzle being blown across the garden at a brisk pace.

The birds didn’t come to the feeder in great numbers, probably because of the wind as much as the rain, but there were still moments when they had to queue.

chaffinches and goldfinches

These two summed up the day quite well, I thought.

siskin and goldfinch wet

And as usual, some chaffinches would prefer to get in an argument than to go to an empty perch.

shouting chaffinh

I did step out into the garden and found a washed out chionodoxa….

chionodoxa in the rian

…and daffodils hanging their heads down….

daffs hanging herads

…but as it felt cold in the drizzle and wind, I soon went back indoors.  Luckily there was an afternoon of rugby on the telly to help me pass the time, and I watched Wales thoroughly outclass a rather dispirited looking Irish team.  It was a game with a single try very near the start and another right at the end and in between there was a lot of bash, bash, bash which was quite tense without being very interesting if that makes sense.

After the game, I made a pot of sausage stew and then, since it was still drizzling outside, I sat down with foreboding in my heart to watch England walk all over Scotland.   This they proceeded to do with some style and they were more than twenty points up in less than  twenty minutes.

I checked the weather.  The rain had stopped and there was a hint of blue sky.  Phew, I could go for a walk and leave them to it.

Under normal circumstances, I would have walked as far as the evening light would have let me and I would have come home well after the game had finished but as my foot is still a bit iffy, I merely walked down to the river to admire the daffodils…

daffodils along esk

… check on the flow rate…

bridge in flood

…and say hello to a couple of pairs of mallards…

pair of mallards on wauchope

…who had managed to find pockets of calmer water.

pair of mallards in calm water

I was laughed at by a bunch of rude starlings in the tree beside the Buccleuch Centre…

starlings buccleuch square

…and pottered home to find that the first half had finished with England leading by 31-7.

At least Scotland had scored a try.

Rather against my better judgement, I sat down to watch the second half and was rewarded by a modest miracle.  Scotland played a lot better, England played a lot worse and it was one of the days when fortune favoured the brave and the bounce of the ball went Scotland’s way.  As a result, with two minutes to go, Scotland were actually leading by 38 points to 31 and in sight of a famous victory, but it couldn’t last and they gave away a crucial penalty with only seconds to go.  England kept their heads and scored a well worked try under the posts.  The subsequent conversion tied the match at 38 all.  So it really  was a match of two 31-7 halves, most remarkable and a privilege to watch.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch who was unmoved by the whole rugby thing.

flying chaffinch

I have two footnotes to today’s post:-

The first was sent to me by my friend Bruce, who for reasons that he can’t explain found this scan of a ceefax page from roughly thirty years ago relating to a local school on his computer.  All I can say is that the lucky head teacher must have had an excellent staff to impress the inspectors.

Canonbie report

The other footnote is a composite shot of the pictures that I have framed for the exhibition in the Canonbie church cafe.  They have all appeared on the blog before and I have tried to pick out ones that might have general appeal and have some impact printed at A4 rather than seen at 800px on a screen.

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I realise that the top left picture needs re-framing.

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Today’s guest picture is another one from Joe and Annie’s recent Highland holiday and shows what you get if you arrive at the top of a mountain, namely a view of more mountains.

top of mountain

Our welcome spell of relatively mild weather continued today but once again, the morning was very grey and there was even a little drizzle early on.   I was very happy therefore to entertain Sandy to a cup of coffee when he came round to collect the Archive Group projector and a copy of a 1967 parish magazine for scanning.

Sandy and I haven’t been going for any walks lately because he has been having trouble with his feet and as I enjoy these walks, I was glad to hear that he is going to seek medical advice.  I hope that he gets good treatment and that we will be able to resume some walks again early next year.   He taught me almost everything I know about photography and it is always an education to see what he sees when we are out and about.

Scott, our ex-minister, has obviously lost control of his coffee radar since he has left Langholm as he arrived for a surprise visit only after Sandy and all the coffee in the pot had gone.  I wasn’t even able to offer him a cup of tea as I was changed and ready to go out on my bike when he came.  At this time of year, there is no time to spare as it gets dark so early so I left him chatting to Mrs Tootlepedal and went off pedalling into the distance.

It was still very grey and as I went over Callister, I was swathed in low cloud.  it wasn’t long though before the clouds began to lift….

clouds lifiting off windmills

…and there was a good patch of blue sky in the direction that I was heading.

tree at Giar road

There had hardly been any birds in the garden in the morning so I was pleased to come across a great flock of starlings near Waterbeck.  They rose like a vast animated carpet from a field as I passed.  By the time that I had got my camera out, many of them had settled in some trees.

starlings at West Craigs

I was soon pedalling along in what passes for bright sunshine in the winter and although some of the remaining clouds looked a bit sinister, I had sun with me for the rest of my ride.

cloud and sunlight

As well as the big flock of starlings, I passed a large array of hundreds of geese in a field near Chapelknowe.  I think that these are pink footed geese which visit Scotland for the winter from Greenland and Iceland.

geese in field at Chapelknowe

My legs were in a helpful mood today and after a hard working first ten miles with some climbing and the wind against, the last 20 miles of my ride were much flatter and with a friendly wind now assisting me and my legs in full working order, I fairly whizzed along (by my standards).

I stopped for a breather at Half Morton with ten miles to go.  There is a convenient wall there for propping up bikes and riders, not to mention a fine tree to admire.

tree at Timpanheck

My final pause was to take a view, a favourite not just because  of the neat framing of the hills round Langholm but also because when you see it, it means that there are only five miles to go to a nice cup of tea and a biscuit.

Low cloud over Langholm

I found Mrs Tootlepedal at work in the garden when I got home and there were a few chaffinches on the plum tree too.  Mrs Tootlepedal soon went in and the dratted chaffinches remained firmly stuck in the tree and only came down to the feeder when the light had gone too far for decent photography.

chaffinches in plum tree

In the evening, we were visited  by Mike and Alison, as is customary on a Friday, and since Alison’s injured shoulder is still preventing full piano playing, we settled for some wine and beer drinking and general conversation instead of music.  The early renewal of Friday evening music making is another of my New Year’s wishes.

The lack of flying birds is getting to be embarrassing and I didn’t get one at all today.  If there was any flying, it always seemed to be right behind the feeder.

invisible flying bird

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Bruce’s Highland Tour.  As well as stunning scenery, he noticed this very curious gate.

IMG_0979

As it happens, Dropscone is exactly half a year older than me to the day so to celebrate my arrival at the same age as he is, he brought round some of his traditional treacle scones to go with coffee this morning.

As there wasn’t room for 77 candles on the scones, we ate them unadorned.

After he left, I got my new bike out for the first time for a month and tested the state of my leg by pedalling the six miles to the top of Callister Hill and back again.  This was my first ride on the new bike for a month.  12 miles may not be very far but it is a lot better than 0 miles…and my leg was quite happy about it all.

I went along the Wauchope road and this meant that I passed no less than three sets of barriers placed to stop motorists driving too close to the edge of the road where the banking has been showing signs of collapse…

P1150671

The bottom of the fence not the top should be at road height!

…and one where the banking has disappeared entirely….

P1150672

…and still hasn’t been repaired.  The lack of repair does not come as a total shock.  A group of enthusiasts is holding a ‘hands over the gap’ birthday party to celebrate the third anniversary of a continuing road closure on another local road which suffered a serious landslip.

My cycling road is still open to traffic but the little burn that runs along side it…..

P1150673

…is not going away and will continue to eat into the banking just as huge and heavy timber and quarry lorries will continue to thunder along above it on a road which is not designed for them.

It is an intractable problem.

I got to the top of Callister Hill and noticed a great number of cars parked on the access road to the proposed new windfarm there.  They are obviously busy preparing the way for the arrival of the turbines so I took this view of the ridge where they will stand and will take the view again as the turbines  are erected over the coming months.

P1150674

I heard an interesting programme on the radio last night as we drove back from Lockerbie.  It was about hope and the question of whether hope is a curse or a blessing.  I thought of it as I started my cycle ride today in a light drizzle because I was hoping that it would stop as I went along.  This hope was based on the weather forecast.  One of the questions raised in the programme was; can faith and hope co-exist?   This seems to be because if you have faith you don’t need hope and if you are merely hoping, you can’t have faith.   Is hope a trap for the unwary and stupid optimist? Is faith a snare for those who don’t learn from experience and keep on believing that something will happen that never happens?

Anyway, I had faith in the forecast and hoped that the rain would stop and it did…

P1150675

…and I had a sunny ride home past the landslide.

I had time for a quick look at the birds over lunch.

The goldfinches were back again…

_DSC8736

…but frequently flew off and let other breeds sample the delights of the sunflower hearts.

_DSC8738

A chaffinch looked askance at a greenfinch heading towards the feeder at a great rate of knots.

_DSC8739

More greenfinches arrived and surveyed the scene briefly…

_DSC8741

…and one came down to the feeder but didn’t look very grateful when it got there.

_DSC8742

After lunch, we went to Carlisle where I put the new bike into the bike shop for its second after-sale free service.  It has done two and half thousand miles now and I am more than happy with it.

Then we went off to a shop in an enormous shed which sells a huge range of goods at a modest price.  Mrs Tootlepedal bought some decorative items which she will add to the pantomime dress that she is making.

I had recently seen pictures of a good murmuration of starlings at Gretna and as it was getting near dusk, we decided to drive home by way of the site to see what we could see.  We saw a fine sunset…

sdr

…but no starlings and got bored and drove on.  We did see some small flocks flying about as we left and wondered if we had been too hasty.  I didn’t have my starling camera with me so I will have to come back another time, equipped with both patience and the right camera to see if the starlings are still around.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I played some tricky pieces with varying success but considerable enjoyment.  I am not playing at my best at the moment and will have either to practise harder or try to work out what I am doing technically wrong…or both.

An outstretched chaffinch is the flying bird of the day.

_DSC8745

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s Irish adventure and shows one of the more exciting roads that the party drove over on their outings.

Ireland

We were in a state of deja vu today as the scene outside the window when we woke up was still snowy, the temperature was still around freezing and the skies were still grey.

Thanks to the snow, the producers’ market at the Buccleuch Centre was cancelled so I was very disappointed as it is the highlight of my shopping  month and we are now in the midst of a quality cheese drought in Tootlepedal Mansions.

However, as the morning wore on, the temperature rose by a degree and since the main roads seemed to be clear and dry, we thought it a good idea to make sure that the car was still going and made a little motor excursion through the town to a shop instead of the market.

I had cleared the snow off the car a couple of days ago and also cleared the snow off the road around it and in spite of frequent light snow showers since then, the car and the road were still clean enough to let us set off with no more sweeping or shovelling required.

Perhaps because of the very dry nature of the snow, no doors were frozen up, the wipers were free to wipe and the car started at the first request.   We were relieved as we hope to go to Carlisle for a choir practice tomorrow.

We didn’t have many birds in the morning but we did have one mass visit from starlings who perched on the top of the walnut tree.  Some were in vertical mode…

starlings

…and others preferred the horizontal way.

_DSC1834

Yesterday’s posing chaffinch had another go at being FBotD but mistimed her effort.

flying chaffinch

You can’t win them all.

A crow on a neighbour’s roof gave me the excuse to squeeze a little moss into the post.

crow

After lunch, as it was dry and I could see the tops of the hills, I went for a walk in the hope of some snowy scenery.

I caught up with a friend who was going to the golf club (not to play golf) and walked up the Kirk Wynd with him.  When he went into the golf clubhouse, I kept going.

I had a quick look behind me as I got above the town….

snowy scene

…but this was as much of a scenic view as I got as soon the clouds came down on the hills and it started to snow again.

It was only light snow though so I pushed on past the golf course and onto the the hill.

The gorse was trying its best under testing circumstances…

gorse in snow

…and although the snow was quite deep in places and tiring to plough through, I wasn’t tempted to rest for a while on the bench at Whita Well.

snowy bench

I did for a moment consider trying to go straight up the hill to the summit but good sense prevailed and I turned left and went along the contours of the hill to the Newcastleton road.

The brisk winds of yesterday had had two contradictory effects.  In places they had swept the hillside fairly clean and the walking was easy and elsewhere, they had piled the snow up into drifts.  It wasn’t always easy to tell whether a plain white patch in front of me was thin or thick though and I had one or two uncomfortable moments stepping into what proved to be quite deep bits.

Fortunately, just as I was thinking that a strategic retreat might be wise, I came upon the wheel tracks of a hill vehicle which had been out looking after the sheep and although the tracks were well covered in snow, they gave me a guide which kept me out of any drifts.

Whita with snow

The sharp eyed will be able to see the rather ghostly tracks at the bottom left of the picture above.

They led me safely to the Newcastleton road….

Copshaw Road

…and I was glad that I was walking and not driving down it.

I had plenty of help with my directions…

Bird print

…which was needed as it was sometimes hard to tell where the road ended and the verges began.

Copshaw Road

The sheep are clever animals and had found a good windswept patch where some grass had been exposed and were munching away with their backs firmly to the wind (and the photographer).

sheep in snow

Once I got down to the main road, I found that yet again the snowplough had thrown the excess snow onto the footpath so I had to walk along the road itself to make progress.  Luckily there was hardly any traffic but what there was was paying no attention to the signs and I had to skip briskly onto the pavement once or twice..

Welcome to Langholm

I got to the Sawmill Brig but didn’t cross it when I came to it on this occasion and I was pleased with this decision…

sawmill brig

…when I found a bird like icicle on a bench on the Kilngreen…

icicle kilngreen

…and then  met Mr Grumpy on the banks of the river.

heron in snow

He flew off but when I tried to follow him with the camera and all I got was a picture of the light but persistent snow.

snow

I caught an oyster catcher instead as I walked along the Esk.

oyster catcher

The snow and ice had made this short walk quite energetic so I was more than happy to test drive some scones that Mrs Tootlepedal had made while I was out and then sink into a comfortable chair and watch cycling and athletics for the rest of the afternoon (and quite a lot of the evening).

The temperature is due to rise a bit over the next few days so with luck we may get a steady thaw without any floods to go with it.

The flying bird of the day, to ensure correct blog gender balance after yesterday’s flying female, is a male chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my ex-colleague Ada.  She has been enjoying the sun in Tenerife and sent me this picture to torment me as we watched the snow come down here.

Down below is the busy resort of Playa de Las Americas

Down below is the busy resort of Playa de Las Americas

Here is the contrasting view from our bedroom window this morning.

snowy garden

And it kept on snowing for some time…

chaffinch in snow

…leading to some poor manners at the ground feeding station.

blackbird and robin

Dropscone dropped in for coffee, not only bringing the traditional scones but also rich gifts of sardines which he had picked up at a very reasonable price on his way back from a meeting up the borders last night.  He is an expert at finding very good ‘end of day’ offers at supermarkets.

The price of the sardines reflected the fact that today was their last use by date so Mrs Tootlepedal and I enjoyed pan fried sardines for our lunch.  They were very good.

The snow stopped and the day brightened up a lot….

starlings and goldfinches

A couple of starlings joined our usual visitors

….so when Mrs Tootlepedal went off to help out at the Buccleuch Centre coffee shop, I put on my wellies and went for a walk.

I checked on the bridge as I set out.

dam bridge repair

The men had only worked for a relatively short time this morning but whether that was because of the snow or because they are waiting for things to set, I don’t know.

I left the bridge and headed for the top of Warbla, hoping to get there before any new snow showers appeared.

In fact, as I walked up the hill, the skies cleared and the sun came out, first on nearby hills….

snow on the hills Arkleton

…and then, as I followed the advice of the pheasants to go this way…

pheasant print in snow

…on the track where I was walking.

Warbla in snow

Even more pleasingly, it stayed out for the rest of my walk and I was able to enjoy a view across the valley to the felled Becks Wood which I visited a  day or two ago.  They have been very busy tidying the felled trees up.

pBecks wood from Warbla

At the top of the hill, there is an old trig point, elevation 276m, which showed which way the wind was blowing this morning…

Warbla trig point snow

…and some good views.

Esk valley with snow

By this time, the sun had removed all the snow from the lower slopes.

langholm with surrounding snow

I met a man in a car at the summit, where there are several masts, who told me that he was working for EE.  As EE is the telephone company that provides my mobile reception, I was pleased to see that they were on the job even in snowy conditions.

I used the phone connection while I was up on the hill to show that my face is pretty well back to normal after the ugly business of 12 days ago.

selfie on Warbla

I put the fairly rapid healing down to liberal use of arnica.

I thought that the redundant stile at the top of the hill was looking good but went through the new gate beside it on my way down.

stile on Warbla

I had noticed as I had come up the hill, that the telephone engineer’s car had stopped several times and the driver had got out for some curious reason.  As I followed it back down the hill….

EE car on Warbla

…it stopped several times again.  The mystery was solved when I saw the driver get out and take photographs.  It was good to know that he was enjoying the views as much as I was.  He kindly offered me a lift but it seemed like too good a day not to walk.  Besides, I wanted to take more photos.

Looking across the valley, I could see three timber wagons waiting to pick up logs from the enormous pile at the Becks Wood.

Becks wood timber wagons

When I got to the wood at the bottom of the hill, I stopped to look at the moss on the wall.  Although moss often looks rather short and stumpy on a wall, if you pull a single strand out, it turns out to be longer and thinner than expected.

moss

Once again, there were a lot of different sorts of moss close together.

moss

I passed a very sunny horse….

sunny horse

…and made my way back to the garden where I got quite excited by a daffodil bud.

daffodil bud

I had made a lamb stew in the slow cooker in the morning and Mrs Tootlepedal cooked some potatoes and green veg to go with it and the resultant evening meal made a good ending to day which turned out to be a lot better than it had looked likely to be when we woke up in the snow.

The flying (jumping) bird of the day is one of the starlings leaving the feeders.

flying starling

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Today’s guest picture is a Paddington Basin sunset captured by my sister Mary.  I don’t usually go for sunsets but this is a cracker.

Paddington Basin

We had another even colder day today, without the benefit of any added sunshine.

Thanks to a very slowly dripping but unnoticed tap in the guest bathroom, it was cold enough to freeze the pipe when the trickle of water got to the outside wall of the house.  In turn this caused the condensate pipe from our boiler to stop working and we woke up to a rather chilly house and no hot water.

We have fires to put on so we were in no danger of freezing ourselves but the lack of hot water and the chill in the unheated rooms was annoying.

After trying and failing to do some ad hoc thawing of pipes with hot water and hair driers, we gave up and I went for a walk. The forecast is for a thaw over night so we are keeping our fingers crossed.

When I looked down the frozen dam at the back of the house, I saw that there was a small unfrozen patch which had attracted a lot of blackbirds.  I counted ten at one time spread along the dam but they didn’t all stay in place for this picture.

blackbirds on dam

They were very busy popping on and off the ice at the water hole and one of them got very indignant when some starlings had the effrontery to want a drink too.

blackbirds on dam

The starlings retreated to a wire and waited for another chance.

starlings

There had been a hint of mist about when I got up so I was hoping for some ice covered trees but after a promising start at the park…

frosty trees

…the rest of the walk was a bit disappointing as the taller tree seemed unaffected.  There was plenty of ice about…

ice

…and the view up river at the Meeting of the Waters was very wintery.

meeting of the waters

As I crossed the Sawmill Brig, I could see a little cave of icicles where a small steam joins the Ewes from an underground pipe.

icicles

Langholm Castle looked quite forbidding….

Langholm Castle

…and as always, I was keeping an eye out for fence posts.

frosty fencepost

It was too cold to linger for long and I didn’t want my camera to freeze so I didn’t dilly dally and was soon looking over our front hedge into a very frosty garden.

frosty garden

I had stopped to look at the gulls at the Kilngreen on my way round.  There were a lot about today, including a headless gull…

gulls

…and the gull (very) close formation flying team.

gulls

Although these are black headed gulls, they haven’t got their black heads yet but they do have very decorative feet and beaks.

gull

Once inside, I didn’t go out again but I did keep looking out of the kitchen window when any movement caught my attention.  The sub zero temperatures brought a lot birds to the feeders.

There were siskins…

siskin

…and the chaffinch aerial ballet corps…

chaffinches

…which descended into arguments when it was time for a seed break.

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The feeder on the left of the pole was busy today and this gave me the chance to get some left to right flying chaffinches instead of my usual right to left shots.

chaffinches

Other flying birds were available.

siskin and goldfinch

As well as flying birds, there was some top quality posing too.

robin

blackbird

And a collared dove won the trophy for the most fluffed up bird of the day by miles.

collared dove

I could have spent a lot of time enjoying the birds but the kitchen, which has no heater, was rather chilly and as I couldn’t stand the cold, I got out of the kitchen.

I went into the computer room and spent a happy afternoon putting music onto the computer for my flute pupil Luke and doing some flute practice too.

As we can’t leave the fires on overnight, it is going to be very nippy when we get up tomorrow so I hope that the pipes will have taken advantage of the slight lift in the temperature and unfrozen themselves.  If not, we may have to call for assistance.

One of the Kilngreen gulls is the flying bird of the day.

gull

 

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Today’s guest picture from Bruce got a little closer to the horse in the field.  There turned out to be two of them.

Kelpies

The forecast was right and we had another sunny day but it was even colder than yesterday and struggled to get above 3°C all day.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I gave up any thoughts of gardening or cycling and turned our thoughts to an expedition.  After mulling over the idea for long enough to have had coffee, watched a couple of birds….

robin

This is the same robin taken seconds apart

dunnock and greenfinch

Dunnock and greenfinch

….made some lentil soup and eaten it for lunch, we finally got organised and set out on a triple target adventure.

Target one was the excellent nature reserve at Eskrigg near Lockerbie.  It has two hides.

We went to this one first.

red squirrel hide Eskrigg

The red squirrels don’t actually hide in the hut but I am sure they would if they could open the door.

We didn’t need to wait for more than a few seconds before they appeared on the scene.

red squirrel

red squirrel

The trouble with red squirrels is that it is impossible to stop taking pictures of them so I left Mrs Tootlepedal in the hide enjoying their antics and walked along to the other hide which is at an old curling pond, now restored as a nature place.

There was a little ice on the pond today but not enough to stop a couple of swans having a swim.

swans eskrigg

I got settled into the hide and hoped for a glimpse of a woodpecker or a nuthatch.  Unfortunately, another photographer was trying to get a shot of a jay and was walking around outside the hide in his search.   This didn’t encourage other birds to come to the feeders.

I saw a plenty of interesting fungi on the trees outside the hide….

fungus

…and a blackbird…

blackbird

…and a great tit and a robin…

great tit and robin

….which I might easily have seen in our own garden.

I looked down the pond for a while.  It was very pretty but had nothing more interesting on it than some mallards.

Eskrigg

I didn’t see anything novel on the pond or the bird feeders so when a squirrel turned up at the bird feeder there…

red squirrel

…I took the hint and went back to join Mrs Tootlepedal in the squirrel hide.  There were squirrels on every side and it was a pleasure to sit and watch them.

Some kind person had left a plentiful supply of nuts about and the squirrels were tucking in.

red squirrel

_DSC9382

red squirrel

A regular visitor came in and told us that she had been there two days ago and had seen even more squirrels than we saw today but when she had visited yesterday she had found two keen photographers with big lenses there and absolutely not a squirrel to be seen so I guess that we were lucky today.

The light was beginning to fade and we still had two targets to hit so we didn’t stay too long.  We walked out through the woods…

wood eskrigg

….and were soon on the road to Gretna.

It was a perfect evening for seeing the starling murmuration and we got to the spot where we had seen then a couple of weeks ago.  There was already another car there and soon afterwards three more arrived, including a fellow camera club member from Langholm.  One of the newcomers told us that last night she had seen the flock coming down into this tree right in front of us.

tree Gretna

So we were all set, the sky was clear…

sunset Gretna

…with just a few clouds to the south to make it interesting.

clouds gretna

Behind us, a brilliant moon was out….

moon

…so everything was just as it should be….

…except for a complete and baffling absence of any starlings murmuring.  A few tiny flocks passed us going north and that was it.  Not a whisper.

We waited until it seemed too late and then drove north in the hope that the murmuration might be there.  There was not a single bird to be seen anywhere.

We abandoned our second target and turned to the third, the purchase of suitable welly boots for Mrs Tootlepedal at the Gretna Gateway shopping experience.

The experience was good for us as a pair of reasonable priced wellies were acquired but, like the starlings, there was a noticeable absence of other shoppers enjoying the fairy lights.

Gretna gateway

Still, as the great Meatloaf used to sing, “Two out of three ain’t bad” so we drove home fairly cheerfully but wondering where all the starlings had gone to.

In the evening, I went out to a Langholm Sings practice.  This was slightly handicapped by the absence of the accompanist but we got some work done and with one practice still to go, we might just be ready for our concert.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch taking a sideways look at the world.

flying chaffinch

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