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Posts Tagged ‘symphoricarpos’

Today’s guest picture, sent to me by her father, shows Matilda in pensive mood earlier this week.  As she was in Ireland at the time, maybe she was pondering the tricky Irish border question.

pensive Matilda

After yesterday’s glorious sunshine, we were back to grey and windy weather today.  It was theoretically quite a warm day with the thermometer showing a mellow 11°C but any warmth was utterly dependent on keeping out of  the very chilly wind.  As it was one of those winds that follow you round corners and blow up your trouser legs and down the back of your shirt, it was hard to get away from it.  I stayed indoors a lot.

I spent the morning reading the papers, doing the crossword and looking out of the window as chaffinches approached the feeder.

chaffunch landing

A goldfinch looked to be in line for a surprise.

chaffinch coming up on goldfinch

I was pleased to see a siskin among the birds on the perches…

busy feeder with a siskin

….and doubly pleased to see two.

busy feeder with two siskin

I had enjoyed my pain free bike ride yesterday so I resolved to see how walking went today and after lunch, I set off to walk about a mile to see how things were.

I nodded to a new daffodil doing its best to come out in the garden…

new daffodil

…and took a route that I hoped would take me past some water side birds.

I soon saw an oyster catcher…

one oyster catcher

…and then two more…

two oyster catchers

…and finally, three in a row.

three oyster catchers

One oyster catcher looks remarkably like another one to the untrained eye so I can’t tell if it was just the same birds flying about…

flying oyster catchers

…and landing in front of me or six separate birds.

Among the oyster catchers, a herring gull stood out.

gull

The walk was a great success as far as seeing birds went but it was a failure in terms of foot comfort so I cut it as short as I could and went home, passing the bush of pink snowberries beside the river on my way.  I love their Sunday name: Symphoricarpos.

pink snowberries

Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy in the garden while I was tottering about and she took me round to see the useful tidying up that she had accomplished.  Among other things, she had cleared some infected leaves from the hellebores and that gave me a photo opportunity which I took.

hellebore

Once back indoors, I settled down to work on choir songs and when it came to tea time, I made myself a dish of kidneys in a spicy wine, pepper and mushroom sauce on a bed of rice and followed that up with some semolina pudding for both of us.  The day might have been a bit disappointing but the evening meal saved it from disaster.

The flying bird is an eager looking goldfinch.

flying goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew who started the new year by visiting the strangely named Locko Park where he met a fine lake.

Locko Park

Our year here started with a brilliantly sunny but rather chilly day.  I would have liked to have taken part in the eight mile walk/run event that starts the Langholm year off but a combination of stiff muscles and sore feet persuaded me that a bike ride would be a better bet.

After a late breakfast, a little cooking and dawdling my way to coffee, I saw that the thermometer had climbed to 5°C so I got my cycling clothes on, got out my bike, leaned it against the car while I filled my water bottle and then looked at the car windscreen.

It was still covered with ice.

I put the bike back in, took my cycling clothes off and went for a walk.  The roads may well have been 99% clear of ice but it is that other 1% that I am hoping not to meet this year.

My idea was to walk to the top of a 1000ft hill and admire the views and so I headed up Meikleholm Hill (859ft), intending to go along the ridge and onto the next hill, Timpen (1069ft), and get my views there.

I passed some fine fungus…

Meikleholm track fungus

…and was soon looking at views from about 656ft…

Esk valley from Meikleholm

…but not long afterwards, I found myself looking at the enquiring heads of cattle peeking over the skyline and looking back at me.

For the second time today, I changed my plan. I retreated.

I lost about 100 feet and found a cattle free but steep route to the top of Timpen.  There were a number of views available and the air was remarkably clear for once.

I looked north along the ridge….

view from top of timpen 4

…and down into the Esk valley curling among the hills.

view from top of timpen 3

Nearer to me I could see the river running through the fields of Milnholm.

view from top of timpen 2

Going further round, I could see Castle and Potholm Hills making a barrier between the Esk and the Ewes Water on the far side.

view from top of timpen 1

And going round further still, I could look back down on the town, 800 feet below.

view of langholm from top of timpen

It was warm enough in the sunshine for me to unbutton my jacket, put my gloves in my pocket and still feel rather hot after the climb.

Coming back down the hill, I chose a cow dodging route using a mountain biking trail through the woods on the shady side of the hill.

bike track down Meikleholm Hill

The track was well maintained and although it was much colder out of the sun, it was a pleasure to walk along a track that I had never used before. I ended up down on the road about a mile out of town and took the path above the river that leads to the Duchess bridge (part of Walk 2 of the Langholm Walks).

Trees had fallen across the track but some kind person had come along with a chain saw and cut a Tootlepedal sized hole in the trunk…

walk 2 path

…so I was able to arrive safely on the flat of the Castleholm and walk along the tree lined Lodge walks in the sunshine.

lines across Lodge walks

I crossed the Sawmill Bridge and strolled along the Kilngreen.  There were many gulls on the fence posts but as I got near, they flew off and only one remained.

gull on post

I feel fairly sure that if I had had my flying bird camera with me, they would all have stayed glued to the posts.

Looking back up the river, I could see the sun  tipping the hill with gold where I had stood an hour earlier taking in those views.

Esk and Timpen

One of the really good things about our hills to my mind, is the ease with which one can get up and down them without requiring a mass of time and special walking kit.  I did find my two walking poles very useful though as the grass on the shady side of the hill was still frosty and slippery in places.

I tried to catch a flying bird in the garden when I got home but they were nowhere to be seen and this shy character was the only bird available.

chaffinch hiding

I collected Mrs Tootlepedal who was at work on her rocking horse restoration project and we went off to see Mike and Alison Tinker and wish them and their daughter and her family who were visiting, a happy new year.

We had a sociable new year drink and some good conversation and Mike and his daughter Liz, who is a professional horticulturalist, pointed out that two days ago, the blog had wrongly called this shrub, which we encountered on a walk, a pernettya…

pernettya bush

…whereas Mike actually has a pernettya in his garden and it looks like this…

pernettya

…and what we had seen two days ago…

pernettya berries

…was a Symphoricarpos or snowberry.  I apologise deeply for the error which must have appalled many readers who were too polite to point it out.

I was slightly envious when I saw a steady stream of birds visiting Alison’s feeder as we sipped and chatted.   Liz presented Mrs Tootlepedal with a bowl of hyacinths as a new year’s gift and I hope this will appear in future posts when they burst into flower.

I had made a beef and mushroom stew in the slow cooker in the morning so we were well supplied for our evening meal when the time came.

In the absence of any flying birds, I can offer an echelon of gulls who returned to their posts as soon as I had got too far away to photograph one individually.

zig zag gulls

 

 

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