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Posts Tagged ‘tadpoles’

Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew’s Welsh trip.  Having left Chester and climbed Snowdon, he came to rest on Anglesey where he met the sea…and my sister Mary.

mary on anglesey

Our spell of dry weather continued but once again with an east wind to make sure that we didn’t forget that it is still early April.

Dropscone arrived with a surprise in hand.  Instead of his home made scones, he brought  delicious brioche to go with a cup of Colombian coffee so we had an international coffee break after which he disappeared to the golf course and I took myself off to the dentist where I got two small fillings (and a lecture on brushing my teeth more carefully).

I had time before I left to have a quick walk round the garden where flowers were coming in tightly packed clusters…

garden flowers

…and a moment to watch the birds where chaffinches…

chaffinches and goldfinches

…kept coming and going.

chaffinches coming and going

When I got back from the dentist, I thought that the flowers on the plum tree needed looking after….

lots of chaffinches in plum tree

…so I got my pollinating brush out and went round as many flowers as I could easily reach, pretending to be a bee.  With our cold mornings (there was frost on the lawn again today), we are not seeing many bees about yet.

The tadpoles don’t seem to have been harmed by the cold…

two tadpoles

…and it hasn’t been cold enough for the pond to freeze over.   That could still come though, as cold mornings are going to continue for a while.

After lunch, which was late as I had to let my face unfreeze before eating hot soup, I got my bike out and set out to add a few miles to my monthly total.

Some trees are beginning to show a little leafiness…

tree with new leafs

…and it was very pleasant pedalling gently along in the sunshine with a lighter wind than recent days.

I stopped to exchange views with some belted Galloway cattle…

belted galloway

…and stopped again to admire a couple of buzzards circling above me near Canonbie..

two buzzards

There were interesting things to see along the way…

wild flower canonbie

…but not much sign of any leaves when I looked over the bridge at the river at Hollows Mill.

Esk at Hollows

A young larch tree  was the greenest thing that I saw.

new larch

I was hoping to see some oyster catchers  as I came along the riverside when I got back to Langholm but they weren’t in their usual place.  I saw them flying off overhead and had to make do with a look at the Lady’s Smock on the grassy bank instead.

lady's smock bank of esk

When I got home, I found that Mrs Tootlepedal had been busy in the vegetable garden putting a new edge on the bed in front of the espalier apples….

edged in veg garden

…so I thought that I should do my bit too and got out the petrol driven tiller and gave the new potato bed a going over, covering up the old greenhouse foundation which we had unearthed.

Mrs Tootlepedal finished off the bed with some neat raking.

new potato bed

I had a look at the mystic Van Eijk tulips…

mustic tulip heart

…and checked on the magnolia at the front gate.  Although the flowers have been affected by the cold mornings, the plant seems to be thriving.

magnolia

Altogether, it was a day when it was hard to be gloomy.

lawn in evening light

It was a day to leave political worries alone and cultivate the garden.

I noticed as I was looking at the birds from time to time during the day, that the right hand perch was often vacant when the other three were occupied.  This, I reckoned was because the wind was coming from the right and made landing on that perch more tricky as birds, like aeroplanes, prefer to land into the wind.

three chaffinches approaching from windward

After a shower and our evening meal, I went off to sing with the Langholm choir.  Mary, my singing teacher, was there to conduct us, and I tried to put as much of her good advice to use as I could remember.  I certainly enjoyed the singing.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, approaching the feeder downwind.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Gavin’s Spanish holiday where he came across this chap.  Hard to know what he is thinking.

IMG_5854

We had a lovely day here, warm with light winds.  I will say that again: We had a lovely day here, warm with light winds.

There was an article in my newspaper this morning pointing out that this has been the coldest spring for 30 years and that it is likely to continue to be cold until June.   You can see why everyone thought that today was so special.

It was a bit unfortunate then that I had to spend quite a bit of time making sure that everything would be ready for the return of Mrs Tootlepedal.  This involved brushing, sweeping, hoovering, dusting, cooking and ironing so I was kept quite busy.

Mike Tinker popped in to say that he had seen a pair of goosanders at the Langholm Bridge so as soon as I had finished ironing a couple of shirts, I went out to see if I could see them.  Unfortunately but predictably, they had moved on.  (It takes me quite a time to iron a couple of shirts.)  I snapped a pair of oyster catchers instead….

oyster catchers

..and came home.

I had time for a walk round the garden.  The tadpoles were showing definite signs of life….

frog and tadpoles

…and once again, I found a frog in the pond.

I am going to try to take a picture of a daffodil of the day for a while.  Here is today’s effort.

daffodil

There are peonies growing so fast that that they blurred the shot.

peonies

And there was a good number of bees buzzing about.  Unfortunately they were mostly interested in the hellebores and as the hellebores’ heads hang down, it was hard to get a picture of the bees visiting.

bee on hellebore

Spot the bee.  There is one in each frame.

I am very happy to see that the redpolls are still coming and there were more than two today.

edpoll

The feeders were busy….

chaffinch approaching feeder

…but so was I so I didn’t get many shots.

I had time for a short cycle ride after an early lunch and I was able to discard a layer or two in the sunshine and wear mitts instead of gloves.  This was very welcome but it didn’t make me pedal any faster.

I made a short diversion to look at the alder catkins….

alder catkiner

An interesting shape but still no females flowers to be seen.

…and enjoy the rippling of the little burn beside the tree.

arrisgill  water

I had a much better view from the top of Callister than I had had on my last ride and I have no doubt that readers will be as surprised as I was to see that the turbines at Minsca were not turning, a very rare situation.

minsca windfarm

It was even odder than usual because the wind turbines on the Langholm side of the hill had been going round.  Some freak of land shape must have directed the wind in one way and not the other because there was no breath of wind on my cheek when I took the picture above but after noting a fine lichen on a nearby wall…

lichen on wall

…and being mightily impressed by the clouds behind Langholm…

clouds over callister

…I found a light but distinctly helpful wind behind me as I cycled down Callister and back home…

celandine

…passing turbines that were turning and this lesser celandine on my way.

I had time for a shower and a final look around before I went to Carlisle to pick up Mrs Tootlepedal from the station.  She had come up from London in the company of my stepmother, Patricia who is visiting us for a few days.  The weather had been horrible in London so they were very pleased to find the sun shining in Carlisle.

We hadn’t been in the house for long before it started to rain rather unexpectedly.  However, it was very nice to see that the weather gods were only using the rain to provide a high quality welcome home for Mrs Tootlepedal.

rainbow

Mutter, mutter mutter, “Those telephone wires always spoiling a picture,” mutter, mutter, mutter.

rainbow

Ah, that’s better.

The rain didn’t last long and I took a moment to check the feeders before we had our tea.

greenfinch

After our evening meal, Patricia, Mrs Tootlepedal and I had a gentle and pleasant walk along the river in the gloaming.  Rather annoyingly,  two goosanders swam past us, safe in the knowledge that the light was far too poor now for photography.

The flying bird of the day, in the nick of time, was that greenfinch I saw before tea.

flying greenfinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from Dropscone’s recent holiday trip to Mablethorpe.  He was gratified to find that they had erected a fine carving of him in honour of his arrival.  (He doesn’t usually wear the crown when he comes for coffee.)

mablethorpe

The forecast had been for snow, rain and strong winds so we were pleased (but not totally surprised) to find the sun shining brightly when we got up.  Even with just a light breeze, it was pretty cold though.

The weather made a drive to Carlisle pleasant enough except that it was for the purpose of putting Mrs Tootlepedal on a train to London.  She is going to visit her mother for a while and she will be sorely missed here.

I combined  my taxi work with a little shopping and got back to Langholm in time for lunch.

Then I combined making a cheese toastie with looking out of the window.

It was a mainly chaffinch day today…

chaffinch

…though a goldfinch turned up and tested out the fat balls which I have recently added to the bird feeding supplies.

goldfinch

It didn’t stop.

There was plenty of chaffinch action….

chaffinches

…though the little blighters would persist in being just off the edge of the frame.

_DSC2693

Every now and again, one did hit the centre of the viewfinder…

_DSC2691

….and possibly another chaffinch half a second later.

After lunch, I cast a speculative eye on the weather and thought that I might risk the 40% chance of rain offered by the forecast and do a brief five miles up and five miles back along the Wauchope road.

It started to drizzle almost as soon as I had set out but I persevered in the hope that it would stop.  Then it started to rain quite hard but once again I persevered in the hope that it would stop.  After I had done three soggy miles, it did stop. The sun came out.

I looked behind me….

rain cloud over Wauchope

…and decided not to go back the way that I had come but to take a wide circle round to the right under that blue sky in the hope of dodging the black cloud.

This turned out to be a very wise decision and I enjoyed a rain free ten miles back to Langholm.

There were quite a few threatening clouds about so I pressed on but after they all passed me to the north, I felt confident enough to stop for a photo opportunity at Irvine House…

Irvine House bridge

…just to show what a nice day it was.

I looked at the wall beside the road.

lichen

Half a mile further on, I looked back across the Esk valley…

view of Eskdale

I made one last stop when I found a small bunch of coltsfoot beside the main road.

coltsfoot

My timing was good because not long after I had got home, another heavy shower drove me out of the garden.

Before the rain came, I had had time to notice the first chionodoxa of spring….

chionodoxa

…and then the second, third and fourth ones too.

P1080538

I checked on the frog spawn in the pond and in spite of some frosty mornings, it looks as though there is a strong possibility of tadpoles surviving.

tadpoles

Time will tell.

A moment of sunshine tempted an unwelcome visitor to take a nap on a flower bed.

cat

I wouldn’t mind if it didn’t keep trying to catch the birds at the feeder.

Between cats and sparrowhawks in the garden and pesticides in the fields, little birds have a hard time.

I started work on getting the new raised beds into place and in between showers  this afternoon, I made some progress.

Having received some excellent pizza making tuition from my son, I made one of my own for my tea.

pizza

It was not quite up to his standard but it was quite tasty.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I played some music while Mike sipped an exotic beer and watched Gardener’s World on the telly.  This was their first visit for some weeks as they have been in New Zealand visiting family and it was good to get back to playing again even though I was rather rusty.

The flying bird of the day is one of the many chaffinches.  There was no other choice today.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit my sister Mary paid to the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park a day or two ago.  It seems like a very good place to visit at this time of year.

Isabella Plantation, Richmond Park 29.04.17

We had yet another dry and windy day today but it was a bit warmer than it has been and by the afternoon, it was very pleasant in the garden.

I couldn’t take advantage of the morning sunshine as I was on duty in the Welcome to Langholm office in the Market Place, ready and willing to give out advice and information to any passing tourists.   In the absence of floods of visitors (there were four), I was entertained by Dropscone, who dropped in, and kept busy by Archive Group work when he went so the time passed agreeably.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden when I got home.  I had a look round and was very pleased to see an Aglais Io, better known as a peacock butterfly…

peacock butterfly

…the first of the year in the garden.

As I looked at the butterfly, a sparrow sang out from the rowan tree nearby.

singing sparrow

The trillium was fully out….

trillium

…and was looking very handsome.

The early tulips are beginning to go over but there are still some looking very good….

tulip

…and there is no doubt that a little sunshine goes well with a tulip.

After lunch, we set about trimming the hedge along the road.  We have bought a battery powered hedge trimmer and the new battery technology is very smart so the machine is quite light to use and the battery lasts well and charges quickly.  It made doing the job quite enjoyable.

road hedge

Before

road hedge

After – half an hour later

Unfortunately, there is an old fence in the middle of the hedge and it makes it impossible to trim it with knife edge creases but we like the informal air the wobbly edge gives the hedge….and there is nothing we can do about it anyway.

While I was recovering from the hedge trimming, I wandered about aimlessly, greeting some old friends as I went along.

bright flowers

It was a lovely afternoon

The parrot tulips have come fully out…

parrot tulip

…but I am a bit disappointed with the results which were a bit messy.  Maybe the frosty mornings didn’t do them any favours.  They may develop so I will keep an eye on them.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s dark tulips from Alnwick have survived the frosts and winds well and are looking very striking.

tulips

Mrs Tootlepedal cleared a lot of weed out of the pond and we put the hose on to fill it up a bit but the tadpoles seem quite unaffected by the disturbance.

tadpoles

I was soon feeling perky again after my rest so I got the scarifying machine out and scarified and then mowed the middle lawn.  It didn’t have quite as much moss as I expected and the task was quite easy and soon completed.

The lawn looked very reasonable for this time of year…

middle lawn after scarifying

…but it didn’t take long for the wrecking crew to arrive and mess it up again.

jackdaws on lawn

I went in for another rest and while I was inside, I looked out of the kitchen window at the birds…

siskins

A pair of siskins looking each other in the eye

perching birds, redpoll and greenfinch

Today’s perching birds, redpoll and greenfinch

…and out of an upstairs window at the gardener at work planting poppies and cornflowers.

siskins

The daffodils are gone and we are in the time of tulips

The front lawn looked so inviting that when my flute pupil Luke rang to say that he couldn’t come for his lesson, I went out and scarified and mowed it as well.  This turned out to be much harder work than the middle lawn and it took a big effort to clear all the moss off it.

As a result, I didn’t have long for my tea before it was time to go out to play trios with Mike and Isabel.

We played our way through all or part of six sonatas and felt that we had done very well by the time that we had finished.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch….

chaffinch

…and I don’t suppose that you thought that I could walk past the anemone on such a cheerful day without stopping for a glance.  You were right, I couldn’t.

anemone

Hand painted by mother nature.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce, who recently met this Glasgow tram at the Crich National Tramway Museum.  It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘going to university’

glasgow tram

We had what is probably the last of our superbly sunny spring spell today.   As is all too common in life, instead of being out in the sun, I had to sit inside the Welcome to Langholm visitor centre for two hours in the morning as it has just opened for the new season.

At least I did get a couple of visitors to welcome and I was able to to spend some useful time putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database so, although I would have preferred to be out cycling, it wasn’t time wasted.

I was also in a  very good mood as Dropscone had come  round for an early cup of coffee before I went to work, bringing a mountain of drop scones with him.  These disappeared so quickly as we drank our coffee that we could only consider that they must have been of the very top quality.  Naturally, as Dropscone had made them.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden, having already put an undercoat of paint on another door upstairs.  I got the mower out and finished pressing the moss on the middle lawn and then I had a wander round.

There are a host of daffodils now…

daffs

…and new flowers as well.

bergenia and a mystery flower

A bergenia and a mystery flower. Mrs Tootlepedal can’t remember what it is called.

tulip and magnolia

Hints of things to come

Pulsatilla

A Pulsatilla, our entry into the hairiest plant of the year competition

The pond was alive in the sunshine.

tadpole

A tadpole wriggles away from the heaving mass

frog

A frog thinks of things.

After a late lunch and a quick look out of the window…

chaffinches

A forceful male berates an oncoming female chaffinch

…I did a bit more mowing and sieved some compost and then I got the fairly speedy bike out and went off to stretch my legs.

I went far enough to see how the alder catkins are doing….

alder catkins

…but I didn’t get too far before I remembered that a friend had told me this morning that the wild goats on Langholm Moor were feeding right beside the road and would make a good photo opportunity.  I went back home and picked up Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike Tinker and we went off on a goat hunt.

We saw the goats (Mike spotted them) but the phrase ‘beside the road’ did not spring to mind as they were grazing a good distance from us to say the least….

wild goats

…and they had managed to find the only spot on the moor where a photograph might be spoiled by electricity lines.

Even with the zoom at full blast, they were too far away but you could see their fine horns.

wild goats

We couldn’t wait about too long as I had to be home in time for my flute lesson.  We did stop for a moment on the way back because a small group of bird watchers were having a good time watching hen harriers and we wondered if they were in view.  There was only time for the briefest glimpse of a female before we had to move on.

After a glance at my favourite view….

Ewes valley

…and Mike’s cherry tree as we dropped him off…

cherry tree

…we got home in good time for another look round the garden….

aubretia

The first aubretia has appeared

….and for my flute pupil Luke, who came for his lesson.  We are going to concentrate on tone production and technique for a week or two so I will have to practise hard myself if I am to set a good example.

The flower of the day is a scilla.  It is a pity that to get the best view of them, you have to be about three inches tall.

Scilla

The flying bird of the day is a passing chaffinch.

chaffinch

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Today’s picture, sent to me by my friend Bruce, shows the view across the sea to the Mull of Kintyre, with not a mist covered mountain in sight.

Mull of Kintyre

There were no mist covered hills here either today as we enjoyed a cloudless sky from dawn until dusk and beyond.  There was a little more breeze about so I was glad to have got my cycling done yesterday.  Today, I took things more easily.

After a late breakfast, I went out to commune with the tadpoles…

tadpoles

… tidy up a rather ragged blackcurrant bush and pick the first rhubarb of the season.

Then Dropscone and Sandy came and we enjoyed scones and coffee before Sandy went off to do a short spell in the Information Hub and Dropscone retired to get his mental preparations for playing golf in order.

I went out to join Mrs Tootlepedal who had been gardening away all morning.  Together we emptied and moved a long term compost bin.  Mrs Tootlepedal was fettling up the gooseberry bush and its bed so I provided her with a barrow load of rough compost.  Bin D is emptying rapidly and it will soon be time for another burst of compost shifting.

The bright sun had persuaded the tulips to put their whole hearts into opening up to salute it…

tulips

…and it was positively warm outside at last.

After lunch, Sandy came round again and we drove down to Gilnockie Hall…

gilnockie hall

…and embarked on a walk of just under two miles.  Sandy is recovering well from his operation and this was a test for him which he passed with flying colours.

Before we had even got going, we were very interested to see a (very) early small tortoiseshell butterfly visiting a dandelion beside the hall.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

Our walk took us through the North Wood and down onto the old railway line..

Claygate walk

..in delightful conditions.

The old railway line sometimes runs on embankments and sometimes through cuttings…

old railway at Gilnockie

…but we were quite surprised to see that this section…

old railway at Gilnockie

…which looks unremarkable, crosses a handsome bridge which we had never noticed on previous outings.

You wouldn’t think that you could miss a bridge of this size.

old railway bridge at Gilnockie

We had to scramble down the banking to get to the track below but we thought that the effort was worthwhile.

The little tunnel was beautifully constructed….

old railway bridge at Gilnockie

…and is a tribute to the workmen who built the railway line without the aid of modern machinery over 150 years ago.  It was home to a magnificent colony of spleenwort.

There were other things to notice too.

Strange plants were nosing up through the earth.

giant northern horsetail

I think that this is a giant northern horsetail, described as a living fossil as it has been on the go for more than a hundred million years (according to Wikipedia).

Some more modern plants were available too.

willow

We passed interesting equines in a field belonging to a livery stables.

Thorniewhats

Thorniewhats

And there was evidence of the old railway to be seen…

gilnockie station

…as we passed the old platform, the site of the level crossing and the station house, now a private dwelling.

As we walked back along the road to Sandy’s car, we noticed a magnificent dandelion in the verge

dandelion

We felt that, although short, the walk had been very good value.

When I got home, I mowed the greenhouse grass and and put a dose of buck-u-uppo on the middle lawn while Mrs Tootlepedal got the strimmer up and neatened up the edges of everything she could find.

There was time to look at a flower or two.

forsythia and violet

A bold forsythia and a shrinking violet

By the way, did I mention the the tulips were out?  They really were.

tulips

Then it was four o’clock and time for tea and a sit down all round.

In the evening we went to our Langholm Choir and a had a good time singing a madrigal and three songs from the great American songbook.

It was such a glorious and cloudless day that I thought that I ought to show that the sky was still clear at ten o’clock in the evening.

moon

The flying bird of the day is a regulation chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture shows a very striking bald eagle which Fiona, my Newcastle correspondent met.  I expect that she had her children with her too.

Bald eagle

Like yesterday, it was a day of sunshine and showers again today which made planning a bit of a lottery.

I was busy in the morning making sour dough bread and slow cooked beef stew, followed by a visit for coffee from Dropscone.   In a mentally dislocating manner, he had brought Friday treacle scones with him although it was Monday.  They tasted just as good though.

The frequent light showers interrupted my time spent staring out of the window…

goldfinch in rain

A goldfinch battles through the rain

…but didn’t discourage the birds from coming  to the feeder….

siskins

A full house of siskins

…although several visits by the sparrowhawk during the day did discourage them.

sparrowhawk

It took a dim view of me taking its portrait.

The birds return remarkably quickly after the hawk has gone.

We are running an equal opportunities feeder here.

chaffinches

Male and female chaffinches are equally welcome.

In between showers, I wandered round the garden.  The ripples of spring are apparent.

primula and euphorbia

Signs of progress from primula and euphorbia

hyacinth and scilla

But no more movement from grape hyacinth and scilla

However, there is definite progress on the frog front.  The adults have gone but the tadpoles are showing wriggly signs of life.

tadpoles

There are daffodils on all sides and they should be in their full glory soon.

daffodils

The primulas are working hard…

primulas

…and the prize goes to this bunch which Mrs Tootlepedal transplanted recently and which are obviously happy in their new home.

primulas

My back is rather sore at the moment, probably because of the exercises that I am doing to help my hip so I am going to give up the hip exercises for a while and see if things improve.  It will be rather annoying if I can’t do the hip exercises as they have been very good value.

The sore back made me choose a cycle ride after lunch rather than a walk.  Dr Velo is very good on back pain and not only makes it go away while you are cycling but also lessens it after you have stopped.

I tried to find a moment when the sun was shining and it wasn’t raining and I was largely successful as I was only rained only once and for a very short time at that.  I couldn’t do anything about a brisk wind though and struggled out for ten miles at just under 10 miles and hour into the wind and floated back at 17 mph with it behind me, whistling popular airs as I went along.

Because of the wind, I was happy to stop for a photo or two on the way out.

I went look for an alder tree to see if I could see a male catkin and a female flower.  The catkin was easy enough but the female flower needed a calmer day and a steadier hand.

alder

I noticed a very colourful rock on a wall and wondered if it had been painted.  It had….but by nature not man.

Bigholms wall

I thought that it was worth a closer look.

lichen

The pattern of sunshine and showers continued and as I was sitting at the computer sifting through the day’s pictures after the pedal, I heard the rain and saw the sun.   That meant one thing and I rushed upstairs.

rainbow

I needed a wider angle lens to catch the whole bow.

I moved along and saw the end coming right down to the ground.  Someone in Caroline Street must be the happy owner of a pot of gold.

rainbow

I would have liked the picture better without the wires across the middle.  Photoshop obliged.

rainbow

That’s better.

In the evening, I went across to Lockerbie to collect Mrs Tootlepedal from the station there.  Once again sunshine and showers came with me and the drive was a visual treat and a pothole nightmare at the same time.

Coming back with Mrs Tootlepedal, the rain stayed off and with the sun now behind us, I could see the potholes earlier so I had more time to enjoy the light, at first golden and then pink as the sun set.

The stew turned out well, the bread less so but as I have Mrs Tootlepedal back home, nothing can mar my sense of contentment.

The flying bird of the day is that persistent sparrowhawk, making off with empty claws, (not a brilliant picture but a welcome change from the incessant chaffinches).

flying sparrowhawk

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