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Today’s guest picture is another from Dropscone’s Highland holiday.  He and his daughter Susan found a very steep gorge to walk along, but Susan made sure that he didn’t go too near the edge.

Highland gorge

After yesterday’s excitements. I was very happy to a have gentle morning with nothing more exciting than a cup of coffee and a treacle scone with Dropscone to keep me entertained.  When he left (with some of our surplus runner beans), I went out and had a wander round the garden.

After last night’s rain, it was dry and quiet and the garden was full of birds.  Some were easier to spot than others…

blackbird and thrush

…and some were very easy to spot indeed.

six starlings

Crown Princess Margareta is ignoring cold mornings and rainy evenings and producing more late flowers all the time.

four roses

And generally, flowers are lasting well.

four garden flowers

It was rather cool and gloomy though so I went back in and settled down to being baffled by a tricky crossword and this helped me pass the time until Mrs Tootlepedal returned.  She had spent the morning talking to the public about the proposed community land purchase and had had some very interesting and useful conversations.

After lunch, she went back to talk to people again and i mowed the greenhouse grass and pottered around the garden.

I am very happy to see the dahlias continuing to make up for their slow start.

two dahlias

The insects are pleased too.

pair of dahlias

The day brightened up and a couple of red admiral butterflies  arrived.

two red admiral; butterflies

I had thought that the Abyssinian gladioli had come to the end of their run but a single flower has popped up to say that they are not all dead yet.  It has been joined by a surprising lone Sweet William flower.

gladiolus, sweet william, verbena, sedum

The verbena attracted a bee but the sedum  had no friends.

When Mrs Tootlepedal came back, we decided to go for a walk and drove a few miles up and out of the Esk Valley and down into the valley of the Tarras Water to take a walk along the river there.

There was plenty of water in the Tarras…

tarras at bridge

…and the track was muddy and full of puddles in places so we had to keep an eye on where we were walking.  We were able to pause and look around though.

We were struck but the look of this conifer plantation.  It is not at all usual to be able to see the trunks of the trees like this and we wondered what had caused the trees to grow so thinly.

spruce trunks

We followed the track into a wood and met a fine crop of horsetails.

equisetum detail

We followed a trail up the hill through the woods…

tarras wood track

…which had been used by people going to fill the feeders for the pheasants….

pheasant tarras wood

…which have been put out in the woods for people to shoot at.

Although the season has just begun, there was no shooting today so we were able to enjoy our walk in peace.

The sun came out as we walked and the wood looked delightful…

tarras wood sunlit

…whichever way we turned.

tarras wood into sun

It was notable that the birch trees here had almost all lost their leaves already.

There was occasional fungus to see…

four fungi tarras wood

…and the horsetails caught the low sun as we came back down the hill.

equisetum backlit

There were hints of autumn colour

tarras wood colour

…and it had turned into a beautiful evening for a walk.

tarras wood bank

We had our flu jabs yesterday before we went to Edinburgh and we don’t seem to have had any ill effects from them but we are both still a little below par so we enjoyed a quiet evening in watching supremely talented athletes running and jumping at the World Championships, perhaps wishing that we were still young enough to run about in a vigorous way too.

The flying bird of the day is a sparrow going downhill.

flying sparrow

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia’s visit to the low countries.  She found herself on a very straight section of an Amsterdam canal where one can see seven bridges in a row….if one has very good eyesight.

Amsterdam canal

It was a still and misty morning when we got up, and when I went to put the wheely bin out, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of web action in the hedge.

webby hedge

A helpful passer by pointed out a near perfect traditional web…

spider web

…but most of the webs were very fine and rather than having jewel like water droplets on them, the droplets were so fine that I had to enlarge the pictures before I could them.

webby wetness

I had hoped to go for  a cycle ride as it was not raining and there was hardly any wind, a perfect day to end September’s cycling, but unfortunately my slight cold had got worse and my chest was suggesting quite forcibly that any great exertion might not be a good thing.

I settled for bird watching…

bird not in hand

…and checking on the flowers.

six garden flowers

As they day warmed up, quite a few butterflies appeared and once again the few remaining buddleia flowers were a great draw.

three butterflies on buddeias

There are hardly any buddleia flowers left though, so other flowers were in use too…

three butterflies on various flowers

…though the sedums were not  popular at all.  This is a bit odd as they look to be in good condition and are usually a great magnet for butterflies.

After a while the mist cleared and the sun came out. It was pleasant enough for me to sit on the new bench for a while.  From it, I could admire the calendulas…

sunny calendula

…and the curly tongue of a butterfly on a rudbeckia…

butter with coiled tongue

…and a bee which didn’t mind sitting right next to me.

bee on rudbeckia close

Sitting on the bench made me think of the state of the lawn.  In spite of the rainy weather, it has been quite warm and the grass has been growing, so I got the mower out and gave the middle lawn a cut.

When I had cut it, I looked back at the bench.

midde lawn from far end

Although the lawn looks pretty good in the picture, it does have a lot of weeds in it…

weeds on lawn

…as I have gone off the idea of using weedkiller on the lawns.  I may have the strength to do some hand weeding over the next few weeks or I may just settle for having a green but weedy lawn.

I made some lentil and carrot soup for our lunch and then went off with Sandy to collect the pictures from the Camera Club’s exhibition at the Hub at Eskdalemuir.

The manager at the Hub was very enthusiastic about the exhibition and told us that it had been well received by visitors.   We had even sold three pictures.

Although the sun had gone in again, it was a fine afternoon with good light so the drive up and down the valley was no hardship at all.  I just wished that I had been able to get out on my bike.

When we got back, I dropped Sandy off at his house and then had a walk round our garden.  The St John’s Wort has got some late flowers and a fine selection of berries.

st john's wort with berries

After the success of mowing the middle lawn, I was going to mow the front lawn too, but when I looked at it, it seemed a bit tired so I got the scarifier out and gave it a light scarifying.  I was extremely pleased to find how little moss the sacrifier brought up, a great tribute to the moss eating lawn treatment.

I mowed off the results of the scarifying and the end result was quite satisfactory.

front lawn scarified

All this was more than enough exercise for the day and I went in and joined Mrs Tootlepedal who was relaxing after a little light gardening.

In the evening, while I played duets with my flute pupil Luke, she made courgette fritters to go with the last of the venison stew and a very successful tarte tatin.  I must say that as a way of eating apples, tarte tatin comes high on my list of good methods.

I think if anything, my cold seems to be getting a little worse so another day of good weather may go to waste tomorrow, but I can always hope for a miracle cure.

The (almost) flying bird of the day is a starling taking off from Irving’s holly tree.

nearly flying starling

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Today’s guest picture comes from our son Tony.  He noticed a small water wheel which has been installed not far from his house.  It has a helpful explanatory diagram drawn on the side of its hut.  It is providing power for some lights on a bridge.

burst

Just how lucky the agricultural show was to get a fine day yesterday was made clear by the rain which greeted me as I got up today.  It kept raining as I went to church to sing in the choir.  It was the harvest festival service today so it would have been nice to have some better weather to go with it.

When I got home, the rain died down to a drizzle and in between drinking coffee and doing some desultory tidying up against the return of Mrs Tootlepedal, I went out into the garden to have a look around.

I always like to see how raindrops sit on flowers and leaves….

wet michaelmas daisy

…and I found that I was not the only one interested in the Michaelmas daisies.

wet michaelmas daisy with hoverfly

The astrantia was attractive too.

astrantia with insect

One of the fuchsias that Mrs Tootlepedal moved has finally decided that some flowers would be a good thing….

transplanted fuchsia

…but it looks as though they might be too late with some cold weather forecast later in the week.

An insect visiting Crown Princess Margareta seems to be a bit lost.

Princess margareta rose

The silver pear has got quite a lot of little pears on it this year.  They are about the size of a cherry and unfortunately they are hard and inedible.

silver pear

The nasturtiums are still bringing their own little bit of sunshine into the garden…

yellow nasturtium

…and the late flowering nerines are looking very cheerful too.

nerine close up

By the back gate, the old fuchsia continues to surprise after a couple of very poor years.

backgate fuchsia

I went back indoors and looking out of the kitchen window, I though that I saw a sparrow on the lawn but a second glance told me that it was something else, so I snatched a poor picture of it as it hopped away.   I wonder if it is a wheatear but I would welcome a suggestion from a knowledgeable reader as to what it might be.

unknown lawn bird

At the far end of the lawn, a thrush was having its head turned by a showy begonia.

thrush and begonia

After lunch, I drove to Carlisle to sing with the Carlisle Community Choir and on my way, I passed over the bridge at Longtown.  There were traffic lights in place but there was no restriction on the traffic going over the bridge and the damage which had caused it to be closed yesterday looks minor.  I hope that the repairs won’t be a major business.

We were very pleased to welcome back our regular conductor Ellen at the choir practice and we worked as hard as we could to keep her happy.

After the choir was over, I was even more pleased to drive to station and pick up Mrs Tootlepedal.  She arrived back from London on a very punctual train having had a very enjoyable week there with our daughter and new granddaughter.

After a gloomy week of miserable weather in her absence, it is very good to have a ray of metaphorical sunshine back in the house.

The flying bird of the day was just passing by during the rainy morning.

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 my sister Mary and it features another Dale Chihuly glass artwork which she saw on her recent visit to Kew Gardens.

glass sculpture chihuly

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

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

two thrushes

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

four blackbirds

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

sparrows in a row

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

One blackbird sat in the rowan tree looking rather dishevelled,

ruffled blackbird

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

crocosmia

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

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

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

hazel nuts

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

Boyken burn

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

Boyken burn track

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

Boyken burn waterfall

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

Boyken burn crooked wall

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

Boyken burn ruin

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

Boyken burn view

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

Boyken burn telephone pole

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

Boyken burn Calkin

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

Boyken burn side issue

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

Boyken burn lichen

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

Boyken burn in spate

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

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

Boyken burn planting

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

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

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

Boyken burn fungi

…a very old and twisted tree…

Boyken burn tree

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

Boyken burn wild flowers

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

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

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

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

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

sparrow on fence

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Today’s guest picture  comes from my Somerset correspondent Venetia.  She is wandering abroad again and has ended up with her head in the clouds in Madeira.

Madeira

Our spell of good weather continues and although it means quite a bit of time spent watering in the garden, it is very welcome after two cold and rainy  years.

I had a look round the garden after breakfast.

The hydrangea on the wall of the house is developing well.

hydrangea

I was drawn to plant patterns, both straight and round.

plant patterns

And there were bees everywhere.

bees

Then Dropscone came round, bringing treacle scones with him and we had a cup of coffee or two before he went off to play golf.

After he left, I did some shredding of bits of box hedge as Mrs Tootlepedal is hard at work on a scheme to lower some of the box hedges round the front lawn.  This is very labour intensive and she is resolved not to cut too much before the last set of clippings has been shredded.

While I was in tidying up mode, I trimmed the hedge along the road….

trimmed hedge

…and swept up the trimmings and shredded them too.

I followed this by mowing the middle lawn and putting the sprinkler on it.

I was ready for lunch by this time but was distracted by a couple of really impressive bumble bees with bright red tails.  I think that they may be red tailed bumbles bees.  This is just a wild guess.

They liked the chives.

bumble bee

bumble bee (2)

After lunch, I got out my new bike and went for a cycle ride.  I couldn’t get up any real speed today, perhaps as a result of my busy morning, but this gave me the chance to look around as I went along.  There were any amount of wild flowers in the verges…

wild flowers Gair

A selection from the Gair road

wild iris

Wild iris near kennedy’s Corner

wild flowers near langholm

Some more from the bike path as I got near Langholm

The buttercups let me know that they felt a little undervalued considering how much colour they add to my journey…

buttercups

…so here is a patch of them at their best.

It wasn’t the wild flowers though that provided the most enjoyment for me today.  The sun was shining, the countryside was green and the pastoral views were a treat from start to finish.

fields from Gair roadfields from Gair road (2)silage cuttingsilage baling

It was twenty seven miles of leisurely pleasure.

When I got home, I found that the indefatigable Mrs Tootlepedal had been planting things out all over the garden.  Dahlias, cosmos, grasses and salvias had all found homes and I look forward to taking pictures of them as the weeks pass by.

I went out into the garden to do some watering and found another agitated blackbird…

blackbird

…but this seemed more to be a question of claiming territory as I couldn’t find anything that it should have been alarmed by and it soon flew off.

I was looking at the newly trimmed hedge when I noticed that it had a thrush sitting on it.  The thrush didn’t seem very impressed by my handiwork.

thrush

After tea, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a most enjoyable time playing music.  We don’t always get every note in exactly the right place but we always enjoy ourselves enormously.

I did try to get a flying bird picture but there are not a lot of birds coming to the feeder at present and with so much going on in the garden, it is not easy to find enough time to do a good flying bird job.  I found two siskins today….

flying siskins

…but I think that I am going to concentrate on finding a good picture to be flower of the day for the next few weeks.  If I catch a flying bird by chance, it will appear but I am mainly going to say it with flowers for a while.

The flower of the day today is Lilian Austin, a very pretty rose.

Lilian Austin rose

I would like to thank readers who have sent me good wishes for my health. I am just having a couple of precautionary checks while doctors consider this and that and I am quite rightly keeping extremely calm.

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from our friend Bruce who is enjoying good weather in Aberdeenshire near the former fishing village of Collieston.

Collieston

We had another day today which would have been very welcome in mid summer and it is becoming pretty clear that it will be very unlikely that summer, when it comes, could be any better than late spring has been.  It may well be all downhill from here on when this good spell ends.

Still, we are really enjoying the lovely weather while it lasts even though it does mean that quite a lot of garden watering is going on.

watering the lawn

I have given both lawns a soaking and Mrs Tootlepedal has been busy in the flower beds with hose and watering can.

I should add that we are not at all keen to get one of the torrential downpours which they have been getting in England.  A light shower would do very well.

I had an early look round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal.

I couldn’t get past the best of the rhododendrons without clicking my shutter finger.

rhododendron

The Rosa Moyesii is more modest but very pretty too.

rosa moyesii

I had to admit that I was wrong and Mrs Tootlepedal was right (there’s a surprise) because when I looked really closely at the Veronica, I could see that it is blue after all and not pure white at all.  I had to look pretty hard though.

veronica

A blackbird took a good look and agreed that it was blue.

blackbird

Our walnut tree is almost fully clothed.  It is one of the last trees to get its leaves.

walnut

I didn’t have the long to enjoy the morning sunshine as I was doing my very last stint in the Welcome to Langholm Office.  After many years, I have decided to retire as a welcomer.  I had quite a few people to welcome today but I still had enough time to put two weeks of the newspaper index into the Langholm Archive database.

While I was at work welcoming people, Mrs Tootlepedal was also doing some welcoming. A friend from the choir and her partner, Anita and Nick who live in Canonbie, had been visiting the dentist in Langholm and took the opportunity to come round and look at our garden which they had seen on this blog.  They gave the new bench a test and declared that it was as good as sitting in a National Trust garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal was very pleased at such a nice compliment.  Not being a photographer though, this whole event went unrecorded.

I passed a gull as I crossed the suspension bridge on my way home at midday…

gull

…it was probably wondering where all the water has gone, The river is very low.

There was plenty to see in the garden when I got there.

Beside the front door, another clematis has just come out…

clematis front door

…and almost hidden beside it, is a tiny lily of the valley.

Lily of the Valley

Across the drive, Mrs Tootlepedal has some very vigorous variegated hostas.

hosta

After lunch, I mowed the greenhouse grass and the drying green and then got my cycling gear on and took the new bike out for a spin.  It was really very hot and I was wondering if I would get cooked but luckily,  a surprisingly cool and steady wind kept me at a reasonable temperature and I enjoyed a thirty mile run which brought my total on the new bike up to 250 miles.    I think that I can safely say that it is going to suit me very well.

I wasn’t the only one keeping cool.

bull keeping cool

The verges were full of interest.  I saw these flowers when I stopped for a drink after ten miles.

Gair road wildflowers

And I saw these beside the old A74 near Kirkpatrick Fleming.

Old A74 wildflowers

The dandelions may have gone over but there was ample yellow colour near Sprinkell…

Sprinkell road (2)

…and looking ahead at this point, I think anyone would have to admit that it looks like a good day and place for a pedal (even taking the vast amount of traffic into consideration).

Sprinkell road

When I got back, I had time to admire the Japanese azalea…

Japanese azalea

…before my flute pupil Luke turned up.  We are making steady progress even though wonderfully sunny weather does not make flute practice the first thing one thinks of doing.

After a really nourishing tea of mince and tatties, I went out and sat on the new bench and admired some late colour.

evening colour

Then I mowed the middle lawn and trimmed the edges which was a good way to end the day.

Mrs Tootlepedal had seen a baby thrush in the garden while I had been out cycling and when she came out to admire the lawn, she spotted it again.   I fetched my camera and found that it had flown up onto a fence and was making quite a noise.

Baby thrush

Curiously it was joined not by its mother but by a blackbird which was making a noise too.  Then a small flock of sparrows started to join in and I went over to see what the racket was all about.

It was a dratted cat, stalking about among the flowers below, seeing what little birds it could snaffle. In  my view, cat owners should feed their animals so much that they lose their appetite for birds…. or at least keep them in their own gardens.

I shooed the cat away and there were no fatalities.

The mother thrush, flew up to join her infant and she became in that moment, a quite unusual flying bird of the day.

flying thrush

 

 

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