Posts Tagged ‘tree creeper’

Today’s guest picture of helmet hair was sent to me by my Maine correspondent.  She had been for a 13 mile cycle ride and tells me that she, Laurie is in the picture  with her husband Clif . They live in Winthrop, Maine, and that picture was taken at Norcross Point, which is by Maranacook Lake in Winthrop.

Helmet heads

There was  no chance of me getting a helmet hair shot today as I woke up with a very bad back and struggled to walk let alone cycle.   I have had long standing back problems but today’s trouble was a nasty surprise as I have been quite pain free and flexible for some time.  It was probably caused by something as simple as sitting in an unaccustomed chair and will soon go away with careful use.  Still, it wasted a genuinely warm and sunny day which was a pity.


I staggered out into the garden after breakfast just to record the sunshine.

I really liked this crumpled paper poppy with a bee flying in.


That completed my activity for the morning.

The other surprise of the day was a triumph of good service.

A few days ago I decided to take advantage of a part exchange offer from WEX, a photographic supplier.  I sent off the details of the the lens I wanted to exchange and got a very good offer which I accepted. The firm sent me prepaid labels and I posted off my lens on the understanding that they might well alter their offer when they had examined the lens closely.

I thought that the offer was a bit too good to be true and wondered whether my description of the lens as ‘lightly used’ might be a bit optimistic.  The firm rang me and told me that their examiner had indeed downgraded my view of the state of the lens by a grade and naturally, I feared the worst.  Would the offer be halved?  It had seemed too good to be true.  I held my breath.

The price will have to be reduced they said.  Then they told me by how much and I breathed out.  Since the reduction was only about 8% of the total this was but a trifle and I accepted the new valuation with alacrity.

When I rang up the sales team half an hour later, my trade in was safely credited to my account and I was able to purchase not only the new lens that I wanted but a new photo printer to go with it.

This was yesterday.  The printer and the lens arrived today! I don’t believe that I have ever received such prompt, fair and reliable service.

To add to my happiness, the printer was soon set up and worked well.

As far as the lens went, Mrs Tootlepedal drove me up to the Moorland Feeders and I pointed it at some birds.  It is early days but it looks quite promising to me.  Here is a selection of the results.

blue titcoal titcoal titgreat titblue tittree creeperwoodpeckerwoodpeckergreefinchchaffinch

For the technically minded, the new lens is a Sigma 150-600mm and it should let me improve the quality of my bird pictures when I have mastered it.

On our way home, Mrs Tootlepedal first stopped to buy a battery for a humane cat scarer which she recently purchased as she is fed up with cats making a mess of her flower and vegetable beds and then stopped again at the Kilngreen.

I was hoping for a flying gull to test the new lens but instead I found Mr Grumpy sitting down, a most unusual sight indeed.


Perhaps he had a bad back too.

When  we got home, my back was eased enough to let me mow the middle and front lawns although my mower pushing style was a bit inelegant.

Then I took a picture or two.

Cat scarer

The cat scarer in position. It works with ultrasonic noise.

The handbook says darkly that it doesn’t work at all on deaf cats….or white cats…or very old cats…or perhaps any cats.  They offer no guarantees.  We shall see.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hanging the onions up to dry in the greenhouse.


The last of the rambler roses.

rambler rose

Then I went in and sat down for the rest of the day.

There have been quite enough birds already in the post so no flying bird of the day in any shape or form.

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my Somerset correspondent, Venetia,  who is visiting my sister Mary in London.  She was as surprised to see this rhododendron on Mary’s garden as I was to get her photo of it.  They must really be ahead of the game down there.

Mary's rhododendron

You couldn’t see much at all here in Langholm as we had a day of mist and the surrounding hills were blotted out.  Mrs Tootlepedal had to go to Annan on business and I spent a moment or two seeing if any birds had returned to the garden….


Female and male siskins

…and was pleased to see that a few had come back.


A blackbird with a touch of white about it.

I didn’t stop too long though, as I wanted to get a cycle ride in before lunch.  I only just got back in time because the mist slowed me down on the single track road over the hill….

Bloch road

…and I didn’t want to bump into any delivery van in a hurry.

To be fair, it wasn’t only the mist that slowed me down.  My legs were not in the mood to rush about after yesterday’s ride.  Under the circumstances, it was lucky that I was only doing a little twenty mile tour of nether Canonbie and back and I made it home at bang on one o’clock.

I added a minute to my time when I stopped to take a sombre picture of a tree on the old road near Irvine House which has now been by-passed.  I thought that the gloomy day deserved a black and white picture to go with it.

tree near Irvine House

After lunch, Sandy arrived.  We had been thinking about a walk but in the relentlessly grey mist, that didn’t seem so attractive and we decided to go up to the Moorland bird hide and see if we could persuade the birds to come very close to us.

The pheasants didn’t need persuading.  Quite the reverse.


The male sat on the gate without moving as we drove up and got out of the car and the female jumped onto the tree stump and stole all the seeds that Sandy had carefully put out to attract smaller birds.  No amount of shouting and rude words could shift her until she had eaten the lot.

There were quite a lot of the usual birds flitting about, woodpeckers, chaffinches, greenfinches, siskins and all sorts of tits and as the tits came nearest, I concentrated on trying to catch as many of them as I could.

great tit blue tit and coal tit

A mixed bag of great tit, blue tit and coal tit

great tit

A great tit gets ready to attack the nuts

blue tits

Total blue tits

And my favourite of the day…

coal tit

A coal tit gets one of Sandy’s seeds before the pheasant arrived

coal tit


If you ever want to see a picture of a disappointed bird, this is the one for you.

Among the usual customers, we were offered a couple of treats.


Either one nuthatch came twice or two nuthatches visited once each.  Sadly from our point of view, they didn’t live up their name and wouldn’t come to the nuts which were closer to us than the seed feeder.  Perhaps these are rare seedhatches.

To the right of the hide, a tree creeper did live up to its name and crept up a tree.

tree creeper

Another one crept up another tree but it was just out of range.

On our way back home, we paused for a moment to watch a couple of men building a very extensive scaffolding platform for the bridge repairs.

Skippers Bridge repairs

I will try to keep an eye on these works as they develop.

Once home, we had a cup of tea and several biscuits with Mrs Tootlepedal and then Sandy went off after showing me some of the latest sterling photographic work he has been doing on the Langholm Archive Group website.  If any reader has time to spare, I can thoroughly recommend a visit to the photographic section of the site, where there are literally thousands of indexed pictures documenting the history of the town and its people.

In the evening, I met Sandy again, this time at the Buccleuch Centre where we were attending a concert by a Canadian band called Ten Strings and a Goatskin.

The ten strings were a fiddle and a guitar and the goatskin provided the percussion along with a wooden board on which the percussionist stamped with great enthusiasm.   Their website says that “the group is a bilingual folk/fusion trio from Prince Edward Island who present traditional and original music inspired by their Atlantic Canadian histories and roots, and infused with pop and world rhythms.”   That sums them up nicely.

They were slightly exhausting as slow numbers do not figure largely in their repertoire but they were very entertaining and they talked well between numbers.  They invited us to clap our hands or tap our feet along with them as they played but I wisely resisted as, had I tried to join in, the infusion of pop and world rhythms might well have led to a dislocated ankle.

I did get a flying bird of the day today in the mist.  An obliging chaffinch hung in the air for me.

flying chaffinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s visit to Greenwich.   You get a  good view of the London money grubbing machine behind the palace from the park there.

Canary Wharf from Greenwich Park

We had another calm, dry day and it was well above freezing so I had a choice of going for a morning pedal or going up to the Moorland bird feeders with Sandy.  As my legs were noticeably remembering that I had gone out cycling yesterday, I decided that the bird watching might be the thing to do.

I had time to look at our own garden birds before I left and was pleased to see a brambling among the usual suspects.

brambling, coal tit and blue tit

The decision to go to the hide at the bird feeders….

Laverock bird hide

…and spend an hour looking down this rather unprepossessing glade….

Moorland bird feeders

… turned out to be a very good one and Sandy and I were royally entertained by birds large and small.

There were pheasants of course….



…and tits, finches and robins….

chaffinch, robin and coal tit

…visiting the tree stump just outside the hide.

And of course there were woodpeckers too.


It was quite hard to get a woodpecker picture as there always seemed to be another one chasing off the one you were trying to shoot.  There were moments of peace and quiet though.


And on this occasion there was some icing  on the cake as well.

We not only saw a tree creeper….

tree creeper

…which crept up a tree and disappeared…

…abut we also we saw a nuthatch.


In fact the nuthatch appeared so regularly that we think that there must have been at least two on the go…


…as they appeared on both sides of the glade.


Whether it was one, two or three birds, it is always a great delight to see a nuthatch which I think is one of the most elegant of small birds so Sandy and I were in a very good mood when we came back for a cup of coffee.

I didn’t have long after coffee as Mrs Tootlepedal and I were going out for lunch but I found enough time to make up some cards for the newspaper shop to sell on behalf of the Archive Group.

Mrs Tootlepedal has been volunteering at the Buccleuch Centre and she was so impressed by the look of the food there that she took me out to lunch to try it.  She was right to be impressed as it was very good.

After lunch, we drove off to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh.  It was a gloriously sunny day by this time so the drive over the hills was a pleasure in itself.

At this time of year, Edinburgh is in the dark by the time that we get there so playing inside is the thing.  Matilda was in fine form and she and Mrs Tootlepedal and I built a bridge out of blocks.  This was a developing project which started small enough for a Dinky toy to get under the bridge but, as time went on, it was raised a bit and toy dogs and cats went through, then diggers and dumper trucks and then Matilda herself crawled through and in a final superb moment, her father managed to slide and slither his way underneath the edifice to universal applause.

After tea, Matilda and I played snap in an expansive way which involved quite a lot of running around (by Matilda) shouting, “Snap!” and laughing loudly.

The evening finished with some more considered play as shapes were pushed through matching holes on a block where Matilda was supervised by her mother Clare.


You can catch a glimpse of the bridge in the foreground

Our journey home was uneventful and I will sleep well tonight after such a vigorous time playing.

The disappearing flying bird of the day was one of the woodpeckers being chased off this morning.

flying woodpecker

Read Full Post »

Today’s guest picture shows Scott ready to ride at St Bees yesterday.  It was taken by Dropscone.  You can tell it was before the ride as he is still smiling.

Scott St BeesIt was a miserable, wet and windy morning and it emphasised how lucky we were to get one of the rare recent sunny days for our cycle ride yesterday.  Dropscone and Scott came round to review the event over coffee and scones and it turned out that I was the one who went wrong route-wise the least with just a few hundred yards to  re-navigate.  Scott had half a mile or so to retrace and Dropscone trumped us both with six miles extra and several hundred feet of bonus climbing to do after he followed another cyclist down the wrong road at a junction.  Fortunately for him, he made another duff route choice later on which cut a good chunk of distance and two more climbs off the route but he still did well over fifty miles.  On the plus side, he won his golf competition on Saturday.   In spite of these adventures, we were all pretty pleased to have got round.

There is not much to say about the rest of the morning and early afternoon except that the bad weather brought plenty of birds into the garden.

A goldfinch landing and settling on the feeder stand.

A goldfinch landing and settling on the feeder stand.


More goldfinches flying in every direction


Two chaffinches going beak to beak


But whatever the one on the right said, it upset the other one.


A soggy greenfinch came to join in the fun.

Later in the afternoon, the rain relented and Sandy came round for a walk.  We were going through the park when Sandy’s sharp eyes spotted a movement on a tree trunk.

tree creeper

It was a tree crepper.  You can just see it of you look hard. I only had Pocketcam with me so I couldn’t get a close up sadly.

We walked along the riverside path and were impressed by a flood of green on the banking.  It was sitting on a boggy pievce of ground between swathes of garlic and patches of bluebells and I have no idea what it was.

green patchThe bluebells were beginning to show a bit further along the bank.



Sandy getting down to business

When we got to the Stubholm, we decided to extend our walk by going round Gaskell’s.  I liked the subdued colours in this old barn wall.

StubholmAnd the light on the town and the hill behind was interesting too.

LangholmThe whole bank along one section of the path is now covered in fresh green saplings.

gaskellsThe moss beside the track was also in good form.

mossWe got round without getting wet which was a relief and as we had been well sheltered from the fierce winds, our walk was very enjoyable and it was good to give my legs a stretch after yesterday’s efforts.

In the evening, Susan drove me to Carlisle where we played trios and quartets (when the fourth member arrived after a short while) and had a most enjoyable session,  It was one of those nights when we seemed to be playing well enough to have space to listen to and appreciate the playing of the other members of the group instead of just playing our own notes with our heads down.

The forecast for the next couple of days is very poor so it looks as though I will have plenty of time to stare out the window at birds.  This was my flying bird for today.

flying goldfinch

Read Full Post »

Today’s frightening guest picture comes from a visit to the gardens at Alnwick by my Newcastle correspondent.  What lies behind the gate?  We can only wonder. Feral primroses perhaps?

AlnwickWe had another fairly chilly, grey day today but at least the wind had dropped so as soon as I could manage after breakfast, I got the fairly speedy bike out and set off towards Callister.  There was just a hint of rain in the air so I left my route plans flexible with the option of turning and running for home in the event of a deluge.

garmin 17 Mar 15The light wind and an absence of rain encouraged me up and over Callister and down the other side as far as Gair.  Once there, I weighed up my options.  I could turn and go back for a dull 22 miles or I could go on and take the back road to Chapelknowe for a circular 25 miles.  I sniffed the air and decided to go on for the circular ride.

I was a bit miffed therefore when I got to the junction with the back road to Chapelknowe to find that it was closed for several weeks.

Going back looked like a very dull choice now so I pressed on again and went home via Kirkpatrick Fleming and Canonbie.  Luckily this is an undemanding route as far as any hills go and I was able to manage the extra miles without too much bother,  The final total of 31 miles was a new best distance for my knee.

The chaffinches were busy at the feeder in the garden when I got home…..

chaffinches….but I was more interested in having a relaxing bath than standing at the window trying to hold a camera steady so I didn’t watch the birds for long.  I did put some chopped up suet balls out on the lawn and they attracted a good crowd almost immediately…

jackdaws and rooks…with some high quality bickering among the rooks.

rooksThe suet was soon gone and the rooks followed.

rooksAfter my bath, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a meeting and I took a very leisurely walk to the Kilngreen and the Castleholm.

Although the light wasn’t very good, I was hoping to see goosanders, oyster catchers, dippers, nuthatches and tree creepers.  I like to travel hopefully.

I didn’t see any goosanders but the mallards  made up for that.

mallardmallardThey even staged a fly past for me.

mallardI did see a dipper but before I could get my camera out,  it flew a bit further down the stream and did some vigorous dipping there.

dipperI didn’t see a nuthatch but I did see a tree creeper as I came to the Jubilee bridge.  By their nature they are quite hard to spot as they creep up trees, well camouflaged against the trunk.

tree creeperAs I walked along the banks of the Esk, there were lots of catkins to admire…

catkins…and I now know enough to look for the female flowers that hide shyly in the background.

hazelThe light was too poor for either of my cameras to do these delicate flowers justice.

hazelI was pretty tired when I got home but a short rest and a nourishing meal got me ready to go to Carlisle with Susan for our recorder group’s weekly get together.  There were only four of us this week and we had a steady evening of playing fugues by Mozart and Bach, fantasias by Purcell, Ludo and Byrd and several other pieces which I can’t remember owing to old age.  We ended with a Thomas Morley song and a set of Farnaby tunes so you can see that a good time was had by all.

I did see an oyster catcher too on my walk and it appears as flying bird of the day.

oyster catcher

Read Full Post »

This should have been an interesting post but WordPress seems to have eaten it instead of publishing it and it is too late for me to write it all again. I am going to try just to put the pictures in.  Dropscone has a new bike, we went for a nice pedal.  Sandy arrived and we visited Hermitage Castle.  I’m off to bed. Sorry.

Read Full Post »