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Posts Tagged ‘wagtail’

Today’s guest picture comes from a reader in Bucks Co., Pennsylvania. Spurred on by my biscuit making efforts, Lisa has produced her own Garibaldi biscuits which are very nicely presented.

It was a day of constant wind here today, often gusting at over 40mph. As a result, apart from going out for a very short street coffee morning, we had a quiet day indoors as there was definite danger of being blown over if you were not paying attention when you were in the garden.

To be truthful, I did spend a few moments in the garden after coffee seeing if I could get plants to stop waving about for long enough for me to get a picture. One or two obliged.

There were dancing feet to be seen on a Jacob’s Ladder….

…and a Veronica.

More flowers that survived the frost are showing which is a cheerful sight.

Old tulips are fading away gracefully while the Welsh poppies are doing their best to fill any gaps

A shy ranunculus has just come up. Its delicate colour is a challenge to my camera but the dull light this morning was helpful.

I couldn’t miss a second flower on the clematis at the front door. The front door variety may not have the huge number of flowers that the back door clematis has but each of its flowers packs a bit of a punch.

It didn’t take me long to get back inside out of the wind and I frittered away much of the rest of the morning reading newspapers, doing the crossword and looking at birds (and occasionally mentioning to Mrs Tootlepedal that there was a bit of a wind out there).

There were plenty of birds to watch. While the feeder was not very full, sparrows congregated on the bottom plate…

…and when I filled it, a siskin sensibly took the high road.

During the afternoon, a tentative beak appeared…

…which was followed by the rest of the bird…

…and a hearty snack ensued.

Now you know what a happy rook looks like

We did think about going for a walk after lunch but several punishing gusts of wind in quick succession, persuaded us that the chance of fun was strictly limited and we found more things to do indoors.

I put some accompaniments onto the computer so that I can play trios without breaking any isolating rules.

We have been cooking for ourselves since the lockdown began but following a suggestion from a friend, we applied to a local hotel for a hot meal to be delivered this evening, and bang on schedule delicious portions of fish and chips and vegetarian lasagna arrived from The Douglas, fully as tasty as they would have been if we were eating in their dining room.

However, this was a much more substantial amount of food than we have been used to eating, so afterwards I felt the need to ignore the elements and go for a walk to shake the meal down.

Luckily the wind had dropped a bit and the sun had come out and it was by no means a hardship to do a quick three bridges.

The church was looking good without the trees in front of it…

In spite of an inch of rain recorded by Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge over recent days, there was still not much water in the river but there were plenty of oyster catchers and a wagtail to be seen.

The nesting mother, the anxious father, and another pair further upstream The wagtail was wagging its tail.

I saw a goosander but as it had its head continuously under water and was trawling at speed, it didn’t offer a photo opportunity.

The brisk wind made things a bit chilly and I didn’t hang about too long as I went round the new path on the Castleholm and crossed the Jubilee Bridge…

…but as always, there were things to see along the way, like a thrush in the Clinthead Garden

It was very tame and hopped about until I had got my picture.

…and some neat planting there….

….trees and flowers on the Castleholm and Scholars’ Field…

…and the the heavily tree lined banks of the Esk as I crossed the bridge.

I was pleased to have taken some exercise, especially as the wind is due to continue for a day or two, so cycling is not on the menu until Monday at the earliest.

The flying bird of the day is one of the many sparrows about at the moment.

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Somerset correspondent, Venetia.  Owing to an easing in the lockdown in England, she was able to visit the Fragrance Garden at The Newt, and very pleased she was to be there.

fragrance garden

A quick examination of our garden this morning showed that the frost attack hadn’t been just been a bad dream, the azaleas and most of the rhododendrons were truly dead.

four dead flowers after may frost

And what was nearly as bad from my point of view was the discovery that all the potential plums had turned black (top right picture in the panel above). As a devoted plum eater, this was very sad news.  One of the espalier apples looks doomed as well and we can only wait to see what happens with the other two.

Wherever Mrs Tootlepedal looked, she seemed to be able to find signs of more damage on other flowers and shrubs but I wouldn’t want to say that there are no flowers left in the garden…

yellow and white survivors may frost

…with the ‘wilder’ flowers looking to have come through best.

six may flowers after frost

I will have something to photograph in the coming days.

six may colourful flowers after frost

Like this dicentra.

dicentra survivor

We did a lot of wandering around feeling unhappy but our usual socially distanced street coffee morning cheered us up.  Afterwards, Mrs Tootlepedal settled down to removing and shaping box hedge plants for most of the rest of the day.

I lent a hand now and then, and in between times mowed the front lawn.  Both lawns badly need some steady rain and some consistent warmth and they are not looking good at the moment.  However, my target date for having the lawns looking good is mid June and I haven’t given up hope yet.

It was rather grey with a chilly wind so I was happy that it was a walking rather than a cycling day, and after lunch I picked up my walking  poles, put on my walking shoes, and went for a walk.

As I walked along the Ewes Water, I saw wild flowers on the far bank and a wagtail on a rock (with a reflection below) and as I walked up the hill past the Estate Offices, I saw two black lambs.

wildflowers, wagtail, lambs

Our neighbour Liz had told me that the cattle had been taken off Castle Hill for a while, so this seemed like a good opportunity to walk up my least visited of the hills around the town.

There is a steep start to the track up the hill and I was happy to pause for a moment among the hawthorn trees to look across the valley at Whita Hill…

whita from castle hill track

..before heading on up the very dry track to the summit.

track and tree castle hill

I say summit, but that is perhaps allowing Castle Hill a little more majesty than it really has at a modest 270 metres (885ft) above sea level.

But you do get a good view from the top.

This is perhaps the best of view of Langholm from any of our four hills as you can see the whole town.

langholm from castle hill

You can also look up Eskdale…

esk valley from castle hill

…and Wauchopedale too.

wauchope valley from castle hill

Castle Hill lies on the end of a ridge and my route today  took me along the ridge.

potholm hill ridge

One of the joys of walking round Langholm is the good supply of easily attained ridges that offer fine walking with splendid view on every side.

As I went along, I could look down into the Ewes Valley on one side…

looking up ewes

…and when I got to the highest point on the ridge, Potholm Hill at 310m…

cairn potholm hill

…I got a fine view of the Esk valley on the other side.

You can see our local racing stable’s all weather training track in the foreground.

look over craig up esk

You can also see that there is a lot of forestry on the hills in Eskdale compared with the Ewes Valley…

looking up ewes from potholm hill

…but as I have remarked before, there will soon be a lot more trees up Ewes as sheep farms have been sold for tree planting.

I came down  the ridge to the little col between Potholm and Wrae Hills and turned down to meet the track back to Langholm, passing these three trees as I went.

three trees wrae hass

This section of the walk is usually very boggy but it has been so dry that I could have done the whole walk in carpet slippers without getting my feet wet.

I was soon back among green fields…

henwell

…and headed back past Potholm Farm towards Langholm.

Instead of sticking to the main track, I branched off into the woods above the track, following a minor track used by the pheasant keepers.  It was my intention to see if I could join up with the track that Mrs Tootlepedal and I had enjoyed last week when we walked into these woods from the far end.

The woods were dark after the airiness of being on top of the hill, and I began to wonder if I would find my way…

walk through woods above longfauld

…but fortunately I met a friend coming in the opposite direction, and she gave me some sound advice which I followed and I soon came to the track that I was looking for.

Unlike the hill, where the sheep had eaten everything except the occasional tormentil, there were plenty of wild flowers in the woods…

wild flowers longfauld woods

…and some sensational bluebells and wild garlic in the more open areas.

bluebells and garlic

This very lovely crop of speedwell deserved a solo picture in my view.

speedwell

I finished my walk by crossing a mass of dandelion clocks on the football pitch on the Castleholm…

dandelions castleholm

…and they told me that it was time for tea and a Garibaldi biscuit so I didn’t take any more pictures.

When I checked, I found that I had walked just under six miles and once again, I had had a wonderful variety of terrain and views on my short walk.  This is Walk 4 of the Langholm Walks (I had done it in the ‘wrong’ direction) and I can heartily recommend it to anyone who hasn’t tried it, especially just now when the going is dry underfoot and there are no cattle on the hill.

I had time for my tea and biscuit before my regular sibling Zoom meeting and then I sat down to a welcome meal of roast chicken prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal, washed down by a small glass of cider, part of the gift from our son Alistair and his wife Clare.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch, sneaking past the drops of water coming from the sprinkler that Mrs Tootlepedal was using to try to get a little moisture into our dry soil.

flying sparrow hose drops

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Today’s guest picture comes from my Welsh correspondent Kieron and shows a Welsh tree from Wales.

welsh tree

The wind was slightly kinder today but it was still very cold out in the garden, unless the sun was shining….which it did intermittently.

When it shone, I tried to be ready with my little camera.  Among the familiar faces of grape hyacinth, pulmonaria and cardamine, a dianthus, a dandelion and a daisy caught my eye.

six garden flowers

All the while, our resident blackbird kept its eye on what was going on.

blackbird panel

The tulips didn’t manage to come out as early as last year and it looks as though we might have to wait until April for them.

nearly tulip

The magnolia might just make it in March if we get a kinder day tomorrow.

magnolia

In spite of the chilly temperature, we spent quite a lot of time in the garden.  Mrs Tootlepedal worked on her vegetable beds and tidied up the flower beds, and I sawed logs as the tidy up of the log shed continued.  Then, under supervision, I gave shrubs a haircut and pruned the plum tree.

haircuts

I went very cautiously about this business because I had no ambition to repeat the plank trick.  In fact, in my sawing, I dealt with the offending plank and I think that I can safely say that I have cut it down to size. My nose recovered remarkably well from the bashing and Mrs Tootlepedal’s neat work with tape meant that the cuts were well healed today.

In the afternoon, we were serenaded by a dunnock in the walnut tree.  It spent a lot of time singing loudly though it wasn’t clear if this was to attract a mate or frighten off the competition.

dunnock in walnut

We had some suitably separated conversation with Mike and Alison whose permitted exercise took them past our front gate.  I will have to give up the meadow pipit battle and settle for them being song thrushes as too many people have told me that I am wrong now.

The weather got a bit warmer in the afternoon and I was able to sit on the new bench and enjoy the daffodils…

lawn and daffs

…and the cowslips.

cowslips

It was my intention to make some ginger biscuits and then go for a bike ride in the calm of the evening, but circumstances intervened.

I enjoyed this flock of dancing daffodils and went in to cook.

flock of daffs

And once inside, somehow or other I made a mess of the ginger biscuit weighing and measuring process and the mixture wasn’t right. I had to add a bit of this and that at a late stage and hope for the best.  But the best wasn’t forthcoming and the resulting biscuits were not up to standard at all.

Perhaps because of the bang on my head and perhaps because of the general situation at the moment, I got rather gloomy about life, biscuits, bicycling and everything else too, so I decided it might be better just to go for a short walk and not risk losing concentration while pedalling.

The weather looked a bit ominous as I set out…

impressive cloud castle hill

…and a few light spots of rain made me press on past a gull on a rock…

gull back

…and a tiny wagtail in the rain.

distant wagtail

The sky cleared again as I got to the Castleholm…

clouds and tree

…and I enjoyed looking at it through the trees.

tress and clouds

Pussy willows greeted me as I crossed the Jubilee Bridge

pussy willow

…and I liked the combination of sunlight, blue sky and clouds at the monument.

monument and cloud

Our neighbour’s flowering currant is in full swing and made a cheerful end to my walk.

flowering currant

In the garden, I saw the new and the old before I went in, the first of the Erythronium and the last of the Winter Jasmine.

trout lily and jasmine

The non flying bird of the day is a chaffinch on the feeder.  (Mike and Alison say that they have plenty of birds coming to their feeder.)

chaffinch on feeder

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Today’s picture is another from Venetia’s African odyssey in the course of which she seems to have seen just about everything you could expect to see if things went really well on such a visit.

Elephant crossing,

After the excitement of yesterday’s outing, I had a quiet day today.  The weather was quiet too, with a tiny spot of sun and a single drop of rain, but it was mostly grey and unemotional.

Although Mrs Tootlepedal is still a bit under the weather,  she managed to go out and sort out posters in the Welcome to Langholm office for forthcoming Buccleuch Centre events.  I had a look at the birds.

It was a hard stare and shouting day.

siskin warning chaffinch

I was suffering a bit from yesterday’s walk so I measured out visits to the garden in small doses but made the most of my time while I was out.

I started with a check on the developing magnolia…

magnolia flower

…and then set about shifting some more compost from Bin B into Bin C.  In spite of having a good cover on Bin B, the amount of rain we have had has made the compost wet and heavy so I am moving a modest amount at a time but I have got down to needing one more go after today’s effort.  Perhaps because of the moisture, the compost is full of worms this year which is a good thing.

I also sieved some of the compost in Bin D but as it is wet too, the sieving is more tedious than it should be so there is quite a lot of that left to do.

I took a picture of a newly flourishing bergenia…

bergenia

…and went back in looked out at the birds again.

They were still shouting.

goldfinch shouting

I had some nourishing soup for my lunch and watched the birds whizzing round the feeder…

busy feeder

…and I was delighted to see a stranger among the chaffinches, siskins and goldfinches.  A redpoll had come to call.

chaffinch and redpoll

I paid another visit to the garden to gather the material for a panel of primroses and primula…

primrose and primula

…and while I was out, I got the mower out and put the blades up high enough for me to be able to walk across the front lawn pretending that I was mowing it.

Basically I was just squashing moss, although a few blades of grass here and there stuck up enough to end up in the grass box.  It is the first step in a process that I hope will end up with the lawn looking quite respectable for one or two weeks in the middle of summer before the moss starts its inexorable return.  It is a pointless but amusing exercise.

I retired to my computer and added a new parish magazine from 1968, which Sandy had scanned and formatted, to our Archive Group website.

I was thinking of a very short walk or slow cycle ride but there was a hint of drizzle so I went back to my computer and put the accompaniment for the last movement of one of the pieces which I am playing with Luke into the kind programme that plays the keyboard and the cello part for us.

I got bored of sitting around in the end and in spite of the poor light, I went off on the slow bike to see if there were any birds down by the river.  Because the light was poor, there were birds on all sides.

I saw a pair of oyster catchers showing that one leg or two is all the same to them.

two oysdtercatchers with legs

I saw Mr Grumpy standing on the rock where the big gull usually stands.

mr grumpy in Esk

I saw a pair of goosanders both standing  out of the water for long enough for me to get a shot of them…

male goosander preening

…though the female had lost her head.

female goosander headless

All these were on the short stretch between the suspension and the town bridges.

I crossed the town bridge and stopped at the Kilngreen where a pied wagtail posed for a moment…

pied wagtail ewes

…while two mallards tried to sneak off unnoticed behind my back,

ducks sneaking off

I was talking to a fellow cyclist when a dipper flew past but it was too quick for me and all that was left was to catch the fine show of daffodils along the bank up to the Sawmill Brig.

ewes water daffodils

I pedalled gently across the bridge, up the Lodge Walks and then back along the riverside path….

Castleholm pine tree

…and then I went through the town up to Pool Corner where this fine crop of catkins caught my eye.

dangly catkins

I had one final look round the garden when I got home…

orange trumpet daffodil

…and enjoyed two of the different daffodils that Mrs Tootlepedal has planted over the years.

red trumpet daffodil

That pretty well concluded the excitement for the day apart from watching our local heroine Jilly making it through another day of Masterchef.

A chaffinch looking a bit uncomfortable is the flying bird of the day.

cricked chaffinch

Note: I see that Sandy has put a set of pictures from our walk at Watchtree yesterday onto his blog.  Those interested can see them here.

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Today’s guest picture is the last from Venetia’s trip to Madeira and shows a local flower.  It is an echium known as ‘The Pride of Madeira’.  As you can see, it is popular with the locals.

Madeira flower

The forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning is pretty gloomy with strong winds and rain predicted.  As I write this, I can hear the wind sighing round the house and the rain pattering on the windows and I can only hope that the forecasters are being excessively pessimistic as they often are and we will avoid any storm damage.

The last day of our good spell of weather was grey but still warm and with gentle winds in the morning.  We couldn’t make the best of it though as I had an early appointment at the new hospital in Dumfries to see a surgeon about my low iron count.

The drive was smooth and uneventful,  the newly planted meadows round the hospital were as interesting as before…

DGRI meadow

…and since I was seen promptly and sent home with no need for further investigations, the trip was very satisfactory.  The advice was to keep taking the tablets and eat more greens.  I shall do both.

While we were in the vicinity, we went to have coffee at the very good garden centre we visited last week and while we were there, three plants, some more lawn feed and a new garden hose reel insinuated themselves unobtrusively into our shopping trolley and we had to pay for them before we could get out.  Since we had just gone for coffee, this was very odd.

When we got home, there was a lot to do in the garden before the rain came.  During the afternoon, I mowed the drying green and sieved some compost for Mrs Tootlepedal to use in her planting out work.

Because it is a great deal easier to shift compost when it is dry, I also took the opportunity to shift the contents of Bin B into Bin C and I know that discerning readers will never forgive me if I don’t record this event.

compost bin c and d

The warm dry weather has speeded up the composting process a lot and made sieving and shifting an easy task.

I also wound on the front garden hose on to the new reel…

new hose reel

…though of course, the weather will now be so bad for the rest of the summer that we will never have to use it.

In  between times, I wandered round the garden to take as many pictures as I could to record the end of our good spell.   (I apologise for the number of pictures in today’s post.)

The vegetable garden is looking very well organised….

vegetable garden

…and I was able to have a good helping of Mrs Tootlepedal’s cut and come again salad leaves with my lunch.

Of particular interest to me was this…

strawberry fruit

…as I haven’t  netted the strawberries this year and I am hoping to pick as many as I can before….

blackbird

…the blackbirds notice them.

There are new flowers about.

day lilly, loosestrife and goldfinch rose

Day lily, loosestrife and the first Rosa Goldfinch

…and old friends are doing well.

astrantias

I tend to show close ups of astrantias so I thought I ought to show you the two colours on a broader scale.

At the top of the front lawn, the two box balls are in full colour…

golden box

…and all round the garden, the Sweet Williams that Mrs Tootlepedal has planted out are bringing some zing to the flower beds.

sweet william

On the house wall, the climbing hydrangea is looking healthy…

hydrangea

…and there is a constant buzz as you walk past it.

hydrangea with bee

The ‘ooh la la’ clematis is thriving….

ooh la la clematis

…and as it is in a very sheltered spot, I hope it survives the wind and the rain.

When I went in for lunch, I took the opportunity to watch the birds.

We have had daily visits from pigeons and collared doves recently….

pigeon

…and the supply of siskins and goldfinches seems endless.

goldfinch and siksin

I got the composting and mowing done before the rain started and then after a cup of tea with Mrs Tootlepedal, who had been busy on a task in the town, I decided to go for a walk as it was too windy for enjoyable cycling.

There was some occasional drizzle but not enough to discourage me.  We could certainly do with some rain as the ground is very dry and the rivers are extremely low.

River Esk low

Somewhere along the gravel at the left hand side of the river in the picture above are five oyster catchers but I had to walk along the grass to see them.

The five were two parents….

oyster catcher parents

…clucking away and watching anxiously over three youngsters.

oyster catcher young

I know that there are four pictures but there are only three birds.

On the other side of the town bridge, I caught up with a pied wagtail…

pied wagtail

…standing unusually still for such a fidgety bird.

I looked back from the Sawmill Brig…

Ewes Water Island

…and wondered if there would be enough rain to turn the green mound that you can see back into an island again.  It is covered with roses, knapweed and umbellifers.

The light wasn’t very good and the threat of rain ever present so I didn’t dilly dally though I stopped for long enough to look at some docks…

dock

…admire the treescape on the Castleholm…

Castleholm tree view

…and check on the wild flowers along the Scholars’ Field wall…

nettle and umbellifer

……before calling in on my fern expert Mike to talk about going on a fern walk soon…

…and then going home to cook the tea.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went out to practise with the church organist’s summer choir and I rested my voice again.

I only went to the doctor in the first place because I was having trouble with a little hoarseness and after being thoroughly checked and cleared of any other problems, the hoarseness is still there.  I have another week of rest and then I will go back to the doctor again to see what is what if things haven’t improved.  I am missing singing more than I expected.

The flower of the day is the butter and sugar iris.  I am not sure that it will survive the night’s weather.

butter and sugar iris

I may possibly have run out of guest pictures.  Just mentioning it.

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s visit to the park in Madrid.  This was his favourite fountain.

madrid fountain

After some heavy rain overnight, we had a generally pleasant day today, often sunny but still with a brisk “feels like” wind to keep our coats firmly buttoned up for the morning and most of the afternoon too.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy day doing some early gardening and then going to the dentist for the final bit of her treatment.  When she had recovered from that, she went back out into the garden and planted the rest of her potatoes.  The strong winds may have kept us cold but at least they have been drying out the soil.

I had a very quiet morning, being firmly resolved not to make my hand any worse and to try to make it better.  To this end, I acquired a packet of frozen peas and used that as a cold compress in between some self administered massage and bending and stretching the thumb.  And of course I put plenty of turmeric into the soup that I made for lunch.

I walked round the garden with Mrs Tootlepedal after breakfast.

The pond repairs are holding up well and the tadpoles are grateful as it gives them plenty of swimming room.  A lot have survived the cold spring.

tadpoles in pond

If you look closely, you can see almost two dozen in this small area.

The tulips are flourishing, though the wind is damaging some almost as soon as they are out and the grape hyacinths are looking good.

tulips and muscari

At the back of the house, our neighbour Kenny has an exciting looking plant developing.

damside plant

In general though, I did very little before lunch and I felt the benefit as the swelling in my hand went down noticeably.  I did find a moment to watch the birds with the big camera on a tripod.

A regular stream came flying in…

flying birds

…and there were a good few redpolls among them and on one occasion at least, they monopolised the perches.

redpoll

One posed for a portrait.

redpoll

I would have liked to go for a pedal on the slow bike after lunch to get my May mileage under way but as it is quite possible that doing several hundred miles on a bike with straight handlebars had caused my arthritis to flare up in the first place, I sensibly shelved this plan and went for a gentle walk instead.

My route took me through the town and up the Kirk Wynd to the top of the golf course and out onto the hill.

There was plenty of new growth to catch my eye as I went up the hill…

Kirk Wynd

…but when I got out onto the hillside, one plant trumped all the rest.

It was that striking member of the pea family, gorse, a.k.a. furze or whin.

gorse

It wasn’t hard to spot.

P1090558

And framed many of the views.

Ewes valley with gorse

I walked through the gorse and enjoyed a grand view up the Ewes Valley….

ewes valley

I walked on as far as the road to Copshaw, where the water was bubbling along under this very old bridge.

donks quarry bridge

Then I turned downhill to follow the road.  It has a rewarding wall.

lichen

And I enjoyed these dogs looking keen to get to work in rounding up a sheep or two.

dogs on quad

I didn’t go right down to the man road at Whitshiels but walked along the track on the Lamb Hill, enjoying (almost) fifty shades of green…

spring trees

…whichever way I looked.

spring colour

I strolled through the little wood at the end of the path…

Lamb Hill

…and made my way down to the Kilngreen where I enjoyed an ice cream from the van and a selection of waterside birds….

oyster catchers and wagtail

…as I walked home.  The oyster catcher in the third panel was between the town and the suspension bridge.  I took this picture of that stretch of water to remind Mary Jo of our walk on Monday when we crossed the suspension bridge.

suspension bridge spring

When I got home, I was able to give Mrs Tootlepedal a small helping hand to get the very last of the potatoes in.  I took a quick tour round the garden and was pleased to see the first apple blossom developing, catch a late opening daffodil of the day and admire a couple of clumps of yellow tulips beside the pond.

apple blossom, daff and tulips

Then we sat on our bench and found that the late afternoon had got quite warm (if you could keep out of the wind).

Our neighbour Liz joined us for some serious bench testing and conversation until it was time to go in to cook our tea.

This was one of Mrs Tootlepedal’s fish pies and it went down very well.

Fortified by fish pie, I went off to sing with Langholm Sings.  In spite of just having had a concert, we are facing two more at the end of the month so there was a lot of work to be done.  I found it hard going and was pleased when it was time to go home for a rest.

The flying bird of the day is one of the few siskins to visit us.

flying siskin

I am very hopeful that the combination of frozen peas, massage, careful use and a tube of magic cream are going to ensure that my hand will soon be fully back in operation again.  And of course the good wishes of readers help too.  Thank you.

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There may be serious concern about the lack of insects in general but today’s guest picture from Venetia shows that there is no shortage of them just now in Somerset.

somerset flies

We had a typical April day here today, breezy, cool and occasionally rainy but it was just warm enough to allow for gardening and the breeze was just steady enough to allow for a little cycling so in the morning, Mrs Tootlepedal gardened and I went for a cycle ride.

Before I left, Mrs Tootlepedal drew my attention to a small patch of violets tucked away against a fence in a corner of the garden.

violet

Although the theoretical temperature was not too bad, the wind seemed to carry the chill of winter in its wings and I was well wrapped up again as I battled into the breeze.  When the sun was out…..

Wauchope road

…I was in a green and pleasant land, with the fresh green of the new larch growth…

larch

…very prominent.

But mostly, I was in the shadow over here and the sun was over there in the distance.

View from the Bloch

I looked more closely at one of my favourite trees.

Bloch tree

There were masses of flowers to be seen on my way.

flowers

By lurking about in the valley bottom for the most part, I kept out of the worst of the wind but even so, cycling back down to Langholm with the wind behind me was enough to make the slow bike feel like Pegasus.  I fairly flew along.

The twenty miles that I managed brought up my target mileage for the month and as it has all been done on the slow bike, that was very satisfactory.

I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden on my return and mowed the drying green.  This was a painful experience as it has almost as much moss as Mary Jo’s Danish lawn.

I had a look round and tried to get a better euphorbia picture but only succeeded in catching a fly.

fly on euphorbia

The tulips are growing all the time but still keeping themselves to themselves.

tulips

And I found a daffodil of the day standing still enough to photograph.

daff

Then  it was time for lunch, the crossword and a look at the birds.

I very much enjoyed a little action sequence that took place over two seconds.

A chaffinch approached the feeder quietly…

busy feeder

…suddenly there was pandemonium as birds flew off in all directions and a lone redpoll was left to wonder what all the fuss was about.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off on business and I stayed in to greet the gas man who came to give our boiler its annual safety check.  In a sign of the crazy way businesses are organised these days, it turned out that he had come all the way from Glasgow to do our check, which was already well behind its scheduled time, because the local engineers were too busy.  Having finished, he was ready to drive back to Glasgow (90 miles away).  It must make sense to someone.

While the engineer was busy, it started to rain and it looked well set in for the rest of the day.    Mike Tinker dropped in for a cup of tea though and he must have had some good vibes in his pocket because when he got up to, the rain went too.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I walked round the garden.

There was plenty to see.  A bee was buzzing about in the pulmonaria…

bee on pulmonaria

…and a blackbird was busy collecting more  worms….

blackbird with worms

…and things were busy growing.  Flowers on the gooseberry and on the silver pear.

gooseberry and silver pear

I look forward to eating gooseberries (if we can avoid the sawfly) but the silver pear fruit is inedible.

The rain looked as though it might hold off so I went for a walk.

I hoped to see waterside birds and I did but the light was pretty gloomy and the birds were far away so although it was a pleasure to see the birds, it was  a problem to get good shots of them.

oyster catcher, dipper, wagtail and goosander

From top left clockwise: Oyster catcher, dipper, goosander and pied wagtail.

I also saw a grey wagtail and I took a wonderful picture of the rock from which it had just taken off.  I haven’t posted it here to avoid excessive excitement among sensitive readers.

I was doing the three bridges walk and I passed a lot of ladies’ smock which has appeared like magic on the banks of the Esk near the suspension bridge….

Ladies smock

…a grand show of colour in the Clinthead gardens…

redflowers

…some striking male flowers on the noble firs on the Castleholm….

male noble fir flowers

….a very colourful tree (which I can’t identify.  Is there a helpful reader out there?)…

Castleholm tree

…and the first broom flower I have seen this year.  It was in the minister’s garden.

broom flower

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal was back out in the garden so I took a look round and was struck by this jewel on a leaf.

raindrop

I had a little Archive business to catch up on as one of our members is kindly helping out a lady who wishes to visit the town for some ancestral research and then it was time to sit down and have a tasty curry for my tea.

The weather is set to continue in the present cool, showery mode for several days but if we can make as good use of the days as we did today, it won’t be too bad.  Those three magically warm and sunny days last week have spoiled us though.  Everything looks and feels dull by contrast.

The flying bird of the day is a reliable chaffinch.  They should give hovering lessons to the other birds.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

 

 

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