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Posts Tagged ‘wagtail’

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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Today’s guest picture comes from my neighbour Liz.  She enjoyed this misty view on one of her morning walks recently.

Mist on Whita

There were no views at all when we woke up this morning, as the hills were shrouded in clouds and a fine drizzle was falling.  Luckily I had a stint in the Welcome to Langholm office to do so the miserable weather didn’t trouble me.

I was kept very busy putting  data into the Archive Group database while entertaining Dropscone, who had news of a recent golfing triumph to pass on and John, another friend, who was recovering from a visit to the physiotherapist nearby.  What with golf and creaking joint talk and two visits from tourists seeking a welcome and the computer work as well, the two hours passed in a flash.

It had stopped raining by the time that I got home but  I found Mrs Tootlepedal engrossed in the tricky matter of balancing some accounts rather than gardening.  After we had had a cup of coffee with our neighbour Liz, I foolishly offered to lend Mrs Tootlepedal a hand with her accounts and the afternoon was well under way by the time that the figures on both sides of the ledger had obediently fallen into place.  Although it is very annoying when columns don’t add up, it is very satisfying when they finally do.

Still, a lot of quite good weather had gone by unused which was a pity.  We went out into the garden and while Mrs Tootlepedal got down to work, I looked around.

nasturtiums

A couple of cheery nasturtiums beside the front gate

Cardoon

A last look at a cardoon before Attila the gardener gives them the chop soon

I did a little much needed dead heading and upset a good number of bees and hoverflies who were looking for pollen.  At one moment, almost all of them chose the same poppy.

poppy with hoverflies and bees

We stood for some time watching the crowd, our mouths open in astonishment.

poppy with hoverflies and bees

After all, it was quite an astonishing sight.

Because my flute pupil Luke was due in the early evening, I didn’t have time to go for a cycle ride but it was such a pleasantly warm and calm day by now that I left Mrs Tootlepedal hard at work and went off for a short walk.

Beside the river I stopped to enjoy a wagtail wagging its tail and a dipper dipping.

Wagtail

The dipper was in all action mode, disappearing under the water for ages at a time and dabbing about vigorously when it emerged.

dipper dipping

It did pose for me for a brief moment though.

dipper

At the Kilngreen, I saw a lonely herring gull….

herring gull

…and some restful ducks.

ducks in the grass

This was my favourite.

duck

Occasional sunshine brought out the colours which are beginning to appear all around.

Esk

Although there are plenty of fallen autumnal looking leaves about….

autumn leaves

…there are still many more on the trees.

leaves

The combination of many greens and some red and yellow meant that there was always a delight for the eye as I walked along.

early autumn on the castleholmearly autumn on the castleholmearly autumn on the castleholm

I kept my eyes open for other smaller things.  This fungus on a tree stump interested me greatly.  I don’t think that I have seen anything like it before.

tree stump fungus

They growths are tiny and I thought that they were sprinkled crumbs when I first saw them

It was a really pleasant walk and I was sorry that I didn’t have the time to be out longer.

When I got back to the house, I reflected that it was lucky that we don’t shut the front gate very often…

nasturtiums on front gate

Our friend Mike Tinker was chatting to Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden and she was telling him of great plans for improvements for next year.  I look forward to photographing the results.

I had a last look round…

fuchsia

…and was pleased to spot a red admiral butterfly on a rudbeckia.

red admiral butterfly

We read in the paper this morning that it has been an exceptionally good year for red admiral butterflies and we have certainly seen a great many in our garden in the last few weeks.

Then I had to go in to get ready for the flute lesson which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I was quite pleased to have no further obligations for the day as I am feeling a little tired after dashing from end to end of the continent last week.  Somehow sitting in down in trains, although it is very enjoyable, is also quite tiring.

An early night won’t do me any harm.

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Today’s guest picture is of a rather stuck up group of august personages which my brother Andrew found in a church in Hull on a recent visit.

Close up of the church hierarchy

I think that the permanently changeable weather is beginning to get to me and I am currently feeling rather short of beans to be full of.  As a result I was still sleeping soundly this morning when Dropscone rang to ask if some scones could find a cup of coffee to go with.

It was a rush for me to get my breakfast finished before coffee time but I managed.

The scones were very good.

It was another day of sunshine and showers and Dropscone cycled round in the sun, drank his coffee while it rained and cycled home again in the sun.

Since it was dry when he left, I had a look round the garden.  It was a day for the birds and the bees…

bees

blackbird

 

…and berries.

tropaeolum

Tropaeolum. They should go blue soon.

As it looked to stay dry for a bit, I was emboldened to walk up to the town with my parcel and I was rewarded when I not only found the post office open but also the river bank full of thirteen goosanders.

goosanders

They were preferring to wait until the river had gone down a bit before doing any swimming.

Some just sat about reflecting on life….

goosanders

…while others took a keen interest in the passing water.

goosanders

I enjoyed a bright crocosmia beside the dam as I came home.

crocosmia

I did a little light gardening, had lunch and watched the rain until Sandy rang up and suggested a walk.  I said that I would be pleased to go if the rain stopped and it did obligingly stop shortly afterwards so I went.

Sandy and I walked across the Duchess Bridge, round the pheasant hatchery, back down to the Sawmill Bridge and then home by way of the Kilngreen and Elizabeth Street, a distance of about two and a half miles.

When we were not watching out for puddles and muddy bits, we looked around. There was quite a bit of fungus to be seen in various places.

castleholm fungus

…much of it in dark corners under trees.  There is a huge amount of fungus round the stumps of the felled trees along the Lodge walks and you can see one small part of it in the bottom left panel above.

There were growing things to see too.

self heal, conkers and white flower

I don’t know what the white flower on the right is but it was attracting a lot of bees.  The plant is quite big but the white flowers are very small.  Once again, a brisk breeze made taking flower pictures tricky.

nettle, burr and rosebay willowherb

It started to rain as we passed these three wild flowers, a nettle, a burr and some willowherb, just at the furthest point from home on our walk but it soon stopped again and we continued on in the direction that the willowherb suggested.

We had passed some cows on our way out….

cows

My only attempt at a black and white picture today

I liked a mossy tree on our way back.  Outdoor people say that you can tell the direction of east and west by looking at where the moss grows on tree trunks.  This tree would have you going round in circles.

mossy tree

After what has been a cool and generally dry year since early spring, the recent heavy rain showers are making the ground quite wet and we had to stop and find an alternative route when we found this long and deep puddle blocking our way near the lodge.

lodge puddle

At the Kilngreen, we stopped to say hello to Mr Grumpy….

Kilngreen ducks

…and we were impressed by the number of friends he had sitting nearby.

Duck

This one was not quite fully dressed yet

As well as Mr Grumpy, we saw a robin, a dipper and a wagtail on our travels….

wagtail, robin, dipper and heron

…not to mention a very new duckling.

duckling

The rivers were all quite full and lively….

River esk in spate

…but there was no threat of a flood.

I always like this view from the Langholm Bridge….

View from the bridge

…but the Common Riding bunting and the sun glinting on the tops of the hills made it particularly good today, I thought.

We had a cup of Darjeeling and a slice of bread with wild raspberry jam when we got back and then Sandy walked home while I sank into semi snoozing mode.

I roused myself enough to prepare the charity regulator’s return for the Archive Group and catch upon my correspondence and after that I did some more relaxing.  The weather looks as though it may be suitable for cycling tomorrow so that will perk me up again.  I will choose a route so that the brisk wind will blow me back home.

The flying bird of the day had flown up onto a fence when I caught it.

blackbird

Note:  I see that Sandy has posted his view of our walk.  You can see it here

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Today’s guest picture comes from Gavin in America.  He says that he has never been so close to a deer before.

deer

Our spell of dry and windy weather continued today, with the wind even stronger than yesterday so that it felt decidedly chilly when the sun wasn’t out.

I started the day off with a visit to the Moorland Feeders with Mrs Tootlepedal.  My plan was to fill the feeders (the usual fillers are on holiday) and then leave Mrs Tootlepedal to scan the skies for raptors while I sat in the hide and took interesting bird pictures.

The plan would have worked well if the hide hadn’t already been filled to bursting with eager schoolchildren having holiday fun with the Moorland Project staff.  I filled the feeders and we drove back through the town and up onto the hill to see if we could see harriers and goats instead.

The hill looked and felt a little bleak as I stood at 1000ft on the county boundary in a whistling wind.

Langholm Moor

…but it was more cheerful when the sun came out as we drove back from the summit.

Langholm Moor

We did see a harrier and a buzzard but they were both too far away to photograph.  We also saw a small flock of goats quite far away on the open hill….

goats

…but they were not the group with kids that we had seen before.

There were two goats nearer the road further down towards the Tarras…

goats

…and I got a hard stare for my impertinence in taking pictures of them.

goats

There were a couple of serious bird watchers looking down the valley so we paused for a while to see if we could see what they were looking at but when we had realised that they weren’t seeing anything at the moment, we left them to it and went home, stopping for a look up the Ewes Valley on our way.

Ewes valley

We had a cup of coffee and then Mrs Tootlepedal settled down to some serious gardening while I pottered about doing some dead heading and taking pictures. Things come and go….

daffodils

The very orange trumpets mean that this bunch is nearing the end of its flower time and the flowers will soon be line for dead heading

tulip

A rather striking miniature tulip variety came out today

…and some things keep going.

silver pear

The silver pear is producing ever more blossom

The birds were as busy as ever.

Goldfinches and siskins

Goldfinches and siskins compete for space

redpoll and chaffinch

A redpoll goes to some length to discourage a chaffinch 

In spite of the warm afternoon sun, it was far too windy to contemplate a cycle ride and I got in touch with Sandy and arranged a walk.

While I waited for the appointed time to arrive, I looked at the magnolia…

magnolia

…and came face to face with a rather odd looking chaffinch perched on one of the box balls.

chaffinch

Sandy arrived and we went off to the Kilngreen and the Castleholm.  Our aim was to see wagtails, dippers and nuthatches and we saw them all but as, with the visit to the moor earlier in the day, the photo opportunities were very limited.

The wagtails and the dippers were generally moving too much or a bit too far away for good pictures.

wagtail and dipper

A grey wagtail, a pied wagtail and a pair of dippers

Growing things were easier to catch.

The gardens at Clinthead stayed very still for a portrait.  They are looking very fine at the moment.

linthead garden

And laurel flowers on the bridge let me get very close.

laurel

Trees are looking more springlike by the day…

spring 2017

linthead garden

…and there was even a small clump of bluebells in the wood beside the Lodge Walks.

bluebell

We stopped to have a good look at the nuthatches at the Jubilee bridge but in spite of hearing a lot of rather strident calling going on, we didn’t see much at first.  One appeared for a moment but the reason for all the noise became apparent when we finally saw two nuthatches on two trees shouting at each other  from a range of about five yards.  The shouting got louder and finally three nuthatches whizzed past us as they chased each other round the tree at high speed.  One broke off and sat for moment on a twig near us…

nuthatch

…in a highly indignant state.  I just had time to click the shutter once before it rushed off up a tree where it was able to express some even higher dudgeon.

All this activity was great to watch and to listen to but it didn’t give us much opportunity for taking pictures as the combatants were mostly high up among the branches.

nuthatches

It is not clear what was going on.  Was it two couples both wanting the same nest site or was it a competition between two males for a single female?  We definitely saw three nuthatches at the same time but there might well have been another judging from all the noise.  Another visit will be needed to see how it turns out.

There are days when I only see three interesting things and get good pictures of them all and there are days like today when I saw a mass of interesting wildlife and didn’t get one very satisfactory picture.  Still, it was fun trying.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

goldfinch

 

 

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