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Posts Tagged ‘wild goats’

Today’s guest picture comes from our daughter Annie.  It shows some early peach blossom.

annie's peach blossom

We were promised wall to wall sunshine today by the forecasters with some confidence so it was disappointing to get up to a cloudy day with the standard chilly wind.  Still, it didn’t rain and I was able not only to have a walk round the garden, after coffee with our Archive Group treasurer Nancy, where I could enjoy the first tulip bulb of spring…

first tulip bud

…but I was also able to get the mower out, and while Mrs Tootlepedal slaved over a hot computer again, I gently pressed the moss on the middle lawn.

first pressing of moss

Grass had been growing through the moss though and I took quite a lot off.  This should encourage more grass growth, I hope.  The light green patch at the far end of the ‘lawn’ is solid moss.

As well as the mowing, I did some more compost sieving and when Mrs Tootlepedal came out and attacked a buddleia….

buddleia compst

…we shredded the cuttings and I put my share into compost Bin A and Mrs Tootlepedal used her share as mulch for one of her hedges.

I noted that we are at the start of the days of the daffodils now.

daffodil panel

After lunch, we drove up on to the Langholm Moor.

Mrs Tootlepedal hoped to see a hen harrier and we did see one.  It was hovering over the hill rather too far away for even my long lens to get a good shot of it.

hen harrier march

I hoped to see goats and we saw lots.  In fact we had to be careful not to run them over as they were right beside the road.

A little kid had a drink…

goat kid having milk

…and a bigger kid gave me a look…

large kid goat

…and an older goat with a stunning kiss curl gave me a profile.

goat close up

Some of the wild goats looked wilder than others.

bedraggled goat

Although these are genuinely feral goats, they are neither aggressive or afraid and they munched away quite happily as I took my pictures.

We left the goats and motored on across the Tarras Water and up to the county boundary.

Looking back I could see the monument….

 

monument from county boundary

…and looking down to the Solway, shining in the distance, I could see the past and present of power generation.  On the near shore, I could see the now defunct Chapelcross Nuclear Power Station which I passed on my bike a couple of days ago, and very faintly behind the chimneys in the middle of the firth, I could just make out the rows of turbines of the Robin Rigg wind farm, currently making power in the brisk wind.

Chapelcross and Solway array from moor

We didn’t stop at 1000ft for long as the wind was chilly and we soon headed back down to the shelter of the Tarras valley, where we parked the car and went for a walk.

I checked out the wall behind the car park and found that it was rich with lichen.

tarras car park lichen

We had been along this road not long ago in a howling gale so it was a big improvement to walk along it today, well sheltered from the breeze.

There was less water running down the Tarras and this suited the little cascades down which the river proceeds in leaps and bounds.

tarras cascade hdrtarras cascade light flow

We strolled along, serenaded at times by flocks of meadow pipits, for about a mile and a half until,we came to this point, where after a look further up the valley…

view towards cooms

…we turned for home.  We had the breeze behind us now, and as the sun came out, it felt positively spring-like as we went back down the valley to the car, passing little gullies…

tarras gulch

…and tenacious trees.

tarras tree

When we got back to the car park, I went forward to take a picture of the road bridge that we would cross to get home…

tarras bridge

…and as I looked at the bridge, I could see that the goats were still on the road beyond it.

Once again, they were happy to hang about for a photo opportunity….

twogoat pairs on road

…which I took.

goat looking up

Although it was only a short drive and a short walk, it had been a very satisfactory outing and we were well satisfied as we sat down for a cup of tea when we got home.

Mrs Tootlepedal prepared a chicken cacciatore for our tea and while it was cooking, Evie and her mother Annie gave us a video call.  If the world had been better organised, we would have been going to London by train today to visit them, so this was a welcome substitute for a real meeting.

The chicken turned out very well and we felt that with a good gardening morning and a successful outing in the afternoon,  we hadn’t done too badly at all in spite of not going to London.

There were very few garden birds about and I was lucky to find this chaffinch willing to be the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from Mary Jo’s Australian trip.  Her husband used his phone to take this shot of a big flock of bats.

Mary Jo's bats

We woke to brilliant sunshine and we were easily able to ignore a crisp temperature and a nippy wind.  Not having rain and a gale were quite enough to keep us happy.  The crocuses were ignoring the chill too and had opened their petals to greet the sun at an unusually early hour.

daff, crocus and rain gauge

Mary Jo’s scientific rain gauge showed that we had had another four and a bit inches of rain recently so it is remarkable that the crocuses haven’t thrown the towel in.

And talking of towels, Mrs Tootlepedal thought that the best thing about the morning was that she could hang the washing out without it coming back in wetter than when it went out.

washing march

Dropscone, back from his Northumbrian holiday, arrived with scones and our friend Gavin kindly dropped in to help us eat them as we drank our coffee.

Dropscone had enjoyed his break with his two daughters and his granddaughter in spite of some very windy days.

After coffee, I spent some time pretending to be a man who was going cycling but actually watching birds instead.  (It may have been sunny but the wind was far from kind.)

The birds tended towards sneaking in from behind the feeder today.

chaffinch round the back

Both chaffinches and siskins were at it.

siskin round the back

And a blue tit escaped before I could catch it.

blue tit leaving

It was thin pickings for my camera but fortunately some chaffinches were prepared to co-operate.

This one came in at a perfect height…

chaffinch too low

…but this one was all too conscious that it was bit too high for comfort.

chaffuinch too high

In the end, I couldn’t waste any more time so I pumped up my tyres and set off into the unforgiving breeze.

The government was keeping an eye on my progress.

low flying plane

I was thinking of doing 30 miles, heading into the wind for 15 miles and then being blown home, but the sun had long gone and there was a sort of rain hanging about in the air and annoying me.  After only three miles both uphill and into a twenty mile an hour breeze, I thought better of it and turned left and headed for my twenty mile Canonbie circuit instead.

I kept my head down and didn’t stop much as I didn’t want to get chilled.  However, this fine tree caught my eye after five miles so I stopped for it…

tree at raehills

…but I didn’t stop again until I got back to Langholm.  In fact I didn’t even stop when I got to Langholm because, out of the blue, the sun had come out and things looked a lot brighter so I pedalled on through the town.

I still wasn’t intending to take any more pictures but the Ewes Valley mugged me.

ewes view in sunchine

And then I stopped again to record a common sight these days, a puddle that has become a pond.

ewes puddle

And with the sun making stopping a little less chilly business, I allowed a tree to detain me…

ewes tree

…and thought that I ought to record Ewes Church, my turning point for home…

ewes church

…and a nearby bridge (with an additonal gate as a bonus).

ewes church bridge

Some black clouds rolled over me as I pushed into the wind on my way back home but I sneaked past a rain shower and got home dry, having coincidentally having done exactly the 30 miles that I had set out intending to do.

Gavin had seen some young wild goats yesterday so when I got home,  I asked Mrs Tootlepedal if she would like to see if we could find them too.  She thought that this was a good idea, and we scooped up Mike Tinker who had come or a cup of tea but got potential goats instead, and set off up the hill in the Zoe.

As we turned onto the hill road a mini blizzard started and we got some rather odd views as went we went up the hill.  We could see a sunny Ewes Valley through a curtain of hail.

snow and the Ewes valley

The hail and snow got worse as we reached the moor and we were just beginning to think that our trip was ill advised, when the clouds blew over and a rainbow appeared.

snowy rainbow

We got down to the Tarras and sure enough there were two goats with kids.

This pair turned their backs on me…

goat with kid

…but this proud mother was more accommodating…

goat checking me out

…and waiting to make sure that I had taken her good side…

goat profile

…then got her children to pose prettily for the camera.

goat with kids

The snow had passed without a trace and the light was lovely as we looked up the Tarras Valley before we headed for home.

tarras view

A busy day wasn’t over yet, as first my flute playing friend Luke arrived for some duets and then, after tea, Mrs Tootlepedal cut my hair.  This was a load off my mind.

She had been able to get out into the garden for some tidying up work while I was out cycling, so we had made good use of a better day between us.

The flying bird of the day is one of those accommodating chaffinches, eyeing up its approach to the feeder.

flying chffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew. It shows all the cakes that he and my sister Susan didn’t eat when they visited a garden centre cafe. They are both models of restraint.

cakes

I was woken in the middle of the night by a tremendous rattling on the windows, and thinking it was another rainstorm, went back to sleep expecting to see high water in the morning again.

In fact, the noise was made by a brief hailstorm and little rain fell overnight.  As a result there had been a marked alteration in the state of the River Esk by the time we went to church at ten o’clock.

IMG_20200216_095108

This was quite surprising but very welcome.

It was still windy and although it was dry, we were pleased to have our coats on when we walked home after the service.

I stooped to look at the first hellebore of the season…

first hellebore

…before going in for a coffee.

The picture is a bit of a cheat as I had to hold the head of the flower up to get the shot.

After coffee, I spent a moment looking at the birds.  In a contrast to the usual state of affairs, it was hard to take picture today that didn’t have a flying bird in it.

flying birds everywhere

I finally managed to get a flying bird free shot, but as you can see from the nervous look on the face of the goldfinch..

Goldfinch looking round

…it didn’t take long for another flier to appear.

flying goldfinch

I persuaded Mrs Tootlepedal that it would be a good idea to go for a walk  The wind was still very brisk so we chose a spot which we thought would be sheltered and drove over the hill to the road along the Tarras Valley.  There is a handy car park there beside the river…

Tarras car park view

…and the road is quiet and perfect for a walk.

the road up Tarras

We headed up the valley with the strong wind behind us.  It wasn’t quite as sheltered as we had hoped.

The Tarras Water trips over many little cascades as it heads down to join  the Esk and even on a chilly winter’s day, this is a delight to cascade lovers like myself.

tarras cascade 1

tarras cascade 2

tarras cascade 3

I tore myself away from the waterside and we walked on until we came to the flatter section of the valley where Arkleton Cottage Stands beside some elegant bends in the river and road.

Arkleton Cottage

On the hillside beside the cottage, there are walls within walls.

walls within walls

As we walked along, Mrs Tootlepedal kept an eye out for interesting raptors and any sign of other wild life.

She didn’t see any raptors, but she did spot some interesting looking boulders.  When the boulders started to move around, we could see that they were in fact some of the the wild goats which roam these hillsides.

wild goats Tarras

Often they looked like indeterminate lumps among the long grass but when one lifted its head, we could see what they were.  It was extremely difficult to take pictures of them because they were quite far away and the wind was so strong that it was hard to stand up straight.  The Lumix did what it could.

As you can see from the goat pictures, the weather was changeable and we did have the occasional glimpse of sun but by the time that we got to the cottage, which can be approached by a ford…

Arkleton Cottage ford

..or a footbridge…

Arkleton Cottage bridge

….it had started to rain, so we thought it wise to head back to the car.

We were delayed for a moment by some excellent lichen on a boulder…

lichen tarras road 1

..or two…

lichen tarras Road 2

…and talking to a passing cyclist with three dogs who was heading back down the road into the teeth of the very strong wind.  He was very relaxed and this turned out to be because he was on a very serviceable electric mountain bike with fat tyres and low gears.  This was enabling him to face the wind with equanimity.

He pedalled off into the distance and we followed after him, very much slower and battling into a fierce wind which made walking difficult.  The sleety rain in our faces did not help.

All the same we were able to spot another small group of goats.  I rested my camera on a roadside salt container and was just about to take a good shot when the dratted beast stuck its head down behind a tussock and started munching.

wild goat tarras

I had to make do with another cascade further down stream…

Tarras cascade

…and then we followed the river back to the car.

Although we had walked less than two miles, it had felt quite adventurous thanks to the battle against the elements and we drove home very satisfied with our little outing.

Tarras Water

The sun came out when we got back and the birds settled down too.

four goldfinches

Mike and Alison very kindly brought round a cot for the use of our granddaughter Eve, who is coming to visit next week (with her mother) and then we drove off to Carlisle for a choir practice.

We were somewhat nervous about what we might find from flood and storm damage on the way, but the sun came out, the road was dry, and there was no debris at all.  A stranger might have found it very hard to believe that a storm had passed over us at all let alone that there were flood warnings out all over the rest of the country.  Once again, we have been very lucky.

The choir practice had enjoyable moments but in one piece the tenors, who were lacking a few of their competent singers today, found themselves rather exposed by some tricky harmonies.  The need for some serious home work is indicated.  All the same, in our defence, I would like to say that it is very hard to come in on a G when everyone else is singing an A and there is no help from the piano accompaniment. At least, I think it is.

I had put beef stew in the slow cooker in the morning and Mrs Tootlepedal cooked some vegetables to go with it when we came home.  I counted seven vegetables in the meal in total so it was probably quite healthy as well as being tasty.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from a visit to Birmingham by my brother Andrew.  He took the opportunity to show us the BT Tower there on a beautiful day..

Birmingham BT Tower

I am trying mix gentle exercise with good quality rest for my foot so I went back to lie on my bed after breakfast and was fortunate to find a tricky crossword in the paper which took some time to finish and gave my leg plenty of opportunity to have a relaxing stretch.

When I came down, I joined Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden and we had a look around.  I once again marvelled at the agility and pertinacity of the slug who crawled up a  stem and took a single bite out of the trumpet of just one of this bunch of daffodils and then crawled back down again.

nibbled daffodil

That’s what I call a discerning diner.

The pulmonaria hasn’t done very well over the winter this year but it is producing a few flowers.

pulmonaria

We got out hedge trimmers and a saw and trimmed a couple of bushes next to our neighbour Irvin’g fence and then sawed off two branches of a lilac which were leaning over his fence (and not doing very well anyway.)

After that, we got into the car and drove off to a garden centre where we had a light lunch and made some judicious purchases.  Mrs Tootlepedal bought some plants and I bought a novel product for the lawn which claims to combine fertilizer for the grass with bacteria which are going to eat my moss and make it disappear without me having to rake the dead moss out.  This sounds a bit too good to be true but I won’t find out if I don’t use it and the grass needs a boost even if the moss doesn’t get eaten.

We came home by way of the Gretna Outlet shopping village.  I recently broke both my coffee cups by dropping one of them on the other so I was looking for replacements.  I was resigned to having to buy two unnecessary saucers to go with the new cups, and I was very pleased to find that I could buy cups without saucers thus saving both money and space in the cupboard.

Instead of going straight home when we got back to Langholm, we completed our little outing by driving through the town past my favourite view.

ewes valley

I looked back down the hill towards the town.  The foresters have been very busy in the recently felled wood and the wood is now full of the plastic tubes that go with new planting of deciduous trees.

new planting

We did see some goats on our way up to the county boundary and it is a sign of how well they blend into the background that you might think at first sight that there were four goats in the picture.  In fact the ‘goat’ on the left is a clump of heather.

three goats

They were busy eating but did keep half an eye on me to see what I was up to.

goat eating

And sometimes even both eyes.

goat staring

When we got to the county boundary we met an expert local naturalist who had parked there and was looking for interesting birds.  Had he seen anything?  Not a single thing.  If he hadn’t seen anything, we wouldn’t either so we set off  back down the hill.

We had to slow down as a goat crossed the road in front of us but by the time we had drawn alongside, it had its head down and was ignoring us entirely…

disguised goat

…as were its friends.

goats hifing

We left them to it and continued down to the Tarras bridge.  On the far side of the valley, we could see family groups of goats with their young.

goat family

When we got home, we took a moment to watch our own birds…

siskin in need of a perch

…and as there was a lot of demand but not much seed, I refilled the feeder…

not enough perhces

…but there was still more demand for perches than supply…

busy feeder full

…and things turned ugly.

threatening goldfinch

Very ugly.

two goldfinches

We left the sparring  goldfinches and siskins to it and went out to do some gardening.  The task was to use our petrol driven rotavator to dig over a grass strip between two narrow beds to make a larger bed for this year’s potato planting.

Things didn’t go well. The machine was hard to get started and when it finally burst into life, it was extremely reluctant to do any digging.  Instead of burrowing into the soil as it should, it just moved backwards towards the driver in a vaguely threatening manner.  We took the tines off and turned them round and that made no difference at all.

Mrs Tootlepedal went in  to study the handbook for the machine and I looked at it in a curious way.  I wondered vaguely what a rather faded label on the front of the machine might say and bent down to peer at it.  “The driver must always be facing this label”

This was what they call a tea tray moment, i.e. when you bang your head with a tea tray after making a discovery which should have been obvious all the time. When the machine had been reassembled after coming back in the post from its service, the handles had been put on the wrong way round. Duh!

We set about putting them on the correct way and took the machine out for another try.

Success!

rotavator

The soil was tilled.

All was not entirely sweetness and light though because the machine bumped up and down rather alarmingly at one end of the bed instead of tilling the earth.  Mrs Tootlepedal got into full archaeologist mode and dug an exploratory trench…

new bed with trench

…which revealed a double row of bricks a foot below the surface, obviously the foundation for  an old structure of some kind.

new bed bricks

Our garden has had a long existence in various forms and uses and Mrs Tootlepedal is used to finding all sorts of things under the soil when she is digging. We found a lot of big stones under the soil too today.

new bed stones

The bricks will come up and the machine will leap into action again and the potatoes will be planted.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and after Alison and I had experienced the benefits of doing some practice as we played Telemann, Corelli and Vivaldi, we all sat down together to watch the final of Masterchef.  Jilly, our local competitor, did herself proud but narrowly failed to carry off the prize.

Having watched some very good cooking, we will have to up our own game in the kitchen.  I am going to ask Mrs Tootlepedal for some quails eggs in a fig sauce to go with my porridge tomorrow…. or perhaps not.

There are not one but two flying goldfinches of the day today.

two flying goldfinches

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I would like to thank kind readers for sending me a positive flood of potential guest pictures and I have chosen one from Venetia’s African odyssey to start off.  It shows a gemsbok which appealed to me as it appeared in a recent crossword as an answer to a cryptic clue.  It is good to see what one actually looks like.

Oryx aka gemsbok,

We were slightly worried about the weather at the start of the day as Mrs Tootlepedal was due to go to London on family business and the the forecasts regarding Storm Gareth were quite alarming.  As it turned out, we avoided the worst of the overnight weather and things looked like this in Langholm this morning.

quiet after storm

In the event, both bus and train ran to time and Mrs Tootlepedal is safely ensconced in the south as I write this.  Doubtless she is relaxing under a palm tree and enjoying a beaker of the  blushful Hippocrene  with beaded bubbles winking at the brim.  I believe this is the standard practice down there.

After Mrs Tootlepedal left to catch the bus, I went to the dentist on my bike and discovered that I am going to have to have two small fillings.  As I am grateful to still have some teeth to fill, I shall not complain.

On my way home I passed a goosander checking to see what was under the surface.

ducking goosander

It stayed pretty sunny all morning and I was a bit sad that a sore foot kept me housebound, although the strong and chilly wind would have kept me off my bike anyway.

I looked out of the window at the daffodils which have come to join the hellebore under the feeder.

hellebore and daffs

Up above, the was plenty of action.

busy feeder

I made some multicoloured lentil soup for my lunch and I felt strong enough to have a wander round the garden.

The first scillas are in flower…

scilla

…and a couple of frogs had arrived in the pond.

march frog

I was just settling down for a rather boring afternoon when providentially Sandy arrived bringing our shared mount cutter which I will need to prepare pictures for our forthcoming camera club exhibition.  We had a cup of tea and a dainty biscuit and then when I expressed a wish for a short outing in the car to at least get out out of the house, Sandy suggested a trip up the hill to see if we could see a wild goat or two.

The sun had gone in and there was a hint of drizzle but the call of the wild was strong.

We actually saw three goats but when we stopped and got out of the car, they scurried over a bridge (no doubt going ‘trip trap’) and made off up the hill.

goat near bridge

This was the bridge that they crossed.

tarras bridge

It has Sandy on top of it and no trolls underneath.

Slightly disappointed with this small sighting, we continued up the road towards the county boundary, seeing no goats as we went along.

Deprived of goats we looked at the Black Grain Burn instead.  It winds its way down the hill beside the road…

copshaw road burn

…making sudden sallies and sparkling among the ferns as it bickers down the valley…

It has a multitude of little cascades of….

small copshaw road waterfall

…various…

middle copshaw road waterfall 2

…sizes.  I took two shots of the middle sized one because I liked the spangled curtain of peaty water.

middle copshaw road waterfall

This was the biggest.

copshaw road burn down

It is a little gem of a place and we intend to come back later in the year when things are greener, the sun is out and a picnic might be in order.

copshaw road burn with tree

It is a magical spot and I wouldn’t be surprised to find that it has a bank where the wild thyme grows.

We drove on to the county boundary and saw nothing of interest in the wild life category…well to be truthful, we saw no wildlife at all.

We didn’t stop long as the chilly wind was fairly whistling past us.

We were peacefully driving back down the hill when we were brought to a sudden stop by spotting a good number of goats just by the road.  We must have passed them without seeing them on our way up.

The Langholm Moor feral goats are a fine sight with immensely shaggy coats and notable horns.

solo goat

They got a bit fidgety when we got out of the car and made their down the road ahead of us…

crowd of goats

…but not without a bit of headbutting and prancing on the way.

leaping goat

They stopped soon after and let us take some more pictures.

goat profile head

We took the opportunity gratefully.

goat profile left

The light was fading so we drove on with one last stop to let me take a quick snap from the car of the first lambs that I have seen this year.

first lambs

It was an excellent outing and I was grateful for Sandy for giving me an excuse to get out of the house.

I made an enormous bowl of cauliflower cheese for my tea and surprised myself by eating it all.  I had to let out a notch in my belt afterwards.

In the middle of more parliamentary mayhem in the evening, I listened to a conservative MP talking soberly and sensibly while outlining a perfectly sensible cross party plan of action which as he said would satisfy most of the 52% leave voters without insulting the 48% remain voters.  He was so sane and reasonable that I fear that he has no future in politics.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch giving the world a sideways look in the morning sun.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from Gavin’s visit to Yosemite and shows a quite well known waterfall there.

yosemite

We had another chilly but dry day today.   This was a bit of a surprise as we had been promised rain.

Dropscone is going on holiday on the Isle of Skye next week so he came round for a farewell cup of coffee.  He completely failed to bring traditional Friday treacle scones with him but made up for this with several hot cross buns which did very well instead.

After he left, I spent some fruitless time on my computer.  National Savings had sent me a letter politely suggesting that I might like to register on line as I am a premium bond holder and this would save them the trouble of constantly sending expensive letters to tell me when I have won a prize.

This seemed fair enough, though they don’t send me many prize letters I can assure you, but having gone through the online process unsuccessfully a couple of times, the website ended up by telling me to print a form out and send my application to go on-line to them in the post.  I was mildly amused.

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal and I went up to the Laverock Hide at the Moorland Project Feeding station, she to see if there were any raptors about and I to look at smaller birds.

She did get a brief view of a passing hen harrier and I saw a lot of small birds.

greenfinch

This was one of only two greenfinches that I saw today

great tit

But there were a lot of great tits about

chaffinch

And an unusually marked chaffinch

There were some slightly larger ones too.

woodpeckers

Woodpeckers chased each other round the trees,

woodpeckers

And then this one relaxed

I got a glimpse of a passing jay….

jay

…and couldn’t miss this pheasant which stood right in front of me and stared me out.

pheasant

Two visitors came into the hide hoping to see a goshawk but left fairly soon and then more bird watchers with big binoculars and a telescope arrived and they did see a goshawk…

bird watchers

….but it was far too far away for me to see at all.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I decided that goats on the moor might be a better bet so we went up onto the hill and saw three or four goats wandering around some distance away trying to look like boulders or clumps of heather.

goats

We had thought that we had seen a goat or two near the Tarras Bridge on our way out so we had hopes of seeing some nearer to hand on our way home.

We were not disappointed.

goat

A clue

We parked the car and I walked up the road with my camera at the ready.  I tried to be as inconspicuous as possible but this was a wasted effort as the goats didn’t care how close i got to them.

wild goats Langholm Moor

They just kept munching…

wild goats Langholm Moor

…though they did give me the occasional glance.

There was a small group among the bracken.

wild goats Langholm Moor

It was a very peaceful scene.

wild goats Langholm Moor

People say that kids don’t climb trees any more but some do.

wild goats Langholm Moor

And others joined in.

wild goats Langholm Moor

Weighing up the job

wild goats Langholm Moor

All hands on deck

And then back to mum for a cuddle.

wild goats Langholm Moor kid

We left them chomping away in peace….

wild goats Langholm Moor

…and drove home.

It started to rain as we got back so we went inside and had a cup of tea.  It soon stopped raining but in spite of a temperature of 10°, it felt so chilly and unwelcoming outside that we left the garden to itself and found things to do indoors.

I had a look at our own birds.  They were still arguing.

goldfinch

And even this rather placid looking pigeon…

pigeon

…had chased another three away from under the feeder.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I tootled away merrily while Mike and Mrs Tootlepedal watched Gardeners’ World on the TV.

The orchestra and I found some agreeable tempos for the trickier pieces and we had moments when things sounded really good but there were also moments which indicated that a little more practice might not go amiss.  Such is life.

After TV and music, we joined together and put the world to rights.

The flying bird of the day is a garden goldfinch.

goldfinch

 

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Today’s guest picture comes from my neighbour Gavin, who is on a trip to see family in the USA.  They have been been visiting Yosemite.

Yosemite

There was some every nice sunny weather when we got up but the wind soon got up too and if you weren’t in the sun, it was decidedly cool.

Being Sunday, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to sing in the church choir and I made a lamb stew for the slow cooker.  I didn’t go cycling when I had finished though as there were more important things to do today.

Needless to say I had my mind on turning compost so that I could start getting my new bins installed.  By going very carefully, using a small fork and taking frequent rests, I managed to empty Bin D, turn Bin C into Bin D and then turn Bin B into Bin C.

In the rests between turning, I looked into tulips.

tulips

tulips

It’s wonderful to get such a variety  of shades and styles but I notice that they all have six stamens.  There’s probably some tulip rule about that.

I had the occasional sit down inside as well which let me watch the birds for a bit. Female chaffinches were to the fore…

female chaffinches

…and a siskin wisely bailed out before being run into by a determined male chaffinch.

siskin and chaffinch

Out in the garden, the dog tooth violets are in full swing.

dog tooth violets

I even saw a butterfly but as I didn’t have my camera with me, you’ll have to take my word for that.  I saw a couple of butterflies while I was out cycling yesterday so I am hoping to see a few more in the garden soon.

When Mrs Tootlepedal came home, we had some lunch and then we loaded up the car with clippings from the yew and two box balls which had been savaged by Attila the Gardener and took them off to the council dump near Annan.

When we got back, Mrs Tootlepedal suggested that we should take a trip up to the Langholm Moor and see if we could see the goats that people keep tell us we are missing. We had hopes of perhaps seeing a hen harrier too, although it had clouded over by this time.

It was very hazy so there were no views to be had and as we drove over the hill to the county boundary, there were no goats either.   We did see a buzzard high in the sky above us but we turned for home feeling that once again, we had missed the goats.

 I stopped the car as we came down into the Tarras valley in order to take a rather gloomy shot of one of my favourite bridges…..

Tarras Bridge

…and while we were stopped, the sharp eyed Mrs Tootlepedal thought that she saw a goat on the far side of the river.  When I looked, I saw another two so we drove over the bridge and looked around.

We didn’t have to be very sharp eyed to see a lot more goats.

Tarras goats

There were goats and kids all over the place.  I don’t how we had missed them on our way out.

One of the kids was bleating furiously and I could hear an answering bleat from some distance away.  When I looked down the bank, I could see a goat sprinting along the far bank of the river.

Tarras goats

It came to the bridge and went tip tapping over it with no regard for trolls at all….

Tarras goats

…and was soon reunited with the kid.

The goats weren’t at all bothered by us and I was able to walk along the road side snapping away without disturbing them.

Tarras goats

I don’t often get a chance like this so I overindulged a bit.

Tarras goats

These are genuinely wild goats but they were very calm today.

Tarras goats

Tarras goats

Tarras goats

They were as curious about me as i was about them.

Tarras goats

Tarras goats

Tarras goats

Although we could have happily stayed and watched them for quite a lot longer,, we left the goats in the hope of seeing a hen harrier before the light faded…

Tarras goats

…and drove on.

Before we left, I did take a picture of a sheep which was standing nearby so that anyone who is having trouble in separating their goats from their sheep can tell the difference.

tarras sheep

We didn’t see a harrier, just another buzzard circling in the sky but we did see several grouse.  Sadly, the light had gone too far to take a picture by this time.

When we got home, I took some advice from Mrs Tootlepedal, borrowed her spirit level and set about demolishing the old compost Bin B and installing the bottom layers of the new bin.

I got the bottom section level….

spirit level

…installed the next layer and started turning Bin A into the new Bin B.  It was a pleasure to use such a handsome new bin.

compost bins

…and we soon had three layers of the new bin filled.

compost bins

Here are Bins A to D in a row.

It just remains to finish turning Bin A into Bin B (which has two more layers to put on if needed) and then build the new Bin A.  With a little good weather, that should happen tomorrow.  The beauty of the modular bins is that I never have to lean in deeply to dig out the compost and I never have to lift the compost any higher than is absolutely necessary.  These are important considerations for a man with a bad back.

We settled down to eat our lamb stew and watch the Masters golf tournament with a feeling of a day well spent.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch catching the morning sun..

flying chaffinch

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