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Posts Tagged ‘wild goats’

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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Today’s guest picture comes from my friend Bruce, who recently met this Glasgow tram at the Crich National Tramway Museum.  It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘going to university’

glasgow tram

We had what is probably the last of our superbly sunny spring spell today.   As is all too common in life, instead of being out in the sun, I had to sit inside the Welcome to Langholm visitor centre for two hours in the morning as it has just opened for the new season.

At least I did get a couple of visitors to welcome and I was able to to spend some useful time putting a week of the newspaper index into the Archive Group database so, although I would have preferred to be out cycling, it wasn’t time wasted.

I was also in a  very good mood as Dropscone had come  round for an early cup of coffee before I went to work, bringing a mountain of drop scones with him.  These disappeared so quickly as we drank our coffee that we could only consider that they must have been of the very top quality.  Naturally, as Dropscone had made them.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was busy in the garden, having already put an undercoat of paint on another door upstairs.  I got the mower out and finished pressing the moss on the middle lawn and then I had a wander round.

There are a host of daffodils now…

daffs

…and new flowers as well.

bergenia and a mystery flower

A bergenia and a mystery flower. Mrs Tootlepedal can’t remember what it is called.

tulip and magnolia

Hints of things to come

Pulsatilla

A Pulsatilla, our entry into the hairiest plant of the year competition

The pond was alive in the sunshine.

tadpole

A tadpole wriggles away from the heaving mass

frog

A frog thinks of things.

After a late lunch and a quick look out of the window…

chaffinches

A forceful male berates an oncoming female chaffinch

…I did a bit more mowing and sieved some compost and then I got the fairly speedy bike out and went off to stretch my legs.

I went far enough to see how the alder catkins are doing….

alder catkins

…but I didn’t get too far before I remembered that a friend had told me this morning that the wild goats on Langholm Moor were feeding right beside the road and would make a good photo opportunity.  I went back home and picked up Mrs Tootlepedal and Mike Tinker and we went off on a goat hunt.

We saw the goats (Mike spotted them) but the phrase ‘beside the road’ did not spring to mind as they were grazing a good distance from us to say the least….

wild goats

…and they had managed to find the only spot on the moor where a photograph might be spoiled by electricity lines.

Even with the zoom at full blast, they were too far away but you could see their fine horns.

wild goats

We couldn’t wait about too long as I had to be home in time for my flute lesson.  We did stop for a moment on the way back because a small group of bird watchers were having a good time watching hen harriers and we wondered if they were in view.  There was only time for the briefest glimpse of a female before we had to move on.

After a glance at my favourite view….

Ewes valley

…and Mike’s cherry tree as we dropped him off…

cherry tree

…we got home in good time for another look round the garden….

aubretia

The first aubretia has appeared

….and for my flute pupil Luke, who came for his lesson.  We are going to concentrate on tone production and technique for a week or two so I will have to practise hard myself if I am to set a good example.

The flower of the day is a scilla.  It is a pity that to get the best view of them, you have to be about three inches tall.

Scilla

The flying bird of the day is a passing chaffinch.

chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture is another from my brother’s recent trip to Spain.  Santillana Del Mar is a Spanish village 20 kilometres from the Bay of Biscay, which has scarcely changed from Medieval times.

Santillana Del Mar

After the thunderstorm overnight, today was sunny and much brighter as the haze had been swept away by the rain.  It would have been good to have had this bright weather for our trip yesterday but we made the best of it today.

Dropscone was busy and the wind was very brisk so I took the opportunity to give my legs a rest.  After a leisurely breakfast, I went up to the town to do some business.  This would have been more useful if the shop that I was going to visit had been open and the person whom I wanted to see had been in.

I spent a lot of time walking round the garden at various times during the day.

Euphorbias

Mrs Tootlepedal has at least four different varieties of Euphorbia in different places.

astrantia and aquilegia

I like this colour combination, probably a happy accident.

Dicentra, lilac and anemone

Dicentra, lilac and anemone all enjoying the sun

The back path

The back path, a riot of growth.

Walnut tree

The leaves are just coming out on the walnut, one of the last trees to come into leaf.

We are too far north to get a crop of walnuts but there is at least one flower  this year as you can see.

The number of visitors to the feeder has gone down sharply and if this continues, I may even stop putting food out this year though I generally feed right through the summer.  Looking out of the kitchen window is less of a full time occupation as a result but I still take the occasional peek.

two sparrows

Two sparrows

redpoll and goldfinch

Redpoll and goldfinch

I am still in the process of turning the compost heap into a new bin, doing a couple of wheelbarrow loads at a time to try to preserve my joints.  We have a small shredder which works very well and Mrs Tootlepedal and I try to shred as much of the garden waste as we can with the result that the compost rots down very quickly and takes up less space than a conventional three year system.  Mind you, we still have ten compost bins  dotted about the vegetable garden.

After lunch, we went out to make good use of the sunshine.  We started with a visit to the Langholm Moor and we were lucky to see a hen harrier fly past.  It was too far away for the camera but well in range of my new binoculars.  The were several other people out with binoculars in hand as well as us.  As an added bonus we were serenaded by larks as we sat and watched.  We moved on in search of wild goats and soon saw some not far from the road.

Wild goats

They were near some of the peat banks which locals still use to cut fuel for their fires.

peat bank

The peats are laid out to be dried after cutting.

The banks are cut and the top layer is replaced behind the cutting so that the trench advances across the moor by a metre or so each year, leaving a reinstated surface behind it.

Two peat cutters arrived while I was watching the goats and set to work.

peat cutters

After drying flat, the peats are tipped up into little pyramids to dry further.  Peat cutting is very hard work and my back is still suffering from my efforts cutting peat nearly forty years ago.

I took two pictures of the Tarras valley before we headed back to Langholm.  The hills are just beginning to ‘green up’ after the winter months.

Tarras

Looking up the Tarras valley

Tarras wood

Looking across the river.

When we got back to Langholm, we went in search of a nuthatch.  We didn’t have to look hard because there was a nuthatch hanging at the entrance to the nest when we arrived. There was no shortage of photo opportunities in the next few minutes.

nuthatches

We didn’t stay too long as the garden was calling to Mrs Tootlepedal and walked back across the Castleholm to the car, enjoying the beautiful day as we went.

Timpen Hill

Castleholm trees

Lodge walks

The Lodge Walks

We had to watch ourselves as we crossed the race track as a sheep race was in progress.

sheep on race track

Mrs Tootlepedal kindly allowed me time to stop at the Kilngreen on the way back to the garden.  We enjoyed an ice cream from the Pelosi’s van there and I strolled along the waterside.

The heron was posing for the camera beside the car park….

Heron

… but obligingly flew off to a more photogenic spot after a while.

heron

Beside the Ewes, a little wagtail was leaping up into the air to catch insects.  I managed to get a quick shot of it before it shot off to feed its young.

wagtail

Once back in the garden, we turned our attention to mending the main compost bin which was made out of the old surrounds for small raised beds and like its owners, is showing the ravages of time.   With a bit of skilled bashing of three inch nails, it should now last for another few years.

I shifted another two barrowfuls of compost and then  retired indoors for a cup of tea and a snooze while the indefatigable Mrs Tootlepedal  worked away outside.

I am getting trigger happy on the camera these days and had to throw away a lot of pictures but even so I have put more than my daily ration into this post for which I apologise.

In the evening we went to our Langholm Sings choir practice and had to put up with an AGM for half the practice.  AGM are necessary evils but they aren’t half as much fun as singing.  Ominously, we were bitten by midges as we came out.   If there is one drawback to life in Langholm it is the midges.  Last year was very midge free after the severe winter.  This year’s mild and wet winter may make for a very midgy summer.

The flying bird of the day is a blue tit, snatching a seed and making off at speed.

blue tit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today’s picture shows my sister Susan on Mt Taranaki in New Zealand where she is visiting friends and linking up with my brother and his wife who are also there.  He sent me this picture.

Susan descending Mt Taranaki

We were just as sunny as that today but  we were a lot colder and I had to break the ice on the pond again.  I was pleased to see that at least one frog has survived the cold snap.

frog

A frog among the ice floes

Yet again, the very cold weather and chilly wind  kept me off the bicycle.  Sandy came for coffee and after he left, I found that the sun had softened the front lawn enough to spike about a quarter of it.  I was pleased to get it started but it showed me that I was wise to avoid cycling as the effort laid my breathing low and I had to take my relieving inhaler and have a good sit down to recover.  It is very frustrating as February was such a good month for cycling that I have been feeling quite fit but it doesn’t take long for the fitness to slip away again.

While I was waiting for Sandy to come round, I was able to watch a robin taking steps to get to the seed feeder.

Robin's progress

All the shots are of the same bird at the same time.

Mrs Tootlepedal was working again and I shook myself out of my chair just before she came home for lunch and captured this pair of siskins in the plum tree…

siskin pair

…and this richly coloured crocus.

crocus

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a meeting on the future of the town and just after she had gone, Sandy reappeared and we decided to go on a little tour in the sunshine.  I had hoped to go down to Gretna and take some pictures of the Lake District hills across the Solway but time was against me as I had a meeting later in the afternoon.

We decided on a more local visit and our route took us over the White Yett and onto the moor.  We stopped to admire some of the wild goats who were feeding close to the road.

wild goat

You don’t often get the chance to see them so close to the road.  They got fed up with us snapping away and stomped off in high dudgeon.

goats

One with horns up and one with horns down.

We drove on down to the Tarras and turned up the river and drove on until we came literally to the end of the road at Lodgegill.

There was a still a little snow on a north facing ridge.

Lodgegill

But looking in the other direction gave us a snow free view.

Lodgegill

This is open country with not much to interrupt a view.

Lodgegill

There are a few farm buildings. These are sheep sheds.

There are a lot of sheep.

sheep at Lodgegill

But there are a lot of hills too.

Lodgegill

Sandy was busy with his camera and I have no doubt that a visit to his blog sometime soon will show you what he saw on our walk.  (He was going to the evening version of the meeting that Mrs Tootlepedal went to in the afternoon so it may be a day or two until the pictures appear.)

On our way back home over the moor, we got a tantalising glimpse of the Lake District hills in the distance.

Lake District

I was really sorry that I hadn’t had time to get a better picture of them but I had enjoyed our stroll at Lodgegill very much and I was very pleased to have seen the goats so I shan’t complain.

In spite of some serious potholes, we got home safely and while Sandy went home, I went off to my meeting (Mrs Tootlepedal was cleaning out the greenhouse).  The meeting had been called so that three of us from the choir could go down to Kirkandrews church to check that it would be suitable for a choir concert which we are hoping to hold in June.  We were accompanied by a church representative.

This was the same church which Sandy and I had visited ten days or so ago.

Kirkandrews

Gillian, the church representative, pointed out some triangular stones from the original church which are now on the wall round the present building.

Kirkandrews

As the ‘new’ church was built in 1775, these must be quite old stones.

Gillian took us inside and although I have been in the building before, I was bowled over by what a fine interior the church has.

St Andrew's Church, Kirkandrews on Esk

St Andrew's Church, Kirkandrews on Esk

It has a very pretty ceiling.

St Andrew's Church, Kirkandrews on Esk

Gillian has said that I may go down again and try to take some better pictures when I have more time and a tripod.  (For those of a grammatical bent, that last phrase is a fine example of a semantic syllepsis and I was pleased to get an opportunity to use one.)

We decided that it would be a very good venue for our concert and returned home in a cheerful state of mind.

In the evening we met again at the usual choir meeting.  This was slightly less than satisfactory because thanks to the demands of the operatic society’s forthcoming production next week, only one soprano turned up and she was naturally a bit reluctant to sing by herself.   Somehow we managed to find enough music to sing to have a quiet but enjoyable evening.  Nevertheless, we did decide to abandon next week’s meeting which will be in the middle of the performance week of the show.

The flying bird of the day is entirely traditional.

chaffinch

 

 

 

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