Posts Tagged ‘wild goats’

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


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.


This was one of only two greenfinches that I saw today

great tit

But there were a lot of great tits about


And an unusually marked chaffinch

There were some slightly larger ones too.


Woodpeckers chased each other round the trees,


And then this one relaxed

I got a glimpse of a passing jay….


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


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.


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.


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.


And even this rather placid looking 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.



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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.


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.



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…


…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


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

The pond was alive in the sunshine.


A tadpole wriggles away from the heaving mass


A frog thinks of things.

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


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….


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.


The flying bird of the day is a passing 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.


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.


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.


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….


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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


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.





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Today’s picture comes from my daughter Annie’s friend Dan and was taken during a concert which they were at.  If  you are over 60 and British you should be able to identify at least two of this collection of great but cheerful musicians.

Williamson Renbourn & Jones 21.4

I was quite cheerful too as we had another sunny day today while the areas around us had heavy showers.  The birds are eating my seed as quickly as I can put it out.  I took these sparring goldfinches around 9 o’clock in the morning…


They were too quick for the camera today.

..and I took this threatening siskin at six o’clock in the evening…

siskin and chaffinch

It startled the chaffinch so much that it has jumped out of its shoes.

…and at all points in between (and before and afterwards) there was a steady stream of visitors to the feeders.

I had to take this on trust from Mrs Tootlepedal because I was out for most of the day.  Dr Barlow, from the Moorland Education Project, had organised a day’s course on recording wildlife and Sandy and I went along to this.   It was described as lasting from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and we both imagined that it would be unlikely that we would last for the whole thing but it turned out to be a very interesting talk with many, many examples to listen to.  It was pitched so that both the seasoned wildlife enthusiast and an absolute beginner like myself could enjoy it equally which is a difficult trick to pull off.

I have been thinking of getting a digital recorder for recording oral history for the Archive Group and the lecturer showed me that I could easily use the same recorder for recording wildlife with the addition of a suitable microphone.   This was very useful to know.  He recorded a bit of his talk and then played it back and it sounded very clear, even in a rather echoing room.

Sandy came home with me for a bowl of soup for lunch and was impressed by the ongoing bird activity while we ate.  I had asked Dr Barlow during the day where the best for viewing bird on the moor would be and armed with this information, I set off in the car as soon as the lecture had finished.  Sadly, although I had my new lens with me,  I had my usual success at bird watching on the moor though I did see a hill…

Tinnis Hill

Tinnis Hill taken with the new lens.

..and some wild goats.

wild goats

They were a bit too far away to get a good shot which was a pity as they are very impressively horned and shaggy coated.


The best that I could do with either lens.

To be fair, I did see one bird.  It is a red grouse.  It too was a long way away.


The whole point of the moorland project is to improve the habitat for grouse so it was good to see one.

The weather was rather curious with lovely sunshine on one side and alarming black clouds on the other.


The sky behind the monument was much more alarming than it looks in this picture.

In the end, I got bored after an hour of seeing no exciting birds and went home.  I stopped at the White Yett to admire the contrasting sunshine and shade.  It was obviously pouring with rain to the south and west of Langholm but sunny where I was.

Meiklehlom hill

Castle Hill

When I got  back down to the town, I saw that they were playing cricket on the Castleholm which surprised me as I would have thought that April was a bit too early to start the season.

cricket on the castleholm

The birds were still very active when I got back but I didn’t have time to get the perfect shot and the light was fading too.

goldfinch wheeling

chaffinch looming

The light was good enough for a couple of tulips which fortunately stay a bit stiller than the birds.


This one had closed up with the departure of the sun but still looked elegant.

pink tulip

I am not sure if this one has actually opened out yet.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a concert given by her old choir in Gretna.  She enjoyed it a lot and it even finished in good time, which is exceedingly rare for any choir concert, so she came home very happy.  While she was out,  I was visited by Kevin who has volunteered to put some of his pictures into our photo exhibition.  We should have quite a good number of pictures in the show.

Today’s chaffinch is an early morning siskin.  I notice that it has been ringed.


Footnote: The singers in the picture of the day are (from left to right) Wizz Jones, Robin Williamson (of the Incredible String band) and John Renbourn (of Pentangle).  Annabel says that they are coming to Carlisle later this year.

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