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Posts Tagged ‘woodpecker’

Today’s guest picture was sent to me by Mary Jo from Manitoba.  She thinks that I ought to raise my lawn care ambitions a bit.

big lawn machine

It was grey,  windy and sometimes wet when I went up to the fill the feeders at the Moorland Project’s Laverock Hide.  Sandy is away in very distant parts on holiday so I am taking on his duties for a while.

As usual after filling the feeders, I had a sit down in the hide under the shelter of its fine natural roof…

laverock hide roof

…to watch the birds for a while.  It was very gloomy and my camera could only just pick out a woodpecker on the far side of the glade.

woodpecker

It had better luck with the birds just outside the hide.

There were industrial quantities of chaffinches about…

chaffinch on stump

…happy to share with the occasional coal tit.

chaffinch and coal tit on stump

A great tit….

great tit

…and a greenfinch visited the peanuts…

goldfinch at laverock

…and there were several pheasants in various states of scruffiness about as well.

pheasant bedraggled

When I got home, I had a quick look at our own feeders…

busy feeder

…and a stroll round the garden.

late sweet william

Late sweet williams have appeared.

new clematis oct

And a brand new clematis flower on a plant that has not looked promising so far

old clematis oct

There are still old clematis  flowers hanging on here and there.

The chief business of the day was a visit to Edinburgh to see Matilda.  When we got to Lockerbie station there was a great air of excitement about as it seemed that the  train would be on time today, an historic occasion.

It arrived on time, left on time and got to Edinburgh on time too.  It was surreal experience.

We walked down the hill and met Matilda and her parents just as they got back to their house in another outbreak of good timing.   We spent some happy hours being entertained by Matilda and then eating an excellent evening meal of green soup (a household speciality cooked by Clare), linguine with asparagus with garlic bread (cooked by Al) followed by a sticky toffee pudding (made by Mrs Tootlepedal and carried up with us on the train). We left to catch the train home in a very contented frame of mind as it is hard to beat the combination of good food and good company.

I apologise for the brief report today but we have to get up early tomorrow and there are still things to be done.

The flying bird of the day is one of our own chaffinches.

close up flying chaffinch (more…)

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who thought that this picture of the fernery at York on a rainy day might interest me after my fern walk with Mike a few  days ago.  He was right.  It interested Mike too.

fernery York

We had another cool and windy day here, with occasional heavy showers.  I had to go up to the Moorland Feeders as a fill in feeder filler for Sandy, who is sunning himself by the beach somewhere far to the south (lucky chap).

There were not many birds about so I enjoyed some of the tree features…

laverock hide trees

..until a few birds turned up.

pheasant

woodpecker

Maybe the very brisk wind which you can see ruffling this siskin’s feathers had put the birds off…

blowy siskin

…but it certainly put me off and as Mrs Tootlepedal hadn’t seen anything interesting in the raptor line as she scanned the hillside, we went home…

…where it soon started raining.

busy feeder in the rain

However, it is April so the showers were intermittent and I got out into the garden from time to time.

The tulips are punctuating the daffodils with spots of colour…

tulips and affodils

…and standing alone too.

red tulips

In the pond many tadpoles and snails are to be seen.

tadpole and snail in pond

Mrs Tootlepedal has been trying to find out where the pond is leaking as it has been losing water whenever it stops raining lately.  She has done some serious detective work and today, she added some practical digging and stone shifting and she thinks that she has cracked the problem.

I took pictures of euphorbia and muscari to show the contrast mixture of  rain and sun we had today…

euphorbia and muscari

…for which a couple of tulips provided corroborative evidence.

tulips with rain drops

I found my daffodil of the day….

daffodil

…and then went upstairs to take a couple of general views of the garden.  Here is the front  lawn and its surrounding beds…

view of front lawn

..and here is the middle lawn with a glimpse of the vegetable garden to the right.

view of garden

It doesn’t look bad considering the miserable spring  we have had so far.

The blackbirds still seem to be busy nesting and the female had come out for a break.

blackbird

I made some soup for lunch and then we set off (through an horrendously heavy shower) for Lockerbie (where it wasn’t raining) to catch the train to Edinburgh to see Matilda and her parents.

I like to stretch my legs on the platform after the drive over and before catching the train and I always enjoy the infinite geometry of railway lines.

Lockerbie station

Our  trip to Edinburgh went well.  We caught a glimpse of the alternative grandparents and then turned some dough which Matilda had made with her other granny into bread rolls, enjoyed some football cards  and had a very tasty meal of home made pizza  before setting off to come home.

By this time the weather had cleared up and we decided to walk back to the station.  On the way, Mrs Tootlepedal spotted both some fine lichen…

Edinburgh lichen

…and a grey squirrel…

edinburgh squirrel

…while my eyes turned to the flag flying at Holyroodhouse with Arthur’s Seat behind it…

Arthurs Seat and Holyrood House

…and a selection of buildings which we passed as we walked along.

Views from Regent road Edinburgh

We were a bit alarmed to find that the incoming train from Manchester, which we catch on its way back south, hadn’t even arrived at the station by the time that we due to leave and I expected a long delay.  Mercifully and very surprisingly, the train drew in some four minutes after it was due to leave and left only three minutes later!  In the end we were only eight minutes late getting home.  What a relief.

And the pond hadn’t lost any water so it looks as though Mrs Tootlepedal has cracked the problem.

The flying bird of the day showed off the strength of the wind very well.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture puts our recent snow here into perspective.  It was sent to me by Lucie from Manitoba and it shows an unwelcome late and heavy fall of snow which was making life hard for birds on her feeder.

snow in manitoba

We had another chilly day today but it didn’t rain and the sun came out for a while so we were quite pleased about that.

As Sandy is a bit poorly at the moment, I took his turn to fill the feeders at the Moorland Project feeder station.  Mrs Tootlepedal came with me and while she sat in the car and scanned the skies in vain for hen harriers, I looked for smaller birds from the hide.

tits at Laverock hide

Great tit, coal tit and blue tit complete a set.

woodpecker

The one glimpse of a woodpecker that I got

_DSC2007

A male chaffinch

chaffinch

And another one

flying chaffinch

And one of a lot of flying chaffinches catching the morning sun

Mrs Tootlepedal may not have seen any raptors but she did get a good view of an impressive cloud behind Whita.

cloud

We got home in good time for a cup of coffee and a slice of walnut and banana loaf and then I did the crossword until the day had got warm enough to make for inviting cycling.

The garden birds were not as co-operative as the moorland birds had been and indeed, some of them indulged in behaviour that can only be described as very, very childish.

birds' bums

There is no need for that sort of thing at all.

I left them to themselves and went to look for frogs.  There were a lot in the pond.

_DSC2019frog_DSC2020

For some reason the light was perfect for reflections today.

Although it wasn’t very warm and the sun wasn’t very bright, the crocuses were responding to the better weather.

crocus
In the end, I ran out of excuses for not cycling and wrapped myself up as warmly as I could and set out to do a thirty mile circle avoiding as many potholes as I could.

I paused for a moment by a bridge not far from home to adjust a wrinkle in my many layers and was impressed by the variety of life to be seen on it.

lichen

There was still a lot of snow beside the back roads….

gair road

…and indeed there is more piled up there than in the neighbouring fields.

tree

But the roads were mostly dry and while the sun was out, it was a pleasure to be cycling.  Once the sun went in before the halfway mark, it was much chillier and I kept going rather than stopping to take a lot of pictures.

At 17 miles, I was thinking that I wasn’t anything like as fit as I would have liked to be but when i turned for home, I discovered that I had been so well wrapped up that I hadn’t realised just how strong the wind was.  It blew me home in a very satisfactory manner.

By the time that I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal had gone off to catch the train to Edinburgh to see Matilda.

I made a sausage stew for my tea.  That sounds a bit basic but if you dignify it with the name of sausage casserole or even sausage cassoulet (it had beans in it), it sounds a bit classier.  It tastes just the same though.

The reason that I did not go with Mrs Tootlepedal to Edinburgh was that it was a recorder day and in the evening, Susan came round and she drove us to Carlisle where we enjoyed a good evening of music with our recorder group.

This has been a rather perfunctory description of a very enjoyable day but it was quite late by the time that we got back from Carlisle and I am a bit tired so I apologise.

Because the garden birds were so uncooperative, I did think of using a frog as the flying bird of the day today just to teach them a lesson…

frog

…but I found that I had got a reasonable flying chaffinch from our morning visit to the Laverock Hide.

So here it is, the flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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The guest picture of the day comes from a visit to Wakefield that my brother made a few weeks ago.   The theatre there is a  handsome but modest building as befits a down to earth town.

Opera House Wakefield

After some quite heavy rain overnight and a rather misty, murky morning,  today turned into a very pleasant day.  I might well have gone cycling after breakfast but I decided to postpone any decision about that until I had gone up to the Moorland Feeders where I was acting as a fill-in feeder filler for Sandy who is basking in the sun somewhere in the far south.

I was greeted by a rather grumpy pheasant who only got off the gate to let me through with the greatest reluctance.

pheasant

I filled the feeders and found that it was warm enough to sit in the hide without a coat (which was just as well as I hadn’t bought one) and so I sat for a while and enjoyed the birds.

There were the usual suspects both big….

woodepecker and pheasant

…and small.

Greenfinch and coal tit

Greenfinch and coal tit

Great tit and blue tit

Great tit and blue tit

And one or two less usual things as well.

one legged chaffinch

A one legged chaffinch looking fit and well

blackbird

A blackbird on top of the tall feeder

squabbling chaffinches

And the first squabbling chaffinches of the season

There was also a major fungus outbreak at the foot of a tree near the hide.

feeder furngus

I made it home perfectly in time for coffee and then I decided not to go cycling again.

It was a great day to be out in the garden though so I went out into the garden.

I was pleased to see, along with the usual red admirals….

red admirals

Ten a penny this year

…that we had a small tortoiseshell in the garden as well.

small tortoiseshell butterfly

These have been very scarce this year.

There was no shortage of bees and hoverflies (and smaller flies too) once again.

cornflower with hoverfly

icelandic poppy with hoverfly

bee on dahlia

It is very gratifying to find that Mrs Tootlepedal has planted so many attractive flowers   that the garden is filled with flight and sound on any vaguely sunny day.

Mrs Tootlepedal was busy developing her new plans for the middle lawn and flower beds and while she was working, she noticed that our silver pear tree had actually produced a few silver pears.

silver pear

They are very small.

Nearby, a cotoneaster was much brighter.

cotoneaster

The walnuts keep falling off the walnut tree, some of them assisted by jackdaws and crows like this one which was perched on the very top of the tree this morning.

crow

I think that there may be a walnut just to the right of the bird.

Soon it was time for lunch and I decided not to go to Edinburgh with Mrs Tootlepedal to see Matilda this week.

After Mrs Tootlepedal drove off to catch the train at Lockerbie, I decided not to go cycling once again but I did get the slow bike out to deliver a message to Nancy, the Archive Group treasurer, with more cash from the Welcome to Langholm sales desk.  They sell postcards, local history books and DVDs on our behalf.

Since I was on my bike, I continued along the waterside in the hope of seeing the dipper.  It was not there but a goosander kindly took its place and posed for me.

Goosander

It really was a lovely afternoon so I pedalled gently on across the Sawmill Brig and up the Lodge Walks.

Lodge Walks

My intention was to take another picture of the tiny fungi on a tree stump which I had seen on a recent walk but they had faded away almost to dust.  I looked around and saw a wonderful display of more conventional fungi on a tree stump on the other side of the road.

tree stump fungus

A veritable feast of fungus

tree stump fungus

A close up

I cycled gently home across the Castleholm and even on such a warm and sunny day, I could easily see why they had had to cancel our local agricultural show while we were away in Marseille.  Putting my foot down incautiously while pausing to admire the view  all too easily led to my whole foot and ankle disappearing into the glaur.  It has rained a lot recently.

When I got home, there was still plenty of time for a trip to Canonbie (or even further afield) but once again I decided not to cycle.

Instead, I retired indoors, practised the awkward song for our concert on Saturday (and all the easier ones a swell) and then had a long relaxing bath followed by a snooze.

It had been hard making so many decisions during the day and I needed a rest.

However, I have got my asthma medicine properly organised again and hope to be a great deal perkier tomorrow.

At last, a traditional flying bird of the day.  This was at the Moorland Feeders.  I am looking  forward to getting the garden feeders up again in the not too distant future.

flying chaffinch

 

 

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Today’s guest picture is from the files and shows the Rotunda Geological Museum in Scarborough.  It was taken by my sister Mary during my siblings visit to the town back in December.The Rotunda Geological Museum

The new year continued in excellent form today with another bright and sunny day, cold but not freezing, and with a light breeze.

This made the job of acting as substitute feeder filler at the Moorland Feeders a great pleasure.  Mrs Tootlepedal came up with me and sat in the car looking over the moorland in the vain hope of seeing interesting raptors while I filled the feeders and then sat in the hide.

Mrs Tootlepedal’s raptor viewing chances may have been severely handicapped by the loud banging of guns nearby as shooters popped away at the poor pheasants.  Inside the feeder area, the pheasants were more secure…

Pheasant

…with a different sort of shooting being the order of the day.

I saw a jay and one or two woodpeckers….

jay and woodepeckers

…at a good distance from the hide and several smaller birds rather closer.

great tit, siskin and coal tit

Unlike my garden feeders, the moorland site was very busy and I had a lot of fun watching hordes of chaffinches.

chaffinch

It was time for coffee when we got back and then, since it was still a really fine day, I popped down to the river in search of a dipper in some good light.  When I got to the suspension bridge, I was nearly deafened by two robins in neighbouring trees belting out their songs at full volume.

riverside robins

I didn’t see a dipper though so I walked along to Mary Street and had a look at the river there.  Mr Grumpy and gulls were both in evidence….

heron and balck headed gull

…but I was reconciled to the lack of dippers by the presence of a goosander, standing on a rock giving itself a good wash and brush up.  After a while it was satisfied…

Goosander

A good hair day

…and left its rock and swam off upstream.

Goosander

I got home in time for a look at the garden feeder….

goldfinch and greenfinch

Goldfinch and greenfinch. It was the first time that I had seen a goldfinch venture into the fat ball cage

…and a light lunch.

After lunch, I set out again to make good use of the fine day, this time with Sandy for a walk to the top of Warbla to take in some more rays.

We passed horses well wrapped up against the chilly wind….

Stubholm horses

…interesting fungus and lichen…

fungus and lichen

…and made it out onto the open hillside and enjoyed the views.

We looked across the Wauchope….

Craig windmills

…up towards the mast, our destination…

Warbla summit

…and back down on the town below when we got there.

Langholm from Warbla

Looking around from the summit, Sandy remarked that we live in undulating country.  I don’t think anyone could argue with that.

Castle Hill and Ewes valley

We took a direct route down from the summit passing some mountaineering sheep on our way…

Sheep on warbla

…as well as a decorative bare tree…

Warbla tree

…and some unintentionally arty catkins.

catkins

We got home after our two and a half miles quite ready for a cup of tea and a biscuit and we were joined by Mrs Tootlepedal who had been busy stripping wallpaper while we were out.

I had taken a tremendous number of photographs on all these outings so I had to spend quite a lot of time after our tea making testing decisions, trying to decide for example which of thirteen goosander shots was the least worst.  This sort of thing makes your head hurt so I broke up the task by taking a moment or two to practise some songs for our Carlisle choir which starts again this Sunday.

This is always a bit of a gamble because you can never tell whether the conductor is going to settle on the song that you are practising or not.  Just because it is in our music poke, it doesn’t mean that it is  going to make the cut.  However, it must be a good thing to practise any song so it is probably not time wasted whatever happens.

The flying bird of the day is a garden chaffinch.

Flying chaffinch

I can recommend a visit to Sandy’s blog.  He got some much better hair ice pictures yesterday than me and there are some very good pictures from his recent trip to Mexico there too.

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Today’s guest picture is a view of the inside of Ely Cathedral taken by my brother Andrew.

Ely cathedral

I got up pretty promptly this morning as I was due to go up to the Moorland Feeders because Sandy is still away and Mrs Tootlepedal needed the car to go to Carlisle to help sorting out the choir music.  Luckily, although it was near zero again, the roads were ice free and the sun was out so it was a good morning to go to the feeders.

It looked fairly wintery up on the moor…

Moorland feeder view

…but once again, the winds were very light so it wasn’t too cold and I sat in the hide for a few minutes after I had filled the feeders.  There was a lot of action to enjoy…

great tit and chaffinch

…but no new winter visitors in sight.

woodpecker and blue tit

I stopped a couple of times on my way back down the hill.

Mist at Broomholm

I was a bit sorry that I didn’t have more time to spare as it was a promising morning for taking pictures.

Broomholm road

A little mist on a sunny morning never does any harm

Broomholm road

This is the same view but looking back down the road

When I got home, the sun obligingly went in so I didn’t feel so bad when Mrs Tootlepedal drove off and left me watching the birds.

flying goldfinch

A goldfinch concentrating hard

chaffinches

Chaffinches in motion

chaffinches

And coming to a halt

I went out to check if the clematis had survived a chilly night and not only found that it had but found another little one near by.  They are not in the peak of condition to say the least but they are still there.

clematis

How some flowers survive when all around them have gone is one of those mysteries.

nicotiana and cornflower

A tough pair: nicotiana and cornflower

My hand has got a bit sore lately so I put down the heavy camera and tried catching a bird or two with the Lumix which is much more forgiving to lift up.

chaffinch

chaffinch

Catching flying birds is a different matter.

I put in some time practising songs for our Carlisle choir.  I am trying to develop a bit more of a musical memory so that when I have got a song somewhat mastered, it remains in my mind and I don’t have to start all over again next time that I look at it.

Mrs Tootlepedal came back from Carlisle and we were soon on our way to Lockerbie and thence on to Edinburgh by train to visit our granddaughter Matilda.  I didn’t take a camera with me as I figured that the light would be too poor by the time that we got to Edinburgh to make it worth while taking pictures.  As it happened, the light was superb for a short while and I had to resort to the phone.

This is the Scottish Parliament in the foreground with golden sunshine playing on Salisbury Crags behind.

Salisbury Crags

A side road further on our way gave us a glimpse of Arthur’s Seat, also looking as though it might have been touched by Midas.

Arthur's Seat

I wished that I had had a good camera with me and time for a walk.

Still, it was a great pleasure to meet Matilda and her fine parents and we spent some happy hours playing, talking and eating before we caught the train home again.

With the temperature at zero, I was quite pleased to have the winter tyres on the car.

The leaf of the day will have to wait again because there was a lone poppy hanging on for dear life in the hope of getting the honour of being the flower of the day…

poppy

…and a chaffinch taking a bow appears as flying  bird of the day.

chaffinch

 

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Today’s guest picture is another from the Menger family’s Highland meander.  It shows the daughter of the house holding a cushion starfish which they met on on a fishing trip they took from Islonia, an island kingdom near Gairloch.

cushion starfish

For the second day running, I was acting as a relief feeder filler for the Moorland Feeders as for the second day running, the designated feeder filler had made a break for Edinburgh. The astute reader may notice a pattern here and it is probably connected with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Mrs Tootlepedal came up with me today and for the second day running, the bird hide was occupied when I got here. Fortunately on this occasion, the family left the hide shortly after I had finished filling the feeders and I was able to settle down to watch the birds while Mrs Tootlepedal scanned the skies for raptors from the comfort of the car.

She saw one bird of prey briefly but I saw a lot of small birds.  Among them were…

chaffinch

A chaffinch

four siskins

Four siskins

Great tit and robin

A great tit and a robin

blue tit

A blue tit (which came and went at speed)

tits on feeder

Two great tits and a coal tit

pheasant

A pheasant

woodpecker

And a woodpecker

In fact for almost the whole time that we were there, there was at least one woodpecker on each side of the clearing.

woodpeckers

The only time when I wasn’t watching birds was when Mrs Tootlepedal’s raptor flew over the clearing and the small birds cleared off.  They soon came back though.

We got home just in time for coffee but the rest of the morning was wasted on the phone as a result of an email from my internet provider telling me that they were “upgrading my service by removing my email provision”.  Some one should be arrested for this act of violence against the English language.

However, several phone calls later, I got my email account reinstated for a price which means that I will reluctantly after many years as a loyal customer move to another provider.  The nice lady on the phone assured me that the decision to remove my email facility without notice had been a commercial one.  What a surprise.

After an early lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents and I made and ate some potato soup for my lunch.  Then I settled down to some work in the garden.

I started with a little compost sieving to warm up and followed up by mowing the drying green, the greenhouse grass, the middle lawn and the front lawn in that order.  In actual mowing time, this is not a long job but once getting out the different mowers required, pausing for heavy breathing, sitting down for a rest and just standing at the end of a row and looking around vacantly have been factored in, the job took most of the afternoon.

I did find time for a shopping trip to the High Street to acquire more coffee beans and two nectarines.

Mrs Tootlepedal and I had considered the poppies in the garden during the day and we were struck by how various they are in colour and design.

poppies

poppies

poppies

Although they may look superficially alike, a closer look reveals all sorts of subtle differences.

The Rosa Wren is doing very well and comes up with a fresh replacement as each bloom fades.  It is hard to believe that these two flowers are from the same stem.

Rosa Wren

I made a visit to our corner shop after I had finished the mowing and purchased a smoked sausage, a pepper and some mushrooms and then with the help of an onion from the garden made them into a risotto for my tea.  It went down well.

In the evening, Susan appeared and gave me a lift to our recorder group in Carlisle for our first play for several weeks.  Considering that we were all a bit rusty, we played well and enjoyed a varied selection of music from Hindemith and Gershwin to Palestrina and Farnaby with others in between.

Susan got us back to Langholm at exactly the same time as Mrs Tootlepedal returned from Edinburgh and as she had enjoyed her visit a lot, we sat down to watch the highlights of another interesting stage of the Vuelta in a very good mood.

The light in the morning wasn’t good enough to let me catch a flying bird at the Moorland feeders so once again, a flower of the day is all I have to offer.  But what a flower it is.

pink poppy

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