Category Archives: Birds

Mine of information

Tiny frog

Loch Ore on Sunday, this superb local amenity features a circular walk through a variety of ecosystems, including a beach, reed beds, meadow, fields of geese and woodlands.  Built on the land reclaimed from coal mining, it’s used for water sports and is the meeting place for the Newfoundland dog group.  Wee frog here the size of a thumbnail.  The children’s playpark acknowledges the industrial heritage.

Mute swans, pen and cob with cygnets
Loch Ore
Channel from the lochan

Notes from my perch

Occasionally my wanderings on the internet surprise even me.  Today I found out that James Dick, a successful business man who was born in Kilmarnock and moved to Glasgow, developed the school gym shoe known by various names over the UK.  He and his brother had experimented with using Gutta-percha to cover the soles of existing shoes.  This extremely useful form of latex, brought over from Malaysia, was responsible for the central Scotland name of gutties, or plimsolls if you were being posh.  I know that when Elspeth went to teach in Gloucestershire, she found out that they were called daps.  My research suggests that the shoes were developed by several manufacturers but our man became a wealthy philanthropist, while an institute in his home town bears his brother’s name.

From Wikipedia:-

The word gutta-percha comes from the plant’s name in Malay: getah translates as ‘latex‘. Percha or perca is an older name for Sumatra.

In other news, the magnificent Elbow continue to release a new live track every Friday at 12 noon, this week it’s Lippy Kids with the backing proved by alumni of Manchester’s Halle Youth Chorus.  The Halle Orchestra is the band’s first choice for string accompaniment etc.  Rosemary recalls going to their concerts when she lived in Longton.

Elbow’s frontman and lyricist Guy Garvey is amongst other things a keen ornithologist, and he would doubtless be the first to spot the link here, which is in Passerines, or perching birds.  Although the birds referred to in Lippy Kids are crows, I feel sure that sparrows are just at the edge of the picture here.

The terms “passerine” and “Passeriformes” are derived from the scientific name of the house sparrow, Passer domesticus, and ultimately from the  Latin passer, which refers to sparrows and similar small birds.

….and if you think all that is convoluted, wait until you hear about last night’s dreams.  Here’s a nice osprey  to make everything better.

https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/trees-woods-and-wildlife/osprey-cam/

Lastly, welcome to the family Leo Thomson, a wee brother for Ellie.

 

 

 

December birds

In the interest of sharing musical gems, absolutely no apologies for reposting this.

Anent nothing, walked past 60+ curlew feeding on the local football pitches, alongside oyster catchers, lesser black backed gulls, wood pigeons and carrion crows.

20th anniversary of the folk club tomorrow.  Looking forward to it.

Mulling it over

two White Tailed Sea Eagles in a river on the Isle of Mull
White Tailed Sea Eagles, Mull
MV Coruisk at Craignure
Grass Point pier, Mull
Grass Point pier, Mull
Sheila’s cottage, Isle of Ulva
View of the Isle of Staffa on approach
Staffa approach
Sunset at Treshnish
Beauly Firth from Lentran chalet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A random selection from our trip north,  through stupendously beautiful areas of Scotland.  Car did us well over the longest hauls in particular,  like Pitlochry to Kingussie, and a singularly frustrating tour of the car parks in Fort Bill.  Thanks to the EV community who put meaningful updates on the ZapMap and a shout out to the men we met who are happily touring the west coast to install more chargers.  They also inadvertently told us where to buy a decent breakfast roll in Craignure.  Grudging thanks to CYC Scotland who at least confirmed that the charger at Kilchoan was hors de combat.   More to be uploaded once I figure out how to release the phone pictures from Google photos to the PC.

 

59er Diners ….

…was the best quiz team name, as voted by Julia.  We had a weekend away with the 59ers, back to glorious Perthshire, with its trees and bonny flowers.  A visit to the ceramics festival at Scone proved a success,  I think we all opened our wallets or purses at some point, rain did not stop play.  The ospreys at the Loch of the Lowes were on form, as were the cakes in the tea rooms of Dunkeld.     But mostly we talked, blethered, chatted, caught up, hung out, and just enjoyed each other’s company, especially round the dining table.

Gargoyle at Old Kirk
Garden
Deer at Scone
Woodpecker
Osprey, Loch of the Lowes
Bell Tower, Old Kirk
Finial

Unabridged

Here’s a challenge.

The Flock in the Firth

As Eh cam owre the Forth rail brig

Eh saw frae oot o Fife

a farrachin o starlins’ trig

as the thochts o ane waukrife

 

Lyk sheelock fae a thrashin mill

they mirlieit the nicht

atween thi brigs, as tho ate fill ut

wi wan shammade o flicht

 

Lyk a sark that’s bealin i thi breeze

this ram stam scarnach oan

a norrie birled wi siccan ease

as a skatir by’ur lone.

 

Ut seemd as tho a michty scroosh

o sparlins fae thi flair

o Forth hud fur a skirr gead whoosh

intil thi deeps o air

 

Ut seemd as tho a page o wurds

at sum parafflin nemm,

has aa at wance been cheengd tae burds

an werr marginin thi faem

 

Thi mirk held mair nor myriads

aa sherrickin the stream,

in spirlin splores, in sklents, in scads,

lyk Hitchcock’s wuddendreme

 

Ly Egypt’s kas, or Dante’s braw

adulters in Hell,

sae mony starlins i thi blaw

o Scoatlan rose and fell

 

Eh slid ablow this skavie flock

and ontae Fife’s blank page,

Eh wrote: they are thi parrymauk

o starnies in a rage.

W.S. Herbert

farrachin: bustling, waukrife: unable to sleep; sheelock: chaff; mirlieit: speckled; shammade; lacework; sark: shirt; bealin: moving agitatedly; ram stam: head strong; scarnach: great number of people or things; norrie: whim; birld; spun; by ‘ur lone: by herself; scroosh: disreputable horad; sparlin: smelt( a freshwater fish found in the Forth and the Tay); skirr: jape; parafflin: flourishing, as in the end of a signature; marginin: marking the margin; mirk: dark; sherrickin: amassing to abuse:  spirling splores: lively adventures; sklents: angles; scads: in great quantities; wuddendreme: nightmare; skavie: ruching; parrymauk: double; starnies: stars (starn also means ‘starling’).

The Poetry of Birds, ed. Simon Armitage and Tim Dee, Penguin Books 2011. 

 

Back on the road

Bamse
The Seafarer, by William Lamb, F.R.S.A.
A Snipe. Honest.
Lunan Bay
Seal skeleton
Snowdrops, House of Dun

Last  week found us in Montrose, to visit the Basin and its wintering residents.   Timing was either spot on or spot off; coinciding as we did with that time in late winter when there is enough daylight to evince notions of venturing further afield, only to find out that most places of interest are still shut.  Honourable mentions therefore to the Basin visitor centre, the gardens of House of Dun, Brechin Town House, Montrose Museum and Art Gallery, and the Aircraft Museum.  They were open and staffed.

A high spring tide meant that the birds hiding on the Basin foreshore were forced to reveal themselves,  giving us a fine view of a wisp of snipe, nine in total.  (And also giving me the opportunity for legitimate use of a collective noun).   Other highlights included various sculptures, and it should not go unmentioned that everyone we spoke to was pleasant and helpful.

If you do not know the story of Bamse, read the book.

Due to my misinterpretation of the rules for the honesty box in the Aircraft Museum tearoom, we were entitled to rather more biscuits than were consumed.  However, in the presence of so many sobering reminders of the real cost of war…

There was an excellent exhibition of sea themed paintings at the gallery in town, including many by famous son William Lamb.  I have yet to find a sculpture trail or map, but I believe much of his work is dotted around the environs.

 

January February

Well, January had a lot happening but none of it for recording here, thank you. Went for a walk round Townhill Loch yesterday, after the washing machine was replaced.  Sometimes a wee walk and some wildlife makes all the difference.  There were loads of birds but mostly they were too fast for the camera operator.

Mallards
Blackheaded gulls, Cormorants and Mallards
Blackheaded gulls, Cormorants and Mallards
Male Goosanders
Path
Townhill Loch
Cormorant on a pole

Weekendings

A busy and fruitful weekend: Saturday lunch in Cafe Portrait, where we narrowly missed Ali and Les.  Then we strolled along the main streets before heading up to the museum on Chambers Street to view Tim Peake’s landing craft.   Hied off to our café du jour, the Angus Fling, where Paul was able to stave off his hunger with a venison burger, whilst I had a more sedate,  and rather good, scone.  Tripped back down the road to Coda Music, where there was a new CD being launched, by Aidan O’Rourke, of LAU fame.  We enjoyed a short concert, with James Robertson reading his stories and  Kit Downes on the harmonium, plus Aidan on fiddle.  They were all kind enough to sign my CD.

Sunday began with a swim, and a serendipitous trip to Loch Ore meadows, where the cafe was open ridiculously early for a marathon bicycle race. allowing us to sneak a cup of tea and a scrambled egg roll.  A walk round the loch itself was followed by a sail on two fun boats.  “Fun” was maybe not quite the order of the day since there was no wind to propel these sail boats, but we had a good time and the staff at the park could not have been kinder, or more helpful.

We had to wear wetsuits.  No pictures exist of either of us in that garb.  Nor will they.

Tim Peake: Soyuz
Paul with Soyuz
Swans on Loch Ore
Calm
Last of the bluebells
Heron at Loch Ore
Pinkfoot Geese at Loch Ore

Shakin’ a tail feather

Here’s a smart fellow we met in Drummond Castle gardens last weekend.  Interestingly enough, there are no peacock poems in my lovely  book The Poetry of Birds whilst the phoenix, a bird which doesn’t even technically exist, gets five.  You will recall that the divine colours of its plumage are actually illusory, yes, just like the kingfisher, it relies heavily on the phenomenon of iridescence and its success therein determines its chances of getting lucky with the peahens.

Peacock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So yes, optical interference Bragg reflections based on regular, periodic nanostructures of the barbules (fiber-like components) of the feathers produce the peacock’s colours. Slight changes to the spacing of these barbules result in different colours. *  More equally fascinating detail on their mate selection strategy may be found on Wiki.   It’s not just about strolling around and being stunning, you know.

eyespots

 

 

 

 

 

 

*from Wiki