image on focusing table

Dumfries 1 – Camera Obscura

While in Scotland in June I both wanted and needed to visit Dumfries. I wanted to go there in order to visit the Camera Obscura I had so often heard about throughout my life. My father had seen it when a boy living in Dumfries and I thought it was about time I did too.

River Nith

Dumfries is an attractive town on a sunny day and one of its enjoyable features is the River Nith – but more about that in my next post. The camera obscura is a fascinating contraption housed in what used to be a windmill. It is this fact that influenced the design andContinue reading

dinner time

Fauna Findings 3 in Scotland – Feeding Frenzy

A feeding frenzy of young swallows was one of the most impressive dramas of our stay on the South West coast of Scotland last month. The young birds were fledging and the aerobatics the parents performed to catch insects in flight for their offspring was utterly amazing. Time and time again they would wheel and dive and change direction so abruptly you would think they would leave their brains behind, let alone their stomachs.

house martins

These aerobatics went on for a day or two and then the young ones took to the sky and there was even more drama as their parents fed them on the wing andContinue reading

adder

Fauna Findings 2 in Scotland – Wildlife

We spotted a wide range of wildlife during the hot weather in Scotland last month with multiple spotting of deer in the fields and on the beach, a pair of pheasants calling to each other regularly, an adder crossing a hot footpath, many different birds (even more than usual), and a couple of field mice under the hedge came out each evening to share the food put out for the birds.

deer in the distance

As well as the images I have selected below, we also witnessed dramatic but unsuccessful chases by weasels of small rabbits – one of them ended right at my feet! On hearingContinue reading

crow in flight

Fauna Findings 1 in Scotland – Birds on the Shore

Like this solitary crow, I enjoy my solitary walks, but this is far from the only species of fauna I found when in Scotland last month. I approached it quietly to try and get a closer shot but was spotted, naturally, and it it took to the air, flying across the bay to meet its partner.

I've been spotted

There is a quiet bay, an old disused harbour, along the shore from us where the gulls and oystercatchers – and on this occasion, swans – gather and sit quietly on the water or by its edge andContinue reading

on the top of rocks

Floral Findings 3 – Growing on the Edge

I’m not sure that I can truthfully say that this clump of thrift, on the edge of rocks looking out over the sea, is actually growing. The year has been so dry and they are clearly past their colourful flowering stage . . . but still I find them very attractive!

on the edge

The shoreline has as much to enjoy by way of plants as the coast has just a few yards inland. The fact that they all have a slightly different annual cycle to their growth patterns makes them that much more interesting.Continue reading

golden yellow

Floral Findings 2 – Golden Yellow at Cally

A visit to Cally Gardens near Gatehouse of Fleet is always a must for us when in Scotland. We were concerned for it last year after the owner, Michael Wickenden, died whilst flower hunting in Myanmar, but the place has been taken over by a like minded person who knew Michael and is developing the place in keeping with his philosophy.

Cally Gardens

It is probably the golden yellow flower that is most striking in these photos but I particularly like the fall of light and shade in the image above as well.

I cannot name the few plants I have picked out below but they are certainly different to the wildflowers of Britain presented in my previous post. For me, I do not need to know the names of plants orContinue reading

vetch

Floral Findings 1 in South West Scotland

This week I though I would bring you just a snippet of my floral findings while we were away in South West Scotland. Mostly they are common wildflowers but there was one where the location must remain hidden!

Pyramidal Orchid

The Pyramidal Orchid above was kindly pointed out to me by a fellow walker I met along my route. I might easily have taken it for clover as there was plenty of that about – Continue reading

Fleet Bay

Calm Reflection – Gull Contemplation

A calm, hazy, hot day and the stone buoys that mark the entrance to a small disused harbour reflect in the water and a gull appears in contemplation of its quiet surroundings.

stone buoy 1

Like the gull, I too sit in contemplation of the scene and objects around me – stopping from time to time on all my walks to look and listen and absorb the sights and sounds, the textures, patterns and colours of the environment and feel the connections I have to all that is there.

Whether the connection is slow and seemingly timeless, as in the wrinkles and folds seen in the surfaces of rocks, or quicker, like the more immediate ripples of the water blown by the breeze, pushed and pulled by the sun and moon along with Earth itself (see Tides), the influence on me of these interconnections is sometimes obvious and noticeable, sometimes utterly imperceptible, but there nonetheless.

Imperceptible or not, I am aware that they exist and enjoy contemplating, or perhaps imagining, the ties that hold me (rather than bind me) to the intricacies of the planet and all that exists and lives upon it.

Contemplating Quiet

rusty ring perspective

Iron Standings and Rusty Rings

Iron standings, rusty rings and other objects – these are from a short stretch of the Scottish shoreline which I was walking along last month and which includes two old, small harbour jetties.

iron standings

The colours and textures of rust are always attractive to me and in this location they also reflect the colours and textures of the surrounding rocks and lichens.

So far as I can tell these small ports are not used any more, althoughContinue reading

red shattered rock

Coastal Curiosities 1 – Arranged and Sculpted Naturally

This week I am focusing on some of the coastal curiosities I found along my walks in Scotland last month. The wind and sea had been sculpting, as they naturally do, but people were also evident in the arrangements they left behind in the form of what appeared to me like a miniature straggling sea defence. A sea defence that was set higher on the beach than the highest tide level, at least for a few days, thus ensuring they would stay there for a while and allow me to photograph them in different lights.

miniature defences

The low sun in the evening also sculpted the appearance of the beach into a Martian landscape and the my daughter pointed me towards the Martian colours revealed in a rock formation split by erosion. This revealed a measure of timeContinue reading