"Scotland Week by Week" contains a selection of flowers, animals, birds and scenery typical of the time of year. The photographs were previously part of a regular "Colour Supplement" which ran for nearly four years as part of the original Scottish Snippets newsletter. While seasons do vary from year to year, this collection gives a good idea of the flora and fauna typical of central Scotland at each week of year.
For a number of weeks Mallards have been moulting, producing some strange colour schemes! They are unable to fly while in this state so they are no doubt relieved for practical reasons as well as aesthetic when their new plumage grows back in - helped by much preening by the birds. This Mallard is almost "back to normal".
One of the delights of a country park like Drumpellier in North Lanarkshire is being able to go back time and again to see how the birds which have hatched out are growing up. This Moorhen chick is now able to fend for himself (herself?) and has soon learned to grab any bread thrown its way.
The title given to this picture is "Ouch"! Many people ignore the notices asking the public not to feed the birds at Drumpellier Country Park - and the birds have learned to spot at a distance any plastic bag with bread inside. There can be severe competition for such food, with gulls swooping down to get their share. In this picture, it looks as though the Mallard has successfully won the race and is not letting go the bread in its beak, despite the gull mis-timing its run and landing on the duck's back!
With fewer and fewer flowers in bloom, bees are no doubt grateful for the flowers which are still appearing on heather plants.
Most golfers will recognise the Turnberry Golf and Leisure Resort in South Ayrshire. It was built by the Glasgow and South-Western Railway Company 100 years ago in order to cater for the increasing numbers playing golf at that time; the "golfers' railway" closed in 1942.
Dunure Castle is the ancient seat of the Kennedys of Carrick, later the Earls of Cassilis. The original 13th century tower was later extended and altered. In the middle of the 17th century the castle appears to have been set on fire and blown up and by the end of the century it had been abandoned. The dovecote (on the right) is the best preserved part of the site.
Arran (seen in the distance from the Ayrshire coast at Maidens) is the largest island in the Firth of Clyde and is often described as "Scotland in miniature". It has a mountainous north (Goat Fell is over 2,800 feet high), the geological Highland fault line (which marks the edge of the Highlands on the mainland) runs through it, and there are hills in the south, which mirror the Southern Uplands. Brodick, the largest town on the island, has a resident population of just over 800.
They always say to never take a photograph facing into the sun, but this one, across the Firth of Clyde in the evening, shows that there are always exceptions to rules like that!
The volcanic rock of Ailsa Craig looms out of the sea off the Southern Ayrshire coast, opposite Girvan in the Firth of Clyde. Less than a mile across, its sides rise straight out of the water to over 1,100 feet. For a long time, curling stones were made from its granite and even today some of its rock is inserted in modern curling stones.
The Comma butterfly is still a rarity in Scotland but thanks to being at the right place at the right time (and my eagle-eyed wife) this is my fourth sighting of a Comma butterfly this year. It was in the walled garden of Kinross House. It had already lost a part of its wing to a bite from a bird - not surprising, considering the large number of swallows flying overhead.
The Comma gets its name from the white mark on its underside. Maybe doesn't look too much like the punctuation mark to us, but it did to whoever originally named this butterfly!
Roses are very popular in Scotland and the rest of the UK not just because of the wide variety of colours, shape and perfume, but because they last for so long, producing a succession of blooms throughout the summer and into the late autumn. These delicate pink ones were growing in the garden of Kinross House.
In the 1950s and 1960s there was an explosion of building of high apartment blocks around Glasgow, as the city council attempted to do something about the slums and bomb-damaged inner-city areas. Of course, the "filing cabinets for people" created their own problems. Now, the housing authority is planning to demolish many of them - including these ones at Red Road, Balornock. In recent years they have been given a lick of exterior paint to try to brighten them up.
We don't often have insects three inches long with flashing wings flying at us in Scotland - but the Common Hawker Dragonfly is exceptional. They usually dart around quickly, feeding on midges and flies, so it has been difficult to get a photograph. But this one decided to rest on a Hydrangea flower in the garden in front of Culzean Castle in Ayrshire.
Dahlias come in all sizes and colours. This deep red variety was one of many growing in the walled garden at Culzean Castle Country Park. No wonder I've been to Culzean so often. And as a member of the National Trust for Scotland, I get free entry to all their properties - and have saved the annual membership fee several times over on Culzean alone!
Culzean (pronounced Cul-lane) Castle and Country Park is above a cliff on the Ayrshire coast overlooking the estuary of the river Clyde. The Kennedy family established a tower there from the 12th century but it was not until between 1777 and 1792 that the wealthy family, now known as the Earls of Cassillis, engaged Robert Adam to design a splendid castle, both inside and out. And to add to the wonders, a 565 acre parkland surrounding the castle was designed by Alexander Nasmyth and two pupils of "Capability" Brown. Today, it is owned by the National Trust for Scotland and is understandably one of its most popular properties.
Chiffchafs (so named because its repetitive song sounds exactly like "chiffchaff") is a summer visitor to the UK and this bird will shortly be flying off to southern Europe or North Africa for the winter. This small bird looks very similar to the Willow Warbler and the Wood Warbler and can often only be identified by its distinctive song. The male bird is very territorial and its loudly proclaimed song is a means of advertising its territory.
Particularly when taking pictures of wildlife, it is always necessary to take lots of pictures as you are never quite sure what will happen just as you press the shutter. It's not unusual to find that the subject has moved or even disappeared and lots of shots get thrown away (thank goodness for digital cameras!). But sometimes it turns out to be an unintended, unusual shot - such as this demented one of the Chiffchaff. The bird was jumping up to grab some seeds growing at the top of the stem seen on the right.
Yes, autumn/fall is rapidly approaching (gardening books even say "August is an autumn month in Scotland") and lots of leaves have already fallen from the trees. This young Acer is showing the sure signs of the advancing season.
Even though it was a dull day, this Large White butterfly shone out from the top of a tall Verbena flower, this time in Drumpellier Country Park in North Lanarkshire. With so many plants now past their flowering season, Verbena (and Sedum "Autumn Joy", for example) are sometimes the only sources of nectar suitable for insects at this time of year. It was so intent on feeding that I was able to get really close, instead of having to use a telephoto lens.
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