Thursday, May 24, 2007

Arran and Portencross

As I'm going off on holiday for a bit and won't be able to post, I'll give you 2 for the price of 1 today.

If you've been visiting my site for any time, you'll be aware of my love affair with the Island of Arran. This was taken from practically the same position as the photographs of Millport on the last two days, but turned through about 135 degrees.

This was taken about a mile further south and is of Portencross Castle. The link gives you all the information you'll need!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Millport - Again

This photograph was taken under the same conditions as that of yesterday, but shows the view a little further round the bay.

The spire showing through the trees on the left of the picture is the Episcopal Cathedral of the Isles, the spiritual home of my sister-in-law.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Millport, Cumbrae

This is a photograph of Millport taken from the Ayrshire coast just beside Hunterston Nuclear Power Station which was closed in 1990 and is currently being decommissioned.

I used my Sony camera with the big lens, with an octopus tripod wrapped round a rail and a cable release to minimise blurring from camera shake. I think I managed fairly well

Monday, May 21, 2007

Eglinton Country Park

Eglinton Country Park comprises part of the estate surrounding Eglinton Castle, between Irvine and Kilwinning. The foundation stone for the new castle was laid in 1797.

The castle fell into ruin after the roof was removed in 1925 and it was used in WWII for gunnery and explosives practice during World War II. What remained was retrenched in 1973 to what remains today.

The photograph is of the restored belvedere in the park.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Gare Loch

The last photo I'll post from the birding/boat trip. The was taken from about the same spot as yesterday's, but looking up Gare Loch over Rhu towards the Mountains behind.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Another photograph taken from the vessel as we returned into the Gairloch, passing by Helensburgh.

The weather fluctuated considerably, but it was fun!

Friday, May 18, 2007


This photograph was taken this morning from the deck of a Royal Naval vessel in the Holy Loch off the River Clyde.

Our birding class had gone up to Faslane to meet up with a Police Sergeant who works there, but is also a well know birding enthusiast. He had arranged a 2.5 hour sail to allow us to get close to marine birds: he hadn't anticipated the weather we had. Not a large number of birds wanted to be flying in the conditions. However, in between the strong showers, we did get to see some.

Faslane itself is home to a huge population of Eider Ducks

We had also hoped to see Hen Harriers, black grouse and possibly short eared owls up on the moors, but they were being sensible and keeping their heads down.

But still a very enjoyable day!

Thursday, May 17, 2007


The bird feeders are being depleted at an incredible rate just now. The Greenfinches used the feeders for a while, then departed and now are back again.

We've also got a couple of Starlings who have managed to work out how to eat from the seed feeder, although the amount of energy used fluttering their wings as they feed must quickly burn up the food consumed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Another Bird

The weather has been fairly horrid today, so here is a photograph I took a couple of months ago at Rozelle Park in Ayr.

It's probably a cross of a Mallard and another, slightly larger one.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Another Arran View

This view of Arran was taken from the disused Bogside Racecourse which hosted the Scottish Grand National until it was transferred to Ayr in 1966. It lies in the junction of the rivers Irvine and Garnock, just north of Irvine. Apparently the track was used for point-to-point until about 1991. There was even a Bogside Racecourse Railway Station on the Ayrshire line for this course at one time.

The 2 mile right-handed racecourse is still walkable and many of the concrete posts which held the rails are still visible. However the road down to the racecourse beyond the Golf Course has to be negotiated with considerable care!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Birds - of the feathered kind

We went walking in Culzean Country Park this morning doing some bird watching. I took this photograph at the swan pond in order to capture the four visible species: Mallard, Cormorant, Gull and Grey Heron (it is much more difficult to spot). There are also 2 Moorhens with chicks and 2 female Mallards with ducklings, but I had to use the binoculars to see them.

The weather was excellent and the Park very quiet, so we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I've posted the all the photos on Flickr (including one of Arran).

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hamilton Mausoleum

Away from Ayrshire again, I was back on my native heath at Hamilton in Lanarkshire.

Hamilton Mausoleum was built as a chapel and crypt for the 10th Duke of Hamilton; it was started by David Hamilton in 1842 and completed by David Bryce and Alexander Richie in 1858.

Designed in a grand style at a cost of £130,000 (how many millions in current terms?), it has been described as "an extraordinary work of architectural sculpture rather than a building" and is nicknamed "Il Magnifico". Its dome is 123 feet high (as high as Nelson's column in Trafalgar Square, London) and there is a fine mosaic floor. The original 1.5 ton bronze outer doors, featuring impressive bas-relief work, are now displayed inside the mausoleum.

Built from huge blocks of local sandstone that neatly dovetail into each other, the precision of the stonework is a tribute to the skill of the craftsmen who built it; in the whole building only one ton of lime was used, the main sealing being done with the whites of eggs making the joints extremely neat. Indeed the building is so well sealed that if the doors were closed too quickly, the oculus in the dome blew out. It has also given the interior the longest recorded echo, 15 seconds, of any building in the world; effectively ruling out use as a place of worship.

Another curiosity of the interior architecture are the "Whispering Wa's" or walls. Two people can stand at either end of one of the curved interior walls, facing away from each other into the niche of the wall, and hold a whispered conversation. The strange acoustics of the walls project the sound eerily to the listener at the other side.

Essentially the structure is in three parts:

1. The impressive dome.

2. The dado level which is highly plastered and panelled.

3. The vaulted basement in which the crypt is placed.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


I've had staying visitors; my sister, my niece, my two grand-nieces and their cat. They were in-transit from northern Scotland to northern England and stopped off for two nights to let the furniture van catch up.

My big/little sister (big because she is older and little ....) was helping her daughter with the move.

It was excellent seeing them all, although our reaction to the cat was interesting. She was lovely and very sweet tempered, but recalled bittersweet memories of our own two who died not that long ago, although she looked nothing like them.

P.S. Is it grand-niece or great-niece?

Friday, May 11, 2007

The wood itself

I thought it might be a good idea to let you see what the wood itself looks like since it has been specific items you've seen up till now.

It is reasonably open with a good variety of tree species, so a large variety of birds are attracted.

Obviously this has both good points and bad, since some of the birds will prey on others. We witnessed this today in Culzean Country Park when we saw carrion crows kill two ducklings which were crossing open ground with their mother. She tried to protect them, but each time she turned to drive off one attacker another swooped behind her. Nature in the raw.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Tree Fungus

This was also taken in the Wood of Cree. I've no idea what the name of the fungus is, but it's as hard as concrete.

Possibly a viewer might identify?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wood of Cree 3

And yet one more waterfall to see. These, by the way, were before the recent rains came, but the burns were still carrying a reasonable volume of water.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Wood of Cree 2

The is a picture of more waterfalls further down the burn from the previous one. You can see how clear the water is in the stream below the waterfall.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Wood of Cree

Another picture from the Wood of Cree. A lovely little waterfall. I'll post a shot tomorrow from a different angle.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Bird Trip

Firstly, can I apologise for not posting for a few days, but I screwed up my desktop system right royally and I'm only starting to recover it.

Friday last we had a day out with a bird course in an RSPB reserve in Dumfries and Galloway. I managed to get a photo of this Great Tit, but we saw (and identified) a great many species.

We were on the course as we have just started birding and it is great to have people there who know where to look and what the various birds are.

I've a group of photos from the reserve (not birds) and I'll post a few in the following days.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Guess where?

if you said Arran, you'd be correct. I took this on the beach at Ayr last night about 21.00 hours with my 75-300 lens hand-held. I'll post the other 30 or so on Flickr in the near future.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

East Lugtonridge Garden

Today I've been in North Ayrshire buying herbaceous plants - a subject on which my knowledge is verging on non-existent.

I was at East Lugtonridge Garden (map), a private plant nursery based at the former dairy farm of the same name, run by the 'retired' wife of the 'retired' farmer who just need something to do! It sells rare and unusual herbaceous plants all propagated by the owner. It also has a garden which is a joy to be in. [It is NOT a garden centre.]

Well worth a trip - the welcome is exceptional, the knowledge and advice given, when asked for, extensive and suited to the listener and the plants are of very fine quality (without the very high price tag which frequently accompanies that).

With their permission, I've included a few photographs of the garden (and I might at some future date include some photographs of the plants I bought!)