Scottie's Photo Diary

- May 2015

I never go anywhere in Scotland without my camera and I take photographs wherever I go. Sometimes I go somewhere specifically to take photographs with a view to adding another page to the Rampant Scotland site. On other occasions I just see something that makes an attractive picture or else it's another graphic to add to the library to perhaps use on a future occasion. This is a selection of the best photographs I took in the second half of May 2011 with a commentary on each one. It thus forms a pictorial diary of my travels during the month which can be shared by everyone!

This is a selection of photographs I took in May 2015 There is a commentary on each one.

Hogganfield Loch

Although we had been looking out for this year's young Great Crested Grebe the wet and windy weather had restricted the walks around Hogganfield Loch. Despite being within the Glasgow City boundary, Hogganfield is a designated "site of scientific interest". Great Crested Grebes often have two or three youngsters to rear but this year this family has just one chick - so it had the comfort of snuggling down on its Mother's back while Dad dived down to catch some fish.

Young Great Crested Grebe emit a piercingly loud call to indicate that they are hungry and so we often hear the offspring before we see them. Initially it was hard to see as it as it was sheltering between the parent's wings but in this picture it had spotted that Dad was approaching with "afternoon tea".

I don't know how the parents decide when a fish is too big for their youngster to swallow, but as we watched it struggle to swallow this fish we began to get worried that it was going to choke on it! But eventually it managed to get it down - and returned to Mum's back.

Because the mother Grebe was looking after the youngster, she was not able to dive for food for herself so it was the male that gave her this large meal - definitely too large for Junior!

After the energetic feeding of the Great Crested Grebe it was nice to find these small cygnets snoozing on the grass at the side of the loch, with ever-watchful Mum beside them - and Dad in the water not far away. Swans usually mate for life. Unlike the Grebes, Swans are totally vegetarian and eat grass and water-weed. Despite this diet, they grow rapidly in size and by the end of the summer, still with a mixture of brown and white feathers, the cygnets will be independent.

The cygnets woke up when some children passed by and began to throw some bread towards the group. But the cygnets were too young to have developed a taste for bread (though in public parks they soon learn about "fast food") so Mum ate the lot! Having incubated the eggs on her nest for around 5 weeks non-stop, she has a lot of weight loss to make up!

Greenbank Gardens, East Renfrewshire

Abutilon come in a wide range of colours and sizes ranging from shrubs to trees. One of the Mallow family, common names for this plant include Indian mallow and velvetleaf. They are widely distributed throughout the tropics and subtropics of the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Argyranthemum (also known as marguerite, marguerite daisy, dill daisy or Chrysanthemum) originally came from the Canary Islands and Madeira, islands in the North Atlantic off Africa and Portugal. The variety here had a label saying it was named "Sole mio".

The genus Paeoniais is native to Asia, Southern Europe and Western North America. This yellow variety is often referred to as a "Tree Paeony" as it is usually much taller than the more common low growing shrub. Unlike the herbaceous varieties which die back in winter, the tree type retains woody branches after the leaves fall off in autumn.

Greenbank has a small greenhouse for more delicate plants and this vibrant pelargonium "Bolero" was growing in the warmth.

Bowhill House, Scottish Borders

I was at the Annual General Meeting of the Scott Clan Scotland which took place at Bowhill House near Selkirk in the Scottish Borders on 16 May. Bowhill is one of the homes of the Duke of Buccleuch, the chief of Clan Scott. Bowhill was built in 1708 by John, Lord Bowhill. His brother William Murray had bought the land earlier in 1690. Then in 1747, Francis Scott, 2nd Duke of Buccleuch, bought Bowhill for his son Lord Charles Scott so that he could stand for Parliament in Roxburgh or Selkirk.

In 1767, the third Duke of Buccleuch started to plant forests in the grounds, and in 1800, the 4th Duke Charles started to revamp what was originally an occasional summer house and turned it into a villa with gallery hall. Walter, 5th Duke, made many changes and the building was finally completed in 1876 by which time it was 437 feet (133 m) long.

Bowhill House is home to part of one of the world's greatest private art collections. In the dining room are works by Canaletto, Gainsborough, and Reynolds. The Scott Clan Scotland AGM took place in a building which houses a small theatre. Membership is open to all those with the surname (or descended from) Scott and those of the Clan sub groups - Scott of Harden; Laidlaw; Langlands; Geddes; Buccleuch and Balwearie, not only from Scotland but covering the whole of the British Isles and beyond. For more details, see Scott Clan Scotland Web Site.

In addition to Bowhill House and gardens there are some great woodland walks with lots of local wildlife - and that doesn't even include the children's adventure play area. This more tranquil scene is the "Lower Loch". Those rowing boats tempted me to try my hand at a trip on the water but that AGM was beckoning so I had to take the proverbial "rain check".

The mass of daffodils that had been planted in the field visible in the first picture above were over by mid May, but other flowers and shrubs kept my camera busy - this brightly coloured rhododendron was eye-catching.


The main Post Office in the centre of Edinburgh was located on Princes Street, not far from Waverley Station and the Balmoral Hotel. But the massive Victorian building closed around ten years ago and remained empty for many years. It had been bought by a developer who went into administration in the property crash of 2009. After a number if false starts, it was developed into an office block "Waverley Gate" with companies such as Microsoft, Amazon UK, British Council Scotland, Creative Scotland, NHS Lothian taking space in this prestige location. In addition to the office accommodation, there is a ground floor atrium area with a small coffee bar and lots of comfortable seating - an ideal place to relax after some tiring shopping in Princes Street!

This picture is really for those who knew the Waverley Steps in the old days when it was a long slog up the steep stairs from Wavereley Station to Princes Street, in one of the windiest corners of Scotland's Capital! Now it has a glass roof and escalators. Personally, I find them too slow and use the stairs at least part of the way up! Old habits die hard and I worked in the centre of Edinburgh for 15 years.

It's many years since I researched my family tree using the manual records in New Register House in Edinburgh and I had forgotten about this nearby, oddly-shaped building at No 1 West Register Street.

And Finally...

Part of the charm of Robins is their boldness in coming close to us humans. It certainly works in my case and I now have to always be carrying some peanut nibbles in my pocket as I am "mugged" by the Robin hopping in front of me a soon as I leave the house. The noise of the front door opening is enough to attract its attention - delivery men are surprised when they find that Robin has hopped down beside them when they come to our door. It was clear that the Robin was rearing a family at it would eat a few nibbles then would fly off with its beak stuffed to feed to its youngster(s)!
An unnoficial poll has been carried out to obtain views on which bird should be named as the "national bird" for the UK and the result, announced this week, was the Robin by a large margin.

If you want to read the other Diary entries going back to 2009, there is an Index page.

Where else would you like to go in Scotland?

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