Tam's Tall Tales

- Flaming June

Gazanias and Ostespermum

Flaming June

The old joke is the Scottish winter can sometimes last for eleven months, but the tragedy is the summer might be pretty awful. Hopefully this year might be different - the sun has been shining quite a lot of late and I expect that Scottie will be out and about with his trusty camera snapping away at lighthouses, butterflies and whatever else catches his fancy.

[Editor's note: Despite the unusual sweltering temperatures - it's even been above 70F - I have indeed been out and about with my trusty camera(s) recording the amazing flora and fauna that we have in Scotland - see the graphics of Gazania and Osteospermum above and Canterbury Bells on the right].

Sadly, the fire at the Glasgow School of Art caused a serious amount of damage to the iconic building designed by Charles Rennie Macintosh - Scotland's master architect. Despite the valiant efforts of the fire service, the school's wonderful library was destroyed - days before a new sprinkler system was scheduled to be installed. However the building survived and, although it was insured, Scotland's artistic community is also rallying around to help raise funds for its restoration, currently estimated in the 30 - 35 million range. Glasgow born Dr Who star Peter Capaldi and Brad Pitt are some of the big hitters who are working on the fundraising. Bless them.

For the normally football daft Scots there is a bit of a hiatus as the domestic season has finished and Scotland did not make it (again) to the Finals of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. So instead of watching Scotland getting knocked out in the first round of the Finals, we were able to enjoy watching England getting knocked out in the first round instead. England were beaten 2-1 by Italy and by a similar score against Uruguay while their third and final match before heading home was a 0-0 draw against Costa Rica. This was the first time since 1958 that England had not progressed to the the later stages. This is all the more surprising as England are ranked #10 on the international football rankings. Scotland is currently #27 in that international table with Wales at #41 and Northern Ireland at #90. That rising soccer nation USA is currently ranked #13 and won through in the first round and will play Belgium next Tuesday in the last 16 stage. The graphic of the over-enthusiastic football fan on the right is via Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow will be starting on 23 July and promises to be a pretty amazing affair. Fingers crossed that the infrastructure will be in place, the weather will hold, and that all competitors and visitors will have a brilliant time and go home with warm memories of Scotland.

Many thanks to those who have written to me at tamfromrampant@gmail.com. No news to report on the possibility of a baby panda following a previous news item. Things have also been quiet on the osprey chick front and the Scottish Wildlife Trust at Loch of Lowes has had to accept eventually that "Lady" is not going to be a mum again this year. This record-breaking osprey had returned to the nature reserve at Loch of Lowes in Perthshire to breed for the 24th consecutive year. In that time, she has laid 67 eggs and reared 49 chicks. After rearing her family, the osprey then makes a 5,000 mile journey each year to West Africa to over-winter before returning the following spring to the original nest. The graphic here of an osprey at Loch of the Lowes is by Mike Pennington via Wikimedia Commons.

The 29-year-old bird is thought to be the oldest breeding raptor in the world. Thousands of people watch her every year on a Scottish Wildlife Trust webcam. Ospreys were extinct in the British Isles between 1916 and 1954, but it's estimated there are currently between 250 and 300 nesting pairs in the UK - some of them offspring of "Lady".

Tam O'Ranter
June 2014

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