Rampant Scotland

Scotland in Colour Week By Week

August - Week 3

"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.

Rowan Berries

The advancing season is illustrated well by the arrival of the bright red berries of the Rowan (Mountain Ash) tree. This one was one of many grown by the RSPB bird reserve at Vane Farm near Kinross. Soon, the birds will be having feast on these to fatten themselves up for the winter.


Although here are still a few thistles coming into flower, many are already over and producing their thistle down parachutes for their seeds. These can be seen floating everywhere out in the country.


Male swans can often be very aggressive - particularly towards rivals. But this swan was charging around, scattering any other bird that got in its way, regardless of species! As you can see from the wake being created, the poor mallard duck was having to move fast to get away!

Tufted Ducks

This picture might be entitled "That's Mine!" as the family of tufted ducks race each other for the piece of bread that was thrown to them (seen in the bottom left of the picture). One duck is quite prepared to clamber over the back of its sibling. And don't think that the mother tufted duck will defer to its offspring. If she gets there first, she'll snaffle the bread for herself. Tufted duck chicks can feed themselves as soon as they are hatched - and dive under the water if necessary to do so.

Small Copper butterflies have been conspicuous by their absence this year. Then, in the last ten days, I have seen them in several locations, including this one, spotted last Sunday in the countryside north of Glasgow. With a wing span of less than an inch, the Small Copper is sometimes hard to spot.

Despite its small size, the Small Copper is an aggressive, territorial insect and will chase off other butterflies, not just rivals of its own species, but also larger butterflies. With its big eyes and a fighting spirit, it's not surprising that the other butterflies retreat!

The nature reserve of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds at Vane Farm near Loch Leven is home to thousands of wildfowl but also provides plenty of nesting locations for land-based birds, including swallows. This nest is in a pedestrian underpass which provides access to the reserve and so all the visitors pass within a few feet. This does not seem to deter the parents who swoop past on their way to feed their hungry offspring.

This picture is of the same young swallows as in the illustration above. But this time they are waiting expectantly on the steps leading from the underpass. I tried to get a photo of the parents actually feeding them, but they sped in and out so fast that all I got was a blur of wings!

The Green Veined White is seen more frequently than the Large or Small Whites. The vein markings on the undersides of the wings make it well camouflaged when it rests feeding among vegetation.

Increasing numbers of Peacock butterflies this month meant that I was able to get this picture of two of them, side by side, as they fed on the remaining thistles.

This is the view from the top of Dundee Law (570 feet above sea level) in the centre of Dundee, looking south to the Tay Road Bridge and Fife on the other side of the river. The road bridge was built in 1966 at a cost of 6 million, avoiding a 50 mile journey between Dundee and Newport on Tay on the other side (or the ferry that was made redundant by the bridge). 1.4 miles long, the Tay Road Bridge carries over 8 million vehicles a year.

The original Tay Rail Bridge, slightly up-river from the road crossing, was completed in early 1878. At the time, it was among the longest in the world, but during a violent storm on the evening of 28 December 1879, the centre section of the bridge collapsed, taking with it a train that was running on its single track. More than 75 lives were lost. The replacement seen here was opened on 13 July 1887. Even at high tide, the supports for the old bridge can be seen near the present structure - a constant reminder of the earlier tragedy.

Clarkia amoena (or "Farewell to Spring" or Godetia amoena) are one of my favourites - they come in so many bright and cheerful colours and these annual bedding plants flower for a long period - sometimes until the first frosts arrive. Derived from plants which are native to western North America, (from British Columbia south to the San Francisco Bay area), they are now in gardens across Scotland and the rest of the UK every summer.

Camperdown is named after a famous naval victory in 1797 during the French Revolutionary Wars, when the British fleet under Scots-born Admiral Adam Duncan defeated a Dutch fleet thus thwarting a planned invasion of central Scotland by 50,000 Dutch troops. This victory was considered one of the most significant actions in naval history and a grateful nation made him 1st Viscount Duncan of Camperdown, (with which came the lands now known as Camperdown Park, Dundee) and the freedom of that city. It was his son (raised to an Earl) who built Camperdown House in the estate. The grounds are now a public park.

Mesembryanthemum (also known as Dorotheanthus or Livingston Daisy) produce a carpet of flowers from early summer to early autumn. Originating in South Africa, they need a lot of sun as the flowers don't open in the shade or when the weather is dull. Despite Scotland's somewhat unpredictable weather in that regard, they are popular plants here.

The original Dudhope Castle goes back to the late 13th century and was built by the Scrymageour family. The original building was replaced around 1460 and then extended to its present L-plan structure in 1580. The Scrymageour family sold the castle in 1668 to John Graham of Claverhouse (also known as "Bonnie Dundee" or "Bloody Clavers" depending on religious persuasion). From 1796 to 1879 the building was used as a military barracks. Currently it houses the University of Abertay's Dundee Business School.

Meadow Brown butterflies are not as brightly coloured as Red Admirals. But in close up, the subtle shades of brown and orange are most attractive. The one here is feeding on a Knapweed flower, which looks a bit like a thistle - but without the sharp spikes.

The Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe Festival dominate the Capital during August. St Giles Cathedral in High Street forms an uncomfortable backdrop to the excesses swirling below!

Many of the Edinburgh Fringe performers drum up business for their shows by appearing in the Royal Mile and encouraging passers-by to go along and see them. With over 2,000 shows in the Fringe, standing out from the crowd can be quite a task!

The giant thistle "Onopordum" can grow to eight feet high and creates a dramatic show at the back of a large border, with its silver leaves and large purple flowers. Because of its size, it is not often seen in suburban gardens but is popular in places like the walled garden in Culzean Castle Country Park (as here) or Princes Street Gardens below Edinburgh Castle.

This fiercesome dragonfly is a "Common Darter" (Sympetrum striolatum), one of the medium size varieties of this insect. It is one of the most common dragonflies in Europe, occurring in a wide variety of water bodies, though with a preference for breeding in still water such as ponds and lochs. Adults are on the wing from June until November. They will often repeatedly return to a sunny spot and chase competitors away, including larger dragonflies.

Cormorants can often be seen with their wings spread like this, basking in the sunshine to dry their wings after diving for fish. Unlike many other diving birds, their feathers are not waterproofed. This may help them dive quickly, since their feathers do not retain air bubbles. The name "Cormorant" is a contraction derived from Latin corvus marinus, "sea raven".

If you want to look back at other editions of these photos of Scotland week by week, there is an Index Page

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