Rampant Scotland

Scotland in Colour Week By Week

February - Week 3


This female goosander appears to be looking over her shoulder as she races away from the camera. Certainly, goosanders are generally shy birds and are not often within range of my camera to get a clear picture, far less one that shows the water droplets on her back.


Goldeneye are usually shy birds too and this pair headed away from near the edge of Hogganfield Loch as soon as I approached. While both the male and female goldeneye both sport a "golden eye," their feathers produce two very different designs. As is often the case, the male is more brightly coloured, with more white and that circular patch on his cheek. After over-wintering in the Lowlands, these goldeneye will probably return to the Highlands to make their nest in a hole in a tree. During incubation of the eggs, the male will abandon the mother who will then rear the chicks on her own. She doesn't feed them, but takes the day-old chicks to a nearby stretch of water, where they will swim and dive immediately and feed themselves.


A few weeks ago there were pictures of a small number of snowdrops at Colzium Estate. Now there are large drifts of them at Finlaystone Estate in Renfrewshire, where they recently had their "Snowdrop Weekend" when visitors wander through the woods admiring the carpets of snowdrops on each side of the pathways.

Long-tailed Tit

Adult long-tailed tits are around 5.5 inches long - of which the tail is 3.5 inches. They are rare visitors to suburban gardens, but clearly the peanut cake hanging from the branch of a hawthorn tree in my garden has attracted them. They usually flock together in large groups in the countryside, but so far only three of these attractive birds have been bold enough to venture so close to human habitation. They are amongst the most acrobatic of all the tits and finches.


Feral pigeons are so numerous and commonplace in our towns and cities that we tend to take them for granted - and regard them as pests. But when viewed close up, they do have attractive colours. This one, in Hogganfield Park in Glasgow, may just have fluffed up its feathers to combat the cold - but has probably also over-indulged on the "fast food" provided by many of the human visitors!

Tufted Duck

I have a soft spot for the tufted ducks - known to their friends as "tuffties". They are fairly shy birds and have a hard job trying to compete with the much faster and aggressive coots and seagulls when there is any bread etc being thrown into the water. But when they do manage to grab a piece of bread, they can escape with it by diving under the water!

Winter flowering Jasmine, as its name applies, is often seen in the middle of winter in Scotland. The flowers often last for a long time - despite the impact of overnight frost. This rambler version of Jasmine is often trained against a wall and in the right conditions this shrub can grow to 15 feet high.

The ice on lochs in central Scotland posed a few problems for water-borne birds. This Gull (probably a young Herring Gull) was somewhat puzzled by the football which had appeared on the ice. It clearly wondered whether there might be something for eating inside, as it pecked away at it.

This Black-headed Gull (in its winter plumage, without its black head) looks somewhat forlorn, standing on the ice at Hogganfield Loch in Glasgow.

Spring has arrived recently with a sudden rush, after appearing to be behind schedule. In addition to the usual Snowdrops and early Crocus, there are a few specially bred varieties of plants that normally come into bloom later in the year - such as this Cherry that produces a profusion of flowers at this time of year.

Winter Aconites (their "proper" name is Eranthis) usually pop up at this time of year, sometimes forming a carpet of yellow. This is a particularly attractive variety, with far more than the usual layer of single petals.

Cambo Estate in the north of Fife has a national collection of Snowdrops, with over 200 named varieties growing in the woodland area of the estate. Lady Catherine Erskine there has been a major supporter of the "Snowdrop Festival" in which many major gardens put on a special show of these heralds of spring. The particular variety shown here is known as "Jacquenetta".

Looking a bit like large Snowdrops on long stems, these Snowflakes (Leucojum) produce these bell-like flowers with green markings. Other variants of this bulb produce flower spikes up to three feet high while others bloom in the autumn.

With those markings on the petals, it is perhaps not surprising that this Snowdrop should be named "Grumpy"!

The gardens at Cambo have a wide range of Helleborus plants, with their cup-shaped flowers borne on upright stems. From a photographer's point of view they can be a nightmare as the flowers often point downwards, making it difficult to photograph the detail of the blooms.

Cambo Estate is near the coast, so after a pleasant walk through woodlands (with drifts of Snowdrops along the way), you reach the beach and rocks. That was where I spotted this Rock Pipit - though its markings allowed it to merge in with the rocks when it was foraging for food.

Towards the end of a sunny afternoon at Cambo Estate on Tuesday of this week, I took this photo of the stream and the woods, with the setting sun streaming between the branches. A fitting finish to an excellent visit!

When I was about to take this picture of the waterbirds at Kilmardinny Loch in East Dunbartonshire. I hadn't noticed that an out of control dog was heading towards the birds. So when I pressed the shutter, the birds were flying in a panic in all directions - though mainly away from the dog. As a notice in a public park said "Your dog doesn't know any better - please show that you do!"

Polyanthus, part of the primula family, come in a huge variety of vibrant colours these days. They have the attractive feature of flowering not only in the spring but again in the autumn.

James Clerk Maxwell was born in Edinburgh in 1831. He established the laws of electrodynamics, propounding the his equations which established that electricity and magnetism are aspects of the same entity - He predicted the existence of radio waves in 1865, paving the way for radio, TV and electronics and so can be considered to be the father of electronics. His "Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism" containing the famous Maxwell equations was published in 1873. But it was only in 1887 when Heinrich Hertz discovered the existence of radio waves that his calculations became accepted. Nowadays, the Encyclopaedia Britannica describes his Treatise as "one of the most splendid monuments ever raised by the genius of one man."He proposed many other theories that weren't proved until long after his death. For instance he suggested that when a charged particle was accelerated, the radiation produced has the same velocity as that of light. Albert Einstein put on record (on the centenary of Maxwell's birth) that Maxwell's work had resulted in the most profound change in the conception of reality in physics, since the time of Isaac Newton. And Richard Feynman said that "there can be little doubt that the most significant event of the 19th century was the discovery of the laws of electrodynamics." Despite such praise from others in the field, he has been largely ignored in the city of his birth - until now - when a fine statue of Maxwell has been erected at the junction of St Andrew Square and George Street in the heart of Edinburgh's New Town.

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

Where else would you like to go in Scotland?

Separator line