Rampant Scotland

Scotland in Colour Week By Week

June - Week 1

"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 time of year.

Cygnets and Swans

It's always great to see the first cygnets of the year going for a paddle with their parents. These ones were spotted at Kilmardinny Loch, north of Glasgow. This pair of swans produced five cygnets in the previous year. Unlike many other birds, the little cygnets have to learn to feed themselves from the start.

Cygnets and Swans

Shortly before this picture was taken, the swans and cygnets were on the muddy bank of the loch. The bulky adults can't see what is underneath them and at one point stepped on top of one of the youngsters! It seemed to be unharmed from the experience - apart from being a bit muddier than the others. Cygnets sometimes hitch a ride on their parents' back.

Young birds always look so attractive, no matter what variety they are. And none more so than cygnets. These young swans grow up fast - even though they have to feed themselves as soon as they hatch. Their parents certainly protect them and show them where to find food - but will compete with their offspring for choice items if necessary. These little balls of fluff will be nearly as big as their parents in just a few months time - just from eating largely aquatic plants (and the occasional pieces of bread provided by us humans). These two cygnets were part of a family of six.

Young Coot

A face - and feet - only a mother coot could love? This young coot is probably a few weeks old. Even so, it still relies on its parents bringing it food. When they first hatch, the female stays with them, keeping them warm while the male brings them all food. Later, once the chicks are a few days old, both parent coots are very good at feeding their young - mum and dad seem to compete with one another to take food to their youngsters.

Coots being fed

These coot chicks are being fed with some bread by one of their parents. Even when the food landed beside them, the young coots just looked down at it until mum or dad came along, picked it up and fed it to them. The parents will continue to do this for over four weeks.

Mallard Chicks

These mallard ducklings were enjoying the sunshine at Hogganfield Loch, Glasgow. The young mallards are able to swim, reach under the water and feed themselves soon after hatching.

Mallard Chicks Escorted by Mum

The female mallard sits on the eggs for nearly four weeks before they hatch. During that time, the male mallard deserts the female and has nothing more to do with tending the young. The female is very protective of her brood and will fight off other birds, including any seagulls attempting to snatch one of the youngsters from the water. Even so, unlike the coots (and many other birds) she does not feed her ducklings and can even be seen competing with them for bread and other "treats"!

Anstruther, in the East Neuk (corner) of Fife, was recorded as a fishing port as far back as 1225. By the end of the 19th century, well over 200 fishing vessels crowded into the harbour. After 1945, the fishing boats drifted away to Pittenweem. Today, the harbour is full again, but with leisure craft and the previous industry is remembered by the Scottish Fisheries Museum overlooking the water.

Although there are now not many fishing boats based at Anstruther, the local restaurants make good use of the produce of the sea, notably the up-market "Craw's Nest" hotel and restaurant and the more down-market "Anstruther Fish Bar. The latter is a regular winner of the "Fish and Chip Shop of the Year" competition. It also sells some excellent ice-cream, seen here against the background of the harbour!

Eider ducks are extremely shy birds and steer clear of humans as much as possible. Quite understandable after all the centuries of persecution for their eider down! In the picture here (taken on the north Fife coast, adjacent to Kingsbarns Golf Course), the brown birds are the females, while the more colourful ones are the males. Those with the mottled colouring on their heads are younger male birds.

Cambo House gardens on the north coast of Fife has a "lilac walk" with a number of different types of lilac in various hues of lilac and white. The scent from many of these blossoms also fills the air.

Another heady source of perfume in the walled garden at Cambo House was these honeysuckle flowers. Their botanical name is "Lonicera", named for Adam Lonitzer (1528-1586), a German herbalist, physician and botanist who wrote a standard herbal text.

When a male swan arches its wings, draws back its neck and advances - at speed - with rapid jerky movements, any swans in its way will usually get out of its way. Occasionally, another swan will stand his ground - and a battle can ensue. Such behaviour is more common during the breeding season.

The saucer-shaped, papery flowers of Cistus (also known as the Sun Rose) can be several inches across, but last for little more than a day. But they are produced in profusion from June to October. This particular example (Cistus lodonifer) is from my own garden. Sadly, in the winter of 2009/2010, weeks of freezing temperatures killed it off - a Buddleja "Buzz" is now growing in the space created!

For fairly obvious reasons, the popular name of Limanthes is "Poached Egg Plant". The plant produces profuse blooms, up to 1½" across. As it self-seeds easily, Limanthes can spread rapidly, living up to another nickname of "Meadow Foam". It originated in west North America and was one of the many plants brought back by the Scottish plant hunter David Douglas (1799-1834). .

Chestnut flowers, standing upright like large candles around a foot long, make an impressive sight, especially as the parent tree can grow to 80 feet tall and can survive for hundreds of years.

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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