Rampant Scotland

Scotland in Colour Week By Week

November - 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.

Hogganfield Loch by Moonlight

It is not often that I can use a photo taken in the dark to illustrate the weather in Scotland. But when a high pressure system creates clear skies at this time of year, it brings the temperature rattling down. So this shot of the moon rising in a cloudless sky above Hogganfield Loch in Glasgow (with the greylag geese and the swans still sailing serenely across the water, despite the lateness of the hour) became possible.

Dumbarton Castle

Those clear skies are prominent again in this picture of Dumbarton Castle, taken from the south bank of the river Clyde. "Dun Breatann" or fortress of the Britons, has a recorded history as a stronghold which is longer than any other fortification in Britain. The earliest reference is to St Patrick who wrote about it in 450AD.

Greylag Geese

Cold weather in Iceland and Scandinavia results in many hundreds of these geese arriving at Hogganfield Loch in Glasgow. This picture shows them with their "undercarriage down" as they came in to land. It is amazing how they manage to avoid one another in the process. By the following day, most had departed, possibly flying on further south.

Greylag Geese

Once they had landed, all the Greylags headed in one direction - to clamber onto the shore and start feeding on the grass. The resident Greylags have learned, however, that humans will provide extra "treats" and easier pickings in the form of bread.

Pink Rose

This will probably be the last picture of a rose this year! That's not raindrops on the outer petals - it's frozen dew.

Although these birds are called "Ruddy Ducks", people are not swearing at them, but describing the russet colour shown by the male in the summer. Female Ruddy Ducks like this one (though it may be a juvenile male or female, born this summer - they all look similar) don't have the bright colours of the male (which has a striking blue bill in the summer).

Many Tufted Ducks are resident in this country. But in September and October many of those that have nested in Iceland and northern Europe will fly to Britain. As a result, numbers soar - the resident population in the UK is around 10,000 but in winter that number can rise to 60,000 in Britain (and another 30,000 in Ireland).

The Goldeneye is slightly smaller than a Mallard duck and there are usually only a few of these handsome black and white birds, compared to the much larger numbers of the Mallard. During the summer, the Goldeneye go off to Highland lochs to breed, returning in the late autumn. They are also found in other parts of northern Europe, Asia and North America.

This is a female Goldeneye - not nearly as colourful as the male. The lack of a white collar round its neck shows that this is one that was born during the summer. If the Goldeneye manages to grab any bread thrown into the water, its technique to avoid the diving seagulls is simply to dive under the water where it is perfectly adapted to swallowing there!

Whooper Swan families arrive from their summer breeding grounds in Iceland in some numbers. The young cygnets born earlier in the year are recognisable by their lack of the distinctive yellow bills of their parents.

That sleek, streamlined body make Goosanders fast swimmers, allowing them to catch fish underwater with ease.

The small Black-headed Gull looks graceful and attractive sitting here in the water. But like all gulls, it is noisy and aggressive and, given the chance, will grab food from the mouths of any other birds not quick enough to get away.

Perhaps it's just that we tend to see more sunsets at this time of year (sunset is around 4.30 pm in central Scotland at the moment), but there do seem to be more opportunities in November for some impressive photographs of the sun dipping towards the horizon and lighting up the clouds.

Many of the pictures for this colour supplement are taken when the sun is shining - but Scottish weather isn't always like that! But even on a dull, cloudy day, there are plenty of attractive pictures to be taken, such as this "treescape" in the countryside just north of Glasgow.

The original Kincardine Bridge (seen here) was built between 1932 and 1936. It was the first road crossing of the River Forth downstream of Stirling and was completed nearly thirty years before the more famous Forth Road Bridge which stands fifteen miles to the south-east, nearer Edinburgh. The bridge was constructed with a swinging central section, to allow larger ships to sail upstream to port in Alloa. This remained in use until 1988 - causing major tailbacks on the A876 road whenever a ship had to be allowed through. When the Forth Road Bridge is closed (due to high winds, traffic accidents or repairs), the Kincardine Bridge (with only a single lane in each direction) becomes the diversionary route for traffic north from Edinburgh and eastern Scotland. As a result of the high volume of traffic using the bridge, the town of Kincardine is frequently congested.

Lambs and calves are more often born in the spring or summer, but there are always exceptions as these two demonstrate. They were being licked by their mother and had no identification ear tags, so they had presumably been born not long before this picture was taken.

There are not many garden plants in Scotland that come into bloom in November - or even later in some cases. But the long spikes of small, bell-shaped yellow flowers of Mahonia do just that, on tall shrubs with holly-like evergreen leaves. The flowers are often sweetly scented and afterwards there are small, grape-like berries. The name Mahonia honours the Philadelphia horticulturist Bernard McMahon, who introduced the plant from materials collected by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in North America.

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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