Rainbow over Gruinard Bay, Wester Ross.

Visiting friends in Aultbea for the weekend. Snowy drive up on Friday evening. Generally cold and wet.

Walk on beach with great light between showers. Tide very low exposing expanses of rippled sand.

A couple of black throated divers were feeding offshore. 

Here’s a good article on birds in North West Scotland.


Jellyfish might inherit the earth.

With changes to marine ecology through over exploitation and climate change jellyfish “blooms” seem to be becoming more frequent.

In 2011 they managed to close down the Torness nuclear power station in East Lothian – by blocking it’s sea water intake.

They are also very beautiful – particularly when still in the water rather than stranded on the beach – and a little bit mysterious. This one – a Blue Jellyfish I believe – was on a Fife beach.

I came across this interesting website looking at jellyfish in the Irish Sea: It includes a really good jellyfish ID card you can download.

River Warbler

004Looking through one of those old notebooks I came across this funny little picture.

It’s meant to be a singing River Warbler I saw in Norfolk in the summer of 1989.

It did kind of look like this but I wouldn’t like to say you could identify it from the picture.

I do remember it was singing away very enthusiastically – in the vane hope of attracting a mate.  I doubt it had much luck as all the females would have been somewhere in eastern Europe.


wpid-IMAG0696-1.jpgWe stopped to look at Michaelmas daisies on a walk this afternoon.

I wasn’t too sure when Michaelmas was – bar that it is in the Autumn.  We looked it up when we got home.

It seems Michaelmas, the feast of Saint Michael, is on 29 September and is regarded as the start of autumn.

Old Michaelmas Day is in October.  The story is that after then brambles don’t taste so good because the Devil pisses on them.

Whatever the reason they do tend to be more bitter later in the season.

Of course, in Scotland we refer to both the plant and the fruit as brambles.


wpid-IMAG0432-1.jpgI love this John Steinbeck quote. He is able to say so much in a few short sentences.

“And if we seem a small factor in a huge pattern, nevertheless it is of relative importance. We take a tiny colony of soft corals from a rock in a little water world. And that isn’t terribly important to the tide pool. Fifty miles away the Japanese shrimp boats are dredging with overlapping scoops, bringing up tons of shrimps, rapidly destroying the species so that it may never come back, and with the species destroying the ecological balance of the whole region. That isn’t very important in the world. And thousands of miles away the great bombs are falling and the stars are not moved thereby. None of it is important or all of it is.”

John Steinbeck

The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951)

Take note

wpid-IMAG0677-1.jpgCame across these old notebooks when we were putting more insulation in the attic.

They are from the mid to late 1980’s – the end of my time in Aberdeen – and the following years when I was staying in a number of places including Edinburgh, Wales, Oxfordshire, Yorkshire and a period of 18 months based in Bedfordshire and touring all over the UK.

They are mostly notes on hill walking trips and wildlife and other stuff that seemed significant at the time.

If you cared I could now tell you when I saw my first bluethroat or red breasted flycatcher.

I think I’ll spare you the details.

I suppose now I’d put a lot of it on facebook.

Dog days




The kids have been walking a dog for friends who are away. I joined them for a lovely walk on the beach today.  A bright October day.

All part of the “Can we get a dog?” campaign.

It’s been running for some time but has reached its peak this week.

Someone round every corner ready to ask.”Can we get a dog?”

“Can we Dad? Can we get a dog? Can we?”

Text messages too: Can we? Can we? Can we?

Last thing at night: “Can we?”.

First thing in the morning: “Dad? Can we?”.

I got an email from a workmate marked “Important!”

It said: “Get the weans a dug, go on,

go on,

go on,


I feel surrounded.

Tonight my younger daughter ran her mum a bath, layed out towels, assorted soaps and lotions and brought a brimming glass of wine.

“That was kind.” I said.

“No – I just want a dog.” Was the reply.