Friday, 25 November 2016

Photo slideshow of a visit to the Isle of Arran, Scotland.

This is a few of the images I took on the Isle of Arran whilst on holiday. These are just something to relax and enjoy. As always, I will not add a comment on an image if it really doesn't need one.

Goatfell, the highest peak on Arran

Sunrise at 5 am from our front room 
window, looking across Brodick Bay

Brodick bay is used as a safe harbour by small ships, even small tankers. There was a great variety of craft stopping over for one to three nights.

A three mast ship in Brodick Bay,
taken from out window again

Safe harbour Brodick Bay

Brodick castle from across the bay

Herring gull, the red spot on it's bill
is a target area for the young gulls.
They tap it with their beaks and 
the parent feeds them.

Herring gull bathing. Note the 
water running down it's back

This sad photo was taken only a few 
hundred yards from the harbour

The Waverley coming into harbour.
It's the last paddle steamer in the world.
The Caledonian Island, the bigger of the 
two ferries, in the background.
It docked in at Arran on my birthday, 
what a treat it was for me.

A Moon Jellyfish found at Whiting Bay

Sea Carrot  - Daucus carota subsp. 
Gummifer. Whiting Bay

From Lamlash looking to Holy Island 
on the left. It is now owned by Buddhist 
monks. The island is open to visitors

Now I'll show a few of the tropical palms in Brodick castle gardens. one of it's past owners collected plants from all over the world. Palm trees grow well on Arran, as it's on the Gulf Stream, and therefore has a mild climate. Palms were growing in every part of Arran we visited.

A crow in Brodick castle

Hoverfly unknown type, 
on a tropical flower in 
Brodick castle grounds

Scots Pine - castle grounds

Now for the SalmonberryRubus spectabilis, it's also known as the Arran Raspberry. It is cultivated in the Western Isles for its ornamental pink flowers. The plant has escaped and widely colonised the castle grounds in Stornoway. It is becoming a pest. It came from North America and the The North American Indians eat the fruit if they have eaten too much salmon. Apparently, it doesn't have a lot of flavour.

This is not a great photo but I needed to show it. I took several shots, it was in a difficult place to get to. The plant was near the roadside by Arran Aromatics. 

A salmonberry - Rubus spectabilis

Finally, I have prepared a slideshow of Arran photos, one or two are shown above. I'm sorry about that but slideshow was prepared a while ago. The video runs for about 4 minutes and 40 seconds. I hope you enjoy it. Turn your monitor speakers on. I've added some Baroque music, it is Charpentier's - Marche de Triomphe. One or two photos in it are shown above too.

A short look at Arran.

I hope some of you are inspired to visit Arran. We loved it and will be going back. 

My next post, hopefully soon, will be on some of my recent artwork.

Have fun,  

Friday, 30 September 2016

Cranefly emerging from Larval case.

Hi everyone.

I have something of a different post today, a guest photographer friend of mine.

He emailed the photo below to me. His lawn had a lot of Cranefly emerging from it. The Cranefly is a member of the Tipulidae family of the order Diptera. It was emerging from it's Larval case at the time he took the photo. I said I'd never seen this happening before and he gave me his permission to post it. It's an amazing photo.

For overseas visitors to my blog, the Cranefly is often called a daddy long legs in England. It is not to be confused with the daddy longlegs insect of America.

Thank you Peter.

Cranefly emerging 
from Larval case.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Canary-shouldered Thorn moth, Ennomos alniaria.

This morning I had a real prize on our doorstep, a Canary-shouldered Thorn, Ennomos alniaria. 

It's a beautiful moth, I saw one at Cromwell last year, but this is the first time I've seen one in our garden. It was on the doorstep, so I had the chance of a lot of good shots from different angles. I sometimes wonder what neighbours think of me. One minute I'm up a ladder with a camera, bending at silly angles, next, I'm prostrate on the garden path. At my age, it has too  look strange, but then, I think they are used to me now, after living her for over 30 years.

This specimen is in beautiful condition. Quite a few of the moths I've seen here of late, have been very battle scarred and worn. it made for lovely photos.

Habitat: Woodland, gardens, parks, fens and scrub land.
Wingspan: 38 to 42 mm. Forewing 16-20 mm.
Flight: July to October.
Foodplant: Various trees including Alder, Downy and Silver Birch, lime and elm.
Life cycle: One generation a year.  Overwintering as an egg on the foodplant. Larvae may be seen from May to July. Pupation takes place among plant debris.
Listed as: Common.

Canary-shouldered Thorn moth, -
Ennomos alniaria.

Like other Thorn's, it holds 
its wings up when resting.

Have a good day,

Monday, 5 September 2016

Harvestman, Dicranopalpus ramosus.

This morning I found a tiny Harvestman by the door. It's body was  3 to 4 mm long. Once I looked at it through the camera, I was amazed to see it had what I took to be two large claws. These can be clearly seen in the photos below. After some research I decided this harvestman could only be Dicranopalpus ramosus. 

The large "claws" are called pedipalps. These are believed to be tactile sensory organs. If you look closely at the photos you can see what at first seems to be blurring around the forked part of the pedipapls. This is in fact, a whole set of small, white cilia (hairs) with a feathery tip, each hair having a round tip. To view Scanning electron micrograph photos of, it click the link below. Both links below have been tested and should work. 

This species has very long legs, the second pair can be up to 5cm long. It has a distinctive resting position, with held at right angles to the body, making it easy to identify. It has spread across Europe from Morocco. First reported in Bournemouth in 1957, it had spread to Scotland by the year 2000.

Looking on the British Spiders site, the last record of it was 2015. Perhaps my find can update this record?

The adult season for it runs roughly July to November. There are only small differences between the sexes.

Habitat: Mostly outside on walls and fences, also in garden sheds and occasionally indoors.
Status: Frequent in Britain.
Size: Males upto 4mm, females up to 6mm.

Now for the photographs:

Harvestman, Dicranopalpus ramosus

Note the white cilia round the 
forked part of it's pedipalps

So, a new species to me and I hope to some of you. It would be nice if some of you find it, to notify FEET please.


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Garden snail, Cornu aspersum.

Hello again

This is another short re-post from the FEET blog, I thought it was worth showing the world.

I think everyone is has seen the following creature, the Garden snail, Cornu aspersum. If you are a gardener, you will most likely hate it. It's the most common snail in the world. It  is edible, but should not be confused with helix pomatia, the “Escargot”. You would not find me eating these things. Accounts from people how have eaten them in France or Morocco, describe them as, "chewy, similar to whelks in texture and earthy". That's after cooking them with garlic! I tried whelks many years ago. I got as far are chewing one for few minutes, to discover it didn't get any smaller and tasted like a fisherman's wellington boot, (I imagine).

I was watching one in our garden eating one of our plants and realised that apart from being disliked as a garden pest, they are more or less overlooked. SO, out with the camera and I got a nice set of photos. They are very slow, their fastest speed is only 1.3 centimetres per second. Even so, people do hold snail races. These are taken very seriously. I remember are report in a publication sometime in the mid 1970s, where someone had poisoned the snail which was the favourite in a race. It was called Flash, poor thing.

This snail has a strong homing instinct and spends the day, often in large groups, beneath stones and other structures. It comes out after it has been raining, or when it's cool and the sun is not shining.

Size: Shell height: 25 - 35 mm, Shell width: 25 - 40 mm.
Food plants: Almost any vegetable matter, including some cereals.
Habitat: Parks, gardens, woods, hedgerows and dunes.
Reproduction: Hermaphrodite, but prefers to mate with another snail. Mating can last from 4 to 12 hours.

Garden snail, Cornu aspersum.

 Snail eating

Detail of one eye stork.

Until next time, take care.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Swallows, Hirundo rustica.

Hello again

Two posts in  quick succession! I've cross posted this one from the FEET private members blog. I though it was too nice to leave just there.

This a post of some nice, small birds. They are Swallows, Hirundo rustica, They are a joy to watch in the air, they cheer me up with their acrobatic flight and consonant chattering song. We have a lot of them around our street. A couple of days back, they seemed to be making more noise than ever. I went to out to see what was happening. We had a family of juvenile swallows on the telephone wire that supplies our house. They were lined up to be fed by their hard-working parents. It was a great chance for some photos. Below are the results.

As you can see, they have not fully developed the red patch under their bills. They are found across the world and breed on all the continents except Antarctica

British swallows spend their winter in South Africa: they travel through western France, across the Pyrenees, down eastern Spain into Morocco, and across the Sahara. Some birds follow the west coast of Africa avoiding the Sahara, and other European swallows travel further east and down the Nile Valley. Swallows put on very little weight before migrating.

They migrate during day at low altitudes and find food on the way. Despite accumulating some fat reserves before crossing large areas such as the Sahara Desert, they are vulnerable to starvation during these crossings. Migration is a hazardous time and many birds die from starvation, exhaustion and in storms. Migrating swallows cover 200 miles a day, mainly during daylight, at speeds of 17-22 miles per hour.

Food: Mainly insects taken on the wing.
Speed: The maximum flight speed is 35 mph.
Body length: 30 cm.
Clutch size: 4 – 5 on average (Temperate areas population) and  2 – 3 on average (Tropics population).

I had to put the one below on first, I think it's so cute. It looks as if one is telling the other something, and the second one is listening.

The photo above had to go on last, for obvious reasons.

A sort, but nice little post I think.


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Art From Seaweeds

Hi everyone

A few weeks ago, we were on holiday in the beautiful isle of Arran, in Scotland. It was the first time we had visited it, but it will not be the last. One of the amazing things we discovered was that the whole island is Fairtrade, incredible, but very commendable. Arran is on the Gulf Stream, so it's a little warmer than you would expect. As a result palm trees are growing all over the place.

Arran makes a lot of their own goods on the island, beer, malt whiskey, Arran Dunlop cheese, there is a smokehouse producing excellent quality smoked meat and fish and it has a restaurant with a very high reputation, Arran Scotch Tablet is made there, it's only sold on the ferry from the mainland to the island and one or two selected shops on Arran. Scotch tablet is a kind of sweet fudge which has a crunchy texture, for those of you who do not know about it. It is my secret vice, it's a good job it is not sold where I live, I'd be diabetic!  There is a company called Arran Aromatics there too. They make cosmetic creams, shampoos, hand washing liquids etc. One of the nice things about Arran is that the shops all sell each others products, even the ferry uses the Arran Aromatics liquid soap on it ships, and sells Arran produce, as do the cafes and restaurants. I almost forgot to say that most, if not all the products made on Arran have won awards for quality and taste. Even better, everyone we met was warm, friendly and helpful, what a wonderful place.

Anyway, to carry on. Before I went, Colin, from FEET, the ecology organisation I am connected with asked me to photograph as much of the flora and fauna of the place as I could. I was then to blog it on the FEET members site, I took about 600 photos. It took me about 2 weeks to sort them out and I've posted my first blog, it was about the seaweeds I found there.

I looked at the images and decided it would be nice to try and make art from them. this post shows the results. I don't think they need any words to go with them, except the titles, so I shall just add art below.


 Abstract Beach

Eel Grass 

Herring Shoal


Kelpie Flow

Sea Salad

Sea Lace

Shoreline Garden

Sea Snake


Underwater #2 

Venetian Plus

Wave Rider


Illustration #1 

Moonlit Sea 

Moulded Seaweed

Sea Glass

Sea Lights

And that is it, all twenty images, inspired by the sea and it's organisms. I have my favourites as you would expect, the last image being one of them. I hope some of you have yours.

Until the next time,

Be kind to one another.