Saturday 24 April 2021

Drumlin Hunter. Remaining Fragments of the Garscube Estate.

                                                  ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.

Photo taken near Anne's house. The Campsie Fells and Bearsden from High Knightswood. Looking for someplace different to walk locally a couple of weeks ago at the start of what appears to be one of the sunniest, driest April months on record in Central Scotland I thought I would start near Westerton Train Station. This would allow me to climb several of the cities many drumlins ( small hills) at once and also visit a place I had never properly explored. Some of the remaining fragments of the once impressive but private Garscube Estate that used to run between the Campsie Fells seen above, through Bearsden, also seen above, to the Glasgow outskirts.

                                                     River  Kelvin Gorge. Garscube Estate.
  This takes in both banks of the River Kelvin, Dawsholm Park, The West of Scotland Science Park, The Vet School, The University of Glasgow ( Kelvin Campus) and several other areas.

As it's been very dry and sunny all this month since the start of April it was another perfect blue sky day. 24 of them so far in a row and no rain in sight. Unwatered gardens are now dying and thirsty. Lawns are turning brown in the heat. Popular car parks are usually packed out every day, unless you get up very early... which is why I ended up here. Peaceful and quiet. Just me and nature. As always.


Glasgow. Another perfect day in earthly heaven thanks to the UK's (4th or 5th depending which online stats you read) largest city which is situated in a bowl, mostly covered in concrete, and so burns off clouds better than the outlying countryside can. A micro climate effect I've seen in action many times over the decades with an often perfect circle of blue appearing over the built up districts doughnut- any clouds pushed back to the very edge of the ring of encircling hills. There the sky-scapes, (with an encircling landmass rising between 500 to almost 2000 feet)  gather and hold onto any clouds while the central city depression, at around sea level, disperses them. Another reason I love cities. Good thermals within them to punch a hole.

 Since the start of this blog thirteen years ago I've noticed many other blue sky titles appearing but they usually mean something entirely different from this one. For me it's still one pure unadulterated love affair. The rush I always get waking up to a perfect blue sky day- often completely unsullied in the morning or with a few fluffy clouds drifting across it by afternoon. To the extent where, in my free time, I'm reluctant to explore outdoors in anything else. Hence the name of the blog. Still does what it says on the tin/label.    If it's grey- no way.

A sea of golden daffodils for a creature made up entirely of honey and sunshine, on this particular morning anyway... i.e... me.

 The simple beauty of a small stream in Springtime.

The sparkling path through the woodland realm of Knights.

 The magical colours and scents of Spring.

Cherry Blossom.   A perfumed garden.

The old man of the woods.

A young bear. Garscube Estate.

Tree creature.

Putting the bears in Bears-den.

 Various drumlin views from districts ending in.... hill. Anniesland and the green spires of Jordan-hill College.

Blairdardie, Drumchapel Hi Rise Flats, ( white with blue stripe) and Clydebank Hi Rise clusters. Drumry and Radnor Park groups) Distance views somewhat hazy by this time. Afternoon now.

Climbing yet another drumlin. Small but still tough after a few completed already on a warm to hot day.

The Kilpatrick Hills view. Not a drumlin but an encircling city range.

Part of High Knightswood district. Yep! Another drumlin by the looks of it.

Heading for Drumlin no 3 . Gilshochill/Maryhill District.

The white towers. Lincoln, Kingsway, high rise clusters in a line. 

....and then back to Westerton Train Station on the Forth and Clyde Canal. Note the clouds over the Campsie Fells here, a long wall of cliffs close to 2000 feet high yet clear blue sky directly above, over the city. High ground creates its own weather system/ micro climate, along with rivers, woods and sea. At certain times of year it can be sunny inland yet misty/foggy at the coast or lingering mist pockets along river valleys, deep hollows, or woods that take ages to burn off- all due to temperature differences or upward/downward thermals of a few degrees. Something that glider pilots and large birds take full advantage of... soaring higher over certain fields that give off heat, sinking lower over woods, marsh, and river.

Chow down time. Chicken, turnip, potatoes, carrot, onion, tomatoes. Various spices. Lovely stuff.

Link to Garscube House and old estate photos. 1954 photo.

Thursday 8 April 2021

My Birds of Paradise.

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A spring flower display, above. I've never had the time, money or inclination to see the real Birds of Paradise in New Guinea so I'm more than happy to view them via the TV screen, without the real life adventure of deep jungle, creepy crawlies, biting flies, native guides, or the uncertainty of catching a glimpse of them at all. I'll leave that to the most dedicated birders and the professionals but I have found over the decades that taking a basic interest in the wildlife, the insects, the flowers, plants, trees, mosses and fungi encountered outdoors only adds to any walk. It also occurred to me that our own UK bird population can be just as colourful as any exotic species so here's a selection.

A Shelduck. The largest of the UK ducks and a colourful one. Found around the British coastal margins.


A goldfinch. The bright splash of gold on the wings is hidden here by the greenery. My father, as a boy, had a caged one, which was fairly common then, along with linnets and yellowhammers- similar to budgies during my own childhood, when many families had one stuck in a cage in the corner of a room. In fact when I saw budgies flying wild in Australia in large groups for the first time as a twenty something walker over there I was so conditioned to seeing them indoors and alone, static in a cage, it came as something of a shock to appreciate this was how they should be in the wild and how unnatural they must feel, closed in and single. Up until that point I hadn't properly realized how cruel captivity might be for this particular species as they appeared lightning fast in flight outdoors, capable of flying large distances across any semi desert region, and never alone, constantly chattering to their numerous companions. You wouldn't dream of keeping a swift or swallow in a small cage yet growing up with budgies all around me, in various friend's living rooms, as a child, that seemed perfectly normal in the 1960s and exactly where they should be residing. A good lesson in slavery.

A larger cousin to the budgie. Green parakeets in a park. Big and powerful enough to survive our own UK birds attacking them.

Same bird spotting a juicy nut on the ground I'd just placed there. "Who is a clever boy then?"

A red legged partridge. First one I'd seen close up in 45 years of hill-walking. Found on the much drier east coast hills- never seen in the soggy west.

Think this is a mallard duck but with a less common purple/blue head and wing stripe.

Eider ducks. The bobbing 'sea pigeons' of the Scottish coast where little rafts of them can be spotted along the shores, often heard first due to a soft cooing noise, floating over the water to reach ears on land.

 Canada Goose reflection shot. A bird I've often seen in my kayak in numerous lochs and slow moving rivers.

Great Crested Grebe with a fish.

Bullfinch. One of the largest UK finches.

Hunting Buzzard.

 Kestrel on tree top.

 Teal. Duck. Common as a paint colour in DIY stores but the very first one I've seen in Scotland. More widespread along the English coasts I believe.

Woodpecker. Another bird that's hard to capture close up unless you spend time on it deliberately, waiting patiently for hours or reached/stalked with a giant zoom. Lucky in this instance it was above me  just long enough to get the photo.

A large thrush.

 Two pigeons in love. Even these everyday birds have a neckband of green iridescence that sparkles in sunlight.

Wheatear. A small bird of heath, moorland, and mountain slopes. This is a personal selection of a few of my own efforts.

 Beautiful colours of a male Pheasant. 

 Another version walking along a wall.

 Grey Partridge. A field in Fife.

 Peacock displaying.


 Rather annoyed Grey Squirrel. " Hey, Get me in here as well !   Where's my ******** selfie!? Nae mair photos o' they parakeets. They buggers are invasive species in the UK. No like me. I'm pure 100% Scotch so I is. I belong here, born and bred. No like them buggers that belong back in a cage or on a plate. It's no natural so it's no, having them flying aboot, enjoying themselves ootside. It's no real!!!"  

 More parakeets.

                             " My favourite birds?   I'm not fussy. I'll eat them all. Yum Yum."


The other reason for this title was something I found out several years ago. Who is the most prolific songwriter of the last 30 years and sits third ( after Lennon and McCartney) with the most no 1 singles in the charts? (23 no 1s in total.)  He is Swedish- you might never have heard of him and his initials are M.M. Give Up?

Hence the alternative title I was considering for this post " I kissed/loved several girls... then found out it might have been a man!"

You will have heard of the long list of Birds of Paradise that have flocked though his studio doors however for his magic touch on their careers. Including Britney Spears, Pink, Katy Perry, Jessie J, Taylor Swift and many, many others. You could call him 'The Starmaker.' as he specializes in great catchy melodies and thumping pop tunes.