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Monday, 19 November 2012

Castle, Caves, Ceilidh and Curlews (and other delights)

Friday the 16th of November

My two youngest daughters (Sarah and Marie, affectionately known to their friends as Sez and Maz) are up from Cheltenham for a couple of days, and I'm taking them to visit the grounds of Culzean Castle.

It's a cold but dry day. I take them via Colmonell where we get this view of one of my favourite hills, Knockdolian.

We park at the visitors centre where a double decker load of art students from the Glasgow School of Art have just dismounted.  
We head down the steps to the shore via the old gasworks. A lone swan scavenges for food among the rocks.

The incoming tide means we can only get as far as the first of the caves.

These snails are congregated on one of the pillars shown in the first collage.

After a look at what was the gasworks, we climb the steps to the castle.

I get my photo taken. Which one is father time ?

The castle itself is closed for the winter season, but the girls are quite happy looking round the grounds.

Many of the art students have settled to sketch their subjects.

 The 'Battery' was completed in 1815 coinciding with the end of the Napoleonic wars. Sarah jumped the gun around 1315.

Much of Arran was under cloud, but Holy Island was nicely in view.

We headed over to the Swan Pond for our sandwiches. An alcove next to the refreshments kiosk kept us out of the bitterly cold wind.
We were treated to some nice flying displays from the birds.

This pied wagtail kept running back and forward along the wall. There's probably enough crumbs to keep him happy, swan pond visitors fetch plenty of bread.

I'd intended a run back home via the village of Barr, but the road was closed so instead I took the Knowe road at Barrhill to catch this view of  Loch Maberry
Back home we rested up before heading to Stranraer for a charity ceilidh at the Masonic Hall in Stranraer. There were quite a number of my walking friends from the Wigtownshire Ramblers in attendance, so a very enjoyable night was had by all. 

Saturday the 17th of November
We're heading for Garlieston today.

First stop was in Wigtown at the Martyr's Monument

After parking in Garlieston we take the shore path south. It's a quite cool, but absolutely beautiful day.
A Scallop Dredger, the Siarach III SY85 is tied up on the jetty.

We haven't gone far before we're treated to some of our winged friends. According to Sarah who knows quite a bit about birds today we saw among others Buzzards, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Common Scoter, Curlew and a female Merlin. Some are photographed below.  

Spooky trees

A friendly robin

It's Molly again from last months walk

A good mix of decaying fungus

The first of quite a few Grey Herons seen today.

A bite to eat on Rigg Bay.
Regular readers of this blog will know I'm not against wind-farms if they are rightly thought out, but a proposal for 90 turbines a short way out in Wigtown Bay will seriously affect what we see here.
I'm supporting the Keep Wigtown Bay Natural campaign.

Here's another Grey Heron. Walking south we'd heard the odd distinctive Curlew call. Now we were hearing it more regularly.

I got lucky with the camera.

We take a walk through Galloway House Gardens.

Here's a nice profile! Name that bird?

This lichen has a long legged spider attached to it, but for some reason I could not get a good macro shot of it.

The photograph below isn't mine.
I am totally green with envy over this picture. Some people have said I have an eye for a picture, but I'm a total amateur besides Marie. I've seen some amazing shots on her Facebook page, and once again she's got the shot of the day. This is an absolutely beautiful picture,

Here's an interesting treetop and a couple of domesticated birds.

We thought that this was a female Merlin and well it might be, but could it be a young Hen Harrier ?

Here's a shy creature.......................

..............recognizable as a 'Sez' from behind.

A turnstone.

Again I was lucky with the camera to catch a Heron in flight.

I'm not sure how many Curlews we did see, but it was quite a few.

The tide has come well in while we walked. As we head back towards Garlieston  we see lots of Oystercatchers.

I take some video

Oyster Catchers and other birds just south of Garlieston in South West Scotland.
Filmed on Saturday the 17th of November 2012.
Background music courtesy of Moby and
is 'Division' from the album 'Wait For Me'

Now on the Garlieston Breakwater we spot this arrow and rivet !
Does this particular stone date back to the Mulberry Harbour days ? It certainly looks like a W.D arrow.
I'd love to know it's origins.

After leaving Garlieston we're heading west on the B7052 when Marie asks me to stop so that she can take a picture.
No photo trickery here. Isn't she good !
I'm glad she's going to start a blog. I'll subscribe.

It's Port William we're heading for...................
...............and the sunset.

The sea's a bit choppy and it's blowing a gale. This fishing boat persevered till sundown.

We'll stay till the sun goes down.

The Mull of Galloway is right in line with the setting sun.

I take some more video.
Filmed at Port William on Saturday the 17th of November 2012. I apologize for the poor quality, it was blowing a gale outside, and doesn't really reflect just how beautiful it was. I'm really uploading it for the nice accompanying music by Moby at . It's an unreleased piece called 'Open'

Thanks for visiting girls, we had a great time.


  1. Jim, certaily looks like you have been keeping busy, I thought I was busy but I can barley keep up to your blogs! I love the caves, I think that would be an awesome place to hang out!

    Glad your having a nice time with your daughters. : )

  2. Great curlew pictures and the turnstone is a new one to me. I'll keep my eyes peeled for them. The RSPB website tells me they're winter birds but they look an easy spot.

    Funny you should see a merlin (my bird of prey identification is very poor), I was just writing about a stuffed one this afternoon.

  3. Some great wildlife shots Jim.Looks like you three got great weather as well.Never seen a photograph of a heron with its beak open like that before.
    Love the eye and finger shot as well.Very Dali.

  4. Just realised how the mirror shot was taken.Doh!
    Thats very inventive out the box thinking.

  5. Incredible photos Jim! What a wonderful outing with your beautiful girls.
    Some very clever shots in this post!
    Hope you are well.
    Have a wonderful week Mr Dean ;)

  6. Thanks Michael, believe it or not we had a cave dweller in the area until the 80's. Snib Scott

    I couldn't believe the luck I had with the birds Sandy (then I got married ha ha, sorry...warped sense of humour). Usually I'm walking with the ramblers down that stretch, and we never have the time to stop. As we were coming away a serious photographer with big tripod and bags of accessories was making his way towards Rigg Bay.

    Hi Bob, that's the second time I've manage a picture of an opened beak Heron. It takes on a completely different, almost menacing look doesn't it. Marie has a knack of finding the unusual to photograph. I hope when she starts her blog she'll feature plenty of them.

    Hi Rose, lovely to hear from you. I'm missing my fix from the Hunter Valley. Saturday was a rare day here, everyone is talking about how things can change so quickly weather wise. My next post, uploading today, was photographed two days later on the Monday. You too have a great week.

  7. I think the bird at Culzean is a female Merlin ,certainly not a hen harrier. Alternative could be given your location is a young peregrine falcon. Just like to add my twopence worth to the discussion table.

  8. I guess it is then a female Merlin Gordon, but it wasn't Culzean it was near Rigg Bay south of Garlieston. I know what you meant though.

  9. It seems you three have had a great day out! I hope I'll be able to spend days like this with my children also when they have grown up.

  10. Thanks Maria, they'll soon be grown up the way time flies. It's March 2013 now and I'm just replying to this.

  11. Thanks for the link Jim, and I'm pleased I came back to this post to revisit your curlews. A wader of course. So then I got on to the Scottish Wildlife Trust's website and learnt a lot more about your curlew. What a curious old scottish name for the bird - "whaup".
    It was nice to go through the whole walk and photos again too. Even if I did omit the (s)..... You should have admonished me severely ;)


Thanks for all your comments. I may not get to reply to them all, but you may be sure they'll be appreciated.

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