Tag Archives: Strathclyde

Street Entertainment in Buchanan Street, Glasgow

On Saturday I met up with friends in Glasgow for lunch and a coffee. Afterwards we walked through the city centre shops to see if there was anything we wanted to buy. Buchanan Street in Glasgow has shops which sell the world’s most expensive brands and is always very busy.  

What struck me was the number of street performers and political and religious groups on the street. Below are some of the interesting things I saw.  

Standing on Air

 The man above appeared to be standing on air. There was another one on Argyle Street which we saw when walking to the station for the train home.  

 

 The man above was making a lot of noise!
 

Another band near the top of the street. They were very good and worth some money.

 

 
The man on the tightrope playing the fiddle is usually found in Edinburgh at the Festival. As it is drawing to a close soon, he was probably trying to get a new audience in Glasgow before going to another city. 


This man makes things from balloons such as cartoon characters and animals. His balloon shapes are very good and he sells a lot of them.  
A street artist was drawing sketches of visitors to the city. 

The ‘Yes’ campaigners for Scottish Independence were out in force and some of them came on this funny bicycle. The vote for Scottish Independence in on September 18th.

It was all happening on Buchanan Street.

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Glasgow Getting Ready for the Commonwealth Games

On the way home from work this evening I went up to George Square in Glasgow to see the activities in the main square in the City. It was a lovely sunny and warm day with temperatures of 22c. 

‘Big G’

‘Big G’
The Big G is the centrepiece in George Square at the moment as the Games are about to begin. It is taller than a double decker bus and is 5.5m (18-feet) high and 10.2m (33.5-feet) in circumference. 

It weighs four tonnes, which is the same weight as an African elephant. It is made from mild steel and aluminium and has been painted in the Games colours of red, green, yellow and blue. Surrounding it is a circular garden of flowers.  

‘Big G’ with City Chambers in the background

 

Side view of ‘Big G’

 

Get photos taken with Games background

 

Piper outside City Chambers welcoming competitors

 

Piper outside City Chambers welcoming competitors

Outside the City Chambers were a piper and a drummer welcoming guests to the Chambers as they arrived.

Another view of ‘Big G’ showing City Chambers

 

Buying the last of the tickets

There was also a superstore where people could buy merchandise. It was very big inside with a variety of goods for sale, including traditional Scottish goods such as Harris Tweed bags, purses and wallets, Heather honey and haggis.

Supertstore

On the way home,  Central Station lower level was mobbed as there was a dress rehearsal at Celtic Park for the opening ceremony. I supposed we will all have to get used to the crowds for a few days.

Further Information:

Glasgow 2014 - All the information about the games.
Scotrail – Rail travel details

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Filed under Commonwealth Games 2014, Events, General, Glasgow City, Lanarkshire, Scotland, strathclyde

Statue in Langside Road, Glasgow

My fitness regime during my working day consists of going to the gym after work and walking during lunchtime. 

I have the choice of some lovely walks in the area around my office including Queen’s Park and Linn Park. On a walk around Queen’s Park last week I noticed this beautiful statue on top of a building on Langside Avenue.

 The statue looks like a Grecian one, with some further Grecian detail around the walls of the building. Glasgow City has some wonderful buildings.

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Digiscoping Birds at the Local Pond

The weather was lovely and sunny today in contrast to the pouring rain which has been present since the beginning of December.

I was up and out early with my sunglasses on to catch some photographs of the birds in my local pond. Approaching the pond, the birds were all swimming about near the water’s edge, but as soon as they heard me approach they moved to the centre of the pond.

Bird pond

The photo above gives an indication of how lovely a day it was.

Setting up my tripod and scope I realised I had forgotten the attachment for my SLR camera so I had to use the camera on my mobile phone, which is very good.

Canada Geese

Canada Geese

The Canada geese above were all sitting together on the banking but soon moved off into the pond when they heard me approaching.  

On the small island on the pond a few Canada geese were also resting. There was a slight commotion and I noticed there were two Cormorant in the area acting in an aggressive manner to what looked like an injured Canada goose lying in the grass on the island.

Aggressive Cormorant

Cormorant

The two of them soon calmed down!

The Cormorant on the right is a juvenile bird as can be see by the large white breast and brown colour. This turns darker with age.

Cormorant

Gadwall and Whooper Swans

In the pond were Gadwall – there are beautiful birds but always hard to photograph as they stay in the middle of the pond. I will try and get a photograph of them next time.

Whooper Swans

On the opposite bank were a group of Whooper swans. These are winter visitors and will soon be leaving to go back to Iceland for breeding. They can be identified by their yellow beaks.

Diving Ducks

There are a number of diving ducks in the pond including Tufted ducks, Goldeneye and Widgeon. Goldeneye male birds have black heads, while female and juvenile birds have brown heads. All have a white spot in front of the eye. 

Goldeneye
Tufted Ducks

It was a lovely way to spend the morning before a game of golf in the afternoon. On my way back home to change and get my golf clubs, I saw a Bumble Bee flying about. Very unusual to see one so early in the year.

Coming home from the golf it was just getting dark at 17.30. The dark days of winter are leaving us and the light summer days are almost here.

Can’t wait for summer.

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Filed under Bird Watching, General, Scotland, strathclyde, Wildlife

Autumn at Baron’s Haugh, Motherwell

With Autumn fast approaching, I went to Baron’s Haugh on Sunday to look for passing birds on the pond. Many birds stop over at Baron’s Haugh on their migratory journey from Iceland to the Sahara Desert to avoid the cold northern winter. They return in the Spring. The weather was very warm and sunny, in contrast to the previous week, when it had been very cold for September.

To get to Baron’s Haugh I have to walk about 3.5 miles carrying a spotting scope, tripod, binoculars, bird book and some food and drink, so it also is a good form of exercise for me. 

I left my house at 09.30 and arrived back at the house at 19.00 having walked around the area and the adjoining Dalzell Estate. In all I walked 13 miles.

Below are some photographs from the day.

Some Cormorants, young Mute swans an some Mallards
Black-headed gulls
Lapwing
Cormorant
Two Curlew
Eroded path on way to Carbarns
High walls on road to East side of the Haugh

The photograph above shows high wall on the road down to the East side of the Haugh. This was build by the Hamilton family, who owned Dalzell House and its grounds, to prevent their view from the house being spoiled by seeing workers walking to and from the mine which was situated nearby.

Brambles 
Chestnut
Rosehips

Autumn is a great time of year for seeing many different things.  

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Filed under Baron's Haugh, Bird Watching, General, Lanarkshire, Scotland, strathclyde, Wildlife

Learning about Scottish Badgers

Location map of Palacerigg

I recently went on a badger course at Palacerigg Country Park in Cumbernauld run by the Scottish Badger Trust. The park is owned by North Lanarkshire Council and has a large variety of animals and educational facilities. Getting to the Cumbernauld from Motherwell is a short journey on the train. 

However, there is no public transport from Cumbernauld Railway Station to the park so I took my Razor A5 scooter to travel to avoid the long mile walk. The road to the park is uphill so is a bit difficult on the scooter, but on the return journey, it was much easier to freewheel for long periods. There is a footpath to the park, so is not dangerous for pedestrians. 

Arriving at Palacerigg Country Park, Cumbernauld

When I arrived at the park I was fortunate to meet Emilie who was organising the learning session and she showed me to the small wooden educational building where tea, coffee and some cakes were on offer to everyone on arrival. Emilie is the Biodiversity and Heritage Officer of the Central Scotland Forest Trust.

Peacocks at Palacerigg Country park

The main reason I wanted to go on the course was to learn more about badgers. I had been fortunate enough to see them one evening at New Lanark and had often come across their setts and tracks at New Lanark, Chatelherault Country Park and at Dalzell Estate in Motherwell. I wanted to learn more about badgers.

The instructor was badger expert Elaine, who is the Development Officer of Scottish Badgers. She had prepared an information pack which was very useful and included information about badgers, some images, information on map reading and some information regarding Ticks and Lyme Disease.
 
As badgers are often hunted by people with sinister intentions I am not going into great detail on how to identify a badger sett and their locations.
 
Useful Information on Badgers

Elaine informed us that the badger which is found in the UK is also found in most of Europe and Asia. There are approximately 340,000 badgers in the UK with 34,000 found in Scotland. Most badgers in Scotland are concentrated in the South and Lowlands and their habitats include woodland, hedgerows, sand dunes, moorland, railway embankments, urban areas etc.

Badgers have long bodies and short legs and have poor eyesight but have an excellent sense of smell to compensate for the poor eyesight. They have spade-like paws which are excellent for digging. They have black faces with white markings and grey bodies and a small head with long snout.
 
Setts 
 

Badgers live in setts and these are joined to other setts by tunnels. There are various different categories of setts in a territory.

Badger bedding

Diet

Badgers, like humans are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. Most of their diet consists of eating earthworms but will eat young rabbits, insects, fruit, crops, slugs and fungi. They tend to be at their heaviest in the Autumn and lose weight over the winter when food is scarce.
 
Reproduction
 
The breeding season is from February to September, but cubs are born in February to give them time to develop and learn survival techniques in time for the winter. 
 
Legislation Protecting Badgers
 
Badgers in Scotland are protected by the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 and the Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011. Anyone convicted of any offences covered by legislation can be imprisoned for up to three years and given an unlimited fine.
 
Surveying Skills
 

While on the course we learned how to survey a badger site. The best times of the year are in early Spring and late Autumn when the grass is low and the setts can be seen easily. We were given information on how to identify a badger’s path and of the various indicators of badger activity including dung heaps, bedding, scrape marks and snuffle holes. 

Earth balls from excavation on clay soil
Fresh excavation

Roll Test for Badger Hairs

Badger hairs are oval and a test to identify them is the finger roll test. When a badger hair is placed between the index finger and thumb it will not roll due to its oval shape and it is also very strong and will not break easily.
Lunch
Lunch was provided on the course and it was excellent. The food was nice and healthy and very enjoyable.
Fieldwork

After lunch the group went on to survey an area with badgers to look out for clues on badger activity and to find some setts. The group were also looking for scrape marks, paths and other signs of badger activity. It  was very good and we did find some setts, badger paths and badger bedding lying out to dry. 

Out on a survey trip

The fieldwork trip also allowed us to make use the information given in the morning session to identify possible areas where badgers would likely to be found. 

Elaine finds some badger bedding
Fieldwork

An exercise was set to try and find badger setts and signs of badger activity and we were fortunate in finding some setts, scratch marks and evidence the sett was currently in use.

Any signs here?

We then made our way back to our base before wrapping up the session and providing feedback on the day.

Review of the Day

It was a very interesting and informative day and both Elaine and Emilie were very informative and supportive. It was well organised and the learning materials were very well presented and were easy to understand. 

As I go walking about I will be more aware of the signs of badger activity and will conduct some surveys in the Autumn of the setts I come across.

Further Information:

Scottish Badgers - Organising the study, conservation and protection of Scotland’s badgers.
Central Scotland Forest Trust - Maintaining and improving the woodland areas in Central Scotland. 
Palacerigg Country Park - Based in Cumbernauld in North Lanarkshire.

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Baby Birds Growing Up

There are many things I love about summer including the long summer days, warm weather, sunshine and the new arrivals in the animal and bird worlds.

I enjoy watching the young animals and birds as they grow and learn behaviours from their parents to allow them to survive in the wild.

Great-spotted Woodpecker

One of the interesting birds I have seen this year is a Great-spotted woodpecker which has built a nest in an old tree. The nest is in a secluded wood near my home, well away from the footpaths in the area. This has allowed the Woodpecker family to get on with their lives without too much disturbance.

I have been going out at different times of the day to try and get some photographs of these birds, as it is quite unusual to find a nest so near a residential area. In fact, the whole area is rich in wildlife but not many people are aware of this. As a result, the wildlife is allowed to live undisturbed in the area.

Setting up Photography Equipment

Below are some photographs I took. One the day I took the photographs I arrived in the woods just after 05.00 when the area was alive with birdsong and the grass was still covered in dew. The sun had risen at 04.15 and it was still a bit chilly. I had my vacuum flask with tea and some croissants, as I expected to be there for a few hours.

I took along an SLR camera, a tripod and a small folding stool to enable me to get some images.

When I arrived at the area near the nest, I set up the tripod and camera and adjusted the height of the tripod to suit the height of my stool. I was hidden behind some bushes, out of sight of the nest.

Early Morning in the Woods

Sitting in the middle of a wooded area with all the birdsong, rustling in the bushes from the animals and birds and the lack of people in the surrounding area was a bit scary. The young Woodpeckers were making a screeching noise which got louder as the parents arrived at the nest with food. 

Male Great-spotted woodpecker feeding  juvenile

In the photograph above the male bird can be seen outside the nest feeding the juvenile bird. The male bird can be identified by the red patch on the back of its head, while the juvenile bird has a red patch on its head. 

Adult bird goes to collect more food

After feeding the juvenile, the adults flew off to collect more food. Both the male and female birds were busy feeding the juveniles.

More food for the Juveniles

The food being taken to the nest included  flies, berries and other insects.

Male bird feeding juvenile

In the above photograph the red head of the juvenile bird can be clearly seen.

Feeding time
Adult male flies away for more food

The adults were kept very busy. While I was sitting watching the birds I could hear some splashing in the pond to my right. I looked over and saw the family of Mute swans out for an early morning swim.

Danger – Mute Swans Approaching! 

A short time later I heard rustling in the trees in front of me and saw the Mute swan family appear on the path in front of me. They were going to have to pass near where I was sitting, so I left my camera gear and walked into the wood to let them pass. 

Mute swans can be very aggressive when looking after their young and can break a person’s arm with their wing. It’s best to keep well out of their way until their cygnets are more mature.

After they passed I resumed my position in front of the camera.

Adult male with food in his beak
Adult male bird feeding juvenile
Adult male leaves the nest with some debris

Occasionally, the adult birds would enter the nest and clear out some debris left by the juveniles. 

Coots

On another part of the pond two adult Coots were out on the pond with their young. The chicks had only hatched recently, in contrast to the Coots in the other pond whose young are far bigger. 

Adult Coot and chicks
Adult Coot feeding chick

The pond is covered with water lillies but the birds can all manage to get through them quite easily.

On the other pond the Coots were out and about and were much older than the ones on the other pond.

Older Coots
Older Coots

Mute Swans

The Mute swan family were still out and about in the pond after my near encounter with them a few hours earlier.

Mute swan and cygnets
Mute swan and cygnets

The Mute cygnets and the Coot chicks look cute and will grow at a fast rate before winter arrives and with it the cold weather.

I will be keeping an eye on the progress of these families as their young develop throughout the summer and autumn.

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