Water of Leith

February 2024 - Kites and wind

Storm after storm after storm… one can be forgiven for wondering if we shall ever escape the wind’s clutches. However, there was a spell of cold weather between them that produced some gloriously cold, sunny weather to give us all a short break!

My camera didn’t leave the bag too often in January but I enjoyed a couple of hours on the Water of Leith one morning to play with the water flowing down one of the weirs for some absorbing abstract images. I also took my compact camera on a walk along the Firth of Forth coastline; this is my “go to” camera when walking with company to enable me to capture some ‘grab shots’ along the way without holding everyone up (well…not for too long anyway!). It was a sunny afternoon and the visibility was as good as it had been all month which tempted me to take some photos of the waves and sea.

At the end of January, we visited the Red kite viewing centre near Doune. Apart from one short burst of sunlight, the weather remained overcast and devoid of colour. Nevertheless, it was too good an opportunity to miss and the lack of light simply produces a different style of photograph. Around thirty birds showed and we enjoyed them circulating in front of the hide for an hour. Another highlight was the ‘small birds’ feeding station situated in front of the hide. Beyond the usual suspects, we enjoyed seeing tree sparrows, a greater spotted woodpecker, yellowhammers and a sparrowhawk.

I am writing this as we record our entry for the RSPB’s Great Garden Bird Watch. This is a great project that not only draws folk into taking more interest in the birds visiting their gardens but also produces some interesting ‘citizen science’ data for researchers. Sadly, as gusts in excess of fifty miles per hour rampage through the garden, the birds are taking shelter and the results are unrepresentative of our usual population of avi-fauna. None of the ever-present tit mice or finch family came to the seed feeder, the blackbird couldn’t be drawn down by the apples… not even a magpie showed up! Only the robin and dunnock were tempted by the scraps of cheese rind from our prior night’s indulgence. On a positive note, we saw two robins that seemed tolerant of each other and give us hope for a possible nest this spring.

On Dundas where I work, I counted at least five trees felled by the storms. Fortunately, they were mainly diseased or dead and not of an ‘ancient’ genre; a couple of years ago, a storm accounted for a 200 year old beech tree which was very sad. As we enter ‘snowdrop season’ I recorded the first clump in bloom on 3rd January (on Dundas) which is the earliest I have seen them. With our daffodil shoots pushing up in the garden in December, the effects of climate change are clear to see.