Fungi, Dundas.

December 2022 - Winter comes

The frosts have arrived and winter seems to be here. While scraping ice off the car at dawn can be unappealing, frost patterns formed on the bonnet and windscreen can be quite beautiful. Provided there is no wind, one can wrap up against the cold and I always look forward to those cool, still, frosty mornings.

The autumn colours have almost totally disappeared from Dundas Castle estate where I work and the bare tree branches steel themselves for winter’s onslaught. Ground foliage is rapidly dying back allowing greater visibility through the woods and leaves now cover the floor. The volume of newly grown fungi is beginning to slow but I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring ways to photograph them this autumn as part of a new project; I have previously been indifferent about toadstools but the wide range of fungi on the estate provided me with too good an opportunity to miss - and the results and experience have been very satisfying.

Dundas loch has returned to normality with the surface weed now rapidly receding. The cygnets have fledged to pastures new allowing the parent birds to relax; the cob no longer feels the need to intimidate and bully the greylag and Canada geese. Coots continue to chase one another but with less frequency. The mallards have now moulted and are sporting fine plumage while the little grebes dive endlessly in search of food.

I had a trip to photograph grey seals in the Firth of Forth during the month and enjoyed just sitting and watching them. It is the height of their breeding season and white pups lay all over the stone beach. All the behaviour unfolded around us - quarrels, territory defending, pup protection, mating and sleeping… a lot of sleeping. It is always such a privilege to share a moment in their world.

A trip down to the Water of Leith allowed me to capture some images of the river. It has been a while since I last took photographs of that trusted combination of leaf, stone and water, and I left happy with my haul.

I was delighted to have an article published in Outdoor Photography magazine on wildlife photography and the law during November. It is one of three articles due to appear in consecutive editions addressing disturbance photographers may cause to wildlife in pursuit of images. I hope it helps photographers to understand their responsibilities around wild animals, areas where they may transgress the law and to always respect the welfare of wildlife - even at the expense of a photograph.

The cost of living may be high as we now enter the festive season but love and kindness remains unaffected by runaway inflation, Brexit, wars in Ukraine, changes in Prime Ministers and sporting success or disappointment! May I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year.