juvenile mute swan

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P1180478 (1).jpgWhen adult this juvenile Mute Swan will be all white with an orange-red beak. 


Kensington heron

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P1180468.jpgGrey Herons are global citizens, while they live in Australia I spotted this one, standing motionless as they are want to do, in Kensington Gardens, one of eight Royal Parks in the city of London, UK.

castle guards

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P1190071.jpgRosslyn Chapel was made famous in Dan Brown‘s novel The Da Vinci Codes that went on to become a much discussed movie. Last October on a visit to the UK I visited the Chapel while staying in what remains of Rosslyn Castle, once the St. Claire family home. The Castle is available to rent through the Landmark Trust and is located a short distance away from the Chapel on private land.

My bedroom, visible on the left upper story.

The Castle accommodation is a walk back in time, filled with old paintings, faded wall hangings and memorabilia, statues from the Chapel, descending dungeons and a few resident ghosts thrown in! I captured these Jackdaws from my window one morning, and while strictly speaking Rooks are associated with castles and belfrys, in this case it was Jackdaws that presented plenty of atmosphere as they swirled in large flocks overhead and cawed and chacked into the night. 

whose calling me baby now

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P1180999.jpgThis Sottish Mod (aka Highland Steer) has the mod fringe down pat, take a second look and check out the single eye under those beautiful bangs. The horns may look scary but in reality Highland Steers are docile, good natured animals, and often house cows. The coats vary from black to white, red to silver and in between all thanks to a gene. I met this fellow when touring the Isle of Skye in north west Scotland last October. With the car window down I was only inches away from his lovely snout. These fringes were made famous when  Corb Lund (Canada’s country music singer) released his song ‘Hair in My Eyes Like A Highland Steer’.  

Is this edible? (car side mirror)

isle of skye

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P1180705.jpgThese types of strange mountains rise up unexpectantly throughout the Isle of Skye, one of the islands of ‘Argyll and the Isles’ in north west Scotland. It’s a rugged landscape that presents a challenge for those on foot. Certainly in earlier days when the great dense pine forests (now sadly decimated by harvesting) covered the island, the combination of seemingly impassable forests and steep exposed mountains slit by gorges led to the inhabitants preferring to travel by boat around the island rather than across country. 

bo peep’s sheep

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p1180919On the Isle of Skye visitors soon learn that the Scottish Blackface considers the narrow roads their own. This mountain sheep is particularly well suited to Skye as it is tough, adaptable ,and bestowed with a long coarse wool coat that protects it from the biting winds that roar over the exposed landscape.

Dunvegan Castle

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p1180679Like many Australians my family has roots in Scotland, certainly those Scots seem to have gotten about here in New South Wales given the number of small towns promoting the Scottish clans. All together I have four Scot clans I can lay heritage to, so in October ’16 I set off to check out some of my family’s old haunts, which in large part centered on Argyll and the Isles in the north west of Scotland. Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, is the oldest continually inhabited castle in Scotland and has been the ancestral home of the Chefs of Clan MacLeod for over 800 years. p1180662While this isn’t one of my family clans, it was an immigration point for Scots heading OS back in the day, and my father’s family’s immigration papers show this as their point of departure. Its a beautiful place with a very large well maintained garden of woodlands, boarders and a walled garden that rivals the garden in the famous novel The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, a book many love as a child and went on to become a wonderful film. garden