Monday, 26 January 2009

250 year Anniversary Celebrations for Scotland's Bard, Robert Burns

Robert Burns 250 years Anniversary Celebrations in Dumfries Sunday 25th January 2009

January, in Scotland always produces unpredictable weather, so it is not easy to plan outdoor events for thousands of people to attend. Only on Thursday the Whitesands in Dumfries was flooded due to a combination of a high tide and torrential rain. Sunday started with more torrential rain, however the skies cleared towards afternoon. Sighs of relief were audible!

To mark the the 250th Anniversary of Rabbie Burns birth, there were lantern processions starting from various points in the town with all ending at the Whitesands, where there were various bands playing. I live in a small village about 5 miles out of town, and the music could be heard here!

Robert Burns is Scotland's National Poet, and his most famous work is "Auld Lang Syne" which is sung all over the world especially at New Year Celebrations. The poet is buried in Dumfries.

The Health and Safety Gurus had done their usual wonderful job of ruining most things for everyone, as real candles were not allowed in the lanterns, light sticks having to be used instead, which somewhat defeated the point of a lantern procession.

The Celebrations culminated in the burning of a wicker creation of Tam O' Shanter and his horse Meg, which was moored on a raft in front of Devorgilla Bridge on the river Nith. The best view of this would have been had if one had been able to stand on the bridge, however ......yes, you've guessed....... Health & Safety would not permit anyone on the bridge!
10,000 people were expected, and the Event proved to be a great success.

It also marked the start of the Homecoming 2009 Year of Celebrations throughout Scotland, when expat Scots are invited to return Home for a visit.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

There is a lot of other wildlife at Caerlaverock

Caerlaverock's other wildlife
On the continuing theme of Swans and geese one might perhaps have asked oneself how on earth they manage to get the birds ringed and attach the satellite trackers to them. Here is a photo to show how they are encouraged, at feeding times, into an enclosure on the loch, where staff are able to do this. I have also been told about all the bruises staff receive whilst performing this valuable task!

As well as all the swans, geese and other migrating birds other forms of wildlife are encouraged at Caerlaverock. I managed to catch a "reasonable" photo of the robin which had been eating the corn at on the plinth of the bust of Sir Peter Scott. All fluffed up, he was, on a very cold day.

Bird feeders are everywhere and the birds familiar to most Scottish gardens take advantage of them.

Special woodpiles have been set up to encourage insects to make their homes in. You can do this too in your own garden by simply drilling holes in logs of wood.

Hebridean Sheep - a fine fellow.

Natterjack Toad

Most interestingly Caerlaverock is home to a colony of rare Natterjack Toads. To help maintain their habitat there are some Hebridean Sheep who graze in the marshy grass and keep it at just the right height for these toads to thrive in.
WWT Caerlaverock showing tall hide from where the bird varieties are counted.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

What is the Connection between the South Pole and Caerlaverock WWT

WWT Caerlaverock Wetland Centre.
(adapted from information from the WWT)

The Centre occupies 1400 acres of saltmarsh, ponds and grassland on the Solway Firth, and is very close to Caerlaverock Castle. It is the only one in Scotland. It provides a winter sanctuary for Barnacle Geese, Whooper Swans, wild ducks, wigeons, teals, pintails which arrive from the Arctic areas - Iceland, Russia, Scandinavia etc... There is also a large number of wading birds such as Oystercatchers, Red Knots, Dunlins and Black-Tailed Godwits.

Peregrine Falcons, Merlins, Hen Harriers, and Barn Owls, can also be seen. (They must have come from my garden!!!!)

Each day a member of staff goes into the hides to count all the birds present on that day, and the numbers of the different types of birds present are written up on a noticeboard in the centre. I have watched this being done, and find it quite amazing, because I always find that when I look at the birds, they are never in the same place twice! as they keep moving.

The Wetlands Trust and Centres are the brainchild of the late Sir Peter Scott, artist and naturalist. In his early years he used to shoot wild fowl, but as he got to know that these birds mate for life, and migrate hundreds, of miles to overwinter in UK, he wanted to make amends for what he had done, so he set up the WildFowl and Wetlands Trust, and designed the site at Caerlaverock.

On the day I took this photo of the bust of Sir Peter Scott outside the hide dedicated to him, I just missed getting a picture of a robin which was eating the seeds which you can see just under his binoculars. Yes these birds just keep moving! I admire wild life photographers greatly, after having tried to get some good photos of moving targets at Caerlaverock.

So now you have a clue to the Connection with the South Pole.

Sir Peter Scott's father was the famous polar explorer Robert Falcon Scott of the Antarctic.

Scott of the Antarctic