24 November 2012

That ash tree again

This afternoon we just happened to pass that ash tree again (see The rise and fall of trees) at the perfect moment.

21 November 2012

Waxwings again?

This morning I had to go to the west end of Glasgow, which is quite close to the Clyde. Waxwings tend to follow the Clyde, so on my way back I thought I would choose a route that would take me past some possible waxwing sites. Last week they were reported from a street that we passed just half an hour later, so I was optimistic when I saw a flock of birds flying backwards and forwards between the trees ahead of me. Just before I got close enough, they all flew away behind some houses. I managed to find a way through between the houses and found that every tree was crowded with... fieldfares.

I should have been satisfied with that, but of course that wasn't what I had hoped to see. Continuing on my way, about a mile further on, I could see ahead of me some trees where I had seen waxwings about 4 years ago. They were covered in brown leaves...

...but as I drew closer I realised that the waxwings were just sitting very still.

I counted a total of 184 birds. A very satisfactory conclusion to the morning.

Unfortunately the weather was dull and I didn't have my best camera with me, but for pictures of waxwings in our garden in 2001, see our waxwing pages.

For some excellent pictures of waxwings on Fair Isle, see

October 25th 2010. A day we'll always remember

Hey Dad... this is like fishing for birds

Henry and the waxwings - hand-feeding again

Waxwings in my hand - video

Bohemian waxwing feathers

10 November 2012

The rise and fall of trees

Back in February I posted a page in memory of the Chilean Firebush on Eigg, which blew down in the January gales. Nothing but a stump remained.

But when we returned in October, we were delighted to see new shoots appearing straight out of the bark of the tree.

We hope that this tree may eventually grow back to its former size and splendour.

Meanwhile, I now fear for another of my favourite trees - this ash tree which grows close to the main road a few miles north from where we live.

Let's hope this new ash disease can be controlled before it reaches mature trees like this, which are part of our treasured landscape and would take many years to replace.

07 November 2012

An old railway line

Last Saturday we were on our way to Aberfoyle for a walk when a dark cloud loomed over the road ahead, encouraging us to head in a different direction. By doing so, we discovered the start of a hitherto unexplored path near the village of Buchlyvie. We had no maps of this area with us, so we set out on a mystery walk.

The path headed east for a short time, then curved gently round to the north-west. Judging by the GPS track and the extremely straight path which now stretched ahead of us into the far distance, it seemed likely that this was an old railway line.

After about 2 miles, we came to a bridge over a small river, which seemed like a suitable point to turn back.

On our return to the car I crossed the road to the gate of the house opposite. "One guess as to the name of this house," I said. It's "Station House!"

On returning home we discovered that this was indeed part of the railway line to Aberfoyle, which closed to passenger traffic in 1951, and we had started from the location of Buchlyvie Station.

Yesterday we decided to do the next section, starting from the site of the old Gartmore Station and walking south until we reached the bridge which was our most northerly point on Saturday. The path starts from a section of the road to Aberfoyle which has more recently been bypassed by a viaduct which spans both the River Forth and the old railway.

Passing under the new road section, the path continues across the River Forth by means of a new bridge,

and then passing an old railway hut.

After crossing another new bridge over the Kelty Water, we arrived at the bridge crossing the Auchentroig Burn which we had reached on Saturday from the other direction. Then we retraced our steps to Gartmore.

I looked at the gate of the cottage we were passing as we arrived back at the car. "One guess as to the name of this cottage," I said. It's "Station Cottage!"

So the railway, now replaced by a path used only by pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, lives on only in the names of houses, old bridges in varying states of repair or replacement, and a few relics here and there.

1927 map

Old pictures of
Buchlyvie Station
Gartmore Station
Aberfoyle Station