Sunday, 29 September 2013

Photographs of Migrating Birds at Baron's Haugh, Motherwell

The weather this weekend has been warm and sunny and this provided excellent conditions for viewing the birds on the large pond at Baron's Haugh. The word "haugh" is the Scottish word for flooded meadow.

With Autumn getting underway many birds migrate from Scandinavia to the South of France and North Africa. The migrating birds stop off at various places on their journey southwards and Baron's Haugh is a great place to spot some of these migrating birds.

Ruff, Green Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwit 

This weekend did not disappoint - a Ruff, a number of Green Sandpiper and a pair of Black-tailed Godwit were seen on the Haugh and I managed to get some photographs of these birds through my scope. 

There were also Snipe, Lapwing, Mute and Whooper swans on the Haugh, along with the usual Ducks. 

Below are some photographs of these birds. Clicking on the images below will enlarge them.
A Ruff  can be seen at the back of the photograph
Ruff are migrant birds, passing through on their journey South.The ruff is a medium-sized wading bird with a long neck, a small head and a short bill. It occasionally breeds in eastern England, but is mainly a migrant bird in the UK.
The Ruff were a bit far away, so the above photographs are a bit blurry.
Green Sandpiper
Green Sandpiper are also migrant birds. It is also a wader with a dark back with pale underparts. 
Black-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit
The Black-tailed Godwit are large wading birds. In summer, they have bright orangey-brown chests and bellies, but in winter they’re more greyish-brown. They have long beaks and legs, and the black and white stripes on their wings.
Resident Birds

Snipe are resident birds but this was the first time I had a good close-up view of them. Snipe are medium sized wading birds with short legs and long straight bills. Snipe breed in the UK and in winter the resident birds are joined by birds from northern Europe.


In Autumn, Baron's Haugh also has a good variety of fungi. I managed to see some as I walked around the reserve.

Velvet Shank
The Velvet Shank can be eaten and can be added to stews and casseroles.

It had been a good weekend at Baron's Haugh.

Further Information:

Baron's Haugh is an RSPB reserve in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire. There are four hides for viewing the birds at different locations to observe the birds. The area is popular with birdwatchers because of the large variety of birds in the area.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Autumn at Baron's Haugh, Motherwell

With Autumn fast approaching, I went to Baron's Haugh on Sunday to look for passing birds on the pond. Many birds stop over at Baron's Haugh on their migratory journey from Iceland to the Sahara Desert to avoid the cold northern winter. They return in the Spring.The weather was very warm and sunny in contrast to the previous week when it had been very cold for September.

To get to Baron's Haugh I have to walk about 3.5 miles carrying a spotting scope, tripod, binoculars, bird book and some food and drink so it also is a good form of exercise for me as well. 

I left my house at 09.30 and arrived back at the house at 19.00 having walked around the area and the adjoining Dalzell Estate. In all I walked 13 miles.

Below are some photographs from the day.
Some Cormorants, young Mute swans an some Mallards
Black-headed gulls
Canada geese at Carbarns
Two Curlew
Gadwall and Pintail Ducks
Eroded path on way to Carbarns
High walls on road to East side of the Haugh
The photograph above shows high wall on the road down to the East side of the Haugh. This was build by the Hamilton family, who owned Dalzell House and its grounds, to prevent their view from the house being spoiled by seeing workers walking to and from the mine which was situated nearby.
Autumn is a great time of year for seeing many different things.  

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Historic Walk Around New Lanark

View New Lanark in a larger map 

Last weekend I went on a tour of sites of the historic mills around the River Clyde to learn more about the significance of water power in the area which was organised by Ken and Jim from the Clydesdale Mills Society. The walk started from the Scottish Wildlife Visitor Centre and was along the banks of the River Clyde to Cora Linn before a short climb to Bonnington to see the Walled Garden of the former Bonnington House, Bonnington Pavilion and the remains of Bonnington Saw Mill.

The water level on the River Clyde was very high, due to very heavy rain on the Friday evening, and this added to the enjoyment of the day, as the falls were looking quite spectacular.

Using Water to Power Machinery

Before the availability of affordable electricity, water was used to power large wheels for milling flour,  grinding wood into pulp for papermaking and crushing fibers for use in the manufacture of cloth.
A dam holds a large volume of water (Dundaff Linn)
To ensure a large volume of water is available to power the water wheel, a dam is built to create a 'head' of water to build up. This is channelled to the wheel by a 'race'  which can range in distance from a few feet to many miles from the dam to the mill site. The same race may serve one mill or many mills. At the mouth of the race there is often a gate which stops debris from damaging the water wheel.

View of the above dam from a distance (Dundaff Linn)
The race can either be a head or tail race are have gates which allow the mill operator to control how much water is in the race to enter the water wheel. These two types of gates are called head gate and sluice gate. A flume, or sluice carries the water at an elevated level above ground to the water wheel. The above photographs are of Dundaff Linn, which at 10 feet, is the smallest fall.

When the water is released, it is directed to the top of the water wheel. The wheel spins faster due to the falling water and pushed the wheel round at a higher speed. After the water flows through the water wheel it is then returned to the stream below the mill. It flows through a tail race.

Retort House Chimney at Dundaff Linn

In the photograph above, a chimney can be seen on the left of the photograph. This is Retort House Chimney which dates from1825. It is a tapered octagonal sandstone chimney on square plinth with plain cope. It is a remnant of an earlier 19th century gas-making plant. Most Scottish chimneys were constructed from brick, and this octagonal stone chimney is a rare survival from the 19th Century and therefore particularly significant.

It is the last remaining part of the village gasworks where coal gas was used to provide lighting for cotton production in the mills, as well as for lighting in the village. Two small gasholders once stood next to a small U-plan Retort House which was sited where the present viewing area is now located.

The chimney is also an important visual element of the mills complex providing a vertical accent at the termination of the view. In 1873 another large stack, this time in brick, was built for the steam boilers and appears in late19th century views of the village but this has since been demolished.

Origins of New Lanark

The mills at New Lanark were in operation from 1786 to 1968 and built to exploit the water power offered by the Falls of Clyde. The mill village has industrial, residential and community buildings which date from between 1786 and the 1820s. The village was founded by David Dale and expanded by Robert Owen, who took over management of the mill village in partnership from 1799.

Owen created an environment where child labour and corporal punishment were abolished, and provided workers with good homes, education and free health care as well as affordable food. He had a profound influence on social developments such as factory reform throughout the 19th century.

Bonnington Power Station

While the mills have all but disappeared at New Lanark, ScottishPower still make use of the water on the Clyde to generate electricity. The Bonnington Power Station is situated between Corra Linn and Dundaff Linn, with a water inlet at Bonnington Linn. It was built in 1927 and was the first hydro-electric power station in Scotland. It generates approximately 11 MW from a total head of 51 metres (167 ft).

Pipes transporting water to Bonnington Power Station
 Corra Linn

Falls of Clyde at Corra Linn
The falls at Corra Linn ("linn" is the Scottish word for waterfall) are a spectacular sight most of the time but at the weekend they were looking fantastic. We stopped for a while to admire the view before continuing on. Near the top of the above photograph can be see a rocky area. The photograph below shows this in closer detail.

The rocky area which starts from the  top left and sweeps to the bottom left was the site of a mill, but little remains of it. Looking closely at it through my binoculars, I could see a Dipper in the river.

Corra Linn
 Walled Garden of Bonnington House

The walk at this point moved away from the river to higher ground in the Bonnington area. We were informed that the higher ground was created after the melting of the ice after the Ice Age which left gravel and sand behind. On this part of the walk we came across the remains of the Walled Garden of Bonnington House. Much of the wall is intact which gives some indication of the quality of the workers who built it.

Walled Garden of Bonnington House
Bonnington Pavillion
The pavilion is a square structure of two stories with its principal fa├žade towards the first Bonington House, now demolished. The Bonington Pavilion is said to have been built for Sir James Carmichael as it has the monogram IC and the date 1708 carved on the stair newels. His exact date of his birth is unknown but as his parents married in 1684 he may have come of age in 1707/8. 

The Bonnington Pavilion is a remarkable and fortunate survival. It was used as a hunting tower, tea room and viewing platform for the surrounding landscape and Corra Linn falls. It was one of the earliest such structure in British architecture and on the Continent. It is now a ruin with only its four walls and a stone fire surround remaining.

The walls on the first floor  had centrally placed windows, with external carved stone architraves and decorative sills. That window overlooking the Clyde was later enlarged and given an iron balcony in the nineteenth century. Mirrors were also introduced at that time to create surprising views of the waterfalls from the upper room.

Bonnington Pavillion
We walked along a narrow path before turning right into a field. I was familiar with this field as I had gone on a bird-watching walk in Spring with the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Field at Bonnington
When I was last in the field we had stopped for lunch and the two horses had come over to get some food. On the day we were there again the horses ignored us and spent their time munching grass. I was told that there was also a Shetland Pony in the field which used to kick the white horses until one day one of them kicked the little Shetland Pony so hard it has to be put to sleep by a vet.

After leaving the field, we walked down a small road to the site of the Bonnington Sawmill. The site was covered in soil and has this is being removed by members and friends from the Clydesdale Mills Society.
Remains of Bonnington Mills
The site has to be carefully excavated to avoid damaging any objects which are found. This means that the work will take months rather than weeks to excavate but it has resulted in some interesting objects being found.
Some objects found at Bonnington Mills
When the site excavation is completed, it will be opened for visitors to investigate. More photographs of the site can be seen here.

The day finished with the walk back to the visitor centre. On the way back, a pair of Peregrine were spotted in the sky in pursuit of some Sand Martins. It was the perfect conclusion to a great afternoon out.

Further Information

The Clydesdale Mills Society website has detailed information about the mills in South Lanarkshire (link below). 

Clydesdale Mills Society.

New Lanark

Scottish Wildlife Trust

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Scotland v Belgium - Photographs outside Hampden Stadium

At lunchtime yesterday I went a walk around the streets in Cathcart, Glasgow and saw a large number of Belgian fans who had just arrived in the city to watch the Scotland v Belgium World Cup Qualifier match later that night. 

The Scottish National Football Stadium is at Hampden Park which is a 7 minute walk from my office. I took some photographs of the fans at lunchtime and after work at 5.00pm. Many of the Belgian fans were wearing home-made 'kilts' and some had even bought 'see you Jimmy' hats. There are tartan hats with long ginger hair attached.
Belgian fans arriving in the City
Main entrance to Hampden

Two Scotland fans
Belgian fans having a snack
Back of Belgium fan

Belgian fans wearing see you Jimmy hats
Belgian fans outside the stadium
A street seller
Good choice of scarves for sale

Belgian fans having a snack (fan on left wears a see you Jimmy hat)

It was the first time I have experienced the atmosphere of the build-up to a big football match at Hampden and it was a colourful event. The fans were all well behaved and friendly and were spending their time eating at the many small cafes in the Mount Florida area and from the mobile food outlets.

The final score was 2-0 to Belgium.

Further Information:

Scottish Football Association
Royal Belgian Football Association 
Hampden Park

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The European Robin

On my lunch hour I went for a walk round the grounds of my office today looking for birds in the trees on the banks of the River Cart. As I was walking along, I heard a Robin chirping in front of me. It was a young bird sitting on the branch of a tree looking over at me.

As I walked closer, the bird made no attempt to fly away so I managed to get some photographs of it.

Young Robin
Young Robin which was quite tame
"Is this my best side?"
European Robins are found in the most countries in mainland Europe and are easily recognised by most people because of their distinctive red breasts. Very soon our summer visitors will depart for warmer parts of Europe and Africa, but the Robin will remain here over the cold winter months.