Monthly Archives: October 2013

Mushroom knowledge

I was reading today that the quality of photographs you can take with today’s mobile phones is nearly as good as with expensive cameras.   I did not have my camera with me when we went for a walk near the Clootie Well at Munlochy in the Black Isle, but my phone came up trumps that day when we came across this lovely little mushroom.   I am sure there must have been fairies about, but they were hiding.

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Amanita muscaria, commonly known as the fly agaric

A search on the internet produced the name.   I have never taken much interest in fungus before, but I thought I would try and see if I could identify a few more.   On that same walk I found another type, “Penny Buns”, I think.

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Perhaps, Penny Bun (Boletus Edulis)

I had nearly forgotten about my fungus walk in the Munlochy woods until today I saw a clump of great big mushrooms behaind the telephone exchange in Hatton.  As big as tea plates they were, and very distinctively patterned.   Time to get down and personal to photograph the beauties, this time with my expensive camera.   Shaggy Parasol (macrolepiota rhacodes), I think.


Shaggy Parasol (macrolepiota rhacodes)




My father-in-law was a great one for gathering mushrooms from the woods to eat.  He had been brought up to it in his native Poland before the war, and he seemed to know what was good to eat and what to avoid.   I have never learned, and do not have the courage to try.  I wonder if the Polish people who have recently come to live in the north-east still have the mushroom knowledge?

Birds of a (different) feather

There was something quite sinister about the way the rooks rose from Slains Castle as I approached.  A ruined castle with associations with Dracula and memories of Hitchcock’s chilling film.  The Birds certainly added to the atmosphere.   There was no one else around, just me and the birds.


I am just back from a few days holiday in the Black Isle.   One day I went for a walk with Lily the dog along the shore, near Cromarty.  There was a strong wind blowing, whipping up the usually sheltered waters of the Cromarty Firth.   A flock of rooks had settled in a nearby field. They saw us coming, and rose up over the water, just like at Slains.  it had been raining quite hard as I set out and I did not have my camera with me, but my phone came into its own and I captured this shot of the mouth of the firth with a oil supply boat running for shelter at Invergordon as the rooks circled.

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It was gulls that suddenly rose up at Muir of Ord.   We were at a dog agility fun day, and all of a sudden the gulls took off.  I have no idea where they came from or what had stirred them up, but they certainly made an interesting picture with the hills of Sutherland behind.


But it was not just flocks of birds that drew my attention during our autumn holiday.  I was focussing on a dawn picture of the headland (called North Soutor) at the mouth of the Cromarty Firth.   The colours were delightful and I found the little tree interesting.  It was then that a bird, one of the bigger gulls, I think, flew into the picture – and added somewhat to the composition.


For several days I had been watching a grey heron who clearly claimed our part of the seashore at Cromarty as his own.  In the end, I caught him against the rising sun, standing on a weed covered sewage pipe.


I have been reading that there is a decline in the Oystercatcher population.  Certainly there were not all that many on the Cromarty beach that October week,  just three that I saw.  Here are two of them.


Perhaps it’s cheating, but I could not resist this bird photograph!   The Beach Cafe at Rosemarkie is well worth a visit.  On the  tables outside you will find these “birds of prey” watching over the beach.


If you would like to see more of my photographs from my Black isle holiday, have a look here.

Precision digging

It was fascinating watching the digger at work.  Or to be more exact, watching the skill of the driver.   It certainly has not taken long to dig out and cart away the ramps which were built for the temporary bridge which served us so well in Hatton after the December floods.  I stood for quite a while today watching as the driver moved earth about then patted down the bank on Station Road.  I took a few pictures to try to capture the activity – but, as they say, you would have had to be there….


It certainly looks as if the field will be ready for the Hatton bonfire on 2 November.  I do hope someone takes up thechallenge set by Joanne Baybut on the HARA Facebook page, to take responsibility for the bonfire this year at the firework display.


I think it must be the wee boy in me coming out, this fascination with excavating machinery.   I remember when I was very little, perhaps 3 or 4, there was a big machine working in Market Street in Brechin, near where we lived.  I would stand for ages watching as the big scoops of earth and rubble were dumped in lorries.  I seem to remember that I called the big digger, a “spider”, I don’t know why.  And for years afterwards I would call the gap-site where it had been working the “spiders web”.


It was not just the movong of earth that keep me watching.  It was exciting watching the digger crossing the burn and making its way up to load the lorry.  Just watching the tracks ploughing their way through the mud and over the burn gave me a new appreciation of the incredible usefulness, in the mud on the Western Front during the First World War, of the newly invented tanks.   But I am getting off the subject.


What skill the driver has, getting his machine in just the right place to scoop, lift, dump or pat.  A big powerful  machine it may be,  but he certainly made it look like a precision instrument.