Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Olympic Curling stones' special granite comes from Ailsa Craig, Scotland

Not just any rock: curling stones' special granite comes from Scotland

From the study of his run down house, David B. Smith pointed to where the sea crashed against the west coast of Scotland. "Out there," he said, "is Ailsa Craig." Not even a dot on the horizon could be spotted, but the 73-year-old retired judge and curling historian extraordinaire knew the exact location of the island that supplies the granite for the Olympic curling stones.

Scottish Snow Covered Loch Moy View

Scottish Snow Covered Mountains

Snow Covered Buchaille Mor

Stac Pollaidh in Scottish Western Highlands

Snowy Whiskey Trail: Stag on the Road

Go easy on the 'hard stuff' (whisky), it can make you feel very good and very brave!

Excellent marketing shot but not really recommended!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Trout Fishing in Scotland: Trout Flies

The Dunkeld
The history of Scottish trout flies is truly rich and colourful. The origin of many of the popular fly patterns of the last century, and still in common use today, is far from clear, lost in the mists of legend and folklore.

One thing is certain. The many patterns which survived the century did so because they caught trout, proven patterns, developed and refined over generations of Scottish fly fishers, patterns we know so well today - Mallard and Claret, Greenwell's Glory, Grouse and Green, Black Pennell, Silver Butcher, Cinnamon and Gold, Woodcock and Yellow, Soldier Palmer, Blae and Black, Peter Ross, Teal and Silver, to name but a few.

The Butcher

"The most deadly loch fly ever invented, dressed with split wings well laid back, used on the bob and made to trip across the waves, it is an exceedingly reliable fly on every loch that I have fished.

If winged in the ordinary way it is quite a good tail fly and used by many in this position with considerable effect". So said R. C. Bridgett. Credit for the Butcher is accorded to Messrs Moon and Jewhurst.

Originally known as Moon's Fly, around 1838 the name changed to "Butcher", the trade of its inventors. The name is apt in other ways.

The Grouse and Green
The Grouse and Green is one of the best of the grouse winged trout fishing flies. A good imitation of the sedge, or caddis fly.

For more information on Trout Flies in Scotland - click here...

Trout Fishing in Scotland: Callander by Stirling

Callander is a popular tourist centre situated on the River Teith at the southern edge of the Scottish Highlands.

From here, many good trout fishing lochs are easily accessible to the visiting angler - Loch Earn, Lubnaig, Vennachar and Voil, as well as some excellent trout and salmon fishing in the Rivers Teith and Leny.

Permits are available from the tackle shop in Callander Main Street.

Click here for more information

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Beautiful Pictures of Islay

Click on this link to view the most wonderful pictures of Islay. The island famed for excellent Scottish whiskey distilleries.

Mother and foal from the Ellister Islay Highland pony stud

Click on this link for more information on Islay distilleries

Click on this link to discover more about Scotland's Lost Distilleries

A rare Longtailed duck swimming offshore in one of the many inlets. More often seen in the seas around Orkney and Shetland Islands.

The sea cliffs of Islay are home for the rare Chough

Islay is one of the last strongholds of the rare and elusive Corncrake (Crex crex) in Scotland.

The Common Blue Butterfly of the grass fields and cliff tops of Islay

Credit and Thanks

Below you will find a list of talented people, both visitors and residents, who submitted their pictures to the Islay blog.

•Teresa Morris - Islay Wildscapes
•Ron Steenvoorden - Islay Info Website
•Claudio Riva
•Irena Krasinska-Lobban
•BondBloke - Sensual Eye
•Rae Woodrow - Islay Quilters
•Petter Rønningsen - Polarsirkelen Whiskyklubb
•Davie Campbell
•Brian Minnie - Says hi to the staff at Bruichladdich!
•Jane Dawson - http://www.ellisterislay.co.uk/

Fabulous Valentine day gift wrappings

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Scottish Buzzard - aka The 'Tourist Eagle'

This is a very good example of the Scottish variety of the European Buzzard (Buteo). Also known as the Cat eagle because it makes a 'meuwing' cry when gliding across the fields and forests.

They feed on small animals and birds but spend a great deal of their time on the ground feeding on beetles and worms, which is not very glamorous for a raptor.

They are much smaller than the Golden Eagle and far more common. The Buzzard has a 4 - 5 foot wingspan, whereas the eagle has a larger, 6 - 7 foot wingspan.

Also their beaks are very much smaller and less powerful, more hawk-like. They are not intended for heavy duty work and are only able to deal with insects, small birds and carrion.

The Buzzard's habit of sitting on fence posts and gates, allows them to be easily spotted and very easily misidentified by the tourists. Hence, it has been given the colloquial name of 'tourist eagle.'

No self respecting Scottish eagle would be seen sitting on a fencepost or a gate and they very rarely come close to the ground at all.

You will see and hear many of the local buzzards around the Garrique cottage. Unfortunately, you will have to travel a little further north to find a Golden Eagle but it is well worth trying to catch a glimpse of these marvellous birds.

Consult the local Forestry Commission Scotland or the RSPB in Scotland for the best locations.

The Scottish Golden Eagle patrolling his glen

The Golden Eagle (Aquila)is the king of birds in Scotland and the RSPB in Scotland can provide you with excellent information concerning their location and lifestyle in their 'Time for Action' campaign.

Scottish Domestic Life

An iconic Scottish Highland Cow comfortable in it's homeland.

This is Glen, the Border Collie. He's a working dog and always ready for action, herding sheep and keeping quard!

A proud mother watches over her foal resting in the open air.

...and here is poor young Rory the Spaniel. You'll have to forgive him. He's a big softie and is a bit distracted at the moment. We think he has a new friend!

....and while Rory dreams the cheeky squirrels can raid the birdtable, fill up on acorns and then relax a little!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Whyte & MacKay: The Antartica, South Pole Whisky and Richard Paterson

The arduous recovery of Ernest Shackleton's Whyte & MacKay MacKinlay's whiskey

Sir Ernest Shackleton's favourite whiskey, Whyte & MacKay's MacKinlay's blend, travelled with him on his last expedition to the South Pole!

You can see a similar bottle sitting here on the shelf in Richard Paterson's inner sanctum at Whyte & MacKays HQ in Glasgow.

Richard Paterson is the Master Blender, the 'Nose' of Whyte & MacKay.

Click on the picture and select the podcast you wish to view. I strongly suggest you play Podcast 14!

If you want more information about whiskey distilling in Scotland, click on the link to take you to Whyte & MacKay's website. Slainte!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Beautiful picture of Barn Owl and Kestrel hunting

Award winning wildlife photographer Mark Hancox was in the right place and the right time to get these images of a cheeky Kestrel trying to steal a Barn Owl's breakfast...

I can recommend a visit to Mark's website and a look through his pictures and galleries.

He has a remarkable patience and talent for capturing that special moment.