Friday, May 18, 2012


Ring Ouzel
Photograph by Richard Blackburn

The weather forecast said it would be nice so we packed a picnic and headed off into the Angus glens to do a bit of birdwatching.  For those of you who don’t know, birdwatching is a passion of mine and Tech Guy.  From the exotic mandarin duck to the common house sparrow, I love them all, their gorgeous colours and markings make my heart sing!

A long leisurely drive through the countryside rewarded us with the company of mistle thrushes and their young and a couple of quick glimpses of red squirrels and after about an hour we arrived at our destination.  Above us was a blue sky and in front of us loomed the magnificent Scottish hills, patchy with heather and bare of trees, topped with cairns built over time by the people who marked their achievement of reaching the summit with the placing of a stone

Passing the lovely old buildings from cottages to a castle we walked towards the woods and the river.  Elusive birds, their cries in the trees, teased us in a game of hide and seek, darting past and hiding again, then suddenly a beautiful redstart glowing deep coral in amongst the leaves.  Mr and Mrs Chaffinch chased one another up and down the river, beaten only by the dipper, bobbing on the rock as he looked for cadis fly larvae for lunch.
Then suddenly, on this beautiful day the pitter patter of rain – but no, not rain hailstones!  And so we huddled under a nearby tree listening to the swishing of the hail through the leaves and the drumming on the grassy ground, all the while the sun shining brightly.

Then it stopped as suddenly as it started and we moved on out of the trees, passed the fields and continued on the path, swallows and martins swooping overhead, catching the flies in a dazzling display of aerobatics.  As we approached the loch beyond the old cemetery, common sandpipers posed on the crumbling walls for photographs and a young horse galloped across the field for some company.   And then the find of the day - sharing with our new equine friend, a ringed ring ouzel and a very pretty wheatear!

As lunchtime arrived so did the hail again.  A quick dash to the nearest farm building saw us, backs to the wall, picnicking under a veranda watching the hailstones bouncing off the grass and blanketing it in speckled white.  Buzzards soared above us over the mountain tops and young thrushes called to their parents for dinner, and still the sun shone.

It was time for us to retrace our steps and head home.  Peace and tranquillity enveloped us as once again we sought the singing birds among the leaves, enjoying the company of wandering mama sheep and their lambs.  Back at the car we were greeted by cheeky chaffinches who were happy to entertain us inches away from our feet, in the hope of some crumbs from our snacks.

I had a wonderful day which illustrated how much I have moved on in the last few months.  Then I would have ignored the beauty surrounding me – the sights and sounds, the contrasts of warm and cold, the shining sun and the peace and quiet – and focussed on the discomfort, the tiredness in my legs, not seeing all the birds I would have hoped and the weather forecast being wrong.  Now the resistance is diminishing and I’m learning to see the positive and understand how blessed I am and how rich my life is.

On this occasion I really did experience sunshine on a rainy day!

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