Readers’ wildlife photos

December 29, 2022 • 8:15 am

Thanks to readers who have sent in photos. But I NEED MOAR! (Remember, it’s my birthday tomorrow.)

Today we have a new contributor with swell photos of Scotland: Taryn Overton.  Taryn’s captions and narrative are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them. This is the first half of the batch; the rest will be posted later.

This year I spent the month of September in Scotland on a walking holiday.  We explored the Kintyre Peninsula via the Kintyre Way trail, went North to the Isles of Gigha and Skye, and ended in the Northern Highlands.  We were prepared for rain given the notorious Scotland weather, but apart from one 18 mile day in a downpour, hop skipped and jumped alongside the sun.  The superlatives ran out early on – it was a restorative trip, made all the more wonderful by the generous and witty Scottish hikers and B&B hosts that we interacted with. These 14 photos are from the Kintyre Way.

Loch Fyne, viewed on the first leg of the Kintyre Way.  Mist surrounded much of the landscape, but an occasional azure slit made it through the clouds.

Kintyre Way: Claonaig to Clachan, crossing Kintyre from East to West.  Mostly meadows with a few scattered lochs.

Arion ater (European black slug).  These terrestrial gastropods were seen frequently along the trail.

Kintyre Way: Clachan to Tayinloan.  The water was crystal clear and lapped pleasantly along the multicolored smooth blue/red/grey stones.

Sunset in Tayinloan.  Once the sun began to creep downward, we found a beach and appreciated a rare look at the sun setting over the Isles of Gigha, Islay, and Jura.  Colors eventually drifted to pastels, and we passed a small camp of driftwood with various hanging shells.

Kintyre Way: Tayinloan to Carradale.  The pinnacle of a steep climb through sodden mud was a walk through meadows of Scottish Heather to a view high above Kilbrannan Sound.

Saddell Bay – the location where Paul and Linda McCartney, along with the rest of Wings, filmed the ‘Mull of Kintyre’ music video (we of course played this on a small portable speaker we brought along for the occasion).  This is Anthony Gormley’s sculpture of an iron life-sized geometric man.  Saddell Castle is in the background.  It was built by David Hamilton, Bishop of Argyll in 1508-1512.

JAC: You can see the music video here.

Kintyre Way: Carradale to Lussa Loch.  What a trail!  Described as impassible at high tide, and treacherous when wet.  The path was stunning and over multiple moss-covered rocks and deceptive grass fields that commonly gave way to hidden pools of water.

Kintyre Way: Campbeltown to Southend.  A lovely walk, mostly along the coast.

The true Mull of Kintyre.  The North Channel and Irish Sea were a stunning deep uniform blue.  Eleven miles in the distance, we had a clear look at Ireland’s coastline.  We zigged and zagged down to the lighthouse.

Kintyre Way: Southend to Machrihanish.  The most challenging leg, but an incredible journey.  When we met fellow walkers, they would simply relay ‘aye, you’ll know you’ve done it’ when we talked about this upcoming section.  Mostly uphill in a ‘climb to the clouds’ sort of manner on wet, boggy ground.  We again had views of the Northern coast of Ireland and stood for a time simply taking in the view – the peace – the EXPANSE of blue water before us with tiny white caps sprinkled here and there.

Kintyre Way: Southend to Machrihanish.  The most treacherous/slick part of the walk.  This fall-on-your shoulder/side/face/anything trail was worth it for the incredible views.  Mountain goat country – we even saw a few in the distance.

An example of mild bog.

The Kintyre Way waymarker – blue poles visible on clear days, nearly invisible in thick fog!  We got lost several times along the trail, but eventually found our way.

24 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Beautiful!

    That very same slug species is common in the San Juan Islands of Washington State where we used to live. It was introduced there and is considered invasive, as it supposedly crowds our the native Pacific banana slug, Ariolimax.

    1. Not as much as you would think :). I did the hiking aspect with my father, and he’s 71. We’re fairly average in stamina and fitness. A few tricky parts but I think most people with decent health could do it.

  2. Scotland is such a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing. I’ve never been, would dearly love to, especially to see where many different branches of my family tree once originated. Beautiful wilderness, scientific (Darwin, Lyell, Hutton) and enlightenment history, family origins…one could spend years traveling around and not get bored.

    I wonder, are there any native carnivorous plants in and around Scotland’s bogs?

    1. There are 3 species of Sundew, Butterwort and a couple of Bladderwort species native; the first 2 can be conspicuous.

      1. thank you. I figured as much. I checked iNat and my copy of Darwin’s Insectivorous Plants and see Drosera rotundifolia (Darwin wrote quite a bit on them) and D. anglica, and the Utricularia minor, U. stygia, and U. australis (in UK) and the lovely Pinguicula vulgaris. Great stuff!

      1. Yes, Scotland is currently keeping so much an open mind that their collective brains have fallen out. Hopefully there will be a course correction and they will realize you can have rights for transsexuals AND women. I hold out more hope for them than my own deeply red rural area in the Midwestern US, which still has one cow-shit encrusted boot stuck firmly in the Christian dark ages.

  3. The Isle of Jura is where George Orwell wrote 1984…

    I just had a golf trip through Kintyre, Arran, and Islay. Such gorgeous country and lovely, friendly folk…And our weather was fabulous, also.

  4. Lovely, lovely place! I would love to go there after seeing these wonderful photos.
    And yes the whisky…especially the Oban Distillery.

  5. I heard “an occasional azure slit” called “enough blue to cut a pair of sailor’s pants.” I think it had something to do with dressing for gym. If you could see some blue in the sky, then you needed to put on your outdoor gym clothes.

  6. Wonderful landscapes. Thanks for the virtual journey of the kintyre peninsula. The “Sunset in Tayinloan” was especially beautiful.

  7. Thank you so very much for such wonderful photos and description of the area. It is a place I would love to go, but would not be fit enough to walk it, so it is a joy to be able to do that vicariously.

  8. Thank you Taryn. These are beautiful! It is enough to motivate me to renew my passport and do my first post-covid foreign trip. And the Oban distillery is there too? And Thanks for the embedded video, JAC. It is a wonderful accompaniment to the photos.

  9. Thanks, everyone. For those discussing/interested in distilleries, we visited Oban and enjoyed it – certainly well-known. Talisker distillery on Isle of Skye was our favorite. We ran into people that were touring Scotland for the Whisky alone, and the Isles of Jura, Arran, and Jura were mentioned frequently as good places to venture.

  10. Sorry this is so unacceptably late, but thank you for the gorgeous pictures. Were you doing any birdwatching? If so, I’d love to hear about what you saw.

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