Sunday, 3 February 2008

Botanical birds

Yesterday afternoon I spent an unexpected couple of hours at the Royal Botanical Garden, Edinburgh. I had the opportunity of a lift through and took it. My thoughts were that I could get garden images for this time of year – simple snapshots of this garden. However, I really didn’t expect the shots I did get.

Snow was trying to fall but quickly turned to rain as I entered the garden. My camera stayed in my bag. I walked in the East Gate and headed towards the glasshouses. My how different the pond looked as I passed by without its lush planting – the Gunneras were piled with their own leaves for winter protection just as I did with my one.

Groups of mallard ducks were moving about on the water. As I walked around the grass edge, my feet squelching in the wet grass, I looked towards another border. The crows caught my eye foraging – I then thought of George and the wildlife that will be in the winter mulches. I walked on.

Grey squirrels are seen throughout in this garden and it wasn’t long before I spotted them up in the trees. I was still raining – I’d get photos later. I waked on noticing how beautiful all the tree bark was. Mmm I could take a few photos perhaps.

The rain stopped. My camera came out and I took a photo. I walked out from under the tree and the rain started again. Okay, it was time to head to the tearoom for a coffee. Gosh I didn’t realise how cold I’d got until I felt the warmth of the tearoom. I sat by the window looking out on the garden. The rain stopped, the sun ‘tried’ to come out so out I went again.

I headed towards the top end of Chinese garden - I love this area. This botanical garden has lots of open areas with large trees but I love the contrast here where you enter dense plantings of smaller trees and tall shrubs along a narrow enclosed path.

In a very, very small way I adopt this in my garden. I have the open areas of the lawn then the paths that draw you in with planting on either side. I feel this contrast works well in any garden whatever size it is. The garden was quiet as you can see - but if you look closely you will see that the bench was occupied!

Down the hill and towards the bench I walked and the robin didn’t move very far at all. A couple of unhurried jumps took him to the branches of some shrubs. Now I have to say here that I do like to use my tripod for close-up shots as I don’t manage to hold the camera as steady as I should! The robin began preening itself. It wasn’t bothered by my presence at all.

I moved closer. I moved even closer. I began talking photos and it still didn’t move – the photo above was the best of my attempts but I didn’t want to miss this robin out. As I walked on down this winding zig-zig path the robin watched me from his branch.

Noisy rushing water caught my attention next. There is a stream that goes from the top level down to the pagoda at the bottom. The paths lead to and away from it as they zig-zag to the bottom and amongst the planting you don’t actually hear it.

Then, as you step out of the shrubs on to the small bridges you suddenly hear it – this too is quite a contrast. I love to see streams with rocky edges and at this time of year with fewer plants at the edges. It was a delight to see the structural shapes for a change.

The red bridge above overlooked the pool at the bottom and as I headed towards it along the narrow paths and away from the stream it was very quiet again. Then I heard an unusual noise and as I approached the bridge I saw a woman taking photos from the bridge.

I looked down to see a large, not the prettiest looking, bird on the faraway edge. Although I took a couple of photos too I decided to walk down in to the pagoda itself and get shots from there.

A grey heron sat still on a rock with the wind blowing its feathers about a bit. A man with some serious camera equipment was in the pagoda. I took my shots and spoke to him for a moment and he told me the noise was a pump that occasionally made a noise and that he had just seen a kingfisher at the far end of the pool.

With my lens and my serious camera shake (especially with cold hands) there was no way I’d get a photo – even if I could see it! However, I did think it was fantastic that there was a kingfisher there even if I couldn’t see it. I left the photographer in peace and walked back up to the bridge to see if I could see the kingfisher from the top. I didn’t.

A Mallard pair had also been at the waters edge but it was the garden birds that really caught my attention next. As I almost left my path with the open grass area seen ahead my attention was next drawn to blue tits, great tits, and coal tits jumping about the branches at my eye level.

Then I heard a bird noise that I wasn’t familiar at all with and I looked up and to my delight saw four stunning male bullfinches. They were quick to leave but I stayed where I was just in case they came back.

Movement on another tree then caught my attention. This area was dark, the bird was very quick and I wasn’t quick enough to change setting on my camera but I did get an outline of this bird. I thought it was a nuthatch by its shape but looking at my books it was a tree creeper I’d seen. Garden birds that I have never seen – this was great!

If you don’t see many garden birds a trip to a botanical garden or park now when there are no leaves on the trees is an excellent time to see them. I must have a return visit here. I came to see the layout of the garden in winter and it was the birds that really made this trip special.

Time was not on my side now - I was soon to get picked up again. I did see some plants in flower. Snowdrops were seen in pockets and new plant growth was emerging through the winter mulches. I also spotted a pair of moorhens but they really didn’t stay still enough for still photos even with a tripod. Gosh what out of scale and ugly feet such a pretty bird has!

Great tits and coal tits had been very happy to almost pose for some shots in the Chinese Garden but it was time for me to leave so I snapped, snapped , snapped. Gosh that great tit looked stunning - he almost knew it himself!

A brisk walk took me back to where I started except I hadn’t noticed the flowering witchazel on the other side of the path. As I stood taking photos I got quite a fright. There was a woman blowing a whistle walking behind me. I continued taking photos and as she walked into the garden she shouted something. I heard the end part saying the garden was closing! Never, during all the times that I have visited this garden did I know they did that!

A few steps and I was at the gate. I noticed the main part was closed and people were getting their photos taken from the other side in front of the beautifully sculptured metal gate. I, of course, took a quick photo myself before heading out for my lift. What a very nice an unexpected visit that was.

Finally, I noticed when getting my link for the Royal Botanical Garden, Edinburgh that there is an event on in the Chinese garden between Friday 22nd February and Sunday 9th March, 2008. It is in the evenings between 6.30-8.30pm. Costs are £6 (Children [3 - 15yrs] £4.00, Family [2 adults + 2 children] £16.00).You can get all the details here. It sounds very interesting. How do they describe it?

‘Take an exquisite, illuminated journey through the magnificent Glasshouses of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and be part of Scotland’s first ever Chinese Spring Lantern Festival.’

All photos above were taken in the Royal Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh on 2nd February 2008.

18 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

What a lovely stroll through the garden Shirl. Thanks so much for posting. It took me away from our winter drabness for a few minutes.

Congrats on seeing a new bird. We get a Brown Creeper here that looks much like the one you saw. Occasionally during winter they are in our garden. They eat suet.

Mike @ Fenphotography said...

Great post Shirl, you really do paint a great picture with your stories.
Something I wish I could do, but I'll get there some day.
Lovely photos as well. Mike.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Shirl,I enjoyed reading about your lovely, (even in the rain), garden walk. You got some great pictures! Thanks for sharing in such wonderful detail.

jodi said...

Fabulous photos, Shirl, and what fun to walk in the garden with you, seeing things through your eyes. Sorry about the rain, but at least it wasn't freezing rain like here. And you have flowers too, so that's a blessing.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Thanks for the vicarious garden tour! I have to disagree with you about herons - I think they are quite beautiful. Is the tree in the bark photo a Stewartia? It's so striking.

kate said...

You were lucky to have this tour. What a lush-looking place. The upcoming event at the Chinese festival sounds like an interesting event - I hope you'll attend and write about it.

Miranda Bell said...

Hi Shirl - at last some time to spend blogging again - I love your account of the botanical garden - I went there a couple of times when I lived in Edinburgh - you've captured some of the scenes beautifully... obviously the time for visiting gardens as I was at Westonbirt Aboretum during my recent trip to the UK - I've added some pictures to my blog! Happy Gardening Miranda

Jim/ArtofGardening said...

I've also been there. Your descriptions paint better pictures in the head than any manifestation of the English language I could muster.

My favorite thing was the Alpine gardens which looked like miniature landscapes. I've also got some photos of the gardens posted at:

http://web.mac.com/charlierj/ArtOfGardening/Home/Entries/2007/11/18_Royal_Botanic_Garden,_Edinburgh,_Scotland.html

Stop by!

Carol said...

I loved this! Your pictures and words tell of a wonderful few hours in a beautiful place.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Jayne said...

What a very lovely place to visit! Enjoyed your photos and descriptions so much Shirl!

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

Felt like I was walking along with you. Beautiful pictures.

shirl said...

Hi everyone, I’m delighted you all enjoyed the tour :-)

Lisa – Thank-you, when I took the photos I had no plan at all to write a tour post. I’m so glad I did! It was so unexpected to see new birds – I was thrilled :-D

Mike – Thank-you! Ah… I’ve always loved story telling! Writing stories though is a bit trickier as you say. I just have fun with the words. You are able to tell a quite different story with your photos – I wish I could do that :-D

Robin – Thank-you! Funnily enough if it hadn’t rained my visit would have been quite different. Lots of photos, some posted on my photo blogs and perhaps no chat. I’m glad it worked out this way :-D

Jodi – Thank-you! Yes, I guess we all see the same thing in completely different ways don’t we? The rain initially spoiled taking photos but it didn’t spoil the visit at all. The flowers were there too and that is what I went to photograph –the birds just caught my attention more this time :-D

Mr. McGregor's Daughter – I’m glad you enjoyed it! Ah.. the heron I couldn’t decide if it was beautiful or not. The tree is a very large Eucalyptus and it had a metal label with two names on it. Below the names it read ‘Looking under the magic tree’ and then below that ‘Tree adopted in 2003’. What a nice idea :-D

Kate – It was a nice visit although not nearly as lush as it will be in summer. I was surprised at how open some bits were at this time of year. Yes, the Chinese festival does sound interesting and we are considering attending :-D

Miranda – Nice to hear from you again. Thank-you, I hope you enjoyed your visit there too. I have visited your post to see your tour photos – I have never been there so thanks for sharing your visit :-D

Jim – Thank-you, I love being creative with words too. I looked at your photos, if the rain had continued I was heading for the lily pads too! I really had planned to get photos of the main rockery and the alpine house but with only a short time and the weather not on my side that wasn’t to be. I will come back to them on another visit. Ah.. but the alpines are my first love when it comes to garden plants. I began gardening by moving my parents rockery at the age of ten :-D

Carol – Thank-you! Sometimes when a visit is unexpected you just go with it don’t you :-D

Jayne – It was and I really must go back more often too! Thank-you I’m glad you enjoyed my visit too :-D

Aunt debbi/kurts mom – Thank-you for visiting and glad you enjoyed the tour :-D

farmingfriends said...

Your photographs are just amazing. I love to come and just look at what you have seen and thank you for sharing it with us. Your photos are inspirational.
Sara from farmingfriends

shirl said...

Hi again, Sara :-)

Sara – Thank-you! This was a completely unplanned post and I am delighted that so many people enjoyed sharing my visit with me :-D

Mel said...

I feel like if I had visited the garden myself, thank you for the details and the information.
I wish they were places like that to visit over here. To find such beauty I have to travel a few hours outside the city, to the mountains or by a river.
Thanks!

shirl said...

Hi there, Mel :-)

Thank-you, I'm very glad you enjoyed the tour. This garden was actually in the middle of a city, Scotland's capital - Edinburgh.

I see you are in Peru and learning about birdwatching. I would imagine you will see some incredible birds there -even in the city! Thank-you for visiting my blog and adding my link :-D

Mo said...

Came across your blog and stunning photos by accident when I was looking for blogs on the Botanics. The heron is still there not the least bit worried about the attention he's receiving. Will have a good look at your blog shortly. Really glad I found it.

shirl said...

Hi there Mo, thanks for leaving a comment :-)

Sorry I missed replying to this. I was filling my comments and lost yours. I had no idea that this heron was famous at all! I am so glad I captured it now. I hope you enjoyed your visit too :-D