Tuesday 21 March 2017

Scotland by Rail - Dalry, Ayrshire, Blair Estate woodland

Dalry in North Ayrshire, where I'm soon starting work on large painted panels for station decoration. Previous Dalry blog here.

Here's a nice easy stroll through a nearby wooded country estate.

The Walk

Getting off the train walk east uphill along a main road for less than a mile, firstly through a large housing estate then into open farmland. Remember after the houses to look back for wide views of Dalry and valley and hills beyond. Over those hills are Great and Little Cumbrae Islands, and Bute, and eventually Arran. For another day.

Dalry & valley & those hills

over those hills

The countryside stretch of road is short but with no pavement, take care. Soon on your right is a gatehouse into the Blair Estate. Read the sign, go through, start your exploring.

I walked a clockwise circle of the grounds with a little bit of meandering when a branching path looked particularly enticing.

Snowdrops were out and winter thrushes were in the trees, a great spotted woodpecker called once. Blue, great and coal tits were all over a feeding station at the south gatehouse and through the woods buzzard, robin, blackbird, wren, house sparrow, rook, crow, jackdaw, starling. I made a few sketchbook drawings, quick ones in pen.

Newhouse Farm, having detoured there-and-back past the Blair south gatehouse.

detour found me three buzzards. Here you see one.

thinking of Escher


How to get there

Trains to Dalry take half an hour from Glasgow Central. Mon-Sat there are 3 per hour from Glasgow - 2 going to Ayr, the other to Ardrossan Harbour. Hourly on Sundays.

Double check 'Ayrshire, Inverclyde & Stranraer Timetable' and 'Buy Tickets' on ScotRail website.

Many thanks to ScotRail for enabling my Scotland by Rail work.

Friday 10 March 2017

humpback in the Forth

humpback in the Forth, 10th Feb 2017, 20x40cm, oil

There's a humpback in the River Forth, it's been there at least since the end of January.

I first saw it on 9th Feb when I took 153 photos using smartphone held up to binoculars. It isn't in any of them. I made some sketches then came home and turned them into the above oil.

On 18th Feb we saw it again. 132 photos this time and it features in one of them. Well, its blow does. More sketches and another oil started back in the studio. Three loads of plastics picked from the beach and one dead herring gull found and ring number recorded and reported.

the blow!

Inchkeith island on the left, Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags to right of middle, Pentlands on the right.

herring gull, ring number reported to www.euring.org

Kinghorn litter-pick bins. Great idea.

bag of plastics, Burntisland bay


5th March was our first sun-soaked whale watch. I took only 45 photos and it appears in three. Well, its dorsal and a little bit of its back. Here's the best one.

Kinghorn to the left, Burntisland to the right


9th March we saw the whale for about twenty minutes. A low 29 photos taken, one of which is the clearest yet.

I'm not going to give you links to Facebook friends who're putting up photos of breaches, huge splashes, tail flukes, white belly, flippers... and I'm not encouraging you to seek them out. If you do you'll probably never visit my blog again.


Got a boat?

these people got a good view

If you have a boat and are considering trying for a close look please have a very careful think about whether you really should. Put the whale's welfare above all else and please read this link:


Please help save our sea life:
- www.mcsuk.org

humpback in the Forth, 18th Feb 2017, 20x40cm, oil, not quite finished