Thursday, 20 October 2011

On the Doorstep

There is a definite chill in the air as I write this. There may also be some unusual chirping and honking because the winter migration that brings so many different species of birds to our shores is underway. It's hard to think that some of these seasoned travellers actually find Scotland a warm destination in winter! Yet that, and the ensuing food source, are precisely why they come here. 

If you are like me that means donning a few extra layers of warm clothing, heating up a nice flask of warm soup and making sure the camera batteries are fully charged before heading off to welcome the new arrivals.

In an earlier blog I wrote about the love I held for the Solway area of Dumfries and Galloway and how it wasn't always necessary to head for some sunny destination overseas to get those exciting landscape or wildlife photographs. Whilst that may be fun, don't forget to appreciate what may be on your doorstep. 

As a consequence of foolishly injuring myself earlier this year I was forced to spend more time than usual at home and in my own garden. Once again, I came to appreciate what I may often overlook in my quest for the more unusual. It made me think of the expression I hear so often from birdwatchers or nature lovers...'oh! It's just a...' Often, it is uttered whilst focusing on something through a pair of binoculars and can be completed with the name of any one of our more common wildlife residents..."oh! It's just a jackdaw,"  "oh! It's just a wood pigeon" or "oh! It's just a mallard" to name but a few. I have come to realise that that comment completely undermines the beauty of these creatures, just because familiarity blinkers our vision. Open your eyes and look again! 

Jackdaw (Corvus monedula)
Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)

Don't get me wrong. I love the thrill of chasing new migrants with a camera but I also have learned to appreciate and enjoy what is on my doorstep. Have you ever looked closely at a jackdaw and admired his black coat? Have you pondered the subtle grey, blue and mauve shades of the wood pigeon or been dazzled by the iridescent velvety green head of a Mallard duck? If the answer is no then look again before you chase the newcomers. The beauty of the natural world is closer than you think!


Mallard Duck (Anas platyrhynchos)

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Articles and photography copyright of Tom Langlands

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