During political unrest in the UK in 1976, there was a heatwave. During political turmoil over Brexit in 2018, there’s a heatwave. Should we be wishing for continued political fallout and crisis to guarantee warm summers? I have loved the last few months and wonder how long it might be before we see the like again. Yes, the grass is brown and the nights are hot but the flowers bloom and our bees are bringing in a mass of honey. The sunsets have been amazing and the general spirits of folk are much higher than during our dank, drizzly summers we have come all too used to.
The highlight of the month was a photographic trip to the Bass Rock. It is always a privilege to land on the island situated a mile or so off the East Lothian coast which, during summer is home to 150,000 breeding gannets. As the trip was a historical one, we spent time taking in the castle remains used to imprison covenanters captured during the rebellion and the lighthouse buildings, including the engine room that generated the power for the light. We looked into the lighthouse itself, enjoyed the view from the top and tried to imagine how life may have been for the keepers. Above the lighthouse are the ruins of St Baldred’s chapel which would pre-date both the prison and the lighthouse. One forgets the historical value of the island since it has become a wildlife haven for the birds.
Fortunately, the trip did allow for a little time with the gannets and it was satisfying to capture some images on such a fine day. The smell, noise and visual spectacle startle the senses; the proximity to so many birds displaying a variety of behaviours can become overwhelming - where do you start? Fortunately, this was my third trip to the island so knew what to expect and, having already secured certain images on previous landings, I was able to concentrate on gaps in my gannet portfolio. A Bass Rock landing is one of those things you simply have to experience!
An evening photographing the sunset at North Berwick allowed me to capture images of the Firth of Forth from both sides of the town. I started the evening with pictures of the islands - Lamb and Fidra - and finished off with photos of Craigleith (see image). It was interesting chatting to the motorhome owners parked beside the beach to enjoy nature’s spectacle as the sun dipped below the horizon. I posted a further image on Facebook.
Other photographic forays included Stirling, West Lothian and the Moorfoot hills which gave me some new viewpoints to work in the future. I had long wondered where I could find the location to capture both Stirling Castle and the Wallace monument in the same shot; I had previously seen the image on a postcard but it was not obvious where the picture had been taken. After plenty of exploring, I eventually found the location and now need to wait for some suitable light to produce my own version. Elsewhere a high vantage point in West Lothian gave stunning views towards the bridges at Kincardine and the Trossach hills beyond; the Moorfoots provided flower meadows and views towards the Pentland Hills.
With a lunar eclipse at the end of July scripted as the best opportunity for 100 years to view such a phenomena, why did it have to be on a cloudy night?! Having had so many clear evenings throughout July it was such a shame that the event was denied to so many people. For once, I was prepared for a picture of the blood-red moon, only for it to fail to show. Such is life!