Friday, 27 June 2014

passerines, bantams and corvids

A few random pictures, thoughts and miles from last week. I have been doing estimates, and one took me to Newton Grange. No train; and the bus to Dalkeith takes an hour. I could have cycled but the bike is needing some work (or replaced) and so I took the bus, then ran, from Dalkeith with a view to doing a handful of miles back down the nearby Esk to Musselburgh and maybe catch the bus home from there. 2 birds with one stone and making the most of the day. 

The client keeps Bantam chickens and we probably talked more about them and the garden than we talked about paint. They did have a rooster for a while but the 4.30 alarm calls were noising up the neighbours. So just half a dozen ladies in lovely gowns.

Less than a mile down the road a bridge crossed the Esk. I asked a passerby as I approached if he could tell me which side of the river the path followed. He started to shout unnecessarily loudly asking where I was headed and when I said Dalkeith he continued to give me road directions as if I was 50 yards away not right next to him, on which road to take to Dalkeith. I managed to find the riverside trails anyway which were very pretty, although I was surprised not to recognise them and the surroundings. I had done virtually the entire Esk with the Carnethy runners in the Eskapade end of last year, and I couldn't work out how I wasn't recognising this part of the river.

This isn't the house to be painted.

The answer is there are 2 Esks - North and South and they join up near Dalkeith. This is the South Esk and I thought it looked worthwhile exploring for further interest - there seemed to be a few great running trails leading off away from the riverside. I didn't have the time to explore. Also the sun was shining and I was probably seeing them at their best. After a bit it became more tricky to follow the river closely and I had to double back a couple of times reaching dead ends, before getting nearer Whitecraig and a bit of the riverside we all recognise from the Duke's run. Along the way I saw something strange and thought "that's terrible putting that dead bird, one that's obviously been killed and half eaten by the cat, on top of that hedge." Then it blinked and turned towards me...

My first thoughts were "most passerines moult twice annually but the corvids have just a single moult." Okay it wasn't, it was: "Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me."

I don't know if this crow (I think it used to be a crow,) was just taking moulting to extremes, or was going to a fancy dress as a vulture but it was giving me the shudders. It, impressively, could still fly and did a 20 yard circuit to check me out.

The only other thing of note I saw while running down the riverside to catch the bus from Mussy was this thinly painted graffiti, a tepid piece of vandalism, which carried the excuse "ran out of paint" unsmiley face. What are the rebels-without-causes coming to?

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