Posted in Photography

Another Wildlife Spotting

I love shooting wildlife. And by that, of course, I mean shooting them with a camera. Wherever I go, my camera is slung over my shoulder, waiting to be pointed at whatever animal comes my way. It’s been with me around Africa as I tracked lions, rhino, crocodiles, and hippos. It’s been with me in South and Southeast Asia as I went in search of leopards, komodo dragons, and elephants. And while in Scotland, it’s also served me well as last week I was incredibly fortunate in spotting a red fox chasing a rabbit through a field.

Around Scotland, you’ll often find deer in the forests and on the hills, but they’re sometimes difficult to see. At best, you can expect them to appear virtually on the horizon, and if you get any closer, they’ll bound off out of sight in a heartbeat. They are beautiful but very shy animals. I see a lot of them in my walks when back home in Scotland, but even the 42x optical zoom on my camera struggles to capture them adequately. However, yesterday I managed to get a closer experience.

I was out walking on my own over Lucklaw Hill when suddenly a small roe deer appeared in front of me. It was perhaps about fifty feet ahead. It clearly hadn’t noticed me, and when it turned away I stalked closer. I was able to shoot a few dozens photos, but as the light was poor, not many of them turned out well.

This was one of the best:

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The next photo I took was a bit better, and captured the animal as I finally noticed me:

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When finally it realized that I was a person and that it had better not hang about, it turned and ran up a steep hill, making an odd barking noise just once, and then disappeared into the trees.

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Posted in Photography

Walking from Elie to St. Monans

Yesterday, on a windy but warm summer day, I walked from the little harbour town of Elie to another little harbour town called St. Monans with my mum. The coast of Fife – and indeed much of Scotland – is dotted with these little picturesque fishing towns comprised of old stone houses that are often painted in bright colours, narrow winding roads, and flower pots dotted around. In the harbour itself there are invariably boats either bobbing in the water or resting on the sand.

We arrived to a busy car park and headed out into the cold, but soon after starting out the coast cut off the worst of the wind, and in the sunshine it was actually quite warm. The walk along the beach was pleasant, and soon we moved up onto the little path, passing by many others who’d spotted a good opportunity for a Sunday walk.

The pleasant scenery made for a good day taking photos:

 

My favourite, however, was a shot I took of St. Monans harbour:

St. Monans Harbour

Posted in Photography

Summer Walks in Fife

For the past week and a half I have been back home in Scotland for a wee visit. It’s been three years since I was in Scotland during the summer, and I’ve been making the most of it by getting out on some long walks. Mostly those walks have been near my parents’ house, but I’ve also been to Maspie Den, near Falkland.

The scenery there is very pleasant, and includes the nearby Lomond Hills:

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On my walks I’ve been fortunate enough to spot some interesting wildlife:

There have also been a few deer spottings but I have no good pictures as they’ve always been too far away. But the absolute highlight was a red fox I saw yesterday while out hiking with my younger brother.

Red fox in a field

Aside from Fife I also got over to Edinburgh for a catch-up with an old friend. We mostly spent our time in the bars so there aren’t an abundance of good photos to share. However, I liked this shot of Edinburgh castle behind a thistle.

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Posted in travel

Back in Scotland

A few weeks ago I taught my last class of the semester and began the arduous task of marking nearly 200 exam papers, writing reports, and filing all the details in both English and Chinese-language computer systems. I usually do it all quickly and get the hell out of China as quickly as possible, but this year my school failed to procure my new visa in a timely fashion and I was stuck with my tedious paperwork in the sweltering heat of Eastern China.

On Monday afternoon, I got my passport back from the government and immediately booked the next available – and affordable – flight back to Scotland. So the next morning I took a train for Shanghai and then a flight to Beijing. Irritatingly, a thunderstorm over the capital caused my flight to be cancelled, but I was able to get another one and only just made my next flight, which was to Manchester. Eleven hours later I was back in Britain and waiting for a third flight – this one to Edinburgh.

For the past day, I’ve been enjoying some family time and also very much appreciating being back in an environment with fresh air. Yesterday the weather was surprisingly warm for a Scottish summer, and today it was overcast but still pleasantly warm. I took a stroll on Tentsmuir Beach with the family, where we saw some seals and sea birds.

I will be in Scotland another week or so before travelling down through England and then on to Nepal. I had intended to travel Africa this summer but as it transpires I don’t have as much time as I’d like to spend there. So instead I intend to explore Nepal until early August, and then somewhere in Southeast Asia – possibly Thailand – with my girlfriend until the end of the summer.

Do any of my readers have tips for Nepal? I’m currently thinking of seeing Chitwan National Park and a little of the Himalayas.

Posted in travel

Arriving in Maputo

I left Scotland on the 13th from Edinburgh for my much-awaited trip to Africa. I’d spent twelve days back home in Scotland having a belated Christmas with my family, but although I was sad to leave, I was excited to see a new continent. 

Unfortunately, the flights were all delayed. First there was an ISIS attack in Istanbul, and as I was flying Turkish Airlines I had to wait an extra hour in Edinburgh, and an extra three hours in Istanbul. The plane stopped for an hour and a half in Johannesburg, too. 

When I finally arrived in Maputo I navigated the bizarre immigration system for the first time. You’re now meant to have a visa prior to arrival, but for a small fee (bribe) you can still get a visa on arrival. They’re surprisingly open about this. I got a weird mugshot and soon was waiting to have my bags arbitrarily x-rated before setting out into the city. 

  
Having passed through immigration and customs, I looked for transport to my guesthouse. There isn’t much of anything at Maputo airport. Eventually a pushy man convinced me to go with him. On the way to his sketchy car, I saw a real taxi and decided to take that instead. The man was furious. “Look me something!” he shouted. He meant give him money. 

Later, the taxi driver told me that this other man was a “bad man,” whatever that meant. 

I checked into the Guesthouse Lokal, which was very nice, though a little expensive. Every room in Maputo had seemed expensive, but at least this one, unlike others, was clean. 

  
After checking in I decided to explore the city. I didn’t take my camera because I’d heard there are so many muggings and it seemed to be inviting trouble. I also didn’t take out my iPhone to take pictures for the same reason. 

Maputo is a strange, dusty city. It’s hot as hell, even at night. The pavements are falling apart and so walking is dangerous, and the high fences and armed security guards make you feel a little wary. I walked around but saw nothing, then bought supplies at a little convenience store. It was nice to see bread and cheese on offer after so long in China. 

Tomorrow it’s off to Inhambane and then Praia do Barra. 

Posted in Photography

Waves at Anstruther

Since getting back to Scotland on New Year’s Day the weather has been atrocious. In fact, for five days I couldn’t leave the house. There’s been flooding and high winds consistently. A few days ago, however, I got to visit the seaside at Anstruther, where, it seemed, even the sea was trying to invade the land.

Photos taken with iPhone 5s.

Posted in update

Back Home

It’s New Year’s Day and I’m back home at my parents’ house in Scotland. In two weeks I’ll take off for a trip around Southern Africa.

I’m writing this post on my iPhone on the WordPress app so hopefully this works.

Here are some photos of the house on Christmas mode: