stories and illustration

A Single Straying Swan

For Christmas I was given a new camera, all singing all dancing, of course I haven’t mastered the half of it yet.  I have  the correct memory card, a fancy new strap, the instructions on CD (not yet gone through, apart from the opening pages, I am going at this nice and slow) – and nervousness. Technophobe, c’est moi – up to a point –   I do take a delight when something is understood, leaving aside any sense of mastery;  but I am terrified of pushing the wrong button, pushing another button too hard, ruining things.  In the long run, practice, and reading the instructions slowly and with attention, does help.  Anyway, this lovely camera has a good zoom lens (ZOOM ZOOM) so this afternoon, on a damp winter’s day I decided to just stroll round and see what I could see.  An obliging swan had sailed, probably sideways, up the branch off the Tweed which is the River Leet, and this singular swan was just swimming around in what was something between the Leet and overflow sludge.  It seemed quite unruffled and paid no notice of me as I tried out the zoom lens on my swimming target. In the end I continued my walk, right round the open spaces of the Lees, I didn’t mean to go far, but by the time I had gone far enough it was as well to continue as to go  back.  No weather for any more photographs. The rain began to fall, the wind practically pushed me sideways, I noticed that a couple of big branches had come down from my favourite tree on the edge of the big fields. Wind so high I had to take off the possum hat to prevent it blowing into the Tweed. The trees ahead “a chocolate mist” as described by a Victorian poet, either Coleridge or Swinburne (I think) – always think of that in winter, in the countryside. The fishing hut was all locked up, with padlocked shutters.  There was a big red notice  fastened on a nearby tree, instructions to keep dogs on a lead as rat poison had been laid nearby. Coming back past Lees House saw that someone had carved the image of a fish into the stump of a hewn tree.  When I got back home I managed to extract the memory card and put it into the computer.  A small pause, then hello, instructions to put pictures on to the computer.  A good day’s work… what fun I will have….what larks, Pip…..

January 7, 2014 - Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Have fun playing with your new camera….what is it if I can ask?
    You caught some lovely moody shots of that lonely winter swan 🙂


    Comment by greenmackenzie | January 7, 2014 | Reply

    • Hi, Seonaid. It’s a Fujifilm Finepix S1700 – I want to use the zoom to at last get a decent picture of one of the herons that tantalise me by their presence, but know just when to wing it. Dark weather at the moment, but as the nights lighten I hope to get out again for longer walks, especially up the Hirsel Lake.


      Comment by Cara Lockhart Smith | January 8, 2014 | Reply

  2. Lovely photos, Cara. Have so much fun with your new camera! I must say, though, that solitary swans are always sad to me . . . they are either very young and unsure of themselves or have lost a mate (they mate for life). I know it is too humanizing, but that is me!


    Comment by Maggie Beck | January 8, 2014 | Reply

    • Yes, Maggie, it did strike me as being slightly un-swanlike in behaviour, so passive. However, I noticed that it did drift back towards the Tweed, and this morning it had disappeared, so I hope it is all right. The water-levels are very high, so maybe it had lost its bearings.


      Comment by Cara Lockhart Smith | January 8, 2014 | Reply

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