Natural history around Perth inspired local artists

Osprey
Osprey

In winter, from Tay Street, Perth, Goldeneye ducks can be seen diving. This inspired David Annand to produce an amazing sculpture depicting a Goldeneye duck diving for molluscs within a cubic metre of water.

This is only one of 20 sculptures on a River Tay Public Art Trail. Many of these concern natural history including a life-like and endearing fox by the same artist that brings a sense of the wild into Rodney Gardens that adjoin the river on the north side of Queen’s Bridge. At North Inch beyond the bridge is a giant thistle sculpted by David Wilson from stainless steel and copper.

Another artist, Shona Kinloch, was inspired by Perth’s history. In 1839 the Merchant Guild built a ship called ‘The Eagle’ to improve trade with the Baltic. Shona’s sculpture depicts an eagle standing on a plump fish to represent the prosperity these merchants brought to the city. As you stroll along Tay Street look out for ten stone carvings set in the wall between the two bridges. We noticed bees and potatoes and leaves both associated with Perth and its agricultural links.

On our day trip to Perth in early March we were thrilled by the carpets of crocuses beside the birch trees of the Inches parkland. Later in the day we visited Perth Museum and Art Gallery near the town centre.

The art gallery section had a “Wow” factor painting of a lifesize bicycle covered by almost every possible bird seen in the vicinity. The models for the birds were provided by the taxonomy department.

The museum section concentrated almost entirely on local natural history.

Superb rock specimens from Lewisian gneiss to more recent rocks were on display below instructive maps and diagrams. Excellent fossils ranged from the early Rhynie plants from Aberdeenshire to the Carboniferous era of trees: giant clubmosses like Lepidodendron and the largest specimen of an extinct arthropod (Eurypterid) that I have ever seen – over half a metre in length.

The cabinets contained excellently displayed moths, butterflies and numerous animals that were clearly labeled and some of the larger animals were given additional sound recordings which were played when appropriate buttons were pressed. I can see this being very popular with youngsters. We were surprised that even red and grey squirrels have distinctive calls. The roe deer was predictably the loudest.

The SWT (Scottish Wildlife Trust) had devoted a section of the museum to the nearby Loch of the Lowes which is one of their key visitor centres about 16 miles north of Perth and two miles from Dunkeld.

The display included webcam recordings from previous years when Lady, the veteran female osprey which has produced numerous chicks was filmed returning from her 3000 mile journey from Africa in 2013. The SWT visitor centre at Loch of the Lowes has been open since March 1 and a small entrance fee is charged.