Its not easy being a Panda
“After daily testing of Tian Tian’s hormone levels, a close watch on her bathing habits and regular reports about her mate’s yen for bamboo, Edinburgh zoo has finally opened the ‘love tunnel’ for Britain’s only pair of giant pandas.
Almost four months to the day since Tian Tian and Yang Guang arrived on a flight from China, the two giant pandas were brought together on Tuesday to mate.
At 9am sharp, keepers at Edinburgh zoo opened a small gate between the bears’ two neighbouring enclosures for the first of five liaisons during the day, each lasting five minutes. By the end of that first day, their meetings had been physical and playful; they coupled more than once, but failed to reach the sexual summit.
With the zoo keenly aware that pandas have a short window of opportunity, the pair will be allowed to meet again on Wednesday. Yang Guang was apparently showing greater aggression in their final meeting yesterday, so the zoo is growing optimistic that the couple will succeed in sowing the seeds for a scientific and commercial coup: a panda cub born in captivity.”
Unfortunately the zookeepers did not take into account the famed unpredictable Scottish weather. The week before had seen record temperatures in Scotland but just when you need a wee bit sun on your back we were hit with freakish storm conditions that threw everything back into the deep winter feel. So while the love tunnel may well have been open it may have been a bit chilly for Yang Guang or perhaps Tian Tian is just not a first date type of girl?
Its not easy being a Piper
Having travelled across Soutra Hill at lunchtime in artic conditions with visibility down to about 30 m I thought that the Eagles were in grave danger of suffering a ‘no show’ or indeed being cancelled. However thankfully Pipers like Pandas will, no matter the conditions, turn up and give it a go.
First up was young Harry McLachlan (12) from Aberfeldy who plays a lovely set of Lawrie drones. Harry settled the pipe down with some fine 6-8 marches before hitting us with a MSR Hugh Kennedy/The Pipers Bonnet/Dr. McPhail’s Reel.
Next up was Nils Michaels who was breaking in a new sheepskin. Nils is a regular attender at the Eagles and the tuition that he is getting from Tom Speirs is certainly paying off.
The PPP was Donald McLeod who was quickly into his stride and gave us a very polished MSR starting off with the little heard 74thFarewell to Edinburgh.
The “74th’s” refers to the old numbering of the second battalion of the Highland Light Infantry regiment of the British Army, later amalgamated with the first battalion numbered the 71st. The regiment was amalgamated in 1959 with the Royal Scots Fusiliers to become The Royal Highland Fusiliers. However as PM David Aitken BEM often used to announce ‘The HLI will never die’.
Next up was young Taylor Townsley who had made the trip with dad and her brother Joshua. A brilliant effort given the weather. The Townsleys currently go to Colin Maclellan for lessons and this was reflected in a well-crafted Lament for Mary MacLeod. While there were a couple of memory lapses the potential here is clear and it is very refreshing to see such young rich talent at the Eagles.
Tom Peterkin finished off the evening with The Braes of Castle Grant and Leaving Glenurquhart before playing some wee strathspeys and reels that included Orange and Blue and Mrs McGregor. Tom played an unusual version of Orange and Blue stating that he had heard Jimmy McGregor play this version and thought that Jimmy had got it from his uncle who served with The Scottish Horse. A lovely end to the evening.
So back on with the heavy coats, heads down and off into night but spare a thought for our Chinese guests. Who knows when the love tunnel will next be open?