It’s a Highland Cow!
But in Scots (which is an actual language and different from Gaelic), they are known as Heilan’ Coo, and that’s what everyone calls them in Scotland.
A little tangent about Scots. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know about Scots. I was expecting Gaelic, but I didn’t know there was also Scots.
There’s some disagreement about whether Scots is a language or a dialect – but essentially it’s an ancient variety of English with it’s own dialects. And people still speak it! All the time. Here’s a few lines I learned:
- “Ah dinnae ken” – I don’t know
- “Yer aff yer heid!” – You’re crazy or more literally you’re off your head. Now why would people say that to me?
- “Yer bum’s oot the windae!” – You’re talking nonsense or more literally your bum’s out the window. Again, why would people say that to me? 🙂 You would think I had some crazy ideas or something.
Anyway …. Back to the Coos…
I was hoping for an opportunity to photograph the Heilan’ Coos on my trip and I was lucky enough to have three occasions when there was both a Coo and a place to pull over.
My first Coo is the one shown above and below.
He was a great model! Standing a short distance away from the fence, I was able to make some close-up portraits using my telephoto lens. I prefer the first photo since I was able to fill the frame and not have any distracting elements. And he was looking right at me!
When I came across my second opportunity, I couldn’t believe my luck! There was a Coo standing right at the fence, even looking over the fence, and he had the best view going.
This is the first image I made of him.
I had no choice but to include the fence in the frame since he was so close to it. And if you think that is a good view, check out what was on the other side of him. A Coo’s view…
Then I got the idea to reach over the fence with my camera so at least the fence wouldn’t appear to be in between me and the Coo.
I have to tell you a story about some dumb tourists. So I was photographing this Coo above when another car stopped and a family got out and they wanted to photograph him too. Since I got my shots, I backed away so there wouldn’t be too many people.
The family went right up to the Coo, and the father touched the Coo’s horn. Well, the Coo didn’t like that and started mooing. Then the father convinces his teenage daughter to touch the Coo’s horn for a photo and as she reached up (exposing the underside of her arm where a major artery is) the Coo whipped his head back and forth – the big horns moving wildly. I was sure her arm was going to come right off! The Coo mooed some more and was obviously unhappy about this. But he still stood there. That didn’t dissuade the family though, after some encouragement the daughter touched his horn again for the photo. Then it’s the father’s turn and he goes up and grabs the Coo’s horn roughly and he’s hanging on to it!!
I mean, at what point do I stop doing my usual “I’m just an observer in this country” and say something to people? I usually wouldn’t tell people they are behaving badly when I’m in another country. But this time … Well, here’s what I said:
“I’m taking a photo of you holding his horn so when he rips your arm off I can prove it was your own fault.”
I don’t know. Maybe Coo’s don’t rip people’s arms off. I sure wouldn’t take that chance!
I should have said “Yer aff yer heid!”
Later that day I got my final opportunity when I noticed three Coos standing way up on top of a cliff. I pulled over, got out my telephoto lens again, and zoomed in as close as I could get for my final shot.
Then I noticed a truck nearby and the driver was calling the Coos (shouting something I totally didn’t understand that was probably Scots) and throwing feed on the ground. I started talking to him and he told me he had been trying to get them to come down for half an hour, but they were standing their ground just looking down at him. Stubborn Coos!