Thursday, 21 September 2017

Beach Lovers Come Forth!

This afternoon, after a writing class at the Ripple Project, a couple of us went along to Bijou Bistro, a local cafe to take part in an Edinburgh Shoreline community interview, run by Streamline Research. We were given free tea and coffee and scones with locally made jam and asked lots of questions about our hopes and visions for the future of the Edinburgh shoreline from South Queensferry to Portobello. We talked about our hopes for nature conservation, renewable energy, natural flood defences and a future free from heavy industry and fossil fuel extraction. We also talked about the potential of the shore and the communities along its length to be places for recreation, entertainment and community cohesiveness. It was a very interesting interview (and the refreshments were great too!).

Streamline are looking for more people to take part, so if you live or work in the coastal communities of Edinburgh (South Queensferry, Dalmeny, Cramond, Silverknowes, Granton, Newhaven, Leith, Craigentinny or Portobello) and are interested in the future of the shore, then contact them to find out more!

Update on the Swift Survey


As some of you may remember I took part in this year's swift survey, carried out in Edinburgh by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). These lovely birds have been declining drastically over the last few years and the survey is part of a programme to determine how we can help swifts recover in Edinburgh. You can read my earlier posts about the survey here, here and here.

Last night, the RSPB held a follow up event, where they shared some of the results from the survey and laid out plans for what might happen next. Not everyone who signed up for the survey has yet returned their results so the discussions were based on incomplete data. Twenty seven screaming parties of swifts were seen across Edinburgh (screaming parties are groups of swifts that gather together to fly low over the roofs, usually near their nest sites and are a good indication of breeding colonies.)

Nine nest sites were identified in total (including one that Crafty Green Boyfriend and I found very close to our own flat!). This may not sound like many, but swifts prefer to live in the backgreens behind buildings and so often their nests are only seen by the people who live round that backgreen, as you can only generally access the backgreens through the buildings. We were actually delighted to indentify our nest site, as we had always thought that all our local swifts nested in the backgreen across the road (apart from one pair that nested in our own backgreen).

In the future, the RSPB will carry out more detailed surveys of the areas where they now know that swifts currently nest. They will also work with the local council to ensure as many swift bricks (nest boxes that can be built into a building during construction) are fitted to new build homes and offices. They also hope that Edinburgh can become a future swift city (following on from the model of Oxford).

It was great to catch up on the progress of the project and it was also a very sociable evening and a chance to chat about my favourite bird with other people who share my interest!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Sea Pottery Jewellery in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop

I've been recently going through my collection of sea pottery and choosing pieces to make brooches! The back of the pottery shard needs to be flat enough and big enough to be able to fit a metal brooch clasp on it, but other than that I'm looking for nice, striking looking shards. These are some of the brooches I've made recently

I've added them to the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop where they sit alongside my sea pottery rings in a new Sea Pottery Jewellery section of the shop!

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to new web pages where you can find out more.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

White Rhino, Matobo

to deter poachers
it was magnificent

as odd and ancient
as the primeval rocks
of the Matobo.

Wide mouthed and grey white
it watched us
as we watched it

through lenses
taking photos that fade
with the years

as the rhinos
become memories.

First posted for World Rhino Day 2012. World Rhino Day happens every year on 22 September.   

You can read about the work of the World Wildlife Fund to help rhinos here

* rhinos have sometimes had their horns surgically removed to deter poachers. However, this is a stressful operation for the rhinos and not necessarily effective as poachers will kill rhinos for very small amounts of horn, particularly as the animals become rarer and rarer.  

As ever, red text contains hyper-links that take you to other websites where you can find out more.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Hiding Snails and Oak Galls

It was a bank holiday here today so Crafty Green Boyfriend joined me for my walk along the Water of Leith in Colinton andCraiglockart Dells. It wasa lovely autumnal morning, with the leaves starting to turn

 We were fascinated by the oak trees, some of which had oak apples (a type of gall caused by a parasite)

and some had this different type of gall

and this tree also had leaf scale insects on the underside of the leaves, it looks like quite a bad infestation

Meanwhile, we noticed lots of snails hiding away, in bindweed flowers 

and under raspberry leaves

and there were quite a few hoverflies around, including this footballer hoverfly (also known as a sun fly)

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Acorns and a lovely surprise on Corstorphine HIll

As I often do on a Friday, I joined Crafty Green Boyfriend for a wander round Corstorphine Hill yesterday lunchtime.

The acorns are looking lovely on the oak trees just now

but the most wonderful thing was to see two spotted flycatchers! These birds are really declining in the UK and are very rarely seen in Edinburgh. We knew that they had been seen on Corstorphine Hill in the past, but didn't think they were still around. We don't know whether these birds had been on the hill all summer and we'd just missed them (but their behaviour is so distinctive that it seems unlikely that we would overlook them all summer) or whether they were just passing through on their migration to warmer climates. It was lovely to see them flying from their perches and back again, though like Thursday's bats they were too speedy and slightly too far away to get photos of them. There were lots of other birds around too, but the spotted flycatchers were definitely the stars of the show!

As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks that take you to other pages where you can find out more.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Bats in the Park

Yesterday evening, Crafty Green Boyfriend, his brother and their mother joined over 100 other people in Harrison Park for a bat walk! Luckily the weather was lovely, a warm evening with not too much wind.

Organised by Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust, the evening started with a talk about bats from Graeme Wilson from The Wildlife Information Centre. As dusk deepened, the bat detectors were handed out and we wandered round the park to find bats!

There were actually quite a few bats around, mostly soprano pipistrelles, but they were impossible to catch on camera as they're so small and move so fast!

So we quickly gave up on the photos and just enjoyed watching the bats flying round between  the trees and listening to them via the bat detectors. A bat detector makes bats' high pitched echolocation calls audible to humans - and because different bat species hunt different prey and are different sizes, they make different calls which can help identify them.

It was great to see so many children enjoying the event, some of them had dressed up as batman or batwoman or were wearing bat masks. Some of them also knew quite a lot about bats, as they demonstrated during Graeme's interactive talk!