Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Nature at Inch Park

After an enforced break to the programme (due to COVID) I was back at Inch Park yesterday, leading a nature walk. These walks offer people a chance to get to know the wildlife of the park, learning to identify species of plant, insects and birds. At the same time, the information collected will go towards making a resource for Inch House Community Centre to use as a basis for future nature based activities in the park. (I'll be leading another series of nature walks in the park in the Autumn). 

Yesterday's observations included: 

The Lime (Linden) trees are starting to come into flower 

When fully in bloom (which should be in a week or two), Line trees smell amazing! 
Most of the Lime trees look very healthy, but the leaves of one tree were covered with galls formed by Lime Gall Mites (Eriophyes tiliae). The mites release chemicals that cause the galls to grow.  The photo below isn't great as the wind was blowing quite hard and the leaves wouldn't stay still. 

We also found galls on a Walnut tree, these are caused by the Walnut Leaf Mite (
Aceria erinea). 
Near the entrance to the park is a lovely wildflower bed, that is currently blooming beautifully, though I didn't take any photos of the whole flowerbed as we were too busy identifying plants and insects. I did however, take a photo of the borage, which is such a lovely colour 

We all stopped to take photos of the Knapweeds that were growing alongside a path, they're such impressive flowers

For 30 Days Wild.

Monday, 27 June 2022

Sunday, 26 June 2022

North Merchiston Cemetery

 We're taking things easy after having the COVID so, today we walked round North Merchiston Cemetery (which was part of our Daily Exercise walk back in lockdown). 

The cemetery has recently been mown, in quite an eccentric way, with the wide open grassy areas, where there are no gravestones, mown very short

while vegetation is still growing very high around the gravestones. I have to admit, I like the vegetation growing high, but this is a cemetery and lots of people object to tall vegetation around gravestones, while no-one would object to the open grassy areas being allowed to grow a little wild, specially if paths were mown through them. 

Last year I found a common spotted orchid in the cemetery for the first time, and I was very happy to find that this year it's still there, having escaped the mowing. In fact there are two, but I wasn't able to get them both in the same photo

The buttercups still look lovely where they've not been removed by the mowing

and this Meadow Brown butterfly was quite happy on the long vegetation 

and this Speckled Wood butterfly was basking in the sunshine 

(Remember, Big Butterfly Count takes place in the UK between 15 July and 7 August. Find out how to take part here.)

Several spiders had gathered together on this gravestone, they all had their egg sacs with them

In previous years, a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers have nested in this tree

but it looks like they've not nested this year, as the chick would at least be making a lot of noise by now, if not starting to show its face, as it did about this time last year 

Perhaps they've found a different tree! In the past couple of years, some people have been spending long periods gathered too close to the tree to watch the youngster, which may have been putting off the parents. (The above photo was taken with a zoom!).

Friday, 24 June 2022

Revisiting Newington Cemetery


Now that I'm out of COVID isolation, I'm back to my work of surveying the wildlife of all the cemeteries in Edinburgh that are managed by the city council. Today I returned to Newington Cemetery, one of the cemeteries that is particularly rich in wildlife.  

 It's nice to see that areas of the cemetery are allowed to grow wild - this area of white clover for instance is popular with a number of species of bee

The north part of the cemetery is a beautiful area of woodland, currently being enjoyed by several speckled wood butterflies, which were often chasing each other as they defended their territories (or their favourite sunbathing spot!)

There were also a few Pellucid Hoverflies (Volucella pellucens) which like to hover in the sunshine though this one did pose nicely for a photo

Thursday, 23 June 2022

Angle Shades Moth

 I was delighted when Crafty Green Boyfriend's Mum pointed out this moth to me in her garden. Thanks to Edinburgh Natural History Society's Facebook group, I've found out that it's an Angle Shades, isn't it lovely?

Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Insect Week in Dalry

 So having been indoors isolating after catching COVID, I can now get out and about again (Crafty Green Boyfriend has been able to get out for a few days longer than me as he caught the virus and got rid of it before me.) Aware that we shouldn't overdo things in the first week or so after getting rid of the virus, we walked round Dalry Community Park, which is just round the corner from where we live. 

It's a long, thin park, with much of its space given over to play areas, including a large sandy area that has inadvertently become a lovely flower meadow. 

As it is Insect Week, we took time to wander through the grass, looking for pollinating insects. We saw a number of Eupeoides sp hoverflies 

and several bumble bees including this Common Carder enjoying the white clover

By the edge of the path, we found this ladybird larva, which I think is the larva of the 7 spot ladybird

which will grow up to look like this 


There were quite a few bumblebees and hoverflies enjoying this bush, including this buff / white tailed bumblebee

We then had a rest before walking into Dalry Cemetery. The bramble bushes in the cemetery were buzzing with bees and hoverflies, including this Pellucid Hoverfly (Volucella pellucens)

and this Footballer Hoverfly (Helophilus pendulus)

It was lovely to see several speckled wood butterflies in the cemetery

Insect Week is a chance to celebrate insects and learn more about these fascinating invertebrates. You can find out more on the Insect Week website.

For 30 Days Wild,  Insect Week and Nature Notes.  

Monday, 20 June 2022

The Natural Navigator by Tristan Gooley

The Natural Navigator

In this beautifully produced book, Tristan Gooley blends natural science, folklore and history to introduce the skills needed to navigate using nature's own sign-posts, from the appearance of a puddle to the angle of the sun.

This book will help you understand why some trees grow the way they do and how they can help you find your way in the countryside. You'll learn how to find North and how natural signs can be used to navigate anywhere, from the open ocean to the heart of a city. 

The book details how to navigate using signs on land, at sea and in the sky (including the moon, the sun and the stars). It's a very useful resource if you want to become more at home in the wild and more adept at relying on your senses (rather than technology) to find your way. 

The Natural Navigator by Tristan Gooley published (2010) by Virgin Books.  

You can read my earlier review of Gooley's book 'How to Read Water' here.