Saturday, 18 November 2017

Birds Drinking from a Puddle

Yesterday I wasn't able to join Crafty Green Boyfriend for his walk round Corstorphine Hill but I was very impressed by these photos he took of some birds drinking from a puddle. (Click on the photos to enlarge them)

long tailed tit and blue tit

 blue tit having a really good wash

long tailed tit arrives to watch blue tit bathing 

long tailed tits all in a row

long tailed tits in conversation 

a goldcrest


Friday, 17 November 2017

Witches Brooms

A little late for Hallowe'en I know, but I was impressed by the witches' brooms growing in this birch tree in Silverknowes. Now the leaves have mostly fallen the brooms are more noticeable than they usually are.

The witches broom is a growth caused by pests  or disease, for example wasps, viruses or fungi. Although they occur in a number of different species of tree, in this country at least they are most obvious in birch trees.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Olive Tree

Dark comfort of the olive grove
protects earth from storm and drought,
offers sanctuary.

Dark fruit, plump with food and oil,
creates a whole cuisine,
supports villages.

Dark branches laden with symbolism
represent the unattainable.


Another poem reposted from back in 2006! 

I also recently reposted an old poem over on my Shapeshifting Green blog, you can read it here

I've recently had a couple of poems published in online journals, you can read them by following the links below: 

Raspberry Picking on Misty Mountain Review

Rogue on Quatrain Fish.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Peregrine at Musselburgh Lagoons

The autumn colours are still beautiful along the wooded paths leading to Musselburgh Lagoons. This tranquil scene though hides a much more frenetic world on the Lagoons themselves!

The oystercatchers had gathered in their hundreds in a large crowd on the lagoons, along with a few curlews. They were hopping around unconcernedly as a peregrine circled overhead, divebombing the oystercatchers then flying up again to repeat the whole process. I think the apparent lack of concern from the oystercatchers' point of view was due to them knowing that if they flew off  then the peregrine would have a better chance of catching one of them - though an adult oystercatcher seems a rather large meal for a peregrine (can anyone comment on that?). After several minutes the peregrine flew off without a meal.

Later as I was walking along the River Esk returning to Musselburgh town, I saw a kingfisher flash blue under the bridge.

Then I managed to catch this cute goose, a cross between a Canada goose and a greylag (in the second photo you can see a Canada goose to the right of the photo). You often see these hybrid geese at Musselburgh.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Leaf Islands and Mysterious Balancing Stones

One of the things I love about autumn are the leaf islands that form in the mill lade next to the Water of Leith in Colinton Dell

The leaves float downstream until they collide with the stones on the bed of the lade and arrange themselves like this.

Meanwhile on the river itself the mysterious rock balancer has been at work again (click on the image to get a better view)

The autumn colours are still beautiful, here's just a selection

But some trees are already almost entirely bare

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Wojtek the Bear - Polish War Hero

Wojtek was a bear, rescued as a cub, from a cruel fate as a dancing bear in Iran by Polish soldiers who then kept him as a mascot, friend and helper.

This memorial statue, by Alan Beattie Herriot, recently placed in Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens is a wonderful tribute to a brave and characterful bear (though I do find it astonishing that Edinburgh has far more statues to animals than it does to women).

Seeing the statue made me want to find out more about Wojtek and so I was delighted to discover Wojtek the Bear, Polish War Hero a book by Aileen Orr. This entertaining, informative and moving book follows Wojtek from his initial rescue in Iran, through his life in the Polish army during the 2nd World War and in a camp in the Scottish Borders to his last years in Edinburgh Zoo (where one of his keepers was Crafty Green Boyfriend's Dad!) Wojtek truly was a hero, he helped carry supplies, caught a spy and was a huge morale boost for the troops. He loved swimming, making friends, dancing at local dances in the Scottish Borders and eating. He drank beer and smoked cigarettes.

As well as telling Wojtek's story, the book outlines Polish history during the war and immediately  afterwards, the terrible suffering of Poland during the war at the hands of both the Germans and the Russians. The book concludes by telling the story of the author's campaign to get the statue to Wojtek erected in Edinburgh.

Wojtek the Bear, Polish War Hero by Aileen Orr, published by Birlinn Books

Saturday, 11 November 2017

November Sunshine

A lovely late autumn day today! We started at the exhibition for the proposed housing development on Cammo Fields held at Cramond Kirk, where we posted our comments of don't build on these fields as they are valuable habitat for various farmland birds that City of Edinburgh Council commits to protecting in the local biodiversity action plan.  You can read my previous blog posts about this proposed housing development here).

Then we went into Cramond village for coffee and cake outside overlooking the River Almond

We were delighted to see a flock of about 50 lapwings flying around above the river!

We then walked past Cramond Island 

and along the River Forth to Silverknowes. It's always worth stopping to admire the fish sculpture by Ronald Rae.

The wildflower meadows are still looking lovely

and the wild rosehips are decaying beautifully

Someone had laid out this row of shells

We finished our walk up the road between the sheep pasture 

and the golf course, where the trees were full of birds.

Though the birds (starlings, bullfinches, goldfinches, fieldfares and redwings) didn't want to be photographed!