Saturday, 27 August 2016

Getting Lost and Finding a new path!

I was thinking this morning about how there seem to be few new paths around Edinburgh for us to explore, after all we've both lived here for a good long time! So today we set off over the Liberton fields

with their poppies

and white butterflies

hiding in the crops and the views across to the University buildings and Arthur's Seat in the distance

At the top of the hill we decided to walk over the Braid Hills, a walk which we've only done once before. And we quite soon realised we weren't on the path we'd been on last time! So inadvertently we had discovered a brand new walk! It passes through some wooded walkways

and past some lovely views of the hills

and some friendly horses

At lunchtime we conveniently discovered a pub we've never visited, it's got a lovely courtyard / beer garden

where swallows were flying round, some flying in and out of the arches in this photo

where we discovered they are still feeding their young! Probably their second or even third brood, which they will need to raise quickly before returning back to their wintering grounds in Africa!

After lunch we continued our walk through more lovely countryside

Friday, 26 August 2016

Dr Neil's Garden

 Dr Neil's Garden is a real gem of hidden Edinburgh! Tucked away next to the manse garden of Duddingston Kirk it's a lovely hillside garden filled with large trees, cosy seating and loads of flowers. It also has excellent views across Duddingston Loch to Arthurs Seat. It is at its best on a sunny summer's day like today

The plants include these harts tongue ferns that are looking at their best at the moment

and lots of flowers for the bees and hoverflies, also this wasp (possibly a wall mason wasp, according to Edinburgh Natural History Society but if you have anyalternative ideas, please let me know in the comments!)

Next to Dr Neil's Garden is the manse garden, part of which is currently being used as an outdoor venue for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and part of which is being developed as allotments.

I hope that in the development of the allotments they don't get rid of all the wildflowers that are so good for pollinators

After lunch in the Sheep Heid, a well known pub in Duddingston village we walked along the road to Arthurs Seat. On the way we passed this grayling butterfly, the first time I'm aware of having seen this species! Sadly it didn't look very well and Crafty Green Boyfriend rescued it from the path and put it in the verge. This was the only butterfly we saw all day.....

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Some sunshine!

We're having a staycation at the moment, just staying in Edinburgh and having day trips. Yesterday was complicated by the fact I had a dental appointment to replace a broken filling but we visited a couple of Edinburgh's green spaces afterwards.

We walked up Calton Hill, which offers lovely views across Edinburgh

Then after stopping for cold drinks we went into Princes Street Gardens where we were amazed by how many bees there were in the borders! In the photo below there's a honey bee (in the flower at the bottom) and a buff tailed or white tailed bumble bee (in the flower further up at about one o'clock from the honey bee)

They were obviously enjoying the warm sunshine, of which there hasn't been a great deal this summer (as most of the rest of the world endures rising temperatures, wildfires and other extreme weather events, Scotland (at least this part of it) is having a very dull and relatively cool summer.)

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Looking for butterflies on a cloudy day...

We're having a few days of staycation at the moment, just staying at home and taking day trips around Edinburgh. Today we walked from the Cramond Brig to Sounth Queensferry, a walk that is best done on a sunny day, as it can be such a good walk for butterflies. Sadly it hasn't been sunny enough on an appropriate day so we tried the walk today. It was as scenic as ever

but we didn't see a single butterfly! We did however see a wasp eating a hoverfly, which was quite a sight, though not one that could be caught on camera! This was the scene of the crime

We found an owl pellet that I was so busy studying I forgot to take a photo, it was fascinating to see the beetle wing cases and other things that indicate what the owl must have been eating before it regurgitated to pellet. We also found this, which looks like part of a bee's nest

When we got to South Queensferry we popped into a local pub and had a late lunch along with a drink of Hiver Beer, a beer made from honey (that has a definite honey flavour) - a proportion of the profits from this beer go to pollinator charities, so it was a very tasty drink for a good cause!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Twenty years of the Ripple Project

The Ripple Project in Lochend is having an open day on 9 September to celebrate 20 years! I'll be offering a taster workshop in creative writing at 12 noon, There's plenty to do on the day and free lunch!

Celebrating 20 years at the heart of your community
Come and join the celebration 

Friday 9th September 2016
Doors open at 11 am

Programme of Events and Workshops

11.15 – 11.45 Exercise for Everyone Class
12.00 – 12.30 Creative Writing Class (with Juliet Wilson)

A delicious lunch of soup and home-baking provided.
Speakers at 1pm.
Reverend Carol Ford, present Chair
Ewan Aitken, founding member of the Ripple Project.

1.45 – 2.15 pm Cupcake Decorating
2.30 – 3 pm Friday Club Sing-a-long.

A Story Flag Drop-In Workshop with artist Fiona Hermse running throughout the day.

The next term of the Write On class 'A Write Laugh!' will start at the Ripple Project on 22 September. 

Sunday, 21 August 2016

In the Hermitage

We had a lovely walk round Blackford Pond

and through the Hermitage of Braid today.

It was lovely to see that the little grebe (dabchick) has got a youngster this year, the adult is on the left here and the youngster on the right (thanks to Crafty Green Boyfriend for this photo).

The youngster is almost adult size now and seems quite independent, though the adult was still feeding it occasionally.

The mute swan pair have six cygnets, almost full grown now, though inexplicably neither of us took photos of them! 

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Rain by the River

It was another rainy day today. We walked along the River Almond this morning. The mouth of the river is full of yachts at the moment

As you can see the water level was quite low this morning and so the causeway to Cramond Island was clear. The people in the photo below are making their way to the annual punk picnic that happens on Cramond Island. I hope they had waterproofs with them, as it was raining very heavily!

These young mallard drakes didn't seem to care about the rain!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Searching for Dragons in the Rain!

Crafty Green Boyfriend and I went along to an excellent training day on dragonfly identification today organised by his employers Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). The morning took place at the beautiful (but hard to find) West Moss-side Farm near Stirling and consisted of a comprehensive and clear overview of dragonfly and damselfly species likely to be found in lowland Scotland, given by Daniele Muir of the British Dragonfly Society.

In the afternoon we moved out into the rain on Flanders Moss

It's a beautiful raised bog that is a National Nature Reserve, managed by SNH

It's also home to lots of dragonflies. Unfortunately for us today, dragonflies prefer hot, sunny weather. When it's cold or wet they tend to hide away. So it was very difficult to find any dragonflies today, though we did in fact find three species in adult form: emerald damselflies, black darters and common darters. We also did some pond dipping and found larvae of black darters and large red damselflies and exuvia of common hawkers (the exuvia is the shed skin that a dragonfly leaves after it emerges from the water and changes from a larva to an adult).

Dragonflies are such beautiful creatures and it was lovely to see these individuals brightening up such a wet and dull day. Here's a female black darter

On a sunny day, Flanders Moss is full of dragonflies all sunning themselves and flying around hunting. Well worth a visit. As is West Moss-side Farm, which offers craft courses and has an excellent meeting room for events.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

In the Jewellery Studio!

I don't have a proper jewellery making studio of course, I just use our living room.

I now have a little helper, this brass bunny, which I've had for a while but I just recently realised it could act as a weight to hold down half completed necklaces etc, here it's sitting on a work in progress, which I though was going to be a beaded lanyard until I noticed that the wire was too short so it became a choker necklace!

I have enough of the metallic beads to make a lanyard, possibly two, both of which, alongside the necklace will soon be in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop. Here's a photo of the completed necklace

I popped into a second hand shop today, one which often has a good selection of craft supplies. I bought a bag of 'broken' jewellery, which was full of lovely beads and other things. I've already made this bracelet and earring set, which is already in my Etsy shop here.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Dancing with Tex by Lynn Sanders and Sergio Drummond

Dancing with Tex, subtitled The Remarkable Friendship to Save The Whooping Cranes is a lovely picture book based on the true story of ornithologist George Archibald and how he danced with rare whooping crane Tex until she laid a fertile egg.

Tex had been hand reared and so was more used to people than to other cranes and had been very reluctant to interact and wouldn't breed. It took several years of dancing but eventually Tex did lay an egg and when this hatched the chick was named "Gee Whiz" and went on to father 15 chicks!

The book tells the story in an entertaining manner, with the illustrations really bringing things to life, especially the dancing! George and Tex seem to be really enjoying themselves!

At the end of the book there is a fact file about cranes, a biography of George Archibald and ideas on how readers can help to save endangered species such as whooping cranes.

The only thing that would improve this book would be if there was a young child dancing with Tex at some point as young readers do tend to relate better to young characters. Having said that, it is based on a true story that involved University students and adult scientists!

Well worth a read for any youngsters out there interested in wildlife or even more importantly for those youngsters who like to dance but are not yet interested in wildlife!

Dancing with Tex by Lynn Sanders and illustrated by Sergio Drummond, published by Difference Makers Media.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Speckled Wood Butterfly in the sunshine

It's very warm today! Plenty of butterflies were enjoying the sunshine at Musselburgh, though only this speckled wood allowed me to take a photo

Monday, 15 August 2016

Summer in the Dells

We've been promised a heatwave this week and this being Scotland, we have no idea whether this will last longer than a morning! It certainly was lovely and sunny in Colinton Dell this morning and not too hot. I don't like it to be too hot when I'm wandering round picking litter, pruning overgrown plants (I prune back plants or branches that are either trip hazards, poke in the face hazards or are blocking the path).

The lime trees are no longer in bloom but they're still beautiful

and the hornbeams are sprouting their chandelier fruits now

The wildflower meadow in Spylaw Park is still beautifully in bloom

and the bees and hoverflies love it, including this Syrphus sp hoverfly

this footballer hoverfly (Helophilus sp)

and this little solitary bee, they're called solitary bees because they live by themselves rather than in hives, there were actually quite a few solitary bees in the wildflower patch today, possibly two species were represented.

This wildflower meadow is part of Edinburgh Living Landscape, which you can read more about here.

I wrote a piece on the value of different types of wildflower meadows on this blog recently, you can read it here.

For Nature Notes.