Showing posts with label In and around Edinburgh. Show all posts
Showing posts with label In and around Edinburgh. Show all posts

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Easter Craiglockart Hill

The day started out bright and still and unseasonably warm as we walked up Easter Craiglockart Hill.

A kestrel hovered above the grass, swerved away but held it's own against the rising winds. It dropped right down to hover just a foot or so above the grass then dropped into the grass. It flew up again, nothing in its beak. It flew away to the trees, but still hovered. Then as storm clouds began to gather, another kestrel appeared, hovering over the golf course.

As both kestrels flew off, we walked back into the woods and found this strange looking fungus, which I don't think either of us have seen before, but I've identified it as Purple Jelly fungus (Ascocoryne sarcoides).

Friday, 17 October 2014

Autumn in the Braids

It's wonderfully warm and sunny today, perfect weather for planning out a new route for a nature study walk I'll be leading the week after next. The group have said they want us to go through the Hermitage of Braid and into the Braid Hills, which I thought was a bit ambitious for the 3 hours we will have, certainly if we're looking at everything from fungi to birds along the way.

Today's walk proved my suspicions and also alerted me to a path that looks like the obvious route to get from a particular A to B but in fact is way too steep, so I had to find another linking path, which I did, though this one is overgrown and muddy, but it isn't too steep. So this proves the value of checking out an exact route and on the day we'll just walk as far as we can and then back again by a slightly different route.

The autumn colours are wonderful at the moment, though I find they never look as wonderful on camera as they do in real life.

The bridle path around Braid Golf course was muddier than ever, but has got plenty of fungi growing alongside it at the moment - these are common puffballs

and this one I don't know, though possibly an egg yolk fungus? If you can recognise the species, then please let me know in the comments section!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Reflecting on Birds

It was a beautiful day at Musselburgh today, wonderful light for birdwatching. There were lots of birds around too! I was delighted to see 18 grey partridges at the Lagoons, this is well more than I've ever seen before and from talking to other people it sounds like it's well more than most people have seen in recent years. I also saw ruff, snipe, teal, wigeon, dunlin, golden plover, lapwing, curlew and a rook that seemed to be harrassing the other birds. Apart from the partridges there weren't high numbers of any of the birds but a lovely selection. Over the sea wall I got a distant view of a surf scoter hanging out with a group of velvet scoter.

I didn't take photos of any of these birds as they were too far away, but this carrion crow was more obliging. It's eating a fish that seemed to be still alive!

These Canada Geese by the River Esk were hilarious to listen to, they were making a lovely soft honking noise but also they were making a lot of noise as they were pulling at the grass and eating it.

And this mute swan just demanded to be photographed on the Boating Pond, where there are currently a lot of little grebes and today also another species of grebe, I'm not sure which species it was though (the grebes aren't in the photo)

For Weekend Reflections
As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Dunbar's Close Gardens

It's easy to walk past Dunbar's Close Garden, which is tucked away just off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. However, it's always worth popping in (as I did yesterday), as it offers a wonderful quiet and tranquil spot in the middle of the city.

 There are lovely views from the garden across to Calton Hill

I was delighted to see this adult hawthorn shield bug in the garden

Shield bugs are lovely insects, colourful and shiny but often difficult to identify as they have so many different life stages and colour variations - see this page for how different hawthorn shield bugs can look.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Global Frackdown

Fracking is a method of extracting natural gas from underground. It involves drilling to depths of around 3km and pumping vast amounts of water (over 140, 000 gallons of water a day) and toxic chemicals under high pressure into the borehole to open up fractures and make it easier to extract the gas.

Fracking is hugely controversial, not least for the fact that it uses water that otherwise would be used for drinking water or for irrigating crops. In addition, waste water from fracking often finds its way back into the water supply, causing potential health problems.

In California, fracking is exacerbating the extreme drought that the state is currently experiencing (you can read more about this in the Desmog blog).

The UK Government plans to allow fracking companies to drill under people's land without their permission (and yes that means they could drill under your house and you couldn't stop them).

This weekend sees Global Frackdown, a weekend of activism across the world to send a message to elected officials across the globe that we want a future powered by clean, renewable energy — not dirty, polluting fossil fuels. You can find out what's happening in your area here and Friends of the Earth UK events are listed here.

Mr Frackhead (a touring campaign stunt from Friends of the Earth) visited the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh today - here he is 'threatening' the press

and here he is getting ready to address Scottish politicians, members of Friends of the Earth and the general public.

Friends of the Earth Scotland have put together a brief information sheet about the dangers of fracking and other unconventional sources of fossil fuels, you can read it here.

If you are in Scotland you can demand the Scottish Government ban fracking now!

Breast Cancer Action have information on fracking and cancer here.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Autumnal colour in Colinton Dell

It was a beautiful mild, sunny morning for this week's walk round Colinton Dell, by the Water of Leith.

Autumn has definitely arrived

the beeches are in full beautiful colour 

and the river is starting to fill with leaves that glow under the rapidly flowing water

There were lots of insects about, this ivy bush in Spylaw Park was a mass of common wasps and Eristalis pertinax (a species of hoverfly) this individual of which was quite happy to be caught on film. 

I spent several minutes sitting on a bench by the riverbank watching a dipper, that was too far away to photograph. It was hunting for insects in the water and jumping from rock to rock. I also saw a family of goldcrests (the smallest UK bird) junping around in the trees. 

I also took time to catch up with the larch tree I'm studying for Tree Following. It hasn't really changed very much recently, though the wild flower meadow behind it is totally bare now, after having been cut back by volunteers working with the Water of Leith Conservation Trust. Hopefully it will bloom beautifully next year! 

For Nature Notes

and I Heart Macro

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

Friday, 3 October 2014

Clever Crows

The crows are the cleverest of birds, they also seem often to be the most fun-loving of birds.

I was fascinated by these carrion crows on the deserted playpark at Musselburgh. They seemed to be really enjoying themselves as they jumped around the various climbing frames. Apologies for the very poor quality of the photo.

After walking past these crows, I walked along the John Muir Walkway to Musselburgh Lagoons. The young gannets were perfecting their diving technique in the Firth of Forth, while nearby wigeon and velvet scoter floated by. The Lagoons were packed with birds and I was (unusually) the only birdwatcher. There were hundreds of oystercatchers and curlew, one whimbrel, plenty of teal, four snipe, a barnacle goose looking lost and a pink footed goose with a limp.

If you've spotted any clever rooks (a species of crow) then you may be interested in taking part on the British Trust for Ornithology's survey

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Corstorphine Hill

It was a lovely morning to take a group round Corstorphine Hill in Edinburgh. Apart from walks along the Water of Leith, this was the first time I'd lead a general nature walk rather than a birdwatching walk. We found plenty to keep us interested from the spider webs draped over hedges, some of them with rather large spiders in them, to amazing fungi, lots of hoverflies, late blooming flowers and evidence of rabbits (though no actual rabbits).

The stars of the show though were the birds. We saw four buzzards, probably a family group, circling over the hill, calling to each other, we also had an excellent view of a treecreeper and most excitingly a brilliant view of a nuthatch. Nuthatches are slowly moving into Scotland from the north of England and Corstorphine Hill is one of only two places in Edinburgh where they are likely to be seen (the other place is the birdfeeder outside the Rangers House in Hermitage of Braid). 'Our' nuthatch was perched facing down the tree trunk and pecking very loudly on the tree trunk to move pieces of bark to get at the insects underneath.

Meanwhile I've just added another chopstick bag to the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Spiders on Arthurs Seat

Lovely weather today, sunny and warm - perfect for enjoying a wander round Arthur's Seat.

Also perfect weather for spiders. Here's a flower spider of some sort, waiting on the yarrow flowers to catch a small beetle or fly.

And here is a golden orb spider hunting a fly, the photo isn't properly in focus, but the spider still looks impressive.

and here is the spider, in slightly better focus after she'd caught and eaten the fly

Sunday, 21 September 2014

People's Climate March, Edinburgh

Today was the sort of unseasonably warm, still and sunny day that might have residents of Edinburgh tempted to believe that global warming might be a good thing..... However climate change is already leading to increased extreme weather events and has the potential to disrupt many aspects of life as we know it. So, on this, the weekend before the UN climate change summit in New York City on 23 September, people have been gathering across the world as part of the People's Climate March. Here are photos from the Edinburgh march earlier today.

It was great to see so many people marching to raise awareness of climate change, many people had brought along their families and their dogs, some people were singing, some were playing hand-bells, some were dancing (and some dancing with hula hoops!). Some people were dressed as polar bears (and must have been feeling the heat in their costumes, just as the real polar bears are feeling the heat as the arctic ice melts round them). I hope that, now the Scottish Referendum for Independence is over, we will see people using their newly activated political engagement in campaigning on climate change and other issues.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Herons and Hoverflies

We had a lovely walk along the River Almond at Cramond this morning. We were very happy that this grey heron groomed itself in front of us.

We were also happy to see loads of wasps and hoverflies gathered round this patch of ivy. I just caught this one hoverfly (Sericomyia silentis) on camera.

Just a reminder that tomorrow is the People's Climate March with events happening across the globe. You can find out what's happening local to you here and how to get involved here, but if your local area doesn't feature on that site, then a quick internet search will probably find something closer to you.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Tree following

Earlier this week I noticed that the elder bush near the larch I'm studying for Tree Following is well berried. (Click on the photo for a bigger version)

The larch cones are maturing nicely, but the photo I took wasn't in focus, so hopefully another photo next week. 

Further up the Water of Leith, I saw a tawny owl sitting on a bush in the middle of a field while about twenty small birds (mostly blue tits) were mobbing it. The owl ignored all the other birds and just sat there! Far too far away to take photos sadly!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

The moon

The moon was amazing last night (it had been too cloudy the night before to see the actual harvest moon). Crafty Green Boyfriend took these photos, this first one shows just how orange the moon was

and this second photo went wrong but is quite lovely in an impressionistic sort of way

Friday, 5 September 2014

Birds in the mist

It was beautifully atmospheric when I was last at Musselburgh earlier in the week.

 the mute swans glided over the satin smooth River Esk
 while out on the Firth of Forth, the eider ducks covered the water, which stretched into the distance where water, land and sky all blurred into one at the horizon (only the water appears in this shot)

The sow thistles are seeding

this red tailed bumble bee had seen better days, I moved it from the path, but didn't have any sugar water to feed it to revive it....

The Lagoons were full of birds, hundreds of oystercatchers and curlews with a good number of other birds including several ruffs, a curlew sandpiper and a family of snipe crouched down in the waterside undergrowth. All too far away for photos unlike this roe deer

and finally as I walked back to Musselburgh, I had the best ever view of a kingfisher, which flew across the river Esk over the weir and then upstream to perch in a bush, where it looked like a family of grey wagtails were harrassing it a bit, and so the kingfisher eventually flew off.

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

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Craighouse gets the green light


I've blogged before about the ongoing battle to find an appropriate development plan for the historic Craighouse site in Edinburgh. The site was for a long time the Thomas Clouston clinic, part of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and then was used by Napier University but they then sold it after it became unsuitable for their purposes.

So this is a site that includes historic buildings as well as woodland and open green spaces. The site needs to be developed in some way to preserve the buildings and I don't think anyone would disagree with that. The question has always been how the site should be developed. Three development plans have been put forward for residential use of the site, the first two were rejected and there was a lot of public opposition from across the city to the latest development proposal.

Recently a community lead alternative development plan had been put forward, but perhaps it was put together too late, it certainly seems to have been entirely ignored in last night's council meeting which gave the go ahead for the latest official planning proposal for excessive new build housing on the green areas of the site. The council claims that 80% of the land will be left as green space, accessible to the public. The problem with statements like that is that they can turn out to be nothing but empty promises.

So the Edinburgh City Council has ignored local opinion and planning guidelines and passed a development proposal that will damage one of the city's historic sites.

The people of Edinburgh are getting so fed up with poor decisions about the architecture and green spaces of the city that they've put together a petition to express no confidence in the city planning department. You can sign the petition by clicking on the link.

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

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

yew berries, shaggy parasols and a large slug

I took these photos on Monday in Colinton Dell, by the Water of Leith. You can see my photos of the river taken that day here.

Yew berries are looking lovely at the moment, but they're poisonous so don't touch!

There are some very large shaggy parasol toadstools in the hidden meadow near Redhall Gardens

and nearby this large slug, which despite its colour is in fact a black slug (sometimes referred to as the large red slug and black slug to indivate its colour variations! Scientific name Arion ater)

I like the silhouettes of the umbellifers against the cloudy sky