Friday, 21 September 2018

The People's Manifesto for Wildlife

Between 1970 and 2013, 56% of UK species declined. Of the nearly 8,000 species assessed using modern criteria, 15% are threatened with extinction.

This gives a terrifying picture of the state of nature in this country, a country that is thought of as being full of nature lovers, but where we seem complacement about the amount of green space we are carelessly destroying (see this earlier post about a current campaign to save one of Edinburgh's much loved green spaces).  

The People's Manifesto for Wildlife has been put together by Chris Packham, Robert MacFarlane and Patrick Barkham to put forward ideas that could change our relationship with nature and ensure that wildlife survives and thrives in our islands. 

The manifesto includes ideas on how to improve our relationship with nature such as to increase the amount of nature studies in education, to get children and young people involved in practical conservation tasks such as planting trees and to increase the amount of greenery surrounding all of us in our everyday lives. 

The manifesto includes proposals to protect wildlife such as rewilding our uplands, protecting trees and hedgerows, gardening for wildlife, stopping the badger cull and replacing it with a TB immunisation programme in badgers, ending the culling of mountain hares and seals, better policing of and harsher sentences for wildlife crime. 

It proposes the creation of a new Environment Act to enforce protection of the environment for the benefit of nature and people and enshrining environmental rights in law (this will be particularly important if we leave the European Union which currently offers a lot of environmental protection - see my 2016 blog post about the benefits of the EU as relating to the environment). 

There's also a section on improving the relationship between agriculture and nature in this country - many of our farmers farm in harmony with nature but nowhere near enough of them, largely because the systems in place make it expensive and difficult to do so. 

It's an excellent, well researched document and you can access two versions of it on this page of Chris Packham's website - there's an illustrated version and a non illustrated, fully referenced version. 

If you're in London on 22 September (tomorrow) you can join Chris and organisations such as the Woodland Trust on the People's Walk for Wildlife.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Crafty Evening with Gorgie Collective

Last night I went along to a craft workshop with Gorgie Collective, a local arts organisation that holds creative events for adults in local community centres.

Last night's workshop was part of the Freelancer's festival organised by Gorgie Creative Network, a network of local creative and freelancer workers. It took place in Gorgie Collective's office in the basement of the St Martin's Community Resource Centre.

The activity was to decorate a re-usable coffee mug. There were some complications in the planning as the original reusable bamboo cups proved to be impossible to permanently paint on so we used compostable mugs from VegWare - an Edinburgh compnay that produces cups made from compostable vegetable fibres. The cups can be used only a few times before they fall apart, but they can be put in the compost bin afterwards.

It was a lovely relaxed and sociable event held in a very calming, creative atmosphere

Few readers of this blog will be surpised that I decorated my cup with a mountain hare - I added eyes and whiskers after I took the photo

This is far too nice to use as a coffee cup and I'm going to use it to store things in. I rarely get takeaway coffee anyway and already have a reusable mug for the times when I do so.

Everyone produced very attractive designs and I think most people are going to use them as storage rather than as mugs.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Join the Friends of Midmar Paddock to protect this lovely greenspace

Last night's meeting to save Midmar Paddock was so full that we had to move from the Morningside Parish church hall into the church itself (a beautiful church!).

Midmar Paddock is privately owned and currently up for sale, advertised as a good place to build housing. Local residents and all of us who value Edinburgh's green spaces want this to remain a green space, part of the greenbelt and a continuation of the beautiful nature reserve that includes Blackford Hill and the Hermitage of Braid.

At last night's meeting we discussed how we can protect the land from development including surveying how people use the area to mark out rights of way (which can be protected and can make development very difficult) and to record the value of the area for recreation, and surveying the wildlife of the area. People are also looking into how to protect the land possibly as a 'Field in Trust'.

The City of Edinburgh Council is about to start discussions on its next local development plan and we want to make sure that Midmar Paddock remains designated open space in this plan.

A Friends of Midmar Paddock group has been set up and can be found on Facebook here.

It would be tragic to lose this beautiful patch of land to development (the paddock is the field in the foreground, the hill in the background is Blackford Hill, part of the local nature reserve)

It can sometimes feel as though history is repeating itself. Back in 2015, a campaign to protect Midmar Paddock was launched in the paddock attended by local politicians, including Green Party MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament) Alison Johnstone.

 It was good to see so many people turn up, along with their dogs (it's a favourite dog walking area)

Last time the threat of development was stopped and hopefully this time we can find some way of permanently protecting the land, which is such a lovely green space in the heart of our city.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Repairing a favourite pair of trousers

This was one of my favourite pairs of trousers until I tripped and fell and ripped holes in both the knees. (Ironically I tripped over a traffic calming hump in a road, one of those humps  that's supposed to make roads safer for pedestrians and I've seen other people trip there too!). I thought about just stitching up the holes but it would have looked very obvious and ugly and it would no longer be a nice smart pair of trousers. So, I  thought I'd go for something more showy that makes a feature out of the repairs so I covered the holes with some black lacy fabric that I had in my stash.

so that the trousers now look something like this

I'm thinking of adding some of the same black lacy fabric to the edge of the pockets too,though the pockets are so high up on the trousers that they're generally covered by the top I'm wearing ..... What do you think?

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Amazing birds on Arthurs Seat

We had a lovely walk round Arthur's Seat yesterday

We were delighted to get brilliant views of a kestrel hunting

Kestrels used to be the most common bird of prey in the UK, it used to be that you couldn't drive any distance along a motorway without seeing akestrel hovering over the grass verge. Now they're much less common but Arthur's Seat is a consistently good place to see them still.

It's also a great place for ravens, which are more thought of as a bird of wild places (and the Tower of London). They nest on Arthurs Seat though and can often be seen here, though for such big birds they're oddly elusive. We had several good views yesterday and heard them calling too. No good photos though!

We were slightly surprised to see this speckled wood butterfly, it seems like too open an area to find one, as they tend to prefer shady woodland

The lichens (mostly Xanthoria parietina) on this fallen branch are beautiful when seen close up

It was nice too to see lots of hoverflies, like this footballer (Helophilus sp) on the yarrow flowers (which were full of hoverflies)

Friday, 14 September 2018

Very Changeable Weather

Some places in the world are just now bracing themselves for the big storm to hit (there are seven major storms happening in the world at the moment, which is a lot. Climate change is increasing the number of such storms and also making many of the storms more deadly than they otherwise would be).

Here in Scotland we're out of the path of any major storms and the weather all day has been entirely unpredictable. It's raining heavily at the moment but at lunchtime it was beautifully sunny for a while so I joined Crafty Green Boyfriend for a walk round Corstorphine Hill.

Hoverflies (like the Epistrophe grosullariae below) were keen to make the most of the umbellifers in the sunshine

and the yews are looking at their best just now (remember these trees are poisonous!)

The sun went in soon enough though and the clouds brought the rain over

It became quite slippery underfoot but it's nice to wander round in the rain if you're wearing waterproof clothes!

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Autumnal Fungi

I found lots of interesting fungi today in Colinton and Craiglockart Dells alongside the Water of Leith. Unfortunately the light wasn't the best for photos and these are the only two that turned out!

It's annoying partly because I like to have the photos for themselves but also because good photos can help to identify the species of fungus. This is particularly interesting for me when it involves fungi in the Dells as then I can add their names to the list of plants and fungi in the area which I've been adding to over the past several years for the Water of Leith Conservation Trust.

If you can identify the fungi in these photos, please let me know in the comments, thanks!