Sunday 31 May 2009

Photos of Arthur's Seat

Photos taken yesterday at Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh, Click on the photos for more detail - particularly recommended for the foxglove!
the middle photo was taken by Crafty Green Boyfriend, who also took the photo in the new header, showing a small copper butterfly on Arthur's Seat. I posted a haibun about these butterflies yesterday.

Saturday 30 May 2009

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

A hot sunny day. Three small copper butterflies flutter across the path, tantalisingly disappearing into the long grass. We discuss how we've not seen many of them over the past couple of years, despite this being perfect habitat for them. Up the hill and round the corner, we find a patch of giant daisies. Four small copper butterflies flutter from flower to flower. We've never seen so many in one place! We walk further, listening to whitethroats and chaffinches singing, watching jackdaws ride the thermals above the rocky outcrops. Later, we walk back down the hill, past the same group of small coppers, into a stand of trees.

a warm breeze -
falling elm fruits
catch the sun.
Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh. New Banner photo shows small copper butterflies on large daisies, taken by Crafty Green Boyfriend

Friday 29 May 2009

Another Award - this time for Bolts of Silk

I'm delighted that Annie over at Ink Haven, who I awarded the One Lovely Blog Award to a few days ago, has now awarded it to Bolts of Silk, the poetry journal I edit. Since Bolts of Silk only posts poetry I thought I would mention this award here! I am supposed to pass this award on to 15 good looking new blogs, but as I just did that recently, I thought this time I would pass the award on to any contributor to Bolts of Silk who wishes to pick it up, so if you meet those criteria, then please consider yourself awarded.

Recently, Bolts of Silk has featured poetry about rivers and gravity, you can read these and more here.

Thursday 28 May 2009

seen from the train

I read about declining bird species, outside, crows mob a buzzard
rabbits run along
under a hawthorn hedge -
deer in the field
Edinburgh to Glasgow and back by train

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Tuesday 26 May 2009

One Lovely Blog Award

I was delighted that Angela of Art Life Stories and A Note from Your Mother , awarded me the One Lovely Blog Award. This award should be passed on to fifteen (count them 15!) good looking new blogs. I may play fast & loose with the "new" part (as Angela did before me!) but these are beautiful blogs I enjoy, which either started within the last eighteen months or which I have only recently discovered. Now this may take some time and is a very difficult choice to make. So let's look for beautiful blogs:

Mr Barrington is one of the newest bunny bloggers and he is truly a beautiful bunny
Marina is a very talented artist and has a lovely blog at La Scatola dei Colori
Weaver of Grass shares a lot of beautiful things in her blog, not least lovely photos of British wildflowers
I'm not a dog person really, but Edward has totally won me over in From the House of Edward. Pamela also shares beautiful pictures and writing.
Elizabeth share beautiful photos and poetry at Luchair
Annie shares beautiful writing at Ink Haven
Na shares very beautiful photos at her new blog Between each Blink
More gorgeous photos from Delwyn at Hazy Moon
Mary at Art Spirit sews amazing dolls and other things, including mushrooms
Carol shares her birdsightings and nature notes from the Fieldbook
Purest Green shares lovely photos of the landscapes and historic buildings of Scotland in Scotland for the Senses
More beautiful words and photos at Lassie and Timmie
Kelly Shepherd shares the beauty of Korea
and finally, because Springwatch has just started on the BBC, the Springwatch blogs

Monday 25 May 2009

At the Scottish Poetry Library

I was at the Scottish Poetry Library this morning. It's interesting to see the exhibition they have arranged to celebrate the opening of the Edwin Morgan Archive, which is an online and physical archive of the work of the UKs most consistently inventive and imaginative poet.

I also had a chat with Lorna, the Library's Education Officer - we discussed how best to prepare for performing poetry, to avoid being hijacked by nerves. Some of her ideas and advice can be found here. I haven't actually taken to the stage for a while, and with Kin (which was always my favourite place to read poetry) re-emerging, I felt it was time to start preparing to perform again!

Sunday 24 May 2009

Kreativ Blogger

Thanks very much to Poet with a Day Job for awarding me the Kreativ Blogger Award. The rules are to list seven things I love and then seven bloggers to give the award to. So seven things I love:

3. Gorgie Farm, especially their rabbits! (The farm has an open day on Sunday, 19 July!)
5. Raspberry Jam from Cyrenians Organic Farm, just outside Edinburgh
6. Scottish brewed real ale
7. recycled crafts
And now the bloggers. I would say that all the bloggers that I regularly visit or that are listed on my sidebar are creative, and I don't want to single anyone out at this stage, so....

Friday 22 May 2009

Hawthorns and more along the Water of Leith

We went for a walk along my patch of the Water of Leith today. I hadn't managed to cover the whole length of my patch on Monday, nor had I then had a bag and gloves with me for litter picking! Today, we covered the whole length and filled a whole bag with litter (the Water of Leith Conservation Trust carries out regular big clean ups but there's a lot of litter dropped in between...), including a shoe that we found in a tree. More happy findings included two herons in different locations along the river and a family of grey wagtails dancing along the river, adolescent chicks shyly following their parents, who were chasing insects. The Italian name for wagtail (ballerina) certainly seemed appropriate today....

The hawthorn is magnificent at the moment and today I managed to get a couple of photos. (Weaver of Grass posted about hawthorn recently too, you can read her post and see her photo here.)

Also magnificent this year is the wild garlic, which fills the wooded riverside with the smell of, well, garlic.

The air was full of birdsong too, song thrushes, chaffinches, robins, wrens and blackcaps being the main singers.

Thursday 21 May 2009

Rubha Phoil, Skye

One of the places we visited in Skye, was the wonderful forest garden Rubha Phoil. It's a lovely place to wander round, being a delightful mix of woodland and coast, with vegetable and herb gardens. There's a wonderfully eccentric feel to it, with paths covered in a variety of materials, including one stretch being covered in sheeps fleeces. There is an otter hide, delightfully homemade (watch out for the nails!) overlooking Seal Island. We were entertained by the seals, who were swimming and playing but we didn't see an otter.

Wednesday 20 May 2009

The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth

No, not really at all environmental, but Roth had an eye for nature so I'll use that as an excuse for posting about this wonderful and heartbreaking novel. This book tells a personal story (the dissolution of Lieutenant Trotta) against a finely evoked historical background (the collapse of the Austro Hungarian empire). Roth uses detail to offer meaningful insight into character and history, every detail counts towards understanding the whole. So, back to the eye for nature, here is an example:

...everyone who was born there was aquainted with the treacherousness of the swamps, and a lot of that treacherousness was with them, in their own veins. In spring and in summer, the air was filled with the incessant fat chirruping of frogs. Under the canopy of sky there was an equally fat trilling of skylarks. It was like a never-ending dialogue between sky and swamp.

Michael Hoffman must also be congratulated for this wonderful translation, one of the best translations I've read, it flows beautifully.

Radetzky March by Joseph Roth 1932, translated by Michael Hoffman, 2002, published by Granta

Monday 18 May 2009

Keeping an Eye on the Water of Leith

I made my first patrol of the Water of Leith today, after a brief induction meeting, during which I was presented with my official Water of Leith Conservation Trust volunteer badge. It was raining for most of the time while I was walking along the river, but that certainly didn't stop the birds from singing, including song thrushes, blackbirds, great tits, chaffinches and chiffchaffs. I saw loads of robins, a couple of dunnocks, a wren, two grey wagtails and a dipper, which was hopping along this pretty tributary.
This evening there was a meeting for all the volunteers who patrol the river, to keep us all up to date with what's happening on and around the river. It was nice to meet the other volunteers!

I'll be patrolling the river every week from now on, and will blog about the highlights.

The Water of Leith Conservation Trust plant sale was very successful, raising lots of money for the trust's work in conserving the river.

Sunday 17 May 2009

Back from Skye

We had a wonderful time on Skye and the weather was most of the time perfect, warm and dry with cloudless blue skies. We travelled by bus via Inverness and Loch Ness and back via Loch Lomond and Glasgow, long journeys but taking in some incredible scenery, mountains, woodlands full of bluebells and waterfalls. You can read a haiku I wrote during the journey over on Spring Haiku, here.

Skye itself is quite a sizeable island, with a mountain range all of its own (the Cuillins) and stunning seascapes, with views that look over to other islands in the Inner Hebrides and also to the mountains of the Scottish mainland. The Cuillins are visible from every point on the island, it seems - below is the view from our B&B.....

Skye is a great place to go walking and also birdwatching. We walked through the woodlands and along the coast around Armadale, visited Rubha Phoil (more on that later in the week), walked from Orbost down the coast towards the Macleods Maidens, though we didn't manage to get close enough to get the best view of the seastacks. We also walked along the river Lealt into some very dramatic mountains.

We also spent time in Portree, the main town on Skye, which itself has some very nice walks and a small and lovely wild nature park.

We saw lots of birds, including white tailed sea eagles, a golden eagle, mergansers, buzzards, a peregrine, a raven, wheatears, stonechats and a group of gannets fishing plus getting good views of a number of birds normally only heard - willow warblers, whitethroats and cuckoos. The whole island seemed to be full of the songs of the willow warbler and cuckoo. The swallows seem to have settled in well for the summer in Skye! To find out more about birds on Skye, you can visit the Skye Birds website. Wonderful flowers too, woodlands full of bluebells (see the new banner image!), river banks thick with marsh marigolds, fields covered in lesser celandines, plus a few orchids and butterwort in the marshy places. We also saw lots of tadpoles in ponds and large puddles. Deer and rabbits too in the fields. No otters, whales or dolphins....

(All species that appear in lighter green are hyperlinked to pages describing them)

(I'm featured on A Handful of Stones today, here, nothing to do with Skye....)

Sunday 10 May 2009

Away for a Few Days

orange tip butterfly at Gorgie City Farm (click on photo to enlarge it)

We're going over the sea (though nowadays there's a bridge) to Skye, back soon....

Saturday 9 May 2009

Gorgie City Farm

We visited Gorgie City Farm today to say hello to the animals. The visit started in bright sunshine

but became wet and dull later on. Driftwood and Sugar took a break from chasing each other round the rabbitry to say hello, watched by Ebony who is still in a separate cage

the other rabbits meanwhile were sitting quietly in the shed. Fudge the Jersey calf seems to have made friends with the cow sculpture, donated from the 2006 Edinburgh Cow Parade:

while the doves pecked small stones for their crops, to help their digestion:

We spent a while searching for Dexter, the Farm Cat but couldn't find him.

Friday 8 May 2009

Water of Leith Conservation Trust

I spent this morning helping to prepare for the annual plant sale for the Water of Leith Conservation Trust. We had a very pleasant, though rather dirty (all that soil!) morning, sorting and labelling plants. (If you're in Edinburgh, do pop along to the sale, it starts at 10am, and will be held at Water of Leith Visitor Centre, 24 Lanark Road.) There will be thousands of plants at bargain prices - herbacious garden plants, shrubs, trees, bedding plants, herbs and vegetables. The home baking Cafe will be open all day and there will be a cake stall! All proceeds from the sale go towards protecting Edinburgh's River.

In a couple of weeks I will officially start to 'patrol' a section of the river, making notes on the wildlife, invasive plants and problems such as litter, vandalism etc.

Thursday 7 May 2009

as published in Blithe Spirit

a brisk wind -
the silver undersides
of leaves

previously published in Blithe Spirit, the members' journal of the British Haiku Society, but very appropriate to today's weather here in Edinburgh!

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Another noticeboard

I recently made a second noticeboard and here it is. This one is for me. Then there's no more scrap polystyrene to make any more from, though I have plenty more of this material, from an old and very torn kimono. I may make some other items to match the noticeboard. You can see the earlier noticeboard here.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Birdwatching in Manchester

I'm just back from visiting my parents near Manchester. It was nice to see them of course and also to see their garden in its full spring glory. They have a good selection of birds in their garden, but this time I was particularly pleased to see two goldfinches (normally a rare visitor to the garden) flying around. Also pleasing to see more house sparrows than there have been recently, though nowhere near the numbers there used to be when I was young. Very few starlings and the song thrush was only heard not seen. Also blackbirds, collared doves, jackdaws, chaffinches, blue tits and greenfinches and the songs of willow warbler and blackcap (or possibly garden warbler, against a background of other birdsong its difficult to tell the difference).

We also had a trip to Pennington Flash, a small lake near where my parents live. There were plenty of birds on the water, including a female mallard with nine chicks, coots, Canada geese, moorhens and a great crested grebe. From the woodland hide we saw 6 bullfinches, a cheering sight, not just because they're so bright but they're also in decline and its good to see several of them together. We also saw a great spotted woodpecker, the best view I've ever had of one, as it spent about five minutes on a birdfeeder just in front of the hide.

Friday 1 May 2009

Decorative Dumpster Day

I'm still out of town, this is a post I set up before I left! I was asked, by Ruby of Olympia Dumpster Divers if I wanted to take part in Decorative Dumpster Day, but I have found no decorated skips or large bins in Edinburgh, so I have no photos to share. But you can find photos at these participating blogs: