Tuesday 30 June 2009
'The decline in Swift populations is alarming and they have recently been added to the Amber list of "Birds of Conservation Concern" (see: http://www.rspb.org.uk/news/details.asp?id=tcm:9-219495 )
The main issue for Swifts seems to be the loss of urban breeding sites, particularly where tenement blocks are being refurbished, and my understanding is that refurbishment works must ensure that a building's roof is watertight and airtight before a Building Warrant can be issued. This results in a very strong incentive for builders to block up any existing crevices and gaps, resulting in nest sites being lost.
All roofing and building contractors should be aware that it is an offence under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 to intentionally or recklessly take, damage or destroy the eggs, young or nest of a swift whilst it is being built or in use. So if there are birds nesting in your building then the builders are required to wait until the breeding season has passed.
One of the ways we are trying to help Swifts in Edinburgh is to encourage developers of appropriate new builds to incorporate artificial nest sites (Swift bricks) into their designs.
The Scottish Ornithologist's Club carry out a survey for Swifts in Edinburgh every few years (the last report is available at: www.the-soc.org.uk/docs/edinburgh-swift-survey.pdf ).'
You can read more about Swifts at: www.swift-conservation.org/
We are very pleased to have a roofing contractor who is happy to fit swift nest boxes when he works on the roof.
Monday 29 June 2009
Sunday 28 June 2009
In the film, Birdwatchers (2009) - the former forest dwellers reclaim their ancestral homes on what is now endless farmland.....
Sometimes it can feel quite difficult to stay optimistic....... However, we can take action to help the rainforests across the world, one of the most effective methods is to get involved with campaigning with Ecological Internet, who have a very good record of success in preserving rainforests. You can find out more and join in their campaigns on their Rainforest Portal, here.
Saturday 27 June 2009
Friday 26 June 2009
In some senses the film reminded me of The Emerald Forest, the 1985 film which was one of my early influences in developing my environmental awareness.
Survival International is campaigning for the rights of the Guarani people, you can find out more here.
For those of you who asked, Crimson Wing, which I reviewed a few days ago should be getting worldwide release, including a Swahili version to be released in Tanzania.
Thursday 25 June 2009
The flamingos on Lake Natron, as much other wildlife in Africa, are threatened by development in the area. A proposal for a soda ash plant on the shores of Lake Natron was recently overturned by local people, but the Birdlife International Think Pink campaign still goes on (though the information on this website may be a little out of date).
Tuesday 23 June 2009
I also have a poem The Family Her String Quartet over on Aireings, magazine, which you can read here.
There are more duck photos at The Duck Blog here (scroll down!) and at Oh! Books, Paper, Real Life here.
Monday 22 June 2009
Sunday 21 June 2009
Yesterday we walked round Blackford Pond. There was no sign of all the toads that had been sitting on the bottom of the pond last time we were there. However there were lots of mallards, some with ducklings, also a couple of greylag geese, moorhens (see new banner photo) and black headed gulls and lots of jackdaws, which are very noisily nesting in the trees around the pond, the adolescent birds seeming to be very demanding! We also wandered round Blackford Hill and into the Hermitage of Braid. Lots of buttercups, yellow flag irises, dog roses and many other species of flowers, which were home to lots of insects, including ladybirds (more than I've seen for a while) and the creatures below that Crafty Green Boyfriend took great delight in capturing with his new camera.
a ladybird larva
There were lots of bees everywhere too, which was very reassuring. Several types of bumble bees, some of them with very prominent knees! For some beautiful photos of bumble bees, visit Stonehead at: http://stonehead.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/bumble-bees-at-work/
Saturday 20 June 2009
I look across the valley to the border –
a clear view all the way.
The forest is continuous.
Birds and animals have no regard
for our demarcations.
Human lives in villages on either side
of the invisible boundary
are the same.
It is not by our choice that we answer
to different laws, different leaders,
for Refugee Week
Friday 19 June 2009
Today, I was clearing weeds from the path. I have always been quite laid back about this, after all it is only a path, and no-one grows veg on the ground bordering it. As long as it is clear and walkable then I'm happy. The brambles give a small but tasty harvest come the autumn, the nettles are valuable for butterflies, the buttercups are bright when in flower and make a lovely damp and shady hiding place for various insects, which in turn are food for the birds. A strange looking insect with protuberent red eyes reminded me that what right do I have to destroy another creature's home, when all I need is the right of way through there?
Thursday 18 June 2009
This is the Earth. This is Home for all of us, human, animal and plant. It's the only home we have.
Home is free to watch on the internet at www.youtube.com/homeproject and is also available on DVD. It is showing in a few cinemas.
Home for Refugee Week
Wednesday 17 June 2009
I have posted more poetry for Refugee Week on Over Forty Shades, you can read the poems by followign the links below:
Home for Refugee Week
Tuesday 16 June 2009
Insistent peeping, a young dipper flutters its wings until its hardworking parent feeds it with grubs. Then immediately the youngster is peeping again.
In the trees, a blackcap sings its rich warble and a bullfinch suddenly appears, vibrantly pink.
A grey wagtail flutters after the insects that float above the river.
The river is certainly richer for the diversity of species that live here.
Home for Refugee Week.
Monday 15 June 2009
Home’s what you lost when you boarded the boat
Home is the songs you sing to keep sane
Home is the seeds in the hem of your coat
Home is the warm soft bread that you bake
Home is the old-country clothes that you make
Home is the musical language you speak
Home is the garden where you plant the seeds
Home is the tree that grows from your seeds
Home is the shelter and shade of the tree
Home is the love in your children’s eyes
Home is the future here to which they aspire.
Home for Refugee Week
(cross-posted on Over Forty Shades)
Sunday 14 June 2009
It is a very sobering film, but thankfully it is not all doom and gloom. The film also describes the campaign for marine conservation areas and shows how well these can work, though they cover less than 1% of our oceans so far. It also encourages the viewer to think about where the fish they eat actually come from. We are told about various restaurants and supermarket chains that have decided to source their fish more sustainably.
The End of the Line website is an excellent resource, giving information on campaigning and giving three easy steps to helping the situation:
1. only eat sustainable seafood (The Marine Stewardship Council advises where to buy sustainable seafood here)
2. Tell politicians to respect the science and to cut the fishing fleets to allow stocks to recover
3. Join the campaign for marine protected areas.
The End of the Line is showing at Edinburgh Filmhouse and at selected cinemas across the UK.
Saturday 13 June 2009
Anyway, the weather was lovely, lots of flowers were in bloom, including dog roses, buttercups and a couple of species of vetches. There were a couple of swallows, 5 house martins, hedges full of house sparrows and several mallards on the water, including some youngsters looking almost grown up. The photo shows the adult female chasing the male away from the chicks.
But the birdwatching highlight was finding two families of mute swans with seven cygnets each. We had seen one of these pairs making its nest earlier this year and its wonderful to see that they have been so successful!
There are also some gorgeous photos of swans over on Let the Good Times Roll - you can see them here.
Friday 12 June 2009
Thursday 11 June 2009
Up the road in the car park, where unexpectedly I recently saw a swallow, I also regularly hear what sounds like goldfinches, though as I'm not 100% confident of my ability to recognise their song, I'll need to wait to see them before I know for sure!
Wednesday 10 June 2009
Tuesday 9 June 2009
Beth at Fake Plastic Fish posted about the connection between our overconsumerist lifestyles and mindsets and the amount of garbage in the oceans. You can read her post here.
Angela over at A Note from Your Mother (Amazing Mother Earth) shares lots of links and some photos, including a very cute seal here.
If you want to help to conserve the oceans, here are some ideas:
Use less plastic and make sure that you dispose very carefully of any plastic you do use
Join a Beach Clean Up, or Adopt a Beach - you can find out more at the Adopt a Beach website.
Join the Marine Conservation Society, visit their website here.
Celebrate your Ocean Connection with The Ocean Project
Read about the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch on the Greenpeace website and then use the other links on the site to find out how to join their campaigns.
If you're in Scotland, you can join the campaign for a Scottish Marine Bill at Save Scottish Seas.
The film End of the Line is showing at the Filmhouse in Edinburgh and at selected other cinemas.
Monday 8 June 2009
Sunday 7 June 2009
In the grief of the hedges, a stonechat tried not to sing, disguised as a sparrow.
In the Wilderness by Manuel Rivas, published by Vintage
Saturday 6 June 2009
Friday 5 June 2009
From film festivals to football tournaments, comedy nights to carnivals, exhibitions, workshops, parties and much, much more, Refugee Week Scotland (15-21 June 2009) is an exciting programme of events happening across the country to celebrate diversity and raise awareness of refugee issues.
This year the theme of Refugee Week is HOME. For many refugees and asylum seekers, a new home in Scotland means safety from persecution and a life without fear. But what does home mean to you?
For me a large part of what home means to me relates to the natural environment. When I was a child, our garden was as important a part of what home meant as was our house. Now I've moved to a different city, the landscape and wildlife in and around Edinburgh mean home to me. When I lived in Malawi for a couple of years, the birds and the lake were as much a vital part of being there as were the students I taught, the friends I made and the colleagues I worked with. When I returned to the UK, I was returning home to the greenery and the familiar birds as much as to friends and family.
Now as I look up into the sky and see the swifts, enjoying their summer home, I know that if there ever comes a summer when they're not there, I will feel as though I've lost a vital part of my home.
Home for Refugee Week
What does home mean to you?
If you're in Scotland and want to include your thoughts on home on your blog, please include the first two paragraphs of this post and link to Refugee Week Scotland 09.
Thursday 4 June 2009
Tuesday 2 June 2009
The scenery is wonderful and the film touches on issues of rural depopulation and the difficulties of maintaining successful businesses in rural areas, without ever becoming preachy or overloaded with issues. It also nicely promotes the use of mobile community services and shows how a mobile shop has the potential to be so much more than that to its customers.
The Grocers Son is showing in selected cinemas in the UK.
The first haiga in the book is actually based on a haiku that was originally part of a haibun that I shared here, but the elm fruits in the haiga were collected from the Water of Leith yesterday.
Monday 1 June 2009
sycamore tree - dying flowers under developing 'keys' (fruit) click on the photo to see more detail
a coal tit rips through elm fruits looking for insects.....
gnats above the river - a chaffinch behaves like a flycatcher
along the Water of Leith
and wow, on the way home, a swallow swoops in front of me as I cross a city centre car park!