Tuesday 29 September 2009
Monday 28 September 2009
The Water of Leith Conservation Trust have a Flickr group, which for some reason I've only just heard about today! You can see the slideshow on their website here or you can visit the group itself here. I've just uploaded some photos!
Sunday 27 September 2009
Saturday 26 September 2009
Friday 25 September 2009
in the recycling bin -
blackbird alarm call
previously published in Haiku Scotland 21
I'm delighted to see that the Salisbury Centre Autumn Programme is now up, you can find it here - scroll down to find out more about the ghazal workshop I'll be presenting on 31 October.
Thursday 24 September 2009
Steno appears, briefly in Revolutions in the Earth, Stephen Baxter's biography of James Hutton, a Scottish scientist of the late eighteenth century. He was a farmer, agricultural scientist, medical doctor and geologist. He was fascinated with rock formations and deduced that the rock strata belonged to an earth much older than the one allowed for by contemporary, religious inspired thought. This book for me was the more interesting one as it puts Hutton's life and work in the context of the troubled British politics of the time and the intellectual climate of the Scottish Enlightenment. Hutton was closely linked with many other great thinkers of the day, including James Watt, the engineer, whose work with steam engines directly influenced Hutton's ideas about how heat might have helped to form the earth's rock formations.
Taken together, these books form a fascinating insight into the development of geology as a science.
Wednesday 23 September 2009
We had a wonderful time in and around Dumfries. Lots of lovely wildlife to see and lots of interesting sights. There were loads of spiders for example, beautiful webs everywhere and spiders fighting over food and one disentangling a butterfly from its web to prevent the web from being broken. Amazingly the butterfly flew away apparently unharmed!
Tuesday 22 September 2009
Monday 21 September 2009
Sunday 20 September 2009
Caerlaverock Farm tower from one of the reserve hides
Our first trip while in Dumfries was to Caerlaverock, another Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve, but different from Martin Mere in that it only has a reserve area for wild birds, and no collection of captive birds. The weather was glorious while we were there. Telephone wires near the reserve were heavy with swallows, house martins were dashing around the farm tower at the centre of the reserve, one pair were even still feeding young! The wildlife garden was full of butterflies. We walked round the whole reserve, not many geese and ducks around as it was too early for them to be arriving for their winter stay. We did see little grebes, wheatears and whinchats and lots of dragonflies and spiders.
Saturday 19 September 2009
While we were there we visited Rivington Pike, a lovely area of the West Pennine Moors. We also visited Martin Mere, a Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve. This reserve has a wonderful collection of wildfowl from around the world, including the ne-ne, a Hawaiian goose that the WWT were instrumental in saving from extinction. The ne-nes and the snow geese ate from my hand! The reserve also has extensive wetlands which are roosting grounds for large numbers of geese and wildfowl during the winter months. We were too early to see many of these birds, but there were some whooper swans, wigeon and teals, plus a good sized flock of lapwings, lovely in their butterfly style flight.
After our time with my parents, we went on to Dumfries for a few days - more about that to follow! But for now there's a Shadow Shot from near Dumfries over on my Over Forty Shades blog, you can see it here.
Friday 18 September 2009
Thursday 10 September 2009
Wednesday 9 September 2009
Tuesday 8 September 2009
The novel focuses on Bill, a disillusioned maker of calendars, who strives to break with the picture postcard niceness of the calendar industry by putting together a calendar of car wrecks. However at the same time he finds himself dreaming of flying with geese through the cloud themed calendars put together by his arch rival.
Bill lives with his divorced brother and looks after his children.
“Yep, ribbit. Frogs don’t eat crayons, right?” Bill said, approaching the wondrous lecture from a more fantastical and child-like highway of thought. Jessica closed her eyes and frowned, beginning to cry. This, in her mind, was because red, which tasted better than the other colors (for she had dined a bit on each), was the color of pretty, like flowers, and flowers were for big bunnies and little girls, and Uncle Bill had called her a frog, which was a sad and sinister creature, no good to any color but green, the worst color, and then Uncle Bill had shown her, with his loud boy-ribbit, that she was no good, and a bad frog that did not get to have big bunnies or wonderful red ever again.
Meanwhile, Bill has started dating Amy and finds himself inextricably involved also with her close flatmate Janine. (The two women are actually the two heads of an ancient serpent). This leads to much confusion and emotional heartache for Bill, while offering lots of opportunity to explore gender relations and the internal split between people's emotions and their physicality.
This is a totally entertaining novel that blends Greek mythology with dreamlike fantasy and romance while offering loads of insight into the modern human condition.
Amphisbaena by Ray Succre, published by Cauliay Books.
You can read some of Ray Succre's poetry on Bolts of Silk here.
Monday 7 September 2009
We don't usually see swallows near where we live, but this year I saw one up the road in a carpark of all places and we've seen a few over the canal. But fewer of them where we would expect to see them in the fields.....
This has been a year of seeing lots of blackcaps - a bird I usually hear a lot, and what a beautiful song it has, but normally I don't see them very often. The blackcap is traditionally a summer bird but is overwintering in the UK more and more.
The cuckoo is struggling in large parts of the UK, but when we were in Skye the air echoed with their song and I even saw two of them!
I've not read any conservation overview of how butterflies have done this year, but personally I've never seen so many for years. Comma butterflies by the Water of Leith, a gathering of peacocks in a patch of thistles, more small coppers than I've ever seen in one place and fields shimmering with hundreds of white butterflies.
Today when I walked along the Water of Leith, it actually felt more like summer, the sun was bright (apart from the sudden five minute shower) and the birds were singing. But it was the twittering of winter tit and finch flocks gathering and the robin's sad autumnal song.
I'm looking forward to the winter thrushes arriving and looking around at rowan trees heavy with bright berries, I'm hoping for the waxwings to appear this year, though they are very unpredictable!
Sunday 6 September 2009
Saturday 5 September 2009
More poems for International Vulture Awareness Day:
On the Road to Santiago - Dave at Via Negativa
Silhouettes - Deb at Stoney Moss
seeds float over the hill -
swallows flying south*
one harebell -
robin sings his autumnsong
Not entirely sure whether the swallows were actually on their way to their wintering grounds, but they were flying in a southerly direction and seemed determined.....
Friday 4 September 2009
I'm delighted to have been asked to judge this competition! You can find a poster for the competition here.
Please note: Writing poetry about the farm rabbits does not necessarily guarantee a prize!