Sunday 31 August 2014

Saughton Park

Yesterday while we were walking along the Water of Leith from the Visitor Centre on Slateford Road to Roseburn, we took a detour round the lovely gardens at Saughton Park. We particularly loved this bed of flowers, a lively mix of native and garden species and obviously popular with the local bees and hoverflies! Updated to add: This flower bed was planted by a group of adults who have learning or physical disabilities from the Craighall Day Centre. They have been working at Saughton for a few years and also plant up the 200m wild flower border on the side side of garden as well as grow a range of vegetables in the secret courtyard.

We were also intrigued by the teddy bears in the greenhouses. Updated to add: The bears were part of the Great Saughton Bear Hunt event which took place in July and which saw 350 people go mad looking for the 30 bears which had taken up residence in the Garden. They are all named after Parks and Greenspace staff, DJ being the Parks and Greenspace Manager!

As it was such fun we are having another Great Saughton Bear Hunt on 16th October - 10.00 til 4.00. It's free and all are welcome!

There are lots of pretty flowers in the greenhouses

though sadly a lot of them are infested by aphids and what look like scale bugs (though I could be wrong with the id on these)

Good news for the park is that the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded the City of Edinburgh Council funds to develop detailed plans to restore and improve Saughton Park (which will hopefully include funds for environmentally friendly pest control in the green houses). They are looking for people who visit Saughton Park to take part in a survey to help them develop these plans.

Updated to add:  There is a Friends of Saughton Park meeting on Thursday 4th September - 7.00pm in the Winter Garden and any interested in the Park is most welcome to come along.

Thanks to Pete McDougall, Saughton Park Development Officer for the updates to this post.

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

Saturday 30 August 2014

Water of Leith

Today we walked the stretch of the Water of Leith downstream from the Visitor Centre to Roseburn.

There were plenty of hoverflies around, like these two on a dandelion flower

and several trees had galls growing on them (galls are the plant's reaction when wasps lay eggs in the plant), like these on an oak tree

and these on a willow tree

I was delighted to find this group of cuckoo pints in berry

and I'll need to remember to go back in spring time to photograph them in their arum stage. There are lots of individual cuckoo pints in Colinton Dell (the area of the Water of Leith that I help to look after in my voluntary work) but I never see them as arums. Hopefully this group will be easier to find!

I was also pleased to find this clump of nettles, clearly showing the difference between the stinging nettles (on the left, with the greenish flowers) and the white dead nettles (on the right). Their leaves are superficially similar but they're not related plants and the whilte dead nettle doesn't sting!

We also walked round Saughton Park, but I'll blog about that separately tomorrow - it looks like Saughton Park has an exciting future ahead!

Friday 29 August 2014

Latest earrings

These are three of the latest pairs of earrings I've made

the earrings in the middle are for a friend, the orange ones and pink ones are in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop

All are made using new nickel free silver earring hooks and beads and charms from my stash, though I bought the crackled stars new from the Number One Bead Shop, as there had been just a couple of these stars in the starter kit I got when I attended the jewellery making workshop there.

Thursday 28 August 2014

The Guga Stone by Donald S Murray and Douglas Robertson

St Kilda, the most remote island in the British Isles is uninhabited now, but is full of mythology surrounding the people who used to live there, before they were removed from their homes and resettled in other places across Scotland and beyond.

The Guga Stone is Donald S Murray's attempt to question the mythology, by rewriting some of the accepted truths about the island and inventing some mythologies all of his own. The result is a collection of stories and poems, which are by turn entertaining, exasperating and moving. The beautiful line illustrations by Douglas Robertson are a delight throughout the book.

It is entertaining trying to work out which stories are based in fact (I'm pretty sure the slippers made from gannets are real, as is the island's overall reliance on hunting seabirds) and which are false (I know for a fact there was never a goth culture on St Kilda, though the description of the island's goths is striking and apt:

Some thought they resembled cormorants 
with hair permanently tufted by the wind.

from Youthful Fashions on Hiort)

Some stories are much more hard to pin down and it in a sense doesn't matter. After all, isn't everything most of us know about St Kilda based on myths and misunderstandings? Yes, but sometimes I felt some of these pieces were perhaps too flippant. After all, though it is fun to play around with myths, it was a great tragedy that happened to the St Kilda community, one that Murray captures beautifully in Storm Petrel:

After the islanders were gone
storm petrels were no longer
guided ashore by psalms.

Ultimately this book that tells us more about how we see the world through myths, than it does about St Kilda itself

The Guga Stone by Donald S Murray, with illustrations by Douglas Robertson, published by Luath Press.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Liking lichens and watching birds

Lichens are fascinating! This xanthoria parietina is growing on the sea wall at Musselburgh.

The velvet scoters are back for the season on the water, such wonderful ducks with their fabulously weird faces. Swimming alongside them were two red necked grebes. I was also delighted to notice on the Musselburgh Boating Pond that there's now a family of little grebes, with five youngsters! The adults are just themselves small bundles of fluff, so you can imagine how cute the youngsters are! Then on the lagoons, along with several other birds, I was very happy to see several ruffs are still around. I'm beginning to think they may be here for the winter season, as they used to be many years ago.

Meanwhile, I've added a photo of canal boats on the Union Canal to the downloadable photos section of the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge

Ice Bucket Challenge -
reservoirs dry up across


Yes, charities need to find imaginative ways to raise money for their vital work. However to me, the Ice Bucket Challenge sums up in some senses how profoundly disconnected we are from the environment. Yes, let's throw water at each other, while all across the world people lack drinking water and one of the richest places in the world is experiencing severe drought (and people in that very place continue to take part in the Ice Bucket Challenge!).

Meanwhile, here is a good article from another perspective about why charities shouldn't need to resort to gimmicky fundraising such as the Ice Bucket Challenge. 

in Gaza, where people are very aware of how precious a resource water is, they have started doing the Rubble Bucket Challenge to raise awareness of the poor living conditions in Gaza.

and in India, one woman has set up the Rice Bucket Challenge, in which you give a bucket of rice to a poor family. 

Monday 25 August 2014

Tree Following End of Summer

The larch tree is still green and the new cones still look young

the elder bush that grows just under the larch is now in fruit, though the berries aren't ripe yet

the sycamore tree near the larch has got tar spot

 Tar spot is an unsightly fungus, but doesn't seem to affect the health of the tree. OPAL are asking people to take part in their tar spot survey.

On the other side of the river the hornbeam trees are coming into their most beautiful time of year, their chandeliers are starting to turn yellow

Meanwhile, I've added another photo to the downloadable photo section of the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop.

Saturday 23 August 2014

Gorgie City Farm

We had a wee wander round Gorgie City Farm this morning.

 Aylesbury duck best friends
 common carder bee on lavender in the herb garden

one of the goats

another goat makes friends with Crafty Green Boyfriend

two of the sheep

and if you enjoy your visit, please leave a donation in the specially designed donation cow.....

Friday 22 August 2014

Eiders in Eclipse

At this time of year, the distinctive eider duck becomes slightly less instantly recognisable, with the males in eclipse plumage. Not all males look alike in eclipse either, and there are a variety of black and white plumages to be seen at this time of the year in among the plain brown females. I took this photo of two male eiders earlier today at Musselburgh. If you click on the photo below you'll get a bigger view, and you'll see the face shape is still very distinctive, even if the plumage is currently confusing (if you don't know what a male eider looks like in breeding plumage, you can find out on the RSPB website).

It was lovely and sunny today at Musselburgh and the Lagoons were full of birds. Lots of oystercatchers, several lapwings, several dunlin still in breeding plumage, about nine ruffs (none in breeding plumage!), seven sandwich terns and two secretive snipes, one of which boldly moved into the open to have a bath, which was a lovely sight!

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

Thursday 21 August 2014

Tree Following

Almost the end of summer and this is how the larch looks

and behind it the wildflower meadow now looks like this

Meanwhile, still thinking about trees, I've made a tree themed keychain, that is now in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop.

Wednesday 20 August 2014

The scent of fennel

I had a couple of hours between my dental appointment and a meeting just round the corner from the dentist's, so what better to do than pop down to nearby Cramond for a spot of birdwatching?

First passing this lovely sight in a now cleared area of derelict housing near the dentist's

and there were plenty of goldfinches flying round here, attracted by the thistle seeds.

Actually there weren't many birds around at Cramond (apart from four great crested grebes floating round and a lot of gulls and crows). The black headed gulls are already losing their summer black heads

These umbellifer plants were all in seed, filling the air with the subtle fragrance of fennel. I'm pretty sure now that they're sweet cicely, though I'm sure I've misidentified them in the past (umbellifers can be so confusing!).

Tuesday 19 August 2014

upcycled packaging for earrings

I made some earrings for a friend recently and wanted to package them in an eco-friendly way for her birthday which is in a few days. So I glued some nice paper to a small matchbox and lined it with pieces of felt from my fabric stash.

The earrings in the box are the pink ones that I showed you in this post.

Meanwhile I've listed another pair of earrings made from vintage green beads in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop

Saturday 16 August 2014

The Snow Tourist by Charlie English

Essentially Charlie English's book is a travel book, in which he aims to find the deepest and softest snow around the world and investigates the extremes of snowy weather. Consequently there are plenty of stories of avalanches and ski-ing accidents. More interesting for me were the chapters on how the Inuits survive in extreme snowy conditions and on the shapes of snowflakes and the occasional nature observations.

The first chapter of the book focuses on the Inuit lifestyle, including details on how to build a perfect igloo (with accompanying illustrations in the appendix), A well made igloo shouldn't collapse under the weight of a polar bear.

The second chapter offers a brief overview of the history of scientific investigations into the shapes of snowflakes and concludes that there is much still to be learnt about the growth of snow crystals.

When researching the Scottish chapter of the book, the author found out from Adam Watson, a biologist, that ptarmigans "could fly straight into a snowdrift, kicking snow behind them so that they filled the entrance of the hole and were sheltered from the wind, and how they stayed near enough to the snow's surface that they didn't become buried, but could see when the morning light appeared and when to leave their burrows." 

Throughout the book, English catalogues the changes in snowfall over the years, both during the historical periods (such as the Little Ice Age from 1520-1560 or in the current period of climate change. So much is changing, from the lifestyles of the Inuit people, the prospects for the ski-ing industry and the very surival of snow specialist speciessuch as the ptarmigan.

This book is a recommended read for anyone who likes snow.

The Snow Tourist by Charlie English published by Portobello Books.

Friday 15 August 2014

Art in the City

I love these two sculptures by Aliisa Hyslop in the grounds of St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh's west end. They move in the breeze and glint in the sunlight. The exhibition is curated by the Arusha Gallery.

Thursday 14 August 2014

West End Craft Fair

The West End Craft Fair is happening now! The fair will last throughout the Edinburgh Festival and offers a showcase for local (and some not so local) crafters and artisans. There's a wealth of beautiful crafts to admire and buy and all in a beautiful leafy setting. An essential part of the Edinburgh Festival experience and a perfect place to start your Christmas shopping!

Wednesday 13 August 2014

(Don't) Arrest that Poet!

Danny Chivers is an environmental activist, the type who gets arrested for climbing onto power station chimneys and shutting down the station for a week. He's also a poet, the type who will march into a tax-evading upmarket department store and perform poetry about tax evasion.

He's also performing at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, with a sell out show "Arrest that Poet!".The show, which I went to last night,  takes the audience through a history of Chiver's involvement in environmental campaigning, in a fast paced mix of humour and performance poetry.

The set moves with ease from ridiculous humour (including a vision of Martin Luther King advising the poet on composting) to information on UK energy policy and concerns about policing tactics, including the use of undercover police officers to infiltrate climate camps with the express instruction to seduce members to get close to them and find out the group's secrets, referred to by Chivers as 'state sponsored stalking'. After being arrested for his part in one climate change protest, Chivers was invited to speak to police at the riot police training headquarters. 'Riotland' is a poem imaging this centre as a theme park.

Arrest that Poet is showing tonight, Friday 12 August at Stafford Centre, Broughton Street. The show is part of the Edinburgh Free Fringe, but for a donation of £5 you get a CD of Chiver's poetry.

Tuesday 12 August 2014

Musselburgh in the wind

It was very windy at Musselburgh today!

It was a great day for birdwatching though. In the grassland area, I saw a family of stonechats. This is a delightful little bird, which before this year I hadn't seen at Musselburgh, so it's lovely to see that it's bred here successfully this uear.Hopefully it will continue to do so!

Over the sea wall I spied the first velvet scoters of the season, the black drakes have fabulously odd looking faces!

Meanwhile at the Lagoons, there were over 50 lapwings, taking off and wheeling round then landing only to repeat the whole thing over again. Always a lovely bird to watch with their wide black and white wings in flight, it's even more lovely to see them these days that they're in decline (though thankfully numbers seem to be holding up in Musselburgh, though they don't breed on the lagoons and I've never found out where they disappear off to for the breeding season). Also lots of dunlin (pretty in their summer plumage) and seven female ruffs, who were trotting around in a little group, looking quite comical. Apparently years ago ruff used to overwinter on the Musselburgh Lagoons, now they're just an occasional visitor, but it would be lovely if they started spendong longer periods here again.

Lots of other birds too, it's a great area for birdwatching!

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

Monday 11 August 2014

a windy walk by the Water of Leith

It was very windy in Colinton Dell today! It was overcast and chilly too, but there was plenty to see and my favourite dog of the Dells, Mitzi, was very excited to see me, as we've missed each other over the past few weeks.

The cones on the larch tree that I'm studying for Tree Following are maturing nicely, though not really showing much change since two weeks ago.

I saw a lot of insects low down in trees, or on the ground, insects that normally you wouldn't see in those types of places. I'm guessing they had been blown down by the winds, but they did offer nice photo opportunities

green lacewing

does anyone know what species this moth is? The colour is much more beautiful in real life than in the photo.

I also was pleased to catch this marmalade hoverfly in a bindweed flower

and for those of you who liked my harebell photo from a few posts ago, taken in Colinton Dell, it's now avaible in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop.

Sunday 10 August 2014

supermoon haiku

behind the clouds -

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

Saturday 9 August 2014

Union Canal

We had a lovely walk along the Union Canal today. Many of the flowers are fruiting or seeding now. I love the way you can see the individual 'peas' in the pods of this tufted vetch

the meadow vetchling also is in pod now

but there are still a lot of flowers in bloom, these are in the wildflower meadow in Harrison Park, next to the Union Canal

and the insects are still enjoying the blooms, like this hoverfly

and this bumble bee

Meanwhile the mallard ducklings are almost grown up now

and if you look closely you can see the green coming into the heads of the young males (though admittedly this could equally be an adult male regaining his breeding plumage after the summer eclipse (moult period).

Thursday 7 August 2014

Hairy willowherb

Hairy willowherb is in full bloom at the minute and it's lovely to see it growing in very urban settings, such as here next to a wall in the Meadows area of Edinburgh. It's one of the flowers that first got me really interested in Botany. When I first saw this plant (on a family holiday, in Cornwall I think) I thought it was incredibly beautiful and then realised it wasn't in the flower book I had so I rushed out to buy another flower book! (You can see a closer photo of the flowers in this earlier blogpost).

I'm taking part in 100DaysofNature, by posting a photo of nature every day. Not all the photos will appear in this blog, but all of them will be on my Flickr page and shared through my Twitter and Facebook accounts.