Saturday 30 September 2017
There were some wasps and bees around, including this sleepy looking queen bumblebee
After lunch in Duddingston Village, we walked along the road between the loch and Arthur's Seat back into town. We were absolutely delighted to see this otter,who swam around hunting for a while
and it was nice to see that the mute swan family had successfully raised four cygnets
Friday 29 September 2017
Wednesday 27 September 2017
Tuesday 26 September 2017
Red squirrels the slim, cute squirrels beloved of Beatrix Potter's Squirrel Nutkin andother stories have long been out-competed by the heavier grey squirrels that were originally introduced from the USA. The grey squirrels threaten the reds through outcompeting them and also be passing on a squirrel pox disease that affects the reds badly but that the greys are immune to.
In many parts of Scotland, the red squirrels still hold their own, but in Edinburgh we only have grey squirrels. In the absence of reds, the greys are appealing animals to have in parks and gardens, though they can be a menace eating all the seed from birdfeeders.
However in areas where there are both red and grey squirrels conservation measures are in place (or being put in place) to conserve the native reds and keep out the greys. These may include establishing buffer areas around the red squirrel strongholds with control of grey squirrels, ongoing monitoring, helping landowners to improve habitat for squirrels, involving local schools and communities and using forest planning to maximise the value of forests for squirrels. Also the recovery of the pine martin (a woodland predator related to stoats) can help red squirrels to recover in number as the larger grey squirrel can't run away from the pine martin quickly enough and is more likely to be eaten than the speedier reds!
There's a really interesting article (with some very cute photos!) about red squirrels on the BBC website here.
The Wildlife Trusts hold Red Squirrel Week every year to raise awareness of the lovely red squirrel. You can find out more here.
Monday 25 September 2017
This year’s theme ‘Recycling – It’s Worth It’, aims to demonstrate the benefits of recycling all kinds of items by showing what can happen to the things after you've put them in the recycling!
If you've ever wondered what happens to your recycling then you can find out more here.
You can find a very helpful guide on what to do with unwanted items here. The tips include not only how to recycle items (in the UK) but how you can re-use them to extend their lives and tips on what sort of thigs are suitable to donate to second hand shops.
Meanwhile you can read here about how to reduce waste.
And here is a list of events happening round the UK.
Do you have any top tips on recycling? Feel free to share them in the comments section!
As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other pages where you can find more.
Saturday 23 September 2017
Lots of fungi about too, including this lovely display
Friday 22 September 2017
Subtitled 'How Climate Made History 1300 - 1850', this book charts how the mostly cold and often unpredictable climate affected human history, particularly in Europe, over the period often known as the Little Ice Age. Covering events including The French Revolution, The Bubonic Plagues and the Irish Potato Famine, the author outlines how years of cold and wet springs and summers made harvests more unreliable and how the resulting food shortages affected people's lives.
It is interesting to see how much the climate changed over these years and how incredibly unpredictable it often was, a good year might be followed by several poor years and then by a relatively stable period of a few years. It makes you realise that the changeability of the current climate is historically normal - the climate has always changed. However, it is very clear, just by looking at some of the graphs alone, that the current rising temeratures and extreme weather events (think Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria) are well beyond normal and to large extent are a result of human activities.
It's a fascinating book and an important one for understanding our climate:
"..we can be certain that such minor 'ice ages' occured many times earlier in the Holocene, even if we still lack the tools to identify them. We would logically expect another such episode to descend on earth in the natural, and cyclical, order of climate change, were it not for increasingly compelling evidence that humans have altered the climatic equation irrevocably through their promiscuous use of fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution. We may be in the process of creating an entirely new era in global climate, which makes an understanding of the Little Ice Age a scientific priority."
The Little Ice Age by Brian Fagan published by Basic Books.
Thursday 21 September 2017
Streamline are looking for more people to take part, so if you live or work in the coastal communities of Edinburgh (South Queensferry, Dalmeny, Cramond, Silverknowes, Granton, Newhaven, Leith, Craigentinny or Portobello) and are interested in the future of the shore, then contact them to find out more!
As some of you may remember I took part in this year's swift survey, carried out in Edinburgh by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). These lovely birds have been declining drastically over the last few years and the survey is part of a programme to determine how we can help swifts recover in Edinburgh. You can read my earlier posts about the survey here, here and here.
Last night, the RSPB held a follow up event, where they shared some of the results from the survey and laid out plans for what might happen next. Not everyone who signed up for the survey has yet returned their results so the discussions were based on incomplete data. Twenty seven screaming parties of swifts were seen across Edinburgh (screaming parties are groups of swifts that gather together to fly low over the roofs, usually near their nest sites and are a good indication of breeding colonies.)
Nine nest sites were identified in total (including one that Crafty Green Boyfriend and I found very close to our own flat!). This may not sound like many, but swifts prefer to live in the backgreens behind buildings and so often their nests are only seen by the people who live round that backgreen, as you can only generally access the backgreens through the buildings. We were actually delighted to indentify our nest site, as we had always thought that all our local swifts nested in the backgreen across the road (apart from one pair that nested in our own backgreen).
In the future, the RSPB will carry out more detailed surveys of the areas where they now know that swifts currently nest. They will also work with the local council to ensure as many swift bricks (nest boxes that can be built into a building during construction) are fitted to new build homes and offices. They also hope that Edinburgh can become a future swift city (following on from the model of Oxford).
It was great to catch up on the progress of the project and it was also a very sociable evening and a chance to chat about my favourite bird with other people who share my interest!
Wednesday 20 September 2017
Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop where they sit alongside my sea pottery rings in a new Sea Pottery Jewellery section of the shop!
As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to new web pages where you can find out more.
Tuesday 19 September 2017
You can read about the work of the World Wildlife Fund to help rhinos here.
* rhinos have sometimes had their horns surgically removed to deter poachers. However, this is a stressful operation for the rhinos and not necessarily effective as poachers will kill rhinos for very small amounts of horn, particularly as the animals become rarer and rarer.
As ever, red text contains hyper-links that take you to other websites where you can find out more.
Monday 18 September 2017
Saturday 16 September 2017
The acorns are looking lovely on the oak trees just now
spotted flycatchers! These birds are really declining in the UK and are very rarely seen in Edinburgh. We knew that they had been seen on Corstorphine Hill in the past, but didn't think they were still around. We don't know whether these birds had been on the hill all summer and we'd just missed them (but their behaviour is so distinctive that it seems unlikely that we would overlook them all summer) or whether they were just passing through on their migration to warmer climates. It was lovely to see them flying from their perches and back again, though like Thursday's bats they were too speedy and slightly too far away to get photos of them. There were lots of other birds around too, but the spotted flycatchers were definitely the stars of the show!
As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks that take you to other pages where you can find out more.
Friday 15 September 2017
Yesterday evening, Crafty Green Boyfriend, his brother and their mother joined over 100 other people in Harrison Park for a bat walk! Luckily the weather was lovely, a warm evening with not too much wind.
Organised by Edinburgh and Lothians Greenspace Trust, the evening started with a talk about bats from Graeme Wilson from The Wildlife Information Centre. As dusk deepened, the bat detectors were handed out and we wandered round the park to find bats!
It was great to see so many children enjoying the event, some of them had dressed up as batman or batwoman or were wearing bat masks. Some of them also knew quite a lot about bats, as they demonstrated during Graeme's interactive talk!
Thursday 14 September 2017
Wednesday 13 September 2017
We can all play a part in turning the tide on marine litter!
Every year, the Marine Conservation Society organises the Great British Beach Clean. This year it takes part between the 15 - 18 September. You can find out more here and find your local event here.
This year, for the first time, many of the plastics collected at clean up events will be sorted and recycled, giving them a second life as new products. Rigid plastic and cigarette stubs that are collected will be made into shampoo bottles and advertising boards with TerraCycle.
It's also important to avoid waste and litter reaching the sea in the first place! Don't flush anything other than human waste and toilet paper down the drains! In Edinburgh, you can (as I do) volunteer with the Water of Leith Conservation Trust to (among other things) collect litter from the river and walkway to prevent it reaching the sea.
As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks to other pages where you can find out more.
Tuesday 12 September 2017
Earlier this month, Butterfly Conservation said, and I quote from this article: 'We may be poised for an impressive autumnal emergence of species such as Comma, Red Admiral and Speckled Wood in the coming weeks'.
Well yesterday I was lucky to get very close views of a red admiral in Spylaw Park and today it was the turn of the speckled woods. There were at least four of these lovely butterflies flying around the trees alongside Musselburgh Lagoons, though there may have been six altogether, chasing each other. Only two agreed to be photographed
Monday 11 September 2017
A beautiful moon hung in the wonderful blue sky
while the wildflower meadow in Spylaw Park still looks stunning in the sunshine
Sunday 10 September 2017
this post) and a mandarin (see this post). Yesterday the pond was almost empty apart from these mallards
There were plenty of birds in the trees, including this pair of stock doves, which looked to be nest building - taking sticks into this hole in the tree (some species of pigeons and doves can nest at any time of year). Sorry the light isn't very good in the photo, but you can click on it for a better view
and this common carder bee
The wildflowers are at their best just now, so it's a great time to visit