Wednesday 27 February 2019

windfall plums - 24 haiku by Robert Alcock

I first discovered Robert Alcock's haiku when he read some at a recent open mic event at the Forest cafe, during the time when I was 'Poet Laureate of the Free Shop'.The Forest is a noisy venue to read haiku, but I was very impressed by Robert's work and bought a copy of his tiny booklet of haiku.

He's definitely someone who knows how haiku work and there are some lovely examples in this booklet, including:

sunny morning:
they jay's conversation 
way over my head

Robert doesn't seem to have a website so you probably need to catch him reading at an event to be able to get a copy of the booklet, but it's well worth buying if you can.

windfall plums, 24 haiku by Robert Alcock, self published. 

There's an essay about writing haiku by Robert Alcock here

Tuesday 26 February 2019

Enjoying the Unseasonal sunshine

It's beautiful out there today, wonderful warm sunshine, which I'm enjoying greatly even as it makes me very concerned about Climate Change. The weather reporters are reporting all the high temperature records that are being broken as though it's some sort of game instead of a sign of climate breakdown.

Still it is lovely out, the light on the Firth of Forth is beautiful

and I was delighted to see over 100 curlew (a fast declining species of wader that does however winter in good numbers in the fields around Edinburgh) I'm not sure this one was in the best of health, it seemed much too tame

Most of the curlew were in the fields with the sheep, though you probably can't see the birds (there are around 70 of them in these fields)

Some of the sheep ran away when I took out my camera but others were happy to pose

and the alder trees are at their best at the moment

Monday 25 February 2019

Early Spring

Lovely to see the first lesser celandines of the year alongside the Water of Leith

Close by there were some elf cup fungi, which I've never seen before here, I can't imagine how I've missed them, they're so bright!

Admittedly these weren't in the stretch of river that I patrol every week, picking litter and recording wildlife. I'd had a light litter picking session in my zone and so had extended my walk which quickly filled up my litter bag but let me see these lovely things and also two goldcrests in a nearby tree.

While I was in the Dells (my regular patrol area) I had come across this wonderful tree trunk, which I've seen before of course but never looked at so closely, there are at least 5 types of moss in there I think

I also found this patch of a strange fungus and another moss

I'm trying to find out what the fungus is but if you know please feel free to leave its name in the comments! The same goes for any of the mosses too.....

Sunday 24 February 2019

The Old Frog Pond

It was lovely weather today and we visited Crafty Green Boyfriend's mother and spent time in her garden. The azaleas and miniature daffodils were looking lovely

and the pond was full of frogs

We counted 12 frogs at one point though there could have been a few more as they were very active, chasing each other about the pond. There's already one clump of frog spawn in the water! Later in the year this pond will be literally full of frogs. In the meantime here are some close ups

Thursday 21 February 2019

A couple of Eco hacks

Eco hacks are basically environmentally friendly solutions to problems or environmental alternatives to standard ways of doing things. Here are two of mine:

1. I love reading Focus magazine in Italian, the articles are consistently interesting, the Italian is the perfect level for me (challenging enough to feel I'm learning some Italian but easy enough to be able to read comfortably). Once I've finished reading it, I cut out some of the photos to use as visual prompts in writing classes and then the rest I shred to make packaging material for my Etsy shop!

2. My tea ball broke! This is a big thing as I try to use loose tea all the time now and a tea ball is vital for all those mugs of tea I make (I've found that I can re-se the same green tea in a tea ball a few times, but my favourite black tea, the low caffeine Keemun tea only really tastes good the first time and I don't tend to reuse that). I tried to repair my tea ball using jewellery findings and my jewellery pliers but the repair only lasted for two cups of tea. Then I thought of this solution, using a clothes peg as a handle, one half of the tea ball becomes a tea strainer. I'm not sure how effective this will be in the long run to be honest.....

The mug features a chaffinch and is the one I won in an RSPB competition several years ago (see this blog post).

Wednesday 20 February 2019

New Items in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop

The beaded ID lanyards in my Crafty Green Poet shop on Etsy are probably the most popular of the items I sell so I recently made several more.

As always these are made using materials repurposed from jewellery that was damaged and lanyard attachments from defunct corporate lanyards. This first one is just a very simple chain design

This one is in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop here.

This next one is similar but is made up of a more minimalist chain style and has some faux pearl decorations

This one is in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop here.

And finally is this assymetric design, again with a lot of chain in the design but also bronze and pink beads arranged in an assymetric design.

This one is in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop here.

I've also recently added more items to my vintage and supplies store Crafty Green Magpie. You can see them here.

Tuesday 19 February 2019

Nature's Calendar

Does climate change affect timings in nature?

If you're in the UK, you can join in the Woodland Trust's Nature’s Calendar and help scientists find out about how the changing climate is impacting nature.

From leaf buds bursting to blackberries ripening, the Woodland Trust wants to know what’s happening in nature in your area. By recording your wildlife sightings on Nature's Calendar, you will be contributing to a long biological record that dates back as far as 1736 and helping build a picture of how nature is responding to climate change.

How to Take Part 

To start, look at the list of species and events that you can record. Choose one or more that you can check at least twice a week.

 Choose recording locations that you visit regularly.

 Look out for the seasonal events that happen to your species. Record the date that you first see each event. You can take a photo and add it to your record. You can view your records instantly on the live maps.

You can find out more about how to take part here.

Nature's Calendar helps you to feel more connected to what is going on in nature around you and helps scientists too! 

Monday 18 February 2019

Fern and Fungus in the Dells

I had started to think that the earth star fungi had disappeared from the meadow area next to Redhall Walled Garden in Craiglockart Dell, alongside the Water of Leith. So I was very happy to find these two (and about three others) under a tree today

There are many different types of earth stars apparently, I can't tell the difference but these are beautifully unusual fungi.

I was interested to see that Redhall Gardens (who manage the meadow area) seem to be planning to plant several more fruit trees (there's already several crab apple trees and a beautiful bird cherry tree, which true to its name seems to always be full of birds). Sadly though all the comfrey seems to have been dug up to allow for this planting. Bees and hoverflies love comfrey so hopefully it will grow back once the trees are established. And certainly it will be wonderful to have the extra trees!

It was lovely out there today, sunny and mild (though occasionally very windy). Lots of birds about, including magpies carrying twigs to their nest sites! Spring is definitely on the way.

Up in Colinton Dell, the harts tongue ferns, which grow profusely there are looking beautiful

If you look carefully you can see the lines of spores on the underside of their fronds.

Friday 15 February 2019

Youth Strike 4 Climate

The School Climate Strikes started last August when Greta Thunberg, a 16 year old from Sweden went on strike in protest against the lack of action on Climate Change. Since then Greta has spoken at international conferences (spending 16 hours travelling by train to get to the World Economic Forum in Davos while world leaders and celebrities hired private jets.) Thousands of school pupils and students across the world have since then joined in the Climate Strikes.

Today thousands of pupils and students in at least 60 towns and cities across the UK have joined in the first official Youth Strike 4 Climate in the country.

It's obviously great that the young people are showing such commitment to the issue, but some people seem to wonder what effect this may have on their continuing education. UK Prime Minister Theresa May for example has said the children on school strike are “wasting lesson time”. Well it seems to me that taking part in the Climate Strike is good for education, participants are learning about:

climate science 
team building, event organisation and leadership
decision making
assessing and acting on risks
taking responsibility for themselves and for future generations
public speaking

and probably more topics too, making the strikes an excellent field study exercise.

The Climate Strikes are supported by many school teachers, academics, environmentalists and Christiana Figueres, former UN  Climate Chief.

If you're a teacher or a parent of school age children what are your thoughts on the Climate Strikes?

Thursday 14 February 2019

Show the Love - Get Out there and Enjoy Nature

Every year around Valentine’s Day, hundreds of thousands of people join in the Climate Coalition's #ShowTheLove campaign for the places, people and life that we want to protect from climate change. One way we can Show the Love is by protesting against the destruction of nature as Save Meadowbank Trees were doing yesterday (see this post) and another is getting out there to enjoy nature!

After watching the trees being massacred at Meadowbank yesterday, I wanted to escape to see some living nature so I hopped on a bus and went to Musselburgh, where I hoped to see some interesting birds and to hear the first skylark song of the year.

I wasn't disappointed! There were lots of birds around including 150 lapwings, 50 or so curlew, plenty of teal and wigeon. Also several goldeneye, the males of which were occasionally throwing their heads back onto their neck in their courtship display

The swans were more obvious in their displays

I watched this black headed gull (still in it's winter plumage) for a while as it followed the pair of mallards, picking off invertebrates or other foods that the ducks were disturbing

And yes the skylarks were singing and in fact at one point two skylarks were chasing each other very close to where I was standing. Skylarks are wonderful birds but sadly their numbers are declining rapidly across the UK. They still sing round Musselburgh though, hanging high in the sky singing almost constantly all through the spring and summer.

Find out more about the Show the Love campaign on the Woodland Trust website here

Wednesday 13 February 2019

The Chain Saw Massacre Begins

I've blogged several times before (most recently here) about the threat to the beautiful trees that surround Meadowbank Stadium. The stadium is being rebuilt and many of the trees on the site are slated to be removed to enable the development or in some cases to enable vehicle access to the work site.

Work began to remove the trees yesterday and continued today with several small trees in the site being bulldozed away.

Members of the Save Meadowbank Trees Group and the Edinburgh group of Extinction Rebellion gathered first thing this morning to protest the destruction of the trees.

Unfortunately I don't have any photos of the trees being bulldozed as at that stage I was taking video footage on a phone belonging to someone from Extinction Rebellion. However I did get a photo of the bulldozer when it was in the rubble of what used to be a world class sports stadium

Edinburgh Council are asking people to contact them about what they want them to do with the wood from the trees. I emailed them to say the trees should remain where they are but if they must be destroyed then they should be made into benches which should be engraved with the words 'In Memorium of the beautiful trees of Meadowbank destroyed by City of Edinburgh Council'. If you want to let the council knowwhat you think about the destruction of the trees you can email them on meadowbankATedinburghDOTgovDOTuk.

Adverts for the new sports centre are pasted up on the hoardings round the site. I'm not convinced that they need (on any reckoning) to remove all the trees they are removing. I'm also not convinced by their 'promise' to lant more trees than they remove. I'll believe that when I see it and even if they do, the replacements will be young trees which will have a lower ecological value than the mature trees that are being removed and also no guarantee of how long the new trees will live.

It was very upsetting to see the trees being bulldozed - specially knowing that this will only continue. If you want to get involved in protesting against this destruction please get in touch with Save Meadowbank Trees on Facebook or follow @MeadowbankTrees on Twitter.

Monday 11 February 2019

Have you seen the tiny red hazel flowers?

You may be familiar with the male catkins of the hazel tree which have been out for a couple of weeks now

but have you ever noticed the tiny red female flowers that are only coming out now? There's one in the photo above, to the left of the catkins.

Moving closer in we can see how pretty these tiny flowers are

And I now finally seem to have worked out how to get the best from the macro setting on my camera! So I should be able to more easily take photos like this in the future.

Sunday 10 February 2019

Some Photos from the Meadows Community Garden

 Yesterday after our walk along the Innocent Railway (which you can read about here) we walked home across the Meadows. The Greening Our Street community garden is looking good with various plots and a little insect hotel. The project involves local communities and schools in growing wildflowers and improving the Meadows for nature. 

 The project has a crowdfunding campaign on MyPark, to raise funds for future developments.

Saturday 9 February 2019

Walking the Innocent Railway

Very changeable weather today, one minute blue skies and sunshine, the next it's raining though all day thwe wind has been strong. We went for a lovely walk along the Innocent Railway which is now a pathway but started off as a horse drawn railway taking coal from Dalkeith to Edinburgh

It's surrounded on both sides by trees and wetlands

We were delighted to see seven teal on one of the small ponds, though only one got into this photo that Crafty Green Boyfriend took

There's plenty to see too right at the side of the path, like these earth star fungi

and the white and grey candle snuff fungi growing in the moss on the tree stumps

The Innocent Railway emerges at the foot of Arthurs Seat, which was looking beautiful in the sunshine

The magificent cliffs of Arthurs Seat and also Salisbury Crags (see photo below) are very popular with geology students

and we meet another cute little grey squirrel