Wednesday 31 March 2021

Today's Lunchtime Walk

 We had our usual lunchtime walk round the local cemeteries today. It's a dull day so there weren't many insects about though in Dalry Park we did see this solitary bee (probably Andrena scotica aka the delightfully named chocolate mining bee, which nested in the park last year.)

Yesterday in North Merchiston Cemetery, we saw several of this little bee, which at first I thought might also be a chocolate mining bee but on consultation with members of the Edinburgh Natural History Society Facebook Group, is probably be a Clerk's mining bee (Andrena clerkelli

One of the elm trees in North Merchiston Cemetery is well on the way to fruiting already, some trees develop so quickly!

Also in this cemetery, the few flowered leek is starting to bloom 

This lovely looking plant is often mistaken for wild garlic (ramsons) before it flowers, but the leek has much narrower leaves. the leeks flower earlier than the ramsons and the flowers are very different. The leeks are taking over from the ramsons in many places, sadly. These leeks though aren't considered to be a seriously invasive plant, unlike Japanese Knotweed, which we noticed today is growing in the cemetery. 

Japanese Knotweed is one of the most invasive plants in the world and needs to be removed. However it can only be removed by properly trained people, the current best advice is to inject it with herbicide. It's illegal to move this plant from a site unless it's treated as hazardous waste, it can also be burned on site once it's been treated with herbicide and allowed to die. So, do not try to remove this plant if you see it, report it to the relevant authorities (I've reported this patch to the Cemeteries Department of City of Edinburgh Council).

On a brighter note, there's a beautiful patch of daffodils on the middle of the cemetery. 

Monday 29 March 2021

The Dells are Blooming!

Today Crafty Green Boyfriend joined me for my volunteer patrol of Colinton and Craiglockart Dells along the Water of Leith. The Spring flowers were beautifully in bloom!

There seem to be more lesser celandine than ever along this whole stretch of the walkway

the one patch of wood anemones beside the main path seems to be expanding, this is just a few of the flowers

and although one patch of coltsfoot along the walkway has disappeared (having been replaced with daffodils and primroses!) a new patch has sprung up near where Scottish Water are doing some work to the sewage system - so this is probably only a temporary patch of this lovely flower, but wonderful to see anyway (and it's a big patch, I couldn't get a good photo of the whole extent due to safety barriers getting in the way)

and my favourite larch tree continues to bloom beautifully, the tips of the petals now just turning a lovely purple 

 There's a lovely array of daffodils in Spylaw Park 

and the ramsons (wild garlic) are starting to bloom 

Lots of birds were singing today, and we had a great view of a kingfisher, though the photos didn't come out.

for Nature Notes.

Saturday 27 March 2021

Corstorphine Hill and a view into Edinburgh Zoo

 We had a lovely walk round Corstorphine Hill today. The weather was quite changeable, as it has been for a few days. The sky was quite moody at times

There are some lovely lichens and mosses on the hill, including this array on a fallen log

One of the things I love about Corstorphine HIll is that there is a whole range of paths around different parts of the hill, which are quite different in character. There are some interesting rock formations at the top of the hill 

Also at the top of the Hill is Edinburgh Zoo and you can get some great views of the zebras from outside the zoo fence. Crafty Green Boyfriend got some great photos of one of them today

The zoo's zebras are Grevy's zebras, which can be recognised by their large ears and narrower stripes. You can read more about the zoo's zebras here. Grevy's zebra is the most threatened of the zebra species and the People's trust for Endangered Species are fundraising to help restore grassland for Grevy's zebras in central Kenya. You can find out about this work and donate to the appeal here.

Thursday 25 March 2021

Scenes from Arthur's Seat

 At the weekend we had a lovely walk around Arthurs Seat. As the main paths were pretty busy, we spent a lot of time on the quieter paths (though making sure to stay on the very short grass of the paths themselves rather than walking through the longer grass where ground nesting birds might be starting to nest). Here are some of the photos:

We ended up at St Margaret's Loch where the mute swans were all gathering 

Wednesday 24 March 2021

The first chiffchaff of the year and the larch in bloom

 It's a lovely sunny day today! I walked through Colinton and Craiglockart dells along the Water of Leith earlier today. I heard the first chiffchaff of the year, which is always a great sign that Spring is really on its way! Also the larch trees are beautifully in bloom. At this time of year, if you pass a larch tree, make sure to take a close look to see these flowers


While I was taking photos of the larch flowers, a pair of goldcrests (Britain's smallest bird) were hopping around in the tree. I stood still as soon as I saw them and they approached quite close. i didn't take their photo, as I didn't want to disturb them and I didn't think that any photo i took would be particularly good anyway!

Monday 22 March 2021

Last Train Home - anthology of haiku about trains


I have a family connection with trains, my great grandfather, Mr Train was a station master (his son Mr Train junior then went on to marry a young woman called Miss Driver. Thankfully they didn't choose to double barrel their name!).

I also enjoy travelling by train, it's eco-friendly and offers the chance to look at the scenery while travelling from place to place. 

So I'm delighted to have haiku in The Last Train Home, a selection of haiku about trains, edited by Jacquie Pearce. You can buy the book here

I'm also delighted to be part of the virtual train tour that is happening to celebrate the launch of this book. You can read the first stop in the tour here on Jacquie's blog.

Given the current pandemic, I haven't actually been on a train for quite a while. So the closest I've got is visiting the mural at Colinton Tunnel. Colinton Tunnel is located on what used to be a railway line between Edinburgh City and Colinton village, though now it is a cycle path and walkway along the Water of Leith.

The mural has been created by local artists and community groups over the past year or so and features scenes from the life and work of Robert Louis Stevenson, who had childhood connections with the area. You can find out more about the mural here.

Here are some of the trains in the mural

You can read more posts on the virtual train tour by following the links below: 

Sharing a Train Window (Jacquie Pearce on her Wild Ink blog)

Spring Trainin-ing on kc dyer's blog 

All Aboard on Julie Anne Thorndyke's blog 

Haiku Railroad Blues from Haiku Chronicles. 

A post about haiku and trains by Alan Summers on his Area 17 blog

Sunday 21 March 2021

InVerse celebrates the world's oldest surviving poems

Today is World Poetry Day! To celebrate  inVERSE is launching a collection of five of the world’s oldest surviving poems, re-imagined for the 21st century as short films. 

Filmed during lockdown 2020, the inVerse series is the brainchild of BAFTA nominated film maker Jack Jewers and features narration from Adam Roche, host of the Secret History of Hollywood podcast.

I've been invited to share one of the films from the series here on my blog. I chose The Dawn as it feels particularly relevant to the current situation in the UK, where recently a vigil for a young woman who had been murdered was policed as though it were a violent protest; a crowded, unmasked, non-socially distanced protest against lockdown was allowed to go ahead unhindered and we're fighting for our democratic right to protest at all. 

I had been asked to embed the film here but technology failed me, so here is a link to The Dawn.

I love the fact that these ancient poems still feel relevant today.  You can view the rest of the films on the InVerse website


Saturday 20 March 2021

More Spring Blooms

 The weather has been lovely recently and the Spring flowers are blooming beautifully. Here are some photos from North Merchiston Cemetery. 

A few days ago, Simon from Careering through Nature had posted some lovely photos of Glory of the Snows, and I commented that I didn't think I knew this flower. Then yesterday in the cemetery I found a lovely clump of it:

So thanks to Simon for posting about it, otherwise I wouldn't have known what it was! 

Very close to that patch of Glory of the Snows there are these beautiful hyacinths

The pussy willow tree near the perimeter wall of the cemetery is beautiful just now 

and meanwhile lesser celandines are carpeting part of the nearby Dalry Cemetery

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Coltsfoot - an overlooked flower of Spring

 There's a lovely patch of coltsfoot in Dalry Community Park, the small park that lies on our daily exercise route through the two local cemeteries. 

This lovely flower is one of the first to bloom in Spring, though often seems to be underappreciated. There used to be a patch of it near Colinton Tunnel, on the Water of Leith Walkway  that has now disappeared to be replaced with daffodils and primroses (nothing against those flowers but why not let the coltsfoot thrive too?)

The coltsfoot is also a good early food for pollinators, we saw our first marmalade hoverfly of the year on this patch a week or so ago and today Crafty Green Boyfriend captured one on camera:

 Thanks to Jeff asking in the comments, I checked to find whether coltsfoot is edible and apparently it's a great cough remedy. You can find out more here on the Incredible Edible Todmorden site.

More signs of Spring today in North Merchiston Cemetery, there were two peacock butterflies, though only the one stopped for a photo 

and a pair of long tailed tits were collecting nesting material 

For Nature Notes.

Tuesday 16 March 2021

Making a Kneeler from an old hot water bottle

 One of our hot water bottles developed a leak a while back, which obviously means it can't be used any more. I was reluctant to throw it away though and looked for ideas of how to repurpose old hot water bottles. 

I discovered this idea somewhere on line (I didn't make a note of where, which was an oversight.) and thought it sounded like a good idea! 

It's really simple, though it takes quite a lot of time to do, you need to cut up a lot of fabric! This can make your thumb sore, so you may want to just cut up a bit of fabric at a time and spread the project out over several days (which is what I've done!). I've got lots of scraps of fabric, left over from making chopstick bags, gift bags and other items.

Basically you fill the hot water bottle with scrap fabric, that you've cut into small pieces. Make sure the fabric gets into the edges of the hot water bottle. Stop adding fabric when the hot water bottle feels comfortable to kneel on. 

This is great to use in the garden or for any indoor tasks that are easier to do kneeling down. It really does protect your knees!

Monday 15 March 2021


 Yellow flowers are a wonderful feature of Spring in Scotland. Today I saw the first lesser celandines of this Spring in Craiglockart Dell along the Water of Leith

Later in the day I saw my first small tortoiseshell butterfly of the year on a dandelion flower. This wasn't in the Dells, but, rather surprisingly on a roadside verge in a busy part of Edinburgh! 

The birds are all singing enthusiastically at the moment, which is lovely too. 

 What signs of Spring are you seeing at the moment? (Or Autumn if you're in the southern hemisphere).

Saturday 13 March 2021

Walking along the Braid Burn

We had a lovely walk today around Blackford pond, past Midmar Paddock and Blackford Hill and into the Hermitage of Braid. 

Blackford Pond was sparkling in the sunshine 

Sadly we only saw one clump of frogspawn, usually this is a great place for frogs to breed. The lack of spawn this year may have something to do with the fact that the pond has been badly flooded recently with the combination of a lot of heavy rain and blocked drains around the pond. 

The gorse is starting to bloom all along this walk, including this bush at the edge of Midmar Paddock


The Hermitage is very green at the moment, with both wild garlic and wild leeks coming into leaf, at this stage it can be difficult to tell the difference between the garlic and the leeks, though the garlic has thicker leaves.

The Braid Burn flows at the bottom of a valley, it's quite an impressive site to look upwards into the trees that line the valley