Wednesday 30 June 2021


 The orchids are beautiful on Corstorphine Hill at the moment! Most of them, like this one, are common spotted orchids

This one is, I believe a hybrid between common spotted orchid and Northern marsh orchid:

The hill is looking lovely all over at the moment, 


with lots of foxgloves in bloom 

for 30 Days Wild.

Sunday 27 June 2021

Day Walks in Fort William and Glen Coe by Helen and Paul Webster


I've travelled through Glen Coe on numerous occasions but have never explored this wonderful landscape. Similarly I know Fort William quite well, or more specifically the supermarket which is the real gateway to the Highlands as all the buses stop there and there's usually time to eat in the supermarket cafe before catching the connecting bus or train to continue your journey. 

So this book is particularly interesting for me as it offers a good variety of walks in the Glen Coe and Fort William areas. it's a very handy book too, being small and neat, genuinely pocket sized in fact.

The book starts with brief tips on walking safely, tips for dealing with midges and ticks, and a glossary of Gaelic place name elements. 

The twenty walks vary in length from 4 1/2 to 13 miles and include moorland routes and more mountainous routes, including three routes around Ben Nevis the iconic highest mountain in the UK. 

Each walk is described in a good amount of detail, with an introductory description that includes landmarks, noteworthy historical notes and things to watch out for (such as whether a route is prone to flooding or midges). Detailed directions are offered along with excellent maps and beautiful photos (mostly taken by the authors). 

I'm sure this will be an invaluable guide for all walkers visiting this lovely area of Scotland. The proof of the route is in the walking of course and I hope in due course to be able to try out some of these walks, specially those that aren't too mountainous as I get vertigo! 

Day Walks in Fort William and Glen Coe by Helen and Paul Webster published by Vertebrate Publishing.  


Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Saturday 26 June 2021

Raindrops on roses (and other plants)

 It has rained a lot over the past day and the flowers and grasses on Corstorphine HIll look lovely covered in raindrops - not just the dog roses

 but also the gorse 

the wood avens fruiting heads 



 and other grasses

Needless to say the slugs and snails are loving this weather 

The foxgloves are brightly blooming 

the first beech nuts are forming 

and we found this lovely red legged shield bug 

Enjoying the rain for 30 Days Wild and Nature Notes

Thursday 24 June 2021

Wednesday 23 June 2021

Dalkeith Country Park

 We've got some holiday and are enjoying a staycation. Today we visited Dalkeith Country Park for a walk round the woodland, which includes a lovely area of oak woodland


Some of the oak trees here are ancient 

and one of the oak trees has fallen into this lovely little pond

Near this pond we saw a number of damselflies, including this male azure damselfly 

There were a lot of speckled wood butterflies all around the pond and throughout the woodland 

and we saw a lot of other interesting insects including this chimney sweeper moth 

and this speckled long horn beetle (thanks to Edinburgh Natural History Society for identifying this for me!)

We also met this beautiful roe deer, who kept turning the wrong way, trying to avoid us but stumbling back onto our path

Enjoying a staycation for 30 Days Wild

Monday 21 June 2021

National Insect Week

 National Insect Week, the last week of June, is a chance to celebrate the diversity of insects! 

Here in Edinburgh, it hasn't been a particularly good year for larger insects so far as the weather hasn't been ideal for most species. Plus the fact that climate change, habitat destruction and pollution are all having a long term negative impact on insect numbers in this country (and around the world). 

Insects are vital to life! Without bees and other insect pollinators we would have far fewer food crops or garden flowers. And although some species of insects are pests (including mosquitoes) some insects are the best solution to insect pests (ladybirds eat aphids). 

Insects are also beautiful, particularly butterflies and moths, the photo below shows a speckled wood butterfly

As regular readers of this blog may have noticed, I'm particularly interested in hoverflies. There are 250 species of hoverflies in the UK and many of them are beautifully patterned like this Eupeoides corollae 

If you want to help insects, then if you have a garden, let part of it grow wild with plants such as buttercups and clover. Pollinating insects love these flowers, like this tree bumblebee on white clover 

Alternatively you can plant wildflower mixed seeds (but make sure the mix includes only native flowers) or plant nectar rich garden flowers. You can also make 'insect hotels' which offer various places for different species of insects to set up home. There's a good article about making a bug hotel on the Woodland Trust website

For Insect Week and 30 Days Wild.

Sunday 20 June 2021

Wonderful Colours in the Botanic Gardens

 Yesterday we had a lovely trip to Edinburgh's beautiful Botanic Gardens. When we arrived (after a rainy walk through Inverleith Park, which I blogged about here) we visited the Hidden Beauty of Seeds and Fruits exhibition, which showcases the photography of Levon Biss. The plants featured in the exhibition are all from the Botanic gardens' own herbarium collection. The exhibition runs until the end of September and is well worth seeing. 

We then wandered round the gardens. The azaleas and rhododendrons are mostly past their best now, but some of them are still beautiful. 

We met these mallards at the pond, it's nice to see the female showing the bright blue flash (the speculum) in her wing which distinguishes her from other brown female ducks.

Colours of Nature for 30 Days Wild.

Saturday 19 June 2021

Cygnets in the Rain

We set off this morning to walk to Edinburgh's  Botanic Gardens, after booking our free tickets online (which is what you need to do in these pandemic times). We thought there might be a light shower, but instead found ourselves in the middle of a downpour while walking through Inverleith Park. The adult swans seemed to be happy enough, but the cygnets looked very bedraggled! 

Luckily there's an amazing exhibition on at the Botanics at the moment which we browsed until the rain stopped. 

Tomorrow, I'll  share photos of the beautiful azaleas and rhododendrons that are still in bloom in the Botanics. 

Enjoying nature in the rain for 30 Days Wild.

Wednesday 16 June 2021

A Close Look at Nettles for 30 Days Wild

It's very easy to take nettles for granted, they grow profusely in areas we often refer to as waste ground, they sting and they don't have pretty flowers. But they are really useful for wildlife, many butterflies lay their eggs on nettles for example. Also nettles have culinary and medicinal uses, you can make tea from the leaves and deliberately stinging yourself with nettles can apparently ease arthritis (though I've never met anyone who has been brave enough to try this cure!).

So I was looking closely at some nettles today! 

Several nettle tag moths were flying around, this small moth is usually to be seen on nettles. 

Some of the nettles i was looking at had patches of nettle rust fungus. Almost every species of plant has its own species of rust fungus, though all these fungi look very similar to our eyes. 

What have you been looking closely at in nature? 

For 30 Days Wild.


Tuesday 15 June 2021

haiku for 30 Days Wild

hearing goldcrests -
I'm not old

haiku for 30 Days Wild

(goldcrests have a very high pitched song, which you can't hear if your hearing is fading)

Monday 14 June 2021

Tree Following June Update

For Tree Following this year I'm following one of the several wonderful old silver birch trees on North Merchiston Cemetery in Edinburgh. Crafty Green Boyfriend and I started walking round this cemetery (and the nearby Dalry Cemetery) every day for our #DailyExercise during the first UK lockdown last year. And we're still doing the same walk regularly. 

 I realise I'm a little late with this update! Part of the reason is that I've been very busy. 

The birch tree looks beautiful at the moment, fully in leaf and very green

But all is not well, which is another part of the reason this post is late, I was so upset to see that the blue tits' nest box has been damaged - the entrance hole which was so neat and round has been broken into and enlarged and the chicks are no longer in there

This is almost certainly the work of the great spotted woodpeckers, which are also nesting in the cemetery. Last year the great spotted woodpecker chick became a bit of a local celebrity 

and there is every sign that the woodpeckers are nesting in the same tree again this year (the youngsters haven't yet appeared but there is a lot of noise inside the tree trunk!).

So, I like great spotted woodpeckers and I know they need to eat, and I know that they sometimes eat blue tits, but why did they need to eat our blue tits?

For Tree Following

For 30 Days Wild

Friday 11 June 2021

Explore a Cemetery for 30 Days Wild

 Since the first lockdown was announced over a year ago now, Crafty Green Boyfriend and I have really discovered the local cemeteries as wildlife havens. There's a huge variety of birds, insects and mammals in both Dalry Cemetery and North Merchiston Cemetery, not to mention the trees, wild flowers and fungi. 

I took these photos earlier today in North Merchiston Cemetery

Since lockdown, Friends Groups have sprung up to help look after the cemeteries in Edinburgh (though several of the Friends groups predate lockdown). Joining one of these friends groups is a great way of helping to protect these vital green spaces.

Do you have a favourite local cemetery to wander round?