Monday 28 February 2022

The Vennel Cemetery and South Queensferry Mosaic Mural

 As part of my continuing wildlife survey of all the council owned cemeteries in Edinburgh, today I visited the Vennel churchyard in South Queensferry. This cemetery isn't open to the general public so because I'd arrived early, I had to wait for someone from the council cemeteries department to come along and open the gate. While I was waiting, I examined the mosses on the walls of the cemetery, but I also popped into the Hawthorn Bank Walled Garden opposite the cemetery. 

The garden is open to the public at all times of day. In 2019, the Queensferry Mosaic Mural found a home in the walled garden. This beautiful piece of public art, featuring the sights of South Queensferry, involved school children, older people and people with learning disabilities who attended workshops run by Common Ground Arts:


It's an impressive piece of work from a distance


and the detail is even more impressive:

Standing at the mural and look outwards you get a lovely view of the Vennel Cemetery with the Forth Rail Bridge in the background:

The council van then drew up, so I was able to get into the cemetery, which is a lovely old kirkyard

There were plenty of mosses and lichens growing on the gravestones and on the perimeter walls. It was also lovely to hear several birds singing including song thrushes and starlings. An oystercatcher flew overhead, on its way to the Firth of Forth, I imagine.

Saturday 26 February 2022

Inch Park

 I've been approached to offer a course of nature walks around Inch Park in the summer. As I've never visited the park before, I thought it might be a good idea to walk around it before having a meeting about the course! So that's what Crafty Green Boyfriend and I did today!

Inch Park is by the side of the Cameron Toll Shopping Centre 


and centres on the old Inch House. 

The Braid Burn runs through the park 

and the lower lying parts of the park are badly flooded at the moment 

There are some lovely trees in the park, including silver birches, yews and Scots pines. There are also a number of fallen trees that are being allowed to lie, 

 as good habitat for fungi, such as this  turkey tail 

Much of the ground away from the playing fields is covered in wild garlic and few flowered leek, which will bloom in a couple of months

 The blackthorn is already in bloom 

There are a good number of nest boxes for birds

and some lovely sculptures

Looking across the sports fields you get lovely views of Arthur's Seat

while at the side of the sports fields there are some lovely displays of snowdrops 

Wednesday 23 February 2022

Mount Alvernia Cemetery

 I am continuing to survey the wildlife of Edinburgh's cemeteries, despite my lack of recent posts on the topic. Today, I managed to finally visit Mount Alvernia Burial Ground. This is the burial ground of the Mount Alvernia Convent, which was the convent of the Poor Clare Colettines, a closed order. The convent closed in 1992, due to falling numbers of nuns. It was later damaged by fire and vandals. The council granted a planning application for housing in 1998, on the condition that the graves should remain and be maintained. You can see the convent in the centre of the photo below. 

The cemetery is tiny and is now surrounded by housing. The headstones have been removed and the nuns are now memorialised by small plaques in the ground. 

There are lots of mosses in this graveyard, the grass is thick with Springy Turf Moss and there's at least four or five species on the perimeter walls. (I don't have any good photos of the mosses though, sorry!). 

The snowdrops are in bloom and the daffodils will be out soon! 


This graveyard isn't open to the public and unless you know to look for it, you possibly wouldn't even know it's there. 


Saturday 19 February 2022

Sunshine on the Figgy

 So Storm Eunice has been and gone and Edinburgh didn't suffer too much, at least not in our part of town. Today has been beautiful and sunny, though very cold and everywhere is muddy and wet because of all the rain. We had a lovely walk round Figgate Park (often referred to as the Figgy). The treew were all glowing in the low winter sunlight

The birch tree in the photo above is full of "witches' brooms" - galls that are caused by a variety of organisms, including some species of wasps. 

The Pond was full of birds, some of which seem to be pairing up for the Spring, including this pair of tufted ducks 

and this pair of goosanders 

the Canada geese too 

and the mallards were chasing each other, enthusiastically, though we didn't catch that on film!

The mute swans were there too, including this full grown adult

and this juvenile

Mute swans usually nest in two sites in the park, so hopefully they'll do so again this year. There were also a  good number of small birds flitting about in the trees and shrubs, including this goldcrest

Thursday 17 February 2022

The Lull Between Storms

 Yesterday afternoon and evening and last night, Edinburgh was in the grips of Storm Dudley, which blew over in the early hours of this morning. I walked out into sunshine and a relatively light breeze, to do my weekly patrol along the Water of Leith in Craiglockart and Colinton Dells. 

The weather changed and for much of my patrol. I was walking through rain and winds, and the water was very high. 

and the small tributary was rushing with more water than normally flows there


However, the dramatic weather didn't stop nature performing. I had a brilliant view of a kingfisher, though it was too far away to get a decent photo. I also discovered a patch of winter aconite

I had been told there were winter aconites along this stretch of the river, but had never before seen them here. 

The sun did come out before I finished my patrol, but Storm Eunice will hit soon and there will be more wild weather.

Wednesday 16 February 2022

Ask Me Anything

Ask Me Anything is a new blog and YouTube channel set up by an inspiring group of young people based in India. I was recently interviewed by them and was struck by their enthusiasm and thoughtfulness. You can watch the interview with me here (long time readers of my blog may recognise my rabbit Anya in the stills used in the interview!). 

I look forward to seeing what this group of youngsters do in the future!

As ever, coloured text contains hyperlinks, which you can follow to find out more!

Saturday 12 February 2022

Arthur's Seat and Dunsapie Loch

 We braved the high winds today to walk round Arthur's Seat. Looking over Duddingston Loch, we saw that about eight pairs of herons have started constructing their nests in the trees on one of the islands. If you click on the photo below to enlarge it and look carefully, you may be able to see some of the herons:

We continued our walk to Dunsapie Loch, where there were more ducks, geese and swans than we've seen there for a while. 

The male tufted ducks are looking resplendent in their breeding plumage with the tufts on the back of their iridescent heads 

 The black headed gulls though haven't yet developed their breeding plumage of dark brown heads and still just have the dark spot behind the eye

There were a lot of Canada geese around

and this unusual looking goose, who is a hybrid between a Canada goose and a greylag goose 

The mute swan posed beautifully for the camera, hiding its head in its wings

We had seen two kestrels chasing each other early on the walk and right at the end, at the edge of Holyrood Park, we caught up with the female 

Thanks to Crafty Green Boyfriend who took most of the photos in this blogpost! 



Friday 11 February 2022

Craft Update and Signs of Spring

 I recently finished this pair of curtain tie backs. They're made from lightweight wooden beads and plastic hooks, rescued from vintage and other items. As they're very lightweight, they are ideal for holding back curtains made from sheer or other lightweight fabrics. 

This pair of curtain tie backs is now in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop, here.

Yesterday, I carried out my regular patrol of the Dells along the Water of Leith. It was very cold and often windy with intermittent rain showers, but there were some lovely signs of Spring. The hazel catkins have been out for a couple of weeks now, but yesterday was the first time this year I noticed the little red female flowers

The mosses are looking very lush at the moment. I was struck by this patch of turkey tail fungus showing through a curtain of a Hypnum moss

and some patches of moss had ice crystals on them 

and I was intrigued by the orange growth on this twig - not sure whether it's a fungus or a slime mould? If you think you can identify it, please feel free to let me know in the comments!