Thursday 28 April 2022

A Walking Meeting in the Pentlands

 One good thing about the pandemic has been the increased interest in walking meetings. Why sit in an office with an increased risk of catching the virus, when you can go for a nice walk instead? So that's what I did today, with a colleague. We went into the Pentlands, the large country park outside  Edinburgh and walked from Torfin around the hills, enjoying the scenery

There was also a lot of wildlife around too. We saw roe deer and heard willow warblers, chiffchaffs and the occasional skylark. But best of all was seeing this green hairstreak butterfly. 

The only other time I've ever seen a green hairstreak butterfly was back in 2019 when Crafty Green Boyfriend and I took part in a survey to assess how many of these beautiful little butterflies there are in the Pentlands (you can read about that here).

Tuesday 26 April 2022

Cherry Blossom everywhere

 I was due to survey wildlife in another cemetery today and couldn't decide which one. Then I remembered that Grange Cemetery is just near the Meadows and that the Meadows cherry trees are in full bloom at the moment so that was my decision made! 

I took this photo on the way to the cemetery

Then in the cemetery itself, there are several beautiful cherry trees 


Also spectacular in its own way is this liverwort, Marchantia polymorpha. I've seen it in many cemeteries before, but I've never seen it like this before! This is a female plant with young receptacles (the lobed, umbrella like structures). I've only once before seen the female receptacles and that was when they were older and brown. 

Lots of birds were singing in the cemetery, most pleasingly willow warblers, which I wouldn't really expect to hear here. 

When I had finished my survey in the cemetery, i enjoyed walking through the cherry trees in the Meadows. 

The trees seem to be at their best at the moment and are always a must-see Spring spectacle in Edinburgh. I heard more willw warblers singing in the Meadows, probably the first time I've heard them singing in this part of Edinburgh.

Sunday 24 April 2022

Apple Trees, Allotments and a Young Collared Dove

 I should have posted this photo of the collared dove yesterday, but forgot as it was Crafty Green Boyfriend who took the photo and I only looked through my photos before posting the blogpost! So here is the lovely young collared dove that we net by the pond at Edinburgh's Botanic Gardens yesterday. It was eating sunflower seeds that we scattered for it. 

Today we went with Crafty Green Boyfriend's mother and brother to the Rouken Glen garden centre for lunch and a walk round the allotments there. 

 It was quite chilly and overcast but there were still a few small toirtoiseshell butterflies around

It was nice to see the rooks at their nesting colony near the allotments (zoom in on the image below to see their nests in the trees)

and we were very impressed by this clever piece of upcycling in the garden centre 

After lunch, we returned to Edinburgh and spent some time in Crafty Green Boyfriend's mother's garden. Her apple tree is looking magnificent at the moment 

and no doubt will produce its usual huge harvest of tasty cooking apples later in the year.

For Nature Notes.

Spring in Edinburgh Botanic Gardens

 Yesterday, crafty Green Boyfriend and I visited Edinburgh's Botanic Gardens, largely to see the rhododendrons and azaleas. These lovely shrubs didn't disappoint! Here are some photos: 

Some azaleas are still only in bud

and some are yet to start flowering at all. 

This means that the rhodendron / azaleas season in the Botanics lasts for a nice long time! 

Cherry trees are at their best in Edinburgh at the moment, these are near the Botanics (actually the dark pink flowered tree isn't a cherry tree, but nor is it any obviously recognisable fruit tree, the fruits in autumn are very odd looking) 

Here is a  cherry tree in Princes Street Gardens which we walked through on the way home 

We had also walked through Inverleith Park and checked up on the mute swan nest on the pond there. The boardwalk near the nest is shut off to prevent the swans from being disturbed, but you can get a nice view from the pavement

and lovely also to see marsh marigolds in bloom in the pond 

Friday 22 April 2022

Glorious Gorse

 I joined Crafty Green Boyfriend for a lunchtime walk round Corstorphine Hill today. The front part of the hill is bright with gorse at the moment 

The air is filled with the coconut scent of the gorse and with birdsong. Several willow warblers were singing along with blackcaps and chiffchaffs, all of which are summer visitors. It's lovely to have them back. The very similar looking chiffchaffs and willow warblers can best be identified when they're singing, and they were certainly putting a lot of effort into that today!

In the shadier woodland parts of the hill we were impressed by how many forget-me-nots were in bloom 

and this colourful display of Spanish bluebells 

The wild garlic (ramsons) is starting to bloom 

We saw a number of different species of bees and hoverflies, though none stopped for a photo. It is noticeable that solitary bees have been mining nest holes alongside the paths, I always worry whether they'll be safe when I see this, but they do it every year so it must work for them!

Wednesday 20 April 2022

Celandines and Cherry Blossoms

I did my weekly patrol of the Dells along the Water of Leith today. There wasn't much litter to pick and nature was at her best, so it was a particularly good patrol! 

The bird cherry tree is now in full bloom

Bird cherries can be recognised by their smaller flowers that are gathered together

They are very well named as birds love them, most times I pass this particular bird cherry, it is full of birds. (Not today though, oddly enough!). Many other cherry trees in the Dells are also in bloom 

Meanwhile the larch flowers continue their development, they're not quite cones yet

Lesser Celandines have been in flower for several weeks now, but are still going strong. I'm sure they have spread through the Dells in the time I've been doing these patrols (about 15 years I think!). 

 I also noticed that the wood sorrel is starting to flower 

This pretty little flower is a real indicator of ancient woodland and the Dells have been wooded for centuries (although partly cleared in places to make way for mills, many of which are now totally in ruins and back to woodland). 

I heard my first willow warbler of the year today, in Colinton Dell, where I've never heard it before (though I have occasionally heard them in Craiglockart Dell). Another first, was seeing a dark edged bee fly, which I've never seen in the Dells before and only occasionally have seen anywhere. The photo below isn't the fly I saw in the Dells (which moved too quickly for a photo) but one Crafty Green Boyfriend took in a local cemetery the other day.

These lovely looking flies lay their eggs in bees' nests! 

I was also delighted to see a roe deer in the Dells, though it was moving too quickly for a photo (I have a horrible feeling that a dog was chasing it). I also caught sight of a chiffchaff carrying food to its nest low in the undergrowth, I hope the nestlings are safe from marauding dogs. Now, I like dogs, but owners need to be very aware of how their dogs are behaving when out in nature, especially this time of year when ground nesting birds are so vulnerable.