Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Importance of Naming

It's wonderful to go out and enjoy nature at all times, whether or not you know the names of the species you're looking at. But it's also important to learn the names, partly because that means you can help conservationists know how widespread a species is and so inform conservation action but also because it helps you to learn more about nature. One of the things that I love about nature in fact is that there is always something new to find out. I first became interested in hoverflies, for instance, a few years ago, when I happened to notice and photograph a species I'd never noticed before. Soon after that I began to notice the diversity of hoverflies around Edinburgh and joined the UK Hoverfly Facebook Group, which if you're interested in hoverflies is well worth joining if you're on Facebook.

There are around 250 species of hoverfly in the UK, which certainly gives you something new to learn every day through the warmer months!

Today I found this hoverfly along the John Muir Walkway near Musselburgh

which, according to the UK Hoverfly Facebook group is Dasysyrphus albostriatus, which according to the UK map on this page, has rarely been recorded in Scotland and never in East Lothian. It is likely that this is due to the species being under-recorded, rather than actually being rare. There are relatively few hoverfly recorders in Scotland, so if you're in the country and interested in hoverflies this is something you might like to take on!


There's a great article here: Why I Obsess about the Names of Plants and Animals, well worth a read.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

New Curtain tie backs

Curtain tie backs sell consistently well in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop. They're also fun to make but require the right type of 'thing' to go on the end to allow them to fit onto the side of the window. So I don't make them as often as I would like to.

I made two tie backs to this design recently, using beads from old jewellery that needed to be restrung.

These are now in the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop here.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

After the Rain

It rained a lot last night though today has been mostly beautifully sunny. The Water of Leith is very high after all the rain, particularly noticeably so at the weir above Kate's Mill

The fungi also love the wet weather, these puff balls are emerging for a second year

and this hairy stereum seems to be totally taking over the tree it's growing on

Monday, 14 August 2017

Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland

Subtitled 'The Tangled Roots of Our Forests and Fairytales' this is a mix of reports of walks in forests and woodlands around the UK alongside retellings of fairytales with their sources in woodlands.

This book appeals to me not only because I love forests, but also because several of the forests featured here (Airyolland Wood, The Purgatory Wood, Glenlee and Knockman Wood) are to be found in Dumfries and Galloway, where Maitland lives and which is co-incidentally one of my favourite holiday destinations!

Maitland has a keen interest in not only the natural history of the forests, but also their cultural history, the way that humans have shaped the woods and vice versa and the way that stories have grown out of these same woods. She contemplates how different types of stories arise from different types of woodlands and the connections between stories and forests and critiques our current cultural relationship with wild places:

'Stories and woodland are alike in a particular way - they are specific.... Stories and woods are actual not abstract.... To know about woods you have to go into woods. So if we want healthy children in healthy forests we need to get the children out into the forests, and to do that we need to see the forests as friendly, generous places.....'

The retellings of the fairytales are engaging and refreshingly new, making this a real treasure trove of a book for anyone interested in how our landscape and culture interact.

Gossip from the Forest by Sara Maitland published by Granta Books and printed on paper 'from responsible sources'

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Incident at Loch Ness

In 2004, Incident of Loch Ness was one of our favourite films to be screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. As it featured the great German director Werner Herzog and one of Scotland's enduring favourite creatures, the Loch Ness Monster, we thought it would return to our screens quite soon after getting it's premier at the festival. We only had to wait 13 years.....

Directed by Zak Penn, this purports to be a documentary of the making of Werner Herzog's documentary 'The Enigma of Loch Ness'. We are given access to production meetings and one to one discussions about how the film is going to be made and the increasing tension between the crew members. It becomes more and more obvious that something is not quite right, from the miniature Loch Ness monster that keeps appearing to the lack of credibility of the scientific and technical members of the crew.

Herzog becomes more and more disillusioned with the whole project and things take a decidedly dangerous turn.....

So does the Loch Ness Monster exist or is it just a figment of our collective need to believe in the unseen and unknowable? Is the film a hoax? Was Herzog ever intending to make a film called 'The Eniglma of Loch Ness'? Are any of the crew members who they say they are? Are the stories about Herzog as a director true or just myths?

This era of fake news in in fact the ideal time to see again this brilliant film about the nature of truth, the distinction between truth and facts and the difference between lies for the sake of art and downright lies. I just hope we don't need to wait another 13 years before it next hits the big screen!

Incident at Loch Ness screened as part of Edinburgh Filmhouse's current Herzog of the Month series.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Dean Village (Water of Leith)

We enjoyed a walk along the Water of Leith today from Roseburn to Stockbridge, via Dean Village. (Along this part of the walkway there is a diversion, due to a dangerous landslide that's waiting to happen. It could happen at any time, so it is best to follow the diversion, though not everyone does).

We stopped here, opposite the picturesque Well Court (built in the 1880's by a newspaper magnate as housing for his workers)

We watched a lovely grey wagtail (probably not visible in the photo, even if you do click for a larger view!). It was flying repeatedly from a large stick in the river, catching insects.

We had earlier stopped to look at the progress of the wildflower meadow near the Gallery of Modern Art

It's full of a variety of wildflowers and the bees and hoverflies love it, though there weren't as many as there would have been on a sunnier day.

As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more

Friday, 11 August 2017

sharing the pavement with red legged shield bugs

After today's lunchtime walk round Corstorphine Hill, Crafty Green Boyfriend and I noticed there were a few red legged shield bugs on the pavement of the busy Corstorphine Road. These two were so oblivious to the traffic that they were busily working on the next generation of shield bugs!

They must have been blown down from the overhanging trees by the wind, which was pretty strong. Unfortunately there was no easy way of moving them to safety!

These red legged shield bugs are woodland insects and rarely to be found on pavements....