Tuesday, 23 August 2016

summer to autumn

The weather and the forecast are all over the place currently; neither one consistent as the cooler darker autumn evenings move in to shake hands with the last of the summer. Sunday looked good, then a bit dull, then sunny. I planned for either a Pentland run in long overdue hills or the old NB Circuit, my favourite romp round East Lothian beauty spots. I couldn't drum up any mates so went solo, leaving it until later in the day, hoping for a more long-shadow sunset affair. I had really enjoyed carrying the G3 with me the day before and its controllable focal length but the drizzle had meant it stayed under a zip-lock rain hat most of the run. Today I threw sense out the window and carried both the compact AND the G3. While I love the quality of the G3 it doesn't do panoramas or zoom in x20. I amused myself on the train taking panoramas, noticing the camera just filling in the view out the second window with repeated imaging.

the G3,
I hold the neck of the tripod while running keeping sweaty mits off the hardware
I bought the tripod in Italy some 33 years ago. Still works fine.

First off I ran (walked) up NB Law. Sorry to see the motto back on the trig point but at least they have centred it properly on this occasion. The wind was strong, which was why I opted for the coast rather than the hills. The views were splendid as ever and it looked as if I was getting the best weather and that Edinburgh and the Pentlands were still under grey skies.

This pic has a strangely indoors feel!

I plan to swim across to Fidra sometime soon and always mentally measure the crossing.
Sometimes it looks really close, from other angles a long way out.

The Bass Rock appears to have been cut and pasted on.

On the way off the Law you pass a small pond. There were dragonflies buzzing about but they were very reluctant to stay in the one place and allow a photo. The lens on the G3 only does x3 so I have to get close in for close ups. I didn't want to waste too much time right at the start of the run so didn't bother getting the compact out. It was good to see the dragonflies as along with Red Admirals there has been an absence of both on the paths at Aberlady. In the past there were dozens; and loads of damselflies at the pond there and at Balgone.

Some of the harvest had been taken in, other fields were choc full and swaying in the wind.

On the search for lepidoptera and damselflies I took a right at the Balgone Estate and slowed by the pond. I saw various beasts of interest mainly peacock butterflies but none were stopping for a photo and there was no sign of the usual blue damselflies down near the jetty. A large dog, off the leash, then bounded over barking fiercely but luckily after a slighty panicky hello, good boy! it reverted to cuddly retriever and I waved to the owner back down the trail. Disappointed by the lack of insects I continued on my way hoping the strong winds hadn't dissuaded all the wildlife from coming out to play.

A mile or 2 later and I came upon the catch of the day: running down the dirt trail to Stink Farm I just about ran past this perfectly ordinary patch of flowering thistles. I have no idea why a small group of insects (at least 2 peacocks, a painted lady and a bee) were finding it irresistible, why they didn't fly off when I moved in close, or whether they were aware of each other. Maybe they were drunk on the direct sun and the nectar. I have just counted and I took 83 photos in a couple of minutes, half of which were instantly binned. The screen was near impossible to see in the bright light and so for pretty much the first time ever I used the electronic viewfinder. It is probably responsible for the photos I didn't bin although I didn't get a good idea of the results until I was on the train ride home. I was pleased with the results but did have ideal conditions.

bee in between


painted lady

I ran on with a spring in my step. I had been feeling a bit tired after a good week's work and wondering whether I really needed/wanted a 20 miler. The scenery lifted my spirits although I continued to feel a bit tired and was looking forwards to the can of Emerge (39p red bull) I had in my back pack. Also in my pack was a 2lt reservoir that had spent the night half full in the freezer. Topped up before leaving I had ice cold juice for the first 4hrs. The next part of the run is the highlight - through Newbyth Woods then Binning Woods then down to the coast at Tyninghame. I reserved small treats (Soreen fun sized banana loaves & Mrs Tilly's fudge) for points along the way when I might be flagging.

this was the favoured tree of the Speckled Wood

I think it is an Alder and I think the raised bumps are the result of the Eriophyes Laevis mite which is about one fifth of a mm long. On the upside they don't harm the tree (other than the leaf that is occupied).

off the internet

Newbyth Woods is one of the few places I have seen a Speckled Wood. Not the most spectacular of butterflies, (brown with yellow spots) but due to rarity, one I hoped to see again. I saw 4 or 5 here (or the same one several times) at the exact same tree as the last time. Unfortunately they like to land (if they land) half way up a tree, so are not easy to capture. I walked up and down the same patch several times but the only evidence I have is the photo below.

Speckled Wood on the wing. (Unsmiley face.)

So I just focussed on stuff that doesn't run or fly away. Everything was looking fab in the sunlight and I found it difficult to run at any speed past so many pictures. I crossed the road into Binning Woods. Forgot to say hello to Alastair, such was the amount of distractions.

The Rowan berries are leading the charge into Autumn.

After the long haul down Limetrees Walk I took a direct line through the woods to get to the coast. Last time I got badly lost through here (it can be choked with rhododendrons) and this time I steered to the right to avoid similar. I start to look at stuff on the ground (badger sets? and fungi) and soon have no idea where I am. But if you keep going in roughly the same direction you will eventually come out near the secret trail which leads round to St Baldred's Cradle. I was saving the Emerge for then.

oh oh, Ray Mears has been through here.
Now I couldn't take you back to this if I tried - it was hidden in the middle of nowhere.


I recently heard a Radiolab podcast all about trees in the forest using fungi to swap nutrients and communicating with each other in a most unlikely way. Click here for link, actually it's beyond incredible.

So, here was where I planned to sit and drink my caffeine drink. Until those 2 start slurping away at each other. OMG I should just have sat on the other side and cleared my throat. Depraved and disgusting! I ran on, thirsty, looking for more pleasant scenery to slake my thirst in front of.

About halfway along the beach at the big dunes I noticed it was 6.33pm and I had an hour exactly till the 7.33. The next train was 8.33 so I thought I should step on it. For the first time I began to run at a decent pace. I was a bit alarmed though, as there is a mile or more to Tam Bides Here and the Slow sign, then 2 miles to NB outskirts and maybe a mile and half through NB to the station. Was that do-able? Probably not but I got onto the concrete paths after Peffer Burn and took the pace up to about 7min miling, fighting up the long haul past Sea Cliff then out onto the main road. I hit the Slow sign at the top of the hill at 6.59 - five minutes ahead of schedule. Maybe it WAS possible.

Horse with a painting of a goat? Camouflage?
Is this the same as a butterfly with owls eyes on its wings?

The Slow sign.
3.6 miles to go. 33mins till the train. Easy!?

I couldn't remember the exact distances involved but I was fairly sure it was in the bag. I even stopped for a few photos of the sun going down and casting a weird light behind Craigleith. From this angle the islands off the coast looked like a very long and cold swim away. Maybe I was just tired. Should probably chat up pals with kayak so at least someone can get a photo of the bloated corpse of my island project attempts. Anyway I had a clear 7 mins clear when I got into the station so I was surprised when there wasn't a train waiting, or any passengers. Even more surprised when I saw the time of departure for the next train was 20.20 - 54 minutes away. Realising I had noted down the wrong minutes (dep from Edinburgh 33mins past the hour, deps from NB 20 mins past the hour) I issued a string of sexual swear words joined together with a good handful of blasphemy. Then set off to check the bus times at the nearest bus stop. Since that was also a long wait I decided to see if Ben and Alison were home (100 yards away!) Just then Ben went past on his bike so I followed him to his back gate and after a couple of drinks and a look at the boys' book on butterflies and moths, just made it back to the station in time for the 20.20.

out the train window

I sat down in an empty part of the carriage - the train wasn't busy and I try to avoid company as it allows for a bit of stretching en route. So I wasn't best pleased to have 7 or 8 rather merry fellow passengers place themselves right next door. Oh well, I thought optimistically, maybe they'll ply me with drink. And do you know what, they did! And I repay their kindness with a photo that does nobody any favours. Thems are the breaks.

my travelling companions

Always enjoy this tunnel on the way home.

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