Thursday, 26 April 2018

april showers

I was going to call this April Showers and non-Showers. Just to muddy the waters. The non-showers being butterflies and to an extent birds. I was in the Botanics again yesterday and hoping to see a few feathered friends, but the robins were absent, and there weren't many others. Just a fleeting bullfinch and very few squirrels. No butterflies. However the rhododendrons and other springtime flowers made up for it. The place is on fire, exploding with pinks, whites and yellows, the rhoddies dominating the firework displays. And the intermittent showers left a glaze of raindrops on the plants that enhanced the pics.

Mary and her sore knees are keen to do more cycling and swimming as well as small runs so the other day we did 3 laps of the Queen's Drive on bikes. I did each lap slightly quicker than the last and set that as a windy benchmark to improve upon next time. 14.45 (stopped to blow the snot out my leaking nose) 13.38 and 13.17. (MTBs not road bikes.) It was fun and fairly lively. Hopefully this cold will be gone soon and I can push on with harder training. 

But not wishing to overdo it we headed to Inverleith Park to do a lap or 2 then walk back through the Botanics. It was sunny between showers and we took jackets in back packs to wear while walking. We got half a mile before Mary realised she didn't have her camera. Dafty. We ran back knowing it would be boring for her not to be able to take pics. 

despite requiring an early stretch Mary's knees held up ok.

when the sun comes out even a rusty railing can look attractive.

goosander on the WoL

first major downpour just outside Inverleith, stopped under trees

more goosanders (geesander?) at the pond

only a very brief glimpse of a bullfinch

There were a couple of Great Tits standing in for the robin at the Chinese Garden. They were very unafraid and hopped around us asking for bread or just having a look. But moving so quickly it was very difficult to get a decent shot.

Then a large black cloud moved in. Mary had been suggesting we hit the cafe and we made a dash up the hill as the heavens opened, breaking all sorts of rules - running (not allowed!) and crossing the cordoned off area. Nobody saw us as everyone was sheltering inside. The cafe is nice but really too expensive. Since the gardens are free I suppose we let that pass. And the rain stopped shortly and the sun came back out highlighting the raindrops on the flowers.

the magnolia flowers were just past their best

more Fritillaria Meleagris


Tuesday, 24 April 2018

timber galore

planks for the memory

So the Frisian Lady spilled tons of timber which has washed up between Eyemouth and St Andrews. The coast along East Lothian is comprehensively littered with loads of these planks. And nobody seems to be addressing it. I hope the owners of the Frisian Lady are being suitably fined. Thankfully it is timber and biodegradable (and usable) and not oil or anything toxic. It is quite tempting to go down the beaches with woodworking tools and make something with all the raw material there. There are various structures appearing but nobody has made a boardwalk or anything remotely impressive yet. Quite nice timber as well and now has a corners-knocked-off weathered feel to it. The police are saying, well who cares what the police and coastguard are advising; they are doing f-all and their advice is fatuous. If I had a wood burning stove and lived near the coast I know what I'd be doing.

So Saturday was looking to be lovely weather. Still suffering from a sore throat and cold I opted not to do the fabulous Alternative John Muir Way organised by Keith Burns, and instead have an easy handful of miles round the Gullane circuit with Mary. There was also that smoggy, noisy, overcrowded, over-rated marathon down south somewhere for people who prefer fumes and the proximity of other runners (dressed as star wars characters) to scenery, all jostling together. But there is no accounting for taste.

Now how did that snail get in there? Also, spot the spider.

Thee was a lot of waterlogged ground at Aberlady.

next 3 photos thanks to Mary

mirage weather

I had been hoping Aberlady would be awash with butterflies. The temperature was certainly high enough and I assumed the sunshine would bring them all out. However, apart from a lone singleton whizzing by on the breeze over the JMW and not pausing for a photo, there was nothing. Nada. I was vocal about my disappointment and got a telling off from Mary about complaining on such a lovely day. I huffed around, feeling a bit hacked off. (You can't move on Facebook for the amount of butterfly photos being posted.) The only wildlife visible were some saggy arsed naturists selling their wares in the dunes at Aberlady. If you've ever walked through there in shorts you'll have been inconvenienced by the sharp stabby grasses. It REALLY is not a place that lends itself to disrobing. Why these old, physically repellent specimens need to expose themselves here is beyond me. It's good to have a hobby but Scotland does not have the climate for this, and nobody wants to see old flabby dudes in the altogether.

Mary recently bought another wetsuit. Just a shorty this time and I think it was on sale under £30. I had my wetsuit along as well but when it came time to embrace the cold waters I just didn't have the enthusiasm. So I left Mary to it and ran back up the hill to find a couple of Small Tortoiseshell which almost saved the day.

Mary reported the water was cold but not intolerable.
She was in for a handful of minutes then back out again.


I presume it was the male following the female. Both sexes are visually identical. He would follow her in the air and then land close by and shuffle in even closer. I couldn't hear if he was singing any romantic songs or just reading over her shoulder. I really love the colour of their wings especially the blue heart shapes on the trailing edge of the hindwing. They are one of the most common butterflies and one of the most widespread throughout the UK, but that does not detract from the buzz I get from seeing and taking photos of them.