Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The Gift of Birds

Subtitled True Encounters with Avian Spirits, this book is a wonderful collection of meetings with birds.

From Ron Naveen's descriptions of visits to a chinstrap penguin colony to Terry Tempest Williams meditation on whimbrels, the shrinking of Great Salt Lake and her mother's illness these are beautiful moving stories of human encournters with birds.

It is largely a north American collection, so I'm unfamiliar with many of the species described. However the closing piece Kenn Kaufmann's Skylark sees the author travelling to San Juan Island odd the Pacific West Coast to visit the colony of introduced skylarks, one of my favourite birds.

'Once more I walked down to the edge of the tall grass, to the border of the larks' world, and stood looking upward. A single skylark was up there now, rowering on quivered wings, high above the earth. The song that came rippling and running and trilling down spoke defiance to raging seas and rockbound coasts, to the wintry cast of the sky, to the spirits of this northwestern island. It seemed then that even the elements must acknowledge this singer for the eloquence of his futile challenge. At last another skylark cane up to the west, and another off to the east; the voices rang down the sky, on and on, as if the song would go on forever. '

A beautiful collection of essays that any birder will enjoy and may well introduce a few non-birders to the joys of our feathered friends.

The Gift of Birds, true Encounters with Avian Spirits edited by Larry Habegger and Amy G Carlson, published by Traveler's Tales

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

Monday, 3 August 2015

Crafting for Cats

I've had great fun making some toys for our adorable rescue cat, Treacle. Here are just a few of them

There's an old glove - I cut off all the most badly worn bits and sewed a bell into the thumb, there are old socks stuffed with various things, one has a piece of soft plastic inside it, which squeaks when you squeeze it. There's also the 'craftygreenmonster' which never sold in my Etsy shop so I've adapted it into a cat toy!

Treacle is only two and a half, so although no longer a kitten, he's still a very young cat and very playful. These toys all keep him entertained. There are others too. One of his favourites, for some reason, is a felt strawberry, that i upcycled (or perhaps that should be side-cycled?) from a brooch, which i got in one of the preview boxes from the Good Box. I just took off the brooch attachment...

He also loves this thing that I made. He's dozing in this photo but when he's awake he loves to jump up at the dangling pieces of plastic!

I'm also making a cat blanket. I can't knit, so it's mostly made from oblongs that I've woven from scrap wool as donated (a while ago) by my Mum, Crafty Green Boyfriend's Mum and another friend. I've also added some of my other woven items and scraps from worn gloves. It's really not a pretty blanket, but Treacle loves it.

I need to make more oblongs for this, though Treacle sat on the loom before i could start that task.....

Meanwhile Treacle has crafty skills too, here he is trying his hand at flower arranging

He's a happy cat I think

Saturday, 1 August 2015

A Cat called Treacle

We went along to Edinburgh Cat Protection today and found ourselves a cat! This is Treacle a beautiful young male cat who likes to explore the flat, sit on the windowledge and watch the world go by and sometimes even likes to lie down and rest!

When our lovely rabbit Anya left us to cross over the Rainbow Bridge, we had often thought of getting another rabbit, but we needed to first make sure the flat would be mouse proof. Rabbit food attracts mice you see and any old building in Edinburgh has mice. However we eventually realised that because of the mice, another rabbit wouldn't be practical. So we started to think about getting a cat and eventually that's exactly what we did.....

I've made quite a few cat toys from upcycled materials, and I'll blog about them in the next few days. He's playing with them happily already. 

Friday, 31 July 2015

Bees at the front door

The local bees just flock to the front of our building at this time of year to feed on the beautiful Hypericum bush

If you look closely you can see that this white tailed / buff tailed bumblebee has got quite large knees (pollen baskets) so it's obviously a very busy bee! (Bees don't really have knees of course, but the pollen baskets do look like knees!)

and this common carder bee is all neatly tucked into the flower!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

A wee insect finds a cosy spot to rest

Look carefully in this thistle flower and you'll see a beautiful Grypocoris stysi.(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)
I took this photo while we were picking raspberries at lunchtime in our favourite raspberry picking place. The weather was beautiful and the raspberry bushes and brambles were full of bees, red soldier beetles and other insects.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Another beaded lanyard

I made this beaded lanyard from my stash of beads, a re-sued lanyard connector and new jewellery wire and fittings. I added it to the Crafty Green Poet Etsy shop a while ago and somehow seem to have overlooked blogging about it.

It's in red, white and blue, which of course are the patriotic colours for a number of nations, but I have to say I think it probably will have the greatest appeal in the USA, as there seems specifically to be a market in patriotic lanyards there, which is certainly something that doesn't seem very likely to be the case in the UK.....

I'm hoping to make another one similar in design, but don't have quite enough beads as yet!

You can see this one in my Etsy shop here.

Monday, 27 July 2015



Gulls divebomb each other,
squabble over perching rights
on chimney pots,
throw back their heads
in raucous chorus,
rip rubbish sacks to shreds,
steal chicks from nests
and eat them on the roofs
then launch into the sky
to soar on thermals,
sharp white wings
against the blue.

At this time of the year, gulls become very protective of their fledgeling young. From our flat we can hear their raucous calls for much of the day and they often chase each other and squabble over food. This is actually quite entertaining, though our neighbours who put up a birdfeeder on their third floor windowsill, soon took it back in again when they found their windowsill a gathering point for the local gulls.

This year, the behaviour of gulls has caused an outcry at national level. There are tales of dogs being killed, a tortoise been killed (and a rabbit being traumatised after witnessing the attack). Calls for culling are repeated across the country and David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister is calling for a big conversation about gulls

For a while the media unthinkingly jumped on this bandwagon, without thinking that a) this is natural behaviour, gulls are only protecting their young and their increased activity only happens for a couple of weeks, b) humans, by providing attractive feeding opportunities, such as overflowing bins in the streets, landfill sites full of rich food pickings, foolish people who feed bread straight to the gulls, are causing gulls to increasingly come into towns, where they become perceived as nuisances. 

Luckily, there have been some articles in defence of gulls:

One of the things that people forget is that gulls are declining in their natural, coastal environments just as they are increasing in more urban areas. As noted above, we're effectively responsible for deciding that they prefer living in towns, where the food is easy. Plus we seem to have forgotten that nature isn't always 'nice' and peaceful' but it is also red in tooth and claw. 

Of course I feel sympathy for the people who have lost pets to gulls, or who have been threatened themselves, but to put it into context, how many people are attacked by pet dogs every year? (Actually I've lost the number, but it's a lot lot more than are attacked by gulls).