Thursday, 31 January 2008

Book Review

Clean Cut by Lynda La Plante
I never got into reading Lynda La Plante's Trial and Retribution, although I did watch the series on television, however, this is the 3rd book that I've read in the series featuring DCI Ann Travis and DCI James Langton. Excellent, if somewhat gruesome at times. Fast moving but complicated plot, and complicated relationship between the two DCIs. There's a cunning twist at the end.
Score 8 out of 10

Previously read in this series
Above Suspician
The Red Dahlia

Wednesday, 30 January 2008


Scilla tubergeniana
One or two more bulbs starting to appear now in my garden. This pale blue-flowered scilla is native to North Iran and the South Caucasus. It flowers as soon as the shoot pierces the ground.

Monday, 28 January 2008

Life on the Rocks

Sunday morning, walked down to the beach. The tide was right out, which gave an oppotunity to wander amongst the rocks to see what I could see. Very windy and not many birds about, apart from black-headed gulls, which always seem to be about whatever the weather.

Large mussel shell, whelks eggcase, razor shell.

Whelks eggcases. I've often seen these strange spongy objects on the beach and wondered what they were. I didn't even know where to start looking them up, so had to go through my seashore guide page by page. Whelks lay their eggs in shallow water attached to rocks or even wooden structures like pier posts. After stormy weather as we've had over the last few days they get detached and washed up on to the beach.

Periwnkles on small rock with seaweed attached.

Limpets on barnacle encrusted rocks.

Young mussels, limpet and barnacles.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

A Circular Walk from Lundin Links

The weather was better yesterday, after a terrible 24 hours of driving rain. We set off for a walk in the afternoon. From the centre of Lundin Links we headed down to the pier.

Looking down onto the bay, could see that on this exposed rock apart from the gulls there was a large flock of very tiny birds. I'm not very good at identifying small waders, but I suspect these were dunlin.

Carried on to Lower Largo Harbour. Gulls often stand on the tops of the mooring posts. This one is a black-headed gull. In winter they lose the black head. all that remains is a dark spot near the eye.

The beach was out, because of the high tide, so walked along Main Street in Lower Largo to the Temple carpark. At the back of the carpark there are some steps up to the old disused railway track, now part of the Fife Coastal path. There is a track uphill to the left which leads to the Serpentine Walk. This is a snake like path that leads to Upper Largo. This walkway and the surrounding trees are now in the care of the Woodland Trust.

Just at the beginning of the path there were some patches of snowdrops, the first that I have seen in bloom.

There is a good view of Largo Law from the path with the village of Upper Largo nestling at it's foot.

The long narrow Sepentine Walk with trees on either side.

We have a Breathing Places Nature of Britain calender produced by the BBC and the Open University, which suggests things to look out for each month. One of the things for January was Ear Fungus on elder trees. There are some dead elder trees on the Serpentine Walk and we found the ear fungus on a broken off branch.

At the end of the walk we crossed the Main Road and turned back towards Lundin Links.

Sheep may safely graze. Sheep in the field, in the shadow of the ruins of Largo House, seeminly unperturbed by the traffic rushing by on the main road.

At the War Memorial we turned right towards the entrance to Keils Den. This is a lovely wooded area which surrounds both sides of the Keil Burn. Again it is in the care of the Wodland Trust.

A patch of aconite in bloom at the side of the road.

Another fungus. Not sure of this ones identity though. Ash seed was another thing we were looking out for, and we saw this on the far bank.

From the entrance to the Den we walked above the steep sides of the Den till a path drops down to a bridge. We crossed the bridge walked back along the other side of the burn, to a public footpath along the edge of a field which leads back into Lundin Links

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Big Garden Birdwatch 26th to 27th January

For some years the RSPB have been running a garden birdwatch on the last weekend in January. The public are invited to take part by watching and recording the birds they see in one hour in their garden or a park and sending in their results by post or online.

My results for this year were
Blackbird: 3
Blue tit: 2
Dunnock: 3
Robin: 1
Woodpigeon: 2
Crow: 1

The house sparrows, chaffinches, and starlings that I normally see on a daily basis had mysteriously disappeared. For comparison, results from the last two years

Big Garden Birdwatch 2007.
Blackbird : 1
Blue tit : 2
Chaffinch : 2
Dunnock : 3
House sparrow : 4
Robin : 1

Big Garden Birdwatch 2006.
Blackbird : 2
Blue tit : 2
Coal tit : 1
Great tit : 1
Chaffinch : 2
Dunnock : 3
House sparrow : 3
Robin : 1
Woodpigeon : 1

Friday, 25 January 2008

Avocet Reported in Scotland.

A single avocet, a bird not normally seen in Scotland, has been sighted at the Scottish Wildlife Trust's Monrose Basin reserve in Angus. The avocet became extinct in the UK in the mid 19th century, but since 1947 has made a comeback in areas of wetland in the South and East coast of England. This one may just be a one-off rare occurence, a bird off course, or it might indicate that the bird is moving further North. With global warming the avocet might extend its range and sightings in Scotland might become more common.
The above was reported in The Courier today. The Courier is a local daily newspaper, published in Dundee and distributed in Dundee and Angus, Perth and Fife. It is extremely good at reporting unusual nature sightings and I think it is worth noting these in the blog, as can keep a look out and might just poossibly see the same thing, and also as time goes by could perhaps tell whether it was just a rare occurence, or whether it has become commonplace.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Lighten Our Darkness!

Very stormy morning, rain, sleet and very dark skies. The sunrise over the Forth, with the very dark clouds above produced this strange picture taken from the shore at Leven at around 8.30am today.

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

High Tide at the Pier

When it's high tide the rocks opposite the pier at Lower Largo get partly covered and the birds often move and stand at the end of the pier. Another very grey and wet day today. The pictures again look black and white.

As I approached the end of the pier, the birds all flopped into the sea.

Book Review

The House Sitter by Peter Lovesey
I have read several of this series by Peter Lovesey featuring his detective Peter Diamond. I found them rather mixed but thought this was one of the better ones and enjoyed it very much. They are usually set in Bath, but this one was partly set on the South Coast, and involved not only another force but special branch as well. I think it benefited from these other elements.
Score 7 out of 10

Monday, 21 January 2008

Magpie sighted

Raining most of the day, so didn't go down to the pier, till nearly dusk. Very few birds about, but on the way back saw a magpie in a clump of trees overlooking the bay. I've seem plenty in West Fife, but that's the first time I've seen one in Lundin Links. It gets a bad press because it eats eggs and chicks of small birds, but may not do as much harm as cats and the protected hawks and falcons.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Pink-footed goose, Red-breasted merganser, Cormorant

Several interesting sightings on my walk today. There was a single pink-footed goose swimming in the harbour at Lower Largo. Pink-footed geese are usually in large groups, and it's unusual to see one on it's own, so although it didn't appear to be injured, perhaps there was something wrong. I first noticed it standing amongst the rocks opposite the pier. It then swam out to sea, and as I followed it with the binoculars, I saw a male red breasted merganser, just off the pier. There were also cormorants on the rocks, one with wings outspread. as I walked home a weasel or a stoat (weasel I think) darted acoss my path, chestnut coat and creamy-white underbelly.
Cormorants on the rocks.

Red-breasted merganser (front of picture) and pink-footeed goose (swimming away)

Pink-footed goose


Oystercatchers on the rocks

Oystercatchers at the shoreline. Seconds after this picture was taken they all took off.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Birdwatching at the Mouth of the River Leven

Just where the River Leven flows into the Forth, there is a large carpark opposite the old disused Methil Power station, and this is a good spot to see gulls and other seabirds. It was a very dull gey day today, so the pictures look black and white.

A group of golden eye, the males are striking, black and white with a bright white spot near the eye. The females are duller.

Another group of golden eye, male and female.

There are nearly always three swans at this point and here they are swimming up-stream.

Two of the swans

A close-up of one of the swans. The orange beak shows that it's a mute swan.


The first appearance of aconite flowers just peeping out above ground. Snowdrops are beginning to push up through the soil, but not in flower yet.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Blackcap spotted!

For the first time ever, I saw a blackcap today in our garden at Lundin Links. I has just put some sunflower seed on the bird-table and was looking out the kitchen window at the birds arriving to feed. I didn't want to frighten it away so didn't go for my camera to try and photo it. However, if it comes back another day I'll try and get a picture. Although they are normally a summer visitor, there are obviously more birds staying in Britain over the winter, and becoming more common further North as well.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Book Review

Jumping the Cracks by Victoria Blake
This is the fourth novel in this series featuring Sam Falconer, private eye and former judo champion. Set in Oxford and London, I've enjoyed them all. Quite unusual. Sam is an interesting heroine, who has her own demons, but manages to work through them and solve the crime as well.
Score 8 out of 10

Previously read in this series.
Bloodless Shadow
Cutting Blades
Skin and Blister

Sunday, 13 January 2008

A pantomime and a book

Mother Goose
Friday was a night out for the team that I work with. After at an Italian pre-theatre supper at the excellent Pane e Vino in Hunter Street Kirkcaldy, we adjourned to the Adam Smith Theatre for the pantomime. This particular night was for adults only and it was a full house. As a child I was not keen on pantos. I always wished they'd get on with the story, instead of all that mucking about. However, I quite enjoyed this. The local jokes. The lapses into the vernacular. The excellent young dance troupe. It was a moral tale. Money and beauty do not make for happiness. In the end good triumphs over evil.
Very frosty night so drove home through Coaltown and East Wemyss, rather than the dreaded Standing Stanes Road. A fox crossed in front of the car in East Wemyss.

The Officer's Daghter by Zina Rohan
I thought I should start writing short reviews of the books that I've enjoyed. If I've read a book that I've enjoyed I look for more by the same author. Trouble is I can't always remember which one I've read. If I've reviewed them in the blog I'll be able to look back to the ones I've already read.
This is not the kind of book I usually read, but it was recommended to me at the Library in Lundin Links. I thoroughly enjoyed The Officer's Daghter, particularly the early part of the book, when the heroine Marta is transported to a logging camp, then cotton fields in Russia (one of Stalin's great ideas!), and then on to a British field hospital in Iran. I thought the strength of the book was the way it conveyed the fact that in wartime, people are taken over by the tide of events and have no choice in the matter. I didn't think that the love-triangle which develops between Marta, a Polish soldier and an Iranian doctor worked so well (but perhaps I'm just not into romantic fiction) and in the end I thought the book rather petered out.
Score 8 out of 10

Omphalodes (Navelwort)

Not much flowering at the moment; a few straggly flowers left over from last year, but I spotted the tiny blue forget-me-not like flowers of the omphalodes. It's native to Turkey, and forms a mound of mid-green oval foliage, topped with the starry, bright-blue blooms.

Flowers in Bloom - Mid-January
The middle of each month would seem to be a good time to look round the garden to take stock of what is in flower.


Other Flowers in Bloom
All these were rather poor specimens and hanging on from last year.

Hebes (3 different)
Wallflower - perrenial
Hellebores (2 different)
French Lavender
Primulas - various

Friday, 11 January 2008

Woodmouse - the story continues

I have some birdfeeder pods on canes and spotted this little wood mouse climbing up to reach the sunflower seeds. I wonder if it's the same little mouse as in the blog of the 29th November. See the photo below taken on that day.

Monday, 7 January 2008

A Walk Round Lower Largo

Yesterday (Sunday) was the first really sunny morning that we had had since Christmas, so armed with my new camera, I walked down to the harbour at Lower Largo. The tide was coming in, so I then walked through the village, and then along the old railway path towards Ely and then back along the beach, until I had to once more go up to the path because of the rising tide.

This photo shows the pier at Lower Largo, the bridge across the Keil burn and the old railway viaduct in the background. (The railway line was closed in the 1960s)

This bronze statue of Robinson Crusoe is in the Main Street in the village. Alexander Selkirk was born in Lower Largo. It was his real life adventures that inpired Daniel Defoe to write his famous book.

View looking back along the beach towards the Temple area of Lower Largo, so called because it was thought to be linked to the Knight's Templars.

Another view looking back to the village.

View looking down on to the harbour and the Crusoe hotel

Lower Largo has a thriving sailing club, and there are often small yachts in the bay. The faint outline of Berwick Law can be seen through the mist on the opposite side of the Forth.

Not a great photo, but the scarlet legs of the redshank can be clearly seen. It tends to be the first bird to react as one approaches, with it's warning cry, it's said to be the sentinel of the beach.

Turnstones along the shoreline, searching for food.

Oystercatchers can be seen not only on the beach, but in the fields above.

Not many flowers in bloom in January, but the gorse adds a bit of brightness.

Ivy covers some of the fences along the old railway track. Its yellow-green flowers bloom late and are a good source of nectar for wildlife, and its dense foliage provides shelter.

Again along the old railway track, teasel heads blow in the breeze. Birds particularly goldfinches feed on the seeds.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

January Birdwatch

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch takes place at the end of the month. I usually find that as soon as I sit down at the appointed hour to record the birds the little darlings all do a disappearing act, so I thought that on the first of every month I would record what I see during the day. Hopefully I will be able to build up a picture of the birds that frequent the garden through the year, and also be able to photograph most of them. January 1st seems a good day to start

Robin 1
Wood pigeon 1
Dunnock 2
Blue tit 1
House sparrow 6
Starling 1
Chaffinch - male 1
Chaffinch - female 1
Blackbird - male 1
Blackbird - female 1