Monday, 31 March 2008

First Peacock Butterfly

Peacock butterfly on primulas
Today was the first really sunny day for a while and not so cold. This Peacock butterfly was flitting about the garden, the first that I'd seen this year.
Peacock Butterfly on a Sunny Wall

Book Review

The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason
Excellent novel set in Iceland. A body is found in the bed of a lake and the investigation focuses on the Cold War period when Iceland was strategically important. Unusual plot and well-developed characters. Reminded me of Herman Mankell's books which I also enjoyed.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

An Abundance of Daffodils

And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
William Wordsworth.

I took the photos for the above collage above on a walk today from Lundin Links down to Lower Largo and then along the disused railway track. None of the daffodils pictured were growing in gardens, but in various spots in rough ground adjacent to the footpaths above the shore of Largo Bay. In the last week or so they all seem to have bloomed and there are so many different varieties. They seem to manage to grow through brambles and bracken. Wordsworth's poem may be a trifle sentimental for our 21st Century taste, but I still found them an uplifting sight.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Loch Faskally

On a day trip to Pitlochry on Tuesday, we walked along the shore of Loch Faskally. There were some snow flurries and still some patchy snow lying on the hills above the loch.

View of Loch Faskally from the boating station

Male tufted duck
There was a large group of mallards which are regularly fed by the boating station, but also a pair of tufted ducks. The male is a smart black and white with a long tuft at the back of the head. The female (pictured below) is dark brown with a shorter tuft.
Female tufted duck

Friday, 21 March 2008

Pascal Full Moon

Two photos of the full moon from Lundin Links tonight.

This is the Pascal Full Moon, which fixes the date of Easter. The rule (of the western Christian church) is that Easter Day is the first Sunday after the first Full Moon following the Vernal Equinox, which was on the 20th March. Easter Sunday is therefore on the 23rd, which is one of the very earliest Easter Sundays which it is possible for us to celebrate, (unless other provision is made by the Church.) The last year when Easter fell on the 23rd was in 1913, and the next will be in 2160!!

Dumbarnie Links

Dumbarnie Links Wildlife Reserve sign. A pill-box, a legacy of the Second World War can be seen in the background.

Dumbarnie Links Reserve is a small area of calcareous dune grassland in the centre of Largo Bay. It is a habitat of a type that used to be much more extensive along the East Coast of Scotland., (before so much of it was turned into golf courses!!). The reserve is rich in a large variety of plants and wildlife. The site was purchased in 1998 by the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) with help from Fife Council, and is open to the public at all times. The reserve can only be reached on foot from Lower Largo or Shell Bay in Elie.

Map showing the position of Dumbarnie Links in Largo Bay. (Click to enlarge)

Winter Lochan.

In Winter, hollows with short, rabbit-grazed turf and moss, become flooded to form 'winter lochans' as the underground water-table rises. The above picture was taken a few weeks ago, but I plan to make further visits during the year, to see more of the flora and fauna. The map and information is based on that in the SWT leaflet.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Pheasant in Lundin Links

Heard this squawking noise and saw this pheasant on a wall in Lundin Links. (Click to enlarge)
Pheasant on wall, Lundin Links

Book Review

Buried by Mark Billington
I'm gradually getting up to date with Mark Billinton's novels. This one was a hostage situation, which I'm not too keen on, because the end is usually rather predictable - hostage is released. However, this one did have one or two twists and turns and was extremely well written. Characters of DI Tom Thorne and the police team involved are well developed in this series. Thought the ending in this one was a bit contrived though.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Swans at Lower Largo Harbour

Mute Swans at Lower Largo Harbour. (Click to enlarge)
From time to time usually in the Spring Mute Swans can be seen at Lower Largo Harbour. Haven't seen them for some time, but this pair arrived today.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Storm Damage - An Update

Today - Walked along the beach and had another look at the damage to the sea wall. In 24 hours the damage to the sea wall has got considerably worse, and it has collapsed completely at this point. There are houses just to the right of this photo.

A close-up of the land slip.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Storm Damage

Last week's storms, which coincided with high Spring tides, have left their mark. Just below the coastal path in Lundin Links there is now a large hole in the sea wall and there is a small landslip above the sea wall, where the earth has slid down into the hole. The footpath for the Fife Coastal Path can be seen top right in the photo.

The above photo shows a gap between the stones at the end of Lower Largo Pier. This section of the pier is now only being kept in place by the boulders below it. There was a small gap before the storm, but it has now widened considerably and daylight can be seen looking up from below at low tide. There is also a large chunk missing at the side of the pier. (Left in photo.) Largo pier was previously badly damaged by storms at the end of 1998, and the end of it was fenced off for several months until repairs were completed in the Summer of 1999. It would seem that it is this repair that is now coming apart at the seams.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Flowers in Bloom - Mid-March

Spring Flowers.
The photos for this collage were all taken in my garden in the last couple of days.

This is rather a twixt and between time in my garden. The aconites, pale blue scilla and miniature irises have finished, the snowdrops and crocuses are mostly past their best, and the majority of the Spring bulbs are still to come. The stars of the show at present are definitely the miniature daffodils. I have several varieties - tete a tete, topolino, jet-fire and a tiny double one that I don't know the name of.

Flowers in Bloom - Mid-March
Amemone blanda
Daffodils (mostly Miniature)
Hyacinth (just coming into bloom)
Grape hyacinth (just coming into bloom)
Other Flowers in Bloom
Hebes (2 different)
Wallflower - perrenial and biennial
Hellebores (2 different)
French Lavender
Primulas - various

Friday, 14 March 2008

Caterpillar Lodger

Walking round the garden, looking at the flowers suddenly noticed this big fat juicy green caterpillar on one of the miniature daffodil trumpets.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Welcome Signs of Spring

There is a patch of rough ground adjacent to the road above the shore in Lundin Links, and there are several groups of daffodils just coming into flower. I particularly liked these attractive delicate flowers - long slender pale yellow petals surrounding a bright yellow trumpet. Also noticed a clump of primroses. After the stormy weather of the last few days, it was nice to see the promise of Spring.


Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Book Reviews

A Poisoned Mind by Natasha Cooper

This is in the series about the lawyer Trish Maguire. Very good. Explores the idea that lawyers may have to defend clients that they disapprove of -in this case a multinational company. I thought this was going to be a campaigning novel against big business, but all is not what it seems and there are several twists in the tale.

I Saw You by Julie Parsons
This is a sequel to the novel Mary, Mary. Set in Ireland it is a gripping and disturbing novel, exploring retribution, guilt and love. It has a very scary end.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Spring Snowflake

Spring snowflake - Leucojum vernum

There are still groups of Snowdrops growing beside the path in the Serpentine Walk between Upper and Lower Largo, but today I also spotted this group of Spring Snowflakes (Leucojum vernum). They look very similar to the snowdrops but their six petals are all the same length, while the snowdrops (Galanthus species) have three long and three short petals. The leaves of the Snowflake are also usually glossy and bright green, and the plants look a bit bigger than a Snowdrop.

Monday, 10 March 2008

High Spring Tides

Although the worst of the weather today was in the South of England, it was still a stormy day here in East Fife, the high Spring tides made for some spectacular waves, and it was quite mesmerising to watch them come crashing in. In the photo above the end of the pier at Lower Largo has all but disappeared beneath the waves.

The rocks opposite the pier just showing above the surf.

Surf and spray at the steps beside the Crusoe Hotel in Lower Largo.

Waves crash onto the beach at Lundin Links.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Warkworth Castle and the River Coquet

Warkworth Castle viewed from the path beside the river

On the way back from our trip to Cambridgeshire, we broke our journey and stayed overnight in the excellent Warkworth House Hotel. Warkworth is a small town between Alnwick and Morpeth in Northumberland. It is dominated by a 12th Century Castle which was built overlooking a bend in the River Coquet. There is a very pleasant riverside walk and I think the best view of the castle is from this walk.
Heron on a branch overhanging the river

Two Swans on the Coquet.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Alnwick Gardens

The cascade at Alnwick Gardens from the top looking down to the new Visitor Centre.

Last Wednesday, we travelled South to visit relatives in Cambridgeshire, and on the way we stopped off at the Alnwick Gardens. We had been before, but in the Summer when the gardens were very busy. This time they were very quiet, and it was good to get uninterrupted views of the Cascade.

Looking up the cascade to the arches at the top.

Hellebores and Snowdrops.

At this time of year, there isn't an awful lot in flower in the gardens, but there was a great show of hellebores, and spring bulbs - still some snowdrops, and bright patches of crocus and the miniature blue iris.


Miniature irises (Iris reticulata)

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Roe Deer

There is a small woody hillock across the road from the Lundin Links Hotel, which belongs to the Water Board. Just at dusk tonight I saw two small deer grazing on the hillock, their white rumps very prominent in the gloom. They were only around 25 yards away from the heavy evening traffic in the main road through the village. They were likely to be have been roe deer, as that is the most common deer in Fife. Their small size and prominent white rump is also indicative of roe deer. The roe deer is primarily active in the twilight.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Spider Lurking

When I opened the front door yesterday, there was a spider in front of me dangling on a silken thread, and swaying alarmingly in the strong wind. Eventually it dropped onto the conifer on the step, and I managed to take a photo of it.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Tête à Tête

Tête à Tête Miniature Daffodils

There are several groups of Tête à Tête Daffodils coming into flower in my garden now. Their soft yellow flowers are a welcome sight on a cloudy day. They are an excellent bulb to grow as they come out early in the year. They increase year on year, and flower reliably.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

March Birdwatch

Robin 1
Wood pigeon 2
Dunnock 2
Blue tit 2
House sparrow 3
Starling 1
Chaffinch - female 1
Blackbird - male 2