Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Snake's Head Fritillary

Snake's Head Fritillary
I love the chequered pattern on this flower. Unfortunately this flower wasn't blooming in my garden, but in a friend's. I've never had a lot of success growing them; they come up for a year or two and then disappear.
In the wild it was naturalised in Southern England, but it has become very rare as the damp meadows that it favours have been drained and ploughed. It is now only found in a few protected sites.

Monday, 28 April 2008

A Sudden Spring

Bar-tailed Godwit
Most of April has been so cold, grey and windy, that it seemed that Nature was on hold. Nothing very much seemed to be going on. However, yesterday dawned mild , calm with a hazy sun and everything seemed to come alive. There were seals basking on the rocks, oyster catchers and a heron along the tide-line, the swans were swimming in Lower Largo Harbour. There was just so much happening. Also saw this bar-tailed godwit, with its very long slightly upturned bill.

Bluebells on the Disused Railway Track

Along the old railway track other flowers were coming out to join the daffodils - daisies, scurvy grass, dandelions, forget-me-nots, red campion and bluebells. Birds were singing, bees were buzzing, butterflies were flitting.

A Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly
I was pleased to see this small tortoiseshell, because last year they seemed to be quite scarce.

Preparing to Sail
There was plenty of human activity too, and on the beach in front of the sailing club, the small yachts were being got ready.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Seals at Lundin Links

Seal balancing on rock, in typical banana shape pose.
Quiet calm weather and low tide seems the best time to see seals on the exposed rocks, just opposite the first tee of Lundin Golf Course. There were five seals alltogether this morning.
Two seals sharing a rock, while a gull flies overhead.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Garden Snail

Garden Snail - Helix aspersa
We might get fed up with all the April showers, but snails just love the rain. The wet summer last year suited them just fine. This one was on the side of a flower pot that I was about to use, and when I moved it, it wandered off down the path and into the undergrowth.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Across the Forth

North Berwick Law viewed from Dirleton Castle.
Standing on the shore at Lower Largo and looking across the Forth Estuary to the East Lothian Coast, the two features that stand out are North Berwick Law and the Bass Rock. On a visit to the Sea Bird Centre at North Berwick was able to see these two features at close quarters. There are over 150,000 gannets on the Bass Rock and the Seabird Centre has live webcams on the rock. At the moment the birds are nesting and the first eggs have been spotted.

The Bass Rock from North Berwick

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Squirrels at Silverburn

Grey squirrel at Silverburn Estate, Leven.
Grey squirrels are not popular, as they are an introduced species and are a threat to our native reds. Certainly not as attractive as the reds. However, they have been here for quite a while now, and the situation is not their fault. These were pictured at the car park at the Silverburn Estate which is a short walk from the Leven Beach following a path between the two golf courses of Lundin and Leven.

Click on photos to enlarge images.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Red Sky Over Lundin Links

Beautiful red sky over the houses in Lundin Links yesterday evening.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Flowers in Bloom - Mid April

Anemone blanda
Grape hyacinth
Summer snowflakes
Tulips-just beginning to bloom

Other Flowers in Bloom
Lesser celandine- 2 different
Hebes (2 different)
Wallflower - perrenial and biennial
Hellebores (3 different)
French Lavender
Primulas - various
Polyanthus - various

Book Review

Innocent Blood by Elizabeth Corley
This was the first book of Elizabeth Corley's that I had read, and on the whole I thought it was a good read. The subject matter was disturbing, because it concerned young boys. The plot was well developed. I just felt that she had made the policeman DCI Fenwick was a little too clever, almost like Dr Watson talking about Holmes. However, I would read another book in the series.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Wemyss Castle Gardens and the Erythroniums

Erythroniums in Wemyss Castle Garden Woodland
Today, Wemyss Castle Gardens were the first gardens in Fife, this year, to be open under the Scotland's Garden Scheme. Wemyss Castle is on the Fife Coast a few miles East of Kirkcaldy. The woodland gardens there have a succession of Spring flowers, but the stars of the show are the Erythroniums (Erythronium revolutum). They were planted in small groups in the 1970s but have taken off in the last 15 years and have naturalised on the site in profusion. In the Spring they now make carpets of lilac flowers throughout the woodland garden.

The shadow of the trees on the Erythroniums.

Erythronium revolutum
(Click on photos to see larger images)

Friday, 11 April 2008

Lungwort and the Doctrine of Signatures

Lungwort - Pulmonaria officianalis
There is a small patch of lungwort in my garden. It arrived as an interloper with a plant that I bought at a Scoottish Garden Scheme Plant Sale, but I'm very pleased to have it. Lungwort is an interesting plant because it is a much quoted example of the Doctrine of Signatures which dominated European medical thinking in the 16th and 17th Centuries. It was made popular during the European Renaissance by Paracelsus (Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, 1493-1541), a Swiss alchemist, physician, and astronomer who wrote about its virtues. According to this medieval Doctrine, which held that a plant's appearance pointed to the ailment it treated, lungwort was effective for chest ailments because its spotted leaves were thought to resemble diseased lung tissue.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

First Ladybird

7-Spot Ladybird (Coccinella 7-punctata)
(Click on photo to see larger image)
This is the first ladybird that I have seen this year. It was on the perennial wallflower in my garden. The 7-spot is one of the most common British types, but there are also around 40 other species. All have different striking colour and spot combinations to warn off predators. When disturbed the ladybird will secrete small amounts of its oily foul-smelling yellow blood from its legs as a further warning to predators such as ants or birds. Most species of ladybird are predatory - eating sap-sucking plant pests, particularly aphids such as greenfly and are therefore popular with gardeners.
Unfortunately an alien ladybird has arrived in Britain and is threatening the native species. The harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) was first spotted in Britain in 2004 in the South of Englnd and is moving steadily Northwards. There have now been two sightings in Scotland, one in Perthshire and one in Orkney.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Strange Rock Formation

There is a section of rock near the harbour in Lower Largo which has a honey-combed appearance. The hollows are home to many limpets and barnacles. In places the rock appears to have a crust over the top. (See photo below) Interesting to speculate how these features were formed. No doubt a geologist would be able to tell me. There was considerable volcanic activity in this area 300 to 350 million years ago. Largo Law is the remains of a volcanic neck. Wonder if the holes were formed by gases in molten material, and the crust on the top formed when the outer surface cooled.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

April (Snow) Showers

A snowy scene looking across Lundin Ladies Golf Course.

'Though April showers may come your way,
They bring the flowers that bloom in May.'
Somehow I don't think the songwriter was thinking about heavy snow showers, but that was what we got this morning, together with a biting North wind. Fortunately it didn't last too long and by the afternoon had melted away.

Friday, 4 April 2008


Cowslips growing on a bank beside the disused railway track in Lower Largo.
The cowslip, Primula veris was once widespread in meadows and pastures, especially in lime-rich soils. It is now much less abundant because of the effect of modern agricultural methods on grassland. According to legend, St Peter dropped the keys to Heaven and where they landed Cowslips grew (the flowers were thought to resemble a set of keys).

Book Review

Bones to Ashes by Kathy Reichs
As a rule I don't like American novels, or perhaps I should put that another way, I don't like novels set in America, I prefer novels set in Britain or Ireland, because I have some idea of the setting. However, there are a few exceptions and one is the author Kathy Reichs. I have read all her books right from the first one - Deja Dead. I enjoyed the early Patricia Cornwell novels, but haven't enjoyed the later ones so much, and now prefer Kathy Reichs as a writer and her heroine Tempe Brennan. Although the subject matter can be grisly and there is plenty of forensic detail, she doesn't glory in it and treats the subjects of the pathology with due reverence. This latest one Bones to Ashes is excellent. It is set in Acadia the name given to a French-speaking former colonial territory in Northeastern North America that included parts of Eastern Quebec, the Maritime provinces, and modern-day New England.

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Lomond Hills Landmark

Standing among trees on the edge of a hillside on the North side of the Lomond Hills in Fife is a landmark which can be seen for many miles. Yesterday we walked through the Fallkland Estate and then through the forest up to this monument. It is a 60 foot high stone-built tower, erected in memory of Onesiphorus Tyndall-Bruce of Falkland who died 19th March 1855. He was the instigator of the tree planting on the Lomonds and the surrounding area. The view from the statue over the Howe of Fife is magnificent.

A mile and a half East of the monument, in the village of Falkland and near the entrance door to the Church of Scotland is a statue to the same Onesiphorus Tyndall-Bruce. The statue was paid for by public subscription. He built the Church in 1849. He was an Englishman who married a Miss Bruce of Falkland. His Christian name is unusual, but it can be found in the Bible at 2 Timothy, chapter 1 verse 16.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail at the edge of the fishpond in Falkland Estate.
Pied wagtails are a familiar sight, the grey wagtail less so. It was a beautiful day today, so went to Falkland (about 14 miles inland and North-East of Largo) and walked through the grounds of the estate. Just inside the gates there is a pond and there are usually mallards there. Didn't see any mallards today, but this grey wagtail was bobbing about at the water's edge.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

April Birdwatch

Spring is definitely in the air. Birds are displaying and chasing each other round the garden. Saw a pair of Collared Doves today. Have seen them in the garden before, but not for a while.

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