The Long Dusk

Errol Flynn sure did have some wicked ways! Yes, I’m still reading My Wicked, Wicked Ways, it’s tiny print – plus I only read it on sunny days out in the Park. Boy, was it sunny yesterday! I took myself up Whinny Hill to find a quiet grassy spot hidden in the gorse, annoyingly my usual “go to” spots had already been got to by others! I wandered higher and higher to find a suitable spot – so I’m particular, bite me. The sun was so sunny and the book was so fascinating, it was going on for seven o’clock before I headed home for tea.

Tea over I headed out again, well, it was still very warm, I reckoned it would be a good night for bats. As it would be quite a while before any bats came out there was plenty of time to head to St Margaret’s Loch the long way round – right round the Park! For the back of ten o’clock there were still quite a number of folk out taking the evening air watching the dusk deepening (dusk takes it’s time in Scotland in the middle of summer).

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There was still some birdsong, oh, and a peacock sounding off over at Prestonfield House, a posh affair just south of Holyrood Park. The jackdaws were all away for the night, a few swallows zoomed about but most noticeable was the sound of the grasshoppers (grasshoppers/crickets? I looked it up, pretty sure it’s grasshoppers here). That sound! It evokes other places, other times, dreams! It rose up from the large sweeps of long grass around that area; I will definitely go on more evening walks up around Dunsapie Loch. And then, bats, oh my!

One, I hadn’t even thought there’d be bats around Dunsapie Loch (where would they roost?) and two, it was much lighter than when they usually come out down at St Margaret’s Loch. They were flitting around by the trees in the carpark area, had the swallows just knocked off up there? – I have a thing that the bats aren’t allowed out until every swallow has parked up for the night. You’ll always see the odd one or two cheeky swallows taking their time with a few last flybys. It was definitely much lighter, I was able to walk at the edge of the Loch and see the bats skim way across the water (by now, at quarter to eleven). I would have walked to the other end of the lochside but ahead I saw the swans were all asleep on the path, apart from one that was obviously on duty. Nope, I backtracked enough to find another way back on to the road, I’m not stupid!

Only a couple of bats flitted by as I walked down the road towards a more wooded area. In the gloom under the low hanging trees I saw an animal ahead of me, it slunk along looking for trouble, umm, black and white. Aww, it was a cat, a cat that glared at me for calling it Puss, a number of times to no avail. Didn’t I realise that tonight she was a badass Nightprowler?!

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Wow, even at that time there were walkers and cyclists going past me up into the Park. One cyclist had no lights AND he was on the path under low dense trees! I could hear something odd ahead and luckily decided to move off the path as I could see the road better. Finally down at St Margaret’s Loch it was very gloomy, but no bats!? I stood and waited in my first spot (I’ll wait around a long time to see a bat), nothing, walked to the second spot (I have my five best spots to  bat watch around the Loch), zilch. Third spot, come on, guys, it’s definitely past bat o’clock by now. Fourth spot, and oo, one, then nothing. I was sure it would be Bat Central there but instead, just Norman-No-Mates.

I headed home somewhat perplexed. I do hope the bats are okay, I would hate to have anything happen to them. Yeah, course they are, what do I know about bats? Not a lot, they’re just great to watch, like vampires. Yay, Buffy was on telly when I got in. Marvellous!

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Just strollin’ in the rain

The rain is lashing down outside, tomorrow’s gonna be way cooler, yay, it’s June! It was forecast (the rain not June) for this evening, it tried to start earlier but all that could be mustered were a few very pleasant drizzly showers. We had a lovely warm day here in Edinburgh with balmy breezes too, the drizzle didn’t seem to put off anyone from going out, including yours truly; some were prepared with brollies or rain jackets, others just didn’t care as it was so warm, so Holyrood Park was still a popular place for the day’s exercise.

20200602_191723The scents wafting on the breeze were intoxicating, the gorse, of course, and now the elderflowers are adding their sweet sherbetiness, there’s plenty of dogtooth roses out now too (they always make me think of my father). Plenty of other smells too mingling in, especially after a shower. This afternoon I noticed how many foxgloves seem to have recently popped up, they are some of my favourite flowers.

The big tree by the side of Dunsapie Loch was literally buzzing with life (well, bees). The swans were proudly showing off this year’s brood, six cygnets all looking well with one being a bit of rebel, dawdling doing it’s own thing (there’s always one in every family!) An inquisitive young spaniel was subjected to the most awful language by the father, well, he did sound like he was swearing. Poor pup wasn’t even that close to the water’s edge when the swans came by, possibly the fact that the pup was quite wet made Pops decide best to discourage any future doggy paddling.

As often proceeds heavy rain the birds were all singing like billy-o; a fair few keen amateur photographers were about trying to catch sight of them. The poor jackdaws were ignored as usual, I like them with their shiny black caps, all hanging out together in their bovver boy gangs on the craggier parts of the park. Somewhere on a lower spot a pheasant would occasionally let out a few raucous squawks, not a pleasant sound!

I did notice today that some parts of the Park were looking quite parched and both the ponds were looking lower than usual, the rain will be very welcome. And the good folk of Auld Reekie can go back to moaning about the weather!

 

‘Allo Vera!

How I love the smell of gorse flowers in the evening! After a warm sunny day the heady perfume from all the gorse around Holyrood Park is quite intoxicating; it lingers into the twilight with the occasional whiff on the breeze. If you’re wondering what this heavenly scent is like just think suntan lotion with aloe vera. God, I love it, in fact one year I decided to attempt to bottle it!

I had pondered on the idea for a few years, so with a few old books on wine-making and Google to assist, I set out to capture this nectar of the gorse in alcoholic form. Did it work? Umm, if I ever tried again I would hold back with the raisins, whilst I get that they help with the sweetness it was too sherry-y for me which I put down to the raisins. Mind I still have a couple or three bottles of it! They do say try some of your endeavours young but lay some back to mature. There’s also a bottle of greengage wine from a few years ago, up there in the winerack, gathering dust, occasionally winking at me.

Anyway, yes, the last two evenings I strolled down to Holyrood Park to enjoy the scented evening air and a spot of bat-watching. My favourite place for this is St Margaret’s Loch, or the Bottom Pond as I just called it for years (halfway up the park is the Top Pond aka Dunsapie Loch). There may be other good places to see bats in the Park, probably near Duddingston Loch, but they might be creepier to walk home from in the dark! At dusk there are still plenty of folk in the area, some winding their way down from Arthur’s Seat or the Crags, others heading up (I do hope they have torches); St Anthony’s Chapel above St Margaret’s Loch always attracts a few.

A blackbird was blasting out his evensong as I approached the Loch yesterday. There was plenty of other snippets of birdsong which seemed to turn into disgruntled squarks and squabbles as everyone settled in for the evening. A few ducks flew off and the swans all settled down, no longer bothering to follow anyone walking by the lochside. And then the bats came out to play!

With such clear skies both evenings the bats were very visible at the start. I was making my way along the path on the hill side of the Loch when I saw a few bats skittering above the gorse bushes towards the end of the water. Oh my, there were loads, don’t think I’ve ever seen so many there before, a bumper year for bats? Once I see one bat that’s me for a long while, just standing, enchanted by them. A few folk walk past, some look decidedly in front trying to avoid eye contact with the weirdo standing staring into the gloom, whilst others notice the bats and often stop awhile too.

Just round through the trees to the end of the Loch and there’s another great spot to see them swooping all around you. The longer you stay still the closer the bats will come – you’re attracting insects and so too the bats! Two evenings ago a couple of American tourists stood awhile with me, the lady was worried by the old myth of bats flying into hair, but I explained the insect deal and assured her the bats wouldn’t land in her hair – unless she moved really suddenly at the wrong moment!

After a long while I headed back up the road side of the Loch; there are some great spots along this stretch, just where the trees clear by the water’s edge for seeing more bats. Then sadly, much as bat-watching is fun, the chill and darkness became apparent and time for home. Up on the hillsides in the Park random torchlights shine and snippets of music and chat waft down. Heading back into town the Cursed Earth (sorry,  Dynamic Earth to you guys, I called it that when it was being built and it stuck) looks like some giant malevolent bug.

I love that I live in a beautiful city but have this abundance of wildness on my doorstep 💛

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