Friday, 13 February 2009

Unlucky or not?

A fitting parking ticket for Friday the thirteenth! Believe it or not this is the actual ticket I put on my car today as I parked outside Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. We did get a ‘wooah’ moment when it popped out of the machine.

I am delighted to report no mishaps. We had a very pleasant trip around the garden. Yes, it was a little cold and there was snow covering the ground. Although the few snowdrops that we did see were holding back a little there was still lots to catch our interest. We followed our visit to the garden with a visit to the centre where we had a spot of lunch, sitting outside on a bench, in Princes Street Gardens. We joined the few other hardy souls today!


Let me share the highlights of our visit to The Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh. We entered the garden via the North Gate passing The Queen Mother's Memorial Garden shown above. Today my plan was to visit the Chinese Garden to see if we could spot (get photos) of the Bullfinches seen there on my visit last February.

After a brief detour, via the tearoom, we arrived at the top path of the Chinese Garden to find tape across it. Pruning was going on there today. Well, I suppose that was our bit of bad luck. We decided to walk along the path above it and round to another entrance.


On our way round we spotted a female Sparrowhawk high above us on a branch of a tree – she appeared to be enjoy a sunny spot! We never got inside the Chinese Garden but walking around the outside we still managed to catch a glimpse of the bullfinches in this area of the garden.


Catkins and berries added interest and colour as we walked around the garden and if we looked closely in the undergrowth of the shrubs and trees we could see birds like the Moorhen (shown above) and Magpies looking for food.


Coal tits and Robins could be heard chattering and singing as we walked. This is a great time to visit gardens as you can see birds much more easily when the leaves are not on the trees. Viburnum blossom could be seen dotted around the garden and Witch hazel too as in the first photo. Both brought a smile to my face. I was delighted to spot some Hellebore flowers too!


We didn’t walk round the whole garden today so I can only report noticing one clump of snowdrops. It was a very welcome sight non the less! I am guessing that the snowdrops will be a little later in coming into flower this year as it has been so cold.


Okay, the grey squirrel isn’t always a welcome sight in our gardens! However, I will always associate it with Edinburgh and the Botanical Gardens. Today, I have to say, it really looked quite endearing running around the partially snow covered ground. I’m wondered if it has forgotten where it has hidden its stash of food.


Hey don’t look to me mate… I can’t help you. I haven’t touched it… honest! Ah yes... the picture above has to be my favourite from our visit today.

Just before we left for Edinburgh this morning I had another new sight from my garden. Today, three Fieldfares landed on the tree above my hedge! It looks like they'll be back now. This tree really isn’t the best for getting photos due to the distance and the lighting conditions but you can still make the birds out.

The montage below shows the Song Thrush (two square photos), the Mistle Thrush (centre) and the Fieldfare on the right. Although the last two aren’t very good they still give a little guide to compare these birds. Note the different wing markings on the thrushes and the spotted pattern of the Song Thrush has ‘v’ formations.




So that was Friday the thirteenth, not such an unlucky day after all! Tomorrow sees Valentine’s Day. I wonder how many roses will be bought. Of course, you could always make some fondant ones as in the cake below I made for my Mum and Dad’s Golden Wedding Anniversary. Ah… does that not make you think of romance?


What about the next photo? No? Well, there is a reason I am posting this photo of the Blackbird Nestbox I have hanging in my pergola. Yes, birds are considering pairing up at this time of year. So you could say ‘Love is in the air’.

However, Valentine’s Day is also the day that the BTO has picked for their National Nestbox Week here in the UK. They want to encourage us to put up Nestboxes ready for the nesting season ahead. Their website gives lots of tips for exisiting ones, sighting new ones and plans for you to make your own. A family project for this week/weekend perhaps?

I don’t know if my small garden could support anymore nestboxes. Blue tits are still showing interest in both our camera and non camera nestboxes but we have yet to see this Blackbird one get used. It has been up almost a year now. I might need to consider giving it more protection from a cat climbing up there. That could be our project for the weekend! However you spend your weekend, I’d like to wish you a good one!

All photos above, with the exception of the Nestbox, Cake, Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush, were taken on Friday the 13th of February 2009.

21 comments:

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I think you were quite lucky on this Friday the 13th. You had a nice time at the garden then coming home to a Fairfield in your garden. Wow... Those roses do make me thing of romance. Beautifully done Shirl. Happy Valentines Day and have a wonderful weekend.

Diana said...

What a lovely garden tour, Shirl. Thanks for taking us. There are many lovely and interesting things to see even in the dead of winter, aren't there? And your photo of the squirrel was priceless! Happy Valentines Day to you.

Gail said...

That was a lot of 13s! Glad all went well...The garden was lovely and I so enjoyed meeting new birds...like the moorhen. I might have to place a few nesting boxes around...a great idea and I can see the families growing! Have a lovely Valentine's Day! Gail

Salix said...

Ah, spring is in the air "over there". Snowdrops are some of my favorites. So very welcome...... And did you MAKE that cake? WOW

easygardener said...

Yes your squirrel photo sums up why I have a love/hate relationship with mine (lol)

ShySongbird said...

Hi Shirl,

What an interesting post and what a cheeky looking squirrel. The golden wedding cake is stunning. It must be one of the most beautiful cakes I have ever seen, is there no end to your talents?!!!

shirl said...

Hi there Lisa, Diana, Gail, Salix, Denise & ShySongbird :-)

Lisa – Yep, I have to agree there! We did, and the group of Fieldfares were the icing on the cake ;-) Thank-you, I love doing the fondant roses on cakes but this one really was quite special. Thank-you and a Happy Valentine’s to you to. Wishing you a great weekend too :-D

Diana – Thank-you, we had fun. My daughter was off school. She had the video camera and I had my still one. Don’t think I can use the interview stuff she filmed with me though ;-) I agree there is probably more to see in the winter in some ways. Yes, that squirrel shot was priceless I was thrilled when I uploaded it! Thank-you and a Happy Valentine’s to you too :-D

Gail – It was, really a strange one! I’m delighted you enjoyed the captures of the garden and the new birds too – that’s always great to share. Oh yes… I’d definitely encourage the putting up of nestboxes even without a camera inside they are interesting to watch and a great asset to the garden :-D Thank-you, and a great Valentine’s to you too. Thanks also for the fav Blotanist on Blotanical too that was a lovely surprise :-D

Salix – Oh yes… we could be on our way now! Yes, it is especially welcome after the snow! Yes, I really enjoyed the making of that cake and was thrilled the way it turned out :-D

Denise – Yes… I can understand that but they do cause quite a riot in your garden it must be so hard to love them too :-D

ShySongbird – Thank-you, I agree it really was quite a cheeky squirrel. Thank-you, as I said above, I was thrilled with the way this cake turned out and my parents loved it too :-D

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

It looks beautiful there! One day I'd like to be in England to see gardens. I'm glad I can see them this way until then.

Anna said...

How spooky was your ticket
Shirl ! I enjoyed your description of your visit to the Royal Botanic Garden. We visited it a few years ago one August day and throughly enjoyed it, especially the greenhouses. I'm afraid that I can't bring myself to think of grey squirrels as looking almost endearing :) Your family must have enjoyed that cake, although it looks too beautiful to cut.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Shirl, that was a lot of thirteens in that parking ticket! I love the picture of the squirrel. It is so much prettier than the ones we have here.

Daffodil Planter said...

Shirl, I was away from computers for a few days so am late with a big Thank You for your snowdrop-hunting visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens! Wonderful photos, and wonderful cake too.

Hope you keep that very fortunate parking stub. It was a bunch of men many centuries ago who were out to get us women when they said that 13 was unlucky (number of lunar cycles in a year) along with Friday (for the goddess Freya). So Friday the 13th is actually a very female day--not unlucky at all!

Many thanks for letting me pick your Snowdrop Tour site--sorry there were not more for you to see.

shirl said...

Hi there Catherine, Anna, Robin and DP :-)

Catherine – It was! Since then I’ve had a visit to another Scottish Botanical Garden where I was able to see the ground. Now the snow has gone we could see flowers/blossom now out after a few warmer days. I’m guessing when you say English gardens you are meaning the UK as there are many beautiful gardens here in Scotland and in Wales too. I do hope you manage a visit one day :-D

Anna – Oh… you should have seen our faces! I am delighted that you have managed at visit, I can imagine it strange hearing another person’s visit. Ours wasn’t long this time and in this case I didn’t visit the greenhouses. I took video footage after my visit there with Yolanda last June if you are interested in seeing it. LOL… yes the grey squirrels don’t have a huge following do they? Thank-you, yes they did but I will be honest and say my parents did think twice about cutting this cake. I have made a number of family and friend’s cakes over the years and I am used to them being cut now. I also like to bake a good cake too so it needs to be eaten at its best anyway :-D

Robin – Yes, how really weird was that? I thought you might like the squirrel photo :-) I agree, it does look a little different from yours in the US but it isn’t pretty at all when you see it next our smaller and way prettier native red squirrel :-D

DP – You are most welcome. I’ll be back again later in March so we’ll see if any snowdrops are left then. Since then I have visited another Botanical Garden and I caught some snowdrops there with the warmer few days and the snow melted. I’ll post them when I’m able. Delighted that you enjoyed the cake too. Yes, I have kept my ticket and thanks for the 13 story – I’d never heard of it before. Very interesting. Oh… I’ll be out seeing more snowdrops when I can and I will keep you posted ;-)

Frances said...

Hi Shirl, I want to comment on the birds and the wonderful gardens at Edin. but that cake!!!! It is amazing and my mouth is watering at the sight of it! Magnificent job there, Shirl. :-) That crowded pathc of snowdrops is a harbinger of things to come, I know. I remember well your post about the snowdrops last year and have dreamt of someday seeing them in real life.
Frances

Miranda Bell said...

I loved your posting on the botanical gardens - I used to live just round the corner from there!! The squirel photo is fab! Talking of cats - I found a dead song thrush today so am just hoping it's not the beautiful one that visits the bird table - sad enough anyway. Will be great to see what comes to all the nest boxes this year - roll on the warmer weather.. Miranda

Susan Tomlinson said...

Those a terrific ID pictures of the thrushes--the differences in spotting between the song thrush and the fieldfare is very clear.

I've got a few nest boxes up, but a waiting for a free weekend to make a couple more. In the meantime, I just got my mason bee box in the mail this week, so that's going straight out to the garden. It is probably too late to get bees for this year, but come next, I'm hoping to have them all over the place.

Finally, what a beautiful cake!

Crafty Green Poet said...

Lovely selection of photos from your walk round Edinburgh Botanics. Lovely place, I go there a lot of course! I agree about the grey squirrels, the ones in the Botanics are very endearing and feisty too, we've seen them hitting pigeons....

Barbara said...

You had indeed a successful (and lucky) day on Friday 13th (this must be a lucky day!) according to all the interesting pictures you took. I'm sure, next time I'm staying in Edinburgh I have to visit the Botanical Garden too....

shirl said...

Hi again Frances, Miranda, Susan, Juliet and Barbara :-)

Frances – Thank-you! It’s a real pity that image didn’t enlarge and you could have seen it better. Ah… yes the snowdrops are all round now although still not making an impression in my garden! Now… yesterday I came across quite a different snowdrop garden! Until you can visit I’ll join the other bloggers in sharing our visits with you. Wooah… thanks for sharing the bird activity in your garden! Gosh… your garden is popular at the moment :-D

Miranda – Thank-you… ah yes I do remember you metioning that and you’ve relatives not far from my next posting too. Yeh… I loved that squirrel shot too! Sorry to hear you found a dead bird – especially a song thrush. However, I was thrilled to hear it wasn’t your table visiting one. Yes… the nest boxes are getting visits now and from memory you are, like England, a few weeks ahead of us so it will be great to hear about nest building with your visiting birds. You do have so many nesting with you too. Ah yes… the warmer weather is most welcome now :-D

Susan – Thank-you, yes I was pleased to be able to compare the thrushes. It has helped me too. Little signs of them all since but the weather has been warmer of late. Excellent to hear about your nestboxes, great stuff making your own too! Oh… great stuff to hear you are looking after the bees too. Yes, perhaps you’ll get bigger numbers for next year but I’m sure you’ll still see an increase for this year. Thank-you, I was so very pleased with the way that cake turned out :-D

Juliet – Thank-you, yes it must be so strange to see another’s visit to a garden so close and familiar to you. LOL… I’ll have the video camera ready next time… it must be so funny to see the reaction of the woodpigeon when the squirrel takes a pop at it!

Barbara – Yes, we were lucky. Oh yes… I would recommend a visit to Edin Botanics… I am certain you would enjoyed it :-D

HappyMouffetard said...

Beautiful photos. The cake is amazing.
Bullfinches have to be amongst my favourite birds - such shy visitors, but absolutely gorgeous, in an understated sort of way.

shirl said...

Hi again HappyMouffetard :-)

Thank-you I'm delighted you enjoyed them! I so wish I could have been closer to the bullfinches! I went to that area especially to see them so you can imagine my dissappointment to see it closed off :-( At least I saw a couple from the perimeter path.

Ah... I didn't realise bullfinches were shy. I've never seen them visit my garden - I so wish they would. We have siskins and goldfinches back with just a few but the numbers look like they are slowly increasing - perhaps a bullfinch will follow them to our garden. We have plenty of chaffinches and greenfinches are also increasing in numbers. My wish list has the bullfinch and brambling on it :-D

Ah the cake... glad you enjoyed seeing it. I loved the finished result - it was quite special all round. This year it will be their 55th Anniv but I doubt I could top this cake :-D

Have a good week :-D

Mytutorlist.com said...

That is such a wonderful photo of the fat grey squirrel. However did you get such a marvelous close-up!