Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Missing Salmon Leaping?

Not any more… what about you? Do you know where the nearest Salmon jumping/leaping location is in your area? I would absolutely recommend seeing this breathtaking Autumn spectacle if you are out and about just now.

For those visiting/living in Perthshire, Scotland you can find a list of some locations here. I’m going to check out a few others now! This is the thing, I’ve found with garden/nature watching over the last five years, you often miss what’s in your own garden/on your own doorstep.

If you have any Salmon Leaping locations you would like to share (from whatever part of the world) please do add them in a comment or email me them. If I get lots of locations I’ll update this post listing them at the end.

Last year, visiting The Hermitage at exactly the same time, we were completely oblivious to what was going on in the River Braan and especially at the main waterfalls – which I now know are Black Linn falls. Last year, I didn't take my video camera. I was just out trying to get pretty Autumn photos but that post took an unplanned topic change with pretty and ugly images.

Ossian's Hall image taken from Wikipedia. See source here.

We would always take the walk from the car park to the viewpoint at Ossian’s Hall to see the incredible loud and fast flowing waterfalls. On our visit last Sunday, we had great difficulty getting parked in either of the two car parks at this National Trust for Scotland location.

The carks parks were certainly buzzing with people. Lots of walking boots, cameras and locally made ice creams & takeaway drinks could be seen. My daughter and I enjoyed ice creams while other families were seen with picnics.

I’d like to briefly step on a ‘picnic table’ here and say (in my opinion) television programmes like BBC’s current series of Autumnwatch have had a role in the increasing numbers of people getting outdoors and enjoying what it has to offer. I’m sure many will feel healthier both physically and mentally now too.

It will be an absolute travesty if any future BBC cuts take progammes like this off our screens as they ultimately connect to an audience (especially children) that could offer support to wildlife conservation now and in years to come when it is likely to be needed - be it volunteer/financial. I’m off my ‘picnic table’ now :-)

I’d like to dedicate my Salmon Leaping video, shown below, to the team behind BBC Autumnwatch. Don’t laugh now… I know it’s not remotely to the standard of film captures of Leaping Salmon by Charlie Hamilton (in Scotland) shown on the programme last Friday. However, after seeing this I was inspired to head outdoors to see this spectacle for myself. Being completely honest, when I carried my tripod along to the likely viewpoint I didn’t expect to be using it… how thrilled I was that I did. I'm in awe of these Salmon now :-)

My video of Salmon Leaping up Black Linn falls on the River Braan.
(watch volume settings - background music & noisy falls)

Finally, just a couple more plugs for Autumnwatch, Salmon watching and BBC Wildlife filming. The Autumnwatch programme has live cams on Badgers this week if you want to see them. I've taken a few looks but so far haven't spotted any Badgers. You’ll find times when the Live Badger Cams are running here. Now that I've posted this link I'll be back this week checking it out. Sorry, don't know if this works outside the UK - you could try.

When I upload videos of subjects I’ve never covered before I always take a look at what is already out. Two videos of Salmon Leaping caught my eye. The first was also taken at the Hermitage and at first glance appears like a family video - but stick with it. I particularly enjoyed the footage shown in the last third of the film taken from steep edges of the river to the side of the waterfall. I wasn't brave enough to go that close sticking only to the path edge.

Video by PuffinLove see source here.
(watch volume settings - background music & noisy falls)

At first glance, the footage by The BBC shown below showing Grizzly Bears catching Salmon does feel a bit horrific on the Salmon when you consider the exhausting journey they take. Yes, I know the clever bears need to eat too. However, as Sir David Attenborough narrates, the sheer numbers of Salmon secure hundreds of successful passes by the Bears for every Salmon caught.

Video by the BBC, see more short videos here.
(watch volume settings - you may want to turn this one up to hear narration)

Is that not just amazing to see? Needless to say this last video wasn't taken in Scotland ;-)

Just a couple more links for you today – this time to a fellow blogger who isn't new to watching Salmon leaping. I didn’t spot this post by David at Orchids, Nature and My Outdoor Life before I went out Salmon watching, capturing video or starting this post. He's got nice photos and from memory he has shown video footage in a past post.

Ah… reading David's post... I see now why the car parks on my visit to the Hermitage were so busy… BBC Autumnwatch posted a few salmon watching links on a blog post on their site - which included David’s area and ours. I'll now take a look through the comments there to see the chat.

So there you go, more proof that nature programmes on television screens takes people outdoors. Oh yes... and for those that are unable to get outdoors or travel to see wildlife spectacles like this... television can allow them to wonder at them too. Just brilliant... well done guys :-)

This post was written by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in October 2011.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Getting back to business

That would be the business of watching what’s going on in the garden through the seasons. Being fully autumnal now, its Anemone flowers bobbing about in the breeze and Acer leaves falling that are catching my eye from my window.

A closer look on a garden wander with my camera late afternoon yesterday shows how much darker the light it is getting. I do like the depth colours of this time of year. Ah yes… the Anemone flowers did shout out ‘photograph me’ once again and I duly obliged.

Wonderfully some of the deep blue Gentiana sino-ornata flowers could still be seen on my wander. This is one of many ‘first garden plant favs’ and I had big plans for it. Ahem… they are yet to be realised. It is planted on the top of a low stone dyke and the plan is to have a sloped bank of it all the way down to the water edge of my new (to be built) wildlife pond. The idea is that the blue will reflect in the water on grey days.

Once again another year has passed and I have not fully committed to completing this (talked about many times) wildlife pond. In my defence, it’s a big job and an even bigger step to make such a large permanent feature in my garden. I am a tad nervous of this. With our Leylandii hedge overdue its annual trim (brother will trim it this year for us) and a few other essential garden jobs needing done before winter any pond work isn’t going to happen this year now.

The seed heads of the ornamental grass Miscanthus sinensis 'Kleine Fontane' I have also admired from my window with the pink flowers Anemone September Charm close by. Out of sight around the corner of my house and scrambling up an archway structure Golden Hop (Humulus lupulus 'Aureus') can be found. Most leaves have succumbed to the season, have been feasted on (probably slugs) and look quite spookily skeletal but I did find a few hops and fresh leaves… yay :-)

Autumn for the gardener is a ‘rush against time’ season in some ways (my thoughts anyway). Weather hampers work in the garden (like hedge trimming and moving plants). Daylight hours and available gardening time hampers the tidy-up jobs (from borders to sheds).

My absence from garden work over the summer is clear to be seen by walking round my garden. Deciding which jobs to tackle is going to be a tad tricky. Short regular walks are also needed to help my husband recover from his recent major Op and I want to join him with that. Thanks once again for all your good wishes. So where the garden is concerned, I’ll do what I can :-)

This Autumn I had planned to collect leaves to make leaf mould compost. See this blog post by Emma Cooper for the BBC Gardening Blog (spotted yesterday) if this is something that might interest you. Emma uses plastic bags. I had been considering trying jute sacks I spotted earlier in the year in the RHS online shop. They have an offer at the moment with 3 for the price of 2. Mm… I doubt I could fill too many bags of leaves from my garden. However, it might be interesting to compare compost results between the jute and a plastic bag. I might give this a try.

Getting back to business in my garden has to be planting (ahead of frosts) a number of plants in a small border near my back door which are sitting on the top of the soil. This area saw a bit of a rethink after paving was laid there over the summer. There was quite a dramatic change/feel to the area with the removal of an arch. We also removed a piece of 3ft high trellis replacing it with a fence panel but I just couldn’t get into the planting bit here. This must happen soon. I’m thinking some bulbs would be a good idea… Mm…

Another seasonal job that needs to happen soon (again watching out for frosts) is the winter protection for my Gunnera. I’ve been chatting annually about this since 2007. Probably that first post still shows the best images of what I do with mine except that now I use dry hay (borrowed from the Guinea pig stash) in the layers between the Gunnera leaves. This method works for me and my Gunnera has survived the last two particularly harsh/cold winters we’ve had here.

Getting back to business with the bird feeders – well that will happen gradually. My bird café went short on supplies during some parts of the summer due to my absence in the garden. Birds looking for regular supplies of food would have found alternative gardens. Last weekend, I went out (in the rain) and pruned back climbers taking over an arch where feeders hang. With feeders cleaned, refilled and visible again the birds are slowly returning… yay!

Ground bird feeders have also been reinstated but for some unknown reason (to me anyway) the birds are opting for the soggy bread and odd seeds I scattered in preference to the dish full of high energy sunflower seeds and peanuts. However, the rather pretty female Chaffinch shown below was seen solo in her quest to search out the sunflower hearts. She was successful.

Not so successful were the bird counts I attempted on Sunday morning. Two different cats appeared on two occasions after I decided on a restart. However, on a brighter note outside my incomplete counts I spotted a Song Thrush which I was delighted about. The usual suspects of Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Blue tits, Chaffinches and Goldfinches were joined by Coal tits, a Robin and a Greenfinch. It’s great to see there is still a variety of species visiting my garden.

Now… I wonder if hedgehogs are still visiting. Perhaps they have already gone into hibernation. I must set up my IR camera to look out for them in the evenings. I used to really enjoy doing that. Hope I’m not too late for this year.

I also hope I'm not keeping you too long/late with this post. I'd just like to add that it's great to be back in blogging business again... oh yes and I'm posting before midnight... now that is a result ;-)

This post was written by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in October 2011.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Bee is for BENIGN :-)

Such brilliant news to receive yesterday – the absolute best! There were tears of relief but beaming smiles are breaking today :-)))))))

Thank-you for all your good wishes in comments and emails. I really cannot believe this nightmare is coming to an end for our family. However, my thoughts go to all those living it just now too. It’s a truly heartbreaking and exhausting place to be no matter how positive you are.

For those who missed the reason behind my blogging absence this summer see my previous post. You don’t need to read it all but perhaps you might find the last image as surreal as we did.

Now the road to a full recovery beckons for both my husband and my garden. Today strong winds are battering my neglected plants. The wind will also be battering my car as I set out shortly for the road trip to the hospital to bring my husband home.

We will take things easy. We do know how very, very lucky we are to be on this road to recovery at all. To my brave, brave husband you are an inspiration xx

This post was written by Shirley for the blog shirls gardenwatch in September 2011.