Tuesday, 25 July 2017

not all sunshine

Man that was some filthy weather over the weekend was it not? There were more parking spaces in the Red Moss car park than you might expect of a July weekend. Only the dafties and a guy deeply regretting his volunteering to take the young people on their DoEs were out and about. Pleasant it was not and there was no wildlife save for the skylarks/meadow pipits. Hardly worth carrying the camera. Visibility dropped to about 30 yards on the tops, and varied downstairs probably averaging 150 meters (for those metrically inclined.) (I am ambidextrous and can estimate distances wrongly in either imperial or celsius.) 

West of the Kip

braw Scottish summer

I had a lovely message from Katie who has gone back to live in the US. She misses this part of the world and gets a bit of an East Lothian hit from this blog (hurray!) to offset the withdrawal pangs of being so far away. A message then to all those languishing in countries where the sun shines (nearly) all summer and it's warm and you can run about in skimpy clothes and do stuff, actually spend all day outside; barbecuing or kayaking or playing crazy golf or biking or surfing going brown, not blue. To those folk I am waving hello from a drizzly hill with 30 yards visibility and a steady rain falling. Actually I've stopped waving because I've got to get back to the car before I get pneumonia. Other than that, yes it's nice. In between times! (I'm racing to get this blog posted so I can get the next one sorted which has some butterflies and sunshine - although everyone was back at work on Monday so I may get lynched for smugness.)(Swings and roundabouts.)

And don't listen to those wiseacres (I think that's the "w" I'm looking for) who say "there's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing." This was bad weather. My clothing was fine. My clothing was not the problem. I have an excellent Gore jacket that I love. The problem was the visibility, the rain, the low cloud, the lack of wildlife, the way the water gets into the camera and ruins it, in short THE BAD WEATHER. Are we clear about that?

even one of my favourite places  - the 
boardwalk round Red Moss - was a bit drab today

I think we were feeling the benefit by the end of the run. The rain had stopped which made things a bit more bearable, but really, I am not a fan of the low pressure. Unsmiley face! Mary has also written up this run but in a less grumpy fashion and with more comedy selfies - so we may have enjoyed it more than I remember. Her blog here.


Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World
This has to be one of my favourite places to visit. Even before I became an enthusiast I loved trips here to see the amazing butterflies and speak to the knowledgeable staff. Although small, it is very well run and I spent the best part of 3 hours taking 530+ photos and videos of a few of the spectacular insects, reptiles, fish and plants on show.

I had last Tuesday off work. It was very sunny and normally I'd fill that time with running, but I'd done nearly 50 miles over the previous 2 days. So I caught a bus past Gilmerton, jogging from the terminal to Butterfly World, cursing as 2 number 3s went past that would have taken me all the way there. I passed David L on a solar powered 12miler going, as ever, superfast. If you are going primarily to take photos, best opt for a sunny day as the amount of vegetation crammed into the main tropical greenhouse blocks out a lot of light and it can be quite shady. 


First up, and right bang in the middle of the seated area I noticed an Atlas Moth. Last trip there was one hanging over the pond, a bit knackered and sad looking, but too distant to get decent images of. This one appeared to have just emerged and was pumping up it's wings. While it didn't move much the whole time I was there you could see fluids sloshing about through the pale transparent bands on its body. Kind of yuck and amazing at the same time. It was a splendid beast - pretty much the largest moth in the world; there are a couple of others of similar span / wing area, but definitely one of the most spectacular. And huge! I put my hand in front of it to get some scale but it still doesn't prepare you for this thing that is more like a bird than an insect. (Females larger than males.) Already the entry fee (under £8) well spent.

There was a second specimen emerging by the pupae.

Out the back, there are tanks containing spiders, insects, snakes, reptiles and invertebrates, many of them donated after folk become bored with exotic pets. A giant spider may seem exciting for 5 minutes but they are largely inactive and don't fulfill the promise of being a thrilling flatmate. So end up here. I was sorry to hear the Bearded Dragon(s) had expired since I was last here as they were a favourite. Pics and video taken last visit blogged here.

As I said there isn't an abundance of light and although I tried to snap some butterflies in flight most of them came out badly and blurred. I'm sure a decent dslr would manage - for running purposes my "bigger" camera is a csc Lumix G3 and I got decent results of sitting or hovering subjects, but not in flight! I also used manual focus for a lot of the stationary shots, but put it on auto for more mobile candidates.

Very cute Japanese Quail run free around the ground.

dead leaf on a dead leaf

Indian Leaf Butterfly. These leaf impersonating insects hang out at the rotting fruit baskets a lot. I thought they would be poor fliers having sacrificed their wings to make them into dead leaves. However this didn't seem to stop them and they flew remarkably well. Their upper wings have an attractive light lavender iridescence. 

Each trip to the Butterfly World produces different sights and favourites, even though they aim to have a constant release of all specimens. (I saw no glasswings this time, but the Atlas Moth was this trip's big attraction.) A new discovery this time was this Banded Purplewing (Central America) which was medium sized - no bigger than a Red Admiral - but had the most amazing blue shimmer that only sometimes caught the light. It was hanging out near the running water, possibly taking moisture off the concrete path, and happily posed for photos which made it a favourite.

saw this large stick insect hanging underneath a leaf
ready to drop into your hair!

this Malachite has an equally spectacular underwing (below)

other residents

caterpillar of "the owl"

scarlet peacock

I heard a kid tell his mum this one looked liked batman, 
- I thought it was more like a wingsuited basejumper.

this Clipper was recently emerged 
and hadn't fully pumped up its wings

the Owl

Mocker Swallowtail

This was the only green banded or emerald swallowtail I saw.
And it was looking a bit tattered, but amazing colours!

Indian Leaf showing upperwing

The only decent shots I got of the this Catanophele were on the rotting fruit. Very velvety black (dark brown) jacket with flaming orange markings. Appears to be called a Blue Spotted Firewing although the blue spots at the back are the least obvious of its colours.

giant spurred tortoise

Can't recommend this place highly enough. Gets my heart beating quicker than any visit to any art gallery I've ever been to. New website here although it's still fairly basic. The gift shop seemed to have got rid of the more trashy stuff and had a few informative posters, books and handouts and an attractive insect tea-towel, far too nice for drying dishes! There were even rumours of expansion to the old Bird of Prey centre next door. If you can't decide which festival show to see go here instead! Less than £8! Very warm and humid on sunny days though - I was dripping after 3 hours!