I usually do my Nature Weaving Workshops in places where we can pick up what we need around us but not this time. I knew there would not be enough 'interesting stuff' in the Wigtown Primary Schools playground to satisfy the needs of all the people due to turn up. Therefore a big thank you too all my family and friends who collected who helped me out collecting 'interesting stuff'. When out for walks they were all asked to spot and collect anything that they thought would be interesting to weave with, from nature of course. I got small bags and big buckets full of 'interesting stuff'. There were cones, feathers, twigs, bark and even shells and everyone who came to the nature weaving workshop loved it all. I even got permission from SNH to collect some of the grass and rushes up at Cairnsmore of Fleet so we had enough. It was a great experience seeing people selecting just the right thing to go on their weaving the 'interesting stuff' was a hit.
The Workshop was part of the Wigtown Children's Festival which is part of the Wigtown Book Festival. We were at Wigtown Primary School and as it was a lovely day we were outdoors and got to enjoy the sunshine. This was a good thing as all that sorting the 'interesting stuff' to find the right materials made a bit of a mess.
I use a knot called square lashing to make the weaving frames and this is where the theme of under and over starts. You have to go over and under a cross of two sticks. Over the top one and under the bottom one round and round in a square. The frames were made from trimming the willow screen around the play ground and thank you to the volunteers that helped out cutting that to the right sizes.
Most people used some colourful wool which was donated for the warp thread. This goes over and under the frame to make the loom. All the great stuff that was collected was then woven over and under the threads to make the nature weaving. It was great to see families working together making the looms and choosing just the right things to weave into their designs.
Thank you again to the people who volunteered and gave much needed help on the day, to my families and friends for collecting the 'interesting stuff' and to all the people who came along to weave. Thank you also to the unicorn that made a special appearance too.
P.S. This is the third time I have written this blog so fingers crossed that this one is not deleted by the vagaries of the computer and internet
I really like bats, they eat midges........as many as 3,000 a night each!
We looked at several different types of bat boxes that had been put up over the years. The wooden ones were a bit worse for the wear and didn't have any bats in however the newer woodcrete ones had bats roosting and some even had bluetits nesting in them. How the birds managed to get in such small entrances is amazing, let's hope that the chicks manage to get out!
As we were conducting a survey of the boxes to find out what species were using them we got a close up look at the bats themselves which was a great privilege. To tell the difference between a Soprano pipistrelle and 'common' (bandit) pipistrelle you have to look at their noses. At dusk when they are flying around they echo locate at different frequencies which can be picked up on a bat detector so it is much easier.
"Do the pointy thing" was the saying that I will remember most from my stargazing night with a group of American and Canadian travel journalists. I was out on a cool and cloudy night with them at Knockinaam Lodge over at Portpatick. With the sea in front of us and the hotel behind it was an ideal setting. The lights in the hotel grounds had been turned off specially and apart from fishing boat close to shore with an annoying bright white light it was dark. As we were waiting for the moon to set and for it to get really dark we enjoyed looking at first the moon then the planets using the astronomy binoculars. Jupiter and its moons made a wow moment for everyone then the redness of Mars and Saturn looking lumpy with its rings.
My laser pointer impressed the self appointed 'Junior' Dark Sky Rangers enabling us to pick out particular stars as they appeared from behind the clouds. Everyone was really enthusiastic and, with the US/UK time difference, wide awake when the clouds disappeared totally and the stars came out to play. With a predominance of Leo's, one of whom had the same birthday as me, it was great when the constellation of Leo made its appearance above Jupiter.
All in all a great night out and as I left at 2.30am everyone was still wide awake and settling down to a late night cheese board and whisky tasting. To add to their walls of certificates that they have accumulated on their trips around the world everything from Salsa dancing to wine tasting I am now working on some 'Junior' Dark Sky Ranger certificates to give everyone to commemorate their stargazing night. We also have a special Dark Sky Ranger salute, which we can use to measure the distance between stars...... each clenched fist measuring 10 degrees so from the end of the big dipper (America) or plough (British) to the North star, Polaris is 3 hands.
I saw an amazing sight the other day, a red squirrel walking up the wall of a house. The house had rough cast on it and a squirrel feeder in a tree at the bottom so this seems to be a regular occurrence there. Unfortunately for this squirrel it also saw me and it let go in surprise falling a good 20m or so. It didn't seem to do itself any harm and I could see that it was young with no ear tufts when I got a chance to look at it a bit closer. I would have loved to get a video of it but what are the chances of it happening again? So unfortunately you will have to make do with this one that I took from the new wildlife hide at the Kirrochtree Visitor Centre in the Galloway Forest Park, still a wonderful site.