Sign up to our regular e-newsletter here

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

'Life after concrete' & 'Streetwise ferns' revisited

Exeter RAM Museum is running a competition for photographs of wild plants in wild unusual urban places:

"Inspired by Exeter's famous plant hunters, the Veitch family, we’ve joined forces with Toby Buckland's Garden Festival for this Plant Hunter competition.

Be a Plant Hunter by sharing photographs of your own discoveries of plants in strange places on Instagram or Tumblr.

Take a picture of a plant in an unusual place, whether it's growing up a mountain, between paving stones or dangling from a bridge. View weeds in a new light and keep an eye out for exotic plants in strange places."


Winners get a chance for a cup of tea and garden chat with Toby Buckland, or a copy of An International Garden Photographer of the Year book.

More details at http://exeterramm.admit-one.eu/?p=eventtimes&ev=25009

Monday, 9 May 2016

Sound of spring

Swifts first heard over Exeter on Thursday 5 May evening last week.

My relative pitch, or instrument tuning, or quite possibly both, may well be off, but the calls seem to be in the region of G# and E, though the note also seems to modulate microtonally mid-call.  Groups congregate in 'screaming parties' as they zoom around their nesting areas. The female calls are at higher pitch.

Click here for a link to the British Library sound archive recording of swifts, and here for a more in depth analysis of the calls.  

There's that well-quoted poem by Ted Hughes. Which I'm not going to quote. But here is a link to the lovely guitar piece 'Birds Flew Over the Spire' from Gary Ryan's 'City Scenes'. It's meant to be about swallows, but for a city scene, I'm thinking swifts, circling high above St Michael's church on St David's Hill (it's in E major, so both E and G# feature ...)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2O6FVpVk4I

Some more swift info:
Swift conservation www.swift-conservation.org/
RSPB www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/birdguide/name/s/swift/ 
Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_swift