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Saturday, March 20, 2010

WWF: Switch of the Light for Earth hour 2010

Next week, Saturday, 27 March 2010, is it that time of year again, when we all can do a small thing for the planet we live on.
Earth hour started in 2007, when Sydney residents and businesses decided to something for the environment by switching off the lights for just 60 minutes. I do not think that they had any idea that it would be such a success, when 2.2 million homes and businesses reached for the light switch.

In 2009, 50 million switched off, and this dark hour had reached 35 countries. This year, the aim is for 1 billion residences and businesses will be in the dark.
Why not invite friends or family over for a candle-light dinner? Not only do you switch of your light in this manner, but your friend's or family's too.

It really is amazing the light you get from candles, oil lamps or storm lamps. As long as you keep the inside of the glass clean, you should have no trouble.

For Ireland, Friends of the Irish Environment are coordinating everything here.

And The Irish Times Earth hour magazine, available as download, and both are listing all kind of activities for young and old, including pub, quizzes, to star/comet gazing in the park.

If you are not in Ireland, you can find your national ngo, which is coordinating Earth hour 2010 in your own country via the WWF Earth hour 2010 webpage.

Last year, during Earth Hour, approximately 50 megawatts was saved here in Ireland, which accounts for about 1.5% of the total demand.

So why not take part in this global 60 minute switch off. and help the WWF reach the target of 1 billion buildings, which will stay dark for 60 minutes.

In the last 27 years we would have many days or evenings when the light switched off suddenly for an uncertain time. Power-cuts were a regular occurrance, and I've cooked many a meal by candle, or oil lamp-light. and written lots with these light sources. Sometimes it would last less than an hour, but those were exceptions usually. I remember that over Christmas 1998, West Cork suffered a very long period of black-outs. We, here in the west, were lucky; it lasted only 3 days. And on Christmas Day, we had to be one of the few households cooking on gas. (butane cylinders, as mains gas doesn't come this far west)
In short, many turkeys didn't get cooked that day. And I too, have an electric oven these days, but I'm still cooking on those gas bottles.

I still work (on my laptop) by candle-light sometimes in the early mornings. I like the light it gives and the atmosphere it creates.
In the last few years, a power cut is an exception really. Mind you, every storm or strong wind, still makes me anxious and looking at the light automatically. I think this is because Ireland is one of the few countries left with electricity cables above-ground.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Coming of the green....

Lesser Celendine, Ramunuculus ficaria
At the start of the new year, everyone is eagerly waiting for the first green leaf, sprout, or any other sign that life in the garden has started again, hence the people here talking of The Coming of the Green.

Like in the previous months, the Blackbird was still present in every field, hedgerow, trees and gardens that I passed. And Blue Tits were singing everywhere. Did they also have spring in their little minds? Were they looking for probable nest sites, already? And shouldn't all those Blackbirds not be returning back to the continent? Or are they waiting for the right wind? The present southern galeforce wind is not very helpful when you need to fly east.

Ferns too, are celebrating the arrival of spring. The spores at the underside of their leaves, are their way of propagating when the spores are travelling on the wind, to settle and germinating in a new place. I'm afraid that most of these spores will end up in the river below the bridge, although the galeforce winds of the last few days might well have stolen some in its grip.

And these I found further on the road. It surprised me that this flower of another Lesser Celendine, had opened fully already. It was growing in a very dark corner. The trees above it casting a dark shadow over it, and the Sun not, or hardly ever, being able to reach it.

The banks of the river, cleared of the invasive Gunnera or Giant Rhubarb, Gunnera tinctoria.

Lichen was also settling onto the bridge. And a few bits of Moss too.

As is the Woodsorrel, Oxalis acetosella.

These lovely little flowers I have not seen before, and I suspect that the owner of the house behind the fence, has planted these themselves, or that it is a garden escape. Any suggestions are very welcome.

The Wild Ivy, Hedera helix, does not show that many left over berries any more. Despite birds preferring to feed on red or orange berries, this winter they had to eat whatever they could find.

This tiny flower I find at the rectory, underneath the row of Sweet Chestnuts. It was spread out over about a metre or more, but I could not find its ID yet. Any clues are welcome.

The unopened flower bud reminded me of the days I was rolling my own tobacco. It just looks like a rolled cigarette paper.:


I found this leafmine on some Bramble leaves from last year, and the leaf reminded me of photos of a leafmine which I'd seen on Stuart's wildlife blog, Donegal Wildlife, in his post, Still snowy.
I think that this is the Leafmine, Stigmella aurella.

I am not sure if it is the same Leaf mine, as the one Stuart saw on his walk, but I like what he says about them:

"Leaf-miners are always worth a look: the plant they live on, can be a very strong clue to species, and it is interesting to see the different strategies they use to avoid falling out of the leaf.
Mines are made of species of Flies, Sawflies, Micromoths and Weevils. The shape of the mine can usually tell us to which family a particular mine belongs"