Entries tagged "sun"
The Sunflower (helianthus annuus) is famous for its ability to track the sun over the course of a day.
A less well known, but quite abundant plant, called, 'Weld' (Reseda Luteola) also displays this ability. It is an effect known as 'heliotropism'.
Weld thrives in ex-industrial areas, in disturbed ground (it loves old bomb craters) and by roadsides, as in this picture. It has been used historically as the source of a bright yellow dye. It is also very useful for natural…
Take a close look at the picture above.
Notice how there are areas of with low plants - in the foreground - and areas of taller plants - in the middle distance.
The taller plants are the light-loving plants, like nettles and brambles.
The lower plants, spread along the woodland floor, are the shade tolerators, like wood spurge and dog's mercury.
You can see in the picture above, even though it is taken on a cloudy day, how dramatically the plants change when the woodland canopy opens up. Most people understand…
On the 22nd June this year, The Sunday Times Magazine published an article about the last time a father took his 14 year old son, Kadian, on a bike ride.
The son was killed outright by a white van, as the son sped from a footpath out onto a road.
At the inquest following this tragedy, the coroner recorded a 'narrative verdict', meaning he did not attribute cause to any named person. My reason for mentioning this heart-wrenching story here is that one part of the inquest surprised me, for reasons that will become clear.…
I undertook a small natural navigation challenge in West Sussex yesterday.
The sun was out so it was not especially tricky, but that is never the point really. When direction is easy it gives me extra time to focus on spotting new things (and if I feel like more pace-counting, perfecting distances).
The spring wildflowers were out in great numbers. I was joined at times by bluebells, red and white dead-nettles, daffodils, primroses, wood anemones, ground ivy, common comfrey, green alkanet, marsh marigolds (see picture at top), cuckoo flowers, wood spurge and also some garden…
Just before you see the sun rise in the morning or just after it has set for you in the evening, try to work out where it is using clues in the land and sky.
This is good practice when you don't need it and improves your awareness hugely for those times when you might.
The sun does not set or rise for all things in a landscape at the same moment. The higher something is then the earlier it will see sunrise and the later the sun will set for it.
One of the questions I like to ask at the start of some courses is this:
If you walk ten paces north, then ten paces east, then ten paces south, what would you need to do to find your way back to your start point?
The answer is at the bottom of the page.
If you got this right, or even if you got it wrong but made a logical attempt to solve it, then you are already familiar with the concept of 'dead reckoning', even if the name is new to you.…
Shipwrecks is a three-part series on BBC4, presented by naval historian, Dr. Sam Willis. And it sets out to do what BBC4 does best. It compensates for a lack of Hollywood budget by treating the viewer as intelligent. Rare and radical.
BBC4 as a whole is extraordinary. I can only imagine the guts it took for some soul to march, with quickening heart, into a meeting and suggest that of the 60 odd million people living in this country, there might be a few thousand who don't consider Hello Magazine to be news. I salute…
On courses and at the end of talks, I regularly get asked about how we can use our watch as a compass. There are two ways of using a watch to help navigate that I will touch on here, one of them is well known, but I never use it. The second is a familiar concept, but is one of the most underused methods of navigating in the world. I use it all the time. This second method is the single best way of realising you are not lost.
Finding Direction Using a…
The photo above was taken shortly before the recent total solar eclipse, by my uncle, Tuppin, who was and remains in Uganda. Everyone should have an uncle in Uganda, ready for such eventualities, but sadly so few do these days.
Totality - the total obscuration of the sun - lasted about 24 seconds.
Historically, eclipses were used to help solve astronomical and navigational puzzles, because they were once one of the few very clear ways people in different parts of the world had of marking time. Before…
If you enjoy woodland walks, you will have come across plenty of ferns. The next time you see a stand of ferns in a clearing, it is worth pausing to study them for a minute or two.
Spend a moment looking at them from a few angles and you will quickly spot how ferns are very sensitive to light direction. Ferns orientate their leaves to catch as much light as possible.
It is surprisingly easy to use ferns to find direction, once you have got used to this 'solar panel' habit of theirs. There is…