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Natural Connections

Modern life in Scotland is increasingly busy. The connections our ancestors had with nature and the land are being lost. As leisure time shrinks, or is filled with hi-tech experiences, opportunities to experience nature become fewer. And yet it is possible to connect with nature on a day to day basis. All around us, the great web of life continues to hold its shape, and nature continues its eternal cycles. Keep looking, listening, smelling, touching - and keep experiencing natural connections.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Back from two days in the Renfrewshire / Inverclyde countryside. Working most of the time, but kept my eyes and ears open, and managed a walk yesterday evening.
Venue was in extensive parkland with deciduous woods, conifer plantations, improved grassland and rough verges, but mostly dominated by a large golf course. Lots of birds around including Pied Wagtail, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Woodpigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Buzzard overhead and lots of Swallows. Heard Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat, and found a group of ?Coal Tit chicks moving through a small stand of ?Scots Pine. Also notable were one or two Rabbits nibbling the grass on the croquet lawn.
Went for walk up through the golf course on the Thursday evening. Some of the rough grass verges were quite damp, and growing amongst the sedges were what I think were Northern Marsh Orchids (see bottom two pics below). Really struck by the intense purple colour and delicate beauty of the flowers. Further up the hill, the vegetation became more heath-like with Vaccinium, Spagnum, Cotton Grass, Heathers, Gorse, sedges and Birch. In the dampest patches were more orchids, this time I guess, Heath Spotted (see first two pics below). Really excited to have found two different (although, I think, quite common) species. I am starting to understand what it is that makes them so attractive to so many people. I think it is partly the appearance of the flowers, but also the fact that the individual plants are quite striking in themselves, as well as interesting in the way they grow in loose colonies.

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