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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.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Monday 7th June.
Male Greenfinch singing loudly from the top of a derelict building in the centre of Paisley at 7 this morning. Roe deer in the Finlaystone meadow again, although this time at 10am, munching quietly while heavy traffic thundered by. In the afternoon, 1 Mute Swan off Langbank (possibly the beginning of the late summer flock that gathers there). Also around 8 Shelduck on the beach, possibly non-breeders or failed breeders. Foxgloves in full flower on the verges of the M8, near the bend at Erskine. Also a few spindly Poppies on the north side. Verges and other waste places now covered with grasses and wild flowers. Docks and thistles coming into flower. Odd escapes, including some stately Lupins at Langbank, liven up the picture. Back home, three fledgling Blue Tits hopping across the roofs begging their parent for food. They appear quite incongruous in this setting, but managed perfectly well, before flying off in pursuit.

Friday 4th June

A mixed day, weather-wise, but warmed up as it wore on. Down to work early this morning. Admired patch of White Campion on verge beside Renfrew westbound M8 on-ramp. I first noticed it about 3 weeks ago, and it is still the only patch I have seen. Noticed a Shelduck flying over the motorway from the estuary just west of Erskine to the low lying fields on the other side. Sensibly, it had risen to a fair height before attempting to cross. I guess they may well nest in the fields. I wonder how the chicks will make it over the M-way. Also worried about disturbance as I saw three men in luminous orange jackets working in the same field this afternoon.
Back to this morning, saw a Roe Deer in the second meadow beneath Finlaystone House, the first I have seen hereabouts.
Lots of House Sparrow noise today, both at Nelson Street in Greenock and outside the University library in Paisley. No time to investigate, but judging from the chirruping there are plenty about, possibly fledged young begging to be fed.
Came off the M8 at St James today. Verges are choked with Oxeye Daisies. I wonder how many of the commuters notice them as they sit waiting to get on to the roundabout.
Sad sight in the evening. A Collared Dove freshly dead in the middle of the road at the very top of the estate. A Crow was already pulling it apart, and clumps of feathers were floating down the road on the warm evening air.
Checked out the webcams late on. Interesting visitors at the Sandy and Ouse feeders, respectively, were a Jackdaw and a Great spotted woodpecker. Speaking of the latter, Laurie at work told me that her local pair in Inverkip have started bringing their young to garden nuts in the past few days.

Thursday 3rd June
Male Kestrel over M8, eastbound, just before St James (around tea time). I rarely see these around here. Disturbed ground from Erskine to St James, where they have been working on drains, completely covered with flowering grasses and wildflowers (especially buttercups). Just goes to show how quickly nature can take over when the land is disturbed, then left alone.

Wednesday 2nd June 2004
Warm and sunny again. A flock of noisy starlings visiting next doors bird table. I guess the parents are teaching the newly-fledged brood where all the best feeding places are. Honeysuckle now has three or four fully open flowers, although the scent has not developed fully yet. Think I will go out later to check as I have read it gets stronger at night.
Loch Garten osprey chicks now visible above the rim of the nest. Watched on the web cam today. Think I saw three little grey heads straining for some scraps of fish. The parent birds look hilarious as they stare, bewilderedly, at what they have produced. However the young male seems to be doing his bit in terms of delivering food for his growing family.

Monday 31st May 2004
Foxgloves in flower (plenty of white ones) beside the road on the southern slopes of Arthurs Seat. First Poppies of the year for me were a few in roadside verges just off the Edinburgh City bypass. I have not seen any in the west of the country. Are they absent or have I just missed them?

25th May 2004
Yellow-flowered cushion on roadside at Port Glasgow. Much more Red Campion around than last year.

23rd May 2004
Patch of thrift on the side of the Johnstone bypass again this year. It is just before the first marker for the north-bound Linwood off ramp.

20th May 2004
On a working trip to Islay. Early Purple and Early Marsh Orchids appearing in great sweeps. Birdsfoot Trefoil, Thrift and Scurvey Grass on the big rocks along the shore. Water Avens and Marsh Marigold along the sream through the golf course at Machrie.

Mid May 2004

Oxeye Daisies appearing on roadsides.

5th May 2004
Working in Lochgilhead today. Caught sight of a Common Sandpiper flying along the channel there - my first of the year.

End April 2004
Walked along the Cart behind the estate. Lots of Ramsons, Bluebells, Jack-by-the-Hedge (with small, white, four petalled flowers and shiny, vine-shaped, light green leaves). Also a small ? saxifrage species growing on damp banks and lots of Indian Balsam seelings pushing up. More Jack-by-the-Hedge (aka Garlic Mustard) at the top of the estate at base of fences/walls.

26th April 2004
First two Swallows over Arkleston Farm.

25th April 2004

Walked along by Castle Semple Loch. Marsh marigold and Cuckoo Flower in damp meadows there.

23rd April 2004
First Bluebell flowers appeared on south-facing banks (e.g. in the middle of the St James Interchange) over the past week (the fresh leaves have been apparent for a few weeks).

15th April 2004
First Willow warblers of the year in song at Loch Lomond shores. Also Wood Anemones in flower.

14th April 2004
Chiffchaffs calling by cycle path behind Hawkhead estate, and in woods at Troon. They have been around the country for the last 3 or 4 weeks, but I haven’t !
I have come to the conclusion that the prominent white-flowering, leafless bushes in roadside verges (e.g. the M8 between
Greenock and Paisley) are Blackthorn. I also saw good sized trees which I guess are this species in the woods at Troon. (Also Bluebell plants pushing through well (but not flowering yet)). I have also decided that the yellow-flowered bushes visible from the M8 (e.g. on Finlaystone estate) are Laburnum. Other bushes / trees coming into flower are pink- and red-flowering Cherry. However I note that unlike in the Blackthorn, the leaves of these species are already emerging when the flowers appear. Noticed the Hawthorn bushes in verges between Linwood and Ferguslie today (14th April). They are strongly in leaf, but have absolutely no flowers.

1st / 2nd April 2004
Drove to Lochgilphead. First Primroses appearing on roadside verges. Also Coltsfoot on bare verges, especially around Lochgair. First Rhodedenron flowers appearing.

29th March 2004
? Broom, ? Gorse in full flower. Blossom trees flowering on Finlaystone estate including Laburnum and ? Willow. First Dandelion flowers on verges. Gulls settled on Port Glasgow factory rooftops.

16th March 2004
Presumed Red legged Partridge in inner quadrangle at
University of Paisley Craigie campus, Ayr (presumably an escape from a local collection) – feeding quietly among the flower beds at 1 pm.

Early March 2004
Yellow roseroot flowering in garden.

First week in March 2004
Daffodils coming into flower along roadside verges in Argyll (Crocuses have been out for a few weeks, Snowdrops perhaps a week before that).

Last week of February 2004
Single Golden Eagle seen soaring (and gliding off very fast) above the glen which starts at the bend in the road at the foot of Glen Crone (around
5 pm).

Early Feb 2004
Crippling (if distant) views of Red throated Divers and Slavonian Grebes on dead calm sea off
Ardmore point. Also around 8 seals hauled up on sand banks looking like giant grey bananas. Walkers very excited – this is apparently not an everyday occurrence here.

9th February 2004
Rooks back at colonies beside A8 (Finlaystone) and A7 (Prestwick Airport).

Late January 2004
Two foxes chasing noisily in the garden.

18th October 2003
Circuit of Leverndale. Jackdaws circling tower. Cormorant and 2 Mallards on river. More Redwings and Fieldfares.

16th October 2003
Walk to base of Dumgoyne. Sunny weather. Several kestrels. Distant Buzzards. Paralysed Rabbit (? Myxamatosis). 1 Red Admiral. Fieldfares in berry trees.

Mid October 2003
Fieldfares and Redwings arrived, Hawkhead estate.

Around 14th October 2003
Back from postbox via fields. Numerous Redwings and some Fieldfares (first this winter for both) in berry trees. Sparrowhawk chasing after them. Later, walk to river. Goldcrest in small trees beside middle gate.

11th October 2003
Visit to Gartmorn Dam, Central. Adult G C Grebe attended by two large, stripey young. Various ducks (Mallard, Tufted Duck). Several dragonflies (? Late) flying over reedy patch. Red Admiral sunning on grassy bank. Around the same date, 7 swans over the M8 at
Glasgow Airport (? First Whoopers).

Early October 2003
Indian Balsam (Policeman's Helmet) seed pods popping in dry weather.

Mid September 2003
Fungi in woods at Inverary including Stinkhorn, luminous white tree fungus and Orange Peel.

End July 2003
Bog Asphodel in flower and Bilberry in fruit on Ben A'an.

End June 2003
Full grown gull chicks on factory rooftops. Yellow Flag flowers dying back. Red Campion completely gone.

Mid June 2003
Rosebay Willowherb, Ragwort and Sea Aster all in flower.

Early June 2003
Foxglove flowers appearing. Naturalised Lupins in flower beside the M8 through Livingston. Mute Swans gathering opposite Langbank. Small gull chicks beside some roof top nests. Yello Flag Iris in full flower at the Hawkhead estate park. Purple/blue vetch coming into flower along roadsides east of Port Glasgow.


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