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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.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Drove to Dumfries and back today. The landscape down there is quite different from the west coast I'm used to. Lots of rolling fields, ancient-looking hedgerows and (almost) sunken lanes. It feels altogether gentler, as if things have been settled and unchanged for centuries. Commonest bird on the motorway - Rooks, some in pristine plumage (this year's young?). No Kestrels, although I did see two singles hunting along the A77 earlier in the week.
Best sighting of the day - a nice patch of Lawyer's Wig in a cow field next to the Hamilton - East Kilbride (high) road.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Sunday September 26th 2004

Walked up Campsie Glen in smirry rain. Devil's Bit Scabious and a Knapweed species around but not much else. It must be a lovely spot in the sunshine.

Saturday September 25th 2004
Walked along the cycleway at Castle Semple Loch today. Surprisingly, quite a lot of plants in flower including Fox and Cubs (below), a St John's Wort species (probably Common St John's Wort) and a Bugloss species (see below), around 1 metre tall - probably not a native species. Down by the loch, still plenty of Comfry (a second flowering, perhaps) and Michelmas Daisy.

Bugloss species, Johnstone - Kilbirnie Cycleway at Castle Semple Loch.

Fox and Cubs, Johnstone - Kilbirnie Cycleway at Castle Semple Loch.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Mild and sunny today. Enjoyed the drive to Greenock and back much more because of that. It is notable that there is virtually no colour in the hedgerows just now (apart from a few Indian Balsam flowers and rose hips).
Walked around Maxwell park in the evening. Pond is full of Moorhens (maybe 20 or more) with one pair still feeding large young. Also plenty of Mallards, many in full adult plumage. The pond is well choked with vegetation including flowering Greater Reedmace and an interesting floating plant with yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Managed a couple of hours fresh air this morning before the rain came on again. Visited RSPB Lochwinnoch, then walked along by Castle Semple Loch. Lots of birds at the feeders at Lochwinnoch including Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Collared Dove. Also a Moorhen with a downy chick (quite late?) on one of the small ponds. Lots of Mute Swans at Castle Semple, including a pair with seven grey young. Also lots of winter-plumaged Black headed Gulls there. Walked along the path for about a mile. Surprised by the number of plants still in flower. Yarrow and Tansy a little past their best, but lots of fresh Indian Balsam, Comfry, Michelmas Daisy (below), Forget-Me-Not (below) and a pink-flowered Labiate (either a Hemp-Nettle or a Dead-Nettle, below). Brambles still heavy with berries.

A little Forget-Me-Not species.

Close-up of that Sea Aster/Michelmas Daisy

Michelmas Daisy or Sea Aster - I can't work it out.

A Labiate species - some kind of Hemp-nettle or Dead-nettle.


Friday, September 17, 2004

Another break in the weather today. Lots of ducks on the sea off Langbank. 50 to 100 Common Gulls on the grass near Ferguson's shipyard. The little damp hollow just east of the M8/A8 merge has been dusted with blue for the past few weeks - Devil's Bit Scabious would be my guess, as it is renowned for the "blue hue" it can create in late summer. Also lots of stately Greater Reedmace there. Web news suggests winter geese are starting to arrive (sightings from both Islay and the Lothians in the past 2 days), a sure sign that colder weather is on the way......

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

A better day today, after a few days of wet weather. Unfortunately the forecast is for another week of rain starting tomorrow. Driving along by the Clyde today, noticed that the number of birds on the shore has really rocketed in just the last few weeks. Curlews, Oystercatchers and Lapwings very evident. Also Jackdaws, Starlings and lots of gulls.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Visited Glen Moss at Kilmacolm this evening. It really is a marvelous site. The moss nestles in a fold in the hills and has the feel of a lost world, so different is it from the village half a mile away. Much of the vegetation is sphagnum, rushes and Cotton Grass. Also some patches of Devil's Bit Scabious and withering Bog Ashphodel (looking quite different without its familiar spikes of yellow flowers). Noticed a couple of big dragonflies darting about menacingly. Also one or two Peacock butterflies. Field Mushrooms and some big specimens of Boletus under nearby trees. Also a strange (withered) saxifrage on many walls. You can get more information about Glen Moss by following the link on the SWT homepage.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Part of a group of eight House Sparrows bathing in a puddle on my garage roof.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

There's a much more autumnal feel to the weather these days. It has also started to get dark noticeably early. The Brambles in the estate park are laden with berries. The Indian Balsam is going to seed, and its characteristic, sickly-sweet smell is everywhere along the river.
Lots of hay cutting going on this week (with the short respite we've had from the monsoon). Saw a big brown bird perched on a bale of newly cut hay near Inchinnan. Guessed it might have been a Pheasant but it turned out to be a Buzzard.