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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.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Bitterly cold weather continues, but at least it has remained dry. Down at Barshaw park today, the Mute Swan flock stands at 18, a mixture of adults and first year birds (in various stages of moult). Interestingly, a few of the juveniles were indulging in the typical "butterfly" display (see centre bird in the photo). Not many other birds about except for some Carrion Crows, a small flock of Starlings (maybe 30) and a Pied Wagtail. A few Daffodils are struggling into flower, and one of the Cherry trees is starting to bud.

Mute Swans on the pond at Barshaw Park.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Took the low road (and ferry) to Lochgilphead today to avoid the snow which has fallen over the past few days. Best sighting en route was a male Mandarin "sailing" across a bay on the East shore of Loch Eck. Also there, a pair of Mallard and (nearby) a female Goldeneye. The woods there are full of Bluebells, although they still have some time to go before flowering. Elsewhere in Argyll, I saw few signs of wild flowers. No Coltsfoot at Loch Gair yet, and only a few Daffodil buds in the verges between there and Lochgilphead. Positive sightings included a soaring Raven, a sitting Buzzard, plenty of Hoodies and lots of Eider, the males in fantastic breeding plumage with moss green "ears" and rosy breasts. I watched one off Dunoon dive for a food item (possibly a crab or a shellfish), then gobble it up at the surface.

Mandarin habitat, Loch Eck.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Down by the Clyde at Braehead today. Around 20 Black headed Gulls were hawking excitedly over the water. Not sure what they were after as I would have said it was too cold for flying insects. The only other birds about were a pair of Cormorant flying strongly upriver above the boatyards.
Back at the shopping centre, Starlings seemed to be singing from every tree and street light. The environment there obviously suits them well.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Cold weather continues, although it has not deterred the Feral Pigeons at Barshaw cross. The males continue to pirouette and bow on the rooftops in the morning sunshine.
The usual Buzzard standing in the first Finlaystone meadow was complemented today by a hovering Kestrel over the motorway at Finlaystone point. Also there (and along the shore in the direction of Langbank) were many hundreds of Black headed Gulls. They just arrived this week (last week there were none). I wonder if this is the beginning of a movement onto the breeding grounds inland.
Checking Steve Round's page of Scaup photographs, noticed that some of the pictures were taken in Aviemore on 1st June 2004. I wonder if this represents a breeding attempt. The species is a very rare breeder in Scotland so any Summer records are very significant.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Lots of bird activity along the motorway between Glasgow and Dumfries today. Lots of Rooks flapping around their nests, at least one Buzzard and two Kestrels showing well - oh, and five Rabbits in a roadside field. Blossom appearing on quite a few hedgerow trees.
News from the web is that a pair of Nuthatches have taken up residence at Dalzell park in Motherwell. The dramatic range extension exhibited by this species over the past decade must be linked to climate change but no-one seems to have worked out the details. Makes me wonder how we can think we understand complex ecosystems abroad when we don't even understand one of our most familiar birds at home.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Another gorgeous spring day today (although the last few frosty nights have brought some welcome wintry weather further north). Down here, the tops of the Renfrewshire hills were covered in overnight snow. Also, all the mountains from Ben Lomond round to Glen Eck remain completely white.
Noticed a Buzzard in the first Finaystone meadow, and another swooping over the road at Hunter's Quay. Also, a hovering Kestrel right over the Troon bypass. Tide was well in when I drove down the coast (from Greenock to Ayr), with flocks of Lapwing plus odd Curlew and Oystercatcher forced onto roadside fields.
Spring-like weather has prompted Mistle Thrushes to breed at a site in central Glasgow, with a ten day old chick reported on the Lothian Birding line today.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Very windy along the river today. Three male and two female Mallards were ploutering nervously. Lots of green shoots coming through. Some will be Crocuses but I've no idea about the others. Lots of Snowdrops have come up along the river banks. They look strong and vigorous, unlike the few forlorn Daffodils which started to appear this week in the Inverclyde municipal displays.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Spring like weather continues. Two Shelduck were in the sea level field this morning, the first time I've seen them away from the shore this year.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Drove to Largs this morning in bright Spring sunshine. Glorious views up and down the Clyde (see below). Total of 3 Kestrels seen during the return journey. Not so cheering was a dead Buzzard (or possibly Tawny Owl) in the middle of the Howwod Bypass.

Looking South-West from the Haylie Brae viewpoint over Great Cumbrae, Little Cumbrae, Bute and Arran.

Largs seafront, looking North.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Encountered a "multitude of Sparrows" today - two multitudes in fact. Driving back from Ayr, I noticed a cloud of about 100 to 200 birds swirling around telephone lines in a field next to the road. I expected them to be Starlings, but as I got closer I realised they were smaller and browner. I can only assume they were House Sparrows.
Back at Paisley Uni (around 4 pm), heard a loud cheeping coming from the Clematis growing outside the entrance to D block. Getting closer I saw several House Sparrows (between 10 and 20, I guess) squabbling over positions under the canopy formed by the leaves (possibly a roost site). Other sightings today included a male Kestrel hunting beside the three towns bypass, and a singing Dunnock under the street lights as I was leaving the campus.

Hyacinths, January 31st 2005.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Amazon have posted an image of the cover of the softback version of the forthcoming NN title (see pic above). Publication is set for 4th April.

NN 82 (2nd ed) Pbk