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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, May 28, 2005

No chance of natural connections today - too cold and wet to even venture outside the front door. Just reflecting on developments from last week though:
The patch of White Campion beside the Abbotsinch on-ramp is now in flower. The bend in the motorway has masses of Red Campion all along the south side. Nearer Port Glasgow, Birds Foot Trefoil has appeared on the verges and a big patch of "London's Pride" has naturalised beside the Woodhill roundabout.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Walked around Rouken Glen Park pond this evening. The Mute Swan pair now have seven cygnets and a female Mallard has 8 well-grown ducklings. There are also two strange domestic ducks there - one all-white, the other mostly dark with a long neck and tail (probably an Indian Runner).
Mull of Galloway webcam now up and running again. Took the picture below, looking North West.

View from Mull of Galloway lighthouse at 21:38

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Glorious day today. Highlight of a sunny return trip to Greenock was a Buzzard careering across the motorway, hotly pursued by a Carrion Crow. Later, walked around Maxwell Park pond. Yellow Flag Irises now coming into flower (see above). Bid count came to 11 Moorhen, 8 Mallard, 1 Little Grebe and a Black headed Gull. Most seem to have given up on the breeding season as I only saw one young bird (a well-grown Moorhen chick).

Yellow Flag at Maxwell Park pond

Sunday, May 22nd, 2005

Walked along the cycle track today. Plant life now very lush with whole banks of Bluebells (see below) and lots of Common Comfrey, Garlic Mustard and Red Campion in flower. Came across a patch of Mouse-eared Chickweed which I'd never noticed before. Also some Solomon's Seal in flower (near the spot where people from the estate dump their garden refuse!). Willow Warblers in song but little else to see. I think the Summer doldrums are about to begin......

Bluebells beside the Cart Cycle Track

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Spent the afternoon dodging the showers (of rain and hail) in Calderglen Park, East Kilbride. Lots of birds about including Dunnock and Collared Dove. Also a pair of Lapwings displaying over a lovely wildflower meadow at the entrance to Muirmains Farm.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Drove to Hamilton today. Surprised to see the verges of the M8 at Paisley/Renfrew choked with Oxeye Daisies (I had expected them to appear later than this). The white theme was added to by Hawthorn which has suddenly come into flower hereabouts.....
House Sparrows chirruping in the garden - I wonder how nesting is going this year.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

On the mend now (I hope), so took a trip down to Lunderston Bay to enjoy the evening sun. Stopped at Gourock shore on the way - saw a newly fledged Starling being fed by a parent. Also Wild Carrot growing along the strand line. At Lunderston, interesting to see 3 Gannets labouring over the bay, trying to make headway against a stiff north wind.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Very frustrating, being confined to the house, as all the usual natural connections are cut off. Having to make do with what I can see and hear outside the windows, and what I can glean from the web.
Doubly frustrating because we had a glorious weekend here. Still quite cool for the time of year, but with almost unbroken sunshine on both days. Today its overcast, with rain on the way.
Noticed a Blue Tit and a Great Tit queuing up to visit the peanuts in the back garden. The Great Tit was making the wing-quivering display which I think females use to elicit courtship feeding. She didn't have any success, and eventually just went on to feed herself.
News from the 'net is that all the summer visitors are in, and many of the smaller residents are on to their second broods. Some winter visitors are still around, including several Waxwings and a Fieldfare in Edinburgh, and some migrants are still passing through, especially White Wagtails and Whimbrel on the Clyde.
Birds of prey around the country seem to be having mixed fortunes. The Osprey nest at Loch Garten has seen a variety of combinations of birds attempting to breed, but the pair in possession at the moment appear to have decided to cut their losses and just spend long periods of time perched on the nest soaking up the sun. The Lake District pair are doing much better (no doubt due to having fewer distractions to contend with), and are currently sitting on 3 eggs. The Exeter Peregrines have two lively chicks in the nest. The female sat tight all day Saturday because of virtually continuous rain. Come Sunday morning however, all three were completely recovered from their soaking and feeding voraciously on some poor pigeon.
Checking the webcams this morning, Edinburgh looks dry (no cars on Princes Street!), Oban sunny, and there is fresh snow on Cairngorm. Must try to get fit and get back out there.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Good weather still with us, and set to last for a few days. Breeding season well underway with reports of fledged Dunnocks from Inverkip and a Feral Pigeon chick (sadly dead) in Paisley.

Sunday, May 8, 2005

Spent some of the afternoon exploring Pollock Country Park. Weather sunny, but with a strong, cool wind. Quite a few Swallows around, but I still haven't seen any House Martins this year. Best find was a Cowslip tucked away in a corner of one of the lawns (below).

Cowslip, Pollock Country Park.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Went to look at the mystery plant along the cycle track last night. It has flowered at last, and has turned out to be a rather out-of-place, domestic Hyacinth (above). I'm really surprised no-one has picked it as it really stands out next to the path.
Other plants in flower last night were Red Campion, Herb Robert and whole carpets of Bluebells. No bats (in spite of plenty of midges), but one (or two) Kingfisher, 1 Heron, a Great spotted Woodpecker (heard), 5 Swallows and singing Robin and Willow Warbler (2).

Mystery plant, Cart Cycle Track.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Cover for forthcoming NN title.

Beautiful day in Seamill today. Air really clear, giving some of the best views of Arran I've ever had (below). After I fininshed work, walked around the grounds of the Hydro. Lots of common birds about. Also Wild Garlic and Pink Campion beside the mill stream.
News from the web is that the next NN, "Mushrooms and Toadstools" will be out early in June. Meantime the cover of the forthcoming "Mosses and Liverworts" has been released (above).

Arran, from Seamill.