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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.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Unidentified roadside plant, north of Benderloch.

Honeysuckle along roadside north of Benderloch.

Sea Aster, Loch Creran.

Close up of Sow-thistle species, Loch Creran.

Sow Thistle species, Loch Creran.

Drove to Benderloch, Argyll today (Saturday), enjoying the roadside flowers at their very best. Those I was able to identify were as follows:
Meadowsweet, Rosebay Willow Herb, Greater Knapweed, Ragwort, Honeysuckle (creamy-yellow flowered - see photo above), Harebell, fruiting Raspberry and a lovely white-flowered herb (? escaped, see photo).
Shoreline and hinterland:
Sow Thistle species (see photo), Meadowsweet, Thrift (now virtually finished flowering), Sea Aster (poor photo above).
Cotton Grass, Bog Asphodel (now orange), ? Purple Marsh Orchid.
Fantastic, scarlet Aubretia; pink / red-flowered Honeysuckle.
Bird sightings were young Long tailed and Coal Tits in Loch Awe oakwoods and lots of feeding Swallows. Road / beach casualties were 2 Hedgehogs, a Rabbit and a Toad.

Spent part of yesterday (Friday) exploring Rosshall Park. It really is a hidden gem, with Water Lilly-choked ponds and a Victorian fern grotto. Most pleasant surprise was the finding of several big clumps of Royal Fern (see picture below).
Bird sightings yesterday were around 20 Black headed Gulls roosting on the Moulin playing field, a possible calling Kingfisher over the Cart and a Morrhen with three well-grown young on Rosshall Park pond.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Royal Fern, Rosshall Park.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Miserable weather at Irvine Beach Park

First rain for about two weeks today (Thursday). Took a trip down to Irvine and walked around the point at the north end of the Beach Park. Best sighting was of up to 8 Sandwich Terns feeding along the river channel (above), together with a single young bird which was harassing at least one of the adults and calling for food.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Spent Monday around Temple Sowerby in the Eden Valley. Birds around the village included House Martins, Swallows and Swifts all hawking in the air together. The Martins had three nests on one of the houses, and were feeding well-grown young. Swa a Buzzard glide overhead, plus assorted House Sparrows, Robins and other common garden birds. Visited Ullswater, and went down the lake for a couple of miles. Few birds about except for some motely Mallards and a flock of 30 or so Greylag Geese in a lakesdie field.
Plants around the area included a single roadside Honeysuckle, a small patch of Poppies (with a few plants of a large, dark red flowered variety) and lots of Mugwort (and the ubiquitous Rose bay Willow Herb). Most remarkable though were the Campanula flowers along almost every roadside. I only know Campanula as a garden plant at home, but it is obviously very well naturalised in North Cumbria.

Friday, July 22, 2005

A great day for natural connections today. On the way back from breakfast at the Italian Deli down the road, heard a gull calling loudly above my head. Looking up I saw a Sparrowhawk trying to gain height (spiralling upwards, alternating between short spells of flapping and soaring) while being mercilessly mobbed by the gull and a couple of smaller birds (? Swifts). Eventually it was just a speck in the blue sky (although the gull continued to screech). In the afternoon, watching out of the kitchen doors I saw 9 female / juvenile Mallards flying down stream in a tight flock. Then this evening (about 10 pm), parked on Paisley Road West, a tight group of 8 Swifts screamed over the car and away over the rooftops.
Oh, and a Red Fox at midnight takes my garden Mammal list to 3...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Out for a short walk around Corkerhill this afternoon. Greater Willow Herb and Wild Raspberries in abundance. No sign of the Pied Wagtail family that was there last week.
Back home, this evening, the garden mammal list doubled with a Pippistrelle (or was it a Soprano) Bat fluttering in the half light. Later, watched an enormous full moon rising over the conifers to the South East. As I watched it move, I was really struck by the enormity of it all - the Earth, the Universe, and us clinging on - as the round earth rolls......

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Got out to explore the area around the Glade today. River banks thick with "Policeman's Helmets", Rosebay Willow Herb and Meadowsweet. Also the first wild Raspberries of the year (including some giant ones beside the path from Corkerhill Farm to Corkerhill). Birds along the route included feeding Swifts (especially as the evening wore on and the flying insects came out), Black headed Gulls (again, especially in the evening, hawking insects along the river), a female Mallard with 6 ducklings (and a single Moorhen) just through the M77 flyover, and a Grey Heron over the house (probably flying to roost).
Garden list is currently 4, with today's Swift and Heron (flyovers) added to 2 Mallards (flyovers) of a few days ago and the ubiquitous Magpies (Bah!). The family also reported a Grey Squirrel along the back fence (Double Bah!).

Friday, July 15, 2005

First blog from Silver Glade

Another mild day here in the West of Scotland. Didn't manage any natural connections today, although a trip out to the shops revealed Buddleia growing (and flowering) in profusion all over the area.
News from the web is that it seems to be a "Quail year" with reports of calling birds from Lothian, Borders and the Isle of Bute. Also new this week - rafts of Manx Shearwaters appearing on the Clyde.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Scottish Summer continues with 100% blue skies and temperatures touching 30 degrees C. The countryside is lush with summer plant growth - most noticeably Meadowsweet (whole swathes along the Barrhead Dams road), various thistle spp, Mallow and Fox and Cubs (where it has escaped the verge trimmers), with a few Poppies struggling through here and there. Noticed some new, tall, blue-flowered plants (?Flax) in the hedgerows between Arkleston and Hillington.
Swallows continue to appear commoner than in previous years with at least a pair ever present (? nesting) at the top of the estate.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Very little time to enjoy or record any natural connections due to our imminent house-move. However, the time spent getting the new house ready has been brightened up by singing Blackcap and Blackbird, and an unexpected night-time visitor - a Toad.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Scotland continues to bask in an unexpected, but much appreciated spell of sunny weather. Apart from a few thunderstorms and one or two overcast periods, we have had an excellent couple of weeks. Main natural connections have been up to 3 Swallows over Barrhead Road (are they nesting in the old (but now housing-locked) farmstead?), 3 Swifts over the house (ahead of stormy weather) and my first sighting on my new patch at Cardonald - two juvenile Whitethroats.