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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, October 30, 2005

Not many natural connections this weekend (apart from Redwings overhead and two Grey Herons flying down the river), but plenty of virtual ones. News is that Beavers have been introduced to an estate in Gloucestershire. Ironic that we have been debating a Scottish introduction scheme for so long, while the English have just gone ahead and done it. Also about colonisation, but this time unassisted, Nuthatches have been seen this month in Lanarkshire (Dalzell Park), Renfrewshire (Lochwinnoch area) and Dunbartonshire (Balloch area). Locally, the Whooper Swan flock is now back at Glasgow Airport (5 birds have been around for about a month, but on Saturday there were 52).

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A day full of interesting natural connections, ranging from a Buzzard swooping low over the M8 at Bishopton to a mouse scampering along the brick edging behind the back garden lawn. Garden visitors included Great Tit, Blue Tit, Dunnock and Robin (the latter two feeding from the fat balls), as well as two Grey Squirrels, robbing the peanut feeders, then caching their takings behind next door's Clematis.

Today's (well yesterday's) Ayrshire raptor count was 3 Kestrels and 1 Buzzard. Lots of the usual Cormorants, Eiders etc about, all enjoying the mild start to the autumn. In the garden, one of the Robins has graduated to feeding inside the fat-ball holder.
Also yesterday, but in the evening, heard the familiar "see-eep" of Redwings passing over the West End of Glasgow in the darkness.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Looking South down Loch Fyne.


Looking South down Loch Fyne.


Four Cormorants roosting over Loch Eck.

Drove to Tarbet (Loch Fyne) yesterday, and back today. Yesterday was particularly settled with hardly a ripple on the crossing to Dunnoon. Not much about on the Clyde (apart from the ever-present Cuddy Ducks), and not much on Loch Eck either (apart from some roosting Cormorants - see picture below). The evening at Tarbet was idyllic, with a dead calm sea and crystal clear air (see pics).
Today was more unsettled, but an early morning walk produced a Great spotted Woodpecker, a Goldcrest and 20 Redwings (my first of the winter).

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

A fourth day of wet weather, and with it, a fair amount of localised flooding, mainly in the Borders but also here in Glasgow. The river at the bottom of the garden is looking menacing, but so far (thankfully) has stayed within its banks. Thought I heard some Long tailed Tits in the woods this evening. I wonder if they will come to the feeders...

A wet and windy Tuesday was brightened up considerably by the sight of a clump of newly-emerged Shaggy Ink Caps on a grass verge in Ferguslie Park.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Autumn is all around now, with most of the trees starting to change colour. One particular variety of Rowan (obviously much loved by municipal planners) is a beautiful orangey-red.
Driving to Edinburgh today, noticed 2 Buzzards soaring over a part of the Central Scotland Forest, then 5 together in a field next to the M8 extension. In Edinburgh itself, highlight was a roost of House Sparrows next to Morrisons store on Portobello Road.

Busy week - so not much time for blogging. A trip to Ayr at the start of the week turned up 2 single Kestrels over the motorway. Then, the usual trip to Greenock today (well, yesterday) found dozens of Wigeon, new in, by Langbank (on a dead calm sea), and many hundreds of Lapwings (including a flock over the airport).
Reports from the web say the Whoopers are back at Inchinnan. No sign so far, but I'll keep looking.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Marshy foreshore and spit, east of Longhaugh Point.


Fields above Longhaugh Point.


Sea Aster at Longhaugh Point shore, looking North West to Dumbarton Rock.


Sea Aster, Longhaugh Point shore.

Spent this morning exploring the area just east of Longhaugh Point. Weather was mixed, but mostly bright and calm. However I was hoping the overnight wind and rain might have moved some birds into the area.
The walk down to the shore passed through trees still almost completely green. However the hedgerows are starting to look a bit tatty, with greys and browns the dominant colours. Once on the shore, the best colour was provided by a couple of patches of Sea Aster (see photos above). The tide was well in, so wading birds were concentrated on a narrow, reed-covered, mud spit to the east of where we were (see photo). Through the telescope we could see Lapwings, Oystercatchers, Redshanks and Dunlins (plus a few Common and Black headed Gulls) all feeding busily. A few Cormorants flew up and down river, but the most amazing sight (and sound) was a skein of around 50 geese (Greylags/ Pinkfeet?) which flew low over our heads and across the river.
Walked back via a large reedbed and some open fields (see photo). A couple of Blackbirds, a Song Thrush and a possible female Blackcap played hide-and-seek in the hawthorn bushes. They were so timid, I wondered if they were new arrivals. Once out in the open fields, saw one (and possibly another) Wheatear which flitted ahead of us (again, likely to be a migrant). Back on the tree-lined path, noticed lots of very active small land birds including Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Song Thrush and Dunnock. Also a pair of Buzzards soaring just above the tree tops.
Overall, a picture of frantic activity - no doubt prompted by the inevitable approach of winter (and the need to establish feeding territories and / or build up fat reserves) but possibly also triggered by the arrival of passage birds. Good to spend a morning out in the fresh air in the middle of it all.