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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, January 28, 2006

Took a walk around Ardmore Point late morning. Very mild and calm, so lots of birds evident. Best was a Red throated Diver very close to the shore (I could make out the speckling on its wings). It watched me intently for about 15 minutes and called out twice - a really spine-tingling moment.
Other highlights were Shelduck, Eider, Wigeon, Goldeneye and Red breasted Merganser - all in breeding plumage. Also several Slavonian Grebes (including a group of 3 with the jizz of Black necked's) and Grey Wagtail, Rock Pipit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Robin, Wren and Blackbird all feeding along the strand line. Waders were much in evidence with some of the Curlews doing a "Whiffling" aerial display which I had never seen before. I also saw a single Black Guillemot (in intermediate plumage) and heard a distant Raven (2 were reported on Clyde Bird Sightings). Biggest surprise was the Llama (!) grazing with some sheep. All in all an excellent days birding.


Ardmore Point (East Bay).

Friday, January 27, 2006

Lots of natural connections this week - only not much time to record them. Tuesday (I think) saw a raft of Black headed Gulls floating on the sea just off Langbank. I estimated there were 500 or more. There were none just a few days before, so they must have arrived more or less together. I have never seen such a concentration there in 5 years of driving along that road.
More Fieldfares about this week (or am I just noticing them more?) A big flock (maybe 50 or more) was in a field near Barassie yesterday morning and around 10 were on the grass verge beside the main road through the Hillington Industrial Estate this afternoon. This morning saw cheeping House Sparrows and fighting Chaffinches in the "back green" at Nelson Street, plus my first Snowdrops of the year. More cheeping House Sparrows this afternoon - in Renfrew and Silver Glade.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Took a walk along the river next to Craigie campus, Ayr this lunchtime. Weather quite Spring-like, which tempted various birds (Robin, Blue Tit, Song Thrush) into song.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

January so far, has been very mild with only a few frosty days (like the one pictured in the middle photo blow). Today was dull but dry. Spent the early part of the afternoon at the RSPB Lochwinnoch reserve (not much to report except a fishing Great crested Grebe) and the later part walking up Windy Hill. The walk was very straightforward - most of it on a boardwalk made of railway sleepers (bottom photo). The view from the top must be great on a clear day. Today it was easy to see Craig Minnan (where up to 100 Ravens have been known to congregate in summer) and Kilbarchan beyond (top photo), but anything further off was shrouded in the gloom. Never mind. It was great to be outdoors, and to stay dry, and to enjoy the company of lots of enthusiastic walkers.... and to know that with the lengthening of the days already apparent, there should be lots more to come.


Looking north from the top of Windy Hill (with Craig Minnan in the background, and Kilmacolm beyond that).


A very chilly January day.


The boardwalk up to Windy Hill.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A miserably mild couple of days with a daily deluge of driving drizzle. The several hundred Lapwings now occupying the motorway fields near Bishopton look thoroughly soaked.
Read an interesting article which sheds some light on the goings-on in the garden. I have often wondered why there are long spells with no birds on the feeders, even though they are well stocked. The article suggested that Blue and Great Tits continue to display a flock feeding behaviour even in gardens, and that the reason they only appear for short spells is because the whole flock is constantly on the move between different feeding sites. Apparently this is a way for the flock to keep "as many balls in the air as possible" so that if one site fails there are others to fall back on.
Another question I often ask myself is why there are so few birds around (e.g. max 4 Blue Tits and 2 Great Tits). The same article reported studies (involving ringing) which showed that there are actually something like ten times more birds of each species visiting our gardens than we see at any one time.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A pleasant day today, with patches of blue sky and some late afternoon sunshine. Working at home, so tied to the dining table for most of the day, but enjoyed the pair of Collared Doves which came to feed for the second day running, plus a Blue Tit which quite unexpectedly burst into song (the first this year).