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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.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Confined to the house for a few days with the Winter Vomiting Bug (not the most pleasant of natural connections), so little chance for nature-watching. Birds in the garden have included a pair of Blue Tits and the usual Robin (two birds, courtship feeding) and Dunnock. On the web, SWT has announced that the female Osprey returned to Loch of the Lowes on 26th March. Suddenly, the pace of the natural cycle has quickened, with summer migrants piling in and many resident birds already nesting.
To keep an eye on bird movements this spring, look at the birdlogs list here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

More news from the RSPB (press release dated 27-03-06):
"The ospreys have returned for the breeding season at RSPB Scotland's Loch Garten Osprey Centre in Strathspey.
Two birds - a female known as EJ and a male, the ringed 'Orange VS' - were first spotted on Sunday afternoon (March 26), having come all the way from west Africa". No sign yet of the 2004 male "Henry" who arrived very late last year and disrupted the breeding attempts of the (by then) resident pair.
To read the Osprey Diary, click here.

Managed a walk along the Cart between appointments today. Miserable weather but plenty of signs of Spring. Lesser Celandine, Daffodil and Snowdrop in flower, plus lots of Wild Garlic, Bluebell, Comfry and Dog's Mercury (at last year's site) in leaf. Birds included a Cormarant, two and a half pairs of Mallard, a pair of Goosander, 3 Long tailed Tits and a flock of around 100 Redwings chattering in the treetops.
News from the web is that the first Sand Martins and Osprey have been seen locally.

Another item of interest was the announcement of a new SNH initiative on Scotland's endangered wildlife.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Garden highlights today:
2 Song thrushes (a pair?)
2 Great Tits (a pair?)
1 Blue Tit acting furtively
1 female Chaffinch (unusual).
Also, another squashed Common Toad, again a female full of eggs. I wonder if there used to be a pond where the estate now is, and that is what is attracting them up here.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

First Sand Martin seen on Islay today. Also, early Ospreys over Cramond and Coll.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

orking in Lochgilphead today so plenty of opportunities for high-speed natural connections. Best were as follows:

Around 30 Whooper Swans roosting in the usual field by the M8, a Buzzard in the second Finlaystone Meadow, 2 Herons flying above trees at Woodhill (all before 7am), a Wren on the Ornamental Fig outside the ACCESS building, Guillemot, Razorbill, Cormorant, Eider, Herring Gull and lots of Black headed Gulls on the Clyde between Gourock and Dunoon, a close Harbour Porpoise just off Hunter's Quay, single Little Grebes in the Holy Loch and on Loch Eck (plus a pair of Goldeneye and two of Mallard), a Heron at Inverary, plenty of Daffodils between Furnace and Minnard, the first Primrose and Cotsfoot flowers of the year near Lochgair, 30 Wigeon on the grass at Lochgilphead, and 14 displaying Red breasted Mergansers plus flowering Lesser Celandine at Crinan. All the big peaks still blanketed with snow, but also some fine spring colour (above).

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Great news that Edinburgh is to invest tens of millions of pounds on its parks and public spaces. Hope they don't tidy them up too much! To read more click here.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Really cold and wintry all week, but there is a distinct feel of Spring having arrived. Grass fields are bright green and birds are much more in evidence. M8 / A8 birds today were a Heron near Erskine (at 8 am), 4 House Sparrows fluttering through the traffic in central Greenock, 7 Lesser Black backed Gulls in a tight group beside Victoria Dock (? getting ready to move to breeding sites), 20 Common Gulls on grass west of Newark Shipyard and around 50 Whooper Swans east of the motorway just north of the airport (first time I've seen them there all winter) (all around 4 pm).

Monday, March 13, 2006

The view from the house at 8 oclock this morning - 20cm of fresh snow had fallen overnight.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Dull and overcast today - pretty much the story of the whole week. Hard to believe we had such lovely weather only a week ago (below). Still, the birds are unperturbed, with full Chaffinch song in The Glade this morning, mingled with "Teacher" calls of Great Tits and chirruping of House Sparrows.

The Clyde and the Gareloch from Whin Hill car park.

Friday, March 10, 2006

First (that I've heard of) Osprey of the year was seen in Cambridgeshire this morning!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Cover art for the next-but-one New Naturalist title.

Teaching in Balloch today. Drove to Greenock via the shores of Loch Lomond and managed a few quick photographs (below) to illustrate future presentations. Noticed 37 Goldeneye (with occasional display) and 3 Goosander out on the loch, plus Robin, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Carrion Crow and Chaffinch (in full song - first of the year) in lochside trees.

Looking north over Loch Lomond.

Looking west over Loch Lomond.

Loch Lomond from Balloch Castle.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Lunchtime visit to Garnethill Park, Glasgow found plenty of House Sparrows chirruping and a Grey Wagtail (imm or female) on the stream there.
Saw my first lambs of the year this week, beside the back road to Greenock.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The first Summer visitor of the year (a Sand Martin) has been seen (in Kent on 1st March). Meantime, I saw a Magpie carrying a stick to a nest between the M8 and Cockles Loan today.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Other highlights this week (apart from the clear blue skies and snow-capped mountain views) have been a couple of Fieldfares swooping over the car on the Kilmacolm-Whinhill road (Tuesday afternoon), a summer-plumaged Black Guillemot and plenty of part-hooded Black-headed Gulls on the sea off Greenock promenade, and almost-emerging daffodils in the verges at Houston. Oh yes, and the snow did come, although mostly to the northern half of the country.