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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, August 31, 2006

Evidence of autumn bird movements all down the Clyde. Saw around 100 lapwings over the shore at Llangbank last week, and around 20 Mute swans on the water near there. Today there were hundres of waders on the sands. Still some House Martins around with 8 over Rosshall Park at 8pm tonight adding to the two (House Martins / Swallows) seen there yesterday. News from the web is that 3000 Swallows are roosting at RSPB Lochwinnoch each night - so that's where they all are!

Monday, August 28, 2006

As the evenings are getting noticeably shorter, there is more urgency to get out while the daylight lasts. Managed quite long bike rides along the river on each of the last 3 evenings. Sightings, more-or-less in order, as follows:
Saturday:
Juvenile Magpie in the garden and juvenile carrion Crow along Dundee drive (5pm). Then 2 Kingfisher sightings at the Leverendale river bend and 20+ House Martins over Rosshall Park (both around 7pm).
Sunday:
A juvenile Black headed gull at Rosshall Academy. Also noticed some wild (or naturalised) Honeysuckle near there, and also some Crocusmia at Leverendale's SW gate and at Hawkhead Park where the Irises have mature seed pods and a Swallow and 2 House Martins twittered over at 8pm. Back along the river, a squawking Grey Heron was the only thing of note, apart from fruiting Brambles and ripe seedheads on the Policeman's Helmets. Back home, and tonight, a Red Fox called from the railway embankment.
Today:
All quiet, with a decided chill in the air.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Wren in the garden at 6pm was a site first for me. Earlier in the day, 5 Blue Tits (including 3 in juvenile plumage) hinted at a second brood (the Great Tits which fledged at the same time as the previous Blue Tit brood are now resplendent in adult plumage). On the way home from work, a short stop at the esplanade revealed possible Manx Shearwaters well offshore, but too far out to identify without the telescope. Then on the way past the airport a Sparrowhawk swept over the motorway. Later, the drive back from Glenburn, through Barrhead, revealed 6 Swallows (5 on telephone lines). Back at the glade, a Red Fox calling from the railway embankment brought a good day's connections to a close.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A quiet weekend for wildlife, but highlights were 2 Swallows over the Heritage Park, East Kilbride at 8pm on Saturday evening, a Peacock butterfly in the garden and a large Ground Beetle just outside this afternoon, and then a Red Fox at Rosshall Park, bats around the house and a Common Toad (a smaller one than usual - possibly a male) in the back garden, all this evening.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Not much time for nature today, but enjoyed watching a pair of House Sparrows loitering at the back of the Paisley Centre while waiting in the car.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Garden highlights this week have been the Common Toad which has taken up residence in the pond and the juvenile Dunnock which seems to be less dependent on its parents now.

Monday, August 14, 2006
Spotted a Roe Deer grazing in the first Finlaystone meadow at 7 this morning.

Sunday, August 13, 2006
Kingfisher speeding upstream under the first Cart Bridge at 9pm (almost a garden tick!).

Saturday, August 12, 2006



Spent a fabulous day in Arisaig. The trip up was fairly uneventful with few birds on view (although a Swallow in Fort William was welcome). Highlights instead were glorious views just north of Tyndrum and then at Ballahullish, looking back up Glencoe. Arisaig proved to be full of surprises with banks of wildflowers on the cliffs, huge crabs in the rockpools (later we caught some with a hook baited with Limpet), glorious views to Rum and Eigg, Razor "Fish" galore and an incredible variety of seaweeds. Birds around the campsite included Pied Wagtail, Rock Pipit, Sand Martin, possible Wheatear, Gannets passing offshore and nesting Swallow. The drive home was fairly bird-free, but brightened up by a stunning rainbow, probably the best I've ever seen.





Friday, August 11, 2006

First thing this morning, a Dunnock was feeding a begging juvenile underneath the feeders (the first evidence I’ve seen that local breeding has taken place). Two juvenile House Sparrows continue to frequent the garden. They have been trying to drink from the pond, but are having difficulty perching on the edge of the liner.
This evening, around 6pm, a huge Sparrowhawk flew over the house (my first here). Later on, a Robin spent more than an hour pottering around the pond.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Not a bad day today, with mixed sunshine and showers. Went for a long cycle ride this evening. No Swifts about but there were 9 hirundines (probably House Martins) feeding over the trees in Rosshall Park. Most obvious colour along the roadsides these days is yellow, with the usual ragworts being joined this week by lots of naturalised golden rod.

Around the silverglade bird feeders this evening: 2 juvenile House Sparrows (1 moulting into male plumage with a black bib spot and chestnut eye stripe), 2 juvenile Great Tits, 1 juvenile Blue Tit, a moulting Robin and a Woodpigeon drinking from the pond.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Lots of natural connections this week – only not much time to record them. Sunday’s highlight was the sighting of 3 Kingfishers flying, one after the other, along the Brock Burn. I guess that means local breeding as a pair would not have tolerated another, unrelated individual.
Monday lunchtime was spent at Greenock West Harbour, where a single Black Guillemot was seen flying up to a ledge on the harbour wall. The drive home on Tuesday was enlivened by a soaring Buzzard near Bishopton, and this mornings drive down by a hovering Kestrel near the airport. Finally (in terms of bird sightings) a juvenile Woodpigeon was on the road outside the glade this morning, accompanied by two Collared Doves.Plant highlights include Montbretia in flower at Langbank and a large patch of Sow Thistle at Arkleston rail bridge.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Weather remains unsettled, with warm weather during the day contrasting with a cool breeze this evening. The first leaves fell in the garden midweek. I have to admit that the summer is coming to an end. One or two Swallows half-heartedly feeding over the glade today tried to convince me otherwise, but I haven't seen any Swifts for a few days, which is a pretty sure sign.
Took a photo of the silverglade pond (below) to let everyone see how it is coming along...


Thursday, August 03, 2006

The saga of the Silver Glade pond continues. Set up a week ago, a Mayfly arrived even before all the water was in! Then a couple of Diving Beetles appeared on Day 3. Yesterday was a red letter day with the arrival of my mail-order native pond plant selection, so we now have Water Milfoil, Amphibious Bistort, Broad Leaved Pondweed, Frogbit, Bogbean, a couple of rushes, an Arrow leaved thingy, a White Water Lilly and a very sorry-looking Water Soldier (Oh, and 10 Water Snails). All are now settling in and fingers are crossed that they will put on a bit of growth before the season ends.
Had a glimse of what might be this lunchtime when I took a walk along by the seafront in Greenock. Whoever decided to build a linear water feature behind the sports centre there deserves a medal. The place is a little green oasis with Flowering Sedge adding some colour and a brown dragonfly, a couple of mini damselflies, lots of Sticklebacks and someone's unwanted Goldfish adding to the mix.
Oh, and the sun is back...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

July ended with a short trip to Greenock west harbour after work (looking for Manx Shearwaters). First bird I saw was a Black Guillemot, followed by a "feeding frenzy" of gulls with 3 or 4 Gannets joining in.
This evening, managed to squeeze in a short walk along the river between showers. Bats very active and very near, no doubt hunting some of the big moths that were flapping around us.