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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 29, 2006

Fantastic herringbone sky this morning.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Most notable event this week has been the incredibly high tide yesterday afternoon. On the drive up the Clyde, the water was well above the normal shoreline. Oystercatchers and Redshanks had resorted to roosting on the partially inundated grass, and a large flock of Lapwings (and possibly Golden Plovers) had decanted to the meadows on the other side of the motorway.
Weather now decidedly cooler, although no frost as yet. News from the net is that the first Waxwings have been seen in Shetland.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Spent most of today birdwatching in Dumfriesshire. Highlights were 30 Red Kites in the air together at Laurieston and 11 Twite on roadside wires near Crocketford. The day started with a stop at Applegarthbridge Wildlife Refuge. Nothing much around, apart from around 20 motley Mallards, a Grey Heron in the middle of a grassy field, a Sparrowhawk following a field hedge, a Common Buzzard also keeping low down, dozens of Pheasants, plenty of Chaffinches and the abandoned Sand Martin tunnels and Tree Sparrow boxes (below).

The next stop was Bellymack Red Kite feeding station. Arrived just before the daily feed. Already around 30 Red Kites had gathered, some in the air and others in nearby trees. We were then treated to a wonderful display of aerobatics as the kites swooped down onto the field to pick up the scraps of meat (below). Most were wing-tagged but one pristine juvenile had no tags at all. There was also a Common Buzzard there plus plenty of Carrion Crows and Jackdaws, a solitary Pied Wagtail and a hedge full of House Sparrows.

Had a good drive back (via Thornhill and Crawfordjohn), through scenery which included conifer plantation (see picture below), lowland farms and heather moorland. Noticed a few more groups of Chaffinches feeding on crushed Beech mast, a single Jay flying across a field, a pair of soaring Ravens, another Common Buzzard, 2 Kestrels and 11 Twite.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The weather has turned colder, although still very calm. Lots of birds on the Clyde as I drove down from Greenock to Ayr this afternoon. Highlights on the way back up were a flock of 7 or 8 Curlews feeding on a ploughed field well away from the coast (near the Ayr Hospital), a single Common Buzzard on a fencepost beside the M77 and a hovering Kestrel a few miles south of Newton Mearns (to add to one I saw between the M8 and the airport yesterday evening). Back home, 2 Redwings flew over the house.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Some of the municipal Rowan trees have just aquired their rich orangey-red leaf colour. Here and there, there are more of that mystery tree species with the woolly seed heads. Redwings continue to stream in - I heard them in the darkness over Ayr last night and over Greenock this morning.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Another mild and sunny day today (although the weather forecast is for lots of rain later in the week). Noticed a single male Pheasant in a field just outside West Kilbride, then 20 to 30 Red Admiral butterflies feeding on Ivy flowers at Portebcross (see photo).

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Spent all afternoon in a sunny Mugdock Park. Noticed several flocks of Redwing (up to 30 in each) with one or two Mistle and Song Thrushes mixed in. Other birds around included a Goosander and two Goldeneye on Mugdock Loch and a huge female Sparrowhawk beside the castle. Most notable sighting was of a tree (below) which appeared, from a distance, to be in full flower (the only colour in the whole landscape). On closer inspection it was actually covered in wooly white seed heads. No idea what it was.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Today started with the characteristic "Tseep" call of a Redwing from the trees opposite the house (the first of the autumn).

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Signs of autumn everywhere today. Saw a skein of 20 or so "grey" geese over the Houston to Merchiston road, then another one of 6 over the M8 at the airport. In between, a flock of Chaffinches came down to feed on crushed beech mast on the road between Greenock and Kilmacolm.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Watched a Coal Tit repeatedly visiting the garden feeders at 08:45. Can't remember seeing one here before. A Greenfinch was on the birdtable over the weekend. Must start a garden list!
Later, drove from Greenock to Ayr. Stopped off at Portencross, noticing 2 Sandwich Terns (1 ad, 1 juv) on the rocks, a single Gannet fishing close inshore and 50 Curlews on a stubble field. Later again, saw 3 Ringed Plovers on Ayr beach.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

An autumnal day today, with clouds scuttling across the sky and showers interspersed with dry spells. Walked around Pollock Park for a while. Watched a flock of 20 or so Chaffinches near the riding stables. Also saw a Sparrowhawk being harried by a Carrion Crow over the Rugby club (and a Grey Wagtail beside a puddle there).
Back at Silver Glade, the usual Common Frog was watching us from the pond.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A cold, misty morning meant few natural connections down the clyde this morning. However the evening was better with 4 Grey Herons standing together at Langbank and a Common Buzzard soaring over the motorway at Bishopton. No sign of the Whoopers at Yonderton, but news from the web is that the first birds have reached the west coast.
Had another Common Frog in the silverglade pond at the weekend - a male this time (all previous records have been of (presumed) females).