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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, March 31, 2007

Today started with a thin layer of late frost. However it then developed into a lovely, warm Spring day. Spent most of the afternoon in Queen's Park, Edinburgh, where the highlights were a Lesser Scaup amongst the Tufted Duck on St Margaret's Loch and 10 sitting Fulmars on Salisbury Crags (and clearly visible from the Scottish Parliament). Also saw 2 possible Ravens on the rockface there.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Thursday began with 2 Pheasants in the first Finlaystone meadow (rare hereabouts), apparently unperturbed by a Common Buzzard perched in a nearby Birch. All quiet in the garden, although the frogspawn has progressed from the "full stop" to the "comma" stage. No sign of any more bees after the one which appeared two or three days ago.
Friday was a red letter day with my first Chiffchaff of the spring heard at Castle Semple. More Coltsfoot seen at the first bridge over the Calder, but no sign of Sand Martins there.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Spent most of the day driving to and from Oban. The good weather, coupled with the fact that many birds were in full song, meant that I clocked up a trip list of 28 species without even trying (Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Eider, Mallard, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Pheasant, Collared Dove, Pied Wagtail, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Starling, House Sparrow, Carrion Crow, Hooded Crow). Mammal highlights were two Rabbits at Tarbet and a Weasel across the road at Strone Hill. The only plant highlight was a patch of Coltsfoot near Stronmilchan (above).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

An evening walk along the river revealed nothing of any note apart from a glorious orange sun and perhaps the first Dandelions of the year. No Chiffchaffs heard yet, despite reports from various points around the region over the past week. Highlights of the drive to Greenock were two Grey Herons overhead (I have seen at least one most days for the past few weeks) , ornamental Prunus and ***** in blossom at Finlaystone, and Primroses in flower at Port Glasgow.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Another glorious day in west central Scotland with warm sunshine and 0% cloud cover. Garden highlights this morning were a possible Great spotted Woodpecker calling in the woods (for the second day running) and the shadow of an unidentified butterfly over the bus shelter (my first of the year). Spent the afternoon in Mugdock Park. Highlights were a Common Toad among the sticklebacks in the dipping pond (see picture) and the welcome sound of Chaffinches in full song.

Birds on the duck pond included 4 Greylag Geese (first I've seen there), 7 Mallard, 3 Tufted Duck, 2 Lesser black backed Gulls, 1 Moorhen and 1 Mute Swan. Spring flowers included Coltsfoot and Dog's Mercury.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Quite a wintry feel to the weather today with a thin sheet of ice on silverglade pond and a dusting of snow on the Renfrewshire hills (and the higher tops to the North and West).

Sunday, March 18, 2007

High winds and driving snow today served as a reminder that winter isn't quite over yet. However a quick check of the pond revealed two clumps of frogspawn which must have been produced within the past 48 hours. Yesterday, 2 Blue Tits were showing some interest in the box on the East-facing gable, and a male Blackbird had a bath in the pond. Today, a walk along the river revealed plenty of Mallard, a solitary Grey heron (on Rosshall pond) plus singing Goldcrest and Coal Tit.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Rain, rain .... and more rain.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Spent the afternoon around Irvine Beach Park. The severe wind meant very dramatic seas, but relatively few birds about. Highlights along the shore were some very confiding Turnstones. Behind the dunes, 24 Oystercatchers had taken refuge on the amenity grass and 4 Little Grebes were together on the canoeing lake. Also plenty of birds down by the river, including Wigeon, Red breasted Merganser, Eider and Goldeneye. Most notable however was a first winter Glaucous Gull loafing in the watery sunshine.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A brief trip to Renfrew Ferry at lunchtime today revealed 20 Black headed Gulls (at various stages of head feathers moult), 3 Common Gulls (an adult winter and 3 first winters, 8 Mute Swans (6 adults and 2 immatures), a single Cormorant (in breeding plumage) and a drake Red breasted Merganser.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Like a starting pistol being fired, the first Sand Martin of the year was recorded in Ayrshire today, heralding the start of the annual influx of spring migrants.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Yesterday's showers were followed by almost unbroken blue skies today. The trip to Ayr revealed extensive flooding in the Garnock valley. Whooper Swans, Goldeneyes and some distant geese were making the best of the conditions.
In Ayr itself, Greenfinches, Jackdaw, Collared Dove and House Sparrow were all evident. The walls on Bellvue Road had fresh growth of several plants including Common Polypody, Maidenhair Spleenwort, Maidenhair Fern, Yellow Cordyalis and Ivy leaved Toadflax.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Lots of birdsong around the glade today including the first proper Chaffinch song. A walk along the Cart later, turned up a pair of Goosanders in the middle of the river opposite Moulin playing fields (first I've seen on this stretch).

Friday, March 02, 2007

Four Woodpigeons together, and a pair of spluttering Long tailed Tits were the highlights in the garden today. The pair of Common Frogs noticed yesterday were still in the pond (in spite of a thin covering of ice) and look set to spawn. The Prunus is now in full flower, and a big Fox trotted past the back fence in the spring sunshine.
A short walk along the river revealed plenty more Long tailed Tits, singing Coal Tit plus emerging Wild Garlic.