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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, September 29, 2007

Today started with a Robin singing from a wire over Tweedsmuir Road and an exceptional 7 Collared Doves roosting together on a lamp post nearby.
The afternoon was spent in Mugdock Country Park. Highlights there were 4 Redwings (my first of the winter) and 5 Swallows (possibly my last of the summer), a mixed flock of Redpolls and Goldfinches (at one point mobbing a passing Kestrel) and a juvenile Grey Heron taking bread with the Mallards at Craigend Pond.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Woke up to the first frost of the winter, and the news from the web is that the first Redwings and Whooper Swans have arrived. Nevertheless, around 20 Swallows were still feeding near Howwood in the late afternoon sunshine .

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Drove from Greenock to Howwood late afternoon. No Swallows left around any of the farms along the way. Lots of naturalised Michelmas Daisy on the roadsides.
News from the web is that Greenland Whitefronts are back on Islay and some Barnacles have been seen over Ayrshire.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A quiet weekend for natural connections. Saturday afternoon was spent in Rouken Glen park. Very little of interest on the pond there with very low numbers of wildfowl present (4 Mute Swans, c10 Tufted Ducks, c25 Mallards and 2 or 3 Coots). Around 100 Black headed Gulls made up the rest of the cast.
This afternoon, managed a walk along the river via Rosshall Park. The pair of Moorhens on the pond there have one large juvenile. A Cormorant was fishing the river at the Rosshall bend. Also noticed what appears to be a good crop of Elder, Hawthorn and Wild Rose berries.
News from the web is that Pink footed Geese are well in and Brent Geese starting to arrive in dribs and drabs. The next few weeks should see the first arrivals of Whooper Swan and winter thrushes.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Three-quarters of the way through my study trip to Ireland, I spent most of today at Newgrange, a Neolithic site in the Boyne valley. The huge ridge-top structure there is very impressive (photo). Highlights were the 5,000 year old carvings on the "kerbstones" (picture) and the amazing, cruciform inner-chamber. Noticed a few Swallows thereabouts, plus lots of Hooded Crows and Rooks, a few Magpies and a solitary Collared Dove.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Saw 20 unidentifed geese heading southwards (away from the Clyde) above the Bishopton motorway bend at 8am yesterday (winter is on its way).
Also, 3 Swallows over the pools at Port Glasgow the day before.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A tit flock passing through trees behind the back garden this afternoon consisted of 20 or so birds including around 5 each of Long tailed and Great Tit, and at least one possible leaf warbler. A Wren was bathing in the pond later on.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

An early morning walk over the river and up to Crookston felt like a second spring with many birds (including Song Thrush, Robin, Starling, Great Tit, House Sparrow and Chaffinch) calling or singing (I have also noticed groups of Starlings singing from high buildings and electricity pylons over the past few days). According to BBC Wildlife, this is normal for September as this year's juveniles vie with the previous generation for territories.
An evening trip to Largs produced some interesting sightings including a single Swallow over the road at Mid Gavin Farm (near Lochwinnoch) and, in Largs itself, 50+ House Martins swirling around (and alighting on) the spire of Clark Memorial Church (and visiting nests in the Moorings) and various fly-over alba Wagtails including one flock of 20+.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Came across a very striking, aberrant House Sparrow today. The bird was dust bathing next to Tesco's in Greenock, then moved to join a flock of 20 or so normal type birds feeding behind a nearby factory. It was all white apart from a few wing and tail feathers. The legs and bill were flesh-coloured and the eyes black.

Closer to home, noticed 7 or 8 geese flying north over Penilee / Arkleston (species unknown).

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Had a meeting in Howwood first thing, so drove over the back road (the B786) to Greenock. Noticed around 30 Swallows tightly packed along telephone wires at Gibblaston (NS3566). Also near there, a Kestrel was hunting over rough ground at Locher Community Woodland (NS3564) - exactly where I saw one two weeks ago.
Later, had to take the ferry to Dunoon. The trip over was fairly uneventful (apart from Eiders at both ends and a winter Guillemot off Hunter's Quay (NS1879)). However on the way back I saw 16 Manx Shearwaters (some quite close in), single Gannet (another was at the terminal) and Guillemot, a Harbour Porpoise, a Grey Seal and a large fish which leapt right out of the water (possibly being chased by one of the aforementioned sea mammals).
On the way back up the A8, noticed an animal corpse which was there yesterday morning as well. It is on the stretch which goes past the gate of Finlaystone estate, and looks like it might be an Otter. Also noticed 2 Swallows feeding over the pools along the new Port Glasgow waterfront.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Took a diversion through Arkleston Farm on Thursday evening. No sign (or sound) of the usual Yellowhammer, but a Kestrel was hunting over the field bordering the industrial estate.
Today, spent half an hour in Plantation, looking around Festival Park. Sightings there were a pair of Moorhens with 4 half-grown young, 3 Magpies, a Dunnock, Sticklebacks and Pond Snails in the ponds, Purple Loostrife in the margins, an unidentified Dragonfly over a reedy corner and a Grey Squirrel in the woods. Picture of one of the Moorhens below, plus older photos of Woodpigeon and Collared Dove.