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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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Managed a very quick walk to Murdieston Park and back at lunchtime. Not much of note except a 1st winter Cormorant at the landing stage. On the way home, 40 Starlings were in tight formation over Port Glasgow. Another wet and windy day today. Forecast is for heavy snow.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An early morning meeting in the West End of Glasgow meant a short walk along the Kelvin from the car. Noticed a Cormorant fishing in the gloom and heard a Kingfisher flying upstream. Later, on the way back to the car, there was a solitary Heron loitering beside a weir.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Had time to add up the figures from Linlithgow on Saturday - here are the totals for a 2 hour circuit of the Loch:
Mute Swan (63)
Greylag (40 + 11 white birds)
Mallard (55)
Tufted Duck (212)
Pochard (76)
Goldeneye (33)
Smew (1)
Cormorant (27)
Grey Heron (1)
Moorhen (13)
Coot (139)
Little Grebe (7)
Great crested Grebe (5)
Buzzard (1)
Black headed Gull (100)
Common Gull (1)
Herring Gull (5)
Long tailed Tit (6)
Great Tit (1)
Blue Tit (1)
Wren (1)
Robin (1)
Feral Pigeon (7)
Jackdaw (4).

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A calm, mild day after a wild and windy night. Managed a walk along the Cart this afternoon. Much more birdsong this week, with Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Robin all tuning up. A pair of Long tailed Tits were courting in a hedge - one bird (presumably the male) carrying a beakfull of feathers.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A good day of natural connections, spent at some sites in West Lothian. One of the highlights was a presumed adult female Smew on Linlithgow Loch.

Other notable birds on the loch were a female Scaup, 7 Little Grebes, 2 possible Slavonian Grebes (including one displaying) plus Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Black headed Gull and some unusual Mallards(pictured).

Also of interest there were a group of pollarded Willows at the east end of the loch.

The day started at Cairnpapple in the Bathgate Hills. Not many birds around (only some flightly Starlings and a single Buzzard) but some interesting prehistoric sites (below).

On the way over to Linlithgow, stopped for a walk around Beecraigs Country Park. Things of interest there included lots of bat boxes (below) and three big (20+) flocks of Coal Tits feeding on the forest floor. Mixed in with the Coal Tits were a few Goldcrests and several Treecreepers (below).

Friday, January 25, 2008

Another wild and windy day today - but very mild. The first Snowdrops have been seen in flower on Islay.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

No natural connections today - too much wind and rain, and too little daylight. Cardonald remains as busy as ever with heavy traffic at tea time today. However the sight of 5 Brown Rats running about outside a boarded-up shop (last week) is a reminder of just how close our wildlife is.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Another mild winter's day in west central Scotland. Had to drive to Hamilton at lunchtime so took the opportunity to stop off at Strathclyde Country Park. No sign of the Smew which has been wintering there, but there were a few Goldeneye and Goosander on the river, a group of Greylag Geese beside the loch and two Buzzards soaring over the motorway.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A frosty start to the day, followed by a glorious, orange, herringbone sunrise (which was completely gone within 10 minutes). Later in the day a Pied Wagtail was around the margins of Thom Street Dam (where the water level has been lowered considerably since yesterday) and two Kestrels were 200 metres apart near Kilmacolm.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A quick lunchtime walk around Murdieston Dams turned up the following:
Mute Swan (7), Mallard (31), white farmyard duck (1), Tufted Duck (42), Pochard (2, my first here), Goldeneye (5), Goosander (1), Cormorant (2), Little Grebe (1), Moorhen (2), Coot (34), Black headed Gull (c184), Starling (10), Jackdaw (8), Magpie (2) and House Sparrow (1).
An incredible night tonight with a full moon and crystal-clear skies, and the brightest moonlight I can ever remember seeing.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Still January, but the signs of spring are all around. Yesterday there was the beginnings of a "dawn chorus" about 7:30 am. Today, a pair of Toads in the pond are mating and the Clematis and Honeysuckle buds are starting to open.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A rain-free day today meant plenty of fresh air and natural connections. A morning walk in Bellahouston Park was brightened up by 18 Redpolls feeding in the treetops. Later, popped down to Auchenharvie Loch in Stevenston. Fantastic views of the Scaup flock there, with 71 (in various plumages) mixed in with 8 Tufted Ducks. Further along the coast a Great black backed Gull was feeding on a stranded fish. Later again, watched a pair of Ravens bringing sticks to a cliff nest and fending off a pair of Buzzards.

Friday, January 18, 2008

This winter has been one of the worst I can remember for Waxwing sightings with very few penetrating further than the east coast. However there were sightings today in Dunfermline and Stirling, so the picture may be about to change.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

News from the web is that a Nuthatch is now regular in Rozelle Park, Ayr. Another observer has seen a couple of Ravens in nearby Belleisle Park. Exciting times ...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Only natural connections today were garden ones - three Dunncoks, two Feral Pigeons and a juvenile male Blackbird (black bill). Must get those bird feeders filled.
Interestingly, the heavy rain of late has filled up part of the derelict canal which runs through the land behind the house.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Another grey day today, but managed a very quick walk around the reservoirs in Murdieston Park at lunchtime. Highlights were a Little Grebe, a Goosander, a Goldeneye and a Cormorant, together with plenty of Tufted Duck, Coot, Mallard, Black headed Gull, a few Moorhens and a farmyard duck.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Managed a brisk walk around the West End of Greenock during my lunch break. Lots of Starlings on chimney pots singing in the rain. Plenty of other bird activity with Jackdaws and Carrion Crows particularly prominent. A Blue Tit was in full song and a flock of about 10 finches (probably Goldfinches) flew over the cricket ground.
Two interesting features of the drive home were a really high tide (completely inundating the reedy pool east of West Ferry) and patches of daylight lingering almost to 5 pm.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The RSPB is reporting another drop in the population of Common Scoters breeding in the UK. The 2007 survey found only 52 breeding pairs. Most alarming is the finding that the species has now disappeared from Loch Lomond (although it still breeds on "some of the larger hydro-lochs in West Inverness"). The full story is here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A busy day for natural connections today; nothing remarkable but just nice to be out in the fresh air for most of the day. Walked over to North Kelvinside from Cardonald. Highlights along the way included a dozen or so Redwings feeding among the gravestones in Cardonald Cemetry, a pair of Mistle Thrushes and some noisy Long tailed Tits in Bellahouston Park and two "Prrrut"ing Moorhens on Kelvingrove Park pond.
Later in the day, spent a wee while along the Clyde at Braehead. Highlights were lots of Common Gulls on a flat calm river and a Grey Wagtail feeding amongst the flotsam (see photo).

Friday, January 11, 2008

A cold, sunny day today meant quite a pleasant drive up from Greenock this afternoon. Passing Middleton Farm, noticed a flooded field had frozen over and various small birds (7 Pied Wagtails, 1 pipit (souunded like Meadow) and one bunting (possibly a female Reed) were picking food from the surface as it melted in the sun. Seven Whooper Swans were again on floods next to the Old Schoolhouse (see photo).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Recent web reports indicated that there had been an influx of Siskins into the Central Belt, so it came as no surprise when I found 20 or so on the way to work this morning. They were feeding in and around two big Cedar trees in the grounds of Cedar Hall, Ardgowan Street, Greenock. They were surprisingly tame as they fed on windblown material scattered on the pavement, their nasal contact calls very apparent.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Gale force winds overnight left West Central Scotland looking a little battered this morning. There were bits of tree branches on the roads and flash floods in many fields. Nice to see a family party of Whooper Swans (2 adults and 5 juveniles) feeding next to one of the latter only a few meters from the road at Candrens Farm.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Had to nip over to Greenock from Paisley late morning. Nice to be out and about in daylight for a change. Ten or so Feral Pigeons were displaying on and above farm buildings on the outskirts of Howwood. Not far from there, a pristine male Goldeneye was on the Black Cart at Garthland Bridge. A Sparrowhawk was soaring above a conifer belt beside the B786 and there were 50 Rooks feeding in fields opposite Margaret's Mill Farm. Finally a couple of Magpies were mobbing a Kestrel which was hovering over Auchmountain Road.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Dark on the way to work - dark on the way home. Natural connections nil. However noticed a slight lengthening of the daylength today, so Spring can't be that far away.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Today the pair of Goosanders from earlier in the week were back on the Cart. Still plenty of Grey Squirrels feeding on the ground. Also noticed a group of three Mallard drakes "piping" and bowing in display, and a white "Pouter Pigeon" was putting on quite a show over the Bonnyholm estate.
Later in the day there were 9 Greenfinches at the top of one of the trees at the entrance to the estate.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

A short walk in the wind and rain at lunchtime turned up 9 Starlings (not common here) on aerials, a Grey Wagtail (at the same spot as last week), the usual Heron and an exceptional 8 Grey Squirrels along one short section of path (possibly feeding on wind-blown beechmast).

Friday, January 04, 2008

Managed a short walk around the West End this morning. Checked for Goosanders on the Kelvin but no sign. Weather still decidedly wintry, although it hasn't prevented an influx of Cattle Egrets into the West of the UK (one reached Cardoness, D&G earlier in the week).

Thursday, January 03, 2008

A light fall of snow heralded a change to much more wintry weather in West Central Scotland today. However the highlight of a walk around Rouken Glen Park pond was a harbinger of Spring - a Black headed Gull with a full, chocolate-brown hood.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A thankfully dry day today. Much fewer birds around than yesterday. Highlights were 5 or 6 goldcrests flitting through conifers at "the caves" and a single Goldfinch in full song next to the school.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

New along the Cart today were big flocks of Black headed Gulls (c55) and winter thrushes (c30), lots of singing songbirds (1 Blue Tit, 2 Great Tits, 3 Wrens, 1 Song Thrush) and a single Treecreeper (my first for this site). The two Goosanders are still on the river. Weather news is that cold weather is on its way - wonder what that will bring?