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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.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Had to drive from Ayr to Greenock this afternoon so took a short lunch stop at the grassy area between Shewalton and Dreghorn. Highlights of a brief visit were two singing Chiffchaffs, at least 6 Skylarks "competing for air-time" and a pair of Common Buzzards dive-bombing eachother high overhead.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Managed to squeeze in a brief walk around Kilmardinny Loch, Bearsden (above) this afternoon. Nice to be out in the Spring sunshine. Nothing unusual, but 17 species in 15 minutes wasn't a complete waste of time.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Had a very pleasant walk from Croy to Falkirk, following the course of the Forth & Clyde (photos 1 and 2 above) and Union Canals. Birding highlights were nesting Mute Swans (at least 2 nests identified) and Rooks (23 nests in one group of trees), displaying Lapwings, calling Oystercatchers and singing Skylarks over farmland, a singing Chiffchaff at Wester Carmuirs (my first of the Spring), a singing Stonechat at the Falkirk Wheel and an escaped Wood Duck (photo 3) at Greenbank. The other notable sighting was of great swathes of Butterbur (photos 4 and 5) along many sections of canal bank.

Friday, March 28, 2008

A Blackbird singing above the conversation in the tea-room at work was a timely reminder that nature is getting on with its springtime business. A Buzzard displaying over the evening commuters on the M8 at Erskine was another. Sand Martins, Wheatears and Chiffchaffs are cropping up all over the country. The rooftops in Port Glasgow are suddenly covered with courting Lesser black backed and Herring Gulls

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The flurries of snow which have been dropping on West Central Scotland over the past week finally added up to something overnight with the Renfrewshire and Luss hills completely covered this morning. The bigger hills further north (Ben Lomond, Ben More and Stob Binnien) remain seriously snow-bound. The weather doesn't seem to have bothered the Chaffinch or Great Tit which were singing outside the house first thing. Nor does it seem to have detained the Whooper Swans which are now down to 4 at Blackstone Mains. A Grey Heron high over the M8 on the way to Greenock was nothing special. More unusual were 3 Kestrels within a mile of eachother (including a pair in the same tree) above Blantyre this afternoon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

An early start at HCI in Clydebank turned up 4 Whooper Swans, around 30 Greylag Geese and a singing Skylark, all in the drizzle over on Newshot Island.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A walk around the loch at the Heritage Park in East Kilbride revealed 3 new species (for me) for the site: Little Grebe (two birds feeding near the barrage), Oystercatcher (two birds on the island) and Canada Goose (two birds asleep on the island).

Monday, March 24, 2008

A trip down the clyde revealed plenty of Shelduck and Teal along the shore at Longman Point. Also a single Kestrel over the M8 at Cockles Loan, Renfrew.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

News from the web is that a Wheatear has arrived on the Mull of Galloway.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A cold but sunny afternoon at Castle Semple Loch turned up flowering Primroses (my first of the year) and Dog's Mercury, bickering Goldeneyes (including several birds only a few metres from the shore) and an assortment of motley Mallards (including 2 "Indian Runner-types, a white farmyard duck and a leucistic drake). Far over near the other bank were 20 Tufted Ducks.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spent the afternoon dodging the snow showers in Arbroath. One of the highlights was a walk along the clifftop path (below) which was made all the more dramatic by the sudden squalls blowing in from the North Sea. Birding highlights there were a male Kestrel, quite a pure-looking Rock Dove and a flock of around 30 Curlews, all battling with the wind. Earlier, stopped off at Errol to look at the reedbeds there. The landscape thereabouts is fanastic - more like the Lincolnshire fenland or the Hungarian puzta than anywhere else in Scotland! Other highlights today included plenty of inland Curlews and Oystercatchers, a possible White tailed Eagle (in the middle of a ploughed field), a possible Black Grouse (on a fence post) and many hundreds of (presumably pink footed) geese in fields next to the A90.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Only natural connections today were evening rush hour birds: a Buzzard perched on the "Finlaystone Trees" sign beside the A8 and 25 or so Whooper Swans by the Black Cart between the M8 and the airport (first time I've seen them there this winter - must be getting restless).

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

There are now six or seven clumps of frogspawn in the silverglade pond.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The five Sand Martins reported from Lochmaben today were no doubt enjoying the welcome sunshine. However The Lomond and Argyll hills are still well covered in snow so the balance hasn't completely tipped yet.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Another (or the same) Osprey has reached Scotland - this time being seen over Edinburgh. More typically, the satellite-tracked bird being monitored by the Highland Foundation for Wildlife has only reached Mauritania. The weather in Scotland today was certainly more conducive to migration with blue skies above the snow-capped Argyll hills.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A sunny day (at last) meant a pleasant afternoon walk from Cardonald to Pollock Park. Birdsong now more-or-less at its peak (at least until the summer migrants arrive over the next few weeks) with Robin, Wren, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long tailed Tit and Goldcrest all taking part. Lots of Woodpigeons feeding in the park but no Stock Doves among them. Highlight was a Woodcock (flushed by a dog) which flew out over the Wildlife Garden before disappearing back into the trees.
My first bee of the year was in a neighbour's garden.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Spent a couple of hours on Dumbrock Muir (below) this morning. Highlights were 3 mewing Buzzards in the air together, a drumming Great spotted woodpecker, a whinnying Little Grebe and 3 Goldeneye on Dumbrock Loch, a possible Jay (screeching), a hunting Kestrel and a flyover Raven.
Later, kids thought they saw a duckling with a pair of Mallards on the Cart at Corkerhill (from the train). Surely not!
News from the web is of Wheatears in various south coast counties, Little Ringed Plovers as far north as the English Midlands, Swallows in four scattered counties and Sand Martins in seven (including at least one at Strathclyde Loch).

Friday, March 14, 2008

Up especially early this morning, so experienced a full dawn chorus followed by a brilliant sunrise. A pristine male Blackbird was in the garden at work and the Great Tits visiting the silverglade feeders now have bright lemon-yellow breasts.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More rain today, so natural conections were severely curtailed. Doesn't seem to have deterred the Osprey which turned up in Borders this afternoon.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rain, rain and more rain. The pre-roosting Starling flock near Cappielow contained around 60 birds this evening.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Only natural connection of note today concerned a pair of Collared Doves perched on wires beside the A77 south of Kilmarnock.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wind and heavy rain on the way to Greenock today. A Cormorant was struggling to fly along the course of one of the rivers.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A couple of Goldcrests were singing a particularly clear version of the "squeaky bicycle" song from the pines near Bonnyholm swing park. There are now five clumps of frogspawn in the garden pond.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Spent this afternoon around Loch Doon in south Ayrshire. Weather was very mixed but managed a walk between the mouths of the Carrick Lane (top) and Gala Lane (second photo). Highlights included plenty of singing Coal Tits and Goldcrests in the conifer plantations and two Crossbills in the garden of an abandoned sheiling (bottom photo). Also of interest were the ruins of Loch Doon Castle and late snow on Corserine (below).

Friday, March 07, 2008

Spent the morning at a meeting in the west end of Glasgow, then passed Bingham Pond on the way back to the car. Not much of note there apart from good numbers of Tufted Duck and Mallard. Birding highlights on the way home from Greenock included around 30 Starlings in a tight flock over the Port Glasgow Road and a Common Buzzard swooping low over the M8 at the Bishopton bend.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Cart walk was quiet this evening - loads of Magpies but (consequently) nothing else. Noticed the first Lesser Celendine flower of the year.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Only natural connection of note on another blustery day was a group of around 14 Whooper Swans near the Old Schoolhouse. Resident species are continuing ther breeding activity - a Nuthatch has been seen carrying nesting material in Dalzell Woods, Motherwell.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Yesterday's snow is still lying over much of the country. However the leaden skies have been replaced by clear blue ones. Had to drive over to Hamilton. On the way back, a Buzzard chased a Carrion Crow over the A725 at High Blantyre.

Monday, March 03, 2008

West central Scotland woke up this morning to quite a significant overnight snowfall (above). Driving around the region, it was remarkable how snow cover affected Inverclyde, Arran, Glasgow, Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire (and, apparently, South Ayrshire) but was absent from Ayrshire south and west of Fenwick.
Noticed a male Kestrel drop onto prey from roadside wires just south of the Hunterston roundabout.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Managed two walks along the Cart today. On the first (at 9 am), songbirds were particularly in evidence with Starling, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Wren, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Goldcrest all chipping in. The House Sparrows on Moulin Circus have suddenly become a lot more active and there were single Grey Wagtail, Goosander (female) and Little Grebe along the playing field stretch of river. On the second walk (at 6 pm), a Cormorant flew upriver and a pair of Goosanders were resting near Bonnyholm Bridge. In between, discovered 2 clumps of newly-laid frogspawn in the garden pond (FIRST OF THE YEAR).

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Squally showers continue, but the sunshine in between has lured some reptiles into the open including Common Lizard in Dumfries and Galloway and Adders on Mull.