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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, May 31, 2008

Up with the lark today and out walking through to Crookston Road. At 7 am, House Sparrows were chirrupping and some Starling fledglings were nagging their parents at Bonnyholm. Later (around 9 am) a Kingfisher flew along the Auldhouse Burn, a Willow Warbler was singing nearby and a Chiffchaff was singing just beyond the Cardonald Park Farm bridge.
News from the web is that, after a slow start, the Ospreys at Loch Garten now have three small chicks. The Loch of the Lowes pair still have one (growing fast), the other eggs having proven unviable. The Moray pair being monitored by Roy Dennis have 3 unhatched eggs.
Two Damselflies were at the pond today, a red-bodied one and a self-coloured one. Also, the Blue Tit brood hasn't fledged after all - the parents are back to bringing in food more or less constantly. Meanwhile, a pair of Song Thrushes have spent virtually the entire day in pitched battle with one of the local magpies.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Sunshine and House Martins over the glade this evening. A Wood Mouse was searching for food in the bus shelter - maybe feeding young.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Another fine day hereabouts. The calm weather brought several Grey Herons down to the Clyde to feed along the water's edge. Numbers of Shelduck out on the sands have also shot up. No sound from the Blue Tit box on the back wall.... I wonder if the brood has flown.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Had an early morning walk around Bingham Pond on the way to a meeting at the Beatson. A Mute Swan was sitting on its nest and a pair of Coots had one big juvenile. No Tufted Duck, Mallard or Moorhen chicks about - I guess the gulls get them all.
Back home, the
begging calls of the Blue Tit chicks can be heard from the bathroom.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Plenty of activity in the garden this evening included a pair of Blue Tits acting suspiciously around the nest box (are they trying to call the chicks out?) a pair of Collared Doves picking up seed and a Song Thrush bathing in the pond.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Main event in the garden today was the arrival of a juvenile Great Tit, presumably newly fledged. News from the web is that at least 2 Spotted Crakes are calling on Islay.

Sunday, May
25, 2008

Highlight of a day mostly spent writing at the dining room table was the sound of Swfts screaming over the glade around 6pm.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A sunny day in the garden found a big Common Toad in the flower bed and Blue Tits still visiting the nestbox on the South wall. A Chiffchaff called intermittently all afternoon and both Greenfinches and Goldfinches were twittering in the treetops.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Working from home today, so noticed plenty of comings and goings in the glade including a Song Thrush searching for worms on the lawn, three Woodpigeons (including a juvenile) hanging about the pond and a Greenfinch song-flighting between TV aerials.

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

Another busy day workwise with virtually no natural connections. Its almost as if the Summer doldrums have started.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

All quiet, except for Magpies!!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A quiet day, connection-wise. I was in such a hurry today that I hardly noticed the journey to and from Greenock. Amazing how the natural world can get so completely shut out.

Monday, May 19, 2008

No natural connections today, but news from the web is that the first Osprey egg has hatched at Loch of the Lowes. Apparently the female there has laid 52 eggs to date (the typical lifetime production of Scottish females is around 30).

Sunday, May 18, 2008

An early morning wander through the farmyard produced a Dipper flying along the stream. One bird all weekend was a disappointing tally - they seemed to be everywhere last year.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Woke up to the sound of a bubbling Curlew. Other singers were Song Thrush, Goldfinch, Willow Warbler and Wren. A few Pheasants wandered about the farm, a couple of Swallows visited a possible nest site and a pair of Starlings fed chicks in the roof of the barn. A trip to the waterfront in Greenock turned up a couple of Rock Pipits on the beach and a male Mallard beside the pond there. Back at the farm, a walk up Cairncurran Hill produced bubbling Curlews, singing Skylarks and a mixed flock of Common and Lesser black backed Gulls. Three House Martins landed on a gravel path. Later, a Curlew called in the distance, away to the Northeast.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Spent a pleasant weekend in the Inverclyde hills. Arrived at Auchenfoyle early evening. First birds seen were a Grey Wagtail flying upriver and an Oystercatcher overhead. A beautiful, still evening ended with a singing Mistle Thrush in the shelter belt and a solitary bat flying between the farm buildings.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A lovely, Summer-like Spring day today. The river is only inches deep and hardly flowing, fish rising for flies, Dandelion clocks dotting the municipal grass, Woodpigeon families are everywhere, Hawthorn is in flower, Midges massing under trees and Greenfinches wheezing languidly. This evening a single House Martin was over Cardonald Gardens, a Grey Heron was stalking the river along the Moulin stretch and the male Whitethroat was scratching again in his bramble patch.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A wonderful day of natural connections began with a walk around Cardonald Park Farm at 5am. Best birds were a pair of Whitethroats in scrub on either side of the river (exactly where I have seen birds in the last 2 summers). Driving to work at 7am, 3 House Martins were visiting a nest under the eaves of No. 22 Cardonald Gardens (across the road from where they nested last year). Brief stops at West Ferry, Parklea and Newark Castle turned up a Grey Heron flying into the heronry above the dual-carriageway, another Grey Heron on the shore at Newark and 2 Rabbits on the grass at Parklea. Bird of the day, by the way, must be Blackbird with every lawn in the region covered with birds searching for worms for their young.
Had a meeting in Howwood in the afternoon so drove over via the Kilmacolm-Lochwinnoch Road. Five Buzzards were in the air in two groups not far from the muckle stane and a Grey Heron flapped across the minor road between Howwood and Spateston. Finally, this evening, a female Mallard was escorting 5 small ducklings on the Cart.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The field to the West of Ben Nevis Road, Paisley has finally fallen to the bulldozer. Working in the area today I noticed that it took just a few hours to turn a lovely, herb-rich sward into bare earth. Twenty or so Lesser black backed and Herring Gulls were glad of the pickings, but I wonder where the Redwings will feed next winter, or where the Red Foxes will hunt.
A Rook had a beakful of insect food (no doubt for nestlings) beside Barrhead Road, east of the Hurlet, on the way home.

Monday, May 12, 2008

A glorious evening down the Clyde saw 3 Buzzards thermalling over the tea-time traffic on the Bishopton bend of the M8.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

This afternoon an adult Woodpigeon brought a newly-fledged squab (with some down still showing) to feed on seed scattered on the back lawn.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Another mild day hereabouts (although there was heavy rain for a while this afternoon). A pair of Blackbirds were searching for worms on the back lawn.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Checking the garden first thing, found a Blue Tit entering the nest box with a beakful of insects. Managed to set off half an hour earlier for work so that I could spend some time checking the mudflats at West Ferry. First birds seen were a couple of Curlews. However soon found at least 4 Whimbrels feeding among the rocks out on the mud. Other birds included Oystercatchers, Redshank, Shelduck, Mallard plus various gulls and terns.
This afternoon, had to pop over to the West End to deliver some papers. Passing Bellahouston Park, there were lots of common birds collecting food for their young, including a Song Thrush and a flock of 15 Starlings . On the way back, 3 Swallows were in an aerial dogfight over the playing fields in the South-East corner.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

The recent heatwave continues here in West Central Scotland with temperatures today again in the low 20s. Reports continue to come in from right across the central belt of migrant Black tailed Godwits and Whimbrels. The mudflats down the Clyde are dotted with Shelduck. Just before dusk this evening a Grey Heron squawked loudly as it flew over the glade, with a Carrion Crow in hot pursuit. A Wood Mouse is hiding out in the shed.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

No connections today - far too busy at work. Mudflats at Longman Point are suddenly full of Shelduck. I wonder what has triggered that.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

An early morning meeting in the West End of Glasgow meant a short walk along the River Kelvin from the car. Plenty of songbirds were competing with the rush hour traffic including Willow Warbler, Blackbird and Goldfinch. However best sighting was of at least four Sand Martins visiting nests in the river "wall" at Ballater Street.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A warm, sunny day in West Central Scotland meant a day trip, not to the coast (gridlock on the M77 into Ayr) but inland to Chatlherault Country Park near Hamilton. No sign of the influxes of Swifts, Tree Pipits or Spotted Flycatchers which have been reported recently, but a pair of Moorhens with 3 or 4 young on Wham Pond was a nice surprise.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

An evening walk along the beach at Troon produced 3 Sandwich Terns (my first of the year).

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Walked from the glade, along the Cart to Hawkhead, then down to Oldhall. Best birds seen were two singing male Blackcaps, one at the Leverndale Gate and one in Hawkhead Estate Park. Other notable sightings included a pair of Orange Tip butterflies and Wild Garlic (and more Bluebells) in flower. Finally a bat was over the Oldhall garden at dusk.

Friday, May 02, 2008

A better day again today. News of an influx of Whimbrels and Black tailed Godwits had me down at West Ferry at 6:30 am. However the mud was virtually empty with only 3 Grey Herons, four drake Mallards and a flying pair of Shelducks adding any interest.
This evening, took a detour through Arkleston Farm, turning up a remarkable concentration of Yellowhammers including up to 2 pairs and up to 3 singing males (I've only ever seen a single male there before). Other birds in the area included a pair of Pied Wagtails and 50 feeding Feral Pigeons. Also notable were flowering Bluebells along the verges.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

No natural connections today due to pressures of work. However news from the web is that Swifts have arrived and Whimbrels are passing through the area on their way North. The pair of Ospreys at Loch Garten now have 3 eggs so we shall see how things go.....