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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.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Geese remain the stars of the show with a skein of 25 flying up the motorway from Longhaugh Point at dawn. Meanwhile record numbers of Brent Geese have stopped over at Broadford Bay, Skye and the third highest count on record of Pinkfeet are roosting at Aberlady Bay, Lothian.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The strange, showery weather which has dominated this weekend persisted through today. A walk along the White Cart in the centre of Paisley turned up single Grey Heron and Grey Wagtail, a pair of Mute Swans and 37 Mallards. Back home, a tit flock consisting of 5 Great Tits and single Blue and Coal Tits (plus a tag-along Robin) passed through the garden.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A midday walk along the Levern Water and the White Cart from the Pollock Roundabout to the glade produced a number of good sightings including 15 House Sparrows in riverside Willows (the Cardonald Park Farm birds are also back after their late-summer wanderings), 18 Mallards (the males now in full breeding dress) and a Willow Warbler in a roving tit flock. Walking through Pollock, noticed two Red Admial butterflies spiralling together. Nationally, Pink footed Geese are well in.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A family shopping trip to Livingston was a good excuse for an afternoon walk along the River Almond as far as the visitor centre at Almondell. Highlights included a single Grey Wagtail near the sewage works, three Common Buzzards and a singing Chiffchaff near Camp Viaduct, and a young Grey Heron catching a fish at the weir in Mid Calder.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A scattering of singing Chiffchaffs on the newswires today. Also three Brent Geese at Barassie and seven Redwings in Glasgow (thought I caught sight of one of the latter in the glade this morning).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

News from the web tonight is of the first Redwings (in Livingston) and the first Barnacle Geese (in D&G). A lovely, dead flat Clyde this evening continued the high pressure theme of the week.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Only natural connection today was a female Kestrel past the 5th floor of A-block in central Paisley. However news from the web is of more Brents, an east coast influx of Little Gulls and an Orca off Ayrshire.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A busy work day meant no natural connections until the evening when a loud peeping call alerted me to a Great spotted Woodpecker on a bare branch at the top of a tree at the entrance to the glade. Later, what appeared to be a newly-fledged Blue Tit was on the garden fence.
News from the web is that 14 Slavonian Grebes have gathered in Loch Ryan.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Another early start produced a juvenile Woodpigeon (fresh out of the nest?) on grass near the entrance to the glade. n 8 am meeting at Gartnaval meant the usual walk past Bingham's Pond. Unusually, there were no Mallards present (unless you count the motley trio of farmyard-types). The improved weather continues with 0% cloud cover a nice change from the 100% of last week.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Two Red Foxes freshly dead on the dual carriageway at Cowglen were the dubious highlight of another rain-free day in west central Scotland. Later, a single Wren was scolding me from the garden fence.
Elsewhere, 4 Common Lizards have been recorded in the Bogton/Garnock area of Ayrshire and more pinkfeet are moving to and through the central belt.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


The first dry Saturday for a few weeks allowed an afternoon visit to Mugdock Park. As usual at this time of year, there wasn't much about. However it was nice to see four Goldfinches feeding on thistle heads, a juvenile Moorhen (but no early Goldeneye) on Mugdock Loch and a tit flock (comprised mostly of Long tailed Tits) near the East Car Park. Back home, a similar tit flock came through the garden. Also there, a miniature Common Toad.
News from the web is of a few Hobbies down the Eas
t coast (following last week's Honey Buzzards), more Brent Geese in Ayrshire and the wandering Black Swan now in Cardwell Bay. Also, a black Red Fox has been seen and photographed in Lancashire.

Friday, September 19, 2008



A quick lunchtime walk around Murdieston Dam revealed a very unusual visitor in the form of a Whooper Swan which was coming to bread with two male Mutes. The resident pair of Mutes (and their 4 juveniles) are on the smaller dam at present. I don't imagine they will be too happy when they discover they have company.

Thursday September 18, 2008

Heading for a meeting in Airdrie today, I slightly overshot and ended up on a country road heading for Airdriehill. A solitary male Kestrel was perched on roadside wires. Later, in the c
entre of Airdrie, around 30 Starlings were swirling round a church steeple.
Elsewhere, the first pinkfeet of the winter have appeared at Hule Moss, Borders and Glencaple, D&G. Also, Lapland Buntings have reached Fife.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Today started with a dozen geese heading from the Clyde to the stubble fields at the airport. Otherwise, a flat-calm sea and some much-needed respite from the recent rain.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Another day of incessant rain, but a couple of noisy young Blue Tits on the garden feeder didn't seem to mind. The sheep at Ravenscraig also seemed unbothered.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The goose flock on stubble next to the airport held a distant white bird (possibly a swan, but hard to make out through heavy rain at 70mph) this morning. Later, the drive down to Ayr turned up lovely summer-plumaged Turnstones feeding with Starlings and Pied Wagtails along the strandline.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A walk along the Cart turned up absolutely nothing apart from 3 Magpies and some hidden, singing Robins. Sightings on the web today included 66 Ravens in the air over Electric Bay, Ayrshire, a few late Swfts in Lothian and a possible national influx of Curlew Sandpipers.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

An afternoon trip to Drymen incorporated a walk up Gartmore Road. Highlights were 15 Swallows over fields, 115 Starlings on wires, 13 geese sp. heading west and a late Swft overhead. Elsewhere, 5 Spotted Redshanks were at a single site in D&G, 5 Brent Geese came in off the sea at Belhaven, East Lothian and a summer plumaged Red throated Diver was ashore at Musselburgh.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The morning drive to Greenock revealed two flocks of geese (totalling around 50 birds) in fields between the motorway and the airport. A soft, late-summer evening in Gourock was rounded off with a perfect sunset. A passing Oystercatcher and some fishing Shags were only bit-players to the spectacular land (and sea) scapes.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Today started with two large flocks of Feral Pigeons (totalling around 100 birds) over the East End of Paisley. News from elsewhere is of more grounded passerines in East Lothian plus a newly-hatched Moorhen chick at Musselburgh.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Walked along the Cart at dusk this evening. A bat was fluttering under the canopy but nothing else was braving the rain.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Another day, another goose flock - this time 5 birds heading up from the estuary at the Bishopton bend in the M8.
Other news is that a significant "fall" has brought various chats, flycatchers and warblers (including several Icterines, plus Wryneck and Red Backed Shrike) to East Lothian. Meanwhile, again in Lothian, both Swallows and House Martins fledged y
oung this week.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Today's birding highlight arrived at 7:30 am, with 30 geese flying east over the M8 at Blackstone Mains.
News from the web is of an influx of Blackbirds in lothian, the satellite tracked Honey Buzzard now near Castle Douglas (D&G) and Manx Shearwaters still heading into the Clyde (as divers head out).

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A rainy afternoon didn't deter 5 Swallows over Hawkhead Woodland and another 20 over Mulben Crescent, Crookston. At 10pm, a Red Fox scampered into the glade ahead of the car.
News from the web is that (presumably) the same Black Swan which appeared on the 2nd at West Ferry was seen across the Clyde at Cardross Bay on 4th. Other news:
One of the satellite-tracked Ospreys which wandered off course was found dead on the Outer Hebrides today. Although some adults are still feeding young in the nest, others are at various points south, many being delayed by the wet weather. The satellite-tracked Honey Buzzard is now passing through central Scotland (over Airdrie today).
25 Brent Geese flew past Barns Ness, Lothian today.

The first Twite of the autumn have appeared on the Ayrshire coast and various passerines (incl. Pied and Spotted Flys) are filtering through the glen north of the Mull of Galloway.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

An afternoon spent in Edinburgh allowed a windy walk past Dunsapie Loch. The Mute Swans there have 5 large young (a distant pair on Duddingston Loch had 7) and 12 Canada Geese were competing with the Mallards for bread.

Friday, September 05, 2008

A meeting at Gartnavel this morning allowed a quick, passing check of Bingham's Pond. Relatively few birds were about, but of interest were at least 2 well-grown Moorhen chicks being chased by a domestic Mallard.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Managed a quick lunchtime walk during a sunny day spent working at Ravenscraig Hospital, Greenock. The avenues of mature trees there are marvellous. Also, nice to see a flock of sheep being used to keep the grass down.
Back home, the Red Foxes are particularly noisy tonight.
News from the web is that a Nuthatch has appeared in a Mugdock garden and 120 Brent Geese flew past Tobermory, Mull today.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Natural connections today were the sum of the last two days: a male Kestrel on a lampost at Woodhall and a Common Buzzard on a fence at Finlaystone. Caught sight of what might have been a dead Barn Owl on the roadside at Langbank at 07:30 - hope it wasn't.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Highlight of the drive home this evening was a Kestrel over the A8 at Newark Castle. The RSPB have now confirmed that the three young Spoonbills seen near Kirkudbright were locally bred (see press release). Other news is that single Brent Geese have arrived at Loch Ryan, D&G, and Balkenna, Ayrshire.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Only natural connection today was a Common Buzzard which swooped low over the car at West Ferry. The Spoonbills at Kirkudbright have, meanwhile, hit the headlines.