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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, December 31, 2008

Most notable record of the day was at 1:15 this morning - a Male Tawny Owl calling for 5 minutes from the wood next to the house.
Highlights of a late afternoon TTV were as follows:
Five Cormorants (4 ads and a juvenile) roosting in a tree beside the Cart between Corkerhill and Mosspark stations.
A flock of 50 to 100 Siskins in Poplars behind Lourdes Primary School.
Two Goosanders fishing the Levern Water in the middle of Pollock.
Sizeable flocks (8+) of Goldfinches and Greenfinches.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A bitterly cold day in West Central Scotland with the prospect of the same tomorrow. No natural connections today due to work commitments. However the Coal Tits at the garden feeder kept me company, coming and going virtually all day.
Naturalresolutions for 2009:
  • Find the nesting sites of the Rooks which frequent the shops at Crookston Cross and the Swifts which scream over Crookston Hotel.
  • Do a proper count of the House Martins nesting in Cardonald Gardens.
  • Add Sand Martin to the patch list.
  • Learn the difference between immature Herring and Lesser black backed Gulls.
  • Check out local woods for calling Tawny Owls.
  • Extend my coverage to the whole tetrad which contains "my" 1km square.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A cold, settled day meant good viewing conditions at Murdieston Dam, but surprisingly few birds. The usual Pochards and Goosanders were nowhere to be seen. However there were two new Mute Swans and numbers of Herring and Common Gulls were substantially up.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another sunny winter's day, this time spent in Troon. A quick walk along the seafront revealed nothing unusual. Similarly, an afternoon walk in Fullarton Woods was notable for the virtual absence of any bird-life.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A positive "finch-fest" along the Cart this morning with 5 Goldfinches, a Chaffinch, a Greenfinch and 3 Bullfinches (the latter my first for my home 1km square) all in a single stretch of scrub. On the river, a Cormorant was the first of the winter. Twenty corvids were squawking loudly in a tree next to the Rosshall School bridge, although the reason wasn't apparent.Singers today included Greenfinch, Song Thrush, House Sparrow, Blue and Great Tit, Robin and Blackbird.
Along the M8 to Edinburgh, a Cormorant was flying up the Almond and roadside Buzzards were at the beginning and middle of the bypass. Later, a dusk walk near Arthur's Seat was notable for a glorious orange sunset, around 300 Jackdaws going to roost at Bawsinch and a calling Tawny Owl along Meadowfield Drive.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A colder day today, with fewer birds on show along the Cart. Most notable was a female Sparrowhawk being chased by a couple of Carrion Crows.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A mild Christmas day today prompted a Wren and a Woodpigeon to sing. Meanwhile, in the woods near Howford Bridge, the first Snowdrops are starting to emerge. Most unusual find on the walk along the Cart was a pair of Little Grebes (I have never seen more than one here) displaying to eachother.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A mild day started with a Song Thrush singing under the streetlights at the entrance to the estate. Later one of the local Woodpigeons was putting on an aerial display and a second Song Thrush was singing in trees behind the house.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Had a good walk today, along a section of the West Highland Way between Dumgoyne and Drymen. Weather was mild, with even a little sunshine. Natural highlights included early singing Robin, Starling and Chaffinch, hedgerows full of lots of Blackbirds and a few Fieldfares, Greylag and Pink footed geese in wayside fields, single Treecreeper and Reed Bunting near Gartness, and a Roe Deer slipping away through the woods.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A forced detour along Candrens Road produced 50 Feral Pigeons and three male Pheasants on the stubble and 20 Fieldfares "chak-ing" overhead.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A couple of hours checking the South Glasgow parks today turned up a few interesting records including loads of Moorhens (over 30 in total) on Maxwell Park and Queen's Park ponds, a female Goosander on the latter and two stunning male Bullfinches on the feeders in Pollock Estate. Later, a flock of Long tailed Tits (containing at least 15 birds) passed through the car park next to the Transport Museum.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

A walk along the Cart this afternoon revealed evidence of recent flooding at several places. Bird life was scarce due to the river being in spate, but an early burst of Blue Tit song was notable.
Earlier in the day, notable visitors to the garden included a party of Long tailed Tits (the first time I have seen them actually on the feeders), Greenfinch and Chaffinch (both rare this winter) and an almost pure white feral pigeon.
A lunchtime walk around Barshaw Park revealed plenty of flighty Redwings, hedges crammed full of House Sparrows and a Whooper Swan with 10 Mute Swans on the pond.
News from the web is of a Black necked Grebe on Antermony Loch, Milton of Campsie.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A very wet day in West Central Scotland with traffic chaos in Greenock due to flash flooding. A very wet walk around Murdieston Dam produced 2 pairs of Goosander, a Little Grebe, a Grey Heron and a Cormorant, but no storm-blown strays. First bird of the day was a Cormorant high over the Paisley traffic at the Hammils.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Took a short walk along a rainy Greenock quayside this lunchtime. Two male Goldeneye and a male Eider were fishing just offshore.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Increasingly short daylength and a day-long, murky gloom meant no natural connections for me today. Instead, thoughts turned to some target species for 2009:
Bean Goose around Slammanan
White fronted Goose at Gartocharn
Brent Goose at Loch Ryan (or possibly Maidens, or even Barassie)
Green Woodpecker in the Overtoun Braes
Hawfinch at Scone
Bearded Tit in the Tay reedbeds
Corn Bunting in East Fife
Mandarin on Loch Eck
There are still some notable gaps on the local patch list (Mute Swan (!), Sand Martin, Kestrel, Bullfinch, Woodcock and Garden Warbler) and some species I haven't seen on the patch for a few years (Tawny Owl, Dipper, Siskin) which would be nice to connect with. I'm also going to try and find out where the Swifts that scream over Crookston in late Summer go to nest.
So here's to 2009 (and lengthening days).

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Today's rain subsided just long enough to allow a quick circuit of Murdieston Park. Types and numbers of birds on show were similar to what has been found recently. However the two male Pochards normally sleeping were actively fishing in the shallow corner of the main dam and a fine male Goosander was, unusually, on the smaller one. Signs of early breeding activity included the courtship display of Feral Pigeons on surrounding tenements and a chorus of Starlings (including one mimicking a Curlew).

Monday, December 15, 2008

Today started with a hard frost but became much milder later on. News from the web is of a single Black necked Grebe with the Slavonians on Loch Ryan. More Slavonian Grebes are along the north shore of the Clyde and several Short eared Owls are in the Fereneze Hills.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A red-letter day today, with the Waxwing invasion finally reaching NS5263 - a flock of 12 were roving between Hatton Gardens and the railway embankment. Other birds on the scene included Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, lots of Blackbirds and a Treecreeper (on an isolated tree in the middle of Moulin playing field).

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A busy day at the bird feeders, with 3 Great, 2 Blue and 2 Coal Tits all vying for supremacy. Two Grey Squirrels fed underneath.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A return to more typical West-of-Scotland weather today with incessant, driving rain.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A day off today, so managed a walk along the Cart. Lots of birds about (although still no Waxwings). Best were 5 Goldfinches in a tree next to Rosshall School, more Rooks, overhead Fieldfares and Redwings plus displaying Feral Pigeons. The Goosander pair appear to be settling in - the male was fishing near Rosshall Bridge while the female flew upstream.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Another frosty morning turned into a beautiful winter's day. A flock of birds flew past the uni office windows - almost certainly Waxwings. At midnight, a Red Fox howled under the new moon.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A frosty start to the morning. However at work a Dunnock sang more-or-less all day.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Natural "highlight" of the day was a sad one - a dead Barn Owl beside the A8, just East of Woodhall.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A bitterly cold afternoon along the Cart found very little life until a Treecreeper turned up feeding on the Pulhamite boulders in Rosshall Park. On the return leg, a pair of Goosander (the male in shocking salmon pink) were steaming down the river just downstream of the Moulin Bridge.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A midday walk around Mugdock Park was notable more for what wasn't seen than what was. Both Mugdock Loch and Craigend Pond were completely frozen, and all the usual wildfowl had disappeared. Four Meadow Pipits were along the Kyber Path and a Wren sang briefly near the castle. Later, three Little Grebes plus Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Goldeneye and 15 Snipe were along the Erskine shore, where a Carrion Crow was duelling with a Sparrowhawk.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The pond on Great Western Road was covered with ice when I passed first thing. Nearby, Robin and Dunnock were singing as if the winter was already over.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Snow north and south of here, but a bit of a thaw in central Scotland today with quite mild temperatures. Work pressures and the miserably short daylength meant no time for natural connections. However news from the web is of Waxwings, a few Chiffchaffs, Glaucous and Iceland Gulls in the Northern Isles and a Black necked Grebe off East Lothian. News from Collins is that "Wildfowl" will be published early in the New Year.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A fifth consecutive day of frost in West Central Scotland came hard on the heels of the lowest temperature in Glasgow for 23 years. The Waxwings seem to be thriving on it: there were 25 beside Paisley Arts Centre and 70-80 in trees beside the museum. Its amazing how familiarity with their call leads to many more sightings.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A brief walk around a perfectly still (and partly ice-covered) Murdieston Dam produced 2 sleeping male Pochards, two displaying Cormorants, a mating pair of Mallards and 5 Goldeneye.

Monday, December 01, 2008

A Buzzard was spiralling over the Bishopton bend of the M8 at lunchtime today. Later, there was a glorious sunset behind a snow-covered Arran.