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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, January 31, 2009

Spent a pleasant afternoon wandering around Mugdock Park. A flat calm Mugdock Loch held displaying Goldeneye and an exceptional 14 Goosanders. Two Grey Herons flew in and a few Mallards and Tufted Ducks added to the mix.
Elsewhere, two Greylag Geese were on Craigton Pond but the highlight of the day was a Jay flying high over the Highland Cattle field (my first for the site and my first of the year). Also notable were flowering Snowdrops and a small cloud of Midges(!)
News from the net is that the first Gannets have returned to the Clyde and one of the Red throated Divers off Ayr has moulted into summer plumage.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Various meetings around Glasgow meant a day of zig-zagging across the city. The calm, mild, Spring-like weather encouraged a couple of Goldfinches to sing in Dumbreck and some first-winter Common Gulls were scrapping for bread with Jackdaws and Feral Pigeons in Yorkhill. This evening there were a few snowflakes blowing about - signs of things to come?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A later walk around Murdieston today. Black headed Gull numbers were higher than usual, but other birds including Goosander and Pochard were absent.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Had a quick look round Bingham's Pond as I was passing this morning. Two male Goosanders were loafing near the west bank and there was a single male Mute Swan who doesn't seem to have found a mate. Noticed two separate flocks of Long tailed Tits - they really are one of the success stories of the last few (mild) winters.
This evening, it was still just about daylight when I left work (!!!).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A damp morning today, so no repeat of yesterday's frosty start. The trip down to Greenock was done in darkness, but coming back, it was light enough to make out the usual Buzzard in the first Finlaystone meadow.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Only naturalconnections of note were on the way home through Paisley this evening - around 20 Feral Pigeons doing some exuberant formation flying, and a privet-hedge full of chirruping House Sparrows (I am convinced that this is the key habitat requirement for the species - evergreen bushes (Privet, Holly, etc - even Leylandii) which may afford some protection from Magpies, Sparrowhawks etc).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The lengthening days and milder weather have prompted lots of birds to start up their breeding cycles. Robin, Starling, Blue Tit Great Tit, Greenfinch and Goldfinch were all singing today. Woodpigeons and Feral Pigeons were displaying and both Mallards and Jackdaws have paired off. Best of all, a pair of Little Grebes, still in winter plumage, were together on the Cart and at least one was "whinnying" loudly.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Today's walk along the Cart was notable for the number of green shoots now pushing through the leaf litter in the woods. There are patches of snowdrops everywhere with some plants even starting to flower. Some of the other plants identified included (all probables) Daffodil, Lesser Celandine and Ramsons. Also notable were two Pied Wagtails (presumably a pair) at the school and four Redwings along the railway.
Today was the day for our garden bird count: modest totals as follows: Chaffinch (2), Dunnock (2), Robin (2), Coal Tit (1), Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (3) and Long tailed Tit (5), the latter feeding on scraps of bread on the lawn.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The return journey from Yorkshire was notable for 5 Kestrels hunting the verges of the A65 and M6, including one bird active in the half-light of dusk.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A bit of a meteorological sandwich today with storms over the north of Scotland and south of England, but glorious blue skies over the bit in between. Highlights of today's drive were 4 Kestrels, 2 Buzzards and 2 Whooper Swans. Small groups of Starlings were heading for Gretna, but I passed too early for the the main show.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Still one Cormorant in the tree near the Cat and Dog Home bend of the Cart (I wonder if this is a new site, or if I have just missed them in the past). Lots of Starlings singing near the doctor's surgery in Cardonald.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Today's scoot around Murdieston Dams was notable for 3 additions to the site list: Woodpigeon, Redwing and Blackbird. Gull numbers are building up and Jackdaws are very evidently pairing off.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A day of intermittent snow showers here in WCS. The small birds continue to raid the seed feeders, scattering leftovers for two Feral Pigeons below (including a regular, three-quarters-white one).

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Another driech day in WCS, with the added element of driving snow to add to the miserable mix. Decided to walk back along the river from Pollockshaws Road (it started snowing about halfway home). Highlights included a Common Buzzard being chased by two Carrion Crows, a pair of Moorhens presumably on territory plus single Goosander, Little Grebe, Cormorant and Grey Heron.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Managed to squeeze in two walks today - an early morning one to Crookston (with only a singing Song Thrush to lift the gloom) and a longer one this afternoon along the Cart. Rosshall Park pond had a pair of Moorhens and there seems to have been a bit of an influx of Redwings and Starlings.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A single Kestrel braving the rain on a wire at Arkleston Farm was the only natural connection of the day.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Having to be content with virtual connections today. News from the web is of a Green Woodpecker at RSPB Mersehead and a Ruddy Shelduck at Linwood.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A frosty start gave way to a wet and windy day. In fact, the rain has been falling all evening. News from a colleague is that a white sparrow has appeared near the cinema on Greenock waterfront. I saw one there two or three years ago [see here] - surely not the same one.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The usual walk around Murdieston dams revealed two Cormorants fishing in the smaller pond (and drying their wings on the island), and 7 Goldeneye (including a stunning male displaying to two females) on the main reservoir. Singing birds today were Goldfinch, Starling and Great Tit. Other signs of spring included the male Tufted Ducks (now with fully grown tufts) pursuing females, and Jackdaws in close pairs.
News from the web is of two Black necked Grebes in Loch Ryan (the first multiple record I have seen from this site for a few years).

Monday, January 12, 2009

The much-improved weather today saw the local wildlife catching up with feeding, socialising and generally gadding about. Down in Gourock there were fishing Shag and Cormorant offshore (the two are really easy to tell apart when seen well) together with a loafing party of Eider. Best sighting was of a winter-plumaged Black Guillemot, absolutely stunning in white, black and silver, as it bobbed on the swell.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Another wet and windy day in West central Scotland. Plenty of activity at the garden feeders, in spite of the cross winds. Along the river, 8 Mallards were hauled out on the bank at the Moulin playing fields. The river there is very swollen, although not coming over the banks quite yet.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A miserably wet and windy day in Edinburgh. Only natural connection was a Red Fox skittering across Ulster Crescent in the gloom.

Friday, January 09, 2009

A milder day today (although still a frosty start) with a weather system heading south west towards the western isles. A Song Thrush was singing lustily over the back fence at dusk.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

That singing Blue Tit was once again my only link with the natural world during a busy working day. However there were signs at both the beginning and end of the day that the daylength is starting to stretch.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A murky, winters day today with no time for wildlife watching. The only natural connection was a Blue Tit singing above the traffic noise in Greenock.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Drove back from Leeds enjoying a glorious, orange sunset. Had hoped to get to Gretna in time for the Starling roost but it was dark by Carlisle (its amazing how quickly the sun goes down at this time of year - although it is only apparent on sunny days like today).
Bird of the day was Collared Dove with a singing bird at Leeds University and several showy individuals (displaying?) in the Dales villages.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Had to drive to Leeds today, for a meeting tomorrow. Journey was pleasant enough due to fine weather all the way. Natural highlights were 3 seperate Kestrels along a 5 mile stretch of the A65 west of Skipton.
News from the web is of a male Mandarin on Arran for its 3rd winter (and a Red necked Grebe for its second) plus a pair of Blue Tits occupying a nestbox in Lothian (birds are also prospecting nestboxes on Speyside according to Cairngorm Wildlife).

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A quick walk along the Cart was notable for a Grey Wagtail along the Moulin stretch (often hard to find around here) and singing Blue Tit, Starling, Robin and Woodpigeon.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A fantastic day spent in West Stirlingshire / East Dunbartonshire with blue skies and clear winter air. Highlights were the views from the Whangie to Dumgoyne, Ben Lomond and the Arrochar alps. Birds were few but a Raven cronking at the end of the Whangie was in his element.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Another slghtly milder day. Birds in the garden included a Collared Dove. An afternoon walk in Pollock Park found nearly 50 Mallards escaping the freeze but little else due to the hordes of human visitors. Nevertheless a single Little Grebe and a flyover Cormorant were on offer for those with eyes to see.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The frost of the past 48 hours thawed overnight to reveal a mild but murky winter's day. A return visit to the area around Cardonald Cemetery found loads of birds including 50 or more Redwings searching for food among fallen leaves (joined by a single Fieldfare and three Mistle Thrushes), singing Blue Tit, Robin and Woodpigeon, feeding flocks of Siskins and three Bullfinches.