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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, February 28, 2009

Back in Dunbartonshire today, to do the Leven walkway from Dumbarton to Balloch. Birding highlights were two very confiding Dippers (they must be accustomed to people hereabouts), a pink-breasted Black headed Gull and several flocks of Feral Pigeons (I wonder if the area is known for pigeon lofts?).
Back home, a possible Tawny Owl was in the "nature reserve".

Friday, February 27, 2009

A busy work day meant only 10 minutes for a quick scoot around a wet Murdieston Park. Highlights were rising numbers of Herring and Lesser black backed Gulls plus a "pair" of Pied Wagtails, consisting of an adult and a juvenile.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Yesterday's high pressure and strong winds gave way to an altogether softer day, mild and wet. An early morning walk past Bingam's Pond found the mallards paired off and prospecting quiet corners, and the Coots posturing and squabbling. Later, outside Ferguson's Shipyard, the Common Gull flock had grown to around 40, and a dozen oystercatchers were feeding nearby.
Early migrants reported today include a Common Sandpiper in Gwent and a House Martin in Northamptonshire.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A damp evening, with few birds about along the river. More Starlings than usual in the area but little else of note.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A mild evening, but no sign of any bats at the Cardonald Place Bridge.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A brief, ten minute walk at Eglinton CP revealed singing Song Thrush, Great, Blue and Coal Tit, Woodpigeon and Robin, plus Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Mallard, Great crested Grebe, Cormorant and Grey Heron on the loch.
News from the web is of bats on the wing in East Lothian.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Another mild day for a walk along the Cart. Very little birdlife on show (the Goosanders, Cormorants and Grey Heron seem to have moved on) with only a Moorhen near the Mosspark Station bridge out of the ordinary. News from the web is that an Osprey has arrived at Caerlaverock, D&G.
Quite a good weekend for birds with 40 species seen across the 10 1km squares visited as follows: Shelduck (seen in 2 squares), Wigeon, Mallard (4), Mallard (domestic), Eider, Goldeneye (2), Red-breasted Merganser (2), Little Grebe, Shag, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Moorhen, Oystercatcher (5), Curlew (3), Redshank (4), Black-headed Gull (4), Common Gull (3), Herring Gull (3), Lesser Black-backed Gull (3), Woodpigeon (4), Feral Pigeon, Rock Pipit, Pied/White Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin (4), Blackbird (3), Song Thrush (2), Long tailed Tit, Blue Tit (3), Great Tit (3), Magpie (6), Jackdaw (5), Rook, Carrion Crow (8), Starling (4), House Sparrow (5), Greenfinch (4), Goldfinch (2).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Spent a perfect afternoon walking the Dunbartonshire coast, first around Ardmore Point and later along the coastal path near Dumbarton. The weather was mild and calm, giving the landscape that special "softness" which is all too rare. Highlights of the afternoon were a Rock Pipit duelling with two Grey Wagtails, 30 Wigeon in a flock on the sea, a female Sparrowhawk patrolling the cliffs at Havoc Hole, 2 Goldeneye and 2 Little Grebes fishing along a stretch of the Leven and my first frogspawn of the year - in a ditch on Ardmore Point. The afternoon ended with a Kestrel hunting over Hillington Roundabout, just feet from queuing traffic.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The weekly walk around Murdieston Park was enlivened today by some predatory behaviour from a Great black backed Gull. The gull landed in the middle of the main reservoir and swallowed something, much to the consternation of the smaller gulls around it. Its crop was really swollen, and when it took to the air, it really struggled to gain height. I wonder if it had grabbed one of the Black headed Gulls, or maybe a big fish.
Also notable was a Grey Wagtail feeding in the channel running between the two reservoirs.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More signs of spring being reported on the web with Dippers nest-building on the Esk and Lesser black backed Gulls returning to Edinburgh.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

News from the web is of a Common Sandpiper in Pembrokeshire and a Sandwich Tern in Kent. Both may have wintered, but they are just possibly forebears of the coming invasion.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Managed a very good timed tetrad visit to Cardonald / Pollock today. Recorded a total of 546 birds of 37 species. Highlights were a male Siskin on the garden feeders, 6 stunning Goosanders displaying and muttering in low clucks, two pairs of Little Grebe, a very lost-looking Tufted Duck (my first ever here), flocks of Redwings singing quietly in the treetops, a Treecreeper flying over Crookston Road and a Great spotted Woodpecker flying between Dundee Drive and Crookston Wood. Also notable were nest-building Magpies and my first Chaffinch song of the year (other singers included Robin, Wren, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Woodpigeon, Greenfinch and Goldfinch). Notable absentees from the big list were Collared Dove, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Kingfisher (very scarce this winter) and Grey Wagtail.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Another mild day with singing Goldfinch, Robin, Song Thrush and Wren heard during a walk on Arthur's Seat. St Margaret's Loch was packed with Mute Swans, Greylag Geese and Tufted Ducks. Earlier, Durrockstock Park pond in Paisley was dominated by Coot and Tufted Duck.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A pleasant walk along the river was notable for a gorgeous pair of Goosanders and a very tame Little Grebe (both behind Cardonald Place Farm), singing Goldfinch and Greenfinch, nest-building Magpie and courting Rook.
News from the web is of Skylarks displaying in Cumbria, Chiffchaff singing in Fife, a Woodpigeon on its nest in Tranent and a Whitethroat reported from Glamorgan.

Saturday, February 13, 2009

A busy time locally with several interesting sightings making their way onto the web. Green Woodpeckers have been found at two sites of east of Loch Ardinning (raising hopes that the species might turn up at Mugdock), a Green Sandpiper at Darnley Mill, a Barn Owl just south of the Erskine Bridge and Woodcock at various sites.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A misty day for the drive over to Hamilton. Only highlight was a Rook on the traffic lights at Silverburn. An interesting item from the web was a Robin singing in a DIY store in Alloa.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A day of driving around, from Glasgow to Greenock, then back to Paisley. Plenty of wildlife on view, however, with 10 Common Gulls beside Ferguson's Shipyard, plenty of Wigeon along a swollen Clyde, a swooping Buzzard over the M8 near the Erskine off-ramp, a Pied Wagtail in Cardonald and two Long tailed Tits in front of Paisley Grammar School.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Another glorious day here in WCS, but no time for natural connections due to having to work indoors all day. News from the web is that the WTSE on the Solway has been "outed" as an introduced bird from Fife and not a truly wild vagrant. Still a spectacular creature.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A gloriously sunny day, made even brighter by lingering snow. The Clyde was like a mill pond at lunchtime today, with 30 Wigeon gathered just before the start of the Bishopton bend. Later, crossing the Clyde bridge on the way to a meeting in Hamilton, spotted 2 Goldeneye, 2 Little Grebes, 16 Mallard, and single Coot, Moorhen, Teal, Goosander and Whooper Swan.

Monday, February 09, 2009

A lunchtime walk around Murdieston Park found the smaller dam completely ice-bound, and all the wildfowl concentrated into a tiny patch of open water near the southwest corner of the main reservoir. Gull numbers were well up, but otherwise there was little of note. The Goosanders, Goldeneye, Pochards, Little Grebe, Cormorant and Grey Heron all seem to have moved on.
The cold weather of late produced a temperature of -23 degrees centigrade in Nethybridge last night, and some unusual bird sightings at the weekend including two Goosanders over Buchanan Street Bus Station and a Woodcock over the M8 at Eurocentral (ayrshirebirding).

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Redwing has definitely been the bird of the weekend with more sightings beside Barrhead Road, Pollock, along the Levern Water and along the White Cart. Two pairs of Mallards were on the Levern Water (where 4 Feral Pigeons were bathing in the icy water) and 30 Jackdaws were over Crookston Castle.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Another Saturday, another trip to Mugdock Park. The views north to snow-covered Campsies were stunning. All the water bodies were completely frozen, so no sign of last week's wildfowl. The only birding highlight was a small flock of thrushes (Blackbird, Redwing and Song Thrush) near Mugdock Loch.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The drive from Paisley over to Greenock was notable for 25+ Whooper Swans at the Old Schoolhouse and 100 Greylags between Snypes Dam and Milton Bridge, Kilmacolm.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Buzzard swooping over the M8 at Bishopton was the only natural connection of a busy work day (apart from a lovely orange and yellow sunset viewed along PRW from Cardonald).

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Falling snow all day today. Natural connections in short supply due to a long day at work. News from the web is of more Red throated Divers in summer plumage on the Clyde.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A wet and windy day in Greenock meant a less-than-pleasant scoot around Murdieston Park where Black headed Gull numbers continue to rise and around 100 Jackdaws were grounded on the reservoir embankment. A Cormorant was fishing nearby and a Little Grebe was (unusually) on the lower pond.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Snow came to west central Scotland today, although with less of a vengeance than elsewhere in the UK. The day started with a Grey Heron parachuting over Woodhall. Later, ten Fieldfares were with a large flock of Starlings on snow-covered fields at Auchenfoyle, a Buzzard was on the parapet of the bridge heading into Howwood and three Goldeneye were on the river below.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Spent a busy day driving around Erskine, Newton Mearns and Paisley. Six Whooper Swans were over the motorway next to the airport and another 20 were beside the Black Cart. A Buzzard swooped down onto the road there to retrieve some roadkill, a Kestrel was hovering beside the White Cart Viaduct, and another Buzzard was on a road sign next to the M77 at Silverburn.