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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, March 31, 2009

A Chiffchaff singing from a garden near the Ayrshire Hospice was a nice surprise this afternoon. Back home, the Silver Glade Chiffchaff was singing again and a single female Goosander was looking lost (but still fishing busily) on the Cart at Moulin.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Main event of today was the first Silverglade Chiffchaff of the Spring - singing in early evening. Meanwhile, SWT must be delighted as both their Ospreys are back safely at Loch of the Lowes and well settled in. Further north, the regular female has returned to Loch Garten, but no news yet of her mate.
The final bird count for another long weekend was 55; details as follows: Mute Swan (noted at 5 out of 25 sites visited), Greylag Goose (domestic) (4), Canada Goose (2), Shelduck (3), Mallard (13), Tufted Duck (3), Goldeneye, Goosander, Eider, Fulmar (2), Grey Heron (3), Coot (2), Moorhen (3), Pheasant (3), Little Grebe, Merlin, Kestrel (2), Buzzard, Oystercatcher (2), Redshank, Curlew, Black-headed Gull (4), Herring Gull (4), Lesser Black-backed Gull (6), Feral Pigeon (3), Stock Dove, Woodpigeon (8), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail (2), Kingfisher, Wren (9), Dunnock, Robin (9), Blackbird (9), Song Thrush (2), Mistle Thrush (2), Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit (3), Coal Tit, Blue Tit (4), Great Tit (7), Magpie (8), Jackdaw (7), Rook (2), Carrion Crow (10), Carrion / Hooded Crow hybrid, Raven (2), Starling (2), House Sparrow (2), Chaffinch (9), Greenfinch (5) and Goldfinch (4).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A bright, windy day in North Ayrshire produced a Kestrel hunting next to the M77, a Buzzard beside the Largs road, Shelduck at Fairlie and Eider at Portencross. Later, a walk along the Cart turned up the first Kingfisher for several months [9,370].

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Highlights of a day spent walking in and around Edinburgh were:
Nesting Stock Dove and Fulmar on Arthur's Seat.
Singing Skylark near Salisbury Crags.
Hunting Kestrel over parkland near Silverknowes.
Several Grey Wagtails on the River Almond.
At least eight Little Grebes and over 20 Goldeneye on Duddingston Loch.
A pair of Ravens swooping and diving over the east end [25,000].

Friday, March 27, 2009

Another day's annual leave to use up - so took the opportunity to visit the RSPB reserve at Inversnaid. The weather was very un-spring-like, with wind, rain and hail. Consequently few birds were on show. A distant bird call over Loch Lomond temporarily raised hopes of a diver or even a scoter, but turned out to be from a Canada Goose on one of the islands. Best bird of the day was a male Merlin flashing across the road, perching briefly on a fencepost, then dashing away. Other sightings of note included Goosanders on Loch Arklet and both Feral Goat and my first Primrose of the year in the Inversnaid woods [20,223].

Thursday, March 26, 2009

An early morning walk past Bingham's Pond found most birds very quiet with little of the courtship activity seen there recently. Either the recent cooler weather has put back breeding activity or some birds are on early nests.
News from the web is of a wave of Swallows reaching central Scotland - I wonder if the north winds forecast for the weekend will turn them around.
Other news is that the Loch Lomond and Trossachs national park has launched its biodiversity action plan.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Bassenthwaite Ospreys are back on site, and the satellite-tracked, Speyside Ospreys have begun heading north.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The mid-morning drive from Howwood to Greenock turned up plenty of roadside Rooks plus a calling Curlew near Locher Community Woodland.
Below are a few photos from last Friday's walk beside Loch Eck.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Thirty Starlings were in tight formation over Cappielow at teatime. News from the web is of Waxwings still at various sites around Glasgow. Roding Woodcock also in evidence.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Did a lot of river walking today - along stretches of the Cart and the Brock Burn. No sound or sign of either Dipper or Kingfisher. Winter visitors such as Goosander, Little Grebe and Cormorant (as well as Redwing and Fieldfare) also seem to have moved on. Plenty of Mallards, in pairs, were hiding along the banks. One pair contained a leucistic female and another, a leucistic male. A Pied Wagtail was on the bend where the Grey Wagtail pair usually are. Most unusual sighting was a possible fly-over Siskin (other sites around the country have been recording passage). Also of interest was a bee in Pollock.
The webcam at the Loch of the Lowes is showing an Osprey perched on the nest.
The full bird list for the 18 sites visited this (long) weekend was 50, including: Mute Swan (seen at 3 sites), Canada Goose, Teal, Mallard (13), Tufted Duck, Eider, Goldeneye, Goosander (4), Moorhen, Great crested Grebe (2), Grey Heron, Shag, Cormorant (2), Gannet, Buzzard (2), Oystercatcher, Black headed Gull (5), Common Gull, Lesser black backed Gull (6), Herring Gull (3), Feral Pigeon (7), Woodpigeon (8), Collared Dove, Sand Martin, Rock Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail (2), Grey Wagtail (4), Dipper (2), Wren (10), Dunnock (5), Robin (11), Blackbird (10), Mistle Thrush (3), Goldcrest (4), Chiffchaff, Blue Tit (12), Great Tit (10), Long tailed Tit (2), Coal Tit (4), Magpie (8), Jackdaw (6), Carrion Crow (13), Hooded Crow, Rook (3), Starling (5), House Sparrow (8), Chaffinch (12), Greenfinch (6) and Goldfinch (2) [13,291].

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Had a really good walk from the glade to Waterfoot (didn't quite make it to East Kilbride as intended. Highlights along the way were:
Great crested Grebes on Waulkmill Glen and Balgray Reservoirs.
A pair of Dippers nest-building in Waulkmill Glen.
Pairs of Grey Wagtails at several sites.
Three Sand Martins over Waulkmill Glen Reservoir (first of the year).
Two singing Chiffchaffs and flowering Coltsfoot at Ryatt Linn Reservoir (first of the year).
Flowering Butterbur along the Waulkmill Glen road.
A pair of Goldeneye on Balgray Reservoir.
Eight Teal on the pool at Waterside Farm [23,971].

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spent most of the day walking in Cowal. Lock Eck was flat calm with Goosander, Cormorant, Dipper and Grey Wagtail the birding highlights. There was frogspawn in some of the trackside ditches and Chaffinch song all along the route. Managed to reach Bernice (Buzzard plus more Grey Wagtails) before having to turn back. On the ferry back to Gourock, a Gannet swooped close off the bow and a Harbour seal surfaced briefly, then slipped quietly away [17,123].

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A third mild spring day today. A lunchtime walk around the university campus in Hamilton produced plenty of common birds in song (plus my first two (unidentified) butterflies of the year) but no early migrants. Later, the same unidentified warbler as earlier in the week provided an interesting backing to a warm, still evening in the garden.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Another perfect spring day with warm sunshine and little wind. The frogspawn in the garden pond has multiplied to 5 or 6 clumps (someone in Ayrshire has tadpoles already). Meanwhile, on a day for arrivals, summer migrants are creeping in locally with Wheatears, Swallows, Chiffchaffs and Sand Martins at several sites. Signs of breeding include discarded Rook eggshells in D&G and Dippers nest-building in Lothian.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A lovely mild, spring day began with two Mute Swans over the M8 beside the airport, 50 grey geese just before the Erskine turn-off and a Grey Heron parachuting down to Longman Point. At lunchtime, Murdieston Dam was full of Lesser black backed Gulls, and three Rooks were nest-building nearby.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Awoke to a loud warble coming from the Silverglade woods, similar to a Wren's song in pitch and volume, but with a distinct churr in the middle. I heard the same song last spring and summer. It may be an early Blackcap.
The other notable natural connection was at the other end of the day - a single Pheasant in the first Finlaystone meadow.
Migrants are now piling in further south with Pembrokeshire birds reporting singing Chiffchaffs plus a passing Swallow and 20 Sand Martins. Ospreys have been reported from Hampshire and Hertfordshire, and Garganeys from Cambridgeshire (3 sites), Sussex, London and Berkshire. In Scotland, a Wheatear arrived on Mull and two more were reported from Galloway, while the two Sand Martins in Musselburgh yesterday were the earliest ever for Lothian.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Walked home from Pollock today, stopping for a look around Crookston Castle on the way. There was a pigeon's nest on one of the window ledges of the castle containing two small chicks. Also of note were two Grey Wagtails (?a pair) near the Rosshall Bridge. Later, a short walk along the river at dusk turned up 4 Redwings, a calling Moorhen and a Red Fox slinking along the far bank.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Highlights from a long but bracing walk from Kirkintilloch to Milngavie (via Milton of Campsie, Lennoxtown, Strathblane and Mugdock Park) were:
Dippers just north of Kirkintilloch, in the centre of Milton of Campsie, to the east and centre of Strathblane and in the centre of Milngavie.
Butterbur in full flower.
Active Rookeries at various sites.
A nice flooded meadow at Clachan of Campsie with Mallards, 3 Herons and a pair of Oystercatchers.
Greylag Geese at various sites.
Large flocks of Common Gulls and Woodpigeons feeding in fields.
Two pairs of Jackdaws squabbling over a tree nest hole.
Four Canada Geese on Craigend Pond, Mugdock Park [32,800].

Friday, March 13, 2009

Walked past Bingham's Pond first thing. There are now two Mute Swans there (a pair?) plus six domestic ducks. Two Mallards were head-bobbing, and singing birds included Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Wren, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Goldcrest (at least two singing loudly from conifers on Great Western Road) .
Back in Paisley, 8 Rooks were attending 5 complete nests (and one part-built) in a single tree along McFarlane Street. Later, notable birds during a walk through Crookston were 6 Redwings and a Collared Dove (rare lately).

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Drove home from Hamilton via the Avon floodplain today, hoping to see the Great White Egret which has been around Gilmourton all week. No sign of the egret, but enjoyed the fantastic sight (and sound) of 4-500 Pink footed Geese passing low overhead. Later, while driving through East Kilbride, a Grey Heron was flying languidly over the evening traffic.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A lunchtime walk into Paisley town centre found 3 Goosanders (a male and 2 females) on the Cart but little else of any note. A Sandwich Tern in County Down, a Garganey in Tipperary and a Willow Warbler in Falkirk were the highlights of the migrant news on birdguides.
Other news from around the country (and the world) is that Curlews, Oystercatchers and Lapwings are back on inland highland fields (Roy Dennis), the first Black headed Gull is back in the Boat of Garten area (Allan Bantick), and one of the satellite-tracked Ospreys has begun its northward migration.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Post number 1,000

A second consecutive day on the train, but a complete contrast in weather with clear skies and fantasic views to the hills around the head of Loch Lomond. Lots of common birds singing with Wren, Dunnock, Greenfinch, Robin and Blackbird all heard on the walk to the station. This evening, a Pied Wagtail was flycatching outside Greenock West.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Travelling by train today due to car trouble. Little to see on the journey, although every station seemed to have its own pair of Magpies, and there were plenty of House Sparrows at Langbank.
News from the web is that a Yellow Wagtail has reached London and Whooper Swans from Lancashire are heading back to Iceland..

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Walked home from Netherauldhouse via Pollock Park this lunchtime. Two Grey Wagtails were along the river at the park entrance and the usual Nuthatch was on the feeders outside the visitor centre. Later, as the weather deteriorated into sleet and snow, 45 Waxwings were in trees next to Linthaugh Road.
The final bird total for the weekend was 48 - not spectacular, but all within the Greater Glasgow boundary, in pretty terrible weather, and including some quite local or difficult-to-connect-with species such as Dipper, Waxwing and Nuthatch. The full list is as follows: Mute Swan (seen at 4 of the 10 sites visited), Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose (domestic), Gadwall, Teal, Mallard (6), Mallard (domestic) (2), Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted Duck (3), Scaup, Goldeneye (2), Goosander (4), Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Moorhen (2), Coot (3), Black-headed Gull (6), Common Gull (4), Lesser Black-backed Gull (2), Herring Gull, Feral Pigeon (2), Woodpigeon (4), Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Waxwing, Wren, Dipper, Robin , Blackbird (5), Song Thrush, Redwing, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit (2), Coal Tit, Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (2), Nuthatch, Magpie (7), Jackdaw (4), Carrion Crow (6), Rook (2), Chaffinch, Greenfinch (3), Goldfinch (3) and Reed Bunting. [Notable absentees were Starling, House Sparrow, Collared Dove and Mistle Thrush].

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Highlights of a drizzly day in Glasgow were the following:
A flock of Reed Buntings and a 1st winter Scaup in Hogganfield Park.
A Dipper on the Auldhouse Burn in Rouken Glen Park.
A flock of Redwings and a legion of Moorhens in Maxwell Park.
Later, driving home from Drymen, a probable Tawny Owl flew acrooss the road near Croftamie.
There are now 4-5 clumps of frogspawn in the silverglade pond.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Rozelle, today, held a single Goosander among the Mallards. Driving back up the M77, two Roe Deer were grazing in a roadside field. Later, two Carrion Crows were noisily escorting a Buzzard over the glade.
Checked the pond tonight and found a large clump of frogspawn.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Walked around Murdieston Park at lunchtime. Two new Mute Swans have appeared, so there are now pairs on each of the two dams. Three Goldeneye were still on the main dam, and an adult Mediterranean Gull with an almost-full hood was among the Black headed Gulls.
News from the web is that a Sand Martin was seen in Strathclyde Country Park yesterday. Another was in Nottinghamshire today, and an Osprey was seen in Glamorgan.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

With Sand Martins today in Dorset, Devon and Pembrokeshire, it shouldn't be long until they reach Scotland.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Another connection-free day. The snow arrived mid evening and is still falling heavily.
News from the web is of a Common Sandpiper in Pembrokeshire, a Little ringed Plover in South Yorkshire and a Sand Martin in Devon.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Web connections only today due to workload. Otters turning up along the urban Ayrshire coast (Ayr and Troon), Tawny owls calling competitively in Lothian, Sand Martins in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, a Wheatear in London and an Osprey in Hampshire. Wonder what they will make of the 35cm of snow forecast for tomorrow.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Managed two walks today (in spite of the showers), along the Levern, then along the Cart as far as Hawkhead. Not much to report (still no Kingfishers), but a male and female Mallard on Rosshall Park pond were unusual. Lots of birds were along the stretch between Leverndale and Hawkhead, including good-sized flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares. The local Wrens seem to have started singing now (joining last week's Chaffinches), and a Great spotted Woodpecker drumming in Bull Wood was my first of the year. Finally, there was one Lesser Celendine flower out in the hospital grounds.
Not a bad weekend for bird sightings overall, with 39 species seen without really trying. The full list is as follows: Mute Swan (2 out of 18 lists), Mallard (13), Mallard (domestic) (2), Goldeneye, Goosander (3), Little Grebe (2), Grey Heron, Buzzard, Moorhen (3), Oystercatcher, Black-headed Gull (2), Common Gull (2), Lesser black backed Gull, Woodpigeon (8), Feral Pigeon (6), Pied/White Wagtail (2), Great spotted Woodpecker, Dipper (2), Wren (3), Dunnock (2), Robin (10), Blackbird (5), Fieldfare, Song Thrush (2), Redwing, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit (5), Blue Tit (7), Coal Tit, Great Tit (3), Jackdaw (8), Magpie (5), Rook (4), Carrion Crow (7), Starling (3), House Sparrow (7), Chaffinch (6), Goldfinch (2) and Greenfinch (3).