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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.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

More glorious sunshine in WCS. Spent the day in Troon where the highlights were three singing Chiffchaffs and a mewing Buzzard in Fullarton Woods, and 6 screaming Swifts over the town centre. Earlier, a Buzzard and Kestrel were engaged in a dogfight over the M77 just south of Newton Mearns, and two Jackdaws harried yet another Buzzard on the outskirts of Barassie.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Another glorious, sunny day in WCS. Good news to see two House Martins flying under the eaves of a house in Cardonald Gardens. Later, at least two Swifts were over Inchinnan Road in Renfrew town centre.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A heatwave in west central Scotland saw hordes of people out enjoying the sun. However the Mute Swans at Murdieston were getting on with incubating and the neighbouring Coots were feeding their hungry brood of two.

Coots attending two young, Murdieston Park, Greenock.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

An evening drive down the Ayrshire coast produced:
House Martins visiting nests under the eaves of a house in Beith Road, Dalry.
Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler all audible from the car park of "The Rowan Tree" just north of Ardrossan.
Courting Greater black backed Gulls, and a Gannet flying offshore just south of Seamill.
Mill pond conditions on all the lochs and resrvoirs along the Largs-Lochwinnoch road.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Another mixed day, and a busy one as well. However it was nice to see two Swifts flying over the motorway at Bishopton and a Song Thrush collecting worms from the back "lawn".

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A blank day for natural connections due to pressures of work. However news from the web is that Mute Swan cygnets have hatched in central Scotland. Must check the Murdieston Park pairs...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Once again, working the two ends of the day meant a couple of hours off in the afternoon. Used the time to walk from Balgray Reservoir to the glade. Highlights along the way included three Stock Doves feeding in fields to the north west of Waulkmill Glen Reservoir, Treecreeper, Great spotted Woodpecker and at least 4 Chiffchaffs in Waulkmill Glen, Wood Avens, Valerian and naturalised London's Pride in flower, a fledged brood of Great Tits, two Grey Herons on the burn at Pollock Shopping Centre and begging juvenile Starlings on just about every rooftop in Pollock. Altogether 40 species were recorded today: Mallard, Great crested Grebe, Coot, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Lesser black backed Gull, Herring Gull, Black headed Gull, Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, Collared Dove, Great spotted Woodpecker, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Treecreeper, Dunnock, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Reed Bunting. New birds for the "weekend" were the aforementioned Stock Dove, Treecreeper and Great spotted Woodpecker plus Coot, Cormorant and Great crested Grebe on the reservoirs, giving a final total of 60 [Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Greylag Goose, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Wigeon, Great crested Grebe, Fulmar, Pheasant, Peregrine, Buzzard, Coot, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Black headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser black backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Stock Dove, Feral Pigeon, Swift, Skylark, Sand Martin, Swallow, Great spotted Woodpecker, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Treecreeper, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long tailed Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Rook, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Linnet and Reed Bunting].

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Spent two hours this afternoon on a family walk around the west and south banks of Castle Semple Loch. Summer migrants seemed to be everywhere with Sedge Warbler, Swift and Willow Warbler particularly evident. However the most notable sighting concerned a Fulmar flying SW over the gap between Castle Semple Loch and Barr Loch.
The bird list for the afternoon was: Mute Swan, Mallard, Fulmar, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser black backed Gull, Swift, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Robin, Song Thrush, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw and Chaffinch (with Whitethroat and Rook on the way home), taking the weekend total to 54 species.

'Bottle brush' plants beside Castle Semple Loch.

The final natural connection of the day wasn't a sight at all. Driving down Crookston Road at 10:30pm, with the window down, the smell of Wild Garlic wafting up from the woods along the Cart was quite intoxicating.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A great afternoon spent birdwatching and walking around the Glennifer, Brownside and Fereneze Braes. Highlights were singing Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Willow Warbler (many of the latter), lots of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits on territories, a Brown Hare in a fold in the hills and a high-speed Peregrine stooping at a hapless Black headed Gull. Total bird count for the day was a modest 39 (the constant high winds didn't help), including: Canada Goose, Mallard, Peregrine, Buzzard, Grey Heron, Black headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser black backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Feral Pigeon, Swift, Skylark, Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Long tailed Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Linnet and Reed Bunting. "Weekend" total currently stands at 47.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Working both ends of the day freed up the afternoon for a walk around Mugdock Park. Highlights of a sunny, blustery walk were two singing Garden Warblers (one seen) near the Visitor Centre (with others elsewhere), nearly twenty singing Willow Warblers (including one on a telephone wire), a male Wigeon on the loch, Rabbits around Craigend Castle, flowering Marsh Marigold and Bogbean in all the wet places, and the walls of the castle covered in purple flowers (below). The bird total for the park was 21 including: Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Wigeon, Pheasant, Lesser black backed Gull, Swallow, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Long tailed Tit, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and Chaffinch.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Had an early morning meeting at Gartnavel Hospital so walked in via Bingham's Pond. A female Mallard had a single, half-grown young but most other birds were sitting tight (apart from the Tufted Ducks which seem not to be attempting to breed). Best sight of the day was the seven Swifts which were screaming noisily high over the hospital.
In the evening, a walk around Moulin didn't produce any House Martins (too cold?), but the usual Grey Heron was waiting patiently at the weir.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

First natural connection of the day was the Finlaystone Buzzard on a tree adjacent to yeterday's perch. A lunchtime walk around the reservoirs in Murdieston Park found the two pairs of Mute Swans still sitting tightly on their nests. As I passed the nest on the smaller dam, the female stood up to reveal 7 big, olive-coloured eggs which she proceeded to turn. Nearby, a Coot pair had at least two hatched young, but three other pairs were still at the nest-building stage.
Elesewhere, a Pied Wagtail was acting suspiciously beside the boardwalk and House Sparrow, Starling and Jackdaw were all carrying food for nestlings.
No sign of the Cardonald Gardens House Martins yet - or at least so I thought, until one of the kids reported seeing 2 over the houses there this afternoon.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The day started with a dawn chorus in the glade. Highlight was what I assume to be a Garden Warbler - wish I could be sure. Later, a Buzzard on top of a sapling at Finlaystone brightened up the drive to work.
The drive home was notable for another dead Roe Deer on the M8, this time near the Erskine off-ramps. Later again, a Lesser black back and three Carrion Crows were duelling over the factories at Braehead.
News from the web is that the Lowes Ospreys have hatched two chicks.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Today was spent at home, recuperating from a virus. Only natural connections were the sounds of birdsong (including Whitethroat) wafting through the bedroom window.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A glorious day (at least parts of it were) in WCS. However the only natural connection on offer during a visit to friends in the Kings Park area was a Blue Tit singing loudly from the back garden.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Garden visitors this morning included the usual pair of Collared Doves and a very fat Feral Pigeon. Over the fence, the first local Whitethroat of the year was scratching out his song.
Later in the day, three Swifts were screaming over Drymen. Then, walking home along the Cart, two Swallows were working the treetops across the river from the farmhouse.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Occasional glimpses of a disappearing white rump suggest that the Bullfinch pair are settling close to the garden. Also in the glade, four fat Woodpieons were feeding in front of the houses.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Three Buzzards were soaring over the Bishopton bend at 7 am. Late afternoon, two Mistle Thrushes were in Deanpark. Later still, walking back from an evening meeting at Rosshall, a Grey Heron was lurking beside the weir.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A sunny, windy day in WCS. No time for natural connections, but a Buzzard wheeling over the motorway at Bishopton first thing was a nice diversion.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An interesting day of natural connections, helped considerably by sunny skies.
Travelling to a meeting in Glasgow at lunchtime, a Moorhen and 2 newly-hatched chicks were on Festival Park Pond. Nearby two Mute Swans were on the Clyde.
This evening, a walk around Pollock Park produced the unusual sight of two Mute Swans on the Cart (I can't remember ever having seen the species anywhere on the river east of Paisley town centre). Two singing Chiffchaffs were also notable.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A red letter day today with a garden first - a pair of Bullfinches bathing in the silverglade pond at tea time. Typical of this species, the two arrived with little fuss and left in the same way. Only their striking white rumps drew my attention to them.
The pond itself, although not much more than a puddle, is looking quite spectacular these days with flowering Bogbean and Marsh Marigold, and the Water Lilly starting to spread. Thankfully, plenty of tadpoles have escaped the attentions of the Blackbirds and Magpies.
The only other visitors of note were the increasingly regular pair of Collared Doves. After they finished hoovering up the spilt seed under the feeders, they proceeded to 'bill and coo' noisily on the aerial of the house opposite.
Earlier today, checked out the birds on Murdieston Dam in Greenock. There are now 6 Mute Swans present, with two pairs apparently incubating. At least one pair of Coots appear to have eggs with a second pair still building. Finally the brood of 9 Mallard ducklings on the smaller dam has shrunk to just 3. Thankfully they are now just about too big to be easily swallowed by a Lesser black back.
Speaking of Mallard ducklings, another three were with two adults on the Cart yesterday. A Magpie was in close pursuit along the bank, eyeing them beadily.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Had quite a few notable natural connections today. First thing, a Blackcap was dominating the Silverglade dawn chorus (the Willow Warbler(s) and Chiffchaff have either moved on or settled down to breed) and two Collared Doves were watching from the shed roof as a Woodpigeon and three Feral pigeons ransacked the bird feeders. At Netherauldhouse, three Swifts were feeding (and screaming) high above the traffic - my first of the year.
Two walks along the Cart in the afternoon turned up all the usual suspects (especially the local Starlings - in full chick-feeding frenzy) but some unusual records were a Sedge Warbler singing along the Moulin Stretch (my first for the site), a Whitethroat just over the square boundary at Leverndale, and a Grey Wagtail under the Howford Bridge.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Male Whitethroat

Entrance to Locherwood Community Woodland

Craig Minnan (R) and Wndy Hill (L)

Ladymuir Reservoir

Bridge at Locherwood

Determined to beat the rain today, so headed for Locherwood Community Woodland as soon as the rain started to ease. Spent the next four hours walking to the edge of Muirshiel Park, then round Ladymuir Reservoir and back to the car. Highlights included 4 calling Cuckoos (with two seen flying - and being mobbed by Meadow Pipits), two Hooded Crows and a pair of Stonechats feeding young.
The site itself is an ideal spot for birds, but the paths are awful and there is a lot of forestry activity in the area. Perhaps these were the reasons why only 4 other people were encountered all afternoon.
Birds seen at Locherwood:
Mallard, Buzzard, Little Grebe, Pheasant, Lapwing, Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Common Gull, Black headed Gull, Lesser black backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Cuckoo, Skylark, Swallow, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Stonechat, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Great Tit, Goldcrest, Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Grasshopper Warbler, Carrion Crow, Hooded Crow, Raven, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Siskin, Reed Bunting.
Birds seen on the journey:
Grey Heron, Kestrel, Feral Pigeon, Blue Tit, Jackdaw, Magpie, Rook, Starling, House Sparrow and Yellowhammer [16,725 and counting).

Friday, May 08, 2009

Another horrible, rainy day in WCS. Found out today that Glasgow gets, on average, 400 hours less sunshine per year than London. Explains a lot...
Natural highlights were surprisingly numerous with a pair of Shelducks circling over the A8 at Langbank, three Woodpigeons, a Grey Squirrel, a Song Thrush and a pair of Dunnocks in the garden (one carrying food), and tonight, a big bat patrolling the backs of houses at Stanely and a vole caught in the headlights at the glade.
Also notable was a gigantic high tide along the Clyde early afternoon.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Highlight of another wet and windy day was the sight of three Roe Deer running across a field beside the motorway first thing. Speaking of Roe Deer, the dead one is still lying in the central reservation near the airport where it was dumped a fortnight ago. Not much dignity for such a graceful animal.
Weather forecast for the weekend is for less rain (whoo-hoo!). Another reason to be cheerful below...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Another busy work day so no natural connections. However news from the web is of a Corncrake calling from the area of Locherwood Community Woodland (clydebirds). This record comes less than a week after 3 seperate records in the Largs / Hunterston area.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Dear, dear. Summer migrants crowding in. Spring passage in full flow. But no natural connections due to having to do paperwork all evening until after 12. Even the garden birds have deserted me (apart from a very unwelcome Magpie). Bah!!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Today's bank holiday was wet AND earmarked for shopping, so no chance of natural connections (although a quick scan of the Kelvin from the bridge beside the Kelvin Hall produced a distant orange blob which might have been a Kingfisher). Back home, the female of the pair of Mallards which have been hanging around the glade was scrounging scraps at the front door.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A dusk walk along the Cart produced numerous bats (the most I've ever seen) and 3 Red Foxes. The bats are no doubt enjoying the clouds of insects which have been a feature of the week. Earlier in the day, an errand to a Paisley housing estate was brightened up by a Whitethroat scratching from some brambles.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

A sunny day spent along the Fife Coastal Path between Elie and Anstruther. Highlights included a rather lost-looking Whimbrel, cliff nesting Fulmars and Sand Martins, a beach-hunting Kestrel, plenty of Rabbits, loads of butterflies (including a Green-viened White) and lots of plants in flower including Primrose, Cowslip, Thrift, Wallflower, Red Campion, Skurvey Grass, Valerian and Alexanders.

The species count for the day was 52, including Mute Swan, Shelduck, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Eider, Little Grebe, Great crested Grebe, Fulmar, Cormorant, Shag, Pheasant, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Kestrel, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Whimbrel, Curlew, Redshank, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Sandwich Tern, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Skylark, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Jackdaw, Rook, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting [21,696].

Friday, May 01, 2009

The local Willow Warblers are still about and still singing. No sound, yet, of the Whitethroats which have summered over recent years, and no sign of the local nesting House Martins.