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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.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Time to head off on the annual family holiday. Posts will be a lot less frequent from now on, and the natural connections probably much fewer....


Thursday, July 30, 2009

A flock of 40 Starlings over Cappielow this evening was an early sign that summer is cracking on. Driving home from work, it felt like it was one of those Manx Shearwater evenings (I didn't have time to check but news is that large numbers have entered the Clyde) with bright light and the sun quite low in the west.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A small raptor past the fifth floor window of the university this morning might have been a Kestrel.
This evening, managed a short walk along the Cart immediately after work. A noisy group of 20-30 small birds (several willowchiffs and Long tailed Tits were the only ones I could see clearly) were making their way through the Willows along the Moulin stretch.
A short time later, four Swifts were over PRW at the boundary and one more was over Hatton Gardens with a single House Martin.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A dreary day in WCS today. Birding highlight was a Herring Gull repeatedly dive-bombing a Lesser black backed Gull on the flat roof opposite work. Last year, gulls nested up there, so perhaps the Herring Gull had a chick nearby.
Heading home, a Grey Heron was parachuting low over the Clyde at Langbank.


Monday, July 27, 2009

An autumnal feel again today, with Lapwings massing along the Clyde. A single hirundine braved the wind and rain over the motorway near the airport, while a gang of Starlings (impossible to find during Sunday's TTV) were along the main street through Cardonald.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Highlights of today's Timed Tetrad Visit were the following:
Plenty of Rooks at various sites, including an adult with a young one near Tarfside Oval.
An Oystercatcher flying past the high flats there.
A small population of Goldcrests in Cardonald Cemetery.
A Cormorant in the usual tree beside the Cart.
Singing Whitethroat and Blackcap.
Connections with some tricky species including Herring Gull, Mistle Thrush, Collared Dove and Swallow.
Lowlights were NO sightings of some common birds including Starling, Great Tit and Chaffinch.
The highlight of an afternoon trip to Edinburgh was a female Sparrowhawk which exploded out of a hedge into a busy junction on Peffermill Road.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

An early morning walk to Crookston produced a Cormorant high over Bonnyholm (skipping out the Rosshall bend of the river) and an abberant Jackdaw with white feathers in its wings nearby.
This afternoon, walked around a busy Mugdock Park. Most unusual sighting was actually right at the end of the walk in Milngavie town centre - a Moorhen 10 metres up a tree near the public library. Nearby a young Carrion Crow also had white wing patches.
This evening, a single Swift was scything over Crookston.

Friday, July 24, 2009

It has been more than a week since I have seen any sign of House Martins in Cardonald. I wonder if they have bred successfully, failed and deserted, or are just keeping out of sight.
House Martins are notable for choosing man-made as well as natural sites. They nest on sea cliffs in East Lothian and Wigtonshire, but also on a range of structures including urban tenements and isolated highland reservoir buildings.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

No natural connections today - far too busy at work. News from the web is in short supply too. Wader passage continues to hot up but nil else of note. News from the tv is that Herring Gulls are to receive "special protection" due to their amber status. I do reckon they are rarer in Inverclyde than in previous years. My guess is that they are losing out in competition with the Lesser black backs which seem to be everywhere.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A lunchtime walk around Murdieston dams produced plenty of Tufted Ducks and Mallards but only 2 Mallard duckings and no Tufties (in contrast to Bingham's Pond where John Malloy has recorded eight broods totalling at least 42 duckings). The Mute Swan pair have three well grown cygnets and seem to have driven off the other two adults. Otherwise, the only sighting of note was of four juvenile Lesser black backs (Bah!).
On the way home, a Buzzard was over farmland near Inchinnan.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

First bird of the day was a Grey Heron flapping lazily over Tesco's Car Park in Port Glasgow. Last was a Song Thrush singing in the drizzle all evening. In between was a disappointing day with heavy rain and virtually no natural connections.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A decidedly autumnal feel to the weather today. In spite of the sunshine, there was a distinct cooling of the temperature. Having said that, news from the web is of more Quail in song and Osprey chicks still in the nest at Loch Garten (although the Lowes birds have fledged), so summer can't be over yet.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Spent a blustery afternoon in Edinburgh, including an enjoyable walk around a busy King's Park. Birding highlights included dozens of House Martins hawking over the south end of Hunter's Bog and 2 Fulmars on the cliffs at Holyrood.
Species added to the weekend birdlist were Greylag Goose, Coot, Fulmar, Feral Pigeon and Jackdaw, making a grand total of 56 (but missing lots of common birds including Blue Tit, Long tailed Tit, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Buzzard, Cormorant, Grey Wagtail, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Meadow Pipit, Skylark and Robin (!), and regular species such as Sand Martin, Great spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Yellowhammer, Kingfisher and Kestrel). With some more time and a little more effort, 75 would have been quite achievable.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Had a good day of natural connections today. The morning was spent walking around Ardmore Point. Most notable sightings there were of at least 4 Common Sandpipers along the shore, 2 Whimbrel in South Bay, a Black Guillemot off the west coast and a male Long tailed Duck off the south coast (see picture below). A Common Seal was lazing on a rock, quite oblivious to the walkers nearby (Second picture below).



Stopped off for a quick scout of the dams above Helensburgh early afternoon. Best sightings there were Little Grebe feeding young, 9 Canada Geese and a mixed flock of Siskins and Redpolls.

Spent the afternoon in Darnley Glen. Highlights there were family parties of Great crested Grebe, Dipper, Great Tit, Chaffinch and Swallow. Day total was 51 species: Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Eider, Long tailed Duck, Red breasted Merganser, Great crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Pheasant, Gannet, Shag, Grey Heron, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper, Curlew, Black headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser black backed Gull, Herring Gull, Great black backed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Black Guillemot, Collared Dove, Woodpigeon, Swallow, House Martin, Pied Wagtail, Swift, Dipper, Wren, Dunnock, Blackbird, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Rook, Starling, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Redpoll, Siskin, Linnet and Reed Bunting.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A busy day, so few natural connections. However 3 House Martins were over Kilpirnie Road this evening.
News from the web is of Knot, Black tailed Godwit and Whimbrel on passage through the Clyde.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Good to see two House Martins wheeling around Number 20 this morning. They were showing a lot of interest in the area under the apex of the roof - hopefully there is a nest of young hidden up there.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A mixture of sunshine and showers today. An afternoon walk along the Kelvin turned up nothing exceptional except an adult Woodpigeon "dribble-feeding" two well-grown squabs.
News from the web is of singing Quail in Skye, Mull, Bute, Ayrshire, Fife and Lothian.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Some much needed rain landed on the gardens of west central Scotland again today (after the downpours on Saturday night). Unfortunately the weather forecast for the next week is more of the same.
No natural connections today, apart from a Wren pottering about the "bus shelter". News from the web is unremarkable too - the summer doldrums appear to have descended!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A night of heavy rain was folowed by a fairly passable day. This evening, a Ladybird sp. appeared in the house and was duly liberated in the back garden.

Saturday, July 11, 2009




An early start today found me exploring the same area as last weekend, but this time during the hour around sunrise. Highlights were a reeling Grasshopper Warbler and a family of Mute Swans at Gartland Bridge, a singing Yellowhammer slightly west of there, family parties of Rooks "cawing" angrily from the treetops and the ethereal image of Kenmure Temple floating above the temperature inversion along the Black Cart. Going earlier in the day did allow me to pick up a few difficult-to-detect species but I have to conclude that, judging from the complement of species seen, the area is well short of being optimal for farmland birds.
On the way home, stopped at a number of sites, resulting in some good records of Whitethroat and Yellowhammer, plus a family party of Linnets (along Reilly Road, south west of Bishopton). Other sightings included a Roe Deer, three Brown Hares and numerous Rabbits (including several black ones at Formakin), plus Collared Dove and three Swifts over Ranfurly.
In the afternoon, visited Rouken Glen Park. The place was thronged with visitors but I still managed to pick up a Dipper along the burn (and a Common Blue Damselfly over the pond).
This evening, a single House Martin was again over Cardonald Gardens, this time briefly visiting the apex of the roof of the usual house.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Yet another lovely day here in west central Scotland. The day got off to a great start with a Buzzard low over the motorway at the first Bishopton flyover.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Today started as yesterday, with a single House Martin loop-the-looping over Cardonald Gardens. What followed was another warm, sunny day. This evening, the pond weed had pushed up spikes of pink flowers to complement the white water lillies which came out last week. The Honeysuckle is also ready to flower.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

While tidying the garden this evening, a Toad managed to get gathered up into the bin. Luckily he wriggled enough to get noticed and he was soon on his way through the flowerbeds to the woodpile.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The first sighting of the day was a House Martin over Cardonald Gardens, the first there (despite daily checks) for over a week. A brief trip over to Clydebank this afternoon was cheered up by a pair of Mute Swans with a single Cygnet plus singing Chiffchaff and Blackcap. The Chiffchaff was singing its normal song, but between phrases, there was a quieter, rasping "chiff-chaff" which I imagined might be coming from an immature "learning the ropes". I wonder......
Back home, two Yellowhammers were singing around Arkleston Farm (after a number of visits recently had drawn blanks) with a Skylark in good fettle behind the graveyard.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Harper Collins have released the preliminary cover art for the latest new naturalist (Dartmoor).
In a day of rushing about, a Yellowhammer singing near Howwood was a welcome surprise. Back home, the usual Blackcap kept up its singing all evening. Other news, this time from the web, is that the first Manx Shearwaters have been seen heading into the Clyde.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A walk from Pollock back home this morning was notable only for a couple of House Martins. A Blackcap sang just over the fence all day long. This evening, driving back from Erskine, a Buzzard was low over the road near the bus depot and a Chiffchaff was singing nearby.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

A busy day of walks. This morning, checked out the farmland between Howwood and Kilbarchan. Birding highlights included Mute Swan, Shelduck, Mallard, Coot and Moorhen all with young, singing Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat, a singing Song Thrush mimicking Buzzard and Curlew, two Ravens calling loudly from electricity pylons, nesting House Martins and close views of Bullfinch and Buzzard. Driving home, a Great crested Grebe and 12 Tufted Duck were at Rowbank Cottage.
This afternoon, walked to Hawkhead Woodland and back, adding Kingfisher, Great spotted Woodpecker and Chiffchaff to the day list.

Friday, July 03, 2009

The warm weather continued unabated but was accompanied by thunder, lightening and heavy downpours. Back home, a Blackcap was singing loudly over the fence.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Managed to squeeze in a walk along the Cart this evening. Most notable records were two Blackcaps and a Chiffchaff singing in exactly the same spots they occupied a month ago. Earlier, a drive through Bishopton turned up a singing Yellowhammer and a pair of Collared Doves.
Some really intersting records on the internet include a Greenshank in Robroyston Park, a brood of Shelducks near the Clockoderick Stone, a Nuthatch near Neilston (all these courtesy of clydebirds) and Icterine Warblers nesting in Sutherland (Bob Swann, BTO Scottish Atlas Co-ordinator).

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A tale of two ponds today - Bingham's first thing, then Murdieston later. Notable sightings on the former were one brood of Mallard ducklings (3) and a single Moorhen chick. At Murdieston, the Mute Swan pair (with only 3 cygnets left) have moved to the top dam, and were harrassing the resident pair there (who seem to have failed in their breeding attempt). A Pied Wagtail was still acting furtively near the boardwalk and a Coot was incubating while another pair were nest building. Best sighting was of 6 Swifts screaming around the tenements down Murdieston Street.