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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.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The only natural connection of a wet and windy Monday was a single Swallow still over the brackish ponds at Port Glasgow.
News from the web is of the first Brent Geese back at (or passing through) Maidens, Ayrshire amd Manx Shearwaters close in off Troon marina (ayrshirebirding).

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Plenty of birds were on Balgray Reservoir this afternoon including Tufted Ducks, Mallards, a family of Great crested Grebes (the chicks squealing to be fed) and a single Wigeon. Thirty Swallows were over fields next to the reservoir and young Linnets and Goldfinches were in the hedges. An older brood of Great crested Grebes (3-4, now almost indistinguishable from winter adults) was on Ryatt Linn Reservoir and twenty or more Starlings were chattering in a tree behind Silverburn shopping centre.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A sunny, blustery day in Edinburgh. Scooted down to Gullane for a walk along the beach. Birds were thin on the ground, but a few Gannets were battling up and down offshore.

Friday, August 28th, 2009

A quick stop at Erskine today was notable for lots of Redshank, a few Oysercatcher, Lapwings and Cormorants, and a one-legged Dunlin.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

An early morning meeting in the west end meant a walk past Bingham's Pond. Two Goldfinches were flitting about the treetops, but the Swifts of earlier in the summer are now just a memory.
Later, a single Swallow was skimming over the pools at Port Glasgow.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Highest tide I have ever seen down the Clyde this evening. Once again there were Many Mute Swans along the shore between Langbank and Longhaugh.
In Drymen today, there were a dozen or so House Martins feeding over the village. Earlier, a Swallow was over the road just east of Balloch.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Today's steppage was 2721 and yesterdays 3631. I hate marking!! Only natural connection of the day was a handful of Starlings heading over the glade (very scarce here) at 7am.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A drier day in WCS started damply enough with a big Common Toad lurking under the car. A high tide at home time brought lots of Mute Swans close inshore between Langbank and Longhaugh. News from the web is of a flock of Fieldfares on Arran (surely Mistle Thrushes) and Manx Shearwaters coming into the Clyde (meeting the terns heading out). Apparently, an Arctic Skua has been harassing the travellers off Greenock esplanade.
Most exciting news however has been of a Common Scoter seen on Loch Lomond - I assumed they had deserted the site a few years back.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The expected deluge hit west central Scotland overnight and continued on-and-off all day. However by 5pm, it started to look quite promising. Decided to do the Rosshall / Hawkhead / Dykebar / Crookston circuit and managed to stay dry all the way round. Two Grey Herons were along the river, the second a "Frank-ing" immature. The river itself was well swollen after recent rain and the local Mallards were sensibly hauled up on the banks. The Yew trees around Rosshall Park are showing a bumper crop of berries. Further along, 20 House Martins (and a few Swallows) were over fields around Scott's Road Farm and a similar number of Swallows (with a few House Martins) were over the horse and cattle fields at Dykebar. Also there were thirty or more Goldfinches feeding on Thistle heads.
More Swallows were at Hawkhead Woodland, together with a Common Buzzard and a Great spotted Woodpecker. As dusk fell, parties of Jackdaws were on the wing above Crookston Road.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A House Martin was twittering over Oldhall first thing today. Later, a walk round Arthur's Seat was remarkable for Canada Geese back at Dunsapie Loch and a flock of 30 unidentified finches at the north end of Hunter's Bog. The few Fulmars present earlier in the year beside the Gutted Haddie appear to have left their ledges.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Took a walk along the river after work. The Policeman's Helmet is still head-height and blocking most views of the river. However it was notable that no birds at all were seen along the entire walk. The summer doldrums are here right enough.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A lunchtime circuit of Cardwell Bay revealed little of any interest apart from a fishing immature Shag and a collection of Herring Gulls of various ages. On the way home, a Swallow was a sorry sight dodging the rain along East Hamilton Street and several parties of Starlings were further along the A8.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A substantial depression has settled over the West of Scotland (nothing new there then) with heavy rain and temperatures (17C) 13 degrees lower than in London (30C). Undeterred, did a quick circuit of the Murdieston Dams over lunchtime. The Mute Swan pair still have three young. The Tufted Ducks are moulting into eclipse plumage - no breeding seems to have taken place, in contrast to Dawsholm and Bingham's Ponds in Glasgow. There were plenty of juvenile gulls on the water, plus a few adults including two Great black backs. However most notable sighting was of four young Carrion Crows grappling (in twos) on the ground, watched by 20 Jackdaws and two Magpies on wires overhead.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

News from the web is of continued wader passage through south west Scotland. The unsettled weather of late has also deposited a few skuas and other pellagics off south west coasts.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Walked from Paisley to the glade today, but had to stick to the main road so not many natural connections on offer. Best was a Peacock butterfly feeding in a garden on the corner of Latimer Gardens and Crookston Avenue.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Back home to 100% cloud cover and light rain. Oh well.. here are some photos of natural connections from the past two weeks.

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

The drive to Sanford was notable for at least 4 Ospreys on lamposts on the causeway over Lake Jessup.

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Another blisteringly hot day spent at Universal Studios. The only birds on show were some cheeky House Sparrows entering shops for crumbs and a biscuit-coloured juvenile Cormorant on a pontoon. Plenty of stripey lizards, plus one black one with a blue tongue.

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Today was spent at a sunny Aquatica water park. There were absolutely no natural connections, probably due to all the Chlorine being sprayed about. However a Great white Egret was low over the motorway at home time.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Another sunny day with temperatures around 95 degrees. Disney's Animal Kingdom attracted a fair amount of wildlife including the ubiquitous yellow butterflies plus Grackles and Great White Egrets. Checked the bird books and found that Sunday's small heron was a Green Heron.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Disney MGM, Yellow Butterflies, Ground Doves, a single Collared Dove and beautiful adult Grackles in the car park.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Today's trip to Epcot was fairly limited in terms of natural connections (I suspect the Disney people spray the waterways to keep the mossies down), but all the usual suspects (Mallard, Wood Ibis, Cormorant and Grackle) were there, the Mallards with ducklings of various sizes (17,487).

Sunday August 09, 2009

A morning drive to Lakeland City was notable for more Turkey Vultures and egrets, plus several large nests on roadside pylons. After church in Lakeland, visited two of the city parks (in temperatures approaching 100 degrees). Best birds were Mute Swan, Black Swan, Domestic Greylag Goose, Mallard, Muscovy Duck, Farmyard Duck, possible Ring necked Duck, Carolina Wood Duck, Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Wood Ibis, Wood Stork, Cormorant, a dark-coloured Squacco-type heron and the smae black hooded gulls as yesterday. Also notable was a dinner-plate sized Red eared Terrapin (6,533).

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Spent most of the afternoon on the Atlantic Coast between Melbourne each and Sebastian Inlet State Park. Best birds were Brown Pelicans, black hooded Gulls, a large tern, Sanderlings and a single Turnstone. However best sightings of the day were of at least 5 tracks of nesting turtles in the sand at Sebastian (10,990).

Friday, August 07, 2009

A lazy day today, but an afternoon trip to Cagan Crossings Library turned up a stubby, dark blue spider with a white "tippex" face on its abdomen and a lizard displaying a pink throat flap. On the way back along the road, a Mockingbird was on the wires (9142).

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Today's trip to Disney's Magic Kingdom held quite a few natural connections. Birdlife was more-or-less the same as at the other parks: Grackles and House Sparrows in the car parks and Mallards, Wood Ibises (see photo), Little Egrets, Great white Herons and Cormorants on the water bodies. One of the Mallards had a tiny duckling in tow. Other wildlife included a large yellow butterfly which repeatedly flapped over the Splash Mountain water chute. The other natural connection of the past few days hasn't been a pleasant one - getting badly bitten by mosquitos.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Today started with a trip to Lake Louisa State Park, a 4,500 acre area of upland forest, scrup and lake. Walked down to the shore of Lake Louisa, then to Dixie Lake and finally to Hammond Lake (see photos). In between, followed one of the trails through the forest. Most wildlife was sensibly hiding from the blistering heat. However two lizards were scuttling across dry leaves and a Red headed Woodpecker wascalling from a Cypress. Other highlights were enormous spiders and some spectacular butterflies including one with yellow and black stripes and one with club-shaped appendages behind its wings.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

First natural connections of the day were two overnight intruders into the pool enclosure: a frog (duly rescued) and a lizard (left to its own devices). Much of the day was spent at Sea World where the highlight was the Killer Whale demonstration (interrupted by a thieving Great White Heron). Other wild or semi-wild birds on show were Ruddy Duck, Canvasback, Mallard, Wood Stork, Wood Ibis, Little Egret and Cormorant. Back at Westbury, two Cranes flew along the power lines at dusk.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Today's trip was to Universal's Islands of Adventure. Natural connections were in short supply. However two Great white Egrets were on the pool just outside the park entrance. An evening walk along Minute Maid Ramp turned up several small doves perched on roadside wires.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Spent today catching up with domestic arrangements. However an afternoon walk along Minute Maid Ramp produced numerous crickets and grasshoppers, lots of orange butterflies with white underwings marked like stained glass windows, and several lizards basking on the villa walls.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Touched down at Sanford Airport to be greeted by a wall of heat and rows of palm trees. There were plenty of birds around the airport including a buff-coloured bird which reminded me of a Hoopoe (minus the crest). The rest of the day was spent sorting out transport and accommodation. However, an evening car trip was accompanied by the almost deafening song of Cicadas. Back at the villa, a Cockchafer was attracted to the porch lights (3330).