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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, November 30, 2009

After last week's rain, the weather in WCS has turned decidely icy.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The first snow of the winter was on distant Ben Lomond and Ben More today. Also, Goatfell on Arran had a dusting of icing sugar.
An early afternoon walk along the ballast bank at Troon produced one interesting sighting in the form of a flotilla of one male and five female Common Scoters. Also impressive was a Greater black backed Gull quartering the rocky shore. Heading home at dusk, checked what seemed like every fencepost from Irvine to Barrhead for Barn Owls, but to no avail.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

First birds of the day were a flock of 10-15 Siskins in conifers at Oldhall (I guess there has been a local influx this week). Back at Cardonald, an unidentified wagtail sp and a flock of small finches flew overhead (I must brush up on Pied Wagtail/Grey Wagtail and Siskin/Redpoll flight calls).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Working in Hawkhead this morning, so took the opportunity for a dawn walk along the river. The Mallards were just beginning to disperse upriver and a Cormorant lumbered in the opposite direction. A Kingfisher flew up from its perch over Rosshall Park pond and another was just east of the Hawkhead gate. Best birds today were two local firsts for this winter: a Little Grebe and a small party of Siskins.
Later, the 150 Feral Pigeons feeding on stubble behind Cairnhill included a purple (!) bird. I guess it had been deliberately dyed, but interestingly it was almost exactly the same shade as the purple feathering of the typical pigeon neck patch. Later again, 20 Starlings were bathing in a puddle outside Renfrew Community Centre and 20 Common Gulls and a Kestrel were at Arleston Farm.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The weather has turned colder today. However the House Sparrows in the rose bushes outside the office window are still keeping up their incessant chirruping.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

High winds and rain continue. Impossibly short days and heavy work load have kept natural connections to a minimum this week.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

After a week of incessant downpours, this evening it stopped raining. In fact it stopped for so long that some of the pavements dried up. The forecast is for more rain tomorrow - but even a temporary respite is very welcome.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A very quick walk over lunchtime produced two Goldeneye on Murdieston Loch. Other birds were more-or-less as usual, the winter build-up still awaiting some hard frost.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Forty Whooper Swans were beside the M8 on the way to Erskine this morning. Later, a walk along the Cart produced a Moorhen (not that common locally), a Grey Wagtail and a Kingfisher within 5 minutes of leaving the house. Also notable were Snowdrop shoots peeping through where the floodwaters have scarified the river bank.
Clydebirds is reporting that two Green Sandpipers were seen in flooded fields beside the Hurlet yesterday. The list of birds seen in "my" area (Hawkhead / Crookston / Ralston / Arkleston and the Cart Corridor as far as Pollock Park) that I haven't yet recorded is getting quite long:

Jay in Hurlethill Wood
Golden Plover at Arkleston Farm
Green Sandpiper beside the Hurlet
And a Shelduck reported to the bird atlas.
Must try harder!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Today started with two Collared Doves at the entrance to the glade (surely not thinking about nesting already!). Later, a walk along the Cart revealed several flooded sections and a whole collection of unusual occurences and assemblages. Most notable were the following:
At least 17 Collared Doves in one flock (I have never seen more than two together locally)
Several large tit flocks including one containing at least 12 Long tailed Tits
A Dipper on an exposed log near the Leverndale bend
A Kestrel rising with prey from the rough grass in front of Leverndale Hospital

A Goosander under Howford Bridge
Gangs of Fieldfares with some Mistle Thrushes hanging on
An unprecedented 24 Mallards in a tight group

Three to four hundred corvids on stubble.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The flooding threatened by recent heavy rain was not helped by the highest tide I have ever witnessed (reaching almost to the top of the harbour wall at Greenock). As a result, the A8 was partially flooded at Cappielow.
This evening, the Cart was lapping over several sections of the Moulin riverbank, and one stretch of the path was under ankle-deep water.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wind, Rain, Darkness. More or less says all there is to say about a busy winter's working day in Paisley.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The winds continue to blow from all points, bringing with them lots of rain, unseasonally warm temperatures and a much-twitched Wilson's Phalarope at Musselburgh.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Managed to squeeze in a short stroll along the central Paisley section of the Cart during a very late lunch break. The Mute Swan pair still have their 7 young in tow. I wonder how long it will be before they are driven off.
Collins are publicising their forthcoming title in the New Naturalists series: Books and Naturalists by David Allen (artwork below).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A walk along the river this afternoon was fairly unremarkable. However the views are much improved now that the frost of last week has decimated the previously impenetrable screens of Himalayan Balsam.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Today started with a good count of 5 Cormorants in the Pollock roosting tree. Highlight of a rainy walk on Cathkin Braes was a hunting male Kestrel. Other birds seen there and on the walk back through Castlemilk included Grey Wagtial, Goldcrest and Mistle Thrush.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Started the day with a walk back to the glade from Renfrew, taking in Arkleston Farm, Arkleston Cemetery and Craigton Cemetery. Highlight was a big flock of Skylarks (maybe 50+) on stuble at Arkleston, being buzzed by at least three Sparrowhawks. Single Buzzard and Kestrel were also nearby.
Bird of the day was probably Grey Wagtail with one in the car park of Queensland Court, three in Craigton Cemetery and another in the quadrant at the foot of Dundee Drive. The other notable bird today was Fieldfare with extremely flighty groups in both cemeteries visited.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The House Sparrow flock in the Greenock back green numbered at least 16 this morning. The males seem to be mouting into fresh plumage with quite a variety of head patterns on show.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Finished up at Port Glasgow today, so had a quick scan of the Clyde near Newark Shipyard. Fifty or so Eider were loafing (and displaying) around a channel-marking buoy, and two Curlews flew in to the abandoned slipway. Six Oystercatchers were on flooded grass nearby.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

After the heavy rain of the last few days, this afternoon's warm autumn sunshine was welcomed by all, including a flock of 6 House Sparrows chirrupping in a Rose bush outside the Greenock office window.

Monday, November 09, 2009

No natural connections today. However news from the web is that the Glossy Ibis influx has reached Scotland with a bird seen near Loch Lomond (and another in Forth).

Sunday, November 08, 2009

A morning walk around the south east of Gretna (and over the border into England) produced a Dipper, a Grey Heron plus lots of Starlings and House Sparrows. Heading up the M74, two Buzzards and a smaller raptor (possibly a Merlin) were soaring south of Abingdon.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Headed to Gretna this morning but the weather wasn't really conducive to any natural connections on the journey.
News from the web is of a continuing influx of Woodcock to Scotland.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Popped out for a quick walk during lunchtime in Hamilton. Lots of birds down by, on or over the Clyde including a male Goldeneye, a male Goosander, lots of Redwings and a few Fieldfares, a Kingfisher (right under the footbridge) and a Sparrowhawk (the third or fourth soaring bird I've seen in the past month).

Thursday, November 05, 2009

One of those "four seasons in one day" kind of days today. However, the Clyde was flat calm and reflecting the lights in Dumbarton as I drove home this evening.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

This evening's walk turned up more Geese/Swans flying over in the darkness.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A walk along the river as far as Hawkhead this morning produced several interesting sightings (although the water was too high, fast and murky for some of "the usuals"). Best birds were two Greylag Geese calling loudly as they flew over the river from the direction of the tower to Ralston Golf Course (a second new bird for the area after last week's Whooper Swans). Also notable were three Grey Herons, two Cormorants and a possible Kingfisher. The woods were full of Redwings, with more Chaffinches than usual as well (although no sign of any Bramblings tagging along).
Walking back in the evening, a Starling was singing in Hawkhead and another Grey Heron was being harrassed by some of the 200+ corvids over the stubble fields.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Jackdaws on Coats' Memorial Church in Paisley town centre were very active today. Still plenty of Jays being seen all around the country. Still trying to locate my first in the Cardonald/Crookston/ Hawkhead area.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Atrocious weather in WCS today. Couldn't summon up the courage to head out until after dusk. What I found was the Cart swollen considerably, the ubiquitous Redwings slipping overhead and a big Red Fox on the bridge over the railway. Planned my walk to pass all the local woods (Rosshall Park, Crookston Castle, Pollock Wood and Leverndale Hospital), but no sound of any Tawnies.