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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, January 31, 2010

Another bright, cold day. The day started with a Pied Wagtail and a Starling on a Pollock rooftop. A walk along the river produced two Goosanders on the south border of the park and two Goldcrests nearby. Back home, our RSPB garden watch only produced 5 species (Blue Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Dunnock and Woodpigeon). However a dusk walk near Castle Semple Loch was better with two Dippers, a Greylag Goose, six Goldeneye, fields (appropriately) full of Fieldfares and flocks of Whooper Swan and Canada Goose.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

An early start and crisp blue skies enabled a walk along the canal from Polmont to Linlithgow, and then around Linlithgow Loch. Highlights included a Grey Heron and a Goosander glimpsed from the viaduct over the Avon Gorge, another two (flying) Goosanders and a partial albino Blackbird on the outskirts of Linlithgow, and a range of waterfowl watched at close range on the loch (including a very tame Shelduck and a Coot riding on the back of a Mute Swan). No sign of the wintering female Smew.

Friday, January 29, 2010

More frost today. In fact, some shaded pavements stayed white all day. Nevertheless the strong sunshine prompted many birds to sing. In Greenock, a Dunnock was in full song opposite the hospice. Later, along the river, singers included Woodpigeon, Blue Tit, Greenfinch and Blackbird. The Goldeneye of earlier in the winter seem to have gone. However nearly 20 Mallards were still present.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bankend was frosty at 7:30 this morning. Most of the birds about at that time were Rooks. However a male Kestrel on a roadside tree was a nice find.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A mild day today, but the forecast is for snow by the weekend. Heading to Dumfries tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ditto yesterday. Bah! *&^%$£#*!!!
News from the web is of a Nuthatch at RSPB Lochwinnoch (clydebirds) and a possible Audouin's Gull off Musselburgh (lothianbirdnews). The "latest reports" section on the Mullbirds website is always a delight. This month's sightings have included a "siege" of 19 Grey Herons and a "snorkeling" male Goosander. The photos on the site are excellent, including a Ring billed Gull at Oban and a male Bullfinch feeding on seed heads.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The nights continue to "draw out", although a long working day rather scuppered any hopes of natural connections.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Best record during a five-minute stop at the end of Troon Harbour was a flock of 25 Golden Plovers on the rocks. There was a male Goldeneye with the Eiders around the green buoy. Heading home, a male Kestrel was on a hedge at Gatehead and a Buzzard was over the A77 at the Fenwick road end.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Only moving connection on the drive over to Drymen involved a dozen or so Greylag Geese near Gartocharn.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A strange day today - cold, but very calm. The Clyde was flat as a mill pond as I drove up in the afternoon. However, the whole of the Cart floodplain was covered in mist (almost concealing the 50 or so Whooper Swans grazing near Candrens Farm. In Paisley, a pair of Mute Swans (the male puffed up like a meringue) were near Abbey Mill.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Today started at 5:30 am, with a Song Thrush singing over the sound of the bin lorry.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This time of year, the Scottish Ospreys are in their winter feeding grounds in West Africa. Surprising then that one of the satellite-tagged birds has flown 500km south in the past few days.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No natural connections today due to dawn to dusk desk work. However the nights should start to "draw out" quite soon...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Stirring stuff from the web today included reports of an Eagle Owl on top of a tree in Galloway, a possible Red Kite on the outskirts of Edinburgh and 700 Corn Buntings in a single field in Buckinghamshire.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A dusk walk along the river found eight Cormorants in the roosting tree. Heading home, Blackbirds were clucking their way to roost and Jackdaws were flying overhead. Most interesting sighting of the day was a Lesser black backed Gull near the airport. Big news from the web is of a Chiffchaff singing in Wigtonshire.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

This afternoon's walk found the river swollen with overnight rain and meltwater. The Goldeneye, Goosanders, Tufted Duck and Teal all seem to have moved on. Even the local Mallards were struggling to resist the current. A Moorhen at Leverndale repeatedly dived under the surface of the water. Other notable sightings were 20 Siskins over Hawkhead Park and 7 Greenfinches in the treetops next to Ross House. High counts included a flock of 14 Long tailed Tits, and 8 Grey Squirrels together on one small patch of ground.

Friday, January 15, 2010

A lunchtime walk around the Greenock dams revealed hordes of gulls roosting on the ice. Good numbers of Redwings were foraging in the leaf litter. Back at the office, ten or more House Sparrows were in the thorn bushes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

At work from dawn to dusk so no natural connections for me. News from the web is of more Woodcock, Water Rail and Bramblings.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A trip over to Airdrie this evening found the top end of the town still quite deep in snow (in spite of the thaw elsewhere). Snow is falling in the glade again tonight.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Two Cormorants were on the Pollock roosting tree. At least two of the garden Dunnocks have made it through the cold snap. A Redwing was on the grass at the front of the Glade. Unfortunately a Badger was a road casualty near the Bothwell Interchange. Back home, a Rook was on the railway bridge (rare here).

Monday, January 11, 2010

A dusk walk found the thaw well underway with the ice on the river broken in various places. A few Mallards were quacking in the gloom but there was little else on show.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

No naturalconnections today due to having to take things easy after another nasty connection with an icy path. However the virtual connections keep piling in. The newsgroups are full of reports of Bramblings and Blackcaps appearing in gardens, Fieldfares dominating other birds over the garden berries, Water Rails and Snipe forced into the open, Red Grouse coming down from the hills and Woodcocks everywhere.

Saturday, January 09, 2010




A morning walk to Hawkhead via Hurlethill produced lots of birds displaced by the weather. It is all very interesting, but not so good for the wildlife. A Snipe and a drake Teal were in the drain which runs from under the Hurlet, while a Raven and three Buzzards were nearby. A Reed Bunting was feeding on sedge seeds and back at Leverndale, a Great spotted Woodpecker was first calling, then drumming. Along the river just west of the rocky bend were four Tufted Ducks and four Goldeneye. Nearby was a Goosander, with four more Goldeneye round at Leverndale. Another six Goldeneye (including the only male) were under Rosshall Bridge and three Goosander were along the Moulin stretch. Grey Herons were at the Hurlet and under Rosshall Bridge, a Little Grebe was under Howford Bridge and a Cormorant was high over Hurlethill. Finally, two Roe Deer were out in the open in the field behind Cairn Hill.
Pictures above show (from bottom) Hurlethill, Rosshall Farm, first bridge and suicidal graffiti on the river ice nearby.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Yesterday's clear skies were replaced by freezing fog. Noticed a Cormorant labouring down the Clyde in the background of an outside broadcast from BBC Scotland. News from the web is of more and more Woodcocks - they really seem to be everywhere. Of even greater interest was a Barn Owl hunting in the grounds of Dykebar Hospital.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Another bitterly cold day, with more to come. One bonus has been the colourful sunrises and sunsets due to the clear skies and rarified air. A Fox has been calling loudly in the glade this week, but otherwise there is little sign of life.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

A Blue Tit sang for much of the afternoon in the winter sunshine. Around the country, the first Dipper song has been reported from Lothian and Mull. Meanwhile drumming Great spotted Wodpeckers have been heard since Christmas. It seems that the avian sap is rising, in spite of the snow.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

More snow overnight at least made the frozen footpaths easier to walk on. Managed a quick walk along the river just as it was getting dark. Very little was visible in the gloom, but a big Red Fox was slinking through the woods just over the first bridge. Weather predictions are for even lower temperatures (down to -20 degrees) by the weekend.

Monday, January 04, 2010

A walk along the river this afternoon turned up a number of unusual sightings. Five female Goldeneye and a male Tufted Duck were on the loop around the south side of the park. They were joined by a Cormorant while a Grey Heron "Frank"ed nearby. Back at the Moulin stretch, another Goldeneye was with 10 Mallards under the Rosshall School Bridge. Finally, a Woodcock was flushed twice from the tiny remnant of Pollock Wood across the river from the glade.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Hamilton, today, was ankle-deep in snow. The only birds on offer were singing Starlings and a Carrion Crow with completely white secondaries.
News from the web is of loads more Woodcock, Bramblings and Blackcaps being seen (many in gardens).
Forgot to mention - the day I bumped my head, I noticed a vole scurrying through the snow beside the track through Leverndale.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Natural connections remain curtailed today because of yesterday's mishap. Had to be content with keeping an eye on the visitors to my snowy postage stamp which included a Woodpigeon, a Chaffinch and the ever-faithful Dunnocks.

Friday, January 01, 2010

A walk along the Cart revealed two of last week's Goldeneye still present. Otherwise, nothing of great significance (had to cut the walk short when I made a very painful natural connection between my head and the icy path). News from the web is of Woodcock everywhere (I'm glad I managed to break my duck at Ardmore last week).