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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, February 28, 2010

Responded to a call from friends in Hillington to find a Collared Dove badly injured (presumably by a Sparrowhawk) and, in fact, breathing its last. The local Magpies and Crows had finished it off; a sad end to a lovely bird. Raptors were also prominent during a late afternoon walk along the river, with Buzzards at Leverndale and Hawkhead Woodland, and a Kestrel near Bull Wood. Also notable were three Roe Deer feeding out in the open at Hurlethill.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Managed to squeeze a full day's walking out of what looked like being a bit of a washout. In fact, the only weather of the day consisted of snow over Carstairs Moor first thing and a flurry of sleety rain whilst dropping down into Kirkfieldbank. In between, a walk up the Clyde as far as Bonnington Linn and back produced dramatic waterfalls plus a Dipper, a pair of Goosander and a pair of Ravens. Later, a walk along the Cart produced an alarm-calling Mistle Thrush and a Red Fox drinking on the far bank.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Goosander numbers were well up on Bingham's Pond this morning with at least 11 present.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Headed over to Hamilton extra early this morning, hoping to check the Clyde at Strathclyde Loch for sawbills. However the underpass from Low Parks was ankle deep in water so had to give up on that idea. Instead, managed a walk along the Cart just as dusk was falling. New in were small flocks of Redwing and Fieldfare, possibly displaced from elsewhere by the snow. Also noticed that the Parks Department have created a tarmac road along the river as it loops around the southern border of Rosshall Park. They have removed a massive amount of scrub and low branches, turning what was a nice little wilderness into something much more manicured. Hopefully, once the growing season begins, nature can repair the damage.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Snow returned to WCS today, although much more patchy than before. Glasgow had a light covering, Greenock was clear but people at the top of Gourock were virtually cut off. The train journey from Paisley to Ayr found sleet at both ends and lying snow between Johnstone and Kilwinning.
Checked the river while waiting for the train back from Ayr. There was no sign of the wintering Iceland Gull but two early Lesser black backs and a pair of Goosanders helped to keep out the cold.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No sign of any Goldeneye, Goosanders or Pochards in the small, ice-free area of Murdieston Dam this lunchtime. Notable birds there included a single Grey Wagtail, the first Lesser black backed Gull of the year and both Common and Black headed Gulls moulting into summer dress.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A female Sparrowhawk was being chased by mobbing crows through the back closes of Greenock first thing. Later, the drive to Ayr was brightened up by two roadside Buzzards in heraldic poses. A quick stop at Greenan produced 30 Teal, a confiding pair of Goldeneye and high overhead, two cronking Ravens.
Targets for this week are: 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 15, 15 (= 70). Actuals are: 9,477, 10,647, 11,665, 11,430, 5,635, 26,420, 14,636 (= 89,910).

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Today's walk along the Cart produced a single Goosander but little else of note. Most intersting sighting was of a Fox, asleep on a quiet bank. The river is still covered in ice in some places.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Crisp winter sunshine this morning - and a good opportunity to complete the TTV centred on Rosshall Farm. Highlights included nest-building Magpies, an unprecedented 15 Rooks together at Crookston Station, two Red Foxes haring through the scrub beside Cairnhill, a nervous drake Teal along the Leverndale stretch of the Cart and a Kingfisher under Howford Bridge. Most interesting record was of two more of those pink pigeons (after one on farmland at Cairnhill on 27th November last year). These two were on the roof of 106 Newtyle Road. Both were males, and were quite a striking sight as they pirouetted on the rooftop and launched into their display fights. The proximity of these records to the Ciba pigments factory probably gives the strongest clue to their origin.
This afternoon, a walk along the Kelvin produced a Grey Heron, two pairs of Goosander and a Dipper.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Low cloud over the Clyde first thing appeared to have disorientated a large group of Greylag Geese. Over 200 were circling just above the trees at Woodhall.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Heard a Smew had turned up at Lochwinnoch so headed there after work. Enjoyed sitting in the hide as the sun set, giving the wetland a warm, rosy glow in spite of the cold. Best birds were a pair of Gadwall and (again) plenty of Pochard (am I the only one who has noticed an influx?). After a while, the Smew appeared (probably) from the direction of Bar Loch. A lovely male, he swam strongly to the furthest edge of Aird Meadow but still stuck out like a sore thumb (the only white bird present). Got some good views through the scope, especially of the raised crest, black eye patches and black "V-neck".

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Clyde was like glass during the drive down to Greenock at lunchtime and was studded all over with pairs of Goldeneye. Thirty Lapwings were on the first meadow, together with an immature Grey Heron. Further on, a Buzzard was opposite Findlaystone.
News from the web concerns basking Adders in Cumbria and the first Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies in Lothian and D&G.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A lot of work this morning (I'm supposed to be on holiday!), but managed to escape to Longman Point in the late afternoon. First birds were 300 Greylag Geese flying upriver. Not a breath of wind, so ideal conditions to watch the Goldeneye displaying out on the Clyde. Lots of Shelduck around (including several lurking in the flooded fields with a couple of Greylags and 20 Curlews) plus Teal, Wigeon and a single winter-plumaged Red throated Diver.
From the web: Waxwings new in at Dumfries.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Linlithgow Loch was wet and miserable today, but full of good birds including good numbers of Pochards (matching the birds I've seen over the past week at Castle Semple and Waulkmill Glen), a distant trio of Goosanders, plenty of singing Goldfinches and a single Great black backed Gull. Elsewhere, 30 Lapwings were over North Couston sandpit and three Buzzards were between Linlithgow and Falkirk. Small groups of Waxwings have now been reported from Rothesay and Haddington, possibly the beginnings of an influx.
Targets for this week are 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 15, 15, 70. Actuals are 8,643, 8,687, 4,514, 8,538, 6,428, 18,936, 6,731, 62,477.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

An afternoon walk around the Dams to Darnely park produced lots of wildfowl on the unfrozen areas including a pair of Teal and, surprisingly, three Lesser black backed Gulls on Balgray Reservoir and several each of Goosander, Pochard and Goldeneye on Walkmill Glen. Dozens of Canada Geese were grazing adjacent fields.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Started a very clement day at Scone in Perthshire, looking for Hawfinches. Almost as soon as we arrived we found a single bird in the treetops, giving the characteristic "Tic" call. Also around were a second Hawfinch, a Great spotted Woodpecker (also heard drumming) and a noisy pair of Mistle Thrushes. Later, a 90 minute walk along the edge of Turret Reservoir produced wonderful views but no birds apart from 18 Mallards. Other birds of the day included Collared Doves in many of the south Perthshire villages, a Cormorant labouring above the traffic in the centre of Perth and a Kestrel at Glen Turret waterworks. Driving home, Ben Lomond (and the other peaks viewable north from the A811) had just enough snow covering to recall a popular confectionery.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Two Goldfinches were singing in the treetops in the RAH this afternoon, with one bird indulging in a wide, looping song flight. The species has been thin on the ground since the cold snap. Elsewhere, small groups of Waxwings have been reported (over the past week) from Glasgow (two locations), Glenrothes and Edinburgh.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A work commitment in Glasgow City Centre meant an early morning walk along a flat calm Clyde between the Science Centre and the SECC. Birds on the river included a male Red breasted Merganser and a Coot. Earlier, a Grey Heron was in Festival Park, possibly stalking the brave soul who had camped out in freezing temperatures.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bah!! Only walk was after dark, even though the sun shone all day today.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A glorious day in WCS. There was even enough daylight at the end of the day for a walk along the river. Highlights were the usual pair of Goosanders under the farm bridge and 4 Goldcrests in a single conifer.

Monday, February 08, 2010

A lunchtime walk along Greenock esplanade was notable only for Eiders fishing close in (each one with an attendant Herring Gull waiting to steal any catches) and a single Curlew among the Oystercatchers and Turnstones.
Targets this week:
Monday - 8,000 (12,354)
Tuesday - 8,000 (6,294)
Wednesday - 8,000 (5,462)
Thursday - 8,000 (10,323)

Friday - 8,000 (8,683)
Saturday - 15,000 (15,653)
Sunday - 15,000 (10,039)
Total - 70,000 (68,808)

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Most interesting sightings during an afternoon walk around Castle Semple Loch were several Pochard actively feeding, numerous Goldeneye including displaying males, and six Teal among the Mallards on the ice.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Managed two walks today. First was a timed tetrad visit to Craigton which turned up plenty of Redwings but little else of note. Birdsong had significantly increased however with Robin, Song Thrush, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock, Wren, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and even some of the Redwings chipping in. Second walk was along the river as far as Leverndale. Plenty of birds were singing and pairs of both Blue and Coal Tits were chasing through the bare branches. In the woods, the Snowdrops are now in flower. One of the local dog walkers was digging up a huge patch but she stopped when I walked by.

News from the web is that some of the Red throated Divers and Black Guillemots in D&G have moulted into summer plumage.

Friday, February 05, 2010

A muddy walk around Murdieston produced 6 Mute Swans including one bird sitting tight on the island in the upper reservoir. Four female-type Goldeneye were feeding nearby.
News from the web is of Feral Pigeon chicks alreay hatched in East Lothian.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Yesterday's snow was still lying first thing this morning. However, undeterred, the local Collared Doves continued to sing loudly from the pine trees near the old farm steading.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Snow returned to WCS today with a vengeance. Heavy workload meant no natural connections, but news from the web is of Crossbill sightings across the region from Lothian to Ayrshire.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

A walk around Paisley town centre this lunchtime produced the usual fare including plenty of singing Blue and Great Tits, a singing Blackbird and three loafing Goosanders. Two Mute Swan "families" were on the river, consisting of a pair with five first winters at the Hammils and a pair with two near the Abbey Bridge.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Early morning birds around the glade included two rooftop Collared Doves (one singing), lots of singing Greenfinches and a smashing pair of Goosanders with 15 Mallards under the first bridge. Nearby, Cardonald was alive with the sound of chirruping House Sparrows coming from every privet and leylandii hedge.
The drive to Perth produced a Common Buzzard on a lamppost at Provanmill and a field full of Pink footed Geese near Bridge of Allan.
Targets for this week:
Monday - 8,509 (target 8,000)
Tuesday - 7,205 (8,000)
Wednesday - 7,557 (8,000)
Thursday - 9,533 (8,000)
Friday - 8,154 (8,000)
Saturday - 14,538 (15,000)
Sunday - 9,023 (15,000)
Whole week - 64,519 (70,000).