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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.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The overnight snow soon melted away to be replaced by persistent drizzle. Land birds stayed under cover but five Goldeneye off Parklea were completely unfazed. It was good weather for some other ducks too - two Mallards sitting quietly in the glade (below).

Mallard pair in the Glade

An evening walk home from Pollock was cold, wet, dark and otherwise unremarkable.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A wintry day in WCS ended with quite a heavy fall of wet snow. Earlier, two Buzzards were in the first Finlaystone meadow with a third over the Bishopton bend of the M8.
Targets for this week:
8,000 (3,738)
8,000 (9,102)
8,000 (8,485)
8,000 (9,173)
8,000 (16,025)
15,000 (26,638)
15,000 (18,258)
80,000 (91,419).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

An excellent day of natural connections began with a walk from home over to Partick, and ended with a walk from the Barrhead Dams back down to home. Highlights were many including the first Chiffchaff back in the Silver Glade area (calling behind the house), Coltsfoot on waste ground near the Glasgow Science Centre (my first of the year), a pair of Grey Wagtails on the Kelvin, 30 Sand Martins over Balgray Reservoir (again, my first of the year), two Whooper Swans on Littleton Reservoir, three Bullfinches (and flowering Butterbur) in Waulkmill Glen, up to 15 Starlings roosting noisily in an impossibly small patch of creeper on the front wall of a small terraced house in Pollock, and a pair of Mallards on the grass verge down the middle of Linthaugh Road.
News on the weather front is of a huge band of snow due to move through central Scotland from east to west during the next 24 hours.

Narcissi beside the Clydeside Expressway

Butterbur in Waulkmill Glen

Darnley's answer to the Potala Palace

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Confined to barracks today, so having to make do with window connections. A sunny spell late morning prompted a male Siskin perched in the tree behind the house to burst into varied and sustained song. Later in the day a Wren carefull inspected the area around the pond and a single Coal Tit visited the feeders.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Today's working day in Dumfries started at Cummertrees where a nice male Garganey was on floodwater with a female Goldeneye and six Teal. Nearby were 100 Pinkfeet, a Hare, 95 Whooper Swans and a single Mute, plus singing Skylarks and numerous Reed Buntings. In the afternoon, a short walk along the river at Kingholm Quay produced a singing Chiffchaff (my first of the year) plus a Cormorant catching and swallowing a huge flatfish. Also unusual was a dead sheep being swept down the river on its back.
Back at Kingholm, it looks like the big buildings at the corner of the quay are being demolished (shot below).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Working back in the West End again. A single Goosander was loafing on Bingham Pond. There were two very smart-looking white ducks there, and a single white pigeon. Maintaining the white theme, the two Mute Swans were indulging in some formation-swimming.
On the web, a male Garganey has arrived near Annan and a Mandarin is showing well on the Tyne in Haddington.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A heavy work day and continual drizzle meant no natural connections today. However news from the web is of migration hotting up with Sand Martins widespread, a few records of early Swallows and House Martins and at least one singing Willow Warbler. The satellite-tracked Ospreys have mostly started their journeys north.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bingham's Pond was fairly quiet first thing this morning. The usual mob of Black headed Gulls having completely dispersed, the only gulls present were three Lesser black backs. The Mute Swans appear to be laying claim to the southernmost island. Meanwhile the wintering flock of Goosanders is down to a single pair. Also notable was a single Bumble Bee.
Later in the day, a walk along the Cart through Rosshall Park found the new path more or less complete (below). Quite a lot of undergrowth has been cleared, opening up normally hidden areas of the woodland floor. Most notable birds were four Siskins just over the farm bridge.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Using up some annual leave today, so managed to visit quite a few birding sites. First stop was the Broomhill / Partick area of Glasgow where 7 Waxwings were commuting between some tall trees beside the Clydeside Expressway and some bushes in Crawford Street (see photo below - honest!). Also in that general area, Moorhens were nest-building on the main pond in Victoria Park with two Mistle Thrushes and two Song Thrushes nearby.
Over to Helensburgh and the triangular pond off Luss Road. The pond itself held Teal, Little Grebe and Canada Goose while nearby there were Goosanders, Buzzards, Common Gulls, singing Skylarks and a single Curlew.
Finally, all was quiet at Ardmore Point with few birds offshore and the only notable record being twenty Red breasted Mergansers.
Targets for this week:
8,000 (20,264)
8,000 (14,450)
8,000 (8,638)
8,000 (7,457)
8,000 (7,907)
15,000 (4,953)
15,000 (25,307)
70,000 (88,976).

Sunday, March 21, 2010

An early morning walk along the river and through the streets of Cardonald produced nothing unusual but plenty of House Sparrows, Dunnocks and Starlings. Late morning was spent in a lovely church in Balfron, with the sights and sounds of the countryside all around (below). In the afternoon, a walk out of Drymen in the direction of Gartmore found hundreds of Greylag Geese (with a scattering of Pinkfeet) in roadside fields (below) and several small flocks of Siskins in the conifers.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Best natural connections today were auditory ones - two drumming Great spotted Woodpeckers and a pond-full of gently croaking Frogs (below), both during an afternoon walk in a sunny Mugdock Park. Also notable at Mugdock were good concentrations of Goosander and Goldeneye on the loch, the latter displaying energetically while the former drifted around languidly. Elsewhere, a Little Grebe was whinnying on Dumbrock Loch, two Toads were among the Frogs, two Lapwings were flying over the horse field and large areas of the woods were carpeted with Snowdrops (below).
Earlier in the day, a walk along the Cart produced numerous singing Wrens and a Kingfisher in exactly the same spot where two were seen a week ago.
Web records include three Sand Martins in Central, a singing Chiffchaff in Cumbria, a Wheatear in Lothian, an Osprey in Perthshire and a Swallow in D&G.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Silver Glade pond had a makeover today. While the liner was being changed, two Frogs (one full of eggs) and two clumps of frogspawn were found. Once the water was back in the Frogs started mating.
Various birds were flitting about throughout the day including a small group of Siskins in the treetops.
New birds elsewhere include a Sandwich Tern and 54 Sand Martins in D&G.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sand Martins were seen in Cheshire and Cumbria today, but there were also some new Waxwing records from scattered parts of the UK. The weather has not helped the situation, the wet, windy weather being neither one thing or the other.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Two Collared Doves were in the back garden this evening. On the other side of the house a probable Bullfinch was calling, unseen, from the treetops for the second day running.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A working trip to Dumfries allowed an early morning outing to an incredibly calm Kingholm Quay (for Rabbits, Collared Doves, Shelduck and Goldeneye) and a lunchtime walk on the merse (for Kestrel, Buzzard and Great spotted Woodpecker). Also enjoyed the sight of four Belted Galloways at Lantonside.

Monday, March 15, 2010

More web reports of bees and frogs confirm that spring is well underway. Targets for this week are: 8,000 (5,240), 8,000 (11,410), 8,000 (7,337), 8,000 (4,520), 8,000 (7,014), 15,000 (18,149), 15,000 (15,124) and 70,000 (68,794).

Sunday, March 14, 2010

An early morning walk along the Cart was notable for a pair of Kingfishers alarm-calling, two male Bullfinches in the treetops and the usual female Goosander behind the Glade. Also unusual were a horse and rider along the Rosshall Park stretch. There was a notable increase in birdsong involving at least 5 Wrens plus all the usual suspects.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The day started with clear blue skies over Linlithgow. The farmland near there was full of life with singing Skylarks, both House and Tree Sparrows, a pair of Stock Doves, a Kestrel, a Buzzard and a possible Grey Partridge calling from cover. Over at Kinneil, two Jackdaws, three Jays and 20 Jackdaws were presumably mobbing a hidden predator, and making a terrific racket in the process. Photos (below) are of the Cormorant Island in Linlithgow Loch, the views east and northwest from Airngath Hill, and a really nice cafe in Bo'ness.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A frosty start to the day in Glasgow, although Dumfries was a little milder. Goldfinches were twittering in the car park at Crighton. Heading home, the hills on Arran were etched white in the distance.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Walked along the Cart at dusk this evening. Surprising how many Robins and Blackbirds were about (both in double figures). This is clearly the best time to count them. Also notable were nine Redwings see-eeping in the treetops.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Enjoyed a beautiful sunrise as I drove down the Clyde this morning, and an equally beautiful sunset as I drove back. The ten and a half hours of work in between were completely devoid of any natural connections. Bah!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

A very quick walk along the Cart at tea-time produced a single female-type Goosander consorting with the local Mallards. Earlier, 20+ Fieldfares were feeding on the playing field at Linthaugh.
Big news from the web is that the first "proper" summer migrant, a Wheatear, has been seen on the Mull of Galloway.

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Clyde was completely still during a lunchtime walk down to the quayside. A Black Guillemot, two courting Cormorants and a possible Red throated Diver (no binocs)Align Centre caused the only ripples. Nearby, a Greenfinch was competing with the local Starlings and House Sparrows for airtime. Targets this week:
8,000 - 10,541
8,000 - 8,016
8,000 - 3,984 (Bah!)
8,000 - 9, 057
8,000 - 5,125
15,000 - 30,054 (Phew!)
15,000 - 12,032
(70,000 - 78,809)

Sunday, March 07, 2010

A walk up Neilston Pad first thing this morning found the whole area knee-deep in snow. A Kestrel, Raven and two Buzzards were on the wing, while a Grey Heron and a Cormorant were on Snypes Dam. Most obvious birds however were Chaffinch and Collared Dove.

This afternoon's walk around Hogganfield Loch produced the usual suspects. Two pairs of Great crested Grebes were displaying far out. The Goosanders were also mostly around the island, apparently having moved away from the car park area. The Whooper Swans there (including at least one family party) remain remarkably tame. Other notable birds included a male Reed Bunting and three Oystercatchers, the latter a new bird for me at this site.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

An afternoon walk along the Clyde was topped off by a gorious orange sunset over the Kingston Bridge.

Friday, March 05, 2010

A Red Fox was prowling through the back garden at breakfast-time this morning. Later, a pair of Rooks were courtship feeding beside the rush-hour traffic past Bellahouston Park.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A dusk walk along the Cart produced several Blackbirds going to roost and two or three Robins in song. Most notable singer however was a single Wren near the old farmstead (the first "proper" song I've heard this year).

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A busy work day today, so no time for natural connections. However news from the web is that a few summer migrants (Sand Martin and Garganey) have reached southern England, so the first local arrivals can't be far off.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Settled weather has returned to WCS with no wind and strong, wintry sunshine. The Lapwings down the Clyde are looking restless, and surely will be heading inland soon.

News from the web is that Harper Collins have released the cover art for the latest NN (below).

Monday, March 01, 2010

A late morning walk around Baron's Haugh produced loads of Goldeneye, Teal and Wigeon, plus a very confiding female Kestrel and several flocks of Siskins. Highlight of the day, however, was one of my first Wrens of the year (the double-whammy of wintry spells around the turn of the year and again in early February seems to have all but done for them).
Targets for this week: 8, 8, 8, 8, 8, 15, 15 (= 70). Actuals are as follows: 14,230 (!), 2,713 (!!), 6,465, 6,743, 9,253, 11,958, 10,961 (= 62,323).