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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.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

An almost connection-free day today, due to pressures of work. However the silverglade pond is now resplendent with water lilly flowers, and a Whitethroat scratched away for a few seconds over the fence. Saddest sight was a Badger lying dead beside the M8, just after the eastbound Erskine on-ramp.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Mute Swan family which used to be on the main dam at Murdieston Park has now relocated to the smaller dam (and displaced the failed pair there). Coots seem to have done particularly well this year with one brood (of two) on the small dam and three broods (of 2, 5 and 6) on the large one, as well as one sitting bird on each. The male Tufted Ducks have gathered out on the open water, suggesting the females may still be on eggs. Meanwhile, the only Mallard brood to date is now full grown (and still together in a group of 10),
On the way home, two fishermen up to their waists in the sea off Langbank were an incongruous sight.
This evening, a walk along the river produced a Grey Heron overhead and two singing Chiffchaffs.

Monday, June 28, 2010

All the meadows along the landward side of the M8 between Longman Point and Finlaystone have been cut and baled. Two Rabbits were grazing out in the open in the first, sea level field. Further along, a Grey Heron was flying into the trees above Woodhall.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A walk around a rainy Lang Crags failed, once again, to turn up any Green Woodpeckers. Instead, had to be content with a couple of Ravens over the cliffs, flowering Ragged Robin in the marshes and a chestnut Roe Dear bounding across the meadow.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The garden is even more overgrown than before this week's trip away. The Honeysuckle planted a few years ago has hopped the fence and is now rampaging over the Brambles and Gorse bushes in the wasteland behind us. That whole area seems very attractive to songbirds (especially now that the Gorse has seeded). This evening, a mixed flock of Long tailed Tit (4), Blue Tit (1) and Willowchiff (1) passed through. Also notable, but less welcome, are the tatty, juvenile Magpies which are coming to the pond to bathe.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Another warm, sunny day in Argyll. A drive and walk in Kintyre after work produced a number of excellent sightings including Buzzard, Raven, Grey Wagtail, Cuckoo, flowering Ragged Robin and two distant raptors which just might have been Golden Eagles.
On the way home Gannets were fishing at the head of Loch Fyne, a Wheatear flew over the road at Bellochanty and 25 Minis headed south (presumably to a Mini convention) at Mausdale.

Thursday, June 25, 2010

Had a long working day (while the sun shone outside) in Campbeltown, but managed a fantastic evening walk and drive. The walk along the beach west of Southend produced a mixed fishing group of 20 Shags, 10 Gannets and a single Sandwich Tern, three Sanderlings (one in summer plumage), nesting Fulmar, Jackdaw and Rock Dove, passing Kittiwake, flowering Sea Bindweed and an impressive colony of 50+ Burnet Moths.
Driving back to Campbeltown produced a pair of Stonechats (rare this year), a Black Guillemot and, in the space of two minutes, a Short eared Owl, a Buzzard, a Sparrowhawk carrying prey and a pair of Hen harriers food-passing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A perfect evening in Campbeltown produced 4 Gannets fishing in the bay alongside a Black Guillemot, a Common Tern, a seal and a Brown Rat (!).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Enjoyed an excellent trip to the Galloway Forest Park to look for Nightjars (136). One bird was churring when we arrived (accompanied by a reeling grasshopper Warbler) and showed really well as it twice swooped quite close to us. The whole scene was beautifully evocatiove with the stillness of the forest, the moon overhead, bats fluttering by and the Midges buzzing about
On the way home, a Badger shuffled across the road just outside St John's Town.

Monday, June 21, 2010

No natural connections, but the Lowes female Osprey has had the online birding community on tenderhooks all day. She appeared to be dying, having taken to lying across the nest, barely moving. However after 3 days she suddenly perked up, flew to the lochside for a drink, and is now feeding herself and the chicks. Better than the soaps!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A work and rest day today, so only home-based connections were on offer. However these included singing Chiffchaff and Blackcap.

Saturday, June 19, 2010
A House Martin was swooping under the eaves of a house in Dunchurch Road first thing this morning. Later, a brief stop at Patterton Farm found the access road to the country park blocked by a high fence. Swallows, House Sparrows and Feral Pigeons were particularly abundant around the deserted farm buildings. This evening, it was still broad daylight at 10:30 pm.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Three urban bird sightings were the highlights of a busy, sunny day in Paisley and Glasgow. Driving through Paisley this morning, an Oystercatcher flew out of industrial land along McFarlane Street piping noisily. Over at the west end, a Coot had two big young on Bingham's Pond. Finally, three evenings of scanning the skies over Cardonald for House Martins were rewarded with a single bird swooping over Cardonald Gardens (could they possibly still breed there?).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Glorious weather in WCS again today. A Swift shot through the tenements behind the hospice first thing. Later, driving over the hill north of the IRH, the view across the Clyde was stunning. In the evening, a flock of Long tailed Tits passed near the back of the garden and a Greenfinch twittered from the top of the highest tree in the estate.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An evening walk along the Cart produced more signs of the summer rolling on. Three Mallards loafing in the shade included two drakes in eclipse. The wild Raspberries are starting to swell and the trees are full of the squeaking calls of young birds.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spent the morning in Ayr and the afternoon in Dunoon. En route between the two, single Common Buzzards were over the three towns bypass and Fairlie Lagoon. Passing through Greenock, two Swifts were screaming at rooftop height along Ardgowan Street. The ferry crossing was unremarkable but two Common Sandpipers were alarm-calling at a picnic site south of Dunoon and a pair of Ravens laboured past the venue on Bullwood Road. Heading home, two Guillemots were off Hunter's Quay taking my year total to 135 species, the same number as my previous best for the whole year (2008).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A short walk along the Cart this evening found the riverside vegetation now head-high. A couple of eclipse Mallards were lounging in the shallows and the summer doldrums seem to be well and truly here.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Today started beside the River Clyde with Glasgow basking in the sunshine and looking near it's best. Later, a walk around Balgray Reservoir produced good numbers of singing Willow Warblers, Sedge Warblers and Reed Buntings. Blue and Great Tits both had newly fledged young and a female Mallard had 8 ducklings. Slightly unusual birds for this heavily disturbed site included Coot (on the adjacent pond), Grey Heron and Pied Wagtail. Finally, a Lapwing was calling from the field where at least one was present a month ago.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A busy work day in Glasgow allowed a very quick lunchtime walk through Festival Park. A Moorhen there was shepherding two small and one large chick while nearby a Swallow zoomed through the BBC car park.
Overnight something (presumably a Sparrowhawk) plucked something else (presumably a pigeon sp) on the silverglade lawn.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Today's lunchtime walk around the Murdieston Dams confirmed that the pair of Mute Swans on the smaller dam have failed completely. The pair on the larger dam had their full complement of 7 healthy young. Meanwhile two Coot nests contained, respectively, two large young and an unknown number of new hatchlings. Signs of summer included blue damselflies and flowering Fox and Cubs. However there were also signs that the summer, for some, is over: immature Lesser black backed Gulls bathing in the reservioirs and the first Mallards entering eclopse.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

No natural connections today, so had to be content with virtual ones. All seems to be going well at the public Osprey sites with 3, 3 and 2 chicks doing well at Caerlaverock, Loch Garten and Butterstone respectively.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Working in Dunoon this afternoon, where two of the best birds of the day were a bottle-green Pheasant pair at Toward (male shown here). The day finished with a walk at the head of Loch Eck. Best birds there were three separate Cuckoos and three Common Sandpiper territories. Biggest disappointment was the absence of Mandarin Ducks on the river system around Glenbranter. Sadly, it seems that the colony which was doing so well a few years ago has disappeared.
The other photo below shows an attractive pink flower growing on the bridge at Glenbranter.
Heading back over the Clyde, two Gannets were overhead and one dived for a fish in front of the boat.

Monday, June 07, 2010

The six birds over Cardonald Gardens first thing were not, unfortunately House Martins but Swifts. I am almost reconciled to the fact that the small nesting colony of recent years has become extinct.
The warm weather in wcs continues, although a thunderstorm in Inverclyde caused the closure of the A8 and led to a long diversion via Largs.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

This afternoon's walk was along the Clyde from Glasgow City centre to Whiteinch. Birding highlights were few but included 14 Mute Swans on the Clyde and up to 20 Sand Martins over the Kelvin. On the way home, detoured to Berryknowes Road to try to confirm breeding Swallows in the half-built house there. A single bird was singing from the top of one of the scaffolding poles, and the pair were hawking insects over the cemetery, but neither entered the building. Further on, around 14 Swifts were screaming high over the the ridgeway.
An interesting item of news from the web reports a Fox attack on baby twins in Kent.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

A Spotted Flycatcher was the birding highlight of an afternoon walk in the Kirkpatrick Braes. Also notable were fantastic views up and down the Clyde.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Another busy day, so few natural connections. Two Swifts careered over the Cardonald rooftops about 7am. Later, the garden nestbox was completely quiet for the second day running - the brood must have fledged.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

More sunshine, but work and childcare demands meant no natural connections at all. Ho hum. News from the web is that Barn Owls are active at sites in Renfrewshire. May try to get out and about in the half-light this weekend.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Glorious sunshine returned to wcs today. The ducks on Bingham Pond were drifting languidly in the heat. News from the web is of the first Manx Shearwaters filtering into the upper Clyde.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Walking past Bingham's Pond this afternoon, a Coot was giving the strident "Huk" call to a passing dog as its four young pottered around oblivious to the danger. Later, a Swift screamed over the house just as the sun was disappearing.