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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, October 31, 2010

No time for natural connections today due to having to prepare work for the Islay trip. However plenty of "Tsee-eep" ers and "Chack" ers continue to pass overhead.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

An afternoon walk along the Cart as far as Hawkhead Estate, and returning via Hawkhead Woodland produced lots of birds in very good numbers. A count of over thirty Stock Doves feeding on stubble west of Leverndale Hospital was particularly notable. The commoner corvids were also present in the area in very good numbers while passerines were represented mainly by Chaffinches flitting between fieldside bushes and Fieldfares "chak"-ing overhead. Only Woodpigeon seemed to be present in smaller numbers than usual.
Plenty of Starlings were whistling from the rooftops and pylons around Hawkhead. Several small birds in the trees around the swing park turned out to be Redpolls [169] (with a few Siskins near the top of Hurlethill). Up at the Hurlet, quite extensive floods had appeared in roadside fields and had attracted good numbers of Black headed Gulls. Finally, raptors included a Buzzard next to the busy Dykebar Roundabout and a male Kestrel disturbed at the entrance to the wood.
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Managed to add Fieldfare and Stock Dove to the Bull Wood/Leverndale square species total (which now stands at 51), Siskin to Hawkhead Woodland (now 36) and Herring Gull to Hawkhead Estate (now 59).

Friday, October 29, 2010

Heading up the M77 from Ayr, a dead Badger was a sad sight on the road verge. Later, a walk along the Cart found plenty of very nervous Redwings (and a single Fieldfare) feeding on abundant berries (but what will they do when the berries run out?). The Yew trees seem to have done particularly well this year with the ground carpeted with their berries in places.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A brief circuit of the Murdieston Dams produced some excellent birds in the shape of three Goosanders, a Goldeneye and a nice male Wigeon. The latter bird may have been the same as the one seen on the smaller dam (in juvenile plumage) a month ago. Also notable today was the sudden appearance of really striking seasonal leaf colour in the deciduous trees. Possibly the frost at the weekend has triggered the change. In any case, the effect has been quite striking.
News from the web is of a truly massive influx of finches into eastern Scotland. This evening, lots of Redwings were "See-eep" ing over the glade.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A "ball" of starlings, perhaps numbering 100 birds, was over the A8 in Greenock again this evening. I wonder if this group will attract any recruits when continental birds arrive for the winter.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wet and windy in WCS - but the Waxwings keep coming. Estimates suggest several thousand in Scotland alone. Birdguides packed with multiple sightings.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Heading back up the Clyde this evening, hundreds of Greylag Geese were feeding along the tideline. Numbers of birds generally on the estuary seemed to be very good. Further on, a Buzzard was over the motorway at Bishopton.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Twenty Waxwings in the tops of the tall trees at the northeast corner of Partick Cricket Ground were a nice surprise today. The birds were being harassed by the local Magpies but their tinkling calls added to what was already a lovely scene with blue skies and autumn colours. A quick check of birdguides confirmed that they were part of what has been a huge influx of the species into the UK over the past day or two. While watching them, a flock of Fieldfares passed high overhead.
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Managed to pop through to Vane Farm first thing and enjoyed the spectacle of the Pinkfeet dispersing just after dawn. Best birds on show were twenty or so Whooper Swans and good numbers of both Teal and Pochard. Also noticed three unusual geese which might have been fabalis Bean Geese.
Next stop was Lochore Meadows where the highlights were a mixed flock of finches (including several Siskins) and a scattering of Blackbirds, Redwings and Fieldfares.
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A short walk along the canal west of Linlithgow produced a nice white Mallard and two Moorhens. The latter species was one of the highlights of a circuit around Linlithgow Loch with at least 25 counted. Most notable bird there was a male Gadwall (my first for the site).




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Also notable today was a dusting of snow on the Ochils - possibly the first of the year [21,979].

Friday, October 22, 2010

News of more Waxwings filtering into a rainy Scotland, but the forecast for the weekend is sunny(!).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Waxwings, Whooper Swans, White fronted Geese - all arriving in WCS as the weather continues to turn - but two Swallows reported from Lochwinnoch today show that there are still signs of summer left.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Quite a severe frost this morning - the first proper stuff of the year. Heading to work at dawn, a tight flock of Starlings swirled over the traffic near Cappielow.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Plenty of corvids along the Cart this evening. A Kingfisher was calling, unseen at the Hawkhead end and a Moorhen was just downstream from its usual haunt at the Leverndale bend.

Monday, October 18, 2010

No connections today due to heavy workload. However one of the junior connectors reported a Kingfisher perched just downstream of Bonnyholm Bridge around 4:30pm.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Highlights of an early morning walk around Kinneil Lagoon (apart from a glorious orange sunrise) were two Little Egrets [166], a Greenshank, large flocks of roosing waders including 200 Golden Plover and 50 Knot [167], a Green winged Teal [168], a Kestrel, two Buzzards and my first Fieldfares of the winter (25 over). Had the site to myself for the first two hours after dawn, during which time the birds roosting on the lagoon and those feeding offshore were remarkably confiding. Large flocks of Teal (including the single Green winged Teal) were feeding quite boldly just below the sea wall. The Little Egrets were much less confiding, as was the Greenshank which lifted from the creek as soon as my head appeared over the edge. All in all an excellent morning's birdwatching.
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Only natural connection of a far-too-busy day was a Tawny Owl "kee-wick" ing in the woods at 2am.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Spent another mild and incredibly calm day in Aberfoyle and Callander. Birdwatching was severely curtailed by family demands but a female Goosander among the Mallards on the Teith was a nice bonus.
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Confined to base today, so only virtual connections to report. Two Little Egrets continue to be reported from Kinneil Lagoons (possibly a destination for this weekend ) and over 1,000 Pintail are along the south shore of Loch Leven.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Headed out early this morning and arrived at the legendery Luckenburn Farm on the Slamannan plateau just as dawn was breaking. Part of the Bean Goose [165] flock was already in place on fields to the north of the B803, with other birds arriving over the next half hour. Views were pretty poor due to the distance, mist and part of the flock being hidden by trees. However managed to count at least 160 birds. Other birds in the area included a Buzzard and a Bullfinch.
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Round at Palacerigg, four more Bullfinches were feeding on the golf course. Meanwhile, 12 Great black backed Gulls were on the pier at Wester Fannyside Loch. At least ten Shoveler were on Frankfield Loch and Hogganfield Loch was alive with birds. Highlights there included two Ruddy Ducks, over 40 Goosander, three Wigeon (my first for the site) and a male Gadwall unusually close to the car park.
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An afternoon walk along the Cart produced two more Bullfinches (possibly the bird of the day).
As an added bonus, two (more) soaring Sparrowhawks were seen today - one over the M8 at Berryknowes Road and one over Pollock Fire Station.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Another mild, perfectly windless day in WCS. However in contrast to yesterday's 0% cloud cover, there was 100% cloud all day, with the first sunlight only peeping through about 5:30pm.
Set off mid-morning for the Largs-Cumbrae ferry. The five minute crossing was on a flat-calm sea.
Heading round to the west side of the island, Red throated Divers started to appear among the Eiders close inshore with 6 or more within the first mile. Scattered among them were some Black Guillemots, Shags and a Razorbill. Also, a Grey Seal and two Porpoises briefly broke the surface. Land birds of note included regular Stonechats (three in the first mile), occasional Rock Pipits and a pair of Ravens. One that got away was a probable Grey Partridge calling from rank vegetation.
Back on the mainland, four Red breasted Mergansers were at St Fillan's Bridge.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Spent a glorious morning around Ardmore Point. Lots of birds around, taking advantage of the calm conditions. Highlights were three Scaup [164] and a single Slavonian Grebe feeding close in with 14 Goldeneye, three Red throated Divers, four Great crested Grebes and small numbers of Guillemot, Razorbill and Black Guillemot further out, a Bar tailed Godwit, 6 Mute Swans, 8 Greylag and 6 Canada Geese, a Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk. A single seal popped its head out of the water briefly. Heading home, two more Buzzards were on roadside posts.
All in all, this was a great visit to Ardmore Point with lots of new birds added to my square lists as follows:
Ardmore isthmus: Sparrowhawk, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Meadow Ppit and House Sparrow.
Mid and West: Razorbill, Long tailed Tit and Jackdaw.
This evening, a walk along the Cart produced a Kingfisher flying upstream under the Cardonald Place bridge. As dusk fell, Redwings could be heard "tsee-eep"ing overhead.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Spent a mild and windless afternoon in the Yetts of Muckart - Rumbling Bridge - Crook of Devon triangle. Bird highlights included two Dippers on the river and a cloud of Jackaws around the bridge itself. Other notable connections included a colony of Fly Agaric (with a few Boletus) under the pines in Lendrick Muir car park.
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Saturday, October 09, 2010

Over 150 Jackdaws were feeding on the stubble fields behind Cairn Hill along with two Stock Doves, 25 Feral Pigeons and assorted other corvids and doves. Later, around half of the Jackdaws formed a tight flock to mob a passing Buzzard (my first for the square). Few birds were on the river, the exception being a Grey Wagtail (another first for the square).
News from the web is of a flock of Twite in the Rhubarb field at Arkleston Farm.
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Friday, October 08, 2010

Autumn colours showing in the trees at the uni. News from the web is of Swallow chicks still in the nest, enjoying our slow-burning Indian Summer.
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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Busy day, few connections. Twenty Curlews flew over the motorway at Finlaystone. No small raptors for a change.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Heading along the M8 late morning, a Kestrel was outflying two crows over the Hillington Interchange. Later, yet another Sparrowhawk was being harrassed by even more crows over the estate.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

More wet weather in WCS, but with sunny spells as well. News from the web is of winter thrushes filtering in, while Swallows are moving out.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Another day, another displaying Sparrowhawk - this time an exuberant male flying in elaborate, slow-flapping circles over tea-time Cardonald. As with yesterday's female, the white of the undertail coverts was very obvious, almost suggesting a white rump. According to Leslie Brown, display can take place at any time of year, but away from the breeding season may have more to do with defining territorial boundaries than impressing a mate. Whatever the purpose I have no doubt that these birds were tempted to display by the glorious, sunny afternoons on both days.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

An early morning walk to Paisley in the pouring rain produced only a few Mallards on the river. However as the rain started to ease, over 100 mixed corvids settled to feed on stubble. A small group of Blackbirds and Song Thrushes (two of each) feeding on Elderberries was probably the first of many winter thrush flocks. Also notable were three Grey Squirrels (at various points) and a Roe Deer in the meadow at Leverndale.
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An afternoon walk to Pollock Park Visitor Centre found the usual Hooded Crow in the show field (pictures below). No sign of any Nuthatches at the walled Garden, but a nice female Sparrowhawk was easily outmanoeuvering the crows as it soared overhead. Heading back to Corkerhill Road, over twenty agitated corvids along a shelter belt suggested another raptor was about. However the commotion proved to be due to a captive Harris's Hawk being exercised nearby (19,309).



Saturday, October 02, 2010

The River Cart was in full spate this evening, so bird life was non-existent (8,062).

Friday, October 01, 2010

News from the web is that the Bean Geese are back on the Slammanan Plateau. Surprised anyone could see them with the amount of rain we have been having.