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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, November 30, 2010

News from the web is of Bramblings and Tree Sparrows turning up in gardens. Nothing special in my postage stamp today - except the two Dunnocks that have learned to use the peanut feeder.
Birdguides are reporting Chough at Alum Bay, Isle of Wight.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Grey Squirrel was stuck in the peanut feeder first thing. Fearing for my fingers I left it to its own devices, and it eventually extricated itself. More welcome visitors included a Coal Tit, two Dunnocks and a Robin.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Blue Tit was singing in the snow in Partick first thing.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Quite a fall of snow overnight meant a bit of a winter wonderland first thing. Twenty geese (possibly Canadas) flew over the house in perfect "V"-formation. Not many birds noticed the newly-filled peanut feeder (apart from four Magpies and a Dunnock). A single Blackbird was poking about the pond.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The first snow of the winter started falling in Glasgow about 10:30 tonight.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Working in Ayr first thing. Heading back to Greenock via the M77, Barrhead and Howwood, a Common Buzzard was over Prestwick Airport, Pochard, Teal and Goldeneye were on Balgray Reservoir and a Kestrel was hovering near Neilston.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A brief scoot around Murdieston Dams revealed not very much of interest, except that Black headed Gulls numbers seem to have risen. Winter ducks were represented by a solitary Goldeneye on the main dam.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Buzzard was on a fencepost west of Linwood this afternoon. There seem to be more of them about these days, after a lean spell in September and October.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A bitterly cold wind was whipping across Hogganfield Loch during a quick lunch stop en route to Huntershill. Seventeen Whooper Swans were mooching for bread in front of the car park. Among them were four juveniles. A male Goldeneye was diving among the swans with two males and two females further out. The usual male Gadwall was whistling and displaying to some female Mallards. Meanwhile five peachy male Goosanders were displaying to a single redhead.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Two Goldfinches and a Pied Wagtail were with the usual Starlings and Magpies at the West of Scotland Cricket Ground this morning.
Now - more pictures from yesterday's big day out:

View of Cairngorms from Aviemore Station

A perfectly still Lochan Mor

An equally still Loch an Eilein

The Waxwing tree at Whitewell

View of Cairngorms from Whitewell

Cottage at Whitewell

Looking northeast from Tullochgrue

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Spent most of the day in and around Aviemore, thanks to a special deal from First Scotrail. The journey from Glasgow took place mostly in darkness. However there was just enough light to make out two Buzzards and four Red Grouse near Dalwhinnie. The main event of the day was a walk to Loch an Eilein via Lilly Loch and Milton Cottage, then back via Whitewell and Blackpark. Birds were hard to find but small numbers of Siskins, Chaffinches and the commoner tits were encountered at several sites. Chaffinches and Coal Tits were particularly numerous around the feeders in the Loch an Eilein car park, and were joined by a Red Squirrel. A little later, a tit flock along the eastern shore contained three Crested Tits (one watched feeding in heather down to a couple of metres while two others passed at head height). Most notable record however concerned 17 Waxwings feeding on Juniper berries and resting in a Birch tree near Whitewell.

The magic tickets

Christmas lights in Glasgow first thing

Arrival in Aviemore

The Old Manse

Milton Cottage

Forest Cottage

Deserted cottage at Upper Tullochgrue


Friday, November 19, 2010

A very quick walk along the river just before dusk produced a single Grey Wagtail under Rosshall Bridge, good numbers of Blackbirds going to roost and around 10 Redwings on the island in Rosshall Park Pond.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kept an eye out for Buzzards in the sheep field at Finlaystone this lunchtime, but none were present.
Meantime the cover art for the forthcoming NN has been released and is reproduced here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lots of birds were on the move at dawn this morning. Four Whooper Swans flew across the motorway past Glasgow Airport and 40 geese were doing their usual commute up the Clyde.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

While walking to an early morning meeting in Partick, around 60 Waxwings flew over Morrison's supermarket heading south east. A few minutes later, over 100 (possibly including the first 60) were feeding in trees in the supermarket car park, and 12 more were in trees along Cooper's Well Street opposite the entrance to Benalder Street. Other birds in the area and along the Kelvin included a dozen Long tailed Tits, a Lesser black backed Gull, a Grey Heron and three Mallards.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A tit flock through the garden yesterday consisted of 5 or 6 Blue Tits, a single Coal Tit and an attendant Grey Squirrel.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

The West of Scotland Cricket Ground this morning held 5 Fieldfares and a single Mistle Thrush. Later, a Kestrel was on a lampost next to Silverburn Shopping Centre.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Tawny Owl calling outside at two this morning. Thirty-five Waxwings over Sanquhar Drive, Crookston at 8am.

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Thurs/Fri, November 11/12, 2010

No time for natural connections due to a series of family dramas. Hopefully normal service will be resumed once things settle down.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A huge, orange sun was rising during the drive down the Clyde first thing. Heading back to Glasgow early afternoon, lots of ducks were afloat between Langbank and Longman Point. Most seemed to be either Mallard or Wigeon, the males' breeding colurs showing beautifully in the bright sunshine.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

No time, or daylight, for natural connections (although 50 geese were powering up the Clyde as I headed down first thing). But at least the rain in WCS has finally stopped.

Monday, November 08, 2010

No natural connections today due to workload and the short daylength. However news from the web is of various small birds appearing in odd places including Nuthatches in Arisaig, Kintail and Edinburgh, a Crested Tit on Skye and continental Bearded Tits down the east coast of England.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Checked the "Waxwing tree" at the cricket ground this morning, but it only held a couple of twittering Goldfinches.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

A walk in the rain, from Parklea to Greenock, produced a Razorbill, a flock of Siskins and courting Eiders plus some "fairy rings" in the grass verges. Back home, a Blue Tit, Coal Tit and two Redwings were foraging among fallen leaves and a Grey Squirrel casualty on the railway bridge was being checked out by a second individual.

Friday, November 05, 2010

It has been raining in WCS for over a week. The ground is sodden. What we need is a nice cold snap. Meantime, in common with the rest of the central belt, we are awash with Waxwings.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Dismal and dreary down the Clyde this morning. However lots of House Sparrows were chirruping (and a Bullfinch giving its soft whistle) from gardens in north Cardonald.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Arrived at the Gaelic College first thing to find the saltmarsh at the head of Loch Indaal alive with birds. Most notable were around 30 Brent Geese feeding on the sand then circling the bay and splashing down offshore. They then proceeded to squabble and lunge at eachother. Around 50 - 100 Teal were also feeding in the shallows, with small numbers of Red breasted Mergansers and Mallards in the slightly deeper water.
The drive over to Port Ellen was notable only for more heavy rain. Waiting for the ferry back to Kennacraig, four Collared Doves and numerous House Sparrows were near the grain store. As dusk fell, a single Great northern Diver flew over our wake [Final species lists for Islay were 56 Birds and 6 Mammals, with 9 species added to the year list].

Tuesday November 02, 2010

Day 2 of the Islay trip was completely devoted to work. Even a probable Slavonian Grebe fishing outside the classroom for most of the day had to remain unconfirmed. Once again, the end of the working day co-incided with a deterioration in the weather. A quick run round to Bruicladdich pier in failing light produced only a disappointing two Eiders, although a Common Scoter was a nice find at Uiskentuie.
An after-dark walk along the road east of Bowmore took place against the background of softly breaking waves under impossibly starry skies.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Left home at 3:30am to drive the 99 miles to Kennacraig (the only natural connection being Red Deer caught in the headlights in Glen Croe). West Loch Tarbet was like glass as the Islay ferry set off. Just after first light, birds started to appear. Most numerous were Great northern Divers with singles and groups of up to three birds in a variety of plumages. Other birds during the first half of the trip included Cormorant, Shag, Hooded Crow, Rook, Eider and Red breasted Merganser. Just off Ardbeg, a distant, gingery-brown skua with white primary patches might have been a Bonxie. Commonest birds during the stretch between Ardbeg and Port Ellen were small auks (presumably Razorbills and Guillemots). More Eiders and a Grey Seal were in Port Ellen harbour.

Driving over to Bowmore, bird highlights included a flock of 150 Twite, a mixed finch/bunting flock, a dead Hedghog and a female Hen Harrier flying over the bonnet of the car.
By the end of the working day the weather had closed in, with torrential rain and gale force winds. However a tour of the north west of the island produced a Hare at Kilchoman, Whooper Swan, Raven and Turnstone at Ardnave, Shoveler and Wigeon at Loch Gruinart and both Greenland White fronted and Barnacle Geese in various fields. The main target species, Chough, was extremely elusive. A distant flock of 30-40 birds, in horizontal rain over Ardnave Point were almost certainly this species. However a later return to Ardnave, in slightly better conditions, produced two birds (and a "ball" of Starlings) heading to roost.