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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, January 30, 2011

The local Goldcrests seem to have survived the cold snap with three birds seen today at one regular site (the old cookery school next to Rosshall School) and another heard at a second (the southern edge of Rosshall Park). Wrens remain scarce with none seen or heard on a walk from Berryknowes Road to Howford Bridge and back. Grey Wagtails and Long tailed Tits were also absent again, although I have come across plenty of the latter at other sites.
Other notable sightings today included Snowdrops emerging through the leaf litter in Rosshall Park (below) and two separate Grey Squirrels making a strange, Jay-like screeching (?alarm) call that I hear from time to time.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Walked along the canal towpath from Bishopbriggs to the centre of Glasgow. Bird life was fairly good with 60 Wigeon circling over Possil Loch and a male Kestrel over Possil Marsh being the highlights. Later, a Roe Deer was browsing quietly near Spiers Wharf.

Friday, January 28, 2011

High pressure over west central Scotland today meant blue skies and next to no wind. Thought I would try for the Carron Valley Great Grey Shrike so headed there immediately after work. Unfortunately the best of the day was already over but still managed a walk half way along the south shore of the reservoir. Commonest birds were Crossbill (22+ including some singing males) and Siskin (including a flock of 40 birds). Unfortunately the shrike failed to show. However a Great spotted Woodpecker was at the picnic site and as dusk approached, a Grey Heron and 13 Greylag Geese flew in and a Raven was cronking in the distance.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A male Blackbird was in full song at Greenock West station this evening.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Light in the sky at both the start and end of the working day was a clear sign that spring is on its way. Another was the Blue Tit which sang and scolded through an interview being broadcast on Radio Scotland.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Walked down to Greenock esplanade this lunchtime. Several Eider were just offshore, but there was little else around apart from a single Redshank on the tiny beach at the far east end.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The usual lunchtime walk up to Murdieston and back was notable for assorted finches (Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Siskin) in Greenock Cemetery and plenty of birdsong (including Goldfinch, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Coal Tit). The Mallards and Jackdaws at the dams are all now in seemingly inseparable pairs. The two male Mute Swans continue to patrol the Town Dam (where a Cormorant was on the island) while a pair have taken up residence on the island in the main reservoir. Nearby the male Pochard continues to swim around while pretending to be asleep and three Goldeneyes were feeding.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Not much time for natural connections today, but a short walk along the canal at Spier's Wharf found a juvenile Mute Swan and a handful of Tufted Ducks loitering in the ice-free area.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Managed to escape from marking for a few hours in the afternoon. Walked to the Hurlet and back via the Cart and Hurlethill. Bird encounters were few due to thick mist (although a Buzzard appeared briefly over the Hurlethill trig point). The only birds along the river were Mallards and a "possible Water Rail" which eventually revealed itself as a first winter Moorhen. Birds of the day were Long tailed Tits and Redwings, both of which seemed to be everywhere.

Friday, January 21, 2011

More light in the eastern sky this morning hinted at the coming spring. Meantime, news from the web (clydebirds) is that two White tailed Eagles are around the cliffs on the west coast of Bute.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Driving up the Clyde into gathering gloom, this evening, numerous small waders were on the mud and around 100 dark Geese (? Greylags) were grazing near the airport.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The usual lunchtime walk around Murdieston Dams found more signs of spring with Mallards and Jackdaws clearly paired up, Coots bickering noisily and Robin, Greenfinch and Blue Tit in song. Five Goldeneye and a single Pochard (asleep) were with the commoner wildfowl and a Cormorant was near the model boat shed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The sunny weather in Cardonald this lunchtime enticed Blackbird, Blue Tit, Collared Dove and Greenfinch into song. Six Waxwings in trees behind the terraced houses on Cardonald Place Road were indulging in much calling, swooping and crest-raising. Back home, two Feral Pigeons (including a 3/4 white one) joined the usual garden birds.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A male Blue Tit sang almost the whole day outside the office window in Greenock. He obviously thinks spring is near. However clear skies this evening suggest frost ahead.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Visitors to the garden today included three Chaffinches and a single Woodpigeon.
An interesting article in this month's "Countryfile" magazine on the Cairngorms National Park included a stunning picture of a Black Grouse lek on a Strathspey hillside.
Artwork for the latest New Naturalist shown below.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Spent a rainy day in the Linlithgow-Bo'ness area. Interested to see the lone Shelduck from last year still on the loch. However an extensive search failed to turn up the regular redhead Smew. Other interesting sightings included over 100 Jackdaws in woods above Linlithgow, six Curlew in fields above Bo'ness and a pair of Red breasted Mergansers off Bo'ness Dock. Stopped off at Hogganfield Loch on the way home. Much of the loch was covered in ice, limiting the birds on offer. However it was interesting to see that the lone male Gadwall which frequents the car park area seems to have found a mate. Bird of the day was Goldeneye with good numbers on Linlithgow Loch, offshore at Bon'ess and on Hogganfield Loch (where 23 were in a tight group at the very back of the ice-free area).
An interesting non-bird sighting was a dead Carp under the ice at Linlithgow..

Friday, January 14, 2011

A little more light in the sky this evening hinted at the lengthening days. Huge numbers of Lapwings are still in the fields down the Clyde, but that ancient restlessness is about to begin again.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Heading back to Glasgow from Leeds this afternoon, stopped the car at Kirkby Lonsdale again. The view below is from the viewpoint known as Ruskin's View. Nearby were a pair of Goosanders.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Spent the afternoon driving from Glasgow to Leeds, breaking the journey twice - at Lockerbie and Kirkby Lonsdale. At the first stop, a short walk around Lochmaben Castle produced at least three very noisy Nuthatches, ten Great Tits, numerous Redwings and Jackdaws, and a single Willow Tit. At Kirkby Lonsdale, a look over the side of the bridge sadly didn't produce any Mandarin Ducks. However good birds nearby included Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Grey Heron, Kestrel and Great spotted Woodpecker. Other birds seen on the journey included Buzzards at Newton Mearns and Carlisle, and Kestrels at Stonehouse and Nook.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A sunny day in west central Scotland, with Blue Tits singing at various sites. A single female Goosander was standing on a rock under the Benalder Street bridge, showing off its pale orange flippers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The snow in wcs turned to heavy rain overnight. A busy work day meant no daylight connections at all, and an evening walk in the rain was little consolation.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Conditions underfoot were pretty tricky during this afternoon's walk along the river and up into Crookston and Leverndale. Notable sightings included 20 Waxwings over Crookston Road and a nice drake Goldeneye at the confluence of the Levern and White Cart Waters.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

A substantial overnight fall of snow found all the usual suspects out and about early, searching for food. At least three parties of Long tailed Tits (and two Wrens) were along the Kelvin between Kelvinbridge and the Botanic gardens. Four Goosanders were under the footbridge at the botanics with a single female under Kelvinbridge. Back home, two Woodpigeons and the usual Bullfinches were in the garden.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Today's lunchtime walk around Paisley town centre was brightened up considerably by a Raven which flew, cronking loudly, along the Oakshaw ridge from Paisley Cross to the West End. It perched briefly on the weather vane of Oakshaw Trinity Church before spending at least an hour circling and perching on the steeple of Coats Memorial Church.
Other notable birds in Paisley today included the usual Pintail, six Goosanders, a Redshank and numerous Redwings.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A single Teal on Thom Street reservoir was a new species for me for the site. Nearby, the ice-free area on the main reservoir held single Pochard, Goldeneye and Goosander among the Mallards and Tufted Ducks. Over at Greenock Cemetery, Treecreepers were in two areas and a Buzzard was being mobbed by two Carron Crows and two Herring Gulls.
Today's blurry picture is of a Goldcrest on a wall.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Snow returned today to west central Scotland. However the predominant weather was grey and miserable.

Adding another blurry picture today - this time of one of yesterday's Bullfinches.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A morning visit to a rain-washed Cardross found large numbers of Mallard and Wigeon close inshore. In amongst them were 5 Scaup, two Goosander and a single drake Pintail (but no sign of the female Mandarin reported over the past few days).

Monday, January 03, 2011

A walk from Pollokshaws Road back to Cardonald via Pollok Country Park produced numerous winter visitors including Redwing, Fieldfare and Siskin, a Hooded/Carrion Crow hybrid across the river from the Highland Cattle paddocks, Goosanders mooching for bread at several sites, a Buzzard near the M77 underpass and a pair of Goldeneye with a Little Grebe just east of the Mosspark Station footbridge. One that got away was a possible Brambling near the remnant of Pollok Wood near the end of Lyoncross Road.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Managed a short walk around Arkleston Farm and down through Ralston this afternoon. Best bird of the walk was one that got away - a small, brown raptor perched on the hedge which runs along the Hillington side of the farm. It was probably a female Sparrowhawk, but just might have been a female Merlin. Other notable sightings were several small parties of Fieldfares around the farm, a sizeable flock of Siskins in the conifers west of the golf course and two flocks of Waxwings - 80 flying up Penilee Road and another 80 (or the same) perched in a tree in front of Ralston Community Centre.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

A short walk along the Cart this afternoon produced an impressive 34 Mallards at the Cardonald Place Bridge and at least three Goldcrests foraging among bare branches near the old Cookery School.