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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.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Glorious sunshine in Greenock today (although the day started with clear skies and a hard frost). Three Greenfinches were singing at the top of Lyle Hill (I have found them quite scarce this winter). Further along Bow Street, a Bullfinch was piping quietly from dense foliage.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

A couple of Goldfinches were buzzing away in the sunshine in Partick this morning. Later a male Chaffinch was an unusual visitor to the garden. A dusk walk along the river from Paisley to Crookston was done in perfect, windless conditions. A bat was on the wing under the conifers at Hawkhead estate park (my first of the year). A Mistle Thrush was alarm-calling there, and a Song Thrush was singing at Cardonald. However there was no sign (or sound) of any owls along the route. Finally, two Red Foxes were playing on the lawn west of Leverndale "tower" in the half-light.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The spring-like weather prompted a good walk along the reservoir road in Glen Finglas. Birds on show included plenty of Canada Geese, a single male Goldeneye and a pair of Ravens. Back in the village, a Dipper was along the river. Earlier in the day, a single male Goosander was glowing almost luminously out in the middle of Loch Achray. Also notable were Oystercatchers inland at Gartmore and Glen Finglas.

Friday, February 25, 2010

A lunchtime walk into Paisley town centre and back was unremarkable with very few birds around. In the evening, a pair of Bullfinches were on the feeders (I wonder if these two have driven the rest of the winter flock away).

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Today's lunchtime walk through Greenock Cemetery and round the Murdieston Park reservoirs was done in unexpected sunshine (although rapidly rising atmospheric pressure meant the hill up to the golf course was a bit of a slog).
Bird highlights during the first part of the walk included a Great spotted Woodpecker at the north gate of the cemetery and a singing Dipper, again, at the artificial pool next to Inverkip Road. Notable records from the reservoirs included a Coot sitting on a half-finished nest, the Mute Swan pair rearranging theirs, plenty of Lesser black backed Gulls (the first decent count of the spring) and a high count of two Cormorants. Last week's Goosanders plus the usual Pochard and most of the Goldeneye have now moved on (the two female Goldeneye being the only winter wildfowl left).
Driving home this evening, a dozen Wigeon were plowtering along the edge of the Clyde.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chained to the dining room table today, with only a few Dunnocks, Robins, Woodpigeons etc for company (although a smart male Blackbird was slightly unusual here). Escaped late evening to go "owling" around Barshaw/Oldhall/Ralston but not a hoot was heard. I fear we may end up with an empty square for Tawny Owl in the atlas

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An extremely damp day today, but also surprisingly calm and mild. Heading back up the A8 at tea time, two Buzzards were among the sheep at Finlaystone.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A short break in the sleet (!) allowed a quick lunchtime walk up Lyle Hill. In common with what I am finding elsewhere, small groups of Siskins semed to be everywhere.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Walked from the glade to Partick via the Science Centre (5.2 miles) first thing. Most notable sightings included:
Siskins at various sites (much more than usual) including completely built-up areas
Lesser black backed Gulls back in good numbers
My first Goldcrest song of the spring (although I was still hearing some in early winter)
A Grey Wagtail flying over an industrial estate in a land-locked part of Govan
The flock of singing Redwings still in Cardonald Cemetery.
Best thing about today however was the warm sunshine in early afternoon, a really welcome sign of spring.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Today's early morning walk to Oldhall featured all the usual common birds including Blue, Great and Coal Tits, Greenfinch, House Sparrow, Dunnock and Blackbird (all but the latter in song). Once again, it was very apparent that House Sparrows favour evergreen shrubs including Privet.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Working in the west end this afternoon. Heading past Knightswood Park, a single Greylag (presumably feral) was with about 20-30 Mute Swans next to the pond. Must stop by there one day to see what else is about.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A frosty morning gave way to a day of showers. The usual lunchtime walk around Murdieston Park produced a couple of notable sightings including a pair of Goosanders, new in on the main dam. When I started to take my binoculars out of my carrier bag, the male started steaming towards me (accompanied by most of the gulls in the area). He was obviously hoping I was going to produce some bread. Two Goldeneyes out in the deep water were fairly typical (up to 5 having been present recently) but a Greater black backed Gull was more unusual.
Round the margins, four Blackbirds was a good count, as were 4 Chaffinches (including a singing male). Fifty Starlings were singing from tall trees and a single Coot was making a half-hearted attempt to start a nest. However sighting of the day concerned two Ravens flying over, cronking quietly.
News from the web (Birdguides; BTO) is of the first Wheatear and Swallow (in Cornwall) and a Robin on eggs.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Today began with a Raven patrolling over Oakshaw, Paisley. Later, three Goosanders and a Grey Wagtail were the highlights of a lunchtime walk through the town centre.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Over at the west end this morning for a meeting. A quick glance over Partick Bridge revealed a Greater black backed Gull (quite unusual here) duelling with a Black headed Gull.
Had the afternoon off so headed back to South Lanarkshire to try to add to the abysmal tetrad counts I got at the weekend. However only 12 species were located during two hours of searching (am I losing my touch?), most of which I had already recorded. My tetrad totals for the two squares, after three visits to each, stand at 22 and 20 species respectively.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Starting the day in Paisley today, so decided to walk along the river. Notable sightings included nearly 30 Mallards on floods below Leverndale Hospital (I wonder if they roost there), a pair of Goosanders flying up the Cart at Morrisons, Lonend and a single immature Mute Swan near Hawkhead Estate Park (my first in over 15 years of watching the stretch between Anchor Mill, Paisley and Pollok House, Glasgow).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Partick, this morning, held a very noisy flock of Goldfinches and a single Pied Wagtail. This afternoon, two Siskins were welcome visitors to the garden feeders and the usual walk along the Cart produced a nice pair of Goosander at the first bridge and a swirling flock of 20+ Starlings over Moulin.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Managed to fit in an early morning trip to south Lanarkshire to do my two late-winter, timed-tetrad visits. The first count, in the tetrad around Waterside Bridge, was notable for numerous Chaffinches and Great Tits (but absolutely no Blackbirds or Wrens) as well as single Common Buzzard, Pheasant and Dipper. The second count, along the River Nethan, produced very few birds, despite good viewing conditions. Perhaps the spot chosen was a little too exposed at this time of year. Whatever the reason, only around a dozen species were detected. I suspect another, longer visit (if I can squeeze one in before the end of the month) may be required to achieve a respectable winter species total for the tetrad.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A day off today, but mostly spent working at the dining room table and being distracted by two Grey Squirrels, a Magpie and four Feral Pigeons, all trying to ransack the bird feeders.
Only managed to escape along the river for the last half-hour of daylight. Birds were pretty scarce, most probably having already gone to roost. However two or three Song Thrushes and numerous Robins were in song and a Pied Wagtail was high over Moulin playing fields.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Song Thrush was singing in the estate first thing - presumably the same one which started singing around 11:45 last night. I wonder if it sang all night.
News from the web is of the first two Wheatears of the spring in Cumbria.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

A Buzzard was in the sheep field at Finlaystone this afternoon. Nearby 30 Oystercatchers and 50 Lapwings were in the flooded fields inland from Longman Point. Later, as dusk fell, 8 Goosanders were near the footbridge behind Glasgow Botanic Gardens as a Song Thrush sang nearby.
News from the web is of Oystercatchers moving inland with recent records from Loch Earn, Dunblane and Bridge of Allan.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The usual Greenock walk this lunchtime turned up a surprise in the form of a Dipper on the artificial pool next to Inverkip Road. The bird was pottering in the shallows before flying to the outlet grille where it started to sing. Earlier, at least 50 Siskins were singing from tall trees in the cemetery. Other singing birds there included Great, Blue and Coal Tits, Wren, Dunnock and Robin. Over 100 Jackdaws were on the wing above the cemetery where a Great spotted Woodpecker called and 4 Chaffinches were together near the top of the north steps. Notable birds on the reservoirs included 5 Goldeneye and a single Cormorant.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Snow returned to west central Scotland this morning. However rain around midday meant it was all but gone by evening. Heading along the A8 at Cappielow, four small flocks of Starlings were wheeling over the traffic.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Spent much of the day walking around the western half of Glasgow, attempting (in vain) to fill in some of the gaps in the new atlas winter list. Crossbill was a particular target, but in spite of searching what seemed like suitable areas, none were forthcoming. The day wasn't without its highlights (with Redwings, Fieldfares and Mistle Thrushes in Cardonald Cemetery, Grey Wagtails on the Kelvin and at Braehead, two Pied Wagtails at Tarfside Oval, Collared Doves at Cardonald and Renfrew, Reed Bunting at Ferry Meadows, Redpoll in Bellahouston Park and 5 Great black backed Gulls on the pontoon next to the Science Centre. Particularly notable were good numbers of singing Wrens, after the species seemed so scarce all winter. Finches were also well represented with Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Siskin and Redpoll all seen.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Mugdock Country Park was alive with birds this afternoon. At least 17 Goosander and two pairs of Goldeneye were on Mugdock Loch. The male Goosanders were displaying and bickering amongst themselves, their soft growls drifting across the water. First one, then two Crossbills flew over the loch. At least another seven were near the visitor centre. Common Buzzards (possibly the same individual) were over the Archery field, Craigend Loch and Gallows Pond (another was soaring over my back garden in Cardonald at lunchtime). Other notable sightings included a dead Carp in Gallows Pond and flowering Snowdrops (my first of the year) on the north side of Mugdock Castle.

Friday, February 04, 2011

The coast road through Skelmorlie was strewn with seaweed and other flotsam following last night's storms. Further south, a string of Great black backed Gulls were strategically placed on coastal rocks (I wonder if they have been driven ashore by the weather). Inland, a young Grey Heron was stalking prey beside the A77.
Heading back to Paisley, a possible Peregrine swept over a roadside field.
This evening, a walk along the river revealed extensive flooding over Moulin playing fields.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Rumours that spring had already come to Scotland appear to have been much exaggerated, with wintry weather returning to the north east.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

More signs of spring from the web today with Kittiwakes back in the Solway, the first Gannets back in the Clyde and two early Fulmars over Arthur's Seat.
Further affield, the last surviving Fiordland Kakapo, Richard Henry, has died of natural causes. He was around 80 years old and had played an important part in the precarious recovery of the species.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

No natural connections during a busy day in Hamilton. However a quick trawl of the web produced a number of interesting records including a Great grey Shrike in Lothian (birdguides), (could it be the missing Carron Valley bird?), two Nuthatches back at Pollok Country Park (clydebirds), the regular Nuthatch still coming to a feeder in Arisaig and the long-staying Crested Tit still on Skye (skye-birds). Also an interesting comment on the Gower Wildlife blog about DNA studies which seem to suggest that the recolonising Choughs in Cornwall came from Ireland and not Wales or France.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Headed down to Greenock a little later than usual today due to an early morning meeting in Paisley. Took the back road to avoid the traffic and had stunning views of a Buzzard hovering over the verge just before Snypes Dam, and another in a field just after there. Meanwhile, several hundred geese were flying over the farmland between Houston and Bishopton.