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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, July 31, 2011

A morning walk to Hyndland, via the ferry at the Transport Museum, produced a number of interesting records including a singing Willow Warbler in Cardonald, a Hoodie hybrid in Craigton, 17 Swifts over Craigton Road (with another in Hyndland), fledged House Sparrows and Starlings in Govan, four Goosanders (including a flightless bird being mobbed by gulls) on the Clyde and 15 to 20 Sand Martins visiting presumed nest holes in the river retaining wall opposite the museum.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Walked from Callander to Aberfoyle along the Rob Roy Way this morning and afternoon. Highlights of the trip were Swifts over Stirling, Callander and Aberfoyle, a Spotted Flycatcher in Aberfoyle, single singing Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, Linnets on moorland and a Little Grebe on a small lochan. Non-birds included a small Common Toad, Red and Blue Damselflies, 3 or four different dragonfly species, several butterflies and a large ground beetle. Best of all was missed by me but seen by two other members of our group - an Adder crossing the path near David Marshall Lodge. I have waited over 40 years to see an Adder in the wild in Scotland. I guess I am going to have to wait a bit longer.
Below are some pictures telling the story of the day.....


(Added 25th August ... Forgot to mention two or three very strange Buzzards encountered along the way. Call didn't sound right for Buzzard, but hard to get a good look due to the birds circling with a very strong sun behind them. Listened to the call of Honey Buzzard tonight..... just a thought).












First leg: Crookston to Glasgow Central





A quiet Glasgow Central




Arriving at Queen Street




Stirling Station




Breakfast in Cafe Ecosse, Callander




Lunch in the Menteith Hills




Descending to Aberfoyle




A celebratory snack in Aberfoyle





Nearly home




A sight for sore eyes

Friday, July 29, 2011

Four House Martins were feeding high over Cardonald Gardens this evening.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Some photos from Cala Mondrago...



Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Reckon yesterday's streaky, yellow-rumped finches were Serins.
Ironically, today's bus-ride to Palma Airport produced some of the beat birds of the holiday with an egret sp, a possible Red backed Shrike, a possible Booted Eagle and a fourth Hoopoe.
And so to the flight home, and a return to Glasgow on a lovely sunny evening. It won't last however, with a band of rain due by tonight....

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A walk to es forti this morning produced the third Hoopoe of the holiday, fleeting views of a Firecrest (I have been hearing them all week) and two streakey-green, yellow-rumped finches. Oh and its hot, darmed hot.


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Monday, July 25, 2011





Another quiet day today, although the House Martins and Swifts have been very active after yesterday's rain. Reading 'Natural navigation' by Tristan Gooley. Finding it a bit turgid (like this blog, perhaps) but I will persevere...


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Sunday, July 24, 2011

A walk up Castell del Sanctuari in sunshine ended with a thorough soaking with torrential rain at the summit (450m). However there were plenty of good birds about including singing Blackcaps and Cirl Buntings, wailing Stone Curlews, three Kestrels, plenty of Collared Doves, Turtle Doves, Rock Doves and Woodpigeons, tree-dwelling Stonechats and a Crested Lark showing well on a wire.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Kestrel was showing well on wires by the side of the Palma road this afternoon. On the return journey, around 50 Swifts were swirling round a village church.


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Friday, July 22, 2011

An afternoon walk back from Cala Mondrago revealed several more calling Stone Curlews, a possible Hobby and two Rock Doves.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

A quiet day, bird-wise. Reading Lea McNally's 'Highland Deer Forest' by the pool. It is a mine of useful information about the life-cycles of all the hill mammals and birds.


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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Walked to Cala Mandrago first thing, arriving well before the crowds. Best birds en route were a pair of Stone Curlews calling from a piece of waste ground. One was prowling around suspiciously but the other was preening quietly, both giving excellent views. In the nature reserve itself, best birds were a Hoopoe, a Kingfisher, several (invisible) Turtle Doves, more Stone Curlews, Coot, Spotted Flycatcher and Stonechat with young, and first one, then two more probable Wrynecks.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Make that Sardinian Warbler...


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Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Bird of the day was Marmora's Warbler. They inhabit the big Stone Pines on the headlands, bossing the local House Sparrows.

Monday, July 18, 2011
Day 1 of our short break in east Mallorca. Bird of the day was Spotted Flycatcher, which seemed to be everywhere. The hotel has nesting House Martins and possibly Crag Martins. A possible Alpine Swift was overhead.

Sunday, July 17, 2011
Arrived at Palma Airport as dusk was falling. A couple of big bats were hunting over the car park.


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Friday, July 15, 2011

Back to the usual routine today. The settled weather of the last week broke a little today, but there is still hardly a breath of wind.....

Thursday, July 14, 2011




Finished work in Leeds at lunchtime and drove home in bright sunshine. Stopped for a quick lunch at Malham Cove and enjoyed the sights and sounds of:

Peregrine - adult male perched on the rock face

Kestrel - hunting over the cove

Swift - screaming along the rockface and visiting probable nest holes

House Martin - also attending nest sites on the cliff face (although I couldn't pinpoint any)

Little Owl - single adult preening on a rock

Wheatear - male on a wall (typical Dales pose)

Green Woodpecker - brief yaffle

Wednesday, July 13, 2011






Spent the afternoon driving to Leeds for a meeting tomorrow morning. Stopped off in Littondale for a break and enjoyed great views of a male Yellow Wagtail preening on a fence post. A female and juvenile were present in the same field and up to three other males were in the surrounding area. Other birds included lots of Pied Wagtail broods, one brood of Grey Wagtails, three Buzzards, three Spotted Flycatchers, a Common Sandpiper, around 20 Oystercatchers (including 12 in a flock together), a Curlew and a distant Raven.

Went for a walk above Barden Bridge in the early evening and almost immediately found a female Mandarin with five ducklings. I had forgotten how unobtrusive the females are - almost indistinguishabele (at a distance) from female Mallards. Closer views revealed the white eye stripe, a feature also present in the ducklings.

The photos above show the Yellow Wagtail field (with Halton Gill in the distance) and the stretch of the Wharfe where the Mandarins were (with a Sand Martin colony in the exposed bank in the background).

Tuesday, July 12, 2011



Three House Martins were back over Cardonald Gardens this morning. In the evening a Kestrel was next to Cockles Loan. In between, the Clyde was full of ships.






Monday, July 11, 2011

An evening walk along the Kelvin through Glasgow's West End produced two Grey Herons, 10 Sand Martins, a Swift, a Red Fox, some jumping fish but nothing else - no Dippers, Kingfishers or Grey Wagtails. All three species have been rare or non-existent on the waters I walk in west and south-west Glasgow this year. I guess the severe winter weather thinned them out considerably.


Sunday, July 10, 2011


This year's batch of froglets has begun to emerge from the Silver Glade pond and disappear into the long grass. Delighted to have outwitted the Magpies for once.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

The car park on Auchmountain Glen Road had singing Grasshopper Warbler and Whitethroat this morning. Down in Greenock, the main harbour (not the one with the Tall Ships) had five Black Guillemots and a Rock Pipit carrying food. Oh and the ships were pretty good too.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Hillington Industrial Estate this evening was full of singing Goldfinches, ravenous juvenile Starlings and a fair few Swallows.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Walking again today. Getting caught in a thunderstorm while walking through Paisley wasn’t much fun but enjoyed the sight of three broods of Mallard ducklings (1, 2 and 4) at Forbes Place and a Grey Heron in its usual spot.


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

No car today, so had to resort to walking everywhere. Compensations were 8 singing Blackcaps and 3 singing Chiffchaffs between Cardonald and Paisley, and a singing Whitethroat over at Ralston Farm. Over at Howwood this afternoon, a Grasshopper Warbler was reeling behind the houses at Spateston, twenty House Sparrows were bathing in a puddle nearby and a Yellowhammer sang at St Vincent’s Hospice.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A lunchtime walk over Saucel Hill, Paisley revealed 3 Swallows feeding (but where do they nest?) and a family group of Mistle Thrushes.
Walking home from Hawkhead in the evening, a male Kestrel was hunting over the field next to Leverndale Hospital and two small groups of Siskins flew overhead.
Oh, and Swifts at UWS, Saucel Hill and Leverndale.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Two House Martins were over Cardonald at 6:30am. The two Mute Swan broods at Murdieston Park are doing well, but there were no Coot chicks visible this lunchtime. Jackdaws had fledged young and Swifts were over the cemetery and Orangefield. Forty five Mute Swans were off Langbank and back home, three Swifts were over the house.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Took a walk along through Govan and over the bridges at the SECC before ending up at Paisley Road Toll. Birds along the way included a single Swallow at Elder Park (the waste ground where Swallows and House Martins were feeding last summer has been built on), nesting House Martins on the tenements opposite the new Transport Museum, a singing Whitethroat between there and Glasgow Harbour, plenty of singing Goldfinches in Govan and a Sparrowhawk (my second in two days) soaring over houses just west of the toll.

Saturday, July 02, 2011














Spending a sunny Saturday in Edinburgh. Three Chiffchaffs and two Whitethroats were singing between Dunsapie and Duddingston. Fulmars were occupying at least three ledges on Salisbury Crags and a Swift, a House Martin and four Swallows buzzed a Sparrowhawk as it flew over the Scottish Parliament.





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Friday, July 01, 2011

Managed to confirm breeding Sand Martin in Paisley Town Centre during my lunch break. Two pairs were entering drainage pipes in the walls of the river and leaving with faecal sacs. This evening, three Yellowhammers (the first for a while) were singing around Arkleston Farm and 30 Swallows were on wires along Scotts Road, Paisley (where a yound Fox was pottering around the scrapyards).