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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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

After the sunshine, the rain. Still VERY humid. There was a massive high tide (with hardly a ripple) at home-time.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A perfect, windless day started with a brilliant, orange sunrise. The rest of the day was spent zig-zagging between Greenock, Paisley, Clydebank and Renfrew.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Scotland's much-anticipated "Indian Summer" arrived today with blue skies and temperatures in the 20s. Working in Ayr, so headed for Rozelle Park before my 9 o'clock meeting. The first bird to show was a Nuthatch calling from one of the Cedars behind the big house. A walk around the ponds produced over 100 Mallards and the usual drake Wood Duck. Then back at the house, a Jay gave me the best view I have ever had of the species in Scotland. The birds I have seen in England (mostly in London and Leeds) have been relatively easy to approach, but all of my Scottish records have either been of a bird disappearing from view, or a strangulated screech from deep in cover. Today's bird was screeching from the exposed branch of a conifer to the east of the house. It then flew to a large Oak in the "paddock" where it was joined by what might have been a second bird. It then headed off across the paddock, giving the usual "retreating white rump" view.
This afternoon, a Raven was being mobbed by four Rooks as it perched in a tree to the south of Cairn Hill.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Some recent pics...







Monday, September 26, 2011

A working morning was brightened up by the constant comings and goings of Great Tits, Blue Tits and a single Coal Tit in the back garden. At lunchtime, a Bullfinch called loudly from somewhere nearby. An afternoon walk along the Clyde at Braehead produced a single Sandwich Tern moving through.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A small flock of seven or eight Siskins flew over Hyndland first thing. Nearby, a Dipper was plunge-feeding on the river underneath the Benalder Street bridge.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Headed to Ben Lomond first thing. A Jay flew across the road north of Sallochy. Later, on the walk up Ben Lomond, the only birds present after the end of the woods were regular Meadow Pipits and Ravens (four of the latter around the summit) and a single Kestrel. A perfect day for walking, but with lots of aches and pains this evening.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A supposed afternoon off finally started about 2:30pm with a visit to Pollok Park. It was a nice, mild day and plenty of birds were on the wing (or the water) including 45 Mallards (the males now almost back in breeding dress), 20+ Jackdaws and a big flock of 30+ finches (possibly a mixture of Redpolls and Siskins).

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Unfortunately had to spend over 10 hours sitting at my computer in Greenock today. The only relief came in the form of two Ravens cronking from the top of the church tower across the road (Westburn Church) around 6pm.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Received a good soaking this lunchtime during a quick walk around the Murdieston Park reservoirs. The Coot pair were still feeding at least two young and the Mute Swan broods of six and 4 were still intact (although two more adults have now appeared on the scene). Another new arrival was a Goosander, while three Pied Wagtails was a good number.
Heading home, about 10 Black tailed Godwits were flying over the motorway near Longman Point. Later, three Swallows were around the Maxwellton Road flats.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

An early walk around Yorkhill found the Kelvin swollen but no birds on show.


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Monday, September 19, 2011

East coast birders all of a twitter over a potential Pallid Harrier at Barns Ness.


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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Walked from Cardonald to Paisley first thing. Notable records included numerous singing Robins (and a few singing Wrens), Swallows still active over Hawkhead Estate and Ross House, a large flock of small finches (Siskins and Redpolls) in Alders at Hawkhead (with a Bullfinch also there), three Mistle Thrushes feeding on grass at Paisley "Castle", swollen numbers of corvids and pigeons on newly-cut hay and two Chickens (!) in a yard on Blackhall Street.
That last sighting goes onto my list of "Things you don't expect to see on the cycle path from Cardonald to Paisley". Others have included:
A canoeist (stuck on rocks).
A serious (as opposed to opportunistic) fisherman (complete with waders)
Plenty of horseriders (but also a single white horse being loaded into a horsebox).
A camper (brave soul).
Plenty of motorcyclists (Bah!).
Other birdwatchers (only two in something like 12 years of walking here).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

An evening walk along the shore at Gourock failed to produce any Manx Shearwaters. Only Eider and Oystercatchers were present.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Still at least one Swallow feeding over the "lagoons" at Port Glasgow and heading purposefully uphill.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Today started at a calm and sunny Kinneil. The tide was well out and the mudflats were studded with thousands of birds as far as the eye could see. Shelduck, Black tailed Godwit, Redshank and Teal were particularly evident. Plenty of Grey Herons were along the channels, but there were no Little Egrets on show. Land birds included Goldfinch, Reed Bunting and still a fair few Swallows. All too soon, work beckoned, so any remaining delights had to remain undiscovered.
Spent the morning working near Denny, then headed down to Greenock. The settled weather continued and the drive home saw the Cowal hills silhouetted against a golden autumn sky.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An afternoon drive to Ayr was notable for the almost complete absence of wind (in contrast to yesterday) and a single Cormorant flying down the River Ayr near Annbank.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Headed up to Murdieston Park at lunchtime to see if last night's storms had blown anything unusual in. As it happened, only the usual birds were there, although most were keeping their heads down, trying to withstand the atrocious conditions. Some, such as three feeding Swallows and a pair of Coots with three young were bravely trying to carry on as normal.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A stormy day today, with a gust of 74mph recorded at Glasgow Airport this afternoon. As I drove past there about that time, the air was full of what I estimated to be at least a thousand birds (Starlings, corvids and gulls). The Starlings were in a tight "ball" and probably numbered a couple of hundred. The other birds were drifting at various heights and sweeping over the fields, perhaps disturbed by a bird of prey.
This evening, a walk along the river found nothing braving the elements apart from two Magpies (flying sideways!).

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Today started with two Dippers under the Benalder Street bridge. Later, a trip through to the east produced various birds including an Arctic Skua (a very dark bird) briefly chasing a gull and a male Kestrel hunting the east flank of Arthur's Seat. Plenty of Swallows and some martins still around (and moving though).
News from the web is of the first Pinkfeet back at Aberlady and Loch Leven, the first Whooper Swans back at Loch Leven and an early Redwing in Cumbria.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Spent a very nice morning at Baron's Haugh. On arrival, a Buzzard was calling agitatedly overhead, and it kept up its whingeing all the time I was there. Other interesting land birds included small groups of Swallows passing through, a cloud of Sand Martins feeding overhead and a Chiffchaff breaking into brief song.
Birds on the haugh included two of my favourites; Greenshank and Green Sandpiper. The Greenshanks (two of them) were feeding with a Redshank on mud next to the Causeway Hide. They have a very delicate feeding action for such big birds. I also like their powerful flight and the white wedge avove the tail which shows very well, even at distance. Green Sandpipers are nervous litle birds. Even their flight is agitated and erratic. Today, the contrasting dark-and-white plumage in flight was very evident. They also have an interesting flight call.
Other birds on the haugh included a Shelduck and some Gadwall (the latter coming into breeding plumage), but no sign of Ruff, Dunlin or Little Stint.

Friday, September 09, 2011

A Raven was calling low over south Cardonald again about tea-time today. The local Magpies made a terrific racket in response.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

A female Sparrowhawk was in a thrilling dog-fight with a pair of Jackdaws high over Coats Memorial Church tower in Paisley first thing. That's two sightings in three days. I must have a look through my old sightings to see if there is any kind of pattern.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Torrential rain in west central Scotland. Bah!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Another afternoon working in Ayr, although the journeys there and back were spoiled by heavy rain. Not many birds on show, but still plenty of Swallows on the wing.

Monday, September 05, 2011

A misty, moisty dawn in Glasgow turned into a lovely sunny morning in Greenock. Heading back to Howwood at lunchtime, two Carrion Crows were feeding on a dead Hedgehog at How Barnaigh.
Spent the afternoon in Ayr but in too much of a hurry to see much. However while nearly home and waiting at the traffic lights at the top of Sandwood Road, a male Sparrowhawk flapped-and-soared over, just above tenement height.
Another recent hawk sighting just got a little more interesting. The "long-tailed, Buzzard-sized raptor" I saw near Linburn Plantation [NS4569] on Friday evening was only a couple of miles away from two Goshawks reported on Sunday from Netherton Farm [NS4967] (clydebirds).

Sunday, September 04, 2011

A flock of about 30 Siskins have been around the estate today.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Managed to fit in quite a long walk this afternoon, starting and finishing at Mugdock Park and taking in the outskirts of Blanefield, Loch Ardinning, a circuit of Muirhouse Muir and Mugdock Village. Notable mammal sightings included a Rabbit near the Kyber Fields (I very rarely see them in Mugdock Park) and a dead Hedgehog on the minor road through Craigton Golf Course. Young birds were very evident with broods of Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Moorhen, Mallard, Mute Swan and Blackbird all noticed. More unusual species were few, but three separate Great spotted Woodpeckers were notable. Other wildlife included a dragonfly sp overhead in Blanefield, a perfectly camoulflaged moth resting on a Birch branch, a very prolific growth of bracket fungus over a tree in Mugdock Park and a Pufball on Muirhouse Muir.
News from the web is of more waders starting to pass through west central Scotland including Little Stint, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper, Ruff, Greenshank, Whimbrel and Black tailed Godwit. Finally, the Scottish Gamekeepers Association has provoked much debate by suggesting that Scottish White tailed Eagles might start preying on small children.

Friday, September 02, 2011

The settled weather of late broke overnight and the rain was never far away all day. However winds remained light. A "Willow-Chiff" was working the hedge outside the office window for much of the morning. At lunchtime a colleague arrived to say she had seen at least 10 Pied Wagtails in Well Park in the centre of Greenock. Heading home, a long-tailed, Buzzard-sized raptor flew across the M8 near the Erskine slips. Arkleston Farm had clouds of Goldfinches, Starlings and Swallows.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Had a job to do at the Reid McEwen Centre in the Erskine Hospital estate mid morning. Plenty of birds were in the area including lots of Swallows and House Martins, a briefly singing Chiffchaff, a few Goldfinches, Chaffinches and Jackdaws, and a Mistle Thrush seeing off a Carrion Crow. I hadn't been down that far for years and wondered if it was still possible to wander down to the Clyde. However development at nearby Mar Lodge appears to have completely closed off any access. Made me wonder why local people didn't hold out for a right of way through the golf course - or maybe they did.
The run down to Greenock was uneventfull. Heading back up the motorway a little earlier than usual, the Clyde was well in, perfectly still, and dotted with ducks.