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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, October 31, 2011

Another day, another hop over to Dunoon. The Clyde was smooth both ways, but birdlife was in short supply with only a single, unidentifiable auk present. Groups of Eider were hanging about at both Ferry Terminals and a pair of Goldeneye close-in off Dunoon seafront was a nice surprise.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Walked to the west end today. Plenty of birds were about, including lots of "new" Robins and Blackbirds, but surprisingly no Redwings or Fieldfares. Two Cormoranst and a Coot were interesting sightings at the Science Centre.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

An early morning trip to Stirling took place in heavy rain. Heading home, the rain cleared enough to allow a walk around Hogganfield Loch. Best birds were five Whooper Swans (among 50+ Mutes), around 6 Goosanders (several mouling into adult [male] plumage) and the usual, confiding drake Gadwall. Viewing conditions weren't ideal, but there appeared to be no Little Grebe, Pochard, Shovelor or Ruddy Ducks present, and only that one Gadwall and four Teal.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Headed to Dunoon late morning. The hop over the Clyde was very smooth, but birds were limited to a cloud of gulls following a fishing boat. A quick lunch stop in a layby produced a very unusual record in the form of a Tawny Owl, calling from the woods. Other birds nearby were Goosander, Grey Heron, Mallard and Great spotted Woodpecker. Caught the return ferry just after 5 pm and enjoyed the sight of dozens of Starlings streaming towards the roost site near Cappielow. A little later, a Kestrel was hunting in the gathering gloom near Bishopton.



Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Raven on the weather cock of Paisley's Coats' Memorial Church was being mobbed by a crow. A Pheasant was near Laigh Bernaigh and 200 grey geese were wiffling down behind Knocknairs'shill Reservoir.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Arrived in Kilmarnock a bit early this morning so took a walk around Kay Park. Plenty of birds were on the pond including Mallard, Coot and Mute Swan all still with dependent young (4, 2 and 1 respectively). Two Goosanders (a male and female) were keeping their distance and a fine Muscovy Duck was also staying out of phone-camera reach.

Heading back to Greenock via the back of Irvine, a group of geese on a flood near Muirhouses looked like, and turned out to be Barnacle Geese (8). In the same field were 18 Canada Geese and two Pink footed Geese.



Monday, October 24, 2011

Notable web sightings include 6 Little Egrets at Sandside Bay, Kirkcudbright (D&G Birding) and Merlin, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine and Buzzard at Baron's Haugh (baronshaugh.talktalk.net).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The local birds have noticed that I have started to fill the feeders again. Two Great Tits, a Blue Tit, a Coal Tit and four Bullfinches all put in an appearance.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Spent most of the day in the Linlithgow / Bo'ness area, enjoying some remarkably mild and rain-free weather. Best birds were Red breasted Mergansers and Bar tailed Godwits at Kinneil, and the almost ever-present Buzzard (at least 5 in total). Also good was a flock of around 50 Chaffinches at the east end of Linlithgow Loch (searched in vain for Brambling but only found a single Greenfinch). Some that got away were 30 distant passerines swirling over ploughed fields south of Bo-ness. Linnet seems most likely, but Twite is also possible.
Totals for the Linlithgow Loch were as follows: Mute Swan (36 - not including first years), Domestic Greylag Goose (8), Shelduck (1), Mallard (52), Domestic Mallard (2), Goldeneye (3), Tufted Duck (245), Buzzard (2), Cormorant (3), Moorhen (21), Coot (220), Great crested Grebe (11), Little Grebe (15), Great black backed Gull (5), Herring Gull (2), Common Gull (5), Black headed Gull (c215), Woodpigeon (31), Feral Pigeon (6), Blackbird (3), Mistle Thrush (1), Robin (2), Wren (3), Dunnock (1), Jackdaw (1), Magpie (3), Carrion Crow (1), Chaffinch (c50), Greenfinch (1).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Artwork for forthcoming New Naturalist below:







Thursday, October 20, 2011

Headed to Ardmore Point first thing and probably got the best of the day. The tide was well out, so viewing conditions were not ideal. However there were plenty of birds available including, surprisingly, a strong cast of passerines. The north bay had all the usual waders (no sign of the Little Egret or Brent Goose reported recently) plus about 50 Wigeon and 25 Teal in the shallows. Several Great crested Grebes, three Slavonian Grebes, a Red throated Diver and a Goldeneye were slightly further out. Three Ravens flew over the woods and a Jay screeched repeatedly but didn't show itself. Two Canada Geese also flew over. Good flocks of finches and pipits were around the west side of the point and single Black Guillemot, Shag and Red breasted Merganser all duly appeared. Further round, more passerines appeared including plenty of thrushes (mainly Blackbirds but a Song Thrush showed well) and some sizeable flocks of Greenfinch (perhaps 50 or more in total). The odd Chaffinch and Bullfinch were also mixed in. Ducks included more Wigeon, Teal and merganser, plus a second Goldeneye. South Bay had a similar mix of birds to north bay, with Bar tailed Godwits and Curlews particularly prominent. Starling (50+) and Pied Wagtail (2) were the final species.
Had planned a second walk (down the Aber path from Gartocharn to Loch Lomond), but by the time I got to the car park at Gartocharn, the weather had closed in and I decided it wasn't worth the soaking.
More Waxwings filtering through - this time 8 reported from Dumfries.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A frosty start gave way to a clear, crisp day today. Felt like "Waxwing weather", so an unconfirmed web report of two in the West Midlands was no surprise.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thought about spending the morning at Ardmore Point, but was beaten back by the weather. Popped down to Erskine House instead, and was rewarded with a single Little Grebe and a very showy Greenshank.
A detour via Arkleston Farm this afternoon produced my first Fieldfares of the winter - two on overhead wires. Later in the afternoon, around ten more were with twenty Redwings near Hawkhead Estate Park. Nearby, around 300 mixed corvids were feeding on stubble at Rosshall Farm A single Hawthorn bush at Leverndale contained a Wren, a Great Tit, a Blue Tit, two Dunnocks and four Bullfinches. Nearby, twenty Chaffinches in a single flock were unusual. Fifteen Mallards and a Cormorant were along the river, and single Buzzards were at Leverndale and Hawkhead.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A small pod of Orcas off Mull was probably the web-sighting of the past week. On the birding front, more winter thrushes are appearing across the country.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Little Grebe was feeding in Cardwell Bay this evening, dwarfed by several Greater black-backed Gulls which were eyeing it greedily.

Saturday, October 15, 2011





Spent the afternoon along the Tweed in Peebles. Natural highlights included up to 5 Goosanders, 4 Grey Herons, a Nuthatch, a Grey Wagtail and two leaping fish. Final raptor score between Glasgow and Edinburgh was: Buzzard 3, Kestrel 3.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A walk along the Cart in Paisley town centre was notable only for a single Grey Heron and a possible Grey Wagtail.



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Thursday, October 13, 2011

With work easing a little after the midweek hiatus, managed a quick lunchtime walk around Murdieston Park. A single Goosander was "snorkelling" near the island on the main dam. The Mute Swan pair there still have their six cygnets. However the pair on Town Dam seem to be down to just one. I wonder if the young of that pair have dispersed, or if something nasty has befallen them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Redwings seem to be filtering through the region. Whooper Swans are also back. Must keep my eyes peeled.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Today started with a ribbon of red sky along the eastern horizon. What followed was actually not a bad day (not that I saw much of it).

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dawn came noticeably later today. Arriving in Greenock, over 100 Starlings put on a spectacular display as they left their roost next to the A8. later, two Buzzards were perched quietly in a field near the entrance to Finlaysone Estate.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Not much to see on a post-prandial promenade along the Cart this afternoon. Tens of Woodpigeons flying south were the most notable.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Bean Geese reported back at Luckenburn Farm. Hmm. Wonder when I am next working through in Denny? A pre-work visit is a distinct possibility.

Friday, October 07, 2011

A glorious sunny day in West central Scotland.
News from the web is of the first Waxwings of the winter - three birds at Evie on Orkney.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Working in Greenock and Prestwick today. The drive down the coast found several Gannets powering south through strong winds and driving rain. At Prestwick, four Pied Wagtails were in St Nicholas' churchyard.
News from the web is of the first snow of the winter on Cairngorm.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Working in Dumfries today, so planned a stop at Lochmaben, arriving there just after dawn. Disturbed two Buzzards from fenceposts as I arrived. Around 250 Starlings had obviously just left their roost and were wheeling over the castle. Siskins were overhead and a Great spotted Woodpecker called nearby. Three Nuthatches were in the woods but Willow Tits didn't show. A Kestrel flew up from the castle ruins.
Walking through the woods, a Brown Hare got up from just a few feet in front of me and lolloped away through the ferns.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

A Buzzard was low over the road at How Bernaigh. Two Rabbits were grazing quietly on the lawn at Howwood. Later, about 20 Starlings were warbling from the treetops in Linwood and a hundred more were mixed in with corvids and gulls over farmland near the airport. Scant pickings I know, but I have to glean what little I can, while work is so busy.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Barnacles back at Caerlaverock, Redwings seeping through the central belt, one hundred mile an hour winds over Cairngorm and snow forecast for the weekend. While England basks in record October temperatures, the rest of us are getting on with the business of autumn.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

After the heavy rain of the last 48 hours, it was no surprise to find the Cart had breached its banks at Howford Bridge. However the level was still half a metre below the highest I've seen it.
Plenty of birds were making themselves heard but few were breaking cover. Only a few singing Starlings and chirrupping House Sparrows at Moulin were willing to be seen.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

A thorough soaking first thing was enough to confine me to the house with only the occasional "taxi run" for the rest of the day. Went outside late on to listen for passing Redwings (they have arrived on the east coast) but nothing so far.......