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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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My lonely vigil, marking at the Dining Room table, was brightened up considerably by a Wood Mouse which was stealing grain from under the bird feeders. The local Grey Squirrels were not nearly as welcome.
Out for a short walk to clear the cobwebs at lunchtime, 30 Siskins flew over, twenty Long tailed Tits clambered and flitted past, and a possible Grey Wagtail (rare around here) flew upriver. The level of the Cart has dropped about a metre between yesterday evening and this lunchtime.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

After 48 hours of continuous, heavy rain, the ground couldn't take any more. The result was a huge amount of surface water, mostly on the roads of Renfrewshire, North Ayrshire and Inverclyde. Greenock was described as "an island" by the local paper, and was actually cut off completely for a few hours around midday. Speaking of the local paper (the Greenock Telegraph), it is printed in Glasgow and didn't actually arrive in Inverclyde until the end of the day. Anyway, here are some pictures...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Got pretty drenched during a lunchtime walk around the Murdieston Dams. Nothing unusual to report. The three Goldeneye from last week are still feeding out in the centre of the main dam. They really are great little ducks - diving tirelessly and keeping a disdainful distance away from the motley local Mallards and Tufted Ducks.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Not much time for natural connections today. However six Goldfinches and two Mistle Thrushes were enjoying the sunshine at Partick Cricket Ground first thing.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Domestic duties took precedence today, but an early start ensured that a few good birds were added before the main business started. First of these were around 25 Whooper Swans feeding next to the A6 at Inchinnan. Further west, a huge feeding flock of geese on stubble included at least 200 Greylags, 60 Canadas, four Barnacles and nine Beans. The latter gave good enough views to reveal bright orange feet and a bill pattern similar to that of Pink footed Goose (suggesting the Tundra race Rossicus). Also in the same field were three Stock Doves and at least 10 Chaffinches, with 200 mixed Fieldfares and Redwings overhead.

Mugdock Loch held six Goldeneye and a single Goosander while a Jay screeched nearby. Over 100 Redwings were at Gallangad.

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Buzzard was the only nootable sighting during a rainy drive back from Greenock to Paisley this afternoon.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Bean Goose influx has reached Renfrewshire...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wet wet wet...

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Working in Edinburgh today, so headed through extra early and enjoyed a walk around Arthur's Seat before my first meeting. Two Ravens were being mobbed by Jackdaws and crows near the Gutted Haddie, while three Stock Doves gave excellent views along Samson's Ribs. Round at Dunsapie, the Mandarin drake failed to show but a Kestrel scrapping with two crows high overhead was ample compensation.

The light was perfect for photography, but time was limited so only managed a sentimental shot of the Lobster outside the Cafe Royal.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Judging by the racket being made by the Nelson Street crows, Magpies, Jackdaws and gulls, there was a raptor (presumably Sparrowhawk or Peregrine) in the area at first light. Later, a lunchtime walk around Murdieston Park resulted in four Chaffinches, three Goldeneye and a heavy fall (:-(] on a muddy slope.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Today started at 8am with a Raven croaking as it flew over South Cardonald (and again as it returned 5 minutes later). A quick drive around the farmland north of Linwood produced two Buzzards and a flock of Fieldfares but no geese or swans.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A perfect, calm and dry day in west central Scotland. Walked up to the Falls of Clyde in the afternoon. Best bird of the day was a Kestrel on roadside wires just off he M74. The falls themselves were very spectacular following recent rain. Back at New Lanark, lots of families were enjoying the much-needed autumn sunshine and blue skies.

Friday, November 18, 2011

There seems to be an influx of Black Redstarts taking place at the moment with all the news groups reporting sightings including twos, threes and a four.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The influx of European White fronted Geese into southern Scotland appears to have been the ornithological event of the year with great excitement from Dumfries & Galloway, Ayrshire and Lothian.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dipper and Kingfisher both present on the Kelvin when I was heading to a meeting at Yorkhill this afternoon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cooler, but still calm in Milton of Campsie this evening. A Buzzard swooped out of a roadside tree and some Pheasants were feeding in the fading light.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Worked from dawn to dusk today :-(. However news from the web is of an influx of Short eared Owls after a good breeding season on the continent, the tail end of last week's European White fronted Goose influx, the first significant Waxwing arrivals and the first Smew of the winter (birding cumbria, birdingD&G and birdinglothian).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Was called upon to do the "rugby run" today, but kept my eyes and ears open and managed to make one or two interesting natural connections along the way. Paisley Rugby Club around lunchtime had a "peep"-ing Great spotted Woodpecker and a rattling Mistle Thrush. Over at Waysiders and Drumpellier in Coatbridge, the very same species (except that there were two of the latter) were also present. A single Rabbit was in the woods behind WDRFC, and birds nearby included a nice party of Long tailed Tits.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


A short walk along the Cart between Howford Bridge and Leverndale Hospital gate this afternoon proved to be quite exceptional in terms of the weather conditions and birds seen. It was incredibly mild for the time of year, with clouds of midges in sheltered spots and the river at summer rather than winter levels. Almost the first bird encountered was a Kingfisher calling, unseen, from near the bridge (at least another was showing well near the hospital gate and seemed to be interacting with a third, hidden bird).
Good numbers of Fieldfares were "chack"-ing in the treetops and these were accompanied by smaller numbers of Redwings and at least three "dark" Song Thrushes. Also in the treetops (and presumably also incoming birds) were good numbers of Chaffinches and smaller numbers of Goldfinches and Siskins. Three birds in the top of the isolated trees north of the hospital broke cover and turned out to be Stock Doves. Finally some commotion across the river at Cairnhill proved to be due to a male Sparrowhawk which gave fantastic views as it alighted in a tree, then sped away.
Two Pony Trekkers were unusual.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Another mild day in Paisley. The Grey Heron had moved across the river from its usual spot at the inflow of the burn (which is currently blocked by a fallen Willow).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Another day, another Nuthatch-fest, this time at Rozelle Park in Ayr. Arriving there first thing, a pair were feeding on the ground in front of the 'Big Hoose', and up to four others were calling around the pond. The usual drake Wood Duck there was more than holding its own with the Mallards as they squabbled over grain.
Heading home after work, a Kestrel was hunting beside the Ayr bypass in fading light.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Working in Dumfries today so left home a few hours early and arrived at Castle Loch, Lochmaben just after dawn. The first birds seen were two Bullfinches and ten Redwings along the access road. Down by the waterside, parties of Whooper Swans, Greylag Geese and Pink footed Geese were heading inland. Birds on the loch included Goldeneye and Grey Heron. Small birds in the woods included Siskin, Redpoll, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Treecreeper and as many as six different Nuthatches. Two or three Willow Tits were giving their alarm call (which sounds to me like that of Whitethroat) but none showed themselves. All too soon, it was time to start work - but the experience of getting a lovely setting all to myself was well worth the early start.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Only a solitary Coal Tit for company at work today.

Monday, November 07, 2011

A right "pea-souper" in Greenock today.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

A frosty morning gave way to a crisp and bright day. A quick walk around Victoria Park pond produced nothing of note except a solitary Grey Heron. No sign yet of the winter thrushes which have been a feature of the site in recent years. A single Song Thrush was the sole representative of the tribe.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Had one of those unforgettable days in the Scottish countryside today. The weather was already looking promising on leaving Glasgow, and the sky got bluer and the autumn colours brighter as the day wore on. A Cormorant was high over the Stepps Bypass and a skein of Pink footed Geese was over the A9 north of Dunblane. Leaving Braco on the Comrie road, a Red legged Partridge (the first of many today) was running along the verge. Further along, two Red Kites were soaring low over the road.
The rest of the day was spent in the hills above Comrie. Highlights included the "White Church", autumn Beech trees, the Cauldron waterfall, the the view from "the monument" (to the First Lord Melville, Henry Dundas) and some legendary Lemon and Ginger Doublers (!). Heading home, the sky was a perfect orange, and full of geese.

Friday, November 04, 2011

A very dapper Pied Wagtail was a nice diversion while I was waiting to go in to speak to a group in Renfrew. Later, the mild, sunny weather enticed a number of (unseen) birds to make themselves known including Great spotted Woodpecker, Siskin, Redpoll and Mistle Thrush. I am still amazed at how learning a few bird sounds has revolutionised my birdwatching. Even driving along with the window open provides opportunities to clock up species.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Ray Collier has written an article this week on Pine Martins moving into Inverness to feed from bird tables. The interesting question is whether they are doing this out of desperation and hunger (due to habitat degradation), out of laziness (easier than wild-caught food), out of population pressure or out of the gradual loss of fear of man.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A second dry day in west central Scotland. Goldfinches were tinkling from the treetops at Ardgowan Square. Two Carrion Crows along Nelson Street included the regular Hoodie hybrid.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

One of the best sights at this time of the year is the Starlings flighting in to roost at the Sugar Warehouses between the A8 and Greenock Docks. As I drive home each evening, small parties are powering into the area. Occasionally they join up to form a swirling mass of 100 or more (nothing compared to the hundreds of thousands at some sites).