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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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The council has been round and delivered the coup de grace to the two old trees at the entrance to the estate. Their trunks are now lying on the verge, surrounded by traffic cones. The one I had a good look at was pretty solid for much of its length but the heartwood had rotted near the base. I suppose their fate was inevitable if they had become a hazard. However the end just seemed to come too suddenly for such venerable old specimens.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Absolutely devastated to see that the council has butchered the two enormous trees at the entrance to the estate. They were there in all their glory when I left for work, but were reduced to bare trunks by the time I came home. The best that could be hoped for is that the trunks will be left to re-grow a few twigs in the spring. However I guess the council chainsaws will be back to finish the job tomorrow. No doubt somebody thought the trees were "dangerous" - not half as dangerous as a man with a chainsaw.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Around twenty Goldfinches were twittering madly from the trees overlooking the Partick cricket ground this morning.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

First birds of the day were at least three Mistle Thrushes singing in the darkness between Moulin and Crookston. Heading to Glasgow, a glorious red sunset was the perfect start to what proved to be a full day outdoors under relatively sunny skies.
Linlithgow Loch was partly frozen and full of birds. Numbers of Cormorant, Great crested Grebe and Goldeneye seemed particularly high. Most notable sighting however was a Kingfisher which took off from vegetation on the bank and sped away across the loch.

Heading past Bonnytounside, a Buzzard which took off from a shelter belt had a red tag on its left wing (and possibly a white tag on its right). Two other Buzzards followed as it flew off.
Dropping down into Bo'ness, two Tree Sparrows were among mixed passerines at the covered reservoir near Bo'mains.

A walk along the coast in the direction of Kinneil found the exposed mud full of birds. Most notable were hundreds of Teal and around a hundred each of Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit. Also intriguing was a set of parallel tracks across the mud which could have been made by a seal.
Back at Linlithgow, fifty Starlings were singing in tall trees and the regular Wood Duck was preening on a log (photo below by cjm).

The final bird of the day was a Raven croaking from Pollok Wood.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Two Buzzards were hunting for worms in the second Finlaystone meadow late afternoon.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Snow came to west central Scotland today.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Three Feral Pigeons provided the entertainment in the back garden today. There was a fair amount of posturing and chasing going on, suggesting that nest-building won't be far off.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A singing Blue Tit kept me company for most of a long day marking today (with a Great Tit occasionally joining in).

Monday, January 23, 2012

A good day at Caerlaverock with Glaucous Gull, Great Skua and Red breasted Goose all turning up. Pity I was at work.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mostly a work day today, but a morning trip over to Hyndland found at least 6 Goldfinches twittering madly in the treetops. Back home, a female Siskin appeared on the peanut feeder and proceeded to threaten the local Blue Tits and Great Tits every time one of them came near.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

An afternoon walk along the Cart revealed a massive amount of damage which must have been caused by the recent high winds. Dozens of trees have been brought down including three very prominent ones:
  • the Monkeypuzzle which stood at the west end of the Bonnyholm Bridge
  • the big (nearly dead) Beech which stood above the ramp down to the walkway under Howford Bridge (the top half evidently having toppled into the river is now lodged under the bridge)
  • the southernmost of the three Beeches which stood in an isolated clump just north of the tower at Leverndale Hospital.
The woods are full of signs of spring with Snowdrops and Wild Garlic coming up everywhere. The thinning of the canopy which has resulted from the loss of so many trees may actually help these plants and others in the understorey. However I can't help feeling sad about the loss of these old friends.

Friday, January 20, 2012

News from the web is of snow falling all day in the Cairngorms, although high temperatures will probably mean it doesn't lie for long. What a difference from the last two winters.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A dead Badger was a sad sight this evening, lying on the east bound M8 just as it leaves the Clyde to climb past Bishopton.
Arriving in Paisley, a Fieldfare parachuted into a berry tree next to Arkleston Road, showing off its grey rump.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Treated myself to a "Big Day" in Aviemore today. Here are the photos:

The start of the day

The Funicular

A sudden snowstorm

Looking south to the corries

Looking north to Glen More

The path down from Corrie Cas

The river at the Hayfield

The beach at Loch Morlich

Looking east to the Kincardine hills

The Cairngorm Club Footbridge (at last)

Looking north to Whitewell

A burnt out Lairig Ghru Cottage

I wonder if this is the last I will see of it

The end of the day...

Some impressions of the Aviemore area in January:
(1) Its empty! Not another soul on the Corrie Cas path and only four other people during a two-hour walk through Rothiemurchus.
(2) Its tidy! Paths perfectly maintained. Not a scrap of litter. Fallen branches cleared away. Excellent new boardwalks.
(3) Its quiet! Just a few strangulated Red Grouse calls and a few squeaks and choops from the treetops (a Coal Tit along Aviemore High Street was the only singer all day).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A mild morning, but a busy work day meant no natural connections (and not even any daylight). Checked tomorrow's weather in Aviemore (below) - I could live with that.

Monday, January 16, 2012

An afternoon visit to the (flat calm) reservoirs in Murdieston Park produced most of the usual fare. Around twenty Starlings were singing noisily from the trees in the south east corner of the park. Down at the culvert under Old Inverkip Road, the singing Dipper seemed to have been displaced by a JCB working nearby.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Walked through Pollok Country Park from Pollokshaws Road to the west gate this lunchtime. Birds were fairly limited, both in number and variety. There were plenty of Mallards on the river, with many pairs apparently already established. A single Goosander was just before the M77 flyover, and a Kingfisher just west of there was new (for me) for that 1km square. Spent a few minutes watching the feeders near the courtyard but there was no sight or sound of the regular Nuthatches.
Another clear, frosty night ahead. The local Foxes have started to serenade eachother.

Latest New Naturalist released this month (artwork below).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Spent a very pleasant day in and around Linlithgow. A walk around the loch produced plenty of birds including a high count of 28 Cormorants, a single Goosander at the west end (my first there), the regular Shelduck unusually down at the east end, the recently-reported Wood Duck, but no sign of the female Smew. The Chaffinch flock in fields to the north east contained two Reed Buntings and a Siskin. Meanwhile, there were four Dippers and six Goosanders along a two kilometre stretch of the Avon from Linlithgow Bridge to the Union Canal Viaduct.

Above and below: Wood Duck, Linlithgow Loch

Friday, January 13, 2012

A Black necked Grebe on Castle Loch, Lochmaben was the pick of the web sightings today (D&GBirding). Winter records have been scarce this year with only two birds off East Lothian and none reported from Loch Ryan (as far as I know).

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fair weather in west central Scotland today, but the Mistle Thrush in the centre of Howwood was only rattling rather than singing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A miserable day in Greenock today. However the local Pied Wagtail and Starlings continue to make themselves heard with calls and short bursts of song.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Two Pied Wagtails were in central Greenock today. Later, a Kestrel was hunting the roadside verge between Crossleee and Linwood.
For the record, I am three over 2,000 posts on this blog, and three under 20,000 records submitted to Birdtrack. Must get out more!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Working in Ayr today, the drive down taking place beneath a big, yellow Moon. Parked up at Rozelle (where the first Snowdrops are out) to do some paperwork in the car, and was treated to a Mistle Thrush greeting the daylight with a virtuoso singing performance. There was no sign of the usual Wood Duck on the pond there, but a report of one on the river at Greenan Shore (ayrshirebirding) may explain why.
Heading home late afternoon, a Kestrel dropped onto the roadside verge and three Buzzards were enjoying the last of the sunshine.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

The usual Sunday morning walk from Cardonald to Hyndland was notable for a significant increase in birdsong. Collared Doves were particularly evident, with at least four singing birds heard. Other species beginning to sing included Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Robin (not just the winter song), Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Pied Wagtail and Starling. Two Jackdaws were showing a lot of interest in a chimney pot on Mosspark Boulevard and a Bullfinch was piping at Dumbreck. Highlight was probably the female Sparrowhawk disturbed from its prey (which it carried up into a tree) in Cardonald Cemetery.
Spent the afternoon at a muddy Cartha Queen's Park Rugby Club where the natural highlight was a flock of Long tailed Tits in the car park.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Spent the middle of the day walking on the Glennifer and Brownside Braes. Wind and rain meant birds were mostly taking shelter or keeping on the move. However there were several big flocks of mixed corvids (mainly Jackdaws and Rooks) and mixed thrushes (mostly Fieldfares with a few Redwings, accompanied by large numbers of Starlings). A medium-sized, brown, wader-like bird flying across a gorse-covered hillside was probably a Woodcock. Down at Brownside Farm, a field of grass held Fieldfare (c30), Redwing (1), Starling (4), Chaffinch (1), Goldfinch (2) and Pheasant (1) (the latter being a very scarce bird in my area of south west Glasgow). A female Bullfinch was feeding quietly nearby.
Heading home via Dykebar and Hawkhead Woodland, two Coal Tits were singing to eachother near Grahamston and a male Kestrel was on a lampost at the start of the Hurlet.

Glenburn Reservoir (above) and Brownside Farm (below)

Friday, January 06, 2011

According to lothianbirdnews a Wood Duck has appeared on Linlithgow Loch. I had one on the canal about half a mile from the loch a few years ago. At the time, I think I concluded that it had originated from an estate next to the canal. I wonder if this is the same bird, or from the same source. They are lovely birds, whatever their provenance.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Some much-needed winter sunshine prompted a lunchtime walk around Murdieston Park. Slightly unusual records included high counts of Goldeneye (5) and Cormorant (3) and a newly-arrived Goosander. Down beside Inverkip Road, a Dipper was singing from the metal grille over a drainage culvert. Meanwhile a Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling, unseen, from the top of Greenock Cemetery.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Like a scene from "Snow White" in my little postage stamp this morning, with two Grey Squirrels, three Chaffinches, four Bullfinches, two Collared Doves, a Magpie, a Dunnock, a Coal Tit, two Great Tits and four Blue Tits all flitting about (Oh, and a Raven overhead).
The review of 2011 is finally done and posted under 31st December.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

With wind speeds up to 97mph in the Glasgow area, there was bound to be some damage. Sure enough, a number of trees along the river had come down or lost big boughs.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Garden birds included Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit and Dunnock.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

What a difference a day makes. Last year's New Year's Day walk took place in freezing conditions. This year, the temperature was around seven or eight degrees. Bird highlights included six Goosanders, two Great spotted Woodpeckers, plenty of winter thrushes and a single Kestrel.