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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.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The most notable bird of the day was my first local Chiffchaff - a singing bird heard from my back garden. In the afternoon, cycled from Howwood to Castle Semple. A Willow Warbler (my first of the year) was singing near the Collegiate Church and a single Whooper Swan was with 20 Mutes on the loch.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

The old female Osprey returned to Loch of the Lowes today for her 22nd year - a remarkable record.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chalamain Gap

Fork in Chalamain Gap / Lairig Ghru path

Footpath back to Rothiemurchus


Forest bog, Rothiemurchus

Forest pool, Rothiemurchus

Looking south to the Lairig Ghru

Ford through the River Luineag

Spent a lovely day wandering in Strathspey and the Cairngorms. The morning was spent exploring the Chalamain Gap and the north end of the Lairig Ghru. Wildlife was still quite scarce (after all, it is still only March), but Meadow Pipits were ubiquitous and Red Grouse were at several places. Six Reindeer moved sedately across the landscape and Common Frogs were in a small lochan.
The afternoon was spent in Rothiemurchus forest. Siskins and Chaffinches were everywhere, and fair numbers of Crested Tits, Crossbills, Coal Tits and Goldcrests were amongst them. A Buzzard flew over and two Roe Deer browsed quietly beside the path. A few Meadow Pipits and Wood Pigeons added to the mix and a few each of Collared Dove, Greenfinch, Robin, House Sparrow and Jackdaw were near the villages. Two Oystercatchers were in Aviemore.

Impressions of Strathspey in March:

Its noisier than earlier in the year, with Siskin and Chaffinch calls in the forest and Meadow Pipits in the hills

Its biodiverse, with everything from Reindeer and Buzzard to beetles, bees and flies

The landscape is still predominantly brown and yellow

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Weather up north looking even better.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

More frost this morning, and a lovely alignment of the Moon, Venus and Jupiter in the evening sky.
It has been a frustrating week with glorious weather outdoors, but hours of work to get through indoors. However annual leave to use up and cheap rail tickets suggest it might be a better end to the week.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Another day, another Chiffchaff - this time singing in the grounds of the Ayrshire Hospice. The day had started unusually with a full dawn chorus at 6am (thanks to the clocks having gone forward at the weekend). Ice on the car windscreen served as a reminder that in spite of daytime temperatures in the 20s, we are still only in March.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The usual Dipper was feeding under the Benalder Street bridge this morning. No sign yet of the Sand Martins that nest there. In the garden, the frogspawn has hatched - must get that netting set up to deter the Magpies.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Decided to fill in some gaps in my local birdtrack coverage, so headed to NS5060 (Blackbyres Road), NS4959 Fereneze Golf Course) and NS4862 (Charleston, Paisley). Blackbyres Farm was alive with birds including double figures of House Sparrow and a small flock (c5) of Meadow Pipits. In my experience, the latter is a very rare bird locally. Fereneze Golf Course had a singing Chiffchaff and Charleston had several pairs of Lesser black backed Gulls on a factory roof.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lovely morning in SW Glasgow today. Three Kingfishers were present (between two places) on the Cart including a pair, one of which was carrying a fish (presumably as a courtship offering - or simply taking it somewhere quiet to eat). Also a high count of eight Goosanders (including several displaying males and a mating pair), a single Raven, over 50 singing (!) Fieldfares, flowering Butterbur (first photo), my first singing Chiffchaff of the year, drumming Great spotted Woodpeckers at two sites and (something I don't often record) a singing Treecreeper. Highlight was a new bird for my home 1km square (NS5263), Stock Dove (a pair), bringing the square total to 66 (the Treecreeper in Ralston/Crookston was also a first, taking that square total to 58). Lowlight was the accelerated house building at Hawkhead (second photo) which has now swallowed up the leafy path and bramble patch where Whitethroats used to breed.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Another lovely day locally, with the buildings around Anniesland bathed in spring sunshine. Two Moorhens had well-progressed nests at Bingham's Pond.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A glorious day of blue skies and sunshine between Hamilton and Paisley. The Osprey that arrived back at Loch Garten this evening must have enjoyed a very pleasant final leg.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Smew at Castle Semple first thing - then Raven at How Barnaigh.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chiffchaffs, Sand Martins, Wheatears (all locally) and Ospreys (in Rutland)all appearing back.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Three Crossbills flew over during a brief stop at Mugdock. In Drymen, two Roe Deer were browsing in fields behind the village.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

An early morning walk around Hogganfield Loch produced mating Greylag Geese and Goldeneye, and nest-building Grey Herons.
The rest of the day was spent walking in the countryside south of Comrie. Best birds there were Lapwing, Curlew and Oystercatcher back on breeding sites, four Red Kites, two pairs of Dippers, a Kingfisher and a Short eared Owl.

Back at Dunblane, the local Rookery was getting into full swing.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Left for work half an hour early this morning so that I could stop in at Lochwinnoch. The feeders at the visitor centre were alive with Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Reed Buntings and a Greenfinch, but no Bramblings. Similarly, although there were plenty of Goldeneye and Goosander on Aird Meadow, the two Smews which have been present lately stayed well out of sight.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A good smattering of Wheatears being reported from England, plus the first singing Chiffchaffs in Scotland. Only sightings of note today were 100+ Greylag Geese in fields between Houston and Formakin.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Confined to work all day, but managed a quick walk around the centre of Paisley at home time. A Moorhen and three Mallards were on the river and a Pied Wagtail flew over. Best of all, however, was an adult Peregrine which arrived flying downriver at rooftop height. Its flight was slow and deliberate, with oar-like strokes of its wings. As it passed overhead, it showed off the classic "Maltese Cross" silhouette. It then swept up to the top of a pylon and settled there, peering back over its right shoulder. Went back to the car for the binoculars and enjoyed some excellent views before having to head off to the "rugby run".

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A quick walk around Shawlands before an early meeting at the Victoria Infirmary produced some interesting records including a Great spotted Woodpecker in Queen's Park and a Grey Wagtail on the Cart at the foot of Mill Brae. The latter has been extremely rare in my regular haunts in South West Glasgow over the past two years.

Monday, March 12, 2012

After my first for a long time yesterday, heard another singing Bullfinch today (in the Silver Glade estate). Maybe one just needs to get one's ear in.
News from the web is of Ospreys moving up through England (I mean Africa).

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Notable sightings during today's walk along the Cart from Hawkhead to Cardonald included 30 Fieldfares and 60 Starlings at Mary Russell School, a drumming Great spotted Woodpecker (my first of the spring) at Hawkhead Estate Park, a singing Song Thrush near "the Tower", singing Mistle Thrushes at Hawkhead and Cairnhill, a Kestrel hunting over the field at Leverndale, a possible Kingfisher at Howford Bridge and a pair of Goosanders (still) near Rosshall School.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Had a bit of an urban Kingfisher sandwich today, with a single flushed from the Cart near Rosshall at 8am and another single heard on the Brock Burn in Darnley at dusk. Other notable records of a day mostly spent outdoors included my first (two) singing Blackbirds of the year, Bullfinches at two sites (including a very rare (for me) singing male), Butterbur in flower at Darnley Glen, two Grey Herons fighting near there, and two species added to my square tally for Mugdock Loch (Pied Wagtail and Siskin). Photographs from the day below:

Blossom near Bonnyholm

New footpath in Darnley Gorge

Brock Burn at the foot of Darnley Glen

Culvert at the foot of Darnley Glen

Looking south to the ridge below Darnley Glen Reservoir

Looking south over Gorse-covered hillside

Looking west to Dubbs Farm

Small reservoir near Parkhouse Road

Friday, March 09, 2012

Six Goldeneye were feeding on Cowdenknowes Reseroir at lunchtime, the male indulging in some half-hearted display. The majority of the Black headed Gulls had full hoods and Lesser black backed Gulls were back in force. The single Rook nest is now more or less finished.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Sand Martins reported from West Midlands and Worcestershire, Wheatear from Staffordshire and Swallow from Sussex.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Snow fell while I was over in Hamilton today. I guess winter isn't quite over yet.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

A Mistle Thrush was singing from the topmost branch of the highest tree in the university"quarter" in Paisley first thing.
Great to hear that Black Grouse numbers in Scotland are the highest for 10 years - long may it continue!

Monday, March 05, 2012

An early visit to Doonfoot prior to work in Ayr produced single Pied and White Wagtail, two Collared Doves, two Teal and a Rock Pipit, but no Snow Buntings. Took a short cut through Brisbane Glen on the way back to Greenock (much faster than the coast road). Two Buzzards were interacting high over the glen and a Wigeon was on one of the hill lochs.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Too much work meant no time for natural connections today.
News from the web is that a Sand Martin has reached Yorkshire. I wonder what it has made of the snow.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Convinced the weather forecasters are sponsored by those covered shopping malls. All week they were predicting a near-apocalyptic rainstorm that was to hit Scotland today. In fact, I spent nearly the whole day in the outdoors and hardly felt a single drop of rain.
First bird of the day was a male Kestrel hunting on the south flank of Cockleroy Hill. The little reservoir just to the northeast held a pair of Mute Swans, a Grey Heron, four Coots, around 8 Mallards and 12 Wigeon. Other birds in the area included a single Mistle Thrush and at least two Buzzards.
Most notable sightings during a short walk around Blackness included at least 12 Collared Doves together in a short stretch of hedgerow and around 40 geese on a distant sandbar.
A small field pool just southeast of Junction 4 of the M9 held a pair of Whooper Swans, two Oystercatchers and three Wigeon, while a flock of 100+ Jackdaws flew overhead.
Heading home, a Pied Wagtail was outside the Co-op in Hillington Estate. News from the web is that the first Sand Martins have appeared down south, plus Garganey and Stone Curlew.

Friday, March 02, 2012

A pair each of Chaffinch and Bullfinch were in the garden today, together with Collared Dove, Dunnock, Blackbird, Magpie (2) and Feral Pigeon (3). The miniature Plum tree is flowering well again this year.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

A short walk through Leverndale Hospital grounds over lunchtime found 50+ Fieldfares feeding on adjacent stubble and flying back to the treetops at the slightest disturbance. Around 20 Starlings and a few Chaffinches were doing the same. A Mistle Thrush was singing far away over in the direction of Cairnhill and a Song Thrush flushed from the undergrowth perched low down in a tree and started to sing a quiet little sub-song with much mimicry. On the way back he flew up into an nearby tree with a second bird, presumably his mate. On the river, a male Goosander was displaying to his mate. The display consisted of a slow, vertical stretch of the neck. Two pairs of Mallards nearby couldn't compete. However three Wrens were singing loudly and a Great spotted Woodpecker called briefly.
Much needed colour was provided by a big patch of Daffodils beside the river and a few Lesser Celandine flowers in the woods.