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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.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Stock Dove was a welcome sight as I drove down the motorway past West Ferry this morning.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Enjoyed a damp but eventful day in Strathspey today. Started out at Aviemore. Headed to Loch an Eilein, finding two Spotted Flycatchers, a family of Mistle Thrushes, a Meadow Pipit and a flash-past vole along the way. Around the loch were more Spotted Flycatchers and a Red Squirrel. Loch Gamhna was quiet The rain started to fall heavily at Inshriach Forest so bird sightings were few. However it did provide the best Crested Tit of the day and the only Crossbill (see the story of Invereshie and Inshriach here). Feshiebridge was sodden, as was most of the walk back to Aviemore. However assorted sightings included Great spotted Woodpeckers and Treecreepers at three sites each, Jays and Buzzards at two (including a showy bird of the latter on pylons near the Rothiemurchus Fishery), 20+ House Martins feeding over Birch, 10+ Sand Martins feeding over the Spey, plenty of Willow Warblers plus single Chiffchaff and Tree Pipit. Less welcome was a dead Red Squirrel beside the road at Dalnavert.
Impressions of Strathspey in August?
  • It's colourful (Heather in bloom, supported by the green of Birch, Oak, Scots Pine etc, yellow of ripening grass seed-heads, blue of Harebell etc etc etc).
  • It's over-run with flying insects (including lots of midges).
  • It's (consequently) full of insectivorous birds (Spotted Flycatchers and hirundines being the most obvious).
  • It's full of flocks (I had tit flocks at three sites with treecreepers, willowchiffs and Spotted Flycatchers hanging on, plus groups of House Martins, Sand Martins and Starlings).
  • Its pretty devoid of waders, waterfowl and gulls (unless they were all somewhere I wasn't).
  • Its quite noisy again - mostly due to various passerine squeaks but also the familiar rasping call of (young?) Spotted Flycatchers.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Swallow at Monkton and a Buzzard being mobbed by two crows at Mainholm were the only natural connections of a busy day commuting around Renfrewshire, Ayrshire and Inverclyde.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Three Swallows were attempting to feed in the driving rain at Pomillan this lunchtime.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Some photos from Yesterday's walk: carved Badger and Dipper at Almondell, the canal feeder channel at West Clifton, a pastoral scene where the Almond goes under Lins Mill bridge, canal scenes near Ratho and Wester Hailes, and a wayside Gymnasium (!).








Saturday, August 25, 2012

Completed the walk from Glasgow to Edinburgh today, starting in Livingston and finishing at Haymarket Station. Birds along the way were scarce (apart from the ubiquitous Woodpigeon). However some nice records included a Grey Wagtail beside the canal at Clifton Mains, a pair of Mute Swans with three young at Wester Hailes, a Mallard with a brood of four at Ashley Terrace and calling Chiffchaffs (but no Willow Warblers) at five sites.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Busiest week of the year at work - so no natural connections for a few days....

Monday, August 20, 2012

More photos from the weekend - this time of the footbridge at Seafield and the standing stones at Livingston.



Sunday, August 19, 2012

Photo from yesterday (below) of Little Boghead Nature Reserve. What a fantastic spot - wish I had a clue about Dragonfly identification...


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Walked from Blackridge to Livingston today. Highlights were clouds of dragonflies and damselflies at Little Boghead nature reserve and a Sparrowhawk being mobbed by Swallows as it soared over Armadale Station. Birds of the walk were Swallows and Goldfinches, both of which cropped up all along the route. Also notable were Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers giving their slightly different contact calls, and Meadow Pipits wherever there weren't too many houses. Plants included lots of St John's Wort in flower just before Woodhead Junction. Breeding activity included a grey backed Pied/White Wagtail with a beakful of insects at Whiteside Farm, Lesser black-backed Gulls with big chicks on a factory on the edge of Bathgate and a stripey juvenile Little Grebe on one of the Bogburn ponds.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Had a meeting first thing in one of the excellent new buildings at the Southern General Hospital: the Clinical Genetics/Pathology block (below).
In the evening, a lone House Martin was feeding over the estate.


Thinking about using up a spare annual leave day soon. I wonder......?


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Song Thrush "listening" on the back lawn was the only natural connection of a long day working at the kitchen table ((:-(

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The high summer weather returned today, at least for a few hours, lighting up the floral displays in Greenock.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Heading to Greenock from Ayr mid-morning, four big (goose or swan-sized) birds appeared from the direction of Troon, heading south east. They were flying in close formation, and as they passed over the car, I noticed they had the "kinked neck" characteristic of Grey Heron. The group formation was the one thing that threw me - I am so used to seeing Herons on their own.
Further on, a Badger had become a road casualty just south of Fairlie. Two Swallows was the meagre total for the whole journey.
Back home, a Willow Warbler was contact calling behind the house.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

No Sand Martins at the Benalder Street colony. In fact, no hirundines at all today, and I get the feeling the Swifts have gone from local sites as well.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Prompted by a favourable weather forecast and the need to pop into work first thing, decided to walk part of the way home from Greenock. Got as far as Langbank, intending to catch the train there. However all the trains were cancelled so kept walking as far as Erskine. It wasn't a great day for natural connections, partly because of a stiff northeast wind and the tide being particularly far out. However some highlights included nice views of Rock Pipits at Port Glasgow, a Dipper on Finlaystone Burn where it goes under the A8, a brood of Swallows being fed in Langbank, a profusion of flowering Sea Aster and Sow Thistle on the saltmarshes and a single Whimbrel at Longhaugh Point.

Pool at Port Glasgow
.


Rock marker at Port Glasgow
.

Rustyback at Langbank
.

Looking north to the quarry above Milton
.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Highlight of a sunny work day was a big female Sparrowhawk which glided over the M8 at Hillington, showing the white base to its tail.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Not much on show during the Glasgow-Ayr-Greenock-Glasgow commute today (although a Wheatear across the road at Largs was welcome).
Back home, the local Sparrowhawk was presumably responsible for the pile of feathers on the front lawn.


Wednesday, August 08, 2012

A Raven was calling from near the top of Coats Memorial Church this afternoon. 
Late on, my friend from Arisaig arrived at the door with three Mackerel and a Coley, all caught this morning. 


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Pollok Park was fairly quiet this evening, although plenty of Swallows and Goldfinches were twittering overhead. 


Back home, eight Canada Geese were low over south Cardonald heading south-east. This is a new species for me for my home 1km square, taking my total to 66.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Heavy rain caused more flooding in WCS. A Swallow was forlornly looping the loop over Arkleston Farm.


Sunday, August 05, 2012

Some photos from a recent trip to Anstruther and St Andrews (other photos added on the relevant dates):




Saturday, August 04, 2012

Two House Martins were over the Cardonald Gardens "colony" first thing. Five or more were also active around the nests in Dunchurch Road, Ralston. Among the variety of squeaks and whistles in the back garden this afternoon were contact calls of Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Siskin and Bullfinch, and a short sequence of Willow Warbler sub-song. A spectacular emergence of winged ants turned the garden, temporarily into a seething mass:




Friday, August 03, 2012

Two Swifts over the M8 at was the highlight of an evening run through to Edinburgh.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Baron's Haugh was quiet this afternoon, with very little mud available. Two Pochard were probably the most interesting birds present.
Nearby, the north end of Strathclyde Loch had eight Pied Wagtails, a single Grey Wagtail and twenty Lapwings.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

News from the web is that returning waders are starting to appear and (satellite-tagged) Cuckoos are back in Africa.