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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.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A short walk along the river this afternoon found the water level up again. Plenty of Woodpigeons were moving overhead and a small tit flock was present, including two or three Long-tailed Tits.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The usual walk from Hawkhead to Cardonald this afternoon was notable for up to 200 Woodpigeons on Hawkhead Farm and a Raven flying over there, being mobbed by Jackdaws. There was a general restlessness to the whole scene today. However no sign, yet, of any winter thrushes.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Plenty of birds were hanging around a rainy Murdieston Park today. Four Rooks were a surprise in the tree containing the "micro-rookery". Perhaps a family party. Three coal Tits were feeding together and a Goldfinch was on thistles.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The pond at Gartnavel was quiet today with no sign yet of any winter ducks.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A wagtail species was high over a rainy Paisley Road West at tea-time. Forgot to mention a single Whooper Swan at Castle Semple Loch yesterday.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Heading home this evening, a Kestrel was hunting near the motorway as it passes the airport. A hundred metres further on, a Buzzard powered over in the direction of Linwood.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A few more photos from Saturday's trip to Strathspey:

Looking down the Allt Mor path.

Timber-clad houses at Glenmore.

Arriving at the Glenmore Shop & Cafe

Coffee and Strudel

Looking back from the An Slugan path.

Timber building at Badaguish.

Looking north to the An Slugan Pass

Kincardine Cottage

Barn at West Croftmore

The main house at West Croftmore

Church at West Croftmore

'The Boat' at Boat of Garten

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Two Goldfinches were twittering from the roof of a Partick tenement in the sunshine first thing. A group of Long tailed Tits was near Yorkhill Hospital, but there was no sign of any Dippers on the Kelvin.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Enjoyed a very pleasant day in Strathspey. The weather was cold but sunny, allowing almost the full ten hours to be spent out of doors. After a walk around the town centre (noticing good numbers of Collared Dove, Starling and House Sparrow along the way), we got the bus to the ski car park. We then walked down the Allt Mor trail to Glenmore and on through the An Slugan Pass to Kincardine Cottage. The final part of the walk was along the B970 to Boat of Garten for the bus back to Aviemore. Highlights along the way were as follows:
Still plenty of Meadow Pipits around the Coire Cas base station.
A Dipper on the Allt Mor.
Plenty of tit flocks in the forest (with Chaffinches and Treecreepers tagging along).
Long-tailed Tit parties at three sites.
Four Woodpigeons feeding with various tits, finches and two Red Squirrels outside the Glenmore Cafe.

A Small Tortoiseshell butterfly and an unidentified dragonfly at Badaguish.

Fly Agaric on the way up to the communications mast near the top of the Slugan Pass.
Two Meadow Pipits and fantastic 360 degree views on top of Creag a' Ghreusaiche (views to west, northwest, south and north below).

A Common Frog at Kincardine Cottage.
Two Pheasants at West Croftmore.
Dor Beetles crossing forested sections of the road.
A female Sparrowhawk chasing Chaffinches over Street of Kincardine
A Jay flying off high over Mullingarroch Farm before dropping down into the forest
A Raven calling as it flew over the Speyside Way at Gartenmore.
Small groups of Jackdaws streaming into their roost at Aviemore from all directions.
Only 28 bird species were recorded, consisting of: Mallard, Pheasant, Sparrowhawk, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Raven, Goldcrest, Great Tit, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Treecreeper, Wren, Starling, Dipper, Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin. I think I need to visit a better mix of habitats (and possibly get out a bit earlier) to get a bigger list. Bird of the day was Crested Tit with records at various points along the route, and several birds giving impossibly close views.
Impressions of Strathspey in September?
- It’s cold (with a dusting of snow on the tops of the northern corries).
- It’s still very green (although yellows, oranges and browns are also starting to come through).
- Noise levels are down again with only the winter song of Robin and the chatter of the tit flocks making any impression. Certainly, last month’s rasping Spotted Flycatcher calls and the contact calls of Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff are completely gone.
- There are plenty of people around (it WAS the September holiday weekend). However we saw no-one else between Glenmore and Kincardine Cottage apart from at the very beginning and very end of the route.
- Insect life is still quite abundant although the midges weren't biting to the same extent as last month.  
- The skies are fairly empty, with no hirundines and no gulls.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A better day today, with calm conditions settling across Scotland (although Guillemots and juvenile Gannets are still turning up at inland sites). A Moorhen had three large young on Kelvingrove Park Pond.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Commonest birds during a dusk walk from Hawkhead to Cardonald were unseen Robins, Dunnocks and Blackbirds. Plenty of Swallows and House Martins were feeding high over the building site at Hawkhead (I wonder if they will come back when the fields there are covered in tarmac). At the other end of the walk, a Raven called from the tower.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A few Swallows were looping the loop in some welcome sunshine over Crosshouse Hospital this afternoon.
Latest New Naturalist cover art below: 

Monday, September 17, 2012

The rain was coming down in "stair-rods" in Greenock today. Kept an eye open for wandering Gannets but the only sighting of note was a Grey Heron about half a kilometre out from Port Glasgow.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A quick check of the Kelvin at Benalder Street suggested that the summering Sand Martins had moved on but the Goosanders which winter there hadn't yet arrived (although I saw a pair at the mouth of the river a few weeks ago).
At Partick Cricket Ground, a juvenile Herring Gull was whining for attention from the roof of Hyndland Primary School. 
The new housing estate at Moorpark in Renfrew had plenty of common birds on show with Jackdaws and a Rook digging up the front lawns and five House Sparrows bathing in a puddle.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Headed for Linlithgow first thing, but stopped briefly in central Glasgow to see if anything had been blown in by last night's gales. The only sighting of any note was a dead Guillemot floating on its back at the Broomielaw. Nearby were two Cormorants and a Pied Wagtail.
At Linlithgow, some people were ringing a group of juvenile Mute Swans at the lochside. Not enough time to look for any storm blown strays. However a quick walk around the west end produced eight Little Grebes and a single Great-crested Grebe with two young.
Heading up Fisher's Brae, a flock of twenty Goldfinches contained mostly juveniles, and a female Sparrowhawk was being mobbed by Rooks and Swallows. Cereal harvesting there had attracted four Buzzards (with two a little further east). One had a red tag on its left wing and a white tag on its right.
Heading into Bo'ness, a Chiffchaff was singing strongly. Just off the town's East Pier, a steady stream of Black-headed Gulls were battling against a stiff westerly wind. Amongst them were 20 Mallard, a single Eider, twelve Redshanks, two Sandwich Terns and two Common Terns. On the water were three Guillemots.

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Rook and a flock of about 20 Starlings were scavenging around the shops along Paisley road West first thing.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

News from the web is of Swallows and House Martins both with young in the nest in Lothian. Meanwhile 140 Goosanders were reported off Ross Priory, Loch Lomond.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Hoodie hybrid was in the overflow car park of the IRH this afternoon.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Gannet reported flying down the Spango Valley.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Some very notable sightings from the last two days (courtesy of the Clyde SOC grapevine) have been a Spotted Crake at Baron's Haugh and seven juvenile Gannets over Lochwinnoch.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

First bird of the day was a Collared Dove around the entrance to the estate. Later, a walk from Crookston Road to Hawkhead Estate Park and back was notable for a Raven calling repeatedly from the vicinity of "the Tower" and both Swallows and House Martins feeding along the river. However birdlife generally was scarce with Woodpigeons and corvids making up the bulk of the species and individual birds seen. Three Stock Doves high over were some consolation, as was a Long tailed Tit near the the tower estate. Got caught in a downpour on the way across the Leverndale meadow. An attractive plant there resembled Purple Loosetrife but the habitat and time of year didn't seem quite right. 

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Two Swallows were twittering excitedly high over the Sanquhar Estate in Crookston at 10am. Earlier, a Great spotted Wodpecker called.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Heading back to Paisley from Lightburn this afternoon, three Swallows were swooping around factories on McFarlane Street.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

News from the web is of a Scottish Osprey which made the journey to its wintering grounds in West Africa in under two weeks.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Langbank Mute Swan flock was strung along the coast as far as Longhaugh Point this evening. In amongst them was a Black Swan. Nearby, several small skeins of geese were dropping down from Formakin to the Clyde.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Working in Hamilton this morning so headed over early and got to Baron's Haugh around 7am for a quick look around. Ten Black tailed Godwits were showing well on the main haugh. Other sightings of note included a single Knot, a singing Chiffchaff, a Moorhen feeding three young and several drake Gadwall (plus a single drake Mallard) in summer plumage.
Had to drive to Ayr over lunchtime. A Badger was a road casualty near Strathaven. Swallows and a possible Swift were over the A71. A family of Pied Wagtails and  more Swallows were around Ailsa Hospital.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Twelve Greylag Geese across the M8 at Arkleston Farm on the way to work were my first of the autumn locally. Earlier, a dead Magpie was a presumed road casualty in the estate.
Some photos from last Wednesday below:

View west from Croft House

Looking over Loch Gamhna

Forest bog at Invereshie

Aviemore after the rain

Red Squirrel road casualty at Inshriach

Sunday, September 02, 2012

The local trees are starting to show the first signs of yellowing of their leaves. It won't be long before the whole cycle of the seasons starts to turn again.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

A Bullfinch showed well in Leverndale Hospital and a Kingfisher was calling along the Cart at a regular site.
News from the web is that the first snow has fallen on the Cairngorms.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Total birds seen in Strathspey on Wednesday was a modest 35: Mallard, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Long-tailed Tit, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Treecreeper, Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, Robin, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Siskin and unidentified crossbill.
News from the web tonight is of Brent Geese arrived in Northern Ireland.
A brief circuit of the Murdieston dams produced nothing of note.