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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, October 31, 2012


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

An alarm-calling Blackbird was the first sound this morning. Twenty Whooper Swans were again at Barnhill just after dawn.

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Wren was singing loudly at dawn this morning. Heading down the M8, around 30 Whooper Swans were in fields at Barnhill. By the afternoon, around 90 had gathered there.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A damp and driech day today. Still some flying insects about but bees have probably had it for the winter. Still, the Bumble Bee key here should come in handy next spring.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

About 20 mixed thrushes flew over Cardonald first thing. The sunny weather prompted lots of birds (both there and elsewhere) to sing including Starling, Wren and Coal Tit.
Spent the day walking between Dunblane and Stirling. Highlights were fairly thin on the ground but three Long-tailed Tit flocks, a pair of Bullfinches and a Great-spotted Woodpecker gave good views. A Cormorant was over the Forth at Cambuskenneth. Stunning autumn colour was again a feature of the day.





Friday, October 26, 2012

A dozen Starlings were going to roost near Cappielow at home time this afternoon. Further up the road, a flock of 20 or so winter thrushes flew over the car near Bishopton.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Kestrel was next to the A8 in Port Glasgow at dawn this morning. A beautiful day followed, with fantastic autumn colours, the recent windless conditions having enabled many tress to hold on to most of their leaves.
Late afternoon, a single Goosander was on Bingham's Pond and a possible Nuthatch was heard on the other side of Great Western Road.

 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Great news about Schiehallion being declared "wheelchair-friendly".

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My first local Redwing was over Cardonald this evening.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

This morning's walk over to Hyndland produced plenty of singing Robins plus Pied Wagtails, Mistle Thrushes and Long tailed Tits all at two sites each (but absolutely no Redwings or Fieldfares). Mugdock Park in the afternoon was also devoid of winter thrushes. Only six Mallards and thirteen Black headed Gulls were on Craigend Pond.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Two Grey Squirrels were racing round the garden today, while Feral Pigeons were chasing the Woodpigeons away from the food.
More pictures from Thursday:



Friday, October 19, 2012

A pair of Chaffinches joined the usual Dunnocks in the back garden today. Another dreich day.

Thursday, October 18, 2011

Arrived in a damp and drizzly Aviemore around 10am. Plenty of Robins were singing their winter song and flocks of Jackdaws were calling overhead. These two sounds were to punctuate the whole day. Took the bus to Grantown-on-Spey and got off at the Spey Valley Smokehouse. Started walking south along the Speyside Way. Almost the first birds encountered were 30 Redwings overhead, the first of over 200 to be seen between there and Aviemore. Also present were smaller numbers of Fieldfares, Mistle Thrushes and Blackbirds. Mostly they were either feeding on the abundant Rowan crop (see below) or hurtling overhead. The first Great-spotted Woodpecker of the day was behind the smokehouse, the only other one being seen in Boat of Garten Woods.



The first of three Long-tailed Tit flocks was seen opposite Grantown Cemetery. At least eleven birds were present, with 17 in a flock near Ballifurth Farm and six at East Croftmore. Mixed tit flocks were to be a feature of the day, the composition varying from site to site. In the absence of Long-tailed Tits, Coal Tits tended to dominate with Blue Tits, Great Tits, Goldcrests, Treecreepers and Chaffinches making up the numbers. Crested Tits were only present in one flock - along the path towards Loch nan Carraigean. 
As is often the case, Chaffinches were virtually ever-present. However there were some good-sized flocks of Siskins and Redpolls, especially in the tops of Birch trees. As the path emerged into farmland, Jackdaws and Rooks became more apparent. One flock at Ballifurth contained approximately 250 and 50 respectively (together with a single Raven). Other birds of this area included House Sparrows and Starlings near the farm buildings, Chaffinches and possible Linnets in the weedy patches, 25 Meadow Pipits on wires and a possible immature Peregrine which hurtled across an area of marsh. The outskirts of Nethybridge produced several Yellowhammers and a pair of overflying Ravens. Also the only Goldfinch of the day.
Decided to walk the section to Boat of Garten along the road. The weather had brightened up quite a lot by this point and some birds were starting to move about (although no more raptors were seen all day). Species seen along this stretch included Jackdaw, Rook, Starling, Collared Dove, Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Chaffinch and one of only two Wrens seen all day. However the best sighting was of 65 Greylag Geese flying down the Spey at Tomachrochar.
At Boat of Garten, detoured along to Milton Loch which held 22 Mallards, two Tufted Duck and a Moorhen. No Grey Herons were present, but one was over Deschar Primary School earlier in the day.



Took another detour through Boat of Garten Woods (above). Birds were fairly thin on the ground but a tit flock just past the Community Hall contained six Coal Tits, a Blue Tit, a Great Tit, a Goldcrest and two Treecreepers. The previously-mentioned Tit flock near "The Yard" contained three Long-tailed Tits, two each of Blue Tit and Crested Tit, and three each of Chaffinch and Coal Tit. 
The heather moor to the south of the steam railway was also quiet but produced a Wren, a Meadow Pipit, overflying Carrion Crow, Redwing and Jackdaw and, away to the south, a screeching Jay. Some dead Birches there held some large bracket fungi (below).



It was getting dark on arriving at Aviemore, with large numbers of Jackdaws heading for their roosts.
A day of mixed weather but good numbers of birds, the total of 42 species including the eleven Whooper Swans seen from the train at Kingussie.
Impressions of Strathspey in October:
It's changing, with autumn migrants present in force.
It's abundant, with Rowan trees especially loaded with berries.
It's colourful, with the Birches particularly showing a variety of colours from green, through yellow and orange to brown.
It's darker, getting lighter later, darker earlier and not being particularly bright all day.
It's busy, at least in terms of birdlife (and Red Squirrels, Roe Deer etc) - but quiet in terms of walkers (with only six encountered between Grantown and Aviemore).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Very wet in Glasgow today. Things look marginally better for Aviemore tomorrow...


















Birds in the garden today have consisted of Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Magpie, Dunnock and Robin.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Thirty geese were flying down the Clyde in formation this evening.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Took a short walk along the river over lunchtime. No Redwings to be seen, but two Redpolls and increased numbers of Chaffinches could have been immigrants. A small raptor glimpsed through the trees could have been a Kestrel or a Sparrowhawk. Later, a Kingfisher was under Howford Bridge.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Definitely the changeover season back home with some Swallows still around but Redwings also being reported. Weather looking fair this week but deteriorating by my days off at the end of the week. 


Saturday, October 13, 2012

An evening walk around Montreal Botanic Gardens produced loads of Grey Squirrels (including some black and some white ones), some very bold Red Foxes (much bolder than even the Glasgow ones), a flock of American Robins, a female Cardinal, a Cooper's or Sharp-shinned Hawk, and a flyover Raven. 








Friday, October 12, 2012


Still indoors in Montreal, although managed to escape for a walk on the 'mountain' yesterday lunchtime. Lots of chickadees about but not much else. Lac de Castors unfortunately drained for maintenance.






News from home is that Redwings have started to move through Strathspey and over the Cairngorms.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Plenty of birds around during a lunchtime walk. A group of about four or five Black-capped Chickadees at the old grain mill down by the river was probably the best sighting. Other birds included lots of Ring-billed Gulls, House Sparrows and Feral Pigeons.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

In Montreal for a few days. Flying into the city, the landscape was covered in patches of deep red due to the autumn colour of Maple trees. Downtown Montreal is pretty birdless (so far) except for a flock of Starlings and a few Mew Ring-billed Gulls.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Frost already tonight...

Friday, October 05, 2012

Woke up to quite a substantial covering of frost on the car - the first of the winter (although there was a thin film of ice on a couple of mornings last month).

Thursday, October 04, 2012

A Raven called once high above the centre of Paisley this afternoon.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Over 50 geese in several small skeins were heading east, low over south Paisley at 4:45pm. This evening, a walk around south Cardonald failed to produce any arriving Redwings.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Fifty or so Starlings were in a tight flock as they left their roost beside the A8 first thing this morning. Heading back past the same spot at 6pm, a single Swallow was flying over the traffic.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Twenty Jackdaws were callng as they headed north east, high over Cardonald at 5:30 pm.