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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.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Still calm and cold in West Central Scotland. Had to be content with viewing it out of the window at work - although some windows are more interesting than others...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Had to drive to Prestwick this lunchtime. The Clyde was perfectly still on the journey down, and was studded at regular intervals with Eiders and Red breasted Mergansers. During a very brief lunch stop in Saltcoats, a Turnstone was wandering about behind the harbour wall but the tide was fully in so the usual Purple Sandpipers were nowhere to be seen. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Another sunny day in WCS, although the temperature has plummeted this evening. Driving home tonight, the full moon was again in the north east with Jupiter very obvious just beside it.
News from the web is of Tree Sparrows appearing in gardens across the central belt from Lothian, through Forth to Ayrshire. The cause seems to be a good breeding season rather than the cold weather.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Today was one of those rare days when the air was so perfectly clear and the colours of the landscape so vivid. Driving to work this morning, a huge yellow moon was hanging over the western horizon. A midday trip to Hamilton and back took place in bright sunshine and under blue skies. Buzzards were at two places on the motorway - over the Hillington interchange and at Plantation. 
Heading home, the Moon was in the north east and lighting up a large area of the Clyde. Over in the west, the whole of the sky was a rainbow of colour from red along the skyline, through orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet and eventually black. A few inky clouds threw the whole scene into relief. 

Sunrise in Greenock

Monday, November 26, 2012

Meant to mention that three Canada Geese were on stubble at Arkleston Farm during one of my "taxi" runs yesterday lunchtime. Today was a lovely day in WCS but unfortunately spent working indoors. A big Red Fox was wandering around the estate this evening.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

News from the web is that single Swallows have been at Dunbar and Loch Lomond this past few days. Brrrr!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Having to work from home today but managed to cadge a lift to Paisley so that I could walk back along the river. The recent frosts, rain and wind have cleared a lot of the vegetation so visibility is now much better. Added to that, a bright, windless day meant conditions for birdwatching were ideal.
A male Kestrel was a fine sight as it flew along the river opposite Rosshall Farm before alighting in a tree. Near there, over 100 Feral Pigeons were feeding on stubble. A female Goosander was on the river near the west gate into Leverndale Hospital grounds and another was with ten Mallards opposite Cairnhill. A Raven called from the area of Rosshall Farm and another or the same was perched on a pylon over towards Ralston. A female Sparrowhawk was hunting Feral Pigeons under Howford Bridge before perching in a nearby tree. Two Kingfishers flew up the river in tandem at Rosshall Park and two Goldcrests were very confiding near the "stables". The winter sunshine prompted a number of birds to sing with Wrens, Robins and a Goldfinch all joining in. Winter thrushes were not particularly common (only four Redwings were near Rosshall School) but Blackbirds and Song Thrushes seemed commoner than usual. Birds on the home-straight through Moulin included Pied Wagtail, Starling and Black-headed Gull.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Buzzard dropped off a telegraph pole at Arkleston Farm as I approached this afternoon.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The fields at Barnhill continue to attract huge numbers of geese, corvids, doves and gulls - today joined by 50+ Whooper Swans and a Grey Heron.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Three Greylag Geese were an unexpected sight taking off from Cowdenknowes Dam at lunchtime. Another 2-300 were beside the M8 approaching Glasgow Airport.
Below, some photos from yesterday's Edinburgh trip.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

More photos from the weekend's Strathspey walk (courtesy of CJM): the Lurg road, rough ground south of Lettoch, Ryvoan Bothy and Scots Pines in the Pass of Ryvoan.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lots of flooding across west central Scotland today (but what was a Swift doing in Coatbridge?). Between fifty and a hundred Greylag Geese flew over St Vincent's Hospice at lunchtime.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A few photos from yesterday's Strathspey outing (more to follow). These show a farm (with pond) near Lettoch, the "back door" of the RSPB's Rothiemurchus reserve and some sunlit pines in the Pass of Ryvoan.

The usual walk from Cardonald to Hyndland this morning was notable for two flocks of Long-tailed Tits (on either side of the M8 between Dumbreck and Ibroxholm) and a nice flock of 10 Goldfinches feeding on Alder seeds at Tarfside Oval. Highlight however was a Pergrine flying over Stobcross Road near the SECC. It was carrying prey (possibly a Feral Pigeon) and was being mercilessly harried by a Black headed Gull. However it carried on regardless and was last seen disappearing past the tower of the Science Centre.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Blackbird was singing with several Robins in the darkness at 5.30 am.
Heading to Aviemore, birds seen from the train included Pheasant, Buzzard, Red Grouse, Greylag Goose, Grey Heron and Collared Dove.
Walked from Nethybridge to Coylumbridge via Lettoch, Ryvoan and Glenmore. Bird highlights included two Dippers and two Redwings at Nethybridge, a good sized convocation of Jackdaws plus flocks of Rooks, Feral Pigeons and Starlings at Lettoch and a Treecreeper and three Crested Tits at Ryvoan.
The total bird count for the trip was only 22, consisting of

Greylag Goose, Mallard, Red Grouse, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Feral Pigeon, Collared Dove, Jackdaw, Rook, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Treecreeper, Starling, Dipper, Blackbird, Redwing, Robin, House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Siskin.

Impressions of Strathspey in November:
It's quiet (no-one seen between Nethybridge and Forest Lodge, and only a few cyclists between Forest Lodge and Ryvoan). The forest was mostly quiet too, except for the odd tit flock.
It's colourful - although the green of the grass is being replaced by yellow.
It's changeable, with rain clouds sweeping up Glenmore (although on this occasion, never amounting to much).
It's shutting down, with a real sense of the impending winter (even if today was remarkably bright). Those birds which have stayed around are flocking up.

Friday, November 16, 2012

After a busy week spent driving around Inverclyde, Renfrewshire and Lanarkshire, it was a relief to leave the car and take the bus up to my meeting in Glasgow. Leaving the estate, a soft tinkling in the trees in Cardonald Place Farm alerted me to the presence of four Waxwings.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

... but looking a bit better today.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Weather at the weekend doesn't look too promising...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Scotland continues to fill up with Waxwings........

Monday, November 12, 2012

Several skeins of geese were heading up from the Clyde during the drive down this morning.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Five Pheasants were under the feeders at Scargill. Highlight of the drive home was a single Buzzard striking a heraldic pose on a fencepost next to the motorway.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Nuthatch was among the visitors to the Scargill House feeders first thing. An afternoon walk in the direction of Coniston Pie produced few bird species but glorious views over to Littondale and Arncliffe.

Friday, November 09, 2012

A wet evening in Yorkshire. Nice flock of Bramblings feeding on crushed Beech mast near Hawes on way down.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

A lunchtime walk around the reservoirs in Murdieston Park revealed two female-type Goldeneye on the main dam and two Bramblings (a new bird for me for the site) feeding in a Hawthorn bush at the south west corner. No sign of the usual wintering Dipper on the pool next to Inverkip Road.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The usual suite of waterbirds was on display in the centre of Paisley this lunchtime with Grey Heron, Kingfisher and Goosander all present around the mouth of the burn which flows into the Cart, and a Dipper heard at Forbes Place.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

A Buzzard flapped across the motorway at West Ferry where thirty Lapwings were disturbed from their high tide roost. The swans and geese at Barnhill had moved to the other end of their field.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Heading back to Glasgow for an afternoon meeting, the swans and geese were still present in large numbers at Barnhill. Most of the geese nearest the motorway were Greylags. 
As dusk fell at Hillington Industrial Estate, a small raptor (presumably a Kestrel or Sparrowhawk) flap-flap-glided into the distance but the low light and rear-view made identification impossible.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

The regular early Sunday morning walk from Cardonald to Hyndland produced some interesting sightings among the 32 bird species recorded. Perhaps most notable was a Little Grebe seen on the Cart just a few hundred metres from home and in exactly the same spot as I saw one several years ago. This species is scarce locally, with my last sighting being in 2009. The graph below (courtesy of Birdtrack) suggests that it is a winter visitor to this area.

Also notable were a Cormorant over Bell's Bridge, a Grey Heron on the Kelvin, a flock of 9+ Long tailed Tits at Tarfside Oval and single Pied Wagtails at three sites.
Heading home, thirty Waxwings over Berryknowes Road, Cardonald around 2pm were my first of the winter.
News from the web is of Waxwings being recorded across much of Scotland, especially the north and west, but also several Swallows hanging on in Lothian and Forth.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

An early walk to Battlefield threw up some good sightings (among the 28 species recorded). First was a Moorhen on the river at the end of the estate - the first I've seen there for a few years (another was near the main gate of Pollok Park). Another first for a long time was a Cormorant on the "roosting tree" beside Linthaugh Road (with another near the Corkerhill Road gate). Two Carrion Crow X Hoodie hybrids were seen - a dark bird along Linthaugh Road and an almost pure Hoodie west of Pollok House. Winter thrushes were thin on the ground with only one each of Redwing, Fieldfare and Mistle Thrush (although an unidentified flock flew over Pollok). The final stretch of the Cart (at Battlefield) produced a Grey Wagtail and three redhead Goosanders. Birds added to my 1km square lists were two Pied Wagtails seen in the SE corner of Pollok Park (taking the square total to 44) and the Carrion X Hoodie Hybrid at Cardonald (taking that total to 50).

Friday, November 02, 2012

The swan field at Barnhill this afternoon was full of Whooper Swans and grey geese. Hope someone has the time to check them for vagrants.

Thursday, November 01, 2012