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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.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Went for a lunchtime walk along the river and managed to get the best of the day. Birds were fairly meagre with only a single Raven at Leverndale Hospital and a Buzzard at Hawkhead in any way notable. However the cereal fields at Cairnhill had just been harvested and good numbers of corvids and pigeons were gleaning among the stubble. In the woods, Long-tailed Tit flocks were at three sites and assorted Coal, Blue and Great Tits were squeaking away in various places. At least three groups of people were gathering berries, highlighting what an excellent crop there has been this year. They seemed to be after Brambles, but Rowan, Elder and Hawthorn were also present in profusion.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Spent a lovely afternoon in Mugdock Park. Birds were fairly thin on the ground (possibly due to a combination of masses of people and a strong breeze). The exception was Mugdock Loch which held good numbers of Mallard and Tufted Duck (possibly including birds displaced from Craigton Pond) plus single Wigeon and Pochard (the latter, my first for the site). A Buzzard was mobbed by a Carrion Crow over the Khyber Field.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Spent part of what turned out to be a lovely sunny and mild afternoon at Flanders Moss NNR. Birds were fairly thin on the ground with only Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting and Chaffinch recorded. However invertebrate life was abundant as on previous visits with several dragonfly species present in addition to assorted grasshoppers, weevils and spiders.
Also this afternoon, a dozen or more Swallows were feeding over Thornhill main street.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Spent a lovely afternoon along the lower reaches of the River Irvine. Interesting birds along the river and on the saltmarsh included 80+ Wigeon, 15 Goosander, a domestic Greylag Goose (with Mute Swans), some Cormorants, a couple of Grey Herons and three Sandwich Terns. Birds around the car parks and the Pilot House included Goldfinch (a flock of around 30 birds), Rook and small numbers of both Pied and White Wagtail. The sea was perfectly flat at the point and gave some good views, at least as far as the banks of mist between there and Arran. Birds offshore included Shag, Guillemot, Black Guillemot and Eider. A dozen or so Turnstone were on the rocks and the same number of Sanderling were on the beach on the north side of the river mouth. Four Sandwich Terns (possibly including the three seen further upriver) called noisily as they fished at the river mouth, adding a touch of the exotic to the flat, grey landscape.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The first significant frost in northern Scotland today co-incided with the rumoured arrival of the first Waxwing (in Inverness).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

More Redwings, the first Fieldfares and a single White's Thrush in Scotland today.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

First Redwings of the "winter" reported from Fair Isle (via Twitter).
Twelve Canada Geese flying low (under low cloud) over the west end of Greenock.
Stop Press: Also 75 Redwing on Isle of May (via lothianbirdnews).

Monday, September 23, 2013

Took a short lunch break today at Cardwell Bay. No sign of the reported Little Gull but a Redshank was feeding in the shallows and a nice Hooded x Carrion Crow Hybrid was rummaging in the exposed seaweed.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

This morning's walk through south west Glasgow was again characterised by a large number of singing birds. Robins were most prominent (they seem to be everywhere this autumn) but others included Wren, Woodpigeon and a single Blackcap. Two Grey Wagtails were present on the Cart and a Hooded Crow x Carrion Crow was in the usual place in Pollok Park. House Sparrows were notable by their absence. I am convinced they move away to exploit different food sources (perhaps on local farmland) at this time of the year.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Sparrowhawk was being chased by a crow just east of Polmont. Six domestic Greylag Geese were on Linlithgow Loch. A Linnet and a Meadow Pipit were on a wire at Fisher's Brae while 50+ hirundines fed overhead. Eighty Pink-footed Geese flew south.
Dropping down into Kinneil woods,lots of birds were singing including Goldcrest, Robin and Woodpigeon. 
The tide was well out at Kinneil foreshore. Shelduck, Redshank and Curlew were dotted across the mud and a group of birds in front of Bo'ness railway yard included forty Bar-tailed Godwits, ten Black-tailed Godwits and three Teal. Three Chiffchaffs were singing at various places around the point.
Back at Linlithgow Loch, two Cormorants were on their usual island.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A quick lunchtime walk around Murdieston Park revealed increased numbers of Mallard, Tufted Duck and Coot. Around 25 Canada Geese were also present, being chased around by the resident Mute Swans. Over on Town Dam, five juvenile Coots were noisily pursuing their parents. While I was watching them, a Brown Rat crept away under the footbridge. There were plenty of Black headed Gulls on both reservoirs but try as I might, I couldn't turn any of them into Mediterraneans.
At home time, a single Swallow was feeding over the A8 at Cappielow.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Buzzard was on short grass at Finlaystone (hunting for worms?)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Big arrival of Pink-feet nationally today.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Monday, September 16, 2013

Working from home today, the only company was from a Bullfinch moving around at the back of the garden (possibly eyeing up the bumper crop of Honeysuckle berries).

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The only natural connection of the day was with an upper respiratory tract virus. Hopefully normal service will be resumed tomorrow.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The area around Overton House was very busy with people arriving for a cross-country race first thing this morning. However no-one was up on the Lang Craigs. Almost the first bird seen was a rather wet-looking Stonechat "chack"-ing quietly from a Bracken frond. Overhead, four Buzzards were soaring together. A little later, three Ravens were involved in a prolonged dog-fight with a female Sparrowhawk. Later still, a pair of Ravens flew along the cliffs croaking loudly.
Other birds on the hill included Meadow Pipit, Dunnock and Wren (but no Green Woodpecker). Lower down, the Mute Swan pair on Loch Bowie had eight large cygnets,
In Paisley this afternoon, a female Goosander was shepherding six juveniles on the Cart and two Grey Wagtails were nearby.

Friday, September 13, 2013

On a gloomy afternoon, a single Swallow was an incongruous sight on a wire over the garages on McKenzie Street, Paisley.
News from the web is of the first snow on the Cairngorms.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Had to go to Ayr today so headed down early and was at Rozelle Park by 8am. The first bird heard was a Nuthatch giving its repeated, shrill whistling call. Another two were giving the "Whit-whit" call as they followed eachother through thr treetops at the other end of the pond.
At Greenan Shore, a Meadow Pipit flew over, followed by a good-sized cloud of hirundines (I estimated 20 Swallows and 60 House Martins).

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Buzzard was showing well as it soared over the wood behind Longhaugh Point first thing. This evening, a lone Swallow was over Arkleston Farm. In between was a lovely, "Indian summer" day.

Monday, September 09, 2013

News from the web is of the first Brent, Barnacle and Pink-footed Geese back in south Scotland, Brrr!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

A Kingfisher called loudly from the river under the Corkerhill Road bridge this morning. Nearby, a Buzzard was giving the loud begging call which I presume is made by juvenile birds.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Walked from Central Station to Hogganfield Loch this morning. The route went along Alexandria Parade, through Cranhill Park and over the M8 at Ruchazie. The loch was dotted with birds including around ten each of Gadwall, Pochard and Little Grebe, perhaps 100 Coot, fifty Tufted Ducks and among them, two drake Ruddy Ducks. The birds still had quite ruddy plumage but the blue colour of the bill was not particularly apparent.

Friday, September 06, 2013

A flock of Mute Swans flew up the Clyde at Woodhall first thing. In the afternoon, a single, low pitched "Prrrrttt" suggested a Raven was back in the tower of Coats' Memorial Church.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

A small flock of Long-tailed Tits was in the trees around the back garden for much of the early evening.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Two House Martins were high over their tiny Cardonald colony first thing today (07:15). This evening, 10 Lapwings were over a sunny River Clyde at Langbank.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

There has been a gradual but distinct change in the seasons this week with cooler weather (although today was unusually mild) and evidence of wildlife on the move. Thirty Greylag Geese were flying up the Clyde as I drove down first thing. Back home, a single House Martin was high over the estate, giving its "Phrrrrt phrrrt" call. 
Later in the evening, around 30 Swallows were flitting around the telephone wires over Arkleston Farm. A Kestrel was perched on the wires and was mercilessly mobbed as it flew away.

Monday, September 02, 2013

No natural connections due to a busy work day, so here is a (poor) photo of one of the newly-hatched Coots chicks on Town Dam last week. 

Sunday, September 01, 2013

A walk from Cardonald to Langside this morning found most of the smaller birds skulking in cover. A few Wrens and a Robin were singing, but I was surprised to also hear a brief phrase of Blackcap song.
One of the most obvious sounds at this time of the year is the rasping contact call of the Long tailed Tit. Small parties were present at four sites along the route. Other notable birds included a Kingfisher and three groups of Swallows in Pollok Park.