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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 30, 2013

20+ Whooper Swans and at least 100 "grey" geese were on stubble beside the motorway first thing on Thursday. Later, a very strange gull on Cowdenknowes Reservoir evaded positive identification.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Seven Whooper Swans were flying over farmland near the airport first thing.

Impressions of Strathspey in October:

Big weather, with dramatic weather systems sweeping in from the south-west.

Clear blue skies (between the weather systems).

Evocative sounds – Whooper Swans, Greylag Geese and Ravens over the forest.

Quiet forests, but the call of Crested Tit very obvious.

Fantastic colour with Birches yellow and Spruces orange. Near settlements are Cherry trees with red leaves. Bracken creamy brown.

Fruit very evident (with berries exposed by some leaves having dropped but most not yet taken by birds) including Rose hips, Rowan berries and Blaeberries (on the woodland floor).

Plenty of leaves down (although many still attached due to no significant storms to date) with birch leaves covering the woodland floor and the characteristic, virus-spotted Sycamore Leaves also evident.

Water levels still quite low (e.g. Lochan nan Gaedas, Lochan Deo) after very dry summer.

Tops still snow-free after mild autumn.

Plenty of corvids (mainly Jackdaws) but no gulls or waders seen (presumably plenty of the former at Granish Tip).

Glenmore campsite very quiet but lots of cyclists in Rothiemurchus Forest.

Ski Car Park very quiet (no snow yet).

Still plenty of aerial insect life in the forest (including biting midges).

Rivers mostly duck-free (presumably breeders having departed for still waters).

Monday, October 28, 2013

Twenty geese (probably Greylags) were high over the motorway at Walkinshaw first thing.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A walk along the river this afternoon produced several groups of Redwings swirling around the tree-tops. Also present were two flocks of Long-tailed Tits. One flock was particularly noisy when it became apparent that they were mobbing a hidden mammal (possibly a cat) which showed a white-tipped tail as it retreated into the undergrowth.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The weather portents were not good, but the monthly wander in Strathspey went ahead regardless. As it turned out, the rain stayed away until nearly 6pm. Mostly the sun shone and the wind remained fairly light,
Birds seen on the train journey north included three Red Grouse at Drumochter and flocks of both thrushes and finches in Badenoch. In Aviemore, a single Redwing called overhead and a pair of Collared Doves flew in. The walk itself started at the ski car park. Views from up there were excellent. No snow yet, but the yellow of the Birches and orange of the Larches made for a very colourful scene.
Red Grouse and Meadow Pipit were around the ski car park but no Snow Buntings appeared. Dropping down the Allt Mor path (still one of my favourite trails anywhere), birds heard or seen included Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Coal Tit and Robin.
The stretch of the Abhainn Ruigh-eunachan where it enters Loch Morlich held two noisy Dippers. Nine swans keeping to the centre of the loch turned out to be Whoopers. Birds round the south side of the loch included Redwing, Crested Tit and Dipper. Three Goosanders were on the loch itself. Ten Goldeneye were actively feeding in the south west corner where three more Goosander loafed on rocks. In the forest there were quite a lot of Blaeberries that the Mallards and other wildlife haven't found. The highlight of the walk happened here with a remarkable "dog fight" involving 14 Ravens and six Buzzards high over the start of the Sluggain Path. The first birds noticed were two Ravens calling as they flew over. These birds kept flying upwards until it was clear that they were joinging a larger group higher up. The flock consisted of wheeling Buzzards and small parties of Ravens (I noticed two groups of five each, flying in fairly tight formation). All were milling around and lunging at eachother from time to time. However there was no sign of a larger raptor which might have been the cause of the behaviour. Eventually, all the birds drifted north east until they disappeared somewhere over Craiggowrie. The nine Whooper Swans then put on a show of their own as they took off from the loch and repeatedly circled over the forest honking loudly.

Nineteen Greylag Geese flew over the forest near "Piccadilly". Redwing were in small numbers at scattered sites. Fieldfares were thin on the ground. Crested Tits were at four sites and crossbill sp. at two. Eight Long-tailed Tits were at Whitewell and twenty Redpoll were at a very colourful Tullochgrue. 

Looking north from the top of the Allt Mor trail (above)

Half-way down the Allt Mor trail (above)

Loch Morlich from the south east corner (above)

Loch Morlich from the west end (above)

Autumn colour at Tullochgrue (above)

More colour at Tullochgrue (above)

Autumn Birches below Tullochgrue (above)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Plenty of waterfowl were ploughtering around on a particularly high tide at home-time today. Most were Wigeon and Mallard but a single diver sp. was just east of Newark Castle. The electricty cables over the motorway near Bishopton held dozens of winter thrushes.
Think I might get wet tomorrow...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Good numbers of waders (Lapwings, Curlews, Oystercatchers and Black-tailed Godwits) and a single Grey Heron were exploiting the exposed mud at Langbank this lunchtime. At Gartnavel General Hospital, seven Long-tailed Tits were in their usual tree and two Goosanders were snorkerling in Bingham Pond. The day ended with cloudless, blue skies and beautiful, golden light streaming through the trees.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Autumnal day in Paisley,

andaforthcoming NN cover art!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A flock of Long-tailed Tits called, unseen, from the trees in the Caird Car Park in Hamilton today. Heading home, a huge flood on the playing fields at King George V Park held hundreds of gulls. At home, twenty Redwings swooped high over the trees next to the house.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Rain. Bah!
Three Goldeneye were back on Cowdenknowes Reservoir this lunchtime. The four Coot chicks were still begging loudly on Town Dam. Meanwhile a Moorhen on each reservoir was a high count.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

News from the web is that the first few Waxwings have arrived in the UK with one in Shetland on Friday, one in Whitburn on Saturday and one in Caithness today.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

News from the web is of "huge flocks" of Ptarmigan in the Cairngorms. Looks like it has been a successful breeding season.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Monday, October 14, 2013

A few Redwing passed over the house in the half-light this morning.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The usual Sunday morning walk through south west Glasgow was notable for three sightings in particular. Firstly, approaching Linthaugh Roundabout, a Sparrowhawk passed high overhead, followed by a flock of Starlings and pigeons. As it disappeared from view, a Buzzard appeared, flying in the opposite direction. This was the last straw for the local bird population, and for a few moments the sky was full of swirling, agitated groups of corvids, doves, gull and Starlings.
An even more surprising aerial spectacle was witnessed above the M77 where it passes over the White Cart just north of Barrhead Road, Pollok. Two juvenile Gannets appeared from the north east and proceeded to fly strongly, in a south westerly direction, heading towards Silverburn Shopping Centre.
The final notable sighting was of ten Redwings exploding out of the treetops in Pollok Park (my first of the winter).

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Lovely day at Ardmore Point today. The sunshine produced some late insect activity including plenty of hoverflies and a few dragonflies on the wing. Best birds were 15 Barnacle Geese in North Bay, four Red throated Divers (in summer plumage) and a Black Guillemot (in winter plumage) and a couple of Gannets fishing offshore.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Another very frosty start today. News from the web is of the first big vanguard of Redwing arrivals

Thursday, October 10, 2013

First frost of the winter this morning. Brrrr! A Starling was singing in the autumn sunshine in Greenock.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Interesting statistic from the BTO today: wild birds lay around 800 million eggs in the UK every year. That number pales into insignificance however when compared to the nine billion eggs laid by domestic chickens according to the British Egg Industry Council.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

A Kestrel landed on a lamp-post beside the M8 at Arkleston at first light.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Walking back from Paisley to Cardonald after work, two Ravens were swooping over Leverndale Hospital and around 15 Redpolls were in the top of a Birch tree at Bonnyholm. A newt pool has been dug at Hawkhead Estate Park (below).

Sunday, October 06, 2013

A Grey Heron was an unusual sight as it sailed languidly over the rooftops in the east end of Paisley this afternoon.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Started today with a visit to Luckenburn where at least 127 Bean Geese were in the field opposite the farm entrance. Also there were a single Buzzard and a flock of Chaffinches.
Next port of call was RSPB Loch Leven where a party of five Whooper Swans were with the Mute Swans in front of the hides. Several hundred Pochard were along the south shore of the loch (together with a single Goldeneye) and twenty Pintail were in one of the bays on the east side. Several hundred Pink footed Geese were active in the far north east corner.
Late afternoon, a Kestrel and a Buzzard were active over Kinneil Kerse. Birds offshore included several Great crested Grebes and a juvenile Gannet. Heading back to Grangemouth, 55 Golden Plover were among 350 Lapwing and 200 to 300 Pink footed Geese flew over west.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Ink Cap or Lawyer's Wig group in the estate.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Positively warm again today.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Over 100 Starlings were in a tight ball over the "Sugar Sheds" at 5:50 this evening.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

No sight or sound of Redwings in my corner of Glasgow as yet.