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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.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Up and away early to do some atlassing at Cambuslang. A piece of rough ground sandwiched between the DHL depot and the Clyde proved to be particularly productive with Kestrel, Buzzard, Grey Wagtail, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose and Reed Bunting all added. The adjacent river had Goosander, Mallard, Cormorant and a nice pair of Teal. Quarrybank Park was particularly good for birds with at least four Mistle Thrushes, 20 Goldfinches and a flock of Long-tailed Tits all present. The tetrad total is looking a bit healthier (33 species added) but still needs a bit of work.
This afternoon, a spare half hour to wait at the rugby club allowed a quick scoot around Knightswood Park. Around 90 Starlings were starting a murmuration but a couple of Goldcrests were the only new bird for the tetrad. 


Friday, 29 November, 2013

The Grey Wagtail was in the west end of Greenock again, first thing. This evening, flocks of about 50 mixed thrushes, 30 finches and 20 Starlings were in Arkleston Cemetery or across the M8 in Renfrew.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thought I heard a Grey Wagtail outside the office window today (I have seen them feeding in the tenement gutters in past winters), but it may have been one of the local Starlings mimicking their call.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Incredibly mild again today. 11 degrees centigrade heading to work at 7am, and still the same temperature heading home tonight at 11pm.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Pied Wagtail was skipping about the pavement next to the car as I headed to work this afternoon. They are such cheerful little birds - always so dapper and optimistic.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The final list for Saturday's visit to Strathspey only reached a modest 38 as follows: Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Domestic Mallard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Pheasant, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Great Black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Treecreeper, Wren, Starling, Dipper, Blackbird, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Bullfinch

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Three Fieldfares and a Redwing were feeding on berries next to Overton park, Rutherglen this morning.
Some photos from yesterday's Strathspey trip below:

Underpass at Dalraddy

Confluence of Feshie and Spey

Loch Insh looking north

Loch Insh looking east

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Today's walk from Kincraig to Kingussie took place in unseasonally mild conditions. Clouds of insects in sheltered spots indicated just how warm and still it was. With virtually no wind, Loch Alvie and Loch Insh were completely flat calm. Birds on the latter included three Mute Swans at the east end and ten Whoopers at the west. Other waterfowl encountered included Goldeneye (seven males and one female) at three sites, tufted Ducks at two and Greylag Geese at various spots along the Tromie Bridge - Ruthven Barracks road. Several Buzzards were seen but there was no sign of the White-tailed Eagle reported by an angler on Loch Insh. 
Land birds included Great-spotted Woodpecker and Treecreeper at three sites each. A Jay was west of Speybank and a pair of Bullfinches were at Insh Church. Some sizeable flocks of Siskins (some containing Lesser Redpolls too) were a feature of the day. Also notable was a Dipper on the Spey north of Ruthven Barracks. Notable by their absence were winter thrushes with only one each of Redwing and Mistle Thrush recorded.
Impressions of Strathspey in November:
Surrounding ranges are snow-covered.
Trees are virtually leafless - with a few notable exceptions including some solitary Oaks and Beeches. 
Most of the berries seem to be gone - and so do the thrushes.
It gets dark early!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Marking season again. A Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Robin and Wren provided the company outside the window next to the dining room table.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Walking up to the university at lunchtime today, the Oakshaw area was alive with songbirds including Blue Tit, Great Tit, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin and Redpoll.
News from Strathspey is of an improving weather picture :-)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Heading along the low road through Arkleston Farm around 6pm, a vole appeared from below the cemetery wall and scampered all the way across the road in front of me. Earlier in the day, the weather was almost perfect for the UWS graduations.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The temperature was -2 first thing this morning, the coldest so far this year.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Blackbird swooped across the front of the car in a pitch dark Cardonald first thing. At the other end, a Pied Wagtail was also abroad in the half-light.
An afternoon meeting in Gourock Yacht Club had the compensation of stunning views of the Clyde, with flotillas of Eider sailing by.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Spent the first few hours of daylight looking around NS66A (Croftfoot/Rutherglen) to try and boost the tetrad's winter list. Highlights included two Dippers on the burn which marks the boundary between Glasgow and Lanarkshire, forty Greylag Geese passing overhead and some tricky local species including Grey Wagtail and Bullfinch. The full list was: Greylag Goose, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Grey Wagtail, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Starling, Dipper, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare, Redwing, Robin, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch. Only the south end of the tetrad was covered. The north end, and all of the neigbouring tetrad (NS66F) will have to wait until next week. 

Dipper on burn between Croftfoot and Rutherglen

Iconic image from Rutherglen

Saturday, November 16, 2013

A busy day today so no time for natural connections. However my copy of the BTO atlas arrived today, so a few hours were spent poring over the maps and planning imaginary outings. There are some fascinating maps for some of the "marginal" Scottish species including Little Owl, Willow Tit, Marsh Tit, Bearded Tit, Yellow Wagtail and Hobby.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A short walk along Greenock Esplanade at lunchtime found the tide well in and the sea almost completely flat. Several parties of Eider were patrolling up and down and a number of Herring Gulls still had this year's young in tow. A Grey Wagtail was feeding on the little corner of beach at the extreme east end of the esplanade and a Rock Pipit was just west of there. Other birds in the area included Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Shag and Starling.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Moorhen was an unusual sight (for me at least) on the Cart near the (very muddy) outflow of the Espedair Burn.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A lunchtime visit to Murdieston Park produced a single Goosander (the first of the winter and unusually on the smaller Town Dam) and now four Goldeneye. The regular Canada Goose flock was absent (possibly feeding on stubble somewhere) but Black-headed, Herring and Common Gull numbers continue to rise.
The Goldeneye were all female/juvenile types. I must find a good resource to try and age and sex them.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A very frosty start to the day was probably responsible for the very obvious increase in bird activity during this morning's wak. Highlights included a Redwing on the highest branch of the big Sycamore at Cardonald Place Farm, a Grey Wagtail in Mosspark Railway Station, a Goldcrest and two Goldfinches on Mosspark Boulevard and 12 Long-tailed Tits on Titwood Road.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Birds in a rainy Bishopbriggs today included singing Starlings (including one mimicking a Yellowhammer), a pair of Mute Swans, 30 Black-headed Gulls and 30 or so Mallards, the males now fully moulted into breeding plumage and obviously paired with the females.
Back home, a walk along the river produced a few Redwings and a Fieldfare overhead plus single Grey and Pied Wagtail (both scarce here).
A cloudy day gave way to a clear night - hard frost by the morning...

Friday, November 08, 2013

Autumnal scene in Pollok Park,,,

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Not as cold in west central Scotland today, but much wetter.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Twitter alive with news of a fresh influx of Waxwings to eastern Britain.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Around 150 Canada Geese and fifty Greylags were at Turningshaw when I passed this morning. Nearby, two Buzzards were low over the road.
This afternoon, heading to Ayr, a Sparrowhak and two Carrion Crows were scrapping beside the railway bridge at the north end of the three-towns bypass.

Monday, November 04, 2013

A frosty start today, and with snow on Ben Lomond, it seems that winter is on its way. 
Final total for the Strathspey trip last week was a modest 30 species, consisting of: Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Goldeneye, Goosander, Red Grouse, Pheasant, Buzzard, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Dipper, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Robin, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and unidentified crossbill sp

Sunday, November 03, 2013

The highlight of the morning walk through south-west Glasgow was the sight of three Goosander on the river in front of Pollok House. Also notable were Siskins at several sites, Pied Wagtails at two and Goldfinches visiting the feeders at the Visitor Centre.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Heading back from Edinburgh mid afternoon, around 200 Starlings were starting to look like a murmuration at Slateford.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Heading up to Paisley from Greenock, at least three Buzzards were seen from the road and a Grey Wagtail was near Houston.