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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.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Review of 2013: Part 2

One of the best aspects of 2013 was the continuing enjoyment derived from common species seen in ordinary locations. Some additional notes are included below for Grey Wagtail, Swift, Hooded Crow X Carrion Crow hybrid and common warblers. However some of the most notable “home patch” (South Glasgow and Greenock) records included five Whooper Swans flying along Govan Road, an Oystercatcher standing on the roof of the sheltered housing complex in Newton Mearns, a pair of Dippers in the centre of Cathcart (the male singing above the early-morning traffic), two Grey Wagtails, two Dippers, two Kingfishers and a Redshank all together at the Hammils, 15 Waxwings at the Cardonald Place rail bridge, Ravens raising at least three young on the Leverndale Hospital tower, Goldcrest, Siskin and Blackcap all visiting the back garden, four Swifts careering between Greenock tenements, all three hirundines (Sand Martin, House Martin and Swallow) at Govan waterfront, a pair of Common Gulls fledging young from a nest on a tenement in the west end of Greenock, a brood of Goosanders under Shawbridge (and another in central Paisley), four Swallows looking like they might be nesting in the Cathcart "Electricity Board" complex, a female Tufted Duck with three small young at Murdieston Dams, a Kestrel across Paisley Road West at Halfway, a pair of Swallows with fledged young at Hillington Industrial Estate, an eclipse drake Red-crested Pochard hybrid on Rouken Glen Pond, a Kingfisher catching a fish and battering it on a branch in Pollok Park, a Kestrel mobbed by roosting Swallows at Arkleston Farm, single Sparrowhawk and Buzzard over Linthaugh Roundabout, two juvenile Gannets flying between the M77 and Silverburn Shopping Centre, Kestrel, Buzzard, Grey Wagtail, Grey Heron and a pair of Teal at Cambuslang, three Fieldfares and a Redwing feeding on berries at close range next to Overton Park, Rutherglen, two Dippers on an urban burn in Croftfoot, an autumn gathering of Canada Geese on Cowdenknowes Reservoir, a Raven alighting on the spire of Coats' Memorial Church, eight Linnets at the mouth of the Cart west of Renfrew (with another three at Braehead Shopping Centre), 50+ Swallows and a single House Martin roosting in waterside saplings at Cowdenknowes Dam and a screeching Jay in the north end of Pollok Park. After a couple of really good years, Grasshopper Warblers were notable by their absence (or maybe I am losing the ability to hear them).
Of particular interest in 2013 was a very obvious increase in Grey Wagtail sightings. Birds were recorded from various sites in south Glasgow and Inverclyde including regular singles along the river through Cardonald and one flying down the middle of Byers Road.

Swift sightings were once again infrequent in 2013. In contrast to the situation encountered on holiday in Morayshire, numbers seen in the central belt were very low. Only two sightings were logged for Paisley (three birds around UWS and four at Forbes Place) and only one for South Cardonald (a single bird over the house). Elsewhere, four were seen in Greenock, one over Hillhead, one over Kelvindale and two over North Bridge, Edinburgh.

Hooded Crow X Carrion Crow hybrids continued to be seen quite regularly, although the total number of birds was probably small as only a small number of sites were usually involved. The most regular sightings were from Greenock, Gourock, Cardonald and Pollok.

Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Whitethroat all seemed to be commoner than usual in the South Cardonald area. On one day, six Willow Warblers and three Blackcaps were heard singing within a mile of the house. On another, at least five Whitethroats were heard singing between Cardonald and Paisley where there had only been two in previous years. Chiffchaff (two territories) and Garden Warbler (one) were harder to locate.

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