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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.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Around 80 geese flew across the motorway in ragged skeins first thing. Further on, a Grey Heron lumbered over near Bishopton.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Raven was around the spire of Coats' Memorial Church, Paisley this afternoon. Heading home, around 30 Starlings were in a murmuration over Causewayside Street. Back home, a "plop" in the garden pond suggested the frogs have arrived.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A dreich day in West Central Scotland. Clear tonight, so frost possible in the morning.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A short walk through a sunny Battery Park this lunchtime produced two Rock Pipits and a Pied Wagtail on the shore and a single Guillemot/Razorbill which belly-flopped into the middle of a group of Eider before carrying on west. The site is quite a reliable one for Hoodie hybrids but none were present today.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Visitors all day today, so once again no natural connections. However the gift of some stunning "Bird-of-Paradise" flowers reminded me of what is out there, just waiting to be discovered.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A morning spent tidying the back garden was improved considerably by the calls of nearby Long-tailed Tit, Redpoll and Bullfinch. The garden pond is still looking quite forlorn although the duckweed is multiplying and Irises starting to sprout, No sign of any frog activity yet. The rugby run to Marr College, Troon this afternoon produced eight Oystercatchers and a Curlew feeding on the playing fields and Goldfinches tinkling in the treetops.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A singing Blackbird at 6am was the only natural connection of a busy working day. Oh well!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Starling flock at the Sugar sheds numbered about 200 this evening. A Grey Heron was over the breeding cliff at Woodhall and a pair of Shelducks were on the flooded field south of the motorway at Longhaugh Point. In between, the sea opposite Langbank was covered with Black-headed Gulls. I estimated several thousand were present. I have witnessed this phenomenon once before. Presumably the birds are congregating prior to moving inland to set up breeding territories.
Further up the motorway, a Raven flew over at Bishopton and two Whooper Swans were in a field at Barnhill.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

On a dry and bright day, a Raven was carrying sticks into the "crown" of Coats' Memorial Church in Paisley, apparently unperturbed by workmen inspecting the shutters of the bell tower.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Blackbird was in full song at 6:30 am.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Managed to squeeze in a quick walk around Murdieston Park this lunchtime. Most notable sightings were two Little Grebes and a good total of seven Goldeneye. The latter tend to peak at this site around March. Only female types have been present all winter but today a breeding plumaged male was also seen. At least two females were associating with him. Back gardens adjoining the site held a  Grey Wagtail and a singing Greenfinch. This evening, a medium sized bird over the M8 at Bishopton was probably a Woodcock.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Spent a pleasant morning trying to add missing species to some south Glasgow tetrads. Unfortunately, in spite of great weather and plenty of time in the field, only one new species was added (Long-tailed Tit for NS55P). Good birds included a Dipper in Rouken Glen and a Reed Bunting on the pond next to Bogleshole Road, Cambuslang.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Made the most of a dry spell around mid afternoon with a bit of atlassing in south east Glasgow. Had noticed that the winter total for NS66W was only 24, so took a walk up by Calderbraes Golf Club to Woodhead Farm. Interesting sightings included two Buzzards soaring together just above the treetops, a Mistle Thrush visiting a probable nest site behind some Ivy on a dead tree and a single Jay which flew across the farm entrance road. Only managed to get the square total up to 29 (adding Great Black-backed Gull, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blue Tit and Jay). Will need to try and fit in another visit before the end of the month.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Kestrel was just outside Troon with another at Gateside during the drive up from Ayrshire this lunchtime.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Dunnock was singing in the half-light in Greenock first thing. This evening, the usual mini-murmuration of Starlings was careering over the sugar sheds.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Ayr sea front was bitterly cold this morning. Later, driving back via Kilmarnock, a Kestrel was over the road after Dundonald.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Blackbirds very evident in the garden again today. I wonder if they will stay to nest. Dredged the garden pond this afternoon, in the hope that Frogs will be visiting soon.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

The only natural connection of a busy morning was a Pied Wagtail feeding with the pigeons at Shawlands Cross (a new winter record for the tetrad). This afternoon a bright yellow Canary flew aross Paisley Road West and entered the doorway of the Ristorante Sicilia. Managed to catch it, with the help of the staff from the chip shop next door, who said they would take care of it.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

One of those "four seasons in one day" days in Aviemore. On the train journey north, 30 Greylag Geese were on the Blair Atholl showground. Nearer Drumochter, where the snow was lying quite deeply, were three Buzzards and a Kestrel. Several groups of Red Deer were conspicuous against the snow. A Red Grouse was near Dalwhinnie (where there were the usual Feral Pigeons) and two rabbits were at Kingussie. Also there, were 60 Jackdaw, three Rooks and a Woodpigeon. Two Mute Swans were on Loch Insh near the Swan Chapel. All the usual suspects were out in force in Aviemore including Rook, Jackdaw, Starling, House Sparrow, Herring Gull, Collared Dove, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Greenfinch. Had a quick look at the Santa Claus Land site but there was little to see over the hoardings and certainly no sign of the controversial damselfly lochan (see classsic view by Aaron Sneddon below).

The ski road was closed due to adverse weather, so got off the bus at Glenmore with the intention of walking back via Loch an Eilein. Birds around Loch Morlich beach included Blackbird, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit and Chaffinch. A small, diving bird 20 metres offshore turned out to be a Dipper (not a Dabchick, my first guess). Round in the southeast bay, five Whooper Swans (four adults and an immature) trumpeted softly as they moved off slowly. Nearby were 10 Tufted Duck, 6 Goldeneye and three Mallard (with another 28 of the latter in the river). A Treecreeper, two Coal Tits and a Goosander were on Lochan nan Gaedas and another two Coal Tits were near the Cairngorm Club footbridge but birds were extremely elusive in the forest due to the wild weather.
Loch an Eilein was too rough for anything to swim on it but the feeders there held five Blue Tits, five Great Tits, three Coal Tits, two Greenfinches and 20 Chaffinches. Eight Mallards on  the burn had presumably been displaced from the loch.
Lilly Loch held two more Mallards, a Tufted Duck and a Chaffinch. The last bird of the day was a Pheasant at Spey Bridge.
Impressions of Strathspey in February:

Its inhospitable, with wind and sleet hurtling through the forest, and exposed sites particularly unpleasant.
Its quiet, with birds hard to find due to the poor weather, but appearing when the rain stops.
Its busy in the towns and villages, with local birds getting a head's start on their country cousins.
Its damp, with Lochan Deo (dried up last summer) and Lilly Loch swollen beyond their usual margins.
Its lighter for noticeably longer.
Bluebell leaves are emerging but there is little sign of anything else starting to grow.

The final bird list for the day was: Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Goosander, Red Grouse, Pheasant, Buzzard, Kestrel, Herring Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Jackdaw, Rook, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Treecreeper, Starling. Dipper, Blackbird, House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Greenfinch (29 species)

Friday, February 07, 2014

Today was one of the few frosty mornings this winter. Goldfinch and Coal Tit were singing at a sunny Ayrshire Central this afternoon. Jackdaws were gathering nest material and House Sparrows were chirrupping loudly from cover. In north Scotland, Slavonian Grebes have started moving onto freshwater. At the same time, snow continues to fall on the tops.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Five-thirty pm and still daylight. Mmmm.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Mistle Thrush with young in nest in Leicester.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

A Song Thrush was singing outside the house first thing. Later, a Blackbird was singing in Paisley as it started to get dark. In between, the news from the web was of a smattering of Waxwing sightings down the east coast.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Two murmurations of Starlings were performing over the A8 this evening - the first involved around 100 birds in the usual place over the "Sugar Sheds", the second involved around 50 birds "funneling" down into an evergreen hedge near Port Glasgow Town Hall. 

Saturday, February 01, 2014

A morning visit to a friend's house in Bishopbriggs was unfortunately the only excursion into the outdoors today. Birds visiting his garden (Robin, Dunnock, Blue Tit) were unremarkable but included an apparently healthy population of House Sparrows, the spring plumage of the males starting to show through.