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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, March 22, 2014

A very frosty start to the day was followed by a mixture of sunshine, rain and hail. Spent the morning and early afternoon touring some local sites. Visited the River Leven at Balloch first thing and was rewarded with nice views of the female Mandarin Duck that has been present there for at least the last few weeks. In the event, she was not difficult to find, her high-pitched calls making her the noisiest duck on the river. She was accompanying a small group of Mallards and alternated between a submissive posture (with body low in the water and bill submerged) and more aggressive behaviour including chasing the other ducks and displaying with crest and tail raised. A lovely bird to observe at close quarters (some phone pics below). Also present in the area were at least 11 Goosanders, two Muscovy Ducks and a singing Chiffchaff.

Next stop was the Overtoun Estate above Dumbarton, the target species being Green Woodpecker. Unfortunately, as on the last few occasions, none were seen or heard. Compensation was provided in the form of one pair each of Raven, Kestrel and Buzzard over the crags. Loch Bowie held seven more Goosanders plus a pair of Goldeneye and the usual Little Grebe, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Grey Heron etc. Meanwhile the horse field beside the main access road held 15 Meadow Pipits and five Pied Wagtails (two of the latter showing some of the features of White Wagtail).
The final stop of the day was the SWT reserve at Loch Ardinning. Birds on the Loch included Canada Goose, Goldeneye, Grey Heron and Cormorant (with at least two Pied Wagtails in the north east corner). A long walk on Muirhouse Muir produced lots of isolation and some wonderful views, but few birds (only Raven, Carrion Crow and Meadow Pipit).


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