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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, September 30, 2014

Today started with a fantastic sunrise, the sun appearing as a bright orange disc on the horizon behind the airport. Driving down the Clyde, the landscape was bathed in a warm, orange glow.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Grey Heron fishing near the old Transport Museum was the only notable natural connection of an afternoon spent wandering around Glasgow's West End.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

In what has been a weekend of raptor encounters, a Sparrowhawk was being mobbed by a gull over Crossmyloof this morning.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Today has been a day of battles between raptors and corvids. First up, a Kestrel was being chased by Jackdaws at Arkleston Farm around 10am. Secondly, a Sparrowhawk was being dive-bombed by a Carrion Crow high over Milngavie early afternoon. Finally, this evening, a Buzzard was low over South Cardonald, being aggressively mobbed by the local Magpies. In amongst all of that, a Grey Wagtail flying down Milngavie main street was fairly typical for that location.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A quick run down to Ayr this evening produced a single Buzzard over the motorway just north of Kilmarnock.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Flocks of Starlings are still a feature of the Port Glasgow waterfront, especially during the evening commute.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Buzzard was soaring over the motorway at Bishopton this evening.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Grey Heron was along the river this afternoon. A bumper crop of Brambles in the local hedgerows has gone largely unexploited and is now getting past its best.

Trip report on today's walk around Glenmore and Rothiemurchus Forests as follows.

Today’s trip to Strathspey took place in unseasonably mild and settled conditions.  First notable sighting of the day concerned a single Swallow over Newtonmore Station (the only hirundine of the whole day). As in previous years, the train ride through Badenoch produced several passerine flocks although the exact species involved couldn’t be discerned.

Three Carrion Crow X Hoodie hybrids in the centre of Aviemore consisted of one near full Carrion Crow, one intermediate bird and one near full Hoodie. Other birds in the area included the usual Jackdaws plus Rook, Carrion Crow, Siskin and Collared Dove.

Arriving at the ski car park, the first birds encountered were three Pied Wagtails around the resort buildings, two Dunnocks nearby, a Meadow Pipit flying overhead and at least two Red Grouse calling from off the path.

Dropping down the Allt Mor trail, the first birds seen were five Stonechats, presumably a family party. Entering the woods, small bird numbers increased. The first of several tit flocks for the day consisted of Long-tailed, Great, Coal and Blue Tits and Chaffinches. Also present were Goldcrest, Wren and Treecreeper. The woods were full of fungi, particularly along the path edges. Wood Ants were very evident (including one nest heaving with activity) and other insects present included a single Dor Beetle, a single Tiger Beetle and still large numbers of midges.

Loch Morlich held 20 Mallard and a Grey Wagtail in its south east corner and a Goldeneye and nine Tufted Ducks in the south west. Siskins appeared in numbers around Lochan nan Gaedas and a single Crossbill flew over near there. 

Dragonflies were a feature of several wet areas in both Glenmore and Rothiemurchus forests. The most striking was a large, blue-banded species, one of which was patrolling the fire pond near the Loch an Eilein junction on the Rothiemurchus Lodge road. Another looked particularly menacing as it flew along the line of a forest path.

Crested Tits were at two forest sites. Whitewell held Greenfinch, Siskin and another tit flock. Tullochgorm was not as colourful as expected, the reds and oranges of ornamental trees not having fully developed as yet. Pied Wagtails were here and at a few other sites (they get distinctly scarcer later in the year).
A detour to Lochan Mor produced two Moorhens (including a juvenile, suggesting local breeding), a trilling Little Grebe and a female-type Goldeneye. 
Heading back into Aviemore past the Old Mill Inn, at least two Spotted Flycatchers were rasping from nearby trees.
Mammals were represented by several Rabbits in Aviemore and a Roe Deer on heather moorland just south of the Rothiemurchus triangle.

Impressions of Strathspey in September
It’s still colourful, with Heather and Ling in flower although both are now past their best. Bracken is turning yellow but the most eye-catching colours are the ripe berries of Rowan, Rose and other trees and shrubs.
Bird noise  is mostly attributable to singing Robins and roving tit flocks.
Fungi are perhaps at their most visible.

The species list for the day was Pink-footed Goose, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Red Grouse, Little Grebe, Buzzard, Moorhen, Black-headed Gull, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Hooded Crow, hybrid Carrion x Hooded Crow, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Swallow, Long-tailed Tit, Treecreeper, Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Spotted Flycatcher, Robin, Stonechat, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, unidentified Crossbill and Siskin (39 species).

Early Waxwings reported from Orkney. Pink-footed Geese continue to arrive.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Weather looking quite good for Aviemore this weekend.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Another lovely day in Greenock today. A huge cruise liner had docked overnight and the town was full of tourists.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Still mild. Hope it lasts to the weekend.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Between 50 and 100 Starlings were commuting from the roof of Greenock Court to the heavily-laden Rowan trees below. Back home, a few bats were under the bridges at dusk.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Still plenty of Swallows feeding over Drymen this afternoon. On the way home, three Black Grouse were sitting in full view out on the moor.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Another remarkably mild day (the car temperature gauge was still reading 17.5 degrees at 9 this evening). A cycle along the river early afternoon produced a Kingfisher showing well near the "rocky bend" and a Grey Wagtail near the Leverndale Hospital gate. Heading back home from Mosspark Railway Station around 5pm, another Kingfisher showed well near the Cardonald Place Farm bridge. Then around 6pm, six House martins twittered in the evening sunshine high above the house.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Between 50 and 100 geese were flighting up from the Clyde as I drove down at 7:30am (with 20-30 making the return journey at 6pm). In between, a flock of over 50 passerines (presumably Goldfinches) flew up from the foreshore and over the road into Langbank.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Another day of high pressures and warm temperatures in west central Scotland. Two Swallows seemed to be enjoying the conditions as they fed over East India Harbour in Greenock. Later, the unusual sight of numerous small groups of Starlings on all the lamposts along the reclaimed Port Glasgow waterfront suggests thay had been feeding on aerial insects. Further along, a flock of gulls seemed to be doing just that.
After this evening's walk along the river, a big, yellow Harvest Moon guided us home.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

First (probably feral) Barnacle Geese in Dumfriesshire, first Fieldfare in Grantown-on-Spey, Pinkfeet continuing to arrive in southern Scotland - the mild weather continues but the birds are not fooled.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Today's WeBs count did not produce anything unusual except a single Great Black-backed Gull. Later, a cycle along to Rosshall Park produced a Rabbit (almost unheard of hereabouts) near the "caves" and Beech mast raining down onto the woodland floor (and creating a seasonal treat for the local Woodpigeons and Grey Squirrels). A Kingfisher called near the confluence.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Great Tits were visiting the peanut feeder in the back garden most of the day. 
The photo below shows the building work going on beside the Kelvin at the Benalder Street Bridge. Hopefully it won't disturb the Dippers, Goosanders and nesting Sand Martins which use the immediate area.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

An interesting day today with a real feeling of summer transitioning into autumn. Both Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were heard singing briefly around the back garden in the morning (another Chiffchaff was heard calling at Mugdock later in the day).
An afternoon walk around Mugdock Park produced four Meadow Pipits moving through the Khyber fields, four Swallow chicks still in a nest at the Gun Sites, a Nuthatch calling in the woods just north of there, a loose flock of Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests near the Drowning Pond and a Blackbird feeding on berries near the Dipping Pond.

Friday, September 05, 2014

News from the web is of a new scheme to save the Scottish population of the Freshwater Pearl Mussel.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Spent most of the day travelling home from Romania. An early morning start meant that we were travelling across the Puszta as a golden sun appeared over the eastern horizon. Birds were numerous, but tantalisingly too far away to identify. Best sightings were of a female Marsh Harrier, several other raptors and a large flock of Common Cranes. 

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Today's visits required a car trip over to the eastern part of Bihor County. The large areas of standing water in this region probably accounted for the increased numbers of gulls and the single Lapwing seen by the roadside. Some of the villages held prominent White Stork's nests (now deserted for the winter). Other birds included Rook and Magpie.

A lunch stop in Alesd found very good numbers of House Martins and House Sparrows around the apartment blocks. 
After work, a visit to the thermal baths at the President Aqua Park produced a family group of Pied Wagtails on the roof of an out-building and a Jay flying over one of the outdoor pools.
Later in the evening, a visit to Baile Felix resort found the Indian Lotuses in Nenuphar Lake slightly past their best but still wonderful to see. A woodpecker calling from the trees above did not sound quite right for Great-spotted. A Jay showed itself briefly as it dived into the canopy nearby. 

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

A busy working day here in Romania. A small group of martins seemed to be visiting a derelict tower block near the city centre while the usual Swallows were over the hospice quarter. A small palm plant in the hospice had some interesting fungi sprouting from its base (no doubt imported with either the plant or the compost).

This evening's concert at the Philharmonic featured a suite of Romanian folk songs. One contained a couple of phrases of "birdsong". One of our hosts is going to find out what species was involved. Back home, news has broken that a Snowy Owl has been present near Ben Macdui for the past month.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Swallows were already on the wing when we arrived at the Emanuel Hospice offices in the centre of Oradea. The first trip of the day was to the countryside south east of Oradea Airport. The road was lined with fields of ripe maize and sunflowers. Birds along the way included House Sparrow, a couple of grey shrikes, Feral Pigeons and Collared Doves. The remaining visits were downtown, with only Collared Doves for company.
A Sparrowhawk wickered, unseen, from the church grounds at 6:30pm. Later, an evening trip to a village north east of the city produced more collared doves and feral pigeons, singing Corn Bunting and (after dark) cicadas.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A vole across the road just before the Romanian border was the only natural connection of a long day of travelling from Glasgow to Oradea via Edinburgh and Budapest.