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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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Pied Wagtail was singing from a tenement rooftop in greenock this lunchtime. Later, a Buzzard was over the motorway near Bishopton.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Started the day in Castle Woods at Lochmaben Loch. Good birds on show included some very noisy Nuthatches, singing Stock Doves, and lots of Chaffinches and Redwings feeding in the leaf litter. Willow Tit eluded me there, but two birds showed extremely well in front of the first hide at Ken-Dee Marshes. The day was characterised by dense fog which severely limited visibility. When the sun eventually came out, a Red Kite flapped lazily across a hillside north of Laurieston.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Highlights of a morning walk around a frosty Mugdock Park consisted of two Jays in the south east corner, two Song Thrushes feeding in leaf litter north of the castle, a Goldeneye on Mugdock Loch and a good showing of "frost hair" on Cypress branches.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The first of two walks along the river produced a Mistle Thrush singing loudly and repeatedly from a tall tree in Rosshall Park and a Kingfisher diving for fish near the Cookery School. The second produced a Raven on the roof of Rosshall High School, causing considerable alarm among the local Feral Pigeons and corvids.

Friday, December 26, 2014

There were lots of birds along the river this afternoon including Fieldfares, Mistle Thrushes, Starlings and Redpolls in the treetops,Fieldfares and Redwings feeding on the playing fields and a Cormorant was just upstream of the Mosspark Station bridge.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

An afternoon walk along the Cart at Leverndale produced a Buzzard being mobbed by crows, a Sparrowhawk cruising along less than a metre from the river surface, two Goosanders fishing together and a Kingfisher flying up to a perch under the bank before coughing up a pellet.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Buzzard was over the woods at Woodhall and 30 or more Lapwings were on fields at Longhaugh Point this afternoon. The shoreline had been inundated by one of the highest tides I have seen.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Twenty Lapwings flapped lazily over the motorway at Longhaugh Point, presumably taking refuge from the encroaching tide by moving to roadside fields.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Two interesting stories in the news today - one about a seal which was found in a field in Meseyside (17 miles from the sea) and another of an SSPCA officer called to an injured parrot in Aberdeen which turned out to be a Christmas hat.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The winter solstice has arrived. I was intrigued by the map showing Glasgow streets aligned to the rising sun here.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A trip to Linlithgow and Blackness (with a fruitless detour to Luckenburn) produced a Long-tailed Duck on the loch, a couple of Linnets behind Blackness Castle, a Knot and a Grey Wagtail along the strand line just east of there and hundreds of Shelduck, Wigeon, Eider and Mallard floating offshore.

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Song Thrush was startled by the headlights of the car first thing this morning.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Four Scaup were on their usual pond as I headed back to Paisley from a meeting in Ayr this lunchtime.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Cormorant was feeding in the Cart where it flows under the railway line west of Glasgow Airport.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Monday, December 15, 2014

A Tawny Owl flew across Ardgowan Street, Greenock at 7am today. A little later it was "Kee-wick"-ing nearby.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The final bird list for yesterday's Strathspey trip was: Mallard, Goldeneye, Red Grouse, Black Grouse, Herring Gull, Collared Dove, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Raven, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Treecreeper, Wren, Dipper, Blackbird, Redwing, Robin, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Lesser Redpoll and Siskin (24 species).

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Black Grouse and several groups of Red Grouse (totalling around 24 birds) were in roadside fields between Drumochter and Dalwhinnie (no doubt forced down from the hills by the lying snow). 
With limited time in Aviemore, a walk around Craigellachie NNR seemed a good idea. Birds were fairly thin on the ground but two tit flocks were encountered, the first containing twelve Long-tailed Tits, two Blue Tits, two Coal Tits, five Goldcrests, and one Treecreeper, and the second seven Goldcrests, three Blue Tits, two Coal Tits and two Treecreepers. A Raven flew over unseen and Bullfinches were at two sites. Several Wrens were seen including one singing strongly and one which disappeared into a hole in the snow, presumably to feed in the Heather underneath. Best birds at Craigellachie were around 60 Redpolls in a feeding flock next to the A9.

Two Redwings were calling from the back garden of the Cairngorm Hotel and birds overhead included Herring Gulls, Collared Doves, Rooks and Jackdaws.
A quick detour down to the Spey produced a drake Goldeneye (a pair were also under the Spey Bridge east of Kingussie) and a singing Dipper.

Impressions of Strathspey in December:
It's virtually monochrome, with bare trees silhouetted against the snow. However the result is that the colours of the small birds (Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Redpoll etc) stand out all the more.
It's eerily quiet with the only sound from passing tit flocks (although in Aviemore, the Jackdaws and Herring Gulls produced a bit of noise).
Birds are concentrated around the villages (in this case Aviemore). In the countryside they are mostly in flocks. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

A perky Robin kept me company as I waited in Orangefield this afternoon.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Six Oystercatchers had taken refuge on the grass next to Rue End Street in a stormy Greenock.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The weather bomb hit Scotland today with winds of 144mph off St Kilda and thunder and lightening through the central belt.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Wild weather on the way for the north west.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Lots of snow on the Argyll hills today. Still no Goldeneye on the Murdieston Park dams, however.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Saturday, December 06, 2014

The feeder at RSPB Loch Garten held 8+ Coal Tits, two Blue Tits, two Great Tits, a Great-spotted Woodpecker and a Jay.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Chillier today, but Swallows still in Ayrshire and on the Black Isle.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Three Roe Deer were in a field next to the motorway at lunchtime today.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

A Great Tit was singing strongly in the midday sunshine at the university campus in Paisley. Later, in Greenock, a skien of geese flew over, unseen. 
News from the Cairngorms is of what seems to have been the first substantial snowfall of the winter.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Sometime over the past few days, a small skein of geese flew low over the house.