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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, January 31, 2015

Today's Strathspey trip took place against a forecast of heavy snow for the whole day. In the event, there were spells of heavy snow interspersed with lighter snow showers and some sunny spells. The journey north produced several groups of Red Deer (some gathered into folds in the hillside) and 12 Ravens (10 of these along a two-mile stretch south of Dalwhinnie). Also notable was a trackside Black Grouse between Dalwhinnie and Newtonmore.
Arriving in Carrbridge, the village gardens were full of the usual small birds with singing Collared Doves and large flocks of Jackdaws overhead. House Sparrows were also very evident, both here and later in Dulnain Bridge and Grantown on Spey. A quick look at the river produced nothing of note.

Heading out of Carrbridge, another large flock of Jackdaws was followed by a Sparrowhawk which came shooting out of a stand of pines. Heading further into the farmland east of the village, birds started to thin out, although House Sparrows and Collared Doves were around some of the farm buildings while Rooks and Jackdaws were in a couple of mixed flocks. The first of five Brown Hares for the day was disturbed here. 
Two hundred Greylag Geese and thirty Mallards were over the river (possibly disturbed by shooters) at Mains of Tullochgribban while eight Red-legged Partridges were at Clury Farm. A Dipper was good to see just before Dulnain Bridge.
The walk from Dulnain to Grantown was mostly along the busy A95. However it still produced some good sightings including two Buzzards, two Red Grouse and a Brown Hare. The Red Grouse were particularly notable, being right down in the bottom of the strath. 
Birds in Grantown on Spey were fairly standard fare, but by that point, getting out of the cold after a long walk in challenging conditions was the main priority. 
Impressions of Strathspey in January: 
It's fairly hostile, with biting notherlies and driving snow.
It's far from lifeless, with the villages full of birds, some (including Collared Dove) starting to sing.
It supports a lot of birds (in favoured places) with Greylag Geese, House Sparrows, Rooks and Jackdaws particularly prevalent.
Mammals are easy to see, particularly Red Deer along the trackside and Brown Hares on snow-covered fields. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

A few small groups of Waxwings are still being reported from around the country but nothing like the big years of late. I have missed the sound of their ringing calls this year.
On another subject, looks like a snowy one tomorrow...

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Birds were showing well on the way home from Edinburgh with two Song Thrushes breaking cover, plenty of Robins and Blackbirds still around, Dunnock calling and Great Tit singing.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A wheeling cloud of squawking gulls viewed through the skylight at work this morning suggests the Raven is still about the west end of Greenock.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Raven was calling and scattering the local pigeons in the west end of Greenock first thing.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Tawny Owl called very briefly from the woods next to the house at 6:20pm, before being drowned out by a cacophony of Magpie screeches and growls. Not surprisingly, it was not heard from again.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Today's garden birdwatch was conducted between 09:40 and 10:40. Birds were fairly scarce, possibly because the recent thaw has made natural food easier to find. This is the full list: Blue Tit (1),Great Tit (1),Magpie (1),Robin (1), Blackbird (1), Dunnock (1).Other species: Grey Squirrel (Daily).
This afternoon, 6 Long-tailed Tits worked their way through the trees opposite the in-laws' house in Hamilton. 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

A thaw and re-freeze resulted in a thin film of ice across the landscape first thing (and a nasty fall which did more damage to dignity than life or limb). 
An unsuccessful trip to Doonfoot to look for the Black Redstart there produced, instead, impressive flocks of Teal, Turnstone and Redshank along the shore. Three Buzzards and a single Kestrel were the highlights of the trek down the M77.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Back in a chilly Edinburgh again....

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lots of birds were up and about in Princes Street Garden first thing today, including Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Great Tit.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A tinkling Great Tit was the only species to brave the cold in central Paisley this afternoon.

Monday, January 19, 2015

With the coldest temperatures in Scotland for four years (minus 14 degrees centigrade), it was a relief to notice light in the eastern sky just after 7am today.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

A lovely morning walk along the Cart from Cardonald to Pollokshaws produced 32 species in total and the following notable sightings: singing Mistle Thrush, nest-building Magpie, four Cormorants in their roosting tree (with singles at two other sites), Goosander at two sites and Moorhen also at two sites. There are still plenty of Redwings and Fieldfares about.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Starlings were ransacking bin bags behind the Cardonald shops after a night of snow and freezing temperatures. 
Balfron had less snow but still beautiful views. Fifty Rooks were going to roost at dusk.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Birds in the garden first thing consisted of Woodpigeon (2), Collared Dove (1), Magpie (2), Blue Tit (3), Great Tit (2), Coal Tit (1), Long-tailed Tit (3), Robin (1) and Chaffinch (1). Later, two Little Grebes were diving just next to Mosspark Station.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Birds on the Murdieston dams this lunchtime included a relatively unusual three Cormorants (below) plus two Goosanders, a Goldeneye, a Little Grebe and three Moorhens. Some of the 50 or so Black-headed Gulls had nearly full chocolate hoods. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A dreary winter's day was cheered up by the sound of Starlings in the tall trees (Poplars?) in front of the Glynhill Hotel, Renfrew.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Plenty of snow across Scotland, making two Swallows at Forvie particularly remarkable.

Monday, January 12, 2015

News from around the UK of Snowdrops in flower ... and Daffodills in the shops!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Birds at the back garden feeders today consisted of  Woodpigeon (1), Blackbird (1), Blue Tit (1), Great Tit (1), Coal Tit (1), Long-tailed Tit (4), Dunnock (1) and Robin (1).
A walk along the river produced two Roe Deer on the football pitch at Bonnyholm, Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests at three sites each and a Grey Wagtail on floods at Rosshall School. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Visitors to the back garden feeders today consisted of: Feral Pigeon (3), Magpie (1), Blackbird (1), Dunnock (2), Robin (1), Blue Tit (2), Coal Tit (2), Great Tit (3), Chaffinch (2) and Grey Squirrel (1).
The Abernethy feeder was mobbed with birds (at least when the Red Squirels and Great-spotted Woodpeckers were absent) with at least 20 Coal Tits, a Blue Tit, three Great Tits and two Chaffinches present at one time. Crested Tits only seem to visit when the feeder is quiet.

The following are some views from the Aviemore area this morning...

Friday, January 09, 2015

The central belt seemed to have escaped the worst of the overnight storm, but Nelson Street was still littered with small branches and a few broken coping tiles.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

With the marking season around again, the following avian visitors at the south Cardonald bird feeders provided much needed distraction: Blue Tit (2), Great Tit (2), Coal Tit (3), Blackbird (1), Robin (1), Dunnock (2), Magpie (1), Collared Dove (1) and Chaffinch (1).

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Wind speeds of 130mph forecast for Cairngorm for later in the week.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Perhaps my imagination, but it seemed to stay light for just a bit longer this afternoon. This evening, clearing skies revealed a near full moon in the east and Orion in the south east.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Wigeon and Mallard in breeding plumage were on a swollen Clyde at lunchtime today.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

A mouse sp scampered across the footpath as I headed to a night out in Candleriggs this evening.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

A bright and sunny day in Glasgow today. A Cormorant was fishing in its "usual" spot just upstream from the footbridge at Mosspark Railway Station. Nearby, Woodpigeons and Starkings were singing from aerials and chimney pots.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Three Long-tailed Tits moved through the Hawthorn hedge in the back garden this lunchtime.

Thursday, January 01, 2014

A Pied Wagtail was down at street level along a rainy Glasgow Road, Paisley this lunchtime.