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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.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The full bird list for yesterday’s visit to Badenoch and Strathspey consisted of Greylag Goose, Domestic Greylag Goose, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Domestic Mallard, Goldeneye, Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Osprey, Water Rail, Moorhen, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, hybrid Carrion x Hooded Crow, Raven, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Skylark, Swallow, Long-tailed Tit, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Redstart, Wheatear, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Siskin (53 species). Other species seen on the journey were Mute Swan, Pink-footed Goose, Shelduck, Tufted Duck and Magpie.
Impressions of Badenoch and Strathspey in April are as follows:
It's showing signs of new life with green grass shoots appearing through last year's growth.
It's getting a little more colourful with some deciduous trees and shrubs (Hawthorn Rowan, Broom, Dog's Mercury etc) coming into leaf and a few more plants in flower (Gorse, Primrose, Dandelion).
It's altogether busier with Mallard, Osprey, Lapwing, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Jackdaw, Rook, Robin, House Sparrow, Starling and Long-tailed Tit all showing signs of nesting or nest-building (although it remains to be seen how they will cope with the wintery weather which took hold in the three or four days following my visit).
It's still cold (although yesterday was remarkably sunny) with a cool, north-westerly breeze blowing all day and still quite a lot of snow on the tops.
It's noisier, with many species singing (particularly Willow Warbler, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Wren and Robin), but a few singing less than they were last month (Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush).  
Some birds are still on the move (e.g. the 20 Meadow Pipits seen in a field at Tolvah) but others (based on a significant fall in number of records) seem to have moved through or settled down to breed (Pied Wagtail, Lapwing). 
Some birds have clearly moved up to higher ground with the improving weather (e.g. Red Grouse, Raven). Red Deer seem also to have moved uphill as only one small group was seen.
It's still virtually deserted with only two pairs of walkers, two cyclists and two drivers encountered along the section between Feshiebridge and Drumguish.

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