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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, May 31, 2015

The sounds coming from the nestbox on the back wall of the house suggest the Blue Tit chicks are getting bigger (and noisier).

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A walk around Linlithgow Loch today produced the following: over 100 Swifts (including one flock of over 50), singing Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler, a Pied Wagtail with two juveniles and a single Stock Dove.
Linlithgow itself produced some good sightings including two Swallows on the roof of Tesco and an Oystercatcher piping over the high street in front of the Star and Garter.

Friday, May 29, 2015

The bird sightings from the Strathspey trip on 23rd May have now been uploaded to Birdtrack. The full species list consisted of:

Greylag Goose, Mallard, Domestic Mallard, Goldeneye, Pheasant, Buzzard, Osprey, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Swift, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Crested Tit, Coal Tit, Sand Martin, Swallow, Long-tailed Tit, Wood Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, Robin, Redstart, House Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Lesser Redpoll, unidentified crossbill, Goldfinch, Siskin and Reed Bunting (51 species).

Impressions of Strathspey in May:
It's more colourful, with Violet and Bluebell in flower and the leaves of Beech trees, Bracken (crosiers) and Blaeberry all open.
It's productive with young of Mallard, Robin and Long-tailed Tit etc all seen. 
It's frantic with birds either singing (Willow Warbler, Chaffinch etc), visiting nests (Osprey, Swallow, Rook etc) or foraging for food (Rook, Jackdaw, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush etc).
Its diverse, with mammals (Red Squirell, Rabbit) and insects (one Tiger Beetle and lots of Wood Ants) also seen.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Six Killer Whales were off the Isle of May today, the most southerly sighting I've heard of.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Cold and wet today, but I know it must be nearly summer because "Springwatch" has started on TV.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Badger was unfortunately a road casualty on the M8 at Blackstoun this morning.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Birds along the White Cart this evening included two Kingfishers and singing Blackcap and Chiffchaff. The Bluebells are now showing well and a lovely sky was reflected in the river.



Sunday, May 24, 2015


Some of the highlights of the main walk on Saturday were as follows:

Seven half-grown juvenile Goldeneye on the Spey at Kincraig, with a Sand Martin among the Swallows there, and an Osprey carrying a fish and labouring into a westerly wind.

A good showing of singing Blackcaps with singles at Kincraig, Invereshie House, the sculpture park, Feshiebridge and then, finally, Croft House.

Numerous singing Willow Warblers (and Chaffinches) all along the route.

Rooks nesting at Kincraig and feeding in surrounding fields.

Rook, Jackdaw and Swallow all visiting nest sites around Invereshie Farm, Mistle Thrush carrying food.

An Oystercatcher over Kincraig (and Aviemore), plus two Swifts (the only ones of the day). Two Reed Buntings singing there.

Squeaking Spotted Flycatchers and singing Redstarts and Tree Pipits all the way from Kincraig to Inshriach, then again in Rothiemurchus.

Many Siskins around the sculpture park and elsewhere. Four big Crossbills in deciduous trees there, calling loudly and nearly drowning out a singing Blackcap.

The walk through Inshriach added two Red Squirrels, two Great-spotted Woodpeckers, Meadow Pipit, Crested Tit, a single Tiger Beetle and more singing Redstarts and Tree Pipits. A walk up Kennapole Hill produced an interesting fungus (probably Mitrula paludosa / Bog Beacon) growing in damp woodland. At the top of the hill, a mournful, mewing call might have been made by a Golden Plover.






A pair of Mallards and a drake Goldeneye were on Loch Gamhna and a Cuckoo was calling at Ord Ban. The last Spotted Flycatchers, Tree Pipits and Blackcap of the day were at Croft House. A Whitethroat was also there (I seldom hear them in Strathspey/Badenoch).

Heading home, two Oystercatchers appeared to be attending a nest in the roundabout on the A9 next to Dunblane.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Today's trip to Strathspey was, unusually, by bus. What was apparent was that wildlife watching is much less productive from the bus than the train. Virtually nothing was seen along the way, whereas the train journey would normally be expected to have produced farmland waders, a good selection of wildfowl, Swifts and House Martins in the town centres plus Rabbit, Brown Hare and Roe Deer.
Arriving in Aviemore, the usual species were going about their business with Collared Dove, Jackdaw, rook, Blackbird and Chaffinch all evident. Wintering Herring Gulls had been replaced by Black-headed Gulls and both Blackcap and Chiffchaff were singing from a hotel Garden. A walk round to Cragellachie produced lots of Spotted Flycatchers and singing Willow Warblers and Chaffinches plus a Wood Warbler, two Redstarts and a Cuckoo. No Pied Flycatchers were heard, although two were subsequently reported as having been present the previous day. Also notable were lots of Redpolls buzzing about the treetops, a pair of Long-tailed Tits feeding a row of six fledglings and a Robin accompanied by a newly-fledged juvenile. 































The main walk of the day started at Kincraig and included the "back way" to Loch an Eilein via Insriach and Loch Gamhna before the long walk back to Aviemore (about 12 miles in total).

Friday, May 22, 2015

No sign of House Martins at Cardonald in cooler weather today, but at least four Sand Martins were again in Paisley town centre.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"Nature has been prodigal of her choicest gifts, and has made Aviemore the grandest, as well as the most beautiful, of the many lovely reaches of the Spey. Here we have forest and glen, mountain and crag, loch and burn, in such charming profusion that one is almost bewildered with the richness as well as the extent of the prospect. The scenery is on such a gigantic scale that the eye fails to grasp at once the picture before it; we know no district which grows so much on one by repeated visits as Aviemore" (Alexander Inkson McConnochie, Guide to Aviemore and vicinity, 1907).

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Three House Martins over Cardonald Gardens in bright sunshine first thing were my first local birds. I wonder if they will have any success this year.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A quick walk round the Murdieston Dams first thing found two pairs of Mute Swans (one with five cygnets and one still incubating), a pair of Mallards withthree young and four pairs of Coot, three attending nests and one with at leats one young. The Blue Tits were still visiting the nestbox at work. This evening, a Mallard had at least one duckling on the river behind the house.

Monday, May 18, 2015

In Govan on business today so took the opportunity to check for nesting martins while passing. Three Sand Martins were visiting holes in the embankment but no House Martins were seen around the modern tenements where they used to nest (I notice that at least one flat occupant has put up hanging objects to deter nesting),

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Activity in the back garden today consisted of both Blackbird and Blue Tit scolding the local Magpies (I think both species have young to protect). A Wood Mouse spent the evening scuttling around the back step picking up bird seed.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

A day spent doing paperwork and few natural connections as a result. The Osprey pair at Loch Garten appear to have settled down again but the breeding attempt seems to have failed.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Marking today, with Abernethy sounds in the background again. Not listening too hard, but the following were heard:
06:44: Willow Warbler song (and all day)
06:44: Chaffinch song (and all day)
06:44: Cuckoo song
08:56: Redstart song
14:54: Siskin call

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Weather brightening up today, but still quite quiet in the garden. Nearly two weeks of cold and rain seems to have set everything back.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Marking today, so had the sound from the Abernethy Osprey webcam on in the background. It kept going off-line every five minutes so it was off for most of the day. However the following were heard:
06:45: Chaffinch (Singing)
06:52: Cuckoo (Singing)
08:35: Willow Warbler (Singing)
08:55: Greylag Goose (Calling)
One of the regular watchers saw a Crested Tit on the edge of the nest!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Thought I heard a Common Sandpiper along the river again today.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The water level in the White Cart through Cardonald has risen considerably since the heavy rain of the past week. I fear for any water birds attempting to hatch egs in these conditions.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

No natural connections today due to pressures of work. However the web is providing high drama with the regular male Osprey now returned to its nest at Loch Garten having previously been displaced. In the interim, a rival male has kicked his eggs out of the nest (and presumably mated with the female). I seem to remember a similar scenario two or three years ago. I think it ended with the original male successfully rearing the interlopers offspring. In other years, the confusion and delay led to the complete failure of the breeding attempt.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

A morning walk around Comrie produced some interesting sightings including four Swifts screaming over the river and a Tree Pipit singing at Cowden Farm. Evidence of breeding activity included Chaffinches nest-building, Rooks and Sand Martins at their colonies, Mute Swan incubating, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes feeding young and a single fledgling of the latter species still showing wisps of down around its head. Pairs of Oystercatchers seemed to be everywhere with Common Sandpipers also regular along the river. Some good upland species were seen including Wheatear and Red Kite. Two Roe Deer gave prolonged views as they cantered around the fields on the edge of the village. There must have been a recent hatch of Blackbird and Song Thrush eggs because members of these two species were gathering food from almost every patch of mown or grazed grass encountered. 





The full bird list for the day consisted of: Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Grey Heron, Red Kite, Buzzard, Oystercatcher, Common Sandpiper, Common Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Swift, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Sand Martin, Swallow, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Sedge Warbler, Wren, Starling, Dipper, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Wheatear, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Yellowhammer (40 species).

Friday, May 08, 2015

Headed down to Paisley town centre at lunchtime. Greenfinches were singing loudly along the river and a Grey Wagtail took off and flew away over the tenements. Only one Sand Martin was entering the nest holes at Forbes Place but three more were overhead. A Mistle thrush emerging surreptitiously from a riverside tree probably had a nest in there somewhere.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

An early morning walk along the river to Hawkhead produced three singing Whitethroats in a small area near Leverndale Hospital, a Raven dive-bombing a Buzzard and another two Ravens feeding with mixed corvids on scraps scattered on the path.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

A Kestrel flew across Sandwood Road, Glasgow on the commute home today. I don't see enough of these birds.
A Sparrowhawk was in the air on Monday.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Persistent rain all day today - a good day to be at work.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Took advantage of the improving weather and the Mayday bank holiday to head up to Loch Katrine for a family day out. The persisting cold weather probably limited some bird activity, and the large number of people around may also not have helped. Nevertheless a good selection of common bird species revealed themselves including Canada Goose, Mallard, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Common Sandpiper, Carrion Crow, Raven, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Wood Warbler, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Treecreeper, Wren, Robin, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Grey Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Chaffinch, Lesser Redpoll and Siskin. Best of these were a very showy male Redstart which flitted between numerous perches as it sang and an equally animated male Pied Flycatcher. The Red-breasted Merganser record concerned a single male, fishing in one of the bays. Evidence of breeding activity included pairs of Common Sandpipers and Grey Wagtails at suitable sites, a Tree Pipit giving its “parachute” display and a pair of Canada Geese shepherding four newly-hatched goslings.




Sunday, May 03, 2015

Two of the local cats were "playing" with a mouse in the estate this evening. I tried to rescue it, but I suspect they will find it again later.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Took a drive up to Rowardennan this morning, hoping to catch up with Wood Warbler. As it happened, the first singing bird was heard through the car window just outside Balmaha, and singing birds continued to be heard at various points all the way to Ptarmigan Lodge. Other good birds including singing Redstart, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff, displaying Common Sandpiper and various breeding species on territory including Swallow, Goosander, Common Gull, Dipper, Grey Wagtail and Pied Wagtail. 

Friday, May 01, 2015

No sign of any Ravens at the Paisley nest site this afternoon.