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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.

Friday, July 31, 2015

A dozen House Martins and two Sand Martins were feeding over the river in central Paisley. One of the latter entered one of the pipes on the wall under Forbes Place.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Hedgehog ws an unfortunate road casualty on the A8 at Longhaugh point first thing.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

An unseen Willow Warbler was "hooweet"-ing its way through the back garden this morningas I worked at the dining room table. I wondered if it was one of those lemony-yellow juveniles that are around at this time of the year. Later, a single House Martin flew over. This evening, a very agitated Wren possibly had a fledged brood in the Honeysuckle, judging by the squeaks emanating from there.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A group of Greylag Geese were picking at the tyres of a smart car in East Kilbride as I passed on my way back from Hamilton yesterday.

Two Swifts were over the Hammils as I headed home from work about 5:30.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

News from the web is of the first Whimbrels heading south through central Scotland.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Bullfinch, Goldfinch and House Martin were in the car park of Longlands Inn this morning. A little later, a Nuthatch was calling east of Kirkby Lonsdale. A walk across the fields to Whittington, then back via the river produced mostly common birds including Goosander, Grey Wagtail, Oystercatcher, Sand Martin, Grey Heron. A Sparrowhawk was at Keswick, House Martins, Feral Pigeons, House Sparrows and possibly Swallows were nesting under the canopy at the Rhegred services and two House Martins, two Oystercatchers and two Rooks were at Abingdon services.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Five sand Martins were over the river at Forbes Place this lunchtime. The Black-headed Gulls there have all but lost their chocolate hoods. A female Mallard had four half-grown young and a Grey Heron was stalking the shallows. Lovely violet and crimson sunset in Carnforth tonight.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Four House Martins were over Cardonald Gardens this morning. Two were then seen to enter nests, one in the apex of number 22 and the other down the side of number 24.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

After last week's fledging of a Lesser Black-backed Gull chick from the roof opposite the Greenock office, another fledgling managed to fall to the ground from a nest on the other side of the building today. The bird was unhurt but one of its parents kept up a constant squawking all day as the juvenile wandered in and out between parked cars whining for food.

Monday, July 20, 2015

An early morning walk around the Murdieston Dams produced an unusual sight in the form of a Dipper flying along the path around Town Dam and perching on the metal fence there (looking for all the world like a plump Blackbird). Several Coot pairs were onto their second (or maybe even third broods) with at least two pairs sitting tight, one with chicks in the nest, one with four swimming chicks and one with two big juveniles.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A day spent in the Arisaig / Mallaig area produced fantastic views of the small isles plus a good range of west Highland birds including Greylag Goose, Mallard, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, Herring Gull, Common Gull, Buzzard, Hooded Crow, Raven, Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Skylark, Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin, Wheatear, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Sedge Warbler, Twite, Linnet and Greenfinch.


Saturday, July 18, 2015

No Swifts over a cloudy Edinburgh today.

Friday, July 17, 2015

A lunchtime walk in Paisley produced 6 House Martins feeding over the abbey and five Sand Martins feeding low over the Cart. The river was in full spate due to overnight rains. The Sand Martins were flying close together at times, including four seeming to follow eachothers' movements (I wondered if a family party was involved). 
Heading home, a single Swift was over the Hammils.
One of the junior natural connectors reports seeing a Badger crossing the canal line in Paisley at 11pm yesterday.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Lesser Black-backed Gull chick on the roof opposite the Greenock office was having a tough time of it this morning with its parents taking turns to swoop down on it, in between spells of loafing on their usual perches. At times the "attacks" looked quite violent. The only possible explanation seemed to be that they were encouraging it to fly. Sure enough, by the end of the morning, all three birds were gone. By my reckoning, there were 36 days between leaving the nest and fully fledging. Ferguson-Lees, Castell and Leech says 35-40 days (including 2-3 days brooded in the nest at the beginning), so that sounds about right to me.
This evening, the Mute Swan flock off Langbank had increased from the usual 30 or 40 to about 70-80 birds.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A day in the Pitlochry area began with an Osprey circling over the A9 just before the turn-off. In Pitlochry itself, Swifts, House Martins and a few Swallows were feeding over the main street and an Oystercatcher was calling from a shop roof. House Sparrows, including an adult feeding a juvenile, seemed to be very common around the town. Birds around the dam included a pair of Grey Wagtails with at least three young, a pair of Swallows visiting a probable nest site on the dam itself, a few Black-headed and Common Gulls (including a fledged juvenile of the latter) and 14 Tufted Ducks. The little lochan known locally as the Cuilc proved to be a hidden gem with Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Moorhen and Little Grebe all with dependent young, while four Oystercatchers circled overhead.

Killicrankie was quiet with most birds keeping out of sight at this time of year. However Spotted Flycatchers were rasping to eachother in the treetops and a pair of Grey Wagtails fed under the suspension bridge.

A little later, Dunkeld held a female Goosander with two young, feeding House Martins and Sand Martins over the bridge and a mixed group of Oystercatchers and Black-headed Gulls (including juveniles) loafing on a shingle bar (their breeding season over for another year).

The last bird of the day was a Peregrine powering over the M74 near the the Dalmarnock turn-off.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A very good day for birds (in spite of it being a busy working day) started with two House Martins over Cardonald Gardens, a Grey Heron in a tree at Parklea and another Grey Heron over the A8 at Newark Castle. A quick walk down to the esplanade at lunchtime found a Common Gull at last year's breeding site overlooking Ardgowan Square, at least one Swift high over there and at least 14 Black Guillemots twittering to eachother and visiting nest sites in the esplanade wall. 
Heading home, two Ravens flew over the M8 at Cora and a House Martin was high over the back garden.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Grey Heron flapped sedately over the motorway near the back of Ryatt Linn reservoir this evening. The birding world is agog at the appearance of a Black-browed Albatross in Suffolk yesterday.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

This year's local Starling fledgings are looking splendid in their first winter plumages, with only a few vestiges of their juvenile plumage remaining.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Dipper, a Grey Wagtail, five Sand Martins and three Mallard ducklings were on or over the Kelvin in the west end of Glasgow this afternoon.

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Swift, eight Sand Martins and eight House Martins were over the Cart in cool, damp weather this lunchtime. A female Mallard had three tiny ducklings and the Grey Heron was at its usual station next to the Town Hall.
Heading home around 5pm, caught a glimpse of a juvenile Pied Wagtail in the UWS grounds, raising the possibility of local breeding.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

A single House Martin was doing its usual appearing act in strong sunshine first thing.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Yesterday's moth looks like having been a Map-winged Swift (Aedia funesta).
A bat tonight was fluttering around the front of the house.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Weather forecast for Cairngorm this week is for minus seven degrees centigrade and heavy snow!
The moth below turned up in the house this evening...


Monday, July 06, 2015

The Lesser Black-backed Gull chick on the flat roof opposite the Greenock office continues to spend much of its time pottering about waiting to be fed. Whenever the men working on nearby scaffolding appear, it wanders over to the far end of the roof and potters there.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Went out to look for the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter tonight. Could only see the one light in the western sky and assumed it was Venus. However I wonder if the two points are so close that they appear as one....?

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Today's Strathspey walk began with heavy rain but ended in very welcome, evening sunshine. The intended walk from the Cairngorm Base Station to Ben Macdui had to be abandoned a quarter of the way through due to low cloud, high winds and driving rain. The substitute walk (dropping down the Allt Mhor trail and returning to Aviemore via Glenmore Lodge and the logging road) started with squally showers and little wildlife as a result. However as the weather improved, a good number of species were found (albeit not the Snow Buntings, Ptarmigan and Dotterel that were the original targets). Sightings of interest (details to follow) consisted of: 
Ring Ouzels around the White Lady and back at the base station.
Wheatear and Red Grouse beside the Allt Mhor.
Fledged tit broods in the forest.
Clouds of Moths and other flying interests along the forest paths.
Swifts feeding over the forest.
House Martin, Pied Wagtail and possible Swallow nesting at Glenmore Lodge. 
Mallards coming to feed beneath bird tables in Glenmore village.
The first damselflies and dragonflies over boggy ground.
Two Mallard broods on Loch Morlich.
Summering Black-headed Gulls at various sites. 
Sand Martin on the River Druie behind the Cylumbridge Hotel.
Willow Warbler gathering food, Blackbird feeding fledged young and adult Robin moulting.
Redpolls song-flighting noisily in Aviemore.
Oystercatchers, Black-headed Gulls and corvids exploiting new stubble.
A variety of colours of Rabbit on show between Aviemore and Dalwhinnie.
Six Feral Pigeons at Newtonmore Station and a Hooded Crow nearby.
Impressions of Strathspey in July:
It's still affected by winter with extensive patches of snow in the corries and on the plateau.
It doesn't feel like summer, with a cool, blustery wind most of the day.
Flowering plants are even more evident with:
- Foxgove in woodland glades
- Heather moorland studded with the yellow of Tormentil, blue of Butterwort and pink of Common Spotted Orchid
- Bilberry on the forest floor
- Birdsfoot Trefoil along the paths
- Heather still to flower.
It has a sense of summer profusion (when the rain stops) with moths particularly evident around the tops of young trees, ants on the paths and single black beetle lumbering along.
Birds are getting on with the work of rearing young.

The full species count for the day was: Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Red Grouse, Pheasant, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Swift, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Hooded Crow, Goldcrest, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Sand Martin, Swallow, House Martin, Willow Warbler, Treecreeper, Wren, Ring Ouzel, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, Robin, Wheatear, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Lesser Redpoll and Siskin (39 species)

Friday, July 03, 2015

Planning a trip to Strathspey tomorrow.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

A Grey Heron was over the motorway, the fourth over the past week. I wonder if this increased visibility is due to dispersal of juveniles. 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

A really warm day in southwest Glasgow with the temperature peaking at 29.5 degrees centigrade mid-afternoon.
Yesterday's moth looks like a Carpet Moth, possibly the Common Carpet (Epirrhoe alternata).