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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 30, 2016

A walk along the river this afternoon produced a flock of 15 Goldfinches near the animal re-homing centre, a Sparrowhawk which put up all the corvids and pigeons from the ruins of Tarfside Oval and a Little Grebe virtually at the bottom of the back garden.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Another blustery day in Paisley with Storm Gertrude making the building shake. A walk along the river during a late lunchbreak produced a Kingfisher at the outflow of the Espedair Burn.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Passed Bingham's Pond on my way into Gartnavel Hospital today so took the opportunity to count the birds. Moorhens were particularly numerous with 15 birds including a courting pair. Six Goosanders were swimming around in a flotilla with five more when I passed later.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A lunchtime walk around the Murdieston Park reservoirs produced an unusual three Cormorants (on Town Dam), the male Mute Swan on Town Dam aggressively chasing one of last year's young, a Coot chasing a Moorhen, a Little Grebe catching and eating a good-sized Minnow, increasing numbers of gulls and still three Goldeneye. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

In a wet and windy Paisley, the heroes of the day were eight Long-tailed Tits foraging in the isolated trees in front of Gilmour Street Station.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A lunchtime walk along Gourock esplanade found only Eiders and their attendant Herring Gulls braving the rough seas and blustery wind.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A singing Song Thrush  was the only notable record from a walk along the river through south Cardonald. The two Mute Swans from earlier in the week seem to have moved on (or moved back to where they had been before the recent freeze). 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Spent a very pleasant day in Badenoch, walking from Kingussie to Kincraig via the Insh road. Interesting sightings included:
A Dipper on a swollen Spey under Ruthven Bridge
A Red Squirrel carrying a mouthful of lichen up a bank just south of Ruthven Bridge
23 Lapwings in a loose flock out on the Gordonhall Mashes (with 40+ Mallards and at least two Wigeon)
Two Mistle Thrushes, a Redwing and a Fieldfare feeding in the horses’ field near Ruthven Barracks
Twelve Whooper Swans feeding at the "back" of a well-flooded Insh Marshes
63 Wigeon in front of the "Lookout" 
Ten Herring Gulls heading up the Spey near Kingussie
A hybrid Hooded Crow x Carrion Crow with three Carrion Crows at Dell of Killiehuntley (with 28 Greylag Geese and a noisy flock of 50+ Jackdaws also there)
A Raven over Tromie Bridge
A single Grey Heron out on the marsh west of Lynchlaggan
A singing Collared Dove in Insh (with another singing bird in Aviemore at the end of the day)
Flocks of Long-tailed Tits in Insh (3) and near the Aviemore Orbital Path (8) 
A remarkable concentration of 20+Tufted Ducks, 30+ Goldeneye and at least one Pochard in the south west corner of Loch Insh (presumably displaced from neighbouring waters by the recent freezing conditions)
23 Greylags at Balnacraig Farm
A full Hooded Crow at Balnacraig Farm
Two Cormorants on a small spit of land just east of where Dunachton Burn flows into Loch Insh
Now nine Domestic Mallards at the Water Sports Centre on Loch Insh (I have only seen six there in the past)
A singing Collared Dove in Aviemore
A hybrid Hooded Crow x Carrion Crow near the Scandinavian village in Aviemore
Eight Long-tailed Tits near the Aviemore orbital path
A flock of ten Goldfinches near the Aviemore orbital path
A single Great Black-backed Gull over Aviemore
Fifty Jackdaws congregating over Aviemore prior to going to roost.
The bird list for the day was as follows: Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose, Wigeon, Mallard, Domestic Mallard, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Pheasant, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Lapwing, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Hooded Crow, hybrid Carrion x Hooded Crow, Raven, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Starling, Dipper, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Siskin (37 species). 

Impressions of Strathspey and Badenoch in January:
There are lost of birds about (37 species was a good total for this time of the year, no doubt helped by the mild weather).
There is some birdsong (not nearly as much as in the central belt) with both Collared Dove and Great Tit the main species heard.

Friday, January 22, 2016

A short walk during a late lunch break found a flock of ten Goldfinches feeding on waste ground near Prospecthill, Greenock. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Stopped briefly at the James Hamilton Heritage Park on the way over to Hamilton this lunchtime. With the loch covered in ice, most of the birds were concentrated in a small ice-free area in front of the visitor centre. Most notable sightings there were of a single Pochard and three white Domestic Ducks.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The highlight of today's lunchtime walk was a pair of Little Grebes on Cowdenknowes Reservoir (I normally only see singles there). One of the pair (the male?) was coming into breeding plumage.
An afternnon apointment in central Glasgow produced a single Cormorant flying down the Clyde.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Even before dawn this morning, up to eight Robins were singing in a small area of Cardonald. Meanwhile a Dunnock was singing strongly at Cartsdyke. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

A brief lunch stop at Newark Castle today revealed a flat-calm River Clyde studded with Red-breasted Megansers, Eiders and a single Black Guillemot. No time to get out the telescope to see what was further offshore.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Two Roe Deer just over the garden fence were a rare sight first thing. Later, another walk along the river, this time upstream, produced a number of interesting sightings including:

A pair of Mute Swans prospecting the bank just upstream of Cardonald Place Farm

Single Cormorants at three sites

A Meadow Pipit just before the M74 flyover

A Lesser Redpoll in Pollok Country Park
The full species count for the day was: Mute Swan, Mallard, Goosander, Cormorant, Moorhen, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Kingfisher, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, hybrid Carrion x Hooded Crow, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Lesser Redpoll, Goldfinch and Siskin (33 species).

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A significant fall of snow took place in South Cardonald today. A walk along the river produced a number of interesting sightings including a Kingfisher catching, killing and eating a fish near Howford Bridge, a Moorhen and a domestic Mallard on Rosshall Park Pond, six Meadow Pipits on stubble and three Skylarks overhead at Hawkhead Farm and a single Teal near Hawkhead Cemetery (the last four species all “firsts” for their respective 1km squares). The full species count for the walk was: Teal, Mallard, Domestic Mallard, Goosander, Moorhen, Black-headed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Skylark, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Robin, Dunnock, Grey Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch and Lesser Redpoll (29 species). Singers consisted of Coal Tit and Woodpigeon.

Friday, January 15, 2016

CairnGorm Mountain

It was snowing in Inverdruie this morning. In the evening, nine Mallards flew in at dusk to roost on the river near the Cardonald Place bridge.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A lunchtime walk around a sunny west end of Greenock found Goldfinch, Woodpigeon and Coal Tit singing and snow on the Cowal Hills. A Hooded Crow with a drooping right wing was near the top of Lyle Hill.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Arrived in Hamilton at 7:30 this morning so headed down to Low Parks to see what was about. Dawn was breaking and singing Robin was joined by Blue Tit and Great Tit with Goldcrest and Goldfinch also present. Three Cormorants flew over south.
Returning to Paisley, took an early lunch break at Cathkin Marsh where a Water Rail was calling, three Greylag Geese flew over south and couple of Redpoll were my first of the year.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Around 50 Eider were in a "ribbon" close to the shore just east of Newark Castle at lunchtime.
At dusk, eleven Greylag Geese flew low over Barshaw Park, heading northwest (presumably down to roost on the Clyde).

Monday, January 11, 2016

A walk along the waterfront this lunchtime produced a single Red-throated Diver and a nice drake Goldeneye.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

A walk through a rainy Cardonald this afternoon produced all the usual suspects but unusually, a flock of 30 Siskins on Alders along the river.

Saturday, January 09, 2015

A trip to Ayrshire found much of the county covered in snow. At least three Buzzards were seen in scattered locations and a large flock of thrushes was near Mossblown. An evening walk along the western edge of Pollok Park failed to produce any evidence of Tawny Owls. 

Friday, January 08, 2016

This morning started with a temperature of minus 1.5, and there were episodes of sleet and snow throughout the day. A walk through Paisley town centre at lunchtime produced several nice drake Goosanders on the river and a Grey Wagtail over the rooftops. 

Thursday, January 07, 2016

The drive up from Greenock to Paisley this lunchtime produced two Kestrels near Lochwinnoch. Also there were around 50 Goldeneye on Castle Semple Loch.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

A lunchtime walk to Murdieston Dams and back produced a Redwing and a Great Spotted Woodpecker in Greenock Cemetery and a Dipper on the little pool beside the Old Inverkip Road.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Took a walk along Greenock Esplanade this lunchtime, just in case any Little Auks had penetrated that far. None were found but three Eider, a Red-breasted Merganser and a drake Goldeneye were close inshore. Other notable sightings included three Shags and a Great-black-backed Gull.

Monday, January 04, 2016

A walk along along the shore at Erskine produced 35 species, namely Mute Swan, Wigeon ,Teal, Mallard, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Little Grebe, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Curlew, Dunlin, Redshank, Little Auk, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Robin and Grey Wagtail. More details to follow.

The highlights of the walk were four Little Auks seen in the vicinity of Erskine Bridge. The first bird was near the entrance to "Erskine Harbour". Then a little later, two birds were seen flying up the Clyde just opposite the Erskine Bridge Hotel, followed by a single back downstream.
The first bird arrived from the west (downstream) and belly-flopped into the water just east of the slipway at the mouth of "Erskine Harbour" near a female Goldeneye. Its most notable features were its black-and-white appearance, black cap extending to the face just below the eye, rounded head (no suggestion of a bill), white "collar" extending behind black face, under chin and onto breast. The bird was noticeably small, approximately half the length of the female Goldeneye it alighted beside. When the Goldeneye drifted off, the bird took to the air and belly-flopped again near the other species. Eventually it took off and sped round the "corner" into the Clyde (heading upstream).
Around 13:50, two more birds were observed flying upriver opposite the Erskine Bridge Hotel, before a single was seen flying back downstream. The two birds flying upriver were quite high and showed noticeably dark underwings. These sightings co-incided with a movement of the speces into west Scotland following the recent arrivals on the east coast.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

The highlight of a walk along the river through Leverndale Hospital was a male Kestrel hunting from one of the trees around the "big field". A Grey Heron was being mobbed by Magpies as it flew up from the river. A Kingfisher called unseen and dozens of Fieldfares and Redwings foraged in the leaf litter. As dusk fell, a Raven arrived to roost on the tower.

Saturday, January 02, 2016

A break in the weather allowed a pleasant walk up and down the Leven between Balloch and Loch Lomond. Some of the most prominent birds were up to 20 Goosanders, displaying to eachother and scuffling with the Mallards for bread. Less obvious were two Little Grebes which fed between the moored pleasure boats. A drake Mandarin appeared at one point and joined in the general malee at the jetty.  
Out on Loch Lomond, birds included three Cormorants, good numbers of Great Black-backed Gulls, two Goldeneye and five Tufted Duck. Most intriguing were two grey and white birds just out of binocular range - they were probably either Red-throated Divers or Great-crested Grebes.
Nearly home, a remarkable 6 Reed Buntings and 2 Yellowhammers were on stubble/wires/tree branches at Arkleston Farm. 

Friday, January 01, 2016

A slightly later-than-usual start meant driving down to work in daylight for a change. Birds seen on the journey included a Cormorant over Blackstoun Farm and four Oystercatchers in front of Dergusson Shipyard.
A lunchtime walk around the Murdieston Dams found a Goosander, unusually, on Town Dam (plus another on the main reservoir).
Heading home, a Kestrel was hunting near Knocknairshill and a remarkable concentration of birds were feeding on stubble at Akleston Farm consisting of 150 Fieldfares, 50 Redwings, 60+ Chaffinches, ten Goldfinches, ten Starlings, a Yellowhammer and a Stock Dove.