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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, April 30, 2016

A walk through Rosshall and Crookston first thing produced the following:
A pair of Stock Doves together (the male singing) in Rosshall Park
A pair of Ravens calling and circling their nest site (but no sign of any chicks)
A Kingfisher on the river near Bonnyholm 
Singing Collared Dove and Goldcrest at single sites 
A male Goosander on the river (is the female on eggs?)
A Grey Heron under Rosshall School bridge
Blackbird, Starling and Mistle thrush all feeding on mown grass (Starlings seen carrying food back to nests)
Later in the morning, what sounded like a Red Grouse was calling in the background of the RSPB Abernethy webcam.
Some interesting sightings at Hogganfield Loch this afternoon consisted of:
Several pairs of Mute Swans on eggs
A pair of Canada Geese resting on one of the new "islands" (with another pair at the car park)
Still plenty of Goosanders present (22) but Goldeneye all gone
Several Grey Herons visiting nests on the island
Clouds of Sand Martins and Swallows
A Common Sandpiper on one of the mini islands.
This evening, single Pied Wagtails were at the south entrance to the Clyde Tunnel and at Helen Street, both Glasgow.

Friday, April 29, 2016

One of the Paisley Ravens paid a prolonged visit to the nest late morning. At lunchtime, a single, large chick could be seen above the edge of the nest.
A lunchtime walk through the centre of Paisley produced some excellent breeding records including a Sand Martin emerging from a nest hole, a Dipper carrying a beak full of nest material and a male Grey Wagtail singing and parachuting in an elaborate and prolonged display flight.
This evening, the usual walk along the Cart produced a Grey Heron (rare here), a pair of Goosanders (they don't seem to have settled to nest yet), a gang of Starlings gathering food (presumably for nestlings), three Grey Squirrels, a Red Fox, Wild Garlic in flower and Himalayan Balsam just starting to poke through. A mystery sound coming from a Sycamore at dusk sounded like a Treecreeper in tone but very intense and repetitive with a few Spotted Flycatcher-like squeaks thrown in. I couldn't spot the maker but I wondered if it was a displaying Goldcrest.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Shelduck was well inland over Blackstone Mains Farm at 6:30 this morning. Later, a Pied Wagtail was on the Kelvin near the old transport museum but the local Sand Martins were nowhere to be seen (possibly put off by today's snow).

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Red-throated Diver moulting into summer plumage was close in at Custom House Quay, Greenock this lunchtime. Two Black Guillemeots were also there with a third in East India Harbour (the first I have seen back there this year). Other birds in the area included a pair of Mute Swans and a Pied Wagtail.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Interesting birds seen along the river this evening consisted of Grey Wagtail and Goosander. Cuckoo Flower was coming into flower at the Mosspark footbridge.

Monday, April 25, 2016

A lunchtime meeting in Gourock allowed a very brief scan of the section of the Clyde opposite Ashton Road. Very little was visible on the choppy water, apart from a pair of Eider and a rather lost-looking Mute Swan.
This evening, a fishing Kingfisher gave excellent views behind the estate but the Mute Swan pair which were constructing a nest yesterday seemed to have given up the attempt.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Mute Swan pair which had been prospecting on the river behind the house have started to construct a nest. The site is a small islet which will almost certainly be flooded if the water level rises. The site is also very vulnerable to human disturbance (I wish they had chosen the far bank which might have given them a better chance).

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Highlights of a morning walking from Linlithgow to Cockleroy Hill included Rooks feeding nestlings in Linlithgow in trees between Manse Loan and Friar’s Brae, and Jay, Roe Deer, nine singing Willow Warblers, two singing Chiffchaffs and two displaying Tree Pipits in a fascinating deciduous (Birch and Beech wood) on Bowden Hill north of Lochcote Reservoir.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Paisley West End Ravens were around for most of the morning, perching on the church, flying up to the nest. carrying bits of food and bickering with the local Jackdaws.
This evening, a Kestrel was an unexpected sight being mobbed by corvids as it flew over the junction of Berryknowes Road and Paisley Road West.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The third frosty morning in a row was followed by a glorious day with the temperature rising to an unseasonal nineteen degrees.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A walk up to Lyle Hill in glorious spring sunshine produced six singing Willow Warblers and two singing Chiffchaffs.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Passed an area of damp wasteground on the way back from Greenock which was covered in Cowslips. Also there was my first Orange-Tip Butterfly of the year.
In Paisley, a Raven was calling from the spire of Coats Memorial Baptist Church from 14:45 to at least 17:00. Another bird was soaring and chasing mobbing Jackdaws nearby.

Monday, April 18, 2016

A male Kestrel was hunting beside the road as I drove from Greenock over to Paisley this afternoon. A roadside flock of ten Meadow Pipits was also notable.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Walking near the centre of Glasgow this morning, heard the unmistakable contact call of a Peregrine Falcon. The bird was circling around a large structure before flying up to a covered ledge. Another bird then arrived and alighted on another ledge. Quite ironic that these sightings were the only ones during a week most of which was spent in much more suitable habitat for the species.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

A chilly start today with the car temperature gauge reading -1.5 in the estate and -2.5 out on the open road. 
First stop of the day was a Stirlingshire Black Grouse lek which can be watched from a vehicle on the road with no disturbance to the birds. Even while it was still dark the bubbling display call could be heard and there were brief flashes of white undertail coverets. When it was light enough to see clearly, it became apparent that only one male was present.After a while, he was joined by six females (including one that fanned her tail and paraded up and down like a male) and he was still actively displaying when I left at 06:30.
Next port of call was Balloch Country Park where I was hoping to find a passage diver or grebe on the loch. As luck would have it, none were present but highlights were singing Nuthatch, screeching Jay and probable Green Woodpecker at two sites.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Today was a red-letter day with the first singing Willow Warbler and Blackcap of the year  for my local patch in south Cardonald. 

This afternoon, a walk home from Foxbar in Paisley produced singing Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff in Durrockstock Park (plus naturalised London Pride) and a good selection of birds around Stanely Dam including Canada Goose, Cormorant, Great-crested Grebe, 50+ Sand Martins and my first four Swallows of the year. Also in the area were a Dipper on the lade channel and an interesting flower on the reservoir embankment (below).

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Dawn visit to RSPB Abernethy for Caper-Watch
Lots of birds on the floods west of Boat of Garten
Another look at the birds at Dunachton - two RTDs
Quick look around Glebe Park, Kingussie
Drive home via Dalwhinnie
Stop at Pitlochry

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

After much debate, decided to head to Strathspey for a (very) short break. The drive up produced a Raven at Calvine, single Red Grouse at Drumochter and Ralia (the latter on the railway track) and a Buzzard being mobbed by a Jackdaw just before Newtonmore.
A walk around Loch Imrich proved it to be a hidden gem with a Mallard brood already on the water and both Little Grebe and Moorhen on nests. Song birds included a singing Willow Warbler, a single Grey Wagtail and large numbers of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll. Loch Insh held a pair of Mute Swans, 100 Sand Martins feeding over Dunachton Marsh and two Ringed Plover on the shingle spit. Also in the general area were two pairs of Goldenye and an Osprey on its nest.
An early start tomorrow - to join the RSPB Caper watch. Not hopeful as I believe they haven't shown reliably for several seasons. Never mind. Dawn in the Caledonian Forest is a treat even without them.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Had to pick up a car from Underwood Road, Paisley so decided to walk over, following the river into Paisley town centre. Some good sightings included a Kingfisher at Howford Bridge, four Lesser Black-backed Gulls mobbing the Leverndale Ravens, three singing Chiffchaffs and one singing Willow Warbler, a Blackbird carrying a worm beside Barrhead Road and a singing Grey Wagtail just before the Hammils.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Today started with a walk around Murdieston Dams. Most interesting sightings were a single Goldeneye (a moulting drake) still present, both Mute Swan pairs incubating (with the three immatures from last year still present - I thought the adults were supposed to drive them off before resuming nesting), a single Rook attending the micro-rookery (two nests) and gloriously flowering Marsh Marigold. Later, a walk south from Lunderston Bay produced a good bird list consisting of: Canada Goose (two pairs), Eider, Red-breasted Merganser (displaying), Gannet (two fishing), Curlew, Redshank, Sandwich Tern (five fishing), Common Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, hybrid Carrion x Hooded Crow, Raven, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Chiffchaff, Wren, Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, two White Wagtails, five Pied Wagtails and eleven Meadow Pipits feeding together on new grass, Chaffinch and Goldfinch. Also notable was a profusion of flowering Golden Saxifrage along the banks of a little burn. 
Heading home, a single Kestrel was unusual at Wester Commonside Farm.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

An early morning spent marking (Grr!!) was brightened up a bit by having the Abernethy webcam on in the background. Chaffinches were singing when I tuned in but later participants included a Buzzard mewing at 08:00 and Great Spotted Woodpecker peeping and drumming at 09:10.
An afternoon walk from Baron's Haugh to Hamilton produced a pair of Shoveler, three Gadwall and six Sand Martins on the haugh, two singing Willow Warblers and five Chiffchaffs along the Clyde, three Grey Wagtails, a Dipper and more Sand Martins on the Avon under the M74 flyover and a pair of Ravens at a possible nest site in the general area. Flowering Butterbur and the constant singing of Blackbird, Robin, Wren, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Dunnock etc added to a lovely afternoon.
This evening (back at the marking - Grr!! Grr!!), about 20:45, a flock of Pink-footed Geese were heading north, high over the house in South Cardonald, giving their "Wink,wink-wink" call. 

Butterbur along the Avon near Ferniegair

Avon under the M74 flyover

Saturday, April 09, 2016

I had been bemoaning the apparent absence of House Sparrows from the Moulin area (where they always used to be present), but a walk around the Hatton Gardens / Cardonald Gardens area turned up quite a few chirruping birds.

Friday, April 08, 2016

There seemed to be a change-over at the Paisley west end Raven nest about 3:30 pm with the second bird standing over the nest rather than sitting tight (like the other bird) as it has a habit of doing. About 5pm, one bird was in a dramatic chase with a Carrion Crow. It eventually gave up and plummeted dramatically before parachuting into a tree where it joined another Raven (it's mate?) already perched there. Presumably the nest was unattended at that point (and perhaps the CC got too close).
This evening, a walk along the river produced pairs of Long-tailed Tits at two sites. Also notable was a brown Woodpigeon (!) and a possible Dipper (only the call heard - but a very uncommon bird hereabouts).

Thursday, April 07, 2016

The Paisley West End Ravens were being mercilessly mobbed by the local Lesser Black-backed Gulls as they attempted a nest change-over this afternoon.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Seven Eiders were loafing in Victoria Dock, Greenock this lunchtime. Also around were a couple of Pied Wagtails, but birds generally were keeping out of sight due to a biting west wind.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

A quick walk along the foreshore at Erskine found a Buzzard soaring around the pylons and a Water Rail "sharming" at Boden Boo.

Monday, April 04, 2016

A twenty minute wait at East Kilbride Railway Station this evening produced the usual selection of urban birds. Later, a Kingfisher called as I crossed Cardonald Place footbridge heading home.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Even more from the New Naturalist series...

Saturday, April 02, 2016

A Chiffchaff was singing outside at 7:30am as I was thinking about getting up.

Friday, April 01, 2016

The Raven pair on Coats Memorial Church were active at 10 this morning with one bird replacing the other on the nest. Otherwise there seemed to be little activity all day (although I have noticed that the birds are very unobrusive at this stage and can come and go without being noticed).