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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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A lunchtime walk around Murdieston Park, Greenock produced two broods of Mute Swan cygnets (six and two, with three un-hatched eggs in the latter's nest), two broods of Coot chicks (one and six plus two sitting birds), a patrolling Common Gull and a single Swift high overhead. Monkey Flower was putting on a good, early show at the small pool beside the Old Inverkip Road. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Twenty Jackdaws arrived to roost in the woods next to the house this evening, the first time I have seen this here.
Earlier, a blue damselfly, a singing Reed Bunting, a Great-crested Grebe and two Swifts were the highlights of a brief stop at Knapps Loch. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A morning walk through the west end of Glasgow (from Partick to Woodlands via Hyndland and the Kelvin) produced a number of interesting sightings including two Stock Dove territories, a Goosander, two broods of Long-tailed tits, possible breeding Dipper and four Swifts feeding overhead.

This evening, a single Swift screamed high above south Cardonald and a Blue Tit brought a caterpillar to the box on the back of the house. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A day spent in the Aviemore area produced some great wildlife encounters. The day started with a walk around the MacDonald Hotel complex. An Oystercatcher flew from an area of cropped turf to the flat roof of one of the buildings while another was brooding a newly-hatched chick on gravel beside a parking area. A singing Blackcap was the first of three for the day while a singing Willow Warbler was the first of at least 64. Three or four Black-headed Gulls were patrolling the area and Collared Doves were also showing well.
Heading into Craigellachie, almost the first bird encountered was a singing male Wood Warbler. It gave really good views as it flitted between different perches. The songs of Willow Warbler and Chaffinch were ever present all over the site with the squeaks of Spotted Flycatchers almost as common. A male Pied Flycatcher gave excellent views as it sang from a tall Birch and another three of the species were encountered later (a female, another singing male and a male visiting a nest box). Six Tree Pipits sang from more open areas but only two Redstarts were heard. A Robin was feeding a fledged juvenile and Great Tit, Coal Tit and Blue Tit all had fledged young. Flowering plants on the reserve included Violet, Wood Anemone, Blaeberry and Stitchwort. White-tailed Bumblebees were everywhere.
Heading up onto the ridge, the plant species changed with Shield Fern and Alpine Lady's Mantle both appearing. Bird life changed too with Meadow Pipit dominating. A single Red Grouse flew up from cover.

Back in Aviemore, Rooks still had young in the nest and a single Swift flew over (with two later in the day). A walk down to the Spey produced Oystercatcher (one incubating on a shingle bar), Common Sandpiper, Sand Martin (nesting) and Kingfisher (a single bird seen twice). The river walk by the golf courses added Goldeneye and Black-headed Gull (the latter hawking flies). Long-tailed Tits had broods at two sites and Treecreeper, Lesser Redpoll, Mistle Thrush, Swallow and Great Spotted Woodpecker were added to the day list. A Cuckoo was calling off to the south east and Chickweed Wintergreen was flowering in the Birch woods. House Martins were visiting nests in the Lochan Mor estate and four pairs of Lapwings had downy young on nearby farmland.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Little Grebe and Coot all have young at the James Hamilton Heritage Park, East Kilbride.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Didn't manage to squeeze in a walk today - a combination of heavy workload and a summer cold (Bah!).

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A short walk in Greenock this lunchtime only produced the usual urban species: Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Blackbird, Robin, Lesser Black-backed Gull plus the west Greenock speciality, Common Gull. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Raven pair on Coats Memorial Church have one flying young. The two adults continue to loaf near the top of the spire but today I watched them interacting with the juvenile. First, one of the adults (the other was nowhere to be seen) joined the young one on the dome of the John Neilson Institute where the young one tried to elicit food from the adult. Then the adult (probably the female) returned to the “loafing area” and the juvenile spent about 15 minutes flapping between the various parts of the tower. About 13:30, the second adult (presumably the male) arrived with a food item and landed near the juvenile. There was quite a lot of begging behaviour until the adult flew off and landed on Oakshaw Trinity Church spire. A few minutes later the young bird followed and eventually the two birds alighted together on the balcony of the Orr Church where the feed took place. The adult then went to join the other adult on the regular perch on Coats Memorial.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were singing behind Port Glasgow Railway Station first thing. The same three species were singing on Lyle Hill during a late lunchtime walk. Also there were five Swifts and a Hooded Crow x Carrion Crow hybrid.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Highlights of a walk in the west end of Glasgow today were a Peregrine and two Ravens having a territorial dispute,  a Dipper and a Goosander on one of the most urban stretches of the Kelvin and plenty of singing Chaffinches.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Highlights of an urban walk through Livingston were a Dipper, a Goosander and six Swifts along the river near the town centre.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were on nests on the factory rooves next to Greenock Railway Station. Later, two Ravens were roosting in the rain on the spire of Coats Memorial Church, Paisley.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Six Black Guillemots and three Eiders were off the east end of Greenock Esplanade this lunchtime.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Leaving Greenock this lunchtime (heading over the Auchmountain Road to avoid roadworks on the A8), a Cuckoo flew across the road closely followed by a Meadow Pipit in hot pursuit. I stopped the car and was able to enjoy the classic "Cuckoo" call until it was time to move on. The other main sound was of Skylarks singing.

This evening, five Sand Martins were over Kelvingrove Park in the rain.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The wet weather locally continues. The local Blackbirds continue to sing, undaunted, especially approaching dusk when most other species have fallen silent.

Monday, May 16th, 2016 

The woods around South Cardonald are now full of flowering Bluebells.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Only time for a quick walk along the river this evening. The banks are now covered in Wild Garlic, Bluebells and Garlic Mustard. However the Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed are poised to swamp everything else within the next few weeks.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A walk around Neilston Pad this evening found lots of common birds well into their breeding cycles. Harelaw Reservoir had lots of Canada Geese plus nesting Black-headed Gull.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A Grey Heron was over the M8 near Glasgow Airport first thing. A little later, an Oystercatcher flew strongly inland at Port Glasgow, possibly heading for a nest site.
At Murdieston Park, Mute Swan and Coot were on nests and a Mallard had a well-grown duckling.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Managed a short walk in Luton before the flight home. Highlights were a Grey Heron high overhead, a Moorhen with four mobile chicks beside a small creek and a Red Kite soaring over the airport perimeter fence.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bird list for the week still woefully short, but a wander up to the Thames added Cormorant and Mallard.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

This morning's commute to work through Southwark produced nothing more exciting than a singing Great Tit in a roadside tree.

Monday, May 09, 2016

West central Scotland was basking in some much needed spring sunshine when I left this evening. London, by contrast, was damp and overcast. The only birds at Gatwick Train Station were single Woodpigeon and Pied Wagtail.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

This morning's walk from Cardonald to Kelvinside produced a number of interesting sightings including: Three Swallows feeding in Elder Park, Govan (with a pair of Mute Swans on the boating pond there), two Sand Matins feeding over the Clyde opposite the Transport Museum, a drake Goldeneye still in the basin opposite Clydebrae Street, two Grey Wagtails around the Govan Road docks and singing Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap at one site each. Two Grey Seals were in the Clyde at the mouth of the Clydebrae Street basin - I didn't know they came so far up the river.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Three Stock Doves gave great views in Rosshall Park this morning. The river nearby held Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail and three drake Goosanders. A pair of Moorhens have a nest on the park pond. Singing birds during a one hour walk consisted of five Chiffchaffs, four Blackcaps, 13 Wrens, nine Robins, three Song Thrushes, six Chaffinches, two Greenfinches, ten Woodpigeons, Blackbird, Dunnock, Goldfinch, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Coal Tit.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Working in north Edinburgh today. A pair of Pied Wagtails looked like they were nesting and two drake Eider loafed offshore.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

The Paisley West End Raven pair spent the day perched high up on the spire of Coats Memorial Church. They seemed to be mostly ignoring the chick which was shifting in the nest below.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

A Willow Warbler and a Blackcap were singing in Kelvingrove Park this evening.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

The drive over from Greenock to Paisley this lunchtime produced some nice roadside birds in the form of two Wheatears (one feeding in a paddock and perching on the fence when disturbed), a pair of Pied Wagtails and a reeling Grasshopper Warbler.

Monday, May 02, 2016

A walk around Mugdock Park this morning produced 29 Willow Warblers, three Blackcaps and two Tree Pipits. Mugdock Loch was deserted except for a pair of nesting Mute Swans, a single Cormorant and a feeding Swallow.
This evening, two newts were at the surface of the Silver Glade pond.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

A walk around Caronald this afternoon found three Collared Doves in song (they have been scarce here recently), one of which launched into an elaborate swoop and glide from its song perch on a chimney. The other main feature of  the day was the sight of Starlings constantly flying back and forwards between their nesting and feeding areas. Many were carrying food, suggesting that there has been a big hatch of young recently.
Earlier, a Pied Wagtail was at Shieldhall Recycling Centre.