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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.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A good day spent in Aviemore and the Insh Marshes. Details as follows:
Two Feral Pigeons flying up Glen Truim a few miles south of Dalwhinnie
Buzzard carrying food over Craigellachie with Peregrine alarming below
Oystercatcher pair with two young on a shingle bank near Aviemore. The young were miniature versions of the adults with scruffy black and white plumage, pink (instead of red) legs and shorter, black-tipped bills
Kingfisher on same perch where I saw it last month
Ten Black-headed Gulls scavenging in back gardens and around the centre of Aviemore
Collared Doves singing in Aviemore
60+ Jackdaws between two wooded sites on the outskirts of Aviemore, consisting of many young begging and being fed. Young birds hiding in the branches and dropping to the woodland floor to interact with adults
Lots of Blackbirds active around the gardens in Aviemore
Numerous Rabbits on cropped turf
White Water Lily in flower on Loch Puladdern, Craigellachie. Yellow Water Lily just beginning to flower there.
Singing Sedge Warbler and Blackcap near the Spey south of Kingussie, With another four singing Sedge Warbler around Ruthven Barracks.
A Meadow Pipit carrying food at Ruthven Barracks.
Flowering Ragged Robin, Cotton Grass, Speedwell sp., Buttercup sp., sedge sp. and not-yet-flowering Horsetail.
Curlew with large, mobile chick in front of Gordonhall hide.
Redstart and Spotted Flycatcher flycatching from fence to side of Gordonhall hide.
15 Lapwings flocking up at Insh Marshes
Greylag Goose with gosling at Insh Marshes
An alarming Snipe at Insh Marshes
Ten Willow Warblers at Insh Marshes - some singing but good numbers hoo-weet-ing
Snow patches still visible on tops from Insh Marshes
Still lots of singing and now calling Willow Warblers.
A small flock (3) of Mistle Thrushes near cottages on road east of Insh Marshes VC
House Sparrows entering a nest in the canopy of Kingussie Station
At least 20 House Martins entering nest holes in the bank of the Spey where it is entered by the Gynack Burn
A pair of Mute Swans were at the west end of Loch Insh
A Dipper flew past the Old Bridge Inn at 6pm
Final day list: Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Mallard, domestic Mallard, Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Peregrine, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Sand Martin, Swallow, Long-tailed Tit, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Sedge Warbler, Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher, Robin, Redstart, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin and Reed Bunting (52 species).

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were all singing at the top end of Greenock Cemetery this lunchtime. In the evening, a House Martin visited the eaves of a house in Cardonald Gardens and ten Swifts were feeding over East Lane, Paisley.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A walk around Abbotsinch Retail Park after work (in steady rain) produced a fair selection of common birds, in spite of the inauspicious surroundings. Goldfinches figured prominently as they do almost everywhere these days. They really are one of the avian success stories of recent years.

Monday, June 27, 2015

An evening walk along the river produced the now regular Kingfisher sighting.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

An evening walk along the river (now swollen and muddy after overnight rain) produced quite a lot of evidence of the progress of the season. Goldfinch numbers certainly seem to have risen, possibly due to fledged broods being on the wing. A feeding group of ten Woodpigeons included three juveniles. 
Bullfinches seem to be more obvious with four singles seen in the last two days. Chaffinches are still singing, as are Woodpigeons, Blackbirds and Wrens. Tits are mostly invisible with only Blue Tit appearing on my lists by virtue of having a call which I recognise. 
There seems to have been an influx of (? post-breeding) Rooks into the area (I'm fairly sure they don't nest locally). Similarly, about 20 Black-headed Gulls have arrived to exploit the flies over the river (joined by five House Martins and a Swift in the cool, showery weather). Lesser Black-backed Gulls remain in the area and may be increasing in numbers
The Indian Balsam plants along the river banks are just beginning to come into flower and will soon be attracting masses of hoverflies.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

A walk along the river this morning produced some interesting sightings including a Goosander, a Kingfisher and a Stock Dove at the confluence with the Brock Burn, a Dipper near Rosshall Park and seven Black-headed Gulls on one of the crossbars of Bonnyholm football pitch. Two Chiffchaffs and three Blackcaps were singing but no Willow Warblers or Whitethroats were heard.

Friday, June 24, 2016

A Pied Wagtail was being pursued by two juveniles across the grass centre of a roundabout in Low Parks, Hamilton when I passed this lunchtime. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Plenty of birdsong from the grounds of Gartnavel Hospital today, with Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Dunnock featuring most prominently. Unfortunately no Swifts over Hyndland.

Wednesday, 22 June, 2016

Swallow visiting probable nest site at the sugar sheds, Greenock.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A lunchtime walk along the esplanade found a good total of 12 Black Guillemots close inshore. Heading home later in the day, a Mute Swan had at least five cygnets at Port Glasgow foreshore.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Blue Tits in the nest box at the back of the house must have fledged around 14th - 15th June as they were still in the box when I left for London on 13th, but gone when I returned on 16th.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Two House Martins were visiting a probable nest in Cardonald Gardens first thing. Two Goldcrests were singing near Cardonald Place Road bridge and numbers of local House Sparrows were showing signs of having risen recently.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A red-letter day today, with two Swifts on the local patch. The birds were swooping low over the House Martin colony in Cardonald Gradens at 8am.

Friday, June 17, 2016

A lunchtime walk up to Lyle hill produced singing Chifchaff (3), Willow Warbler and Whitethroat, flowering Honeysuckle and Wild Fuchsia, two Swallow and four Swifts.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A walk along part of The Lea Valley walkway near Luton produced singing Skylark and Nuthatch in addition to the usual woodlkand bird. Common Toadflax was flowering on the verge.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A long walk over to Hyde Park left little time for Natural Connections. However three Ring-necked Parakeets showed well as they flew over.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

An evening walk around St James' Park produced several Ring-necked Parakeets and a whole host of exotics including Red-crested Pochard, Black Swan, Barnacle Goose, Egyptian Goose, Red-breasted Goose, Snow Goose and White-headed Duck.

Monday, June 13, 2016

First day of my London trip was too busy for any natural connections apart from a Goldfinch singing above the traffic on Burough Street.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A walk from Woodlands to Cardonald this lunchtime produced lots of birds in Kelvingrove Park including ten Sand Martins feeding over the river (and giving excellent views from the footbridges), a Dipper flying upstream and a Grey Wagial heading the other way.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

A longish walk along the White Cart and Brock Burn this morning found the vegetation reaching its peak (although the Hymalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed are still to take over the landscape completely.  The closed canopy meant smaller birds were harder to locate. Nevertheless a good range of species was recorded including: three Kingfishers  (one on the Brock Burn and two on the Cart); a juvenile Dipper feeding avidly beneath Howford Bridge; a single Raven on the tower; two Swifts mating on the wing; a Stock Dove singing in Rosshall Park; a Roe Deer in tall grass on Leverndale Meadow. This afternoon, the young Blue Tits were looking out of the entrance hole to the nest box. I will be surprised if they haven't fledged by tomorrow.

Friday, June 10, 2016

The level of birdsong has dropped dramatically in recent days, although a Chiffchaff, a Goldfinch and several Blackbirds were heard during a walk through Oakshaw this lunchtime. 
In the evening, two small bees were collecting nectar from a blue-flowered shrub in the back garden. 

Thursday, June 09, 2016

An early walk around Murdieston Dams revealed two broods each of Mallards, Mute Swans and Coots. One of the latter consisted of two tiny young and a larger juvenile, presumably from an earlier brood. 
The two Rooks nests remain intact but not obviously occupied. However a single bird was over tenements nearby.
A begging call coming from the roof of one of the tenements confirmed that the first gull chicks of the year have hatched. Back at Murdieston Park, Fox and Cubs was flowering on the reservoir embankment.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Seven Sand Martins were feeding over the Kelvin in Kelvingrove Park this evening.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

A lunchtime walk around the west end of Glasgow produced the following interesting sightings:
A pair of Mute Swans with 7 cygnets at the transport museum.
A Sand Martin entering a nest hole at Benalder Street (with two more  in the air there and one over the Clyde).
Grey Heron and Grey Wagtail on the Kelvin.
Ring-necked Parakeet (up to three birds) in Victoria Park.
A Swallow behind the transport museum.
Singing Willow Warber, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Whitethroat.
A Mallard with six small ducklings on Victoria Park Pond (with two Little Grebes also there).

Monday, June 06, 2016

Between three and five House Martins were swooping around the houses in Cardonald Gardens where the species has attempted to nest in the past.
Two House Sparrows have become regular in the back garden over the past week - the first time I can remember them being this far away from their local stronghod of Moulin.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Single House Martins have been present over south Cardonald both yesterday and today. This afternoon, a bird was close to the micro-colony on Cardonald Gardens. 
In the morning, a walk along the canal to Firhill Basin produced plenty of singing warblers (Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat) and a pair of Mute Swans with six cygnets.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Quite a long walk through Hawkhead Woodland this morning produced some interesting sightings in the form of three Mallards and a pair of Coots (the latter an extremely rare bird for the patch) on a flooded area. A female Goosander looked rather incongrouous as it loafed on a grassy slope nearby and two Stock Doves flew into some woods. Other wildlife in the area included Swallow, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff (outnumbering Willow Warbler over the whole walk), Roe Deer, Red Fox and Orange Tip butterfly.
Bull Wood held four singing Blackcaps, another singing Chiffchaff, Jackdaw feeding young and a Grey Squirrel.
Rosshall Park pond had two Moorhen nests, one containing a full sized immature and the other an adult brooding very small chicks. Elsewhere in the park were two Bullfinches, a Hooded Crow x Carrion Crow hybrid and some Blue Damselflies. 

Friday, June 03, 2016

A brief look around the QMU campus before my meeting this morning produced singing Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Skylark, nesting House Martins, Mallard and Moorhen with young and two Bullfinches in a battle with a Magpie. 
Back home, a day after one of the junior connectors reported seeing a House Sparrow over the back garden fence, two of the species made another of their rare visits today.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

A juvenile Grey Wagtail was feeding on the grass in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh this morning.
This evening, a mystery moth turned up in the front porch. My guess is Common Marbled Carpet (Chloroclysta truncata).

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

A Grey Heron was on the weir next to the Moulin playing field this evening.