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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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The only natural connection of a busy writing day was a Devil's Coach Horse which blundered into the downstairs hall after dark.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Down to a single House Martin over south Cardonald this morning.

Monday, August 29, 2016

An afternoon walk around Pollok Park in glorious sunshine found a pair of Swallows feeding four fledglings at the stables. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Highlight of a walk around South Cardonald this afternoon was a Chiffchaff calling near Rosshall Park and a Moorhen on the river beside the Cardonald Place Farm footbridge. The Himalayan Balsam (Impatients glandulifera) which has blanketed virtually every open space continues to attract a host of invertebrate life including numerous hoverflies and a big Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum).

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The occupiers of one of the houses on which the local House Martins have been nesting had contractors painting the outside of the house today. I really hope the final broods got way in time. Might explain why the birds appear to have left the area.
Better news came from Edinburgh where a small Ragwort plant on Arthur's Seat held a single Cinnabar moth (Tyria jacobaeae) caterpillar - my first of the year after inspecting what must have added up to thousands of similar plants from Luton to Buckie. Lots of good plants about including a clump of Red Valerian (Centranthus ruber) growing out of Samson's Ribs...

Friday, August 26, 2016

No House Martins around South Cardonald today.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Twenty six Greylag Geese were flighting up from the Clyde as I drove down to Greenock around 06:45. In Greenock, two Grey Wagtails were on the rooftops along Nelson Street.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Two House Martins were still in Cardonald this evening. Another two were beside the Clyde at Govan with two Swallows also there. A Common Sandpiper was a surprise on a rock in one of the abandoned ship docks. Also, a Sparrowhawk with prey drifted just a few feet above my head at the tiny park next to the Govan "plazza". The "prey" was a finch or tit which it was carrying head-first like an Osprey carrying a fish.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Tawny Owl which was in the woods next to the house last week was calling again about 11pm today.

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Cormorant was along the river this evening. As dusk fell, eight House Martins circled high above the colony on Cardonald Gardens.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Birds on Hogganfield Loch this afternoon included at least eight Gadwall and at least 16 Pochard. Also of interest was a pair of Great-crested Grebes with three juveniles.
At least one House Martin is still visiting the colony in south Cardonald.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Today started with a House Martin still visiting one of the nests at Cardonald Gardens. 
A morning shopping trip to Paisley produced a single Goosander on the river, Later, a walk along the Hurlet found 70+ Swallows (and a few House Martins) feeding overhead. The meadow east of the trig point held numerous flowering plants including Knapweed, Devil's Bit Scabious and Buttercup.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Three House Martins continued a great week of sightings for the species during an evening walk over to Pennilee. Some presumed juveniles were involved agin, their calls distinctly higher-pitched than the usual (more like "shrreeep" than "phrrutt"). Fifty Starlings were on the pylons in the centre of Penilee and a single Collared Dove was singing from a big Leylandii.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Natural connections today consisted of an Orange Underwing first thing,  two bats and two House Martins at dusk and a calling Tawny Owl (for the second night) at 11pm.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

An evening walk around Cardonald produced a really exceptional 13 House Martins feeding overhead. Many of the birds were giving a high-pitched call which I assume means they were juveniles. 
Earlier, the QMU campus near Musselburgh held 90 Canada Geese and around ten nesting House Martins. 
This evening, a Tawny Owl was calling from the neighbouring woods.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Raven called loudly as it circled Coats Memorial Church, Paisley today, while two others looked down from the spire.

Monday, August 15, 2016

A lunchtime walk around the west end of Greenock again produced virtually no birds (except lots of Lesser Black-backed Gull chicks). Arriving home, today's stowaway was a Lacewing larva carring a ball of fluff on its back.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

An afternoon walk around Mugdock Park found the weather slightly improved, with yesterday's strong winds substantially reduced. However it still feels much more like September than August.
A Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling from the top of a tree at Gallows Pond and a Moorhen was on Craigton Pond. Swallows and Meadow Pipits were in their usual places at the gunsight and at this time of peak skulking behaviour, some heard but unseen species included Willow Warbler, Coal Tit and Goldcrest.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

An afternoon walk around a busy Balloch produced the highlight of the weekend in the form of seven Mandarin Ducks hiding under overhanging Rhodedenrons near the slipway. It always amazes me how secretive the species can be, a conclusion I have reached after challenging searches in places such as Barden Bridge, The Strid, Kirkby Lonsdale, Loch Eck, Strathnairn, the Eye Water and Balloch itself. Birds can be very confiding for spells (the Balloch birds come to be fed with the local Mallards) but then disappear into deep cover for long periods. 

Another good sighting was a Sparrowhawk being mobbed by a Swallow as it circled low over the beach area at Lomond Shores (the families below being oblivious to the action taking place just above their heads). Also present were House Martin, Bullfinch and Willow Warbler. 
Interesting plant life consisted of naturalised garden plants such as Skunk Cabbacge, Montbretia and Monkey Flower.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Just two House Martins showing in south Cardonald today.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A noticeable change in the seasons this week with cooler weather and shortening days.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

At least 8 House Martins were fluttering around the eaves of the houses on Cardonald Gardens where they have nested again this year. This is a big increase on the number normally seen (mostly two) suggesting at least one fledged brood. 

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

News from the web is that this seems to have been a bumper year for breeding species with good numbers of White-tailed Eagle chicks fledging from Scottish nests.

Monday, August 08, 2016

A walk up through Greenock Cemetery this lunchtime found broods of Great Tit, Coal Tit and possibly Goldcrest squeaking through the treetops. This evening, Black-headed Gulls were starting to congregate off Langbank.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Two House Martins were still loop-the-looping over their Cardonald Gardens micro-colony when I passed this morning. Later, a Kingfisher called from the river and a Cormorant was perched,  hunched and vulture-like, in the traditional tree.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

A walk from Milngavie to Partick this morning produced a Dipper, a female Goosander with 15 young, lots of Willow Warblers (they are so aggressive at this time of year) and plenty of singing Yellowhammers. Also notable was a Whooper Swan with what looked like a damaged wing beside the Kelvin just west of Balmore Road.

Friday, August 05, 2016

A short lunchtime walk through Paisley today was notable for two Moorhens under the Bridge Street bridge. I rarely see the species here. Sand Martins appear to have gone, as do the House Martins from Cardonald.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

A walk up to Lyle Hill this lunchtime was notable for what wasn't seen - Swifts appear to have left the area.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The only natural connection of a busy working day was a Harvestman trapped in the shower tray at work. Not the easiest thing to catch without causing damage.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Few birds were on show during a walk through Paisley town centre this lunchtime. However a Kingfisher was at its regular site at the outflow of the Espedair Burn.

Monday, August 01, 2016

The Coots on the Murdieston Dams in Greenock are having another bumper year with at least four pairs tending chicks (including a brood of five packed into their nest). Tufted Duck numbers have risen substantially since last month - presumably due to the re-emergence of failed breeders and possibly the recruitment of this year's young (which must have been hiding somewhere while they grew to adult size). 
This evening, two House Martins twittered as they commuted over the house (presumably between their colony and the river).