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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.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Quite a lot of Raven activity at the Paisley nest today (with no doubt plenty more taking place while I was concentrating on work). At 09:00, one bird arrived from the east, flying level with the tower, and alighted on the nest. At 09:30, one bird arrived from the same direction, alighted briefly on the nest, then flew back and alighted on the tower of Orr Church, then back and alighted on the nest again. At 13:45 a bird arrived from the east, alighted on the nest, inspected the contents, flew to the dome of the JNI, alighted there briefly, then returned to the nest and resumed brooding. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A single Raven was stretching and preening on the dome of the institute for five minutes at 09:00 before returning to the nest. Later, one of the pair was in the tree next to the observatory at 18:20, surrounded by about 25 Jackdaws. It cronked once and the Jackdaws scattered. It then flew off low to the south east. In between, a Grey Heron was fishing under the main bridge in central Paisley. This evening, two Goosanders were roosting on the bank of the river just behind the estate.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The first singing Willow Warbler was heard locally today. However a particularly heavy workload meant no natural connections.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A single Raven was in the first tree south west of Coats Observatory at 07:30 before it flew off strongly to the south west.
A Sparrowhawk passed the tower of Coats Memorial Church at 11:50.
A single Raven was on the dome of the John Neilson Institute at 11:45. A second bird then dropped down from nest and alighted on the other side of dome. Some interaction took place (not easy to see) before one bird, then the other, flew off. 

A Dipper and a Grey Wagtail were on the river in front of Paisley Town Hall.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Singing Robins and prospecting Lesser Black-backed Gulls were the main features of a lunchtime walk up Lyle Hill.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Lots of birdsong in Figgate Park, Edinburgh this afternoon. Fourteen Goosanders on the pond seemed a good total.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A walk around Ardmore Point this morning found beautiful, calm seas and fair numbers of birds, highlights as follows:
At least 24 Slavonian Grebes, at least 36 Red-throated Diver, four Black Guillemots, twelve Great-crested Grebes, a single Long-tailed Duck and single male Tufted Ducks at two places (the first time I have seen this species here). Land birds included a singing Chiffchaff and two Ravens.
Back home, a Chiffchaff was singing outside the house for the second day. An evening walk along the river produced a Kingfisher and at least three Moorhens (including two courting). 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Today (the third frosty morning in a row) started with a singing Chiffchaff opposite the front door (my first of the year) and continued with a Redwing feeding by the side of the road just over the Cardonald Place Road railway bridge. 
There was no activity at the Paisley Raven nest for most of the day. In fact I was worried the attempt had been abandoned as Jackdaws had been perching on the gargoyle just a few feet from the nest and I didn’t think a sitting bird would tolerate such close proximity.
Anyway, about 15:15 a Raven was on top of the dome of the John Neilson Institute. It was calling loudly (possibly calling its mate off the nest). She appeared after a few minutes (although I didn’t see if she flew off the nest) and landed next to him. There wasn’t much interaction and after a few minutes of stretching and shaking, she flew back up and onto the nest. He remained on the dome for at least ten minutes during which time he was mercilessly mobbed by up to five Lesser Black-backed Gulls. He was still there when I had to get back to work, but was gone about ten minutes after that.
Birds in central Paisley at lunchtime included three Goosanders, a Grey Wagtail and two “Pruuut”ing Moorhens (at different sites).

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Pied Wagtail was over the car park opposite the Waterfront leisure complex this lunchtime.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A single Grey Wagtail was the only natural connection of a busy day in Hamilton.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Four Goldeneye were still on Cowdenknowes Dam today. The Rook nests had been substantially rebuilt.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Two drake Goosanders were still showing well at the council buildings in Paisley this lunchtime.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The usual walk across Glasgow this morning produced Grey Wagtails ar two sites and both Cormorant and Goosanders (but no Sand Martins yet) at the Benalder Street Bridge.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Had a look around Dobbie’s Loan while waiting for the train north. A pair of Mistle Thrushes were chasing a Magpie away from their nest in the fork of a still-bare tree and a Blackbird was collecting worms for its brood. Two Rabbits were a surprise in such an urban location.

Heading north, Roe Deer were particularly evident with fourteen seen (in groups of three and four) before Auchterarder. Other sightings south of Perth included Pheasant and Teal.

Bird sightings increased on the approach to Dalwhinnie with Common Gulls along the river and two Feral Pigeons on a house roof south of the station. Thereafter, Oystercatchers, Lapwings, Greylag Geese and Wood pigeons were in many trackside fields with odd Common Gulls, Black-headed Gulls, Pheasants and Carrion Crows thrown in.

Walking south out of Kingussie, Goldcrests were singing as Rooks cawed around their nests in the treetops above. A Song Thrush was singing and a Brown Hare was crouching near the high school. Four Oystercatchers were over the Spey with a Dipper and two Grey Wagtails also present. Then just beyond Ruthven Barracks were a singing Reed Bunting and an alarm-calling Snipe.

Greylag Geese were encountered all over the Insh Marshes reserve and along the road towards Loch Insh, mostly already paired off but with some quite large groups flying over. Seventeen Whooper Swans, twenty Wigeon, five Teal, four pairs of Black-headed Gulls, plus calling Curlew and Lapwing were at Gordonhall (where a Common Frog was a road casualty). A Red-legged Partridge flew across the road and a Grey Heron and a pair of Canada Geese were visible from the visitor centre as the weather closed in. Common birds on the feeders there included a pair of Siskins.

A Sparrowhawk was at Invertromie with two more singing Song Thrushes. Then a Crested Tit was at Old Milton.

Just before Insh, a scan of the marshes produced two Cormorants (on the island in Lochan Dubh Mor), another Grey Heron, nine more Whooper Swans and four Tufted Ducks. Insh itself held singing Greenfinches with two pairs of Mistle Thrushes just beyond.

Arriving at Loch Insh, a Redshank was along the shore and birds out on the loch included 17 Goldeneye, 27 Tufted Ducks, three Goosander, eleven Black-headed Gulls and two Cormorants. Eighteen Oystercatchers were on the spit at Dunachton.  Two Domestic Mallards were at the water sports centre and single Pied Wagtails were there and at Kincraig War Memorial. The village also held two singing Collared Doves and nesting Rooks (in pines north of the railway).

Back in Aviemore, notable species included displaying Collared Doves, nesting Rooks, Goldeneye and Dipper on the Spey and the only Long-tailed Tits of the day.

Highlight of the day was provided by two pairs of Red-throated Divers, their ruby-coloured throats gleaming in the sunshine.  

Friday, March 17, 2017

I was really saddened, last night, to hear of the death of naturalist and writer Ray Collier. His intimate and unassuming articles in The Guardian, Highland News and on the Wilderness Cottages website revealed his tremendous wealth of knowledge and insight into Scottish wildlife. I was fortunate enough to correspond with him by e mail and phone, and I always found him extremely generous with his time and knowledge. He was no doubt much loved by his family and friends, and my sympathies go out to all of them. For my own part I am extremely grateful for the invaluable legacy of writing he has left behind.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

No time for natural connections today but a squeaky "hooweet" from scrub between Rosshall High School and the railway line as I rushed past this lunchtime may have been made by a Chiff Chaff.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Two Mute Swans were back on the river in central Paisley this evening, looking like they might settle to nest. A Pied Wagtail was in Williamsburgh School playground.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A chilly walk up to Lyle Hill this lunchtime produced only the usual fare. no sign of any Sand Martins yet although a House Martin has apparently reached Argyll.

Monday, March 13, 2017

A lunchtime walk around central Paisley produced singing Greenfinches at two sites and Goldfinches at three, a single Redwing still on Saucel Hill and a calling Moorhen (they are so vocal right now). Later, a sitting adult was just about visible over the rim of the Raven's nest.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The usual Sunday morning walk across west Glasgow produced Greenfinches singing in both Bellahouston and Festival Parks.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

An afternoon walk along the river produced some interesting sightings including a single Kingfisher, a Hoodie hybrid, a flock of around 40 Redwings (presumably moving through on their way back north) and a pair of Moorhens looking like they were getting ready to nest behind the estate.

Friday, March 10, 2017


It was all quiet at the Paisley Raven nest first thing. However about 08:00, the sitting bird dropped off the nest, circled the tower (scattering the Jackdaws and Feral Pigeons) and perched on a piece of stonework. It waited there for a few seconds, then circled the tower again and returned to the nest.
A lunchtime walk around a rainy Paisley town centre produced a singing Collared Dove near Sma' Shot Cottages.
This evening, two Grey Wagtails together under Bonnyholm Bridge were presumably nesting.  Nearby, a Stock Dove was singing in Rosshall Park. Later, as dusk fell, a Sparrowhawk flew strongly over Moulin playing fields. 
Blackbirds, Wrens and Collared Doves are definitely singing more than they were two weeks ago (when singing birds were rare or non-existent). I have also noticed that Moorhens are more vocal than usual at this time of year - I am picking up lots of otherwise invisible birds as I walk along the river.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

After the first local bird of the spring earlier this week, singing Blackbirds are now featuring strongly in the dawn chorus. A singing Chaffinch was a surprise on Murdieston Street, Greenock. At least 14 Goldfinches were twittering in the trees overlooking Port Glasgow Railway Station as I waited for the train home this evening. Then five Whooper Swans were beside the track at Selvieland.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Arriving at the UWS Paisley campus first thing found Feral Pigeon, Dunnock and Blackbird all singing. A blustery walk along the Cart in the centre of Paisley this lunchtime found a male Tufted Duck displaced from the Hammils to the outlet of the Espedair Burn.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

A walk along Greenock Waterfront at lunchtime produced two Black Guillemots in summer plumage and a single Pied Wagtail.

Monday, March 06, 2017

A Collared Dove was singing outside the house first thing. Later, during a lunchtime walk in West Paisley, a singing Chaffinch and a nice selection of common waterbirds were at Poulson Dam.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

A walk along the river in lovely spring sunshine this afternoon produced four pairs of Long-tailed Tits (one possibly nest-building in a hedge), a Buzzard perched motionless in a tree and a Little Grebe in breeding plumage. Singing birds included a Stock Dove, a Collared Dove and two Song Thrushes.No Lesser Celandine in the woods yet but the Wild Garlic seems to be springing up everywhere.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

An afternoon trip down the coast produced a Kestrel at Cockles Loan, another over the St James' Interchange, a singing (!) Grey Wagtail feeding along the strandline south of Largs with Tunstones, Starlings and Pied Wagtails and twelve of the latter on Largs putting pitch.

Friday, March 03, 2017

After I had assumed that they had abandoned the site this year, the Ravens have returned to nest in the usual spot on Coats Memorial Church, Paisley. The nest has been re-built and the tail of an adult was visible over the rim this afternoon.Earlier in the day, a single bird had been on the dome of the John Neilson Institute nearby.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

A Red Fox was giving its yowling call from the woords after dark.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

A Song Thrush was singing in Greenock first thing.