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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.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Greenfinch and Collared Dove were singing in the west end of Greenock this lunchtime, Two Black Guillemots and four Eider were in the harbour at the east end of the esplanade. Travelling home, two Grey Herons flew over the M8 at Bishopton.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A male Whitethroat was showing well as it sang from the scrub at Cardonald Business Park first thing. A Willow Warbler was also singing there, with a Chaffinch singing in Elder Park, Govan.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Five House Martins were visiting the eaves of houses in Dunchurch Road first thing. A Whitethroat was singing between there and Penilee and a Skylark could be heard singing over Arkleston Farm. Penilee itself held pylon-nesting Carrion Crows and lots of nesting House Sparrows. Back in south Cardonald, three House Martins were exploring a different house where a Starling seemed to already have a nest. When a Magpie started to show some interest in goings on, five other House Martins arrived and the eight birds buzzed excitedly over the street. 


Friday, May 26, 2017

The two Ravens fledglings continue to do well. Both were circling the tower together and fending off mock attacks from the local Jackdaws. At lunchtime, three Swifts were tearing along Paisley High Street. This evening, three House Martins were visiting the eaves of houses along Cardonald Gardens.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

An evening walk along the river found a flock of 13 Long-tailed Tits (presumably a fledged brood), two Goosanders (again, possibly fledged juveniles) and a Grey Heron.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Three House Martins were showing interest in the houses on Cardonald Place Road first thing. At 6pm, the local Whitethroat was singing well. In between, a brief stop by the roadside during my lunchtime drive between my two bases produced 23 species around the car including singing Cuckoo and Whinchat, a gang of at least a hundred fledgling Starlings and a Meadow Pipit carrying food

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Three Ravens were on the CMBC at 5pm. Two on the spire and one on the edge of the nest. This evening, eight House Martins in the air over south Cardonald was an excellent local count.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A male Whitethroat was scratching out its little song behind the house at 7pm.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Two House Martins first thing and a Whitethroat singing in the afternoon were the highlights of a day spent mostly at home

Saturday, May 20, 2017

An early start near Queen's View produced two singing Cuckoos and a Barn Owl flying along the road. Later, a walk from Rowardennan Car Park to the gates of Ptarmigan Lodge produced the following: Willow Warbler (19), Wood Warbler (11), Blackcap (7), Redstart (5), Cuckoo (5), Garden Warbler (2) plus Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Chiffchaff and Tree Pipit (all 1). Some of these species gave great views (in spite of the heavy rain) with a Redstart chasing flies on a forest path, a Pied Flycatcher singing from an exposed, low branch next to the main path and a Spotted Flycatcher giving its simple little song from the topmost branch of a dead tree being the highlights. The Wood Warblers were notable for their habit of flitting between low song perches between each blast of song. Other interesting birds in the area consisted of a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers loafing on the Common Gull breeding islet, House Martins visiting presumed nest sites under the eaves of the youth hostel tower and a hoodie hybird checking the mouth of a burn for any food items.
At lunchtime, the rain relented a little and up to ten Swifts were feeding close to the loch surface at Balloch Castle slipway. The grounds of the castle were alive with singing birds, especially Goldcrest (13), Chaffinch (11), Willow Warbler (9), Blackcap (6) and Chiffchaff (5) with Wren, Robin, Dunnock, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Woodpigeon, Great Tit and Blue Tit joining in. No Nuthatches were heard, the only suggestion of them being the inclusion of a phrase of theirs in a Song Thrush song.  The castle itself held House Martins and Swallows both looking like they were attempting to nest. Oystercatchers were feeding on the lawn.
The Leven at Balloch had no Mandarins today but Loch Bowie had Grey Heron and Little Grebe. A planned walk up to Lang Craigs (to check for Stonechat, Whinchat, Wheatear, Raven, Buzzard, Kestrel and Green Woodpecker) was abandoned after the weather closed in again.  Heading home, two Skylarks were singing at Arkleston Farm.

Friday, May 19, 2017

A juvenile Raven was on the JNI dome first thing. At the end of the working day, the two adults were together on the spire of CMBC, before one flew off north east.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Three Swifts were screaming over the west end of Greenock this lunchtime as three House Martins were inspecting the eaves of some old villas near the Cricket ground for nest sites. Later, a Swallow was down near the container park.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

A walk around Cowdenknowes Dam first thing found four pairs of Coots incubating and one pair with four dependent young. The Mute Swan pair had seven newly-hatched young. A pair on the neighbouring Town Dam were still building their nest.
The day had started with three House Martins over Cardonald Gardens and ended with two feeding and twittering overhead as the sun set.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Raven activity:
08:15     Two juveniles on the CMBC tower at the base of the crown (there for most of the morning but gone by 12:30).

13:30     Two juveniles on roof of JNI (then one in nearby tree). Adult calling nearby.

14:30     Adult arrived from east and landed on dome of JNI.

14:45     Adult back on dome of JNI, then flew up to perch on spire of CMBC.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Few opportunities for natural connections today. However House Martins are notable by their absence in south Cardonald after a couple of singles last week.

Saturday, May 14, 2017

After a day of heavy rain, the weather started to improve about 5pm. Headed over to Baron's Haugh. The reserve was full of life with singing Blackcaps and Willow Warblers particularly noticeable. A Great White Egret was in front of the Marsh Hide with a pair of Gadwall. A Whitethroat was singing near the Centenary Hide. Later, two Wood Sandpipers were feeding on the mud at Carbarns Pool.

Friday, May 12, 2017

A walk through Paisley this lunchtime found the Mute Swan pair still incubating, a Mistle Thrush with a beak-full of worms and a Pied Wagtail hunting insects on the grass in front of the abbey.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A solitary House Martin was over Cardonald Gardens first thing. A pair of Pied Wagtails were on the police building in Greenock when I passed this lunchtime. The Bullfinch which has been hanging around the Honeysuckle at the back of the garden was back again for the third day running. I wonder if he has a nest nearby.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Raven sightings today: 11:00 - One on dome of JNI; 13:00 - One on dome of JNI and one on side of dome: 13:30 - Two juvs on roof of JNI, one adult on dome and one circling and calling; 17:30 - One back on dome of JNI.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

A walk over to the tiny cemetery at Greenock West Station this lunchtime found what looked like juvenile House Sparrows hopping about in the grass and diving into the hedge.

Monday, May 08, 2017

At least one of the Paisley Raven chicks has made it through its first weekend with a bird being attended by its two parents on the roof of the JNI as I passed on my lunch break. The full list of sightings (when I looked up from my desk) consisted of: 09:20 - One bird seen swooping low behind the building; 12:30 - One perched bird on the wall of JNI and another flew from the east onto the guttering on the east side of CMBC. The later then flew in a weak arc before disappearing behind the tower; 13:30 - Juvenile perched on the top of the wall of the JNI. An adult came down to feed it and a second adult landed on the dome. Both were scolding loudly – perhaps agitated by my presence (although I was at street level and quite far away). The feeding bird then flew up to the spire and the other adult rose, calling loudly, to intercept a passing Buzzard which was so far away it was not much bigger than a speck in the sky. A thrilling dogfight ensued before the Raven had escorted the Buzzard far enough out of the area. They really are masters of the air, the bird seeming to ascend to the height the Buzzard was cruising at with virtually no effort; 15:30 - One bird on sentinel duty on the spire (still there at 16:20). No sign of any others; 15:40 - Second bird seen to drop down from the crown and sweep round the back of the tower.
A male Bullfinch was in the garden again this evening. 

Sunday, May 07, 2017

The highlights of a walk around south Cardonald this afternoon were a pair of Moorhens with two tiny chicks in the nest at Cardonald Place Farm Bridge (the nest in Rosshall Park Pond is empty - either fledged or predated) and my first local House Martin of the year over Cardonald Gardens. The total species count was 30, including six singing Blackcaps.
In the garden, Blue Tits are taking food into the nestbox, a male Bullfinch is paying close attention to an area of the Hawthorn hedge and two Orange-tip butterflies flew through.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

A Redstart sang most of the day on the soundtrack of the osprey Web Cam feed from Loch Garten.Other species consisted of:

06:35     Redstart (song) (and 07:00, 07:17, 07:28; 07:40, 07:53)

06:40     Siskin calls, Willow Warbler song (and 07:45)

06:48     GSW drumming

06:55     Carrion Crow call (and 07:10)
06:55     Greylag Goose flight calls and 07:10)

07:01     Osprey contact call

07:22     Osprey alarm call

07:30     Pheasant call

07:44     Roe Deer barking

07:45     Redstart contact call (and song)

08:02     Osprey alarm / begging calls

08:02     Finch species (flight calls)

08:25     Mistle Thrush song

Friday, May 05, 2017

A red-letter day in central Paisley today with the first flight of one of the Raven nestlings. In actual fact it all ended in chaos and I am not sure if the bird survived the ordeal. It all started fairly quietly with the young bird perched on the steps of the church at 08:00 as I arrived for work, presumably having flown down from the nest earlier in the morning. It spent the morning hopping up and down the steps and mostly roosting quietly on a low wall. From time to time the adults came and watched proceedings from various perches. However with at least one sibling still in the nest (seen flapping its wings), they were having to divide their attention.
Took a late lunch at 14:00 and walked over to see what was happening. Visitors started arriving at the church, whereupon the young bird took fright and careered across the road, only to crash-land in the hedge of the car park opposite. The adults both came down to street level calling loudly and making the passers-by wonder what all the racket was about. For the next half hour, the fledgling perched on a car roof while its parents flew around agitatedly, chasing and being chased by the local big gulls. Eventually all was quiet. I have no idea what became of the young bird (I had a good look around the car park when I was leaving, and also asked the attendants if they had seen anything) but one of the adults kept coming to the front of the church and calling loudly every hour or so until I left work at 19:30.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

A busy day at work meant absolutely no natural connections...

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Singing birds in the centre of Paisley today included Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Willow Warbler,  Chiffchaff and Blackcap.  Activity at the Raven's nest was as follows:
09:00     Single bird preening on spire of CMBC until at least 10:30.
09:40     Second bird arrived and landed in nest.
12:00     One bird seen dropping off the dome of JNI.
13:50     Bird sitting high on nest, then swooping up to spire. There for at least an hour.
15:15     Adult back on spire.
17:30     Two adults on the spire together.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

A Coot pair were sitting tight on their nest on the edge of Cowdenknowes Reservoir. A pair on Town Dam were further on with seven newly-hatched young. Two Blackcap were singing at the old Greenock swimming baths. One bird was right on the topmost branch of a small tree.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Sounds heard on the RSPB Abernethy video feed while marking today:
10:30     Carrion Crow calls
10:45     Willow Warbler song (also 11:15, 11:25, 11:35)
10:55     Siskin calls
11:00     Redstart “Hooweet chick-chick” contact calls (also 11:15)
11:20     Redstart song
11:25     Greylag Goose (call)
11:25     Blue Tit (song)
12:15     Buzzard (mewing calls)
20:00     Carrion Crow calls
20:00     Capercaillie calls

Fox and Cubs in North Cardonald