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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, July 31, 2017

Lots of Ragwort flowering around south Cardonald. I keep an eye out for Cinnabar Moth caterpillars but it is a vain hope hereabouts.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A walk along the river found a Swallow over Lochar Park and a good few Large White butterflies, new this weekend.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

A day spent in Stranraer allowed a quick run downy to a very blustery Mull of Galloway. Noticed huge differences since I was last there with more facilities and lots more people. The breeding season for most species was largely over with only Kittiwakes, Shags and guillemots hanging around the cliffs. A pair of Kestrels hunted the headland and both Raven and Great Black-backed Gull patrolled the cliffs. Offshore, Gannets passed regularly and four Manx Shearwaters "sheared" past. A Wheatear was present as were a couple each of Swallow and Meadow pipit.
Back at Stranraer, a Black Guillemot was in the harbour and, heading up the coast, a stonechat flew over the road near the Whilk.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Thunderous hailstorm in Paisley today.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

All quiet along the river this evening. The summer doldrums have settled in, although it is still unseasonably cool and the river has risen considerably after this morning's deluge of rain.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A day of lots of work and two Swift sightings. The first of the latter was about 4pm, a single bird, flying past the office window on the top floor of the tower block facing Paisley Museum. It called quietly, did a couple of wide circuits, and then drifted off over the town centre. The second was this evening, just before 10pm, one or two (I couldn't pick them out) screaming high above the centre of Cardonald. Both sites have had regular Swifts in the past, but in the last few years, sightings (or soundings) have become much fewer.
At least there are some Swifts about. I haven't seen or heard a House Martin in Cardonald for a month. Either they are feeding outside the area or they have decided that the cool, damp summer we have been having is not worth staying around for.

Monday, July 24, 2017

A very quick walk around the Murdieston Dams this lunchtime found Mute Swan, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Coot all with newly-hatched broods.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Highlights of the regular walk to Glasgow included flowering Teasel and Tansy behind the Science Centre, with 20 Goldfinches feeding on thistles there. 
This evening, a Long-tailed Tit call alerted me to my first tit flock of the "autumn". In slightly better weather, a variety of bee species were visiting the many Policeman's helmet flowers.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A walk over to Bo'ness from Linlithgow unfortunately failed to tun up any Tree Sparrows, although four singing Yellowhammers were a bonus.
At the end of the return leg, Swallows, Sand Martins and House Martins were feeding low over the loch in damp conditions. The first two species had brought fledged young along to perch on willow branches while they waited to be fed.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Lots of bats again this evening under the local bridges. One distinctly bigger than others and flying at treetop height.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

An evening walk found lots of small moths on the wing...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Black-headed Gulls at Forbes Place, Paisley had increased to 19 birds this lunchtime and included two or three birds well into their winter moult and a single immature.
Arriving home this evening, two Swifts screamed over the estate.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

This evening's walk included the lovely wild flower meadow in the old Leverndale Hospital grounds. Two Roe Deer were in the long grass and we encountered two Red Foxes as well. Plenty of bats were about as we headed back over the Cardonald Place Farm bridge. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

A dusk walk along the river in south Cardonald produced a Kingfisher calling, unseen, as it went to roost, at least twelve bats including one noticeably larger than the others and an interesting moth...

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A walk through Pollok this evening produced a single Rook, a single Swallow and more fledged Jackdaws, their call more high-pitched than that of the adult and more like the "Cheow" of Chough.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Kingfisher was showing well this morning.

Friday, 14th July, 2017

Quiet along the Cart in Paisley this lunchtime with lots of juvenile Mallards but no House or Sand Martins in the cool weather.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

One swift and one house Martin over Cardonald thus evening before the rain

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A hawkmoth species was visiting the hanging baskets outside the hospice in Greenock this morning but flew off when approached and landed on a nearby roof. No idea of the species.
This evening, two separate Kingfishers were on the River Cart near the confluence with the Brock Burn.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Seven Swifts were in a tight, screaming formation over the house at 10pm tonight.

Monday, July 10, 2017

A walk around Well Park this lunchtime only produced a single Pied Wagtail searching for food.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Today's walk over to Woodlands found most birds very quiet. The exceptions were singing Coal Tit and Chaffinch in Kelvingrove Park. Seven Sand Martins were over the River Kelvin at Benalder Street. Field Bindweed was growing along the side of the Clydeside Expressway.
This afternoon, a trip to a very rainy Callander found the sky full of House Martins and Swallows.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

A walk around Strathclyde Loch this afternoon produced a singing Whitethroat, a low-flying Swift, a couple of Oystercatchers and probably approaching 1,000 Greylag Geese.

Friday, July 07, 2017

At least two (and possibly three) Ravens were around the tower in Paisley between 08:15 and 10:00. Meanwhile, more locally, I haven't seen a House Martin in Cardonald for a week.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

A small carpet moth was in the house this evening. Later, a simmer dim walk along the river produced at least 10 bats (probably several more) between the house and Bonnyholm Bridge. 

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Today was heralded on Twitter as "Winged Ant day". Sure enough, a plague of the insects hit the Wimbledon tennis championship. At home, the only sign I could see was a single Black-headed Gull hawking high over the river. At Bonnyholm Bridge, a female Mallard had seven tiny young.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Spent the afternoon around a small loch not far from New Cumnock. Best birds were singing Reed Bunting and Sedge Warbler. Earlier a Hedgehog was a road casualty at the start of the Auchinleck bypass.

Monday, July 03, 2017

A lunchtime walk up to Lyle Hill produced single singing Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler plus a small green and brown grasshopper sp and a Red Admiral.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Today's walk along the river as far as Hawkhead was in less than ideal conditions with blustery wind and rain making distant birdsong difficult to pick up. However the following totals were heard: Blackcap (9), Chiffchaff (5) and Whitethroat (2). Up to 16 Swifts, four House Martins and three Sand Martins were feeding low over the river at various points along its length. Kingfishers were at three sites and Stock Doves at one. Twenty juvenile Starlings were feeding in cereal fields with up to four Swallows hunting above their heads. two Roe Deer ran across the fields and, closer to home, a Rabbit was extremely unusual in Rosshall Park.
Flowering plants included Meadow Sweet, Rosebay Willow Herb, Greater Willow Herb, Wood Cranesbill, Red Campion, Himalayan Balsam, three Thistle species, at least one Ragwort species, Wild Mustard, Common Reed, Giant Hogweed, Nettle, Dock, Herb Robert, Honesty, Bindweed, Bramble and Elder.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Went for quite a long walk around Mugdock Wood, Craigallian Loch and Carbeth Loch. The rain threatened to arrive all morning but there were also some quite long sunny periods which encouraged flying insects onto the wing.
Plenty of birds were singing including the following totals:
Willow Warbler: 35
Blackcap: 9
Chiffchaff: 2
It is notable that the relative numbers are very similar to those of Aviemore, over 150 kilometres to the north, and very different from my own area, just ten kilometres to the south (where Chiffchaffs predominate).
Other prominent singers were Wren, Dunnock, Mistle Thrush and Greenfinch, but there were surprisingly few singing Chaffinches. Scarcer species included three Reed Buntings at Craigallian Loch, Buzzard, Swift and Great Spotted Woodpecker at four locations each, Jay at two locations and Whitethroat, Grasshopper Warbler, Tree Pipit, Linnet and Common Crossbill at one each. Breeding evidence was found for Coal Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Swallow, Carrion Crow, Buzzard (fledged broods) and Chaffinch (carrying food).  
Insects included two Red Admirals (one of which decided to sunbathe on my leg), numerous Meadow Browns, lots of Common Blue Damselflies and a day-flying Yellow Underwing moth probably Large Yellow-Underwing (Noctua pronuba).
Plant species in flower today included Yellow Waterlilly, White Waterlilly, Valerian, various thistle species, Common Spotted Orchid and Honeysuckle.  
Best sighting of the day concerned a Pine Marten which trotted through the trees (eliciting very distinctive and unusual alarm calls from a family of Blackbirds) before climbing up and over a fence, running across the track and disappearing into some undergrowth.