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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.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A much wetter and much milder day in Glasgow today.
Some reflections on yesterday's Badenoch and Strathspey trip:
It's distinctly colder, with little wind on this occasion.
The first dusting of snow is evident on the high tops.
There is still quite a lot of colour in the landscape with the Larches orange, the Birches and Aspens yellow and patches of green grass among the straw-coloured. 
Flowers are becoming very scarce with only a few residual patches of Ragwort and  and a few isolated flowers of some other species. 
The skies are quite busy with corvids shuttling here and there, noisy skeins of Greylag Geese passing over, occasional raptors on the hunt and small groups of Redwings and Fieldfares moving through.
Birdsong is sparse with only Robin actually singing but lots of other species staying in touch with a variety of squeaks and chirps. 
Some species have "flocked up", notably tits, Siskin and Redpoll.
The really big winter flocks of wildfowl (Whooper Swan, Mallard, Wigeon and Teal) don't appear to have formed yet.
Flying insects are still present, mainly craneflies and similar, with the butterflies and dragonflies of earlier in the year seemingly now gone.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Had a day off today so spent it in a bitterly cold Badenoch and Strathspey. The temperature dropped to minus two overnight and the frost persisted well into the morning. A Kingfisher and a Dipper on the Spey were unperturbed, the latter even managing to break into song. Other notable birds included parties of Redpolls and Siskin,  a hunting Kestrel, a very mobile Cormorant and a female Hen Harrier (which others saw but which I failed to locate).

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The final bird list for yesterday's East Fife trip was as follows: Pink-footed Goose, Canada Goose, Mallard, Grey Partridge, Gannet, Shag, Grey Heron, Oystercatcher, Golden Plover, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Sanderling, Dunlin, Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, (unidentified large gull), Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Woodpigeon, Kestrel, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Raven, Goldcrest, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Skylark, Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Wheatear, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Rock Pipit, Greenfinch, Linnet, Twite, Goldfinch and Reed Bunting (46 species).

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Spent most of the daylight hours today walking the coastline and farmland between Crail and Kingsbarn. Highlights of the day consisted of:
Eight Skylarks over a stubble field north of Crail
Thirty Greenfinches in a flock at Balcomie Farm
A good selection of waders along the shore between Balcomie and Kingsbarns including Oystercatcher, Curlew, Redshank, Golden Plover, Ringed Plover and Sanderling
Two flocks of at least 20 Twite feeding on the strand line
A Raven, five Canada Geese and three Gannets over the sea
A Wheatear on rocks at the north end of Balcomie Golf Course
Seven Roe Deer feeding together in a field at Wormiston Farm
A Kestrel hunting near the abandoned barracks at Kirklands
Six Grey Partridges right in the middle of a grass field near the Go-Kart Track
200 Starlings flocking before going to roost
Last birds of the day were at least 100 Pink-footed Geese in a field north of Elie.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The first real frost of the year arrived in south Cardonald this morning.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fifteen Long-tailed Tits were in the UWS car park this evening. Later, another sizeable flock was in south Cardonald. Plenty of Redwings were moving overhead.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

This must be one of the best times of the year to see Aspen, with its leaves yellowing but still to be shed. Noticed an extensive stand of the species at Ardmore Point the other day. More surprising were two motley specimens among Scots Pine on Dormandside Road, Pollok.

Monday, October 23, 2017

A lunchtime walk up to Well Park found a small group of Starlings bickering over someone's discarded sandwiches. Later, 50 or so were wheeling over the sugar sheds.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

An afternoon walk around Ardmore Point produced a family party of Whooper Swans (6 cygnets), 6 Razorbills, two Guillemots and 19 plant species still in flower.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Several groups of Redwings were flying over Pollok / Crookston first thing today, all heading south east. Suddenly, from being mostly empty, the skies are full. Plenty of other birds were making their presence known including calling Moorhen and Kingfisher along the river.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Grey Wagtail and Goosander at Paisley this lunchtime.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

A Pied Wagtail was calling from outside the window on the tenth floor of the office block in Paisley. A female Goosander was on the river.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Raven was high over the M8 at Bishopton this evening. Earlier, five starling-sized birds in Port Glasgow seen in silhouette looked like Waxwings.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Last night's remnant of Hurricane Ophelia did a bit of damage to the "bus shelter" but seems to have been a lot weaker than was forecast.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Six Mistle Thrushes were on a new-sown cereal field at Arkleston Farm.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A brief stop at Garnqueen Loch this lunchtime found the lonely drake Ruddy Duck diving actively and keeping to the farthest edge of the water.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Spent the afternoon at Gartmorn Dam, searching for the Ferruginous Duck that had been reported there. The duck didn't appear but another 49 species (admittedly including a few "cheats") were some compensation: Mute Swan, , Pink-footed Goose, Greylag Goose, Domestic Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Domestic Mallard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Goosander, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Buzzard, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Common ,Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull,  Great Black-backed Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Magpie, Jay, Rook, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Skylark, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Lesser Redpoll, Goldfinch and Siskin.
Took some notes on duck plumage as follows:
Wigeon: Several of the males were still in eclipse plumage but at least two had partly developed the orange-brown head and cream crown-stripe.
Gadwall: The one male appeared to be in full breeding plumage.
Teal: The males were all in breeding plumage, although the colours were perhaps not as bright as they eventually will be.
Mallard: Ditto.
Tufted Duck: The many males were in a variety of stages of development of breeding plumage but none had completely-white flanks. 
Goldeneye: The one male was in transitional plumage.
Goosander: ditto.
Some non-bird sightings included plenty of flying insects, a single Ladybird, some impressive fungi in the damp woodland and the biggest patch of Teasel I have seen in Scotland. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The sun broke through briefly, allowing a nice lunchtime walk around the wee cemetery near West station. No fungi, in spite of the presence of mature trees and open grass. However flowering Ivy was proving attractive to hoverflies and wasps while Polypody was present among the Maidenhair Spleenwort,  Hart's Tongue and Wall Rue.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A walk up Saucel Hill in the rain this lunchtime produced various fungi species. However the most distinctive was a nibbled Fly Agaric back at the UWS Paisley campus.

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Mute Swan juveniles on Cowdenknowes Dam were trying out their wings this lunchtime - taking off in a group and flying to the other end of the reservoir.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

A Goldeneye and two Whooper Swans at Hogganfield Loch were my first of the "winter". Baron's Haugh held lots of Teal (moulting into breeding plumage), three Gadwall, a Shoveler, a Ruff and four or five Green Sandpipers. One of the Green Sandpipers was giving a high-pitched, piping call. In the woods were a Jay and a patch of Collared Earthstar.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Clear skies tonight with a lovely big moon and even some stars twinkling through the south Glasgow glare. Wouldn't be surprised if the first frost arrived by morning.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Pink-footed Geese, Whooper Swans and winter thrushes have made the best of the northerly winds over the past 24 hours and have arrived across the country.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

A lunchtime walk around the Murdieston Dams produced a Cormorant (the first of the "winter") and eleven Goosanders. The latter arrived in a flock and settled on Town Dam for five minutes, then took off again and flew away to the north west.

Monday, October 02, 2017

The winds have blown round from south west to north west. May help geese and swans migrating south to Scotland.