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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, February 28, 2018

Writing at home today. A lunchtime walk along the river after last nights heavy snowfall found the local birds mostly feeding up. A pair of Goosanders seemed perfectly at home on the icy river. Five Stock Doves were less so as they searched for food on the snow-covered paths in Rosshall Park. A Redpoll was unusually flushed from a patch of dead brambles.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Another busy day with flurries of snow all day.

Monday, February 26, 2018

A busy day, so little in the way of natural connections, although a liquid call from the tenements on Nelson Street, Greenock confirmed that the wintering Grey Wagtail is still about.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

A glorious day sent in Argyll produced only common woodland species, the highlight being two overflying crossbills.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Some of the highlights of a walk around Gartmorn Dam first thing were a Greylag / Canada Goose hybrid, a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker, a single Raven and plenty of singing Chaffinches. Birds on stubble at the north east corner of the dam consisted of Dunnock (2), Tree Sparrow (1), House Sparrow (3), Goldfinch (3), Linnet (2), Yellowhammer (2) and Reed Bunting (3). Later, interesting birds on a walk along the River Devon around Endrick Muir included four Ravens, a Goosander, a Grey Wagtail and four separate Dippers (one in song). At the end of the day, two Little Grebes on Victoria Park pond were in almost full summer plumage.

Friday, February 23, 2018

A Jackdaw was carrying a stick up to the tower of Coats' Memorial Church in Paisley today. Nearby, a Mistle Thrush sang, a male Bullfinch was nibbling the buds from a small tree and a Pied Wagtail flew across George Street, right in front of the car.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Today began with a Collared Dove singing opposite the house. A walk past Bingham Pond on the way to a meeting this afternoon produced good number of Moorhens (16 in total).

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Today's walk along the river at Cardonald produced three pairs of Goosander newly arrived at the Cardonald Place bridge, a Kingfisher a little further west and five Stock Doves. Chaffinches are beginning to sing and Lesser black-backed Gulls are back in the area.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Both Pied Wagtail and Grey Wagtail were flitting around the rooftops and gutters in the west end of Greenock. The Pied Wagtail was giving its little, liquid sub-song. Herring Gulls have returned in force and are noisily reoccupying the rooftops.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Murdieston Park this lunchtime held two singing Mistle Thrushes (making up ground on the Robins and Dunnocks) and a Little Grebe starting to moult into summer plumage.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

A calm day, compared to the winds of yesterday, prompted lots of birds to be active in south Cardonald. Long-tailed Tits were active at three sites (including four together at one), Cormorant and Little Grebe were fishing the river and the most notable singers were Mistle Thrush, Dunnock and Wren (all of which have become much more evident this week). Song Thrushes and Blackbirds were encountered frequently but mostly feeding quietly along hedge edges. After being fairly rare of late, more than 50 Redwings had gathered in the treetops (accompanied by 20+ Starlings and 8+ Siskins) and were chattering and buzzing loudly. The latter is behaviour I have witnessed several times before, always around this time of year.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Quite a spring-like day in South Cardonald today. Notable singers included Dunnock, Wren, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Starling and Woodpigeon. Nearby, two Cormorants were flying up the Brock Burn near Crookston Castle.

Friday, February 16, 2018

A day of intense Raven activity in central Paisley (at least during the points in the day when I was in the office) with one, two and (on one occasion) three birds on view at different times. Two birds visited the nest ledge on at least two occasions. The day had started with one bird being mobbed by 20+ Magpies while it perched in a tree. Surprisingly, there were no signs of aggression at any point, even when all three birds were together.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Really great to see a Raven taking a big stick up to the usual nesting ledge in central Paisley today.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A miserable day of rain, cloud and cold, with just the occasional rainbow to lighten the mood. Too busy for natural connections, unfortunately.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

An early morning cold front had passed through by mid morning, resulting in a lovely sunny day. A lunchtime walk down to the esplanade turned up five Eiders offshore.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Some of the highlights of a snowy walk up to Mugdock Park today consisted of: single Dippers at four sites (including one singing), singing Greenfinches at three sites (I think this is the best time of year to locate this species), a big flock of Redwings (some indulging in some sub-song), three Stock Doves (two singing) along the Kelvin, a singing Nuthatch near the Botanic Gardens, single River Kelvin records of Goosander, Kingfisher and Cormorant, three or four noisy flocks of Siskin and Rabbit tracks in the snow in Lennox Park. Altogether 41 species were logged.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The poorer weather today (with flurries of sleet and snow) meant birds were less visible. However highlights of a walk in Pollok Park were two groups of Redwings and a Raven flying over to check me out.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

A walk up Greendykes Bing offered good views of the three Forth bridges but few good birds. Broxburn and the surrounding area seem to have a particularly strong House Sparrow population - potentially linked to the presence of many overgrown Privet hedges.

Friday, February 09, 2018

One of the highlights of today's walk from Renfrew to Loch Lomond was a sigting of three drake Mandarins feeding with Mallards at Balloch. Other notable sightings included regular sightings of Grey Heron, Cormorant and Moorhen plus plenty of Mallards and Tufted Ducks but no Kingfishers, Dippers or Grey Wagtails, Goldeneye at two points on the canal, at least two sizeable (10+) flocks of Siskins with smaller numbers at various other sites and twelve Bullfinches feeding together under a hedge on the edge of a Dumbarton park. Altogether the walk yielded 300 sightings for birdtrack, equating to 48 species.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

A pair of Mute Swans occupying a potential nest platform and a single Blackbird starting to sing were the highlights of a short walk during an early lunch break in Paisley.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Managed a rainy walk around part of Greenock Cemetery this lunchtime. Two Roe Deer bounding away between the gravestones were a surprise. So too were several patches of Rustyback fern (Asplenium ceterach, formerly Ceterach officinarum) on an old wall which I must have walked past a hundred times. 

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

A lunchtime walk around Castlehead in Paisley produced singing Goldfinches and a single Siskin. Earlier, a Wren was singing at the university campus.

Monday, February 05, 2018

Jackdaws are still flying in loose flocks around Greenock but the pairs making up the flock are discernible as they fly close together. 
A Rhododendron in Ardgowan Square was putting on a good show of spring colour.


Sunday, February 04, 2018

A run of Moorhen records locally prompted me to look back over my birdtrack records for the south Cardonald 1km square. January is clearly the peak month for sightings, possibly because (1) birds are more visible with vegetation low and (2) birds are noisier as they pair off and establish territories.


New birds singing along the river this afternoon consisted of Stock Dove and Blackbird (just one of the latter getting warmed up). Song Thrushes continue the strong showing of yesterday. A pair of Goosanders continue to occupy a short stretch of the river: I wonder if they might be settling to breed. Wrens have been noticeably quiet. 

Saturday, February 03, 2018

A morning walk along the river in south Cardonald found two big flocks of Redwings moving through the treetops and a single Little Grebe still in winter plumage. Birdsong has increased considerably since last weekend with a Dunnock, a couple of Coal Tits and at least four Song Thrushes joining the Blue Tits, Great Tits, Woodpigeons, Starlings and Robins. Sad to see that a big tree in the park has been badly damaged by fire.

Friday, February 02, 2018

A sunny lunchtime walk around Hamilton's Bothwell Road Park today found two Mistle Thrushes singing against eachother, plus some early Chaffinch and Dunnock song.
Heading home just after 5pm, a flock of Jackdaws over Williamwood were very obviously in pairs as they flew over, heading to roost.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

A work trip to the campus of Stirling University produced some interesting sightings. Two Dippers (one singing) were on the river in Dunblane (below) as I waited for a connection and another two were at Bridge of Allan. Airthrey Loch held Mute Swan, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen and two Cormorants but Oystercatchers were still to return.