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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, April 30, 2018

All the usual birds were singing round the house earlier today. This evening (23:30), a Tawny Owl gave a few, brief "Kee-wick" calls from the woods (interspersed with the chattering of a Magpie).

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Just the usual birds along the river today (although Stock Doves are ALWAYS a treat). Garlic Mustard is now flowering.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

A day spent in the Aviemore area produced the following sightings: singing Tree Pipit and Wood Warblers at Craigellachie (but no Redstarts or Pied Flycatchers), a single, calling Cuckoo north of Craigellachie, Small Tortoiseshell butterflies on the first Cuckoo Flowers and Goldeneye, Goosander, Common Sandpiper and Oystercatcher along the Spey. Some other highlights include:
Seven Oystercatchers in the centre of Aviemore including two on a rooftop in the resort complex, two resting on a sandbar in the Spey and singles calling overhead; Rooks noisily attending nests in pine trees in the resort complex; Two Pied Wagtails feeding on the lawn in the resort compound, plus one on the golf course and another feeding on the pavement along the main street; Two Grey Herons perched in the treetops at Craigellachie; 90 Greylag Geese high overhead heading east; Ubiquitous songs of Chaffinch and Willow Warbler; Many Willow Warblers and a few Wood Warblers singing in Craigellachie, but no Chiffchaffs or Blackcaps (or Redstarts or flycatchers); Many Common Gulls through Drumochter and around Dalwhinnie, Newtonmore and Kingussie; Two possible Grey Partridges on the journey up near Forteviot, Strathearn and a possible Merlin on the journey back near Crubbenmore; Wood Anemone, Violet and Lesser Celandine flowering in the Craigellachie birchwoods; Rabbits at several sites including a black individual at Dalwhinnie; My first Cuckoo Flowers of the year on Dalfaber Golf Course (attracting three Small Tortoiseshell butterflies); Speedwell and Dandelion flowering in municipal grass; Lupins sprouting up along the Spey; Three Whooper Swans deep in Insh Marshes with two Cormorants on Lochan Dubh Mor.
The full bird count for the day was Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Goldeneye, Goosander, Red-legged Partridge, Red Grouse, Pheasant, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Cuckoo, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wood Warbler, Willow Warbler, Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Robin, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Pied Wagtail, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Siskin (44 species).

Friday, April 27, 2018

Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap could all be heard singing from the house first thing. Later, a walk around Whitelee Wind Farm produced Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Red Grouse, Canada Goose, Willow Warbler, Raven and thousands of Coltsfoot flowers.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Paisley Raven nest has been so quiet lately, I was starting to fear it may have failed. However a bird was noisily seeing off an intruder at lunchtime, suggesting all is still well.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A Greater Spotter Woodpecker continues to drum from the woods across the river from the house. Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap were all singing well today. No further sound from Whitethroat today.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

This evening's walk along the river produced some good records including a Nuthatch calling, then singing, at a new site (Bonnyholm Bridge), a Rook with a full crop flying strongly in the direction of Pollok Wood, a possible Whitethroat mewing and singing briefly at Moulin riverfront and flowering Many-flowered leek and Bluebell. Ramsons flower buds look set to burst any day.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Popped into the local 24hr supermarket at 06:45, only to hear the unmistakable sound of a Robin singing from the roof beams. This evening, blustery rain limited the number of birds seen on a walk along the river. Interestingly, Wrens were singing through the rain but Robins were silent. Meanwhile, the cover art for the next New Naturalist title has been revealed:



 

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The usual afternoon walk around my home 1km2 square produced some interesting sightings including an exceptional seven Blackcaps - five singing birds, one "tick"ing and scolding like a Sedge Warbler and one shivering its wings while singing. House Sparrows seemed to be more numerous with birds at Bonnyholm and along the river at Moulin. A Raven was mobbed by Carrion Crows as it flew over the area. Many-flowered Leek is now flowering in profusion along the river banks.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

A wander around Glentress Forest in strong sunshine produced six singing Nuthatches and a seventh bird collecting mud from a burn (presumably to plaster a nest hole). This time of year really is peak Nuthatch finding time with singing birds very noticeable.

Friday, April 20, 2018

A real dawn-to-dusk day started with the dawn chorus at Rowardennan car park and finished with a beautiful orange sunset off Largs. The woods north of Rowardennan held most of the summer migrants (Wood Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Tree Pipit, Redstart and Cuckoo) with only Pied and Spotted Flycatchers to come. Also present in the area were other summer migrants (Common Sandpiper, House Martin, Swallow) and some good residents (Jay, Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Dipper, Grey Wagtail). An encounter with a flock of wild goats (9 adults and one kid) and a profusion of Primroses contributed to what was a very pleasant trip. This evening, Black-headed Gulls and Sandwich Terns were flying off Largs seafront against the backdrop of that beautiful sunset.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Plenty of Herring Gulls and Lesser black-backed Gulls were courting on the rooftops in the west end of Greenock.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

With the weather at last turning mild, an evening walk around south Cardonald found still quite a number of species singing. These included a Song Thrush pouring out a rich selection of mews and whistles from deep in a hedge.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Carrion Crow pair is nesting in a tree on Paisley Road West. The only singing warbler this evening was a Willow Warbler near the Cardonald Place Farm bridge.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Willow Warbler was singing at the Murdieston dams this morning. Mallards were fairly few, suggesting they are on nests. Disappointingly, the Rooks which attempt to nest there every year have not returned this year.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Highlight of today's walk around south Cardonald was a Nuthatch calling and singing near the Cardonald Place Farm bridge (and audible from my front door). I have heard them in Rosshall Park but not here before. Also my first singing Blackcap of the year and a good total of four singing Chiffchaffs.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A big birdwatching day started in the grounds of Old Scone where a single Hawfinch called from an exposed branch before two groups of seven birds flew over. Also in the area was a singing Nuthatch. Next stop was Loch of Kinnordy where four different raptor species were seen. Tree Sparrows there gave excellent views as did a single Red Squirrel. The East Neuk of Fife produced Corn Buntings at several sites including up to six in a village playing field. These birds were remarkably confiding with birds singing from the top of a small tree, from the ground and in a short, exaggerated song-flight. Alexander's was flowering all along the clifftop.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The local Ravens were very active around the nest for at least one spell today. I also heard my first Willow Warbler of a year - in a tree next to the council buildings in central Paisley.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

And colder again today (6 degrees), although the outlook for next week is warmer (up to 27 degrees). The birds in Paisley are getting on with their breeding cycles. A Goldfinch was scavenging material from an old nest while its mate looked on. One of the local Ravens with a full crop flew up to the nest (presumably the male going to feed the sitting female, although hatching took place on 4th April last year so there may be chicks by now).

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Colder again today. Blackbirds remain very obvious as they (presumably) search for food for their first broods.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

A busy day meant that today's walk had to be delayed until 7pm. Conditions were far from ideal with light rain and failing light. However a House Martin over Moulin playing fields was a first for the year. Nearby, a Grey Wagtail was singing as it picked over some floating debris on the river. I have seen this behaviour once before - on the strand line in Troon. Both birds seemed completely engrossed in searching for food, but were still able to sing a really quite complex and sustained song.

Monday, April 09, 2018

A lunchtime walk around Greenock Cemetery produced two singing Nuthatches (and one other bird), a Treecreeper and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. This evening, the Hooded x Carrion Crow hybrid was still at Bonnyholm footbridge but the local Chiffchaff was silent.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

A lunchtime walk along the river produced a nice selection of good birds for this urban location including Kingfisher, Stock Dove, Raven, Nuthatch and Jay. Most notable sighting was of a mixed flock of over 100 Redwings and Fieldfares. I have witnessed this phenomenon in previous years - Scandinavian thrushes massing in treetops at this particular spot with much chattering and whistling, and the occasional piece of song. Chiffchaffs were singing at two sites.

Saturday, April 07, 2018

Some highlights of a walk on Lang Craigs today were Primrose and Lesser Celandine in flower, Navelwort on several rock faces (must go back when it starts flowering), Raven, Buzzard and lots of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks.

Friday, April 06, 2018

Today's walk into Paisley produced Grey Wagtails at three separate sites. I wonder if any of them will stay around to nest. The Ravens on the church tower continue to stay hidden for most of the time. I only caught sight of one all day, although there may have been plenty of other forays which I missed. It would be fascinating to keep a continuous watch on the nest to see how often and for how long the sitting bird gets relieved.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

The nesting Ravens in Paisley were quiet all day, although I noticed a bird off the nest on two occasions - once around 8am and then again about 3pm. In between, a walk over to Lonend found a pair of Teal unusually under the road bridge at Anchor Mill. Lesser Celandine was flowering nearby.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

A Rock Pipit was behind the "Waterfront" in a rainy and snowy Greenock this lunchtime.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Chaffinches were singing in the rain at Greenock cemetery this lunchtime. An early-flowering Rhododendron tree was ablaze with colour and a Monkey-puzzle cone had come down in the wind.

Monday, April 02, 2018

A very windy walk along the dunes between Prestwick and Pow Burn produced very few birds because of the atrocious weather conditions. However the burn itself held some good birds including Whimbrel, Redshank, Teal and Wigeon. Coltsfoot and Butterbur were flowering on the dunes.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

A dawn visit to a Stirlingshire moor produced a lovely selection of birds including croaking Raven, drumming Snipe, bubbling Curlew, singing Skylark, leking Black Grouse and over-flying Canada Goose, Greylag Goose and Common Gull. On the way back, a detour via Arkleston Farm produced 20 Fieldfares on stubble and my first Yellowhammer at the site for at least a couple of years. Later, a walk around south Cardonald produced all the usual suspects (singing Greenfinch and Stock Dove now being recorded daily) plus the following unusual sightings: a Hooded x Carrion Crow hybrid on Moulin playing field, a Collared Dove flying past the east gate of Rosshall Park (and another in the garden when I got home), a Rabbit in the usual area in the park and my first singing Chiffchaff of the year near the pond.