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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.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Kingfisher etc

Friday, June 29, 2018

Greater Willow-herb and Himalayan Balsam were starting to flower along the river tonight. Some of the local Wild Raspberries are ready for picking.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

At the end of a glorious day in Glasgow (with temperatures reaching 31 degrees), eight Swifts screamed low over the estate at 10:30pm.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A lunchtime walk around the west end of Greenock produced little of note except a pair of Common Gulls on a chimney. later, a walk along the river found three singing Blackcaps, a Great Tit brood and a singing Song Thrush. Plants coming into flower include Meadowsweet, Bramble, Purple Loosestrife, Pineappleweed and Rosebay Willow-Herb.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A busy working day today still managed to produce two notable sightings. At lunchtime, on a walk to the esplanade and back, a remarkable ten Swifts were feeding over the west end of Greenock. Then, this evening, two Oystercatchers were heard flying along (presumably down) the river (I suspected I had heard one a few days earlier). In between, ten Black Guillemots were on the sea at the end of the esplanade (with a presumed female begging for food and a least one bird visiting a probable nest hole).

Monday, June 25, 2018

Three Ravens were on the dome of the John Neilson Institute, Paisley this morning.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Today's walk along the river produced an exceptional four singing Blackcaps (with less than half of the square covered). Also notable was a Sparrowhak flushed from cover by a dog walker. This evening, a Skylark was singing at the west end of Penilee and a Pied Wagtail was feeding on the grass under the high rise flats near Crookston Cross.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

A walk from Falkirk to the Kelpies found many birds in full song, notably Blackcap, Chiffchaff (one bird giving an aberrant song), Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler (1), Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting. Most intriguing records, however, were not of birds at all: a set of probable Otter footprints on soft mud and a fleeting glimpse of either a Burnet Moth or Cinnabar.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Plenty of good birds were along the river this evening. A Kingfisher was alarm-calling in the same place that I saw one a few days ago - I wonder if there is a nest there. A Grey Wagtail was again nearby. Two Stock Doves were in Rosshall Park and, for the second time recently, Sand Martin (one in this case) was over the river. Robins remain quiet apart from their ticking calls (I haven't heard one singing for weeks). Similarly, Great Tit and Blue Tit were silent and therefore hard to find, although a Coal Tit gave in to the urge and let out a blast of song. There is no shortage of tit family parties skulking in the vegetation. Curiously, Chiffchaff (2) and Blackcap (3) have re-commenced singing (perhaps planning second broods) as have Chaffinches (3). A female Mallard had a brood of three and Bullfinches were at three sites. Giant Hogweed had been the newest plant to flower locally but Ragwort appeared yesterday and Meadowsweet is looking like bursting its buds any day. Meadow Cranesbill was flowering along the railway where this year's wild Raspberries are just about ready to colour up.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A busy marking day meant the only opportunity for natural connections was a walk down to the shops at the end of the day. The first Ragwort flowers have opened and a Woodpigeon was displaying between lampposts.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

A Mistle Thrush was singing in Hamilton first thing. Later, four House Martins were over the river in the centre of Paisley with a Grey Wagtail and Grey Heron also there, but the Sand Martins which used to nest there have failed to return this year.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Too busy for natural connections today :-(

Monday, June 18, 2018

Coots had newly-hatched young in the nest in Greenock first thing, while the Jackdaw flock contained several fledged juveniles. At least one drake Mallard was moulting into eclipse. At lunchtime, the streets around the west end of the town were resounding to the sounds of squabbling Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls and twittering Goldfinches.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Some notable sightings along the river this morning included a Kingfisher, two (possibly juvenile) Grey Wagtails, a Treecreeper and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. A juvenile Collared Dove was been pecked and harried by two Magpies. It is remarkable how invisible the three common tit species have become.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Giant Hogweed along the river has shot up over the last week an dis now more-or-less fully grown.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Spent the morning and early afternoon walking around the Etteridge Estate in Badenoch. It is a neat and carefully managed estate with the feel of highland Perthshire rather than the wilder Inverness-shire.
The car park is on the other side of the A9 on the Dalwhinnie Road. Here were two Spotted Flycatchers and the first of very many Chaffinces, Willow Warblers and Meadow Pipits. A Wheatear which seemed to be taking insects from the tarmac was a good sighting. Other birds there and on the short walk to the estate were Mistle Thrush, Siskin, Woodpigeon and a single Tree Pipit. Prominent plants were Bird's foot Trefoil and Dog Violet. Rabbits were plentiful but a Stoat dead in a trap was a reminder that not all mammals are welcome.
The rough grassland along the edge of the A9 held six Lapwings (possibly a family party) which took off as I appeared over the horizon and two pairs of Oystercatchers circling around and calling loudly as if they had young. Swallows, Woodpigeons and a rather lost-looking white dove were also present there.  
A mostly empty reservoir had Common Sandpiper, Oystercatcher, a single female Teal and six ducklings which could have been hers but equally could have belonged to Mallards. 
The grounds of the "big hoose" had at least two Spotted Flycatchers rasping, invisibly, from a large conifer. 
The tiny hamlet of Phones had Song Thrushes feeding on the lawns, Dunnock and Robin singing from the hedges and Swallows and House Martins feeding overhead. A short walk onto the grouse moor above Phones produced nothing other than more Meadow Pipits and two Buzzards. 
Walked back along the A9 using the cycle / foot path.The verges have been planted with native plants (which have been joined by escaped Lupins). Some of the species I recognised were Ragged Robin, Red Campion, Meadow Cranesbill, Dog Rose, Broom and Honeysuckle. 
The drive back to Dalwhinnie produced Dipper, Common Sandpiper and Pied Wagtail on the river and two alarm-calling Curlew (presumably with hidden young) on rough grassland. Marshy areas were choked with Cotton Grass.
Incidentally, the drive north produced some interesting birds including a Jay outside Dunblane, nesting House Martins at Crieff Golf Course and an Osprey hovering over the Tay at Haugh of Grandtully.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

No sign of any Swifts during a cool day in Greenock. House Sparrows seem to have multiplied tremendously - fledglings no doubt now on the wing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The weather in west central Scotland has finally broken with a day of light rain and a forecast of an incoming storm. A walk along the river tonight uncovered an influx of around 80 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (roosting on the playing fields) and some very rare visitors in the form of four Sand Martins feeding over the water. Sadly, the local House Martins have completely failed to materialise this year.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

A singing Dunnock and a twittering Goldfinch were the only natural connections of the day.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

A singing Chiffchaff accompanied the Voice Project choir singing at The Swamp in south Pollok this lunchtime. Later, a young Great Tit which flew into the window was knocked unconscious by miraculously flew off later

.

Friday, June08, 2018

A hastilly-organised trip to the Cairngorms benefited from dry weather from start to finish. A brief stop in Aviemore produced the usual Oystercatchers, Collared Doves, Rooks, Jackdaws, Sand Martins and a single Common Sandpiper. The remainder of the day was spent walking from the skiers' car park to the plateau via Lurcher's Crag. Some of the birding highlights included a pair of Ring Ouzels feeding young in a small Scots Pine tree, a Ptarmigan chick on the path, accompanied by a female making the "broken wing" distraction display and a male Snow Bunting singing from the crags at the top of Coire an Lochain. Some of the plants seen along the way (moving from the car park to the top) included Dwarf Cornel, Cloudberry, Tormentil, Lesser Spotted Orchid, Thrift, Alpine Lady's Mantle, Stagshorn Clubmoss and Moss Campion.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

A Kingfisher called as it flew along the river at Moulin playing fields this evening.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

There was no sign of the Raven family in Paisley this lunchtime. However there were three Rooks among the Jackdaws and Black-headed Gulls harassing the office workers trying to eat their lunches. At least three Mallard broods were out on the river but the Sand Martins appear to have deserted their colony this year.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Mute Swan, Mallard and Coot all had broods afloat on the Murdieston Dams this lunchtime.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Two Swifts were again over a possible nesting site in west Greenock this lunchtime. A probable Nuthatch was calling in the cemetery where a lovely specimen of Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis) was coming into "flower".

Sunday, June 03, 2018

The usual walk along the river in south Cardonald found a Moorhen alarm-calling (presumably with chicks nearby), two broods of (well-grown) Mallards (Br3 and Br3), two Greenfinches singing near the high school and (again) two Chiffchaff territories. The Rhododendrons in Rosshall Park are stunning, although the early-flowering varieties are well past their best. Walking a little further (as far as Halfway produced Oxeye Daisy and Fox and Cubs in flower in typical urban locations).

Saturday, June 02, 2018

A few hours spent walking parts of the Ayrshire coast produced some interesting record including flowering Sea Campion, Shelduck, Ringed Plover and Stonechat pairs on territory and a good range of singing finches including Greenfinch and Linnet.

Friday, June 01, 2018

A brief stop in the Inverclyde hills on the way to work first thing produced singing Cuckoo, Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting, alarm-calling Snipe and nesting Pied Wagtail and Grey Wagtail. Flowering plants included Marsh marigold (now past its best), Red Campion (ditto) and Bird's Foot Trefoil (also all along the A8 verge at Newark Castle). At lunchtime, a brief walk in the west end of Greenock produced a real find in the form of two low-flying Swifts, one of which was seen to fly out from a (presumed hole in a) tenement wall.