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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.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

A walk home from the allotments on Dumbreck Road produced some interesting birds including Stock Doves at the horse paddocks and the Corkerhill Road Bridge, singing Greenfinches also at two sites and a singing Nuthatch near the MTB circuit in Pollok Park. Flowering plants consisted of Lesser Celandine, Coltsfoot, Cuckoo Flower, Dandelion and a Spedwell species.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Today started with two, possibly three Chiffchaffs singing over the back garden fence. A walk along the river from Livingstone to Almondell Visitor Centre produced several more Chiffchaffs plus a good range of riparian species, namely Kingfisher, Dipper, Grey Wagtail and Goosander.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Another day working in Paisley with the Ravens for company. Again, the birds seemed to be active only at the beginning and end of the day (or maybe those are the main times when I have time to look). Certainly long periods seem to pass with neither bird in the air. The female is presumably on the nest and the male either perched somewhere (he can be remarkably difficult to find among the stonework at the top of the spire) or away hunting. I am still of the opinion that he is different from the male of previous seasons. He seems a lot less assertive in his interactions with mobbing birds (principally other corvids and gulls) and he seems to select much less prominent perches.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

A Red-throated Diver was off Custom House Quay, Greenock at lunchtime today. Two Greenfinches were singing near the "Waterfront".

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The two Paisley Ravens were again in the air for a short time this afternoon, with the female quickly returning to the nest. The male appeared quite uncertain as he moved from one perch to another. His behaviour is quite unlike that of previous years and suggests to me that he is not the male from previous seasons.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Always a red-letter day, today saw my first singing Chiffchaff of the year at the top end of Hamilton International Business Park.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

One unusual observation on the usual walk along the river concerned a female Bullfinch giving a call which I am unfamiliar with - louder, more complex and more rapidly-repeated than the typical one.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

A midday walk around Skinflats and Powfoulis produced a pair of Grey Partridges, two (late?) Fieldfares, two active Rookeries and a bunting flock made up of Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings. Coltsfoot and Lesser Celandine were in flower and a single Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was on the wing. Mammals consisted of six Roe Deer and a Brown Hare.

Friday, March 22, 2019

The Paisley Ravens put on a bit of a show first thing with the two birds swirling, chasing and cronking over the nest site and off over Woodside Crematorium. A few minutes later, the female was back on the nest and the male on sentry duty on the tower.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

No sign of either of the Paisley Ravens today. In fact the area was all quiet with only a single Dunnock and Blackbird singing in the university campus. The day ended remarkably mild and calm.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

One of the Paisley Ravens was in the area at the start of the day and in the middle of the afternoon, but absent for the rest of the day. Presumably the other was sitting tight on the nest. Later, a Goldcrest was singing in Bellahouston Park where a Great Spoted Woodpecker was calling.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A lunchtime walk down to Greenock Esplanade produced a summer-plumaged Black Guillemot, a pair of summer-plumaged Common Gulls and single singing Greenfinches at two sites. Back home, a Raven flying just above rooftop height carrying either a food item or an eggshell was intriguiging. The nearest nest I know of is nearly two kilometers away.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Today's lunchtime walk around a few streets in the west end of Greenock produced only the usual urban species, although three singing Dunnocks were good to hear.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A walk around the Crookston Castle area this lunchtime produced what I thought was a good total of four singing Stock Doves. A pair of Goosanders on a quiet stretch of the river looked like they might be potential breeders, as did a pair of Kingfishers. Also of note was a Buzzard circling high above the playpark at Bonnyholm, attracting the attentions of the local gulls.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

The overnight snow had mostly been washed away by rain by the middle of the day. However the weather did not deter the birds and actually seemed to cause an influx of feeding birds and an increase in singing birds. Locally exceptional numbers of Black-headed Gulls, Jackdaws, Starlings and Woodpigeons were feeding on the damp ground, especially on Moulin playing field. A high count of six Goosanders was on the swollen river but the same conditions presumably led to a Kingfisher appearing on Rosshall Park pond. Large numbers of Robins and Great Tits particularly were singing and the back end of Moulin estate was again full of (presumably wintering or passage) Blackbirds.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Fifty or more Rooks were noisily congregating around their colony in the middle of Kirriemuir this lunchtime. Other occupied rookeries were at Loch of Kinnordy and in farmland east of Coupar Angus. Loch of Kinnordy still held nine Whooper Swans while the range of waterbirds present also included Shoveler and Gadwall. Four Tree Sparrows were at the feeders.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Three Fulmars were on the cliffs north of Arbroath first thing. Several Skylarks were singing over nearby fields and plenty of Linnets were in the dunes. Highlights of a fairly thorough look around the town itself were 20 Rooks in a row of pines (presumably an established colony),  two Buzzards soaring above the railway station and many Jackdaws, House Sparrows and Herring Gulls boding well for the coming breeding season. Lesser Celandine was in flower in a couple of places and the steam engine "Tornado" passed heading north.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

A male House Sparrow was an unusual visitor to the garden first thing. Later, a Dipper was singing on the burn which runs through Arbroath harbour.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A Grey Heron stalking the pond in Kelvingrove Park this evening was probably taking refuge from the swollen River Kelvin.

Monday, March 11, 2019

A Raven flew deliberately over the M8 near Bishopton first thing, carrying what looked like an eggshell (I have seen the Paisley birds doing the same, presumably removing discarded eggshells from the nest after hatching). At lunchtime, a Raven and a Cormorant were high over the St James Interchange. In the afternoon, two Long-tailed Tits appeared to be nest buliding close to where I was parking in Cessnock.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Woke up to a thin layer of snow which didn't last long once the rain started. The garden was alive with hungry birds. The usual walk along the river was less successful with many birds keeping out of the biting wind. News from the web is that Sand Martins arrived in Clyde on 2nd March.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Two Siskins were unusual visitors to the garden feeders. The female mostly remained in the branches overhead while the male commuted back and forward to the sunflower seeds (and at one point appeared to feed her). Along the river were two singing Greenfinches and a singing Stock Dove.

Friday, March 08, 2019

A beautiful orange sunrise was followed by a wet and windy day in Greenock. As a result, few birds were about during my lunchtime walk. However a few brave Goldfinces were singing and plenty of large gulls have already laid claim to rooftop nest sites.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

The off duty Raven was keeping a low profile today with only one flight noted (although admittedly I was out of the office for long periods). Four Woodpigeons were displaying in the sunshine.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

A short stop at Loch of the Lowes this morning produced litle of note due to heavy rain but two Great Crested Grebes were displaying out on the loch and a Red Squirrel was on the feeders. The final bird list for the three days was Greylag Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Little Egret, Cormorant, Buzzard, Feral Pigeon, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Curlew, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Tawny Owl, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Kestrel, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Starling, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Robin, Dipper, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Siskin and Yellowhammer (53 species). Main impresion was that many of the residents and partial migrants were well on their way to starting their breeding cycles. The phenomenon of Oystercatchers calling from rooftops in the centre of town is a memorable feature of Pitlochry in spring.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Some highlights from a day spent walking in the Pitlochry area included Dippers everywhere (in song on the Tummel,  chasing eachother along storm drains etc), Oystercatchers noisily declaring their presence (What is it about them and house rooves?), evidence of Beaver activity with lots of riverside saplings felled), Winter Aconite and Primrose in flower, two Nuthatches singing and huge numbers of most of the common species exploiting the mild weather to get their breeding seasons underway.

Monday, March 04, 2019

Driving along the M8 this lunchtime, it was great to see two Kestrels (one at Eurocentral and one at the A73 exit) and then three Buzzards soaring together. At Vane Farm, large numbers of Siskins and Goldfinches were on the feeders and two Little Egrets were showing well on the lagoon in front of Carden Hide.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Most dramatic record today concerned a female Sparrowhawk taking a Feral Pigeon in flight near Rosshall High School but then dropping it before it could deliver the coup de grace. Also notable were the two Mallards that joined a flock of Woodpigeons and Magpies feeding on spilt birdseed on the path along the river.A Greenfinch was singing behind the Moulin estate, a pair of Goosanders were on the river and (this evening) a Rabbit was again in Barshaw Park (how does it avoid the hundreds of dogs which are walked through there every day).

Saturday, March 02, 2019

Highlight of a walk around the west end of Glasgow this morning was the sight of two Dippers interacting on the Kelvin near the old transport museum. Long-tailed Tits at four different sites confimed what a success story this little bird has become. The song of Greenfinches was also quite widespread and emphaisised the importance of surveying this sometimes quite reclusive species during the spring singing peak.

Friday, March 01, 2019

One of the Paisley Ravens (presumably the off-duty bird) spent the whole day perched on prominent lookouts near the nest. At one point he (I assume) chased off a Carrion Crow that had strayed too close. At no time did I notice another bird, which makes me think incubation must have started and the female is sitting tight. Interestingly, the perch that the bird seemed to favour the most (an aerial on the top of a six-storey, stone building) was one I have not seen used in any previous years. I wonder if it means this year's male is a new bird.