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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, April 30, 2019

A late lunchtime walk down to the esplanade produced two Common Gulls and a Black Guillemot on the water and a singing Greenfinch near the cafe.

Monday, April 29, 2019

A mild day in Greenock today with wall to wall blue skies. There appears to have been an upsurge in Blue Tits with several birds singing or calling. A singing Greenfinch was the most notable sighting.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

A great day's birdwatching today started with the bubbling calls of lekking Black Grouse accompanied by the songs of Tawny Owl, Grasshopper Warbler, Cuckoo and Curlew. Later, many of my favourite sounds of spring were added including the songs of Tree Pipit, Wood Warbler, Redstart, Pied Flycatcher and Common Sandpiper. Highlight of the day was watching Red breasted Merganser (probably my favourite duck species) on Loch Lomond in beautiful viewing conditions. Species showing evidence of breeding behaviour included a Wren entering a nest, a Blue Tit feeding a fledged juvenile and two Chaffinches, two Song Thrishes and two Grey Wagtails gathering prey items from the path. Plant species in flower consisted of Dog Violet, Lesser Celandine, Bluebell, Stitchwort, Herb Robert, Wild Garlic, Primrose, Wood Sorrel, Cuckoo Flower, Golden Saxifrage and Marsh Marigold. Butterflies were represented bty two Orange Spots.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

A walk along the river this afternoon found four Stock Doves feeding on the ground and a single bird singing from a tree top. I noticed something about Stock Doves which I have noticed before - when they fly, they appear more "front-heavy" than the similar Feral Pigeons, as if they are leaning forward. Less regular species recorded included Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Kingfisher, all for the second day running. Singing warblers consisted of four Blackcaps and two Chiffchaffs, the latter accompanied by "hooweet" calls at both sites. Flowering plants included Wild Garlic, Garlic Mustard and Lunaria (Honesty).

Friday, April 26, 2019

A walk along the river this evening produced six Song Thrushes including an agitated pair chasing off a Magpie. The Goosander pair are still around, but not showing any sign of settling down to nest. Four Stock Doves included two singing birds while other notable singers were five Blackcaps (but no Willow Warblers or Chiffchaffs) and two Goldcrests.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

A Chiffchaff was singing next to Hyndland Station when I passed there this afternoon.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

With the weather about to break, Greenock was noticeably cooler today. However the local birds are getting on with their breeding cycles, Blackbirds and large gulls being particularly noticeable due to their noisy territorial disputes.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The two Mute Swan pairs in Murdieston Park were incubating when I visited first thing, while two Coot chicks were newly out of the nest. Marsh Marigold was in flower there. Singing warblers on the way to work consisted of a Chiffchaff at Port Glasgow Railway Station, a Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler in Murdieston Park and a Willow Warbler on Nelson Street.

Monday, April 22, 2019

An afternoon walk from Barassie to Prestwick in glorious sunshine produced regular Linnets and Sklarks, a good sprinkling of Meadow Pipits and Pied/White Wagtails and a few notable species including Gannet (five fishing in Barassie Bay), Stonechat (a courting pair on Prestwick Golf Course) and Rock Pipit (a single bird on the beach in Troon). Butterflies consisted of Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, several whites and a single blue.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

An early start meant I had Longhaugh Point mostly to myself. Unfortunately, the tide was well out, so any wading birds were probably well out on the mud, and therefore out of sight. The field pools held at least four White Wagtails, a pair of Shelduck and a single Wheatear. A marshy area had a reeling Grasshopper Warbler and the best bird out on the mud was a Little Egret. Rabbit, Grey Squirrel and Roe Deer were seen and butterflies consisted of a Peacock, a Small Tortoiseshell and four Orange Tips. Towards the end of the walk, a beautiful red-flowered shrub was almost certainly Ribes ‘Pulborough Scarlet’, a variety of flowering currant.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

A sunny morning walk through Oldhall, Ralston and Penilee found plenty of birds in song, the highlights being a single Skylark and literally dozens of House Sparrows. Back home, I put together a "bee hotel" to try and accommodate some of the solitary bees which have been investigating holes in the brickwork on the south side of the house. Over the fence, a Willow Warbler, a Chiffchaff and a Blackcap were all singing in the sun, but the local Whitethroats are yet to appear.

Friday, April 19, 2019

An afternoon spent in Anstruther and on the Fife Coastal Path north to Kilrenny Coach House produced some really great birds including singing Corn Buntings at two sites, Linnets at two sites, my first Swallow of the year, my first Sandwich Terns of the year and two migrant Whimbrels.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

A Raven flying away from the Paisley nest this afternoon was carrying what appeared to be an eggshell. Both birds had been in the air together earlier. This evening, coinciding with the arrival of slightly warmer weather, six bats were catching insects under Howford Bridge.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Two singles and two pairs of Black Guillemots were showing interest in nesting holes in the sea wall at the east end of Greenock Esplanade this lunchtime. A Feral Pigeon also seemed to be nesting there and a pair of Mute Swans have built a nest (and laid an egg) on the tiny triangle of beach left by the tide. Two Greenfinches were singing and two Oystercatchers were resting on the breakwater.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The local Chiffchaffs seem to have fallen silent (or moved on) with mainly Willow Warbler and Blackcap song heard this week.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The water level in the River White Cart where it passes through South Cardonald is the lowest I can remember for a long time. The concern, I guess, is that this is the time of year when abnormally high levels might be expected. I wonder what things will be like in the summer, and if the local reservoirs will be able to meet demand. This evening's walk produced a singing Nuthatch in Rosshall Park and the unusual sight of a pair of Mallards on the topmost branch of a Willow overhanging the pond. 

Sunday, April 14, 2019

A long walk across Glasgow this afternoon produced a fair number of interesting sightings including singing Greenfinches and Willow Warbers at four sites each, but Chiffchaff only at one. A Cormorant caught and swallowed a fish off the Broomielaw and Jackdaw, Starling and Feral Pigeon were nest building. Mammal highlight was a Grey Seal off Govan Piazza.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The canal towpath between Falkirk and Polmont first thing produced 18 singing Chiffchaffs (plus two Willow Warblers and a Blackcap). Other highlights of a sunny day spent exploring the area between Falkirk, Grangemouth, Bo'ness and Linlithgow included singing Skylark, drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker, nesting Rook, Mute Swan and Coot and my first Peacock butterfly of the year (near the curling pond).

Friday, April 12, 2019

A Chiffchaff was singing in the centre of Paisley this morning. Mute Swan, Coot and Raven were all incubating. The male of the latter chased a gull away from the nest at one point.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Willow Warbler singing over the back fence today was my first of the spring. Lots of species continue to sing locally with Wren and Blackbird the most frequent and Collared Dove the noisiest. A male and female Siskin continue to visit the garden feeders.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Another glorous day in west central Scotland. Meadow Pipits were singing on the way home via the Renfrewshire hills. Also present were Common Gull, Oystercatcher, Buzzard and Pied Wagtail.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

A glorious day in west central Scotland coincided with my first singing Blackcap of the year, near Cardonald Pet Re-homing Centre.

Monday, April 08, 2019

A walk down to Victoria Dock this lunchtime produced a pair of Eiders, three Shags, two Greater Black-backed Gulls but neither of the two local specialties, Black Guillemot or Rock Pipit.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

A Goldfinch was gathering beakfuls of grass from a lawn in Oldhall first thing. Back home, four Siskins were still in the back garden where a Vole species was scurrying around the base of the feeder pole. A walk along the river as far as the centre of Paisley produced a total of 37 species including a Cormorant flying upriver at Bonnyholm, a single singing Stock Dove, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers (both in my home square including a drumming bird), Song Thrushes at two sites (they have been scarce so far this year), singing Chiffchaffs at nine sites, a Kingfisher at one and a singing Nuthatch at one. Most unusual species was an Oystercatcher flying upriver at Hawhead Woodland. However bird of the day was Greenfinch with singing birds at five sites (I often struggle to record the species locally) including a song-flighting male over Blackhall Street, Paisley. Butterbur was flowering at two sites and Cowslip at one. 

Friday, April 05, 2019

Some unidentified geese flew over the house first thing. I have long thought that these low-flying birds are possibly commuting between the Barrhead reservoirs and either the Clyde estuary or the feeding areas north of Glasgow airport. Later, two Kingfishers were interacting at the local site where I most often see them (although previous records at this site have always involved just one bird). I was alerted to their presence by repeated calling - a shorter, more rapid version of the normal flight call. No doubt this is a pair forming, although the site is totally unsuitable for nesting so presumably they will move away when that time comes. The garden Siskins are still around as I heard the male singing today. Wren continues to be the nmost prominent singer, locally, but two separate Chiffchaffs were singing within earshot of the house.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

The whole soundscape of the west end of Greenock has changed with the arrival this week of the Common Gulls. Their high-pitched, mewing calls seem to grab the attention much more than the repetetive squawking of the larger gull species. A walk down to the esplanade found only a single Shag on the choppy water.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

A short walk around the west end of Greenock this lunchtime took place in drizzly rain. As a result, birds were fairly scarce but four Common Gulls swooping and calling over the rooftop where the species has bred in recent years was a nice surprise.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

A walk along a neglected stretch of the Cart near the centre of Paisley this lunchtime produced a single Grey Heron and two pairs of Teal (the males whistling quietly).In the evening, first one, then two Siskins (a male and a female) were on the feeders.

Monday, April 01, 2019

The Goosander pair is still lurking in the vicinity of the Rosshall School Bridge. I wonder if they will breed locally as a pair seemed to have done last year.