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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.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Another very rainy day in Greenock, but still the local Blackbird sings.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Mallard, Coot and Mute Swan all had dependent young at Murdieston Park this lunchtime. Six Swallows (with a juvenile on a nearby wire) and two Sand Martins were feeding low over the main dam.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Many Blackbirds were singing in a rainy Greenock this lunchtime.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Heading out to a meeting in Glasgow at lunchtime, a strangulated Starling call proved to be from a bird being hotly pursued by a female Sparrowhawk. In Glasgow, four Goosander ducklings were on the Kelvin through Kelvingrove Park (where a Moorhen pair had three tiny chicks) and two Sand Martins were around the old colony at the Benalder Street bridge. 

Monday, May 27, 2019

Little time for natural connections today, although I notice that yesterday's juvenile Grey Heron is still in the area.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

All the usual species were on show during a walk around my home 1km square this afternoon. However two more unusual records consisted of three Swifts screaming low over Dundee Drive (before one peeled off to the south and the others returned north) and an immature Grey Heron upsetting one of the local Moorhens down by the river.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Three Swifts were swooping low over Auchterarder as we arrived there this lunchtime. The rain followed a short time later and dampened much of the bird activity on offer. Nevertheless some good local species were found including four singing Yellowhammers, a pair of Tree Sparrows and an alarm-calling Whitethroat. Breeding evidence was also found for Rook, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Mistle Thrush, Starling and House Sparrow.

Friday, May 24, 2019

A day exploring part of the Ayrshire coast between Ardrossan and Stevenston produced some interesting confirmed breeding records including House Martins at three sites, Black Guillemots at two and Eider, Rock Pipit, Coot and Mute Swan at one each. A Black Swan at Saltcoats Lido was the most unusual sighting but Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and Linnet were also notable.  

Thursday, May 23, 2019

A busy day meant few natural connections. However the amount of Goldfinches twittering in Hyndland this lunchtime suggests it has been a good breeding season already.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Bird highlight of the day was a female Kestrel alighting on a tall building in the west end of Paisley. Presumably the species is breeding locally.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019


Monday, May 20, 2019

Mute Swan, Mallard and Coot all had dependent young at Murdieston Park this morning. However the Tufted Ducks were still sorting out their pairings out on the open water.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Some breeding birds were showing well in my home square today including Long-tailed Tit (a pair with a mobile brood), Moorhen (present at four sites, with a large juvenile at one and a brood being fed in the nest at another) and Starling (chicks calling from a nest in the roof of a house in Bonnyholm). A pair of Bullfinches were acting as if they had a nest nearby and two famale-type Goosanders resting on a log could have been this year's immatures. Notable flowering plants included Solomon's Seal, Honesty and Arum Lilly (presumably all naturalised). Grey Squirrel numbers were the highest for a while at eleven and a single Red Fox was carrying food in daylight. A little later on, the sound of angry Starlings made me look up to see a Sparrowhawk being escorted out of the area by a posse of seven birds 

Saturday, May 18, 2019

A walk from Montrose to Mains of Usan in persistent rain nevertheless produced some good birds including Corn Bunting (three singing males) and Tree Sparrow. Bird of the day was Skylark with singing birds, singles and small parties virtually everywhere. Also interesting were the Common Terns which were commuting between the basin and the docklands, and three Swifts over the town centre.

Friday, May 17, 2019

A short walk down to the River Cart in the centre of Paisley produced breeding evidence for Grey Wagtail, Mute Swan and (unexpectedly) Swallow, and summering records for Grey Heron and Cormorant. No Ravens appeared around the breeding tower all day.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

The first bird of the day was an Oystercatcher heard passing over the house at 00:40, presumably a failed breeder heading back down to the coast. Two Black Guillemots were chasing eachother around the bay at the east end of Greenock Esplanade this lunchtime. The Mute Swans there have at least five eggs. Meanwhile two Swifts were overhead nearby.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

There appear to be two juvenile Ravens wandering around close to the nest site to the west of Paisley town centre. I thought I heard an adult at lunchtime but for most of the time, the juveniles appear to be on their own. Castlehead Churchyard was a lovely spot in the warm sunshine this lunchtime. Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Dunnock and Goldcrest were all singing with Orange tip butterflies flitting among the gravestones. I wondered if I had heard a Spotted Flycatcher in there but maybe just wishful thinking. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Highlight of today's lunchtime walk in the west end of Greenock was a small flock of five Swifts screaming and sweeping high above the tenements.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Strathspey trip
The usual Rabbits along the route plus four Brown Hares in a field south of Pitlochry.
Single Oystercatcher, Lapwing and Curlew on the moor near Dalnacardoch Lodge in Glen Garry.
Moorhen and Swallow in potential breeding habitat near Dalwhinnie.
A Greylag Goose with a gosling at the pools north of Dalwhinnie.
A Dipper was on a rock under the Nethybridge pedestrian bridge.
Two pairs of Swallows were frequenting a barn at the Dell of Abernethy.
Abernethy Forest full of singing Willow Warblers, Chaffinches, Coal Tits, Tree Pipits, Goldcrests, Wrens and Robins plus a single Redstart and two Crested Tits.
Singing Tree Pipits were quite widespread including four in the grassy areas around Cuchenlupe.
Two male and two female Goldeneye (including a pair courting) were on the Spey near Boat of Garten, together with a female-type Goosander and a pair of Mallards.
A pair of Mallards on Milton Loch had a brood of five young but three Teal and two pairs of Tufted Duck had not bred yet.
Two adults were attending to a juvenile Grey Heron in the Milton Loch colony. Below, two Moorhens were on the loch.
A single Dipper, two Pied Wagtails and two Common Sandpipers (with an Oystercatcher overhead) were possible breeders on the Spey south of Boat of Garten.
Finally two developments I noticed, neither of which is welcome; the operators of Dalwhinnie Distillery have dug up most of the lawn surrounding their buildings to (presumably) create more parking space, thus reducing the feeding area for Pied Wagtails (and the occasional resting area for passage Ringed Plovers).


Sunday, May 12, 2019

Highlights of a walk along the Gleniffer and Brownside Braes this midday were a pair of Stonechats, single Cuckoos singing at two sites and more Orange-Tip butterflies than I could count (I stopped after fifty). Back home, the Goosander pair have reappeared in their regular spot near Bonnyholm and a female Mallard had a brood of newly-hatched chicks (although already down to just two).

Saturday, May 11, 2019

A marked improvement in the weather meant an afternoon down the Clyde coast seemed a good idea. Several species were showing signs of breeding behaviour: three Jackdaws were mobbing a Carrion Crow which got too close to their Shore Street, Gourock chimney pot, a male Pied Wagtail was displaying to a female with exaggerated bowing movements in a muddy field corner at Lunderston Bay and a female House Sparrow was soliciting to two males on a wall behind Gourock shops. Some good local birds included a Wheatear (presumably  a migrant), nine Sandwich Terns, a Linnet and a pair of Ringed Plovers (all in Lunderston Bay). Twelve Gannets were feeding out in the bay (with a single off Kempock Point).  Flowering plants consisted of: Birds-foot Trefoil; Bluebell; a Buttercup species; Comfry; Common Scurvey-grass; Cuckoo Flower; Daisy; a Dandelion species; Gorse; Marsh Marigold; a Plantain species; Red Campion; a Speedwell species; Thrift; an Umbellifer species; a Vetch species and Wild Garlic.

Friday, May 10, 2019

A Raven was flying fairly aimlessly around the nest tower in Paisley this lunchtime. In fact, its behaviour suggested to me that it might be a juvenile. Other birds just to the south of this area included singing Greenfinch, Stock Dove, Chiffchaff and Blackcap (3). The cover art for the forthcoming New Naturalist is looking good. 

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Five pairs of Black Guillemots plus two single birds were close in off the east end of Greenock Esplanade this lunchtime. So engrossed were they in their courtship displays that they completely ignored the passers by a few metres away. Interestingly, the Mute Swan pair which appeared to have been flooded out a few weeks ago have resumed nesting on the little beach at the corner of the esplanade wall. .

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

The regular walk along the river this evening found the Goosander pair moved along to the area east of the Mosspark Station bridge (they had recently disappeared from their regular stretch between Moulin and Rosshall Park). House Sparrows were visiting nest sites on houses in Moulin Road, a Stock Dove was on the nesting tree near Rosshall Hospital and a Moorhen was incubating on a nest in Rosshall Park pond.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch were singing in a rainy Bellahouston Park this lunchtime, as were blackcap, Chiffchaff and Goldcrest. A female Chaffinch was gathering feathers. Later, the sky in the west was still bright at 9pm

Monday, May 06, 2019

Plenty of singing warblers and finches were evident during a walk along the river this evening. However there is still no sign of any returning House Martins or Swifts.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

A walk along the Avon east of Hamilton found Sand Martins entering holes in the riverbank, a Whitethroat (my belated first of the year) singing on the far bank and other potentail breeding species including Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Dipper and Grey Wagtail. Flowering plants consisted of: Bluebell; Comfry; Dandelion; Garlic Mustard; Guelder Rose; Hawthorn; Rowan; Stitchwort; Water Avens and Wild Garlic.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

A walk up through Dollar Glen and out onto Bank Hill produced an assortment of common woodland species including Willow Warbler, Chaffinch, Blackcap, Song Thrush, Blackbird and the common tit species. A Buzzard was over the woods with Meadow Pipits and Carrion Crows on the hill. Back in Dollar, a Pied Wagtail was feeding on the lawns of the academy and a Dipper was feeding a fledged juvenile on Caddis Fly larvae. Flowering plants consisted of: Bluebell; Broom; Daisy; Dandelion; Dog Violet; Gorse; Herb Robert; Primrose; Red Campion; Speedwell; Stitchwort; Wild Garlic; Woodruff and Wood Sorrell. The only Butterfly was a male Orange-tip.

Friday, May 03, 2019

A short stretch of the railway path in Paisley held singing Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Garden Warbler this lunchtime. A Greenfinch was singing near the council buildings and a Raven was flying rather aimlessly around the nest site.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

A damp walk around my home square in South West Glasgow found great swathes of Cuckoo Flower coming up where the council have left the grass uncut. Along the woodland edges, the Bluebells are being joined by many clumps of Comfry. Birds seem also to be thriving with many Blackbirds singing and Starlings feeding busily on playing fields and verges (presumably with young in the nest).

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

No sgn of any activity around the Paisley Raven nest this afternoon. A Mistle Thrush was an unusual find on the university campus. Back home, a male Greenfinch was blasting out its wheesy song from the top of a small tree.