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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, September 30, 2019

A surprising sight this evening, on arriving in Langside, was a flock of 50 Pink-footed Geese passing low over the tenements. Earlier, an afternoon walk along the river in south Cardonald was notable for three unusual sightings. Firstly, fifteen Collared Doves were feeding together on a short stretch of path through Rosshall Park (where I think seed had been scattered). Normally there are only three or four there. Secondly, two Kingfishers were present on separate stretches of the river where I have recorded very few all summer. Finally, a Grey Wagtail near Moulin playing fields was only the eighth of the year.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

A flock of Pink-footed Geese flew over during a short visit to Baron's Haugh this afternoon. Nine Snipe and one Green Sandpiper were feeding in a channel, but there was no sign of either the Spotted Redshank or the Great White Egret reported recently.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

The warm sunshine in Falkirk today attracted four Red Admiral butterflies to a Buddleia bush in the Grahamston Retail Park. A Common Darter was on the boardwalk through the Helix Park and another drgonfly species was on the Union Canal at Summerford. The Teal on the River Carron next to the Kelpies were still in eclipse plumage but the Mallards on both canals were in breeding plumage and some drakes on the Union Canal were starting to display. Although it has long since gone over to seed, the Sweet Cicely along the canals was particularly fragrant.

Friday, September 27, 2019

A Nuthatch was calling from tall trees in Rosshall Park today. The species is not often encountered here, so this may be a dispersing bird from elsewhere. Also unusual was a Raven which called as it flew over the park.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

For the third day running, a tit flock (dominated by Long-tailed Tits) moved through the garden (no doubt checking to see if I have started to fill the feeders yet). Along the river, a Collared Dove was the only singer other than Robin.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The eclipse drake Blue-winged Teal which has spent the past month or two on Frankfield Loch showed briefly this morning. However the Garganey managed to elude me. Other interesting birds included Buzzard and Raven. The regular drake Ruddy Duck was showing very well on a nearby loch.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

A large tit flock passed through the garden today, most of the participants in lovely, fresh plumage.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Callendar Park, Falkirk was extremely damp underfoot today (although overhead conditions were good). Plenty of fungi were found, mostly associated with dead wood. In addition, three Nuthatches and three Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard calling.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Robin continues to be the most obvious bird locally, contributing almost all of the birdsong heard. However three Greay Wagtails bounding over Rosshall School were quite unusual.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

More glorious weather in west central Scotland today, although the cool breeze made it feel more like autumn than summer. A singing Chiffchaff in Maryhill was the highlight of a walk along the canal from Glasgow city centre to Bishopbriggs.

Friday, September 20, 2019

A walk around the west end of Paisley this lunchtime failed to turn up anything particularly noteworthy, although a flock of eight Long-tailed Tits provided a nice diversion. Later, some beautiful weather at Castle Semple Loch encouraged plenty of insects onto the wing. Orpine was the pick of the plants in flower.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

A lovely day ended with a beautiful pink and orange sunset as Magpies and Jackdaws headed to roost in the birchwood next to the house.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The River Forth just west of Stirling held Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Mallard and Mute Swan this lunchtime. At least two Chiffchaffs called from bushes and both House Martins and Swallows moved overhead.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Today's WEBS count in Greenock was notable for a rising total of Tufted Ducks (including one part-grown juvenile) and the site's first Common Gull of the "winter".

Monday, September 16, 2019

Highlights of a chilly, autumnal day spent wandering around Rothiemurchus Forest were Crested Tits at two sites, a Goldeneye on the Lily Loch, sizeable pre-migration flocks of Swallows and House Martins, the usual Dipper near the Old Bridge in Aviemore, still a good showing of late summer flowers and plenty of fungi across the whole area. Details as follows:
The journey north produced Roe Deer in Stirlingshire and Highland Perthsire, a possible Stock Dove south of Perth and a Buzzard south of Dunkeld. Pulling into Dalwhinnie, a Grey Heron took off from beside the track. Woodpigeons, Jackdaws and a Pheasant were around Kingussie. Then a solitary Mute Swan was at the west end of Loch Insh and seven Cormorants were on the spit.
Aviemore produced a fairly limited selection of common highland village birds consisting of Collared Dove (singing), Woodpigeon, Jackdaw, Rook, Blue Tit, Robin, Swallow (a single over the railway), House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Siskin. The walk out towards Inverdruie added Mallard, Carrion Crow, Wren, Dipper and Dunnock.
Heading into the woods at the Rothiemurchus triangle, one of the first birds found was a lone Graylag Goose flying over, calling. Also notable was the first tit flock of several encountered in the course of the day. What was interesting about this one was the presence of a Spotted Flycatcher. By coincidence, a few years ago I saw two Spotted Flycatchers in tit flocks very close to where today's one was seen. The main participants in the tit flocks were Coal Tit and Long-tailed Tits. Other notable forest birds were Goldcrest and Siskin.
The weather deteriorated after Blackpark Cottage, limiting the birds seen to Robin, Wren, Dunnock and Chaffinch. However a stubble field near the fork in the road (signposted for Glen Eianaich) hosted at least ten Rooks and 30 Jackdaws. However more birds were seen at Whitewell including Meadow Pipits and Bullfinches on the moor and various tits (including one Crested tit) and a few Willow Warblers among the trees.
Loch an Eilein was disappointing with only eight Mallards present. However there were three Grey Wagtails around the north shore, 18 House Martins feeding over trees and 20 Swallows on wires. Lily Loch held a Goldeneye (the only one of the day) and two Mallards.

The little area of heather moorland south west of the Rothiemurchus Triangle produced four Swallows hawking low over the Heather and four Meadow Pipits flushed up to telephone wires. Ten Jackdaws and three Rooks were in the horse paddock and two Collared Doves were back at Aviemore.   
Impressions of Strathspey in September:
There is still plenty of colour in the landscape with both Heather species still in flower (although the colours less bright and lots of flowers already turned brown) and additional colour provided by Devil's Bit Scabious, Harebell, hawkweed species (including "Fox and cubs") and the odd Foxglove, Broom flower or patch of Meadow Cranesbill. New colour is provided in the form of now fully-ripened Rowan berries, ripe haws of wild roses, many fungi pushing through the woodland floor, the first birch leaves beginning to turn yellow, Bracken beginning to develop its autumn colour and scattered alien trees such as Norway Maple. The full bird list for the day (Strathspey records only) was: Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Mallard, Goldeneye, Pheasant, Grey Heron, Cormorant, Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Coal Tit, Crested Tit, Blue, Tit, Great Tit, Swallow, House Martin, Long-tailed Tit, Willow Warbler, Goldcres, Wren, Spotted Flycatcher, Robin, Dipper, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Grey Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Chaffinch, Bullfinch and Siskin (32 species).

Sunday, September 15, 2019

A Great Spotted woodpecker was calling from Rosshall Park when I walked by this morning. Otherwise, things were quite quiet on the birding front and probably will be until the arrival of autumn migrants in a few weeks.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

A windy walk along the Water of Leith walkway between Balerno and Slateford (and then along the Union Canal between Slateford and Fountainbridge) produced relatively few birds. However Dipper and Grey Wagtail were both found. Plant highlight was a nice patch of (fruiting) Lords and Ladies at Juniper Green.

Friday, September 13, 2019

A midday trip to Baron's Haugh turned up some good birds including two Ruffs (a male and female showng marked dimorphism in terms of size), a calling Water Rail and two Shovelor (a female close by and a distant male moulting out of eclipse). A Red Fox walked across the path.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

A Red Fox was plodding down Dundee Drive this evening and a small bat was fluttering over Moulin playing fields.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A short walk through Partick this evening found the Sand Martin colony apparently vacated for the year. In fact the only species present were Long-tailed Tit, Woodpigeon and Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

A short walk along the Kelvin behind Glasgow Botanic Gardens failed to turn up any notable sightings, possibly because of very high water levels and lots of tree-felling activity.

Monday, September 09, 2019

50, 25, 15 Goldfinches near Auchinstarry
Six Bullfinches
Three Grey Wagtails.
Little Grebe.
30 House Sparrows
Hairy Caterpillar
Common Toad
Rooks, Jackdaws, Carrion Crows, Woodpigeons (one flock of 110) and Feral Pigeons feeding on stubble fields
Farmyard Mallard

Sunday, September 08, 2019

The centre of Edinburgh this afternoon was sunny, if a little breezy. Birds around Calton Hill consisted of Long-tailed Tit, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock and Woodpigeon. Back home, an evening walk along the river found the three Stock Doves in their usual place and four Mistle Thrushes feeding on Rosshall School playing field. A collection of birds including a Stock Dove, a couple of Woodpigeons, four Goldfinches, two Blackbirds and a Mallard (and a Grey Squirrel) were angrily mobbing something near Rosshall Park Pond but I couldn't work out what it was (Fox or Buzzard would be my best guesses).

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Birding highlight of a walk along the Forth and Clyde Canal between Kirkintilloch and Auchinstarry was a female or immature Marsh Harrier flushing ducks on a field pool and itself being mobbed by two Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Other highlights included profuse growth of Common Arrowhead (Sagittaria sagittifolia) along much of the canal, at least two Blue-tailed Damselflies and still plenty of flying insects benefitting from a welcome day of sunshine.

Friday, September 06, 2019

Seven House Martins were feeding over tall trees at the east gate of Barshaw Park this evening. later, two Red Foxes and two small bats were out and about near Moulin playing fields.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

At least three House Martins were flying around the Golden Jubilee Hospital this morning, although I couldn't see if they were visiting nests. A pair of Pied Wagtails on the roof were also possible breeders. Up at Overton House, 20 Swallows (including lots of immatures) were perched in the branches of a dead tree. Try as I might, I couldn't find any Spotted Flycatchers on site.However of interest were roosting holes in the trunk of a giant Redwood tree, presumably made by Goldcrests.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

The four Stock Doves (possibly a family group) were still along the river this afternoon. In Rosshall Park, the Moorhens were escorting ANOTHER tiny chick (which I reckon makes four broods this year).  Four Chaffinches came down to scattered grain nearby.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Yet another wet and windy day, with the inevitable effect on natural connections. A walk through the centre and west end of Glasgow found lots of Robins singing but few other birds breaking cover.

Monday, September 02, 2019

A Grey Wagtail and eight Eider were at the east end of Greenock Esplanade on a very blustery afternoon.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Stock Dove was probably the highlight of this afternoon's walk around Rosshall and Cardonald with three very approachable immatures in the park and an adult down by the river.  After being silent for a few weeks, singing Robins are suddenly everywhere. Four Feral Pigeons were carefully picking up Himalayan Balsam seeds that had fallen on the path and a Buzzard was being mobbed by Magpies over the Birch wood.