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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, February 29, 2020

At least three Greenfinches were singing in the south Cardonald 1km square today. 25 Black-headed Gulls (still in winter plumage) were on Moulin Playing Field and at least five Redwings remain in the area.

Friday, February 28, 2020

Highlights of a walk around Falkirk and Grangemouth today were a Kestrel near the Falkirk Stadium, abig flock of Redwings and Starlings in Zetland Park and a pair of Dippers on the Grange Burn. 

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Lots of birds were singing in Pollokshaws this morning, including (as elsewhere) surprisingly large numbers of Goldfinches.  Good numbers of Long tailed Tirts (at least three groups) were also present. The river level has dropped considerably but I was unable to locate any Dippers, and the only Grey Wagtail was on a house roof.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

This morning was spent walking from Kirkintilloch to Partick via the Forth and Clyde Canal and the River Kelvin. Some interesting sightings included several Cormorants (including one catching a large fish), around 300 Pink-footed Goose, a single Lapwing and several Common Gulls. Singing birds included Wren (lots), Blackbird (rare so far this spring, in my experience), Chaffinch, Yellowhammer and Greenfinch. Possil Marsh held fifteen Whooper Swans and a drake Pochard among a good selection of waterbirds.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A Greenfinch was again singing in Rosshall Park and the pair of Goosanders on the river had been joined by a second female.

Monday, February 24, 2020

The Forth and Clyde Canal this afternoon held summer plumaged Goosanders and Goldeneyes plus a large number of Moorhens and a single Kingfisher. Most surprising sighting was of a female Red-breasted Merganser (presumably it had hopped over from the adjacent Clyde estuary) which was associating with a pair of Goosanders and allowing a unique side-by-side comparison. A singing Chaffinch was my first of the year.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Decided to have another look for Winter Aconite in the grounds of the long-abandoned Darnley House (its only local station according to The Flora of Renfrewshire). A search of some likely areas eventually produced a patch measuring about one metre by 1.5 metres. Other plants in flower consisted of Snowdrop, Daffodill and Butterbur. Nearby were several Scarlet Elf Cups. A Kingfisher was perched over the river.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Today was a day of frequent, heavy hailstorms interspersed with calm, spring-like weather. Between the showers, two Goosanders and three Moorhens were on the river behind the house.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Yet another wet and windy day. The river level has risen again and there is standing water on lots of the local roads (I suspect the water table is really high). Braved the storms to walk the banks of the Cart and the Clyde to the west and north of Renfrew. Most  species were staying  hidden but two Teal and six Goldeneye were on the Cart and 24 Mallards on the Clyde. A female Grey Wagtail fed around a puddle where the footpath between two houses should have been. 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Yet another day of heavy rain meant getting outdoors and having natural connections were a little limited. However a walk into Paisley produced some interesting sightings including 14 Redshank and a Grey Heron on a quiet stretch of the river. A mixed flock of Starlings and Redwings (totalling over 150 birds) was in Fountain Gardens. Both species were singing in between flights to ground level, the Starlings to bathe in puddles and the Redwings to forage on the grass.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

A very rainy walk through Pollok was rewarded with excellent views of a Kingfisher and a pair of Goosanders.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

A Greenfinch was singing from a tall tree to the south of Cairnhill Crescent during a break in the otherwise windy and rainy weather today. The river remains swollen, although not yet near the levels it has reached in some previous winters. Nevertheless nothing seems able to cope with the increased speed of its flow - the Mallards, Goosanders and Moorhens normally present are nowhere to be seen.

Monday, February 17, 2020

A damp walk through Almondell and Calderwood Country Park from Livingston to the Visitor Centre and back nevertheless produced some interesting sightings including a Pied Wagtail in the shopping centre, singing Goldfinches and Greenfinches along the way, a solitary singing Mistle Thrush and a pair of Otters swimming and diving nonchalantly while traffic thundered along the adjacent road.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Hogganfield Loch was very windy today with intermittent spells of rain and hail. Nine Whooper Swans were still associating with the Mute Swan flock and seven Canada  Geese were near the marsh.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Today was an extremely wet day, so bird visitors to the garden were significantly reduced. However two of the Siskins which had been around the garden for the past few days visited briefly.

Friday, February 14, 2020

On a very wet day, birdwatching was well nigh impossible. However a lunchtime walk during a brighter spell threw up most of the usual species including a singing Wren.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Over thirty bird species were found during a walk around the urban 1km square of south cardonald today. Five Stock Doves feeding together, a singing Goldcrest and an influx of Siskins were probably the highlights. A notable absentee was Wren. The species does seem to have been a little rarer hereabouts, in spite of the mild winter.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

With heavy snow having fallen in the Cairngorms for the first time this winter, a flying visit seemed a good idea. A Red Deer and several Red Grouse were visible near Drumochter. Nine Snow Buntings were unperturbed by the weather as they fed on seed put out for them by photographers in the skiers' car park. Lower down, Crested Tits, Crossbills and a Red Squirrel were in the forest. Star of the show however was the weather - blue skies, strong sunshine and the Narnia-like combination of fresh powdery snow and pine forest.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The snowy weather which started yesterday continued today.  A walk around Victoria Park while waiting for an appointment produced a flock of 25 Redwings and a single Goldcrest. Just before dusk, 50 Waxwings were wheeling over the Moulin estate, Cardonald before landing in the tall trees bordering the railway line.

Monday, February 10, 2020

On a very stormy and quite snowy day, a walk around Glenburn, Paisley found two Redwings feeding on grass under trees (presumably eating fallen berries).

Sunday, February 09, 2020

All the waterbirds on the Greenock dams were keeping a low profile against the wind. A Grey Wagtail fed along the path. The water level in the Clyde was the highest I'd seen it. Later, some slightly unusual sightings during a walk along the river in Cardonald were a Treecreeper, a Pied Wagtail, two Goldcrests and a Hoodie hybrid. New visitors to the garden were five female Chaffinches and a pair of Siskins.

Saturday, February 08, 2020

A walk from Cardonald to Shawlands this afternoon produced two Dippers - a singing bird near the main gates to Pollok Park and a flying bird at the Weirs Recreation Ground. Other sightings were limited due to the blustery conditions but Long-tailed Tit flocks at four separate locations were notable.

Friday February 07 2020

A male Chaffinch appeared in the garden today (usually only a single female is present). A party of Long-tailed Tits passed through at least twice in the course of the morning.

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Some of the highlights of a walk around Gartmorn Dam this morning were the drake Smew showing well in the north east corner, a Sparrowhawk being mobbed by five Pied Wagtails, a big tit flock containing at least four Goldcrests, seven bullfinches feeding together on buds, a flyover Raven, two singing Stock Doves and a distant Long-tailed Duck (almost the last species seen - scoped from the dam).

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Noisy Dippers were at two sites on the northern edge of Johnstone today. The other sighting of interest was of eight fancy pigeons display-flighting from a rooftop on Elderslie Main Street - a lovely sight.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Three Nuthatches were present at Cathkin Braes with two of them singing in the sunshine. A Buzzard was mobbed by two Carrion Crows. James Hamilton Heritage Park held a Scaup, four Goosanders, a Goldeneye and sixteen Lapwings.

Monday, February 03, 2020

Highlights of a walk around St Andrews today were Fulmars already occupying cliff sites, asingle Purple Sandpiper on the rocks below, two Dippers in Cockshaugh Park, a  Call Duck among the Mallards at The Kinnessburn duck ducks and Winter Aconite flowering along Abbey Walk.

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Some interesting sightings around my home 1km square today were: a party of 20 Siskins in a tree next to the garden; a significant flock of Redwings (with others flying over) for the second day running (possible return migration) and two sightings of Red Fox (one being "called out" by a Little Grebe as it slunk along the river bank).

Saturday, February 01, 2020

The first day of February found almost all the local bird species in song. In fact, the only species I haven't heard singing so far this year has been Chaffinch. A Grey Wagtail was on the roof of the shops on Paisley Road West and ten Redwings were moving through the tops of tall trees.