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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, March 30, 2020

Today's distination was the 1km square roughly bounded by Crookston Road and Barrhead Road in south west Glasgow. The square is fairly uninspiring on the surface, being occupied almost entirely by suburban housing estates and the two main roads. Nevertheless it contains a length of the Levern Water and a small community woodland on Haugh Hill. In the event, it proved to be the most productive square so far in terms of the number of species recorded (29 birds plus three mammals during a 90 minute walk) and the number of individuals (with some excellent totals such as 24 singing Wrens, 17 singing Robins and 17 singing Dunnocks. Some of the highlights were an excellent six singing Chiffchaffs (with four more along the 1km walk to the start of the square), two Kingfishers chasing eachother along the river, one pair of Goosander, one pair of Grey Wagtail and great views of Roe Deer and Red Fox (in addition to the ubiquitous Grey Squirrels). Additions to my cumulative list for the square were Rook, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Kingfisher and Bullfinch.
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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Had an excellent walk around the 1km square bounded by Crookston Road and the Hurlet. Highlights were displaying Teal on the flooded fields at Hawkhead farm, a Jay calling near there, seven singing Chiffchaffs and a Kingfisher on the Levern Water.  The square total was 31 bird species plus Grey Squirrel. Species added to the previous square list were Collared Dove, Teal, Kingfisher, Moorhen and Herring Gull.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

The 1km square to be visited during my exercise walk today was the one centred on the M77 interchage at Cowglen and the Silverburn Shopping Centre. Some highlights included an Oystercatcher calling as it flew over the shopping centre, a singing Chiffchaff, Long-tailed Tits lining their nest and my first flowering Marsh Marigold of the year. The total species count for the square was 25 bird species and one mammal (Red Fox). Oystercatcher and Chiffchaff were new for the square.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

After a cloudy start the day quickly became sunny although colder than of late. The area around Pollok House had some lovely flowering trees and shrubs including Blackthorn, Cherry and Magnolia. Wildlife in the area (and in the golf course to the south) included two pairs of Goosander on the river, two more singing Nuthatches (to add to the three from yesterday) and a pair of Roe Deer. The total bird list for the 1km square was 24 (plus Roe Deer and many Grey Squirrels). Additions to my previous bird list for the square were Nuthatch, Goldcrest and Bullfinch. 

Friday, March 27, 2020

Today's exercise walk, centred on Haggs Castle Golf Course, was the least urban of the week. The 1km square includes the south west corner of Pollok Park, a large part of the golf course itself and a corner of the Corkerhill housing estate. Highlights included three singing Nuthatches (the first time I have found the species in this particular corner of the park), at least five singing Chaffinches, at least five singing Song Thrushes (including two birds having a very heated "sing off"), three singing Chiffchaffs (five more were heard on the way to and from the square), my first flowering Cuckoo Flower of the year and Roe Deer slots in the mud. Additions to my previous species total for the square were Nuthatch and Feral Pigeon. The total bird species count for the square was 28 (plus one mammal, Grey Squirrel).

Thursday, March 26, 2020

We are still permitted one exercise walk per day, so today's was around the 1km square centred on the south west corner of Bellahouston Park. Again, mostly urban birds were recorded, with a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker the highlight.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The venue for today's exercise walk was the 1km square encompassing Craigton Road and Helen Street. This is a predominantly urban square, so the number of species was fairly limited (with Goldcrest, Greenfinch and Pied Wagtail the unexpected highlights). However the square includes a corner of Bellahouston Park which allowed Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit (and Grey Squirrel) to be added. Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tit were new additions to my previous square total.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

With the Covid19 movement restrictions in place, any plans for travel had to be abandoned. Instead, a short walk around a neigbouring, urban 1km square (centred on Elder Park, Govan) produced records of 17 species including two (Great Tit and Jackdaw) which I hadn't recorded in that square before. Most interesting records of the day concerned a Bombus bee species on Periwinkle in Shieldhall and a Common Toad in the estate just after dark.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Today's expedition was to Ardmore Point which, first thing, was almost completely deserted. Some interesting land birds encountered included at least eighteen Meadow Pipts (presumably passage birds), two singing Chiffchaffs plus Linnet, Rock Pipit, Stock Dove, Pied Wagtail, Buzzard and a Jay. Coastal birds included Canada Goose, Shelduck, Red-breasted Merganser, Goldeneye, Wigeon, Teal, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Shag and lots of Common Gulls plus seven Slavonian Grebes and three Red-throated Divers. Plants in flower included Daffodil, Dandelion, Coltsfoot, Crocus, Snowdrops, Lesser Celandine, Gorse and Green Alkanet.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

A pair of Goosanders continue to frequent the river between the Mosspark Station Bridge and Rosshall High School, raising the possibility of local breeding again this year.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Today was a milder and more clement day than of late. Birds seen in Lunderston Bay included displaying Red-breasted Mergansers, two Shelduck and three Pied Wagtails (but no Wheatears). Coltsfoot, Lesser Celandine, Daffodil and Opposite-leaved Golden-saxifrage were in flower.

Friday, March 20, 2020

A walk around my home 1km square this morning produced 30 bird species (including my first singing Chiffchaff of the year), two Mammal species (Red Fox and Grey Squirrel) and one butterfly (my first Small Tortoiseshell of the year). A Sparrowhawk was displaying just over the square boundary. Incidentally, the Chiffchaff was my earliest ever (by five days). Previous years' dates were as follows: 25/03/19; 01/04/18; 29/03/17; 28/03/16; 01/04/15; 25/03/14; 13/04/13; 31/03/12; 02/04/11; 29/03/10.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Managed quite a long walk around SW Glasgow today, while hopefully managing to meet the 'social distancing' standard. Highlights were a Kingfisher and two Goosanders on the Brock Burn, a Buzzard soaring over Pollok and flowering Lesser Celandine at Roughmussel.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Managed a walk around the west end of Paisley in improving wether (indeed, by the end of the day, it had turned really calm and mild). Only typical town-dwelling birds were encountered, with no hint of Chiffchaff song quite yet.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Visited only local sites today (partly because of the Coronavirus restrictions and partly due to impending wet weather). Notable species included singing Greenfinches, singing Goldcrest and a small flock of Redwing.

Monday, March 16, 2020

A brief stop at the underpass overlooking Loch Insh this morning revealed really very good totals of waterbirds. Ten Mute Swans (all adults) was my best total ever. Tufted Ducks and Goldeneye both numbered 30+ while smaller numbers of Teal, Wigeon and Mallard were also present. Two Canada Geese were my first at this site. The centre of Stirling held a pair of Teal, a Pied Wagtail, four Redwings and singing Greenfinch and Collared Dove.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

An early walk through the forest north of Carrbridge caught some of the best weather of the weekend. Many species were in song with Coal Tit and Chaffinch the main contributors. Most surprising sighting was of an Indian Peafowl in the Lochanhully Chalet Park. It appeared to be free-ranging but was presumably receiving food and shelter from the park managers. Later on, a tour of some sites in the north of the area found several breeding species on territory or moving in that direction. For instance, Oystercatchers were over Elan Wood, Carrbridge (1), on the Spey at Inverallan House (one pair), on farmland near Cromdale (two pairs with single Curlew and Lapwing) and Duthill (one pair) and on the bank of the Spey behind Cromdale Church (flock of 22). Black-headed Gulls were on Grantown-on-Spey duck pond (2) and on the Spey at Inverallan House (2). Goldeneye were on Grantown-on-Spey duck pond and on the Spey at Inverallan House. Dippers were on the Kylintra Burn in Grantown-on-Spey and on the Spey at Cromdale Church. A pair of Goosanders were at the latter site as was the botanical highlight of the day - a totally unexpected (if slightly past its best) patch of Winter Aconite.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

First bird of a short trip to Badenoch and Strathspey was a Dipper heard but not seen on the Spey at Calder Bridge, Newtonmore. Nearby were a pair of Oystercatchers and seventeen Greylag Geese, the first of many of both species. A little later, a young Rabbit scampered across the road in the centre of Newtonmore. A Kingfisher flew along the Spey at Dellmore of Kingussie. Insh Marshes held sixteen Whooper Swans plus 30+ Greylag Geese, a distant flock of 60+ Pink-footed Geese and little groups of Wigeon, Teal and Mallard. Redshank (2), Oystercatcher (10), Lapwing (1), Black-headed Gull ( 12) and Common Gull (1) were scattered across the marsh while a Curlew bubbled, unseen and two Roe Deer grazed in the shallows. Larger numbers of Black-headed Gulls (50+) were at Lynchat where nesting looks lokely (subject to favourable water levels). The Glebe at Kingussie held its usual mix of domesticated and wild waterbirds plus a single Moorhen while Loch Insh added Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye and Cormorant.

Friday, March 13, 2020

A busy day meant natural connections had to be restricted to a walk along the river late in the afternoon. On what was a milder day than of late, the lengthening day length was also very noticeable. All the expected species were encountered but Stock Dove remains hard to connect with as it has done over the past couple of weeks (except when singing).

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Another day of very heavy rain. An afternoon walk in Rouken Glen Park found the river heavily swollen and the waterfall thundering down. Birds on the pond included a single Little Grebe and a pair of Canada Geese.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

A Kingfisher was on the river opposite the Moulin playing fields. Goldcrests were singing along the path to Rosshall Park and a big flock of gulls (Lesser Black-backs and Black-headeds) was gathering for the school lunch break (do they recognise the school bell?).

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

There were few birds showing on the Murdieston Dams today, a situation not helped by the heavy rain and strong winds. Later, as the weather improved, a Greenfinch was singing behind Braehead shopping centre while Goldfinches and Siskins were feeding in Alders along the Clyde Walkway.

Monday, March 09, 2020

Linlithgow Loch was the main focus today. Most interesting sighting was of a Great Black-backed Gull which was tearing apart a large, dead fish. Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were circling around for scraps. At the other end of the loch, at least three pairs of Great Crested Grebes were displaying. A Canada Goose was my first record for the site. Twelve Redwings and a grazing Rabbit were near the M9. 

Sunday, March 08, 2020

Interesting birds around the centre of Paisley this lunchtime consisted of four Grey Wagtails (including my second singing bird of the week), two singing Greenfinches and still two Redwings.

Saturday, March 07, 2020

Today was again relatively mild, although there was a flurry of sleet about 10am. all the usual birds were found during a walk along the river, the only unusual sighting being of a flyover Redpoll. A Grey Wagtail was singing from a large rock in the river. 25 Redwings were sub-singing from tree-tops near Rosshall School.

Friday, March 06, 2020

A milder day today. Plenty of birds were singing in Glasgow City Centre including Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Chaffinch.  Birds on the Clyde included ten Goosanders, three Cormorants, four Mallards and six domestic Greylag Geese. A pair of Long-tailed Tits were gathering spiders' webs for their nest and some Coltsfoot flowers were my first of the year. 

Thursday, March 05, 2020

The highlight of today's walk along the river through Cardonald and Crookston was a species I record less than annually along this route: a Dipper. The species breeds a couple of kilometers up and downstream from here but I only ever pick it up locally passing through. Today's bird was singing strongly from the far side of the river before it flew off downstream. Some other interesting records included Redwings at several locations, Grey Wagtails at two, four Mistle Thrushes squabbling noisily, a Nuthatch at its usual site in Bull Wood, the local Raven nest looking active (but no sign of any birds), my first Lesser Celandine flower and a Roe Deer which ran out onto Linthaugh Road after being frightened by a dog.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

A much brighter day meant a long walk in the hills above Balloch was in order. Some of the highlights were Nuthatches singing at three sites, three Tree Sparrows near Blairbeich and lovely views to the snow-capped peaks to the north.

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

A Greenfinch was again singing near the railway bridge in south Cardonald. In Greenock, groups of Starlings and Goldfinches were singing in the treetops. Herring Gulls (and smaller numbers of Lesser Black-backs) appear to have returned to their west end rooftop colonies en masse.

Monday, March 02, 2020

At least one male Red Grouse was calling and displaying on the north side of Black Hill during a walk in the Pentlands today. Other birds in the area included two Curlews (calling as they flew over the reservoir), a Stonechat, 22 Greylag Geese and over 100 Pink-footed Geese. Birds on the reservoirs included Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck and Teal.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

A busy day and heavy rain meant natural connections were fairly limited. However a walk around a neighbouring square produced most of the usual urban birds including Bullfinch and Redwing.