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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.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Today we said goodbye to my dear brother, friend and walking companion. 

He will walk on many more hills with me in spirit.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Today's exercise walk covered Seedhill, Jenny's Well, Blackhall and the Anchor Mills area in Paisley. Twenty seven bird species were recorded included a surprise in the form of eight Linnets just off the west end of the platform at Hawkhead Railway Station. The birds were flying between low vegetation and some small trees, and generlly seemed to be in pairs. Several Goldfinches and a Greenfinch were in the same area.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The first half of today's exercise walk was through the north of Paisley including a corner of  farmland at Arkleston Road, some small patches of woodland and some amenity grassland, but mostly buildings and tarmac. The most interesting record was of two singing Skylarks. However Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Willow Warbler were heard and other good birds included both thrush species. The second area covered was the south east of Renfrew. Quite a large area of the square is inaccessible, being within a large industrial estate. However some good views could be had from around the perimeter, allowing potential breeding by Common Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Raven to be recorded. Similar to yesterday's walk in Renfrew, no Chiffchaffs or Willow Warblers were heard (except beyond the edge of the square) and only one singing Blackcap was counted. However a singing Whitethroat was my first since I began walking around my local squares. House Sparrows were extremely common and the behaviour of Starlings suggested that chicks are in the nests and needing fed.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Today started with two Ring-necked Parakeets calling at the north east corner of Victoria Park. The intended walk was planned to survey the two 1km squares covering Whiteinch, Broomhill and Drumgoyne (using the pedestrian route through the Clyde tunnel). I seldom survey the two squares involved, so managed to add six new species to my lists for each. The square totals today were 21 and 23 species respectively. Some highlights included an Oystercatcher piping over Drumgoyne and plenty of singing Willow Warblers and Blackcaps (but interestingly no Chiffchaffs).

Sunday, April 26, 2020

An Oystercatcher piped over the house about 01:00. Today's exercise walk was to Renfrew. Birdlife was decidedly disappointing, possibly due to a change in the weather with increasing winds. For the first time in around two weeks, I heard NO singing warblers.The day ended with a lovely crescent moon and an extra-bright Venus, both in the western sky.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Opted for an easy walk today and chose the square centred on Barshaw and Whitehaugh. Most of the birds encountered were fairly predicatable but it was nice to find Willow warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap singing from the scrub bordering the railway. A Mistle Thrush on the golf course was probably foraging for food for its young. Solomon's Seal was in flower. .

Friday, April 24, 2020

Today's exercise walk took place in bright sunshine and temperatures pushing 20 degrees C. The square covered today was NS5260 (Priesthill and north Nitshill). It is mostly filled with housing but there is a stretch of railway embankment, some factory buildings and quite a large (but apparently unnamed) grass and tree-covered hill. This was the site for the best record of the walk - a large patch of several hunded flowering Cowslips. Cuckoo Flower was also common, growing on nearly every grass verge and attracting lots of Orange-tipped butterflies. Birds were unremarkable but included the three common warblers (Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Willow Warbler) which I have heard singing in nearly every square I have visited over the past two weeks. 

 

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Today's exercise walk was around the very urban area of Priesthill, including the area around the railwayline but also a stretch of the Brock burn (albeit badly affected by fly tipping). Twenty four species were seen with Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Goldcrest and Coal Tit added to my previous total for the square. Butterflies again showed well, especially Orange-tip, Small Tortoiseshell and a single Cabbage White.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Another day of lockdown, another walk to one of my local squares - today NS5562 (Pollok Park north). Only 21 bird species were found - possibly because of the warm weather which had attracted large numbers of people to the park. However some good sightings included seven Nuthatches (including a pair inspecting a possible nest hole), a Treecreeper and very good numbers of singing Chaffinches and Blackcaps. In a continuation of the very good period for butterflies, Orange-tips and Peacocks showed well. Woodland plants in flower included Stitchwort, Bluebell and Wood Sorrel. One that got away was a possible Bee Fly which gave only a very brief view.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Day 29 of the lockdown provided the opportunity for a walk to the south east corner of Pollok Country Park. Most interesting sighting was of five Sand Martins attending a colony in the sandy bank of the White Cart. Back home, two Grey Herons at Pollok Wood (one perched high in a huge Leylandii) may have been a pair but I know of no nesting colonies nearby.

Monday, April 20, 2020

The middle of a glorious day was spent walking around Cowglen, Kennishead, Eastwood and Mansewood, seeking out quiet corners and pockets of wild land. Most of the birds seen were fairly unremarkable, but as before three warblers (Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap) seemed particularly common. Butterflies were encountered regularly with Orange-tip, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock all seen. The two 1km squares visited provided totals of  24 and 22 species respectively.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Today's exercise walk again covered two areas: Dumbreck/ Bellahouston Park East and the largely urban area to the north of Bellahouston park. Both squares produced 24 species with the three common warblers featuring in both. Only Feral Pigeon and Bullfinch were added to the Dumbreck square but seven species (Goldcrest, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Swallow, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail) were added to the other. Surprise of the day was probably the singing Willow Warbler and the feeding Swallow at the derelict Woodville Street Park (with a second of the latter species over industrial units nearby). The only mammal record consisted of two Rabbits on the lawn of a commercial building on Edmiston Drive. 

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Covered two 1km squares on today's exercise walk: NS5565 (Govan) and NS5566 (Partick). Both squares held Willow Warblers and Blackcaps but no Chiffchaffs. Sand Martins were over the Clyde at the Transport Museum. Three pairs of Mute Swans were in the area including one nesting on the slipway at the Transport Museum and one on a pontoon at Prince's Dock. Two waders flew off from the waste ground beside the mouth of the Kelvin but the views didn't allow identification. Bird of the day was a male Wheatear on the graving docks at Govan. The first view suggested a female and a subsequent searcher confirmed two birds were present.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Today's walk was around my home square of south Cardonald. Thirty seven bird species (plus Grey Squirrel) were found, the highlights being a Grey Heron taking a newly-hatched Moorhen chick on Rosshall Park Pond, a Sparrowhawk being mobbed by gulls as it displayed overhead and a Common Sandpiper feeding quietly along the river. The supporting cast included Kingfisher, Nuthatch, Stock Dove and the three common warblers (four Willow Warblers, three Blackcaps and seven Chiffchaffs).

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Today's walk covered the almost completely urban square centred on north Cardonald. The only significant patch of  natural habitat is a narrow strip of grass and trees just north of the raiway. Today it held the only warbler of the square - a singing Willow Warbler. Altogether twenty species were noted, three new to my ongoing square total (Willow Warbler, Goldcrest and Chaffinch). House Sparrow was the most obvious species. I counted 57 calling birds but there were probably many more.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Twenty nine bird species were encountered on my exercise walk around Penilee. Best were probably the three common warbler species all in song and a Meadow Pipit over on the edge of South Arkleston Farm. Back home, a Grey Heron was a surprise flyover around 5pm. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

An early start meant I met no-one else on the first half of my exercise walk. The destination was Cairnhill, the eastern part of Rosshall Mains Farm and the suburb of Ralston. The weather was near perfect with a frosty start followed by bright sunshine, Best birds found were two singing Yellowhammers , bringing the total number of sites holding the species locally this year to four: Scott's Road East, Scott's Road west, North Arkleston Farm and Honeybog Hill. Numbers of other species were excellent (an impression no doubt helped by the lack of traffic noise). Dunnock, Greenfinch and the three common warblers were all particularly prominent. Two Roe Deer showed very well on Ralston Golf Course.

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Monday, April 13, 2020

Today's exercise walk took in Leverendale Hospital, a stretch of the White Cart, Bull Wood and part of Crookston including the "Tower". Altogether 29 bird species plus Grey Squirrel and Roe Deer were seen or heard. Highlights were my first Swallow of the year and two Ravens (one carrying food). Back in my home square, a Pied Wagtail was at Rosshall High School, a male Grey Wagtail was singing along the river and a pair of Feral Pigeons were feeding a fledgling on a roof in Moulin.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

An exercise walk around Crookston Castle and the north end of Crookston today produced 32 species including eight Chiffchaffs, six Blackcaps and four Willow Warblers. The path over the hill from Kempsthorn Road to Crookston Road accounted for four of the Chiffchaffs and one of the Willow Warblers. Other notable sightings were five Goosanders on the river, two Nuthatches calling in Rosshall Park,  and nest building activity by Magpie, Jackdaw, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon and Starling while a Song Thrush was delivering food. Back home, two Greylag Geese passed over in low cloud.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

The songs of Blackcaps and Willow Warblers have joined those of Chiffchaffs locally. Only Whitethroats are still to arrive now. The Goosander pair are still on the river. The destination of today's exercise walk was the westernmost part of Pollok Park and the surrounding housing estates. Best bird was a Treecreeper. Altogether 25 species were recorded, two (Great Spotted Woodpecker and Bullfinch) being additions to my list.

Friday, April 10, 2020

A Peacock butterfly was feeding on the cherry blossom tree in the front garden. A Blackcap (the first of the year) was singing behind the estate with another at Lochar Park.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

An early morning walk around Craigton Cemetery in smirry rain nevertheless produced some remarkable totals of singing birds including  ten Robins, eighteen Wrens and eight Greenfinches. Best bird was probably a singing Willow Warbler, my first of the year. However a singing Chiffchaff was my first for the site. The total for the site was 20 plus one mammal.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

An afternoon walk around the perimeter of the Southern General Hospital unfortunately co-incided with the rush hour so it was very difficult to hear any bird sounds. However a Pied Wagtail was in the hospital car park.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

The eastern half of Hillington Industrial Estate was the venue for today's walk. However, like yesterday, the bird list for the site was very meagre (only 15 species). Highlight was a Chiffchaff singing from the wooded railway bed to the east.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Today's exercise walk took in the rather uninspiring site of Hillington Industrial Estate (west of Hillington Road South). Birds were few but three singing Chiffchaffs were my first for the site.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Today's exercise walk took in Arkleston Farm, Arkleston Cemetery and Honeybog Hill (for wonderful, panoramic views). Best birds of the walk were three Canada Geese at the first location, Yellowhammer (at the latter two), Reed Bunting (in the tiny reed bed at Cockles Loan), four Fieldfares in the cemetery, several singing Skylarks and several (presumably transiting) Meadow Pipits. I also discovered a flooded feld corner which held a pair of Coot, a pair of Mallard, at least one Moorhen and two Black-headed Gulls. A Red Fox was slinking along by the railway and two Grey Squirrels were in the cemetery. The square total was 26 with Mallard, Coal Tit and Chiffchaff being additions to my previous square list. Moorhen, Coot, Yellowhammer and Meadow Pipit were new for the Barshaw/Oldhall square.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

An early start enabled today's exercise walk to take place with virtually no-one else around. Destination was Barshaw Park on the edge of Paisley. Forty four Mute Swans were on the pond and at one point, most of them took off and flew off in the direction of Paisley before returning a few minutes later. Best birds of the day were on the way home - two or three Skylarks singing on Honeybog Hill. The square total was 27 birds plus one mammal (Grey Squirrel), with Rook the one addition to the existing square list.

Friday, April 03, 2020

Today's walk began with a female Goosander on the river, two Song Thrushes having a "sing-off" and a Dipper (unusual here) flying downstream towards Hawkhead. The eventual destination was the 1km square containing Hawkhead Cemetery, Scott's Road and south Ralston. Birds in the cemetery were fairly limited although a pair of Mistle Thrushes were gathering nest-lining material. The hedgerows and fields bordering Scott's Road held more birds, the highlight being a singing Yellowhammer. The total for the square was 22 bird species and one mammal (Grey Squirrel). New for the square were Mallard, Chiffchaff, Mistle Thrush, Dunnock and Bullfinch. 

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Hawkhead Estate and its surrounding 1km square was the object of today's exercise walk. I left the house at 06:15, earlier than usual to miss the "crowds" of dog walkers, runners, cyclists and general passers-by who seem to fill up the cycle path after about 08:30. Unfortunately I caught the end of the overnight wind and rain instead - an unpleasant shock after the lovely weather of late. Some of the highlights of the target square were Buzzard, Goosander, Grey Wagtail and six singing Chiffchaffs (with 10 more on the walk along the river to get there). I walked across the abandoned fields to the west of Crookston Estate on the way home and flushed a Snipe from the long grass (a species I seldom see hereabouts). Other notable records (in South Cardonald this time) were of singing Nuthatches and Stock Doves. Again, as on several previous days, Roe Deer showed well (at Hawkhead Estate [1] and Ralston Farm [4]). Butterbur was flowering along the river and unfortunately, Skunk Cabbage has appeared in Rosshall Park.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Today's exercise walk destination was the Dykebar/Oldbar area. A total of 21 bird species plus a single mammal species (four Roe Deer) were recorded. Some of the highlights were a Pied/White Wagtail and a Meadow Pipit in a flooded field corner, a lot of activity in the Rookery at the entrance to Dykebar Hospital and a patch of Lungwort (Pulmonaria) under a hedge. Six singing Chiffchaffs (and a possible singing Willow Warbler) were heard, with another eight Chiffchaffs on the walk back home. It has been an absolutely fantastic spring for this species locally. Nearer to home, three drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers (and a fourth bird carrying nest material) were recorded along less than one mile of footpath between Bull Wood and South Cardonald. Two Nuthatches (including one, unusually, in my home square) were also notable. Grey Wagtails and Mistle Thrushes were noisy and conspicuous, Stock Doves were singing at two sites, four Redwings flew over Crookston Bowlng Club and a single Kingfisher called  under the "White Bridge" on Linthaugh Road. Returning to the Dykebar / Oldhall 1km square visited today, the species total, although modest, included seven species (Herring Gull, Chiffchaff, Dunnock, Meadow Pipit, Pied/White Wagtail and CoIlared Dove) I had not recorded in the square before.