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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.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Some interesting sightings along the river today included the Nuthatch chicks still being fed in the nest (one of the adults chased off a Grey Squirrel which had climbed the nest tree), a brood of Great Spotted Woodpecker chicks calling from a hole in a Spanish Chestnut, a Wood Mouse digging in bare earth beside the path and three Mallards perched some 40 feet up in the branches of a Scots Pine tree.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

An Oystercatcher flew over at 01:30, calling. A beautiful day followed with young Blue Tits and Goldfinches again coming to the feeders in the back garden to be fed by their parents. An adult female Goosander was on the river but there was no sign of life at the Nuthatch nest.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Breeding evidence for a few more of the species in my home 1km square came today in the form of a Nuthatch feeding nestlings at the entrance to its nest chamber, a Hooded x Carrion Crow hybrid carrying nest material and a juvenile Stock Dove accompanying an adult.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The main news locally is that the Starlings have fledged their young so that almost all the adults foraging on the school playing fields have two or three begging young in tow. In the back garden, a pair of Goldfinches brought a couple of fledglings to feed them on the sunflower hearts.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Today's exercise walk was a 90 minute wander around my home square. The highlight was two Swifts displaying below rooftop height along Arbroath Avenue. Otherwise, there were a couple of broods of Mallard ducklings on the river (not new), two juvenile Goosanders (which I am assuming were locally reared), a few Common Blue Damselfies over Rosshall Park Pond and dozens of people where there would normally be only a handful. A noise absent from the back garden today is the sound of Blue Tit nestlings begging for food, confirming that the brood must have fledged first thing. This evening, two bats were flying between Moulin Estate and the river (in broad daylight) while a Red Fox worked its way along the river bank.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Today's exercise walk also extended a little further than of late - to Kelvingrove Park and environs. Highlights were Kingfisher, Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Sand Martin and Goosander on the river, four singing Stock Doves in riverside trees and a nice patch of Valerian in flower. Bird of the day (and the week so far) has been Chaffinch (with Greenfinch a close second). Both species have been encountered all along yesterday's and today's route. This seems to be the peak singing period for the two species (I seem to remember that the males of these finches don't start singing in earnest until the nest is being built) whereas the tits seem to have all but stopped singing for the year. The Blue Tits in the box on the back wall of the house look set to fledge any day now.

Monday, May 25, 2020

A longer exercise walk today encompassed a stretch of the Forth and Clyde Canal, the Jordonhill area, the Clyde Tunnel (not many naturalconnections down there) and most of Cardonald. Some interesting sightings included an Oystercatcher with an earthworm in its bill flying across Crow Road (apparently a pair have young along Great Western Road), four Swifts over Jordanhill, flowering Wild Rose (cream and pink varieties) and Oxeye Daisy at Cardonald Park, and both Siskin (10) and Greylag Goose (10) over north Cardonald.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Carrion Crow was the latest species to have fledged young out and about locally. Nevertheless the Blue Tits in the box on the back wall of the house are still shuttling over to Pollok Wood and back feeding their hungry brood.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

A Kingfisher under Bonnyholm Bridge was the highlaight of a wet and windy day in south Cardonald. Also good was an adult Treecreeper with at least two newly-fledged juveniles working the trees along the river near the old Cookery School. 

Friday, May 22, 2020

On a wet and windy day, a lone female Goosander was good to see along the river. There were two pairs and an additional female all spring but today's was the only one I have seen for over two weeks.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Locally, the breeding season continues to progress at pace (in spite of some poorer weather on the horizon) with young of Mallard, Moorhen, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit and Woodpigeon all evident on today's walk.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

On a gloriously still and mild day, birding highlight was a Buzzard soaring over Pollok Wood. As usual I was alerted to its presence by the raucous calls of the Lesser Black-backed Gulls which loiter along the river every day. Despite their presence, the Moorhens under the Rosshall school bridge still have two good-sized chicks. A Mistle Thrush was near the west gate to the park and two pairs of Stock Doves were seen, along with a single and a singing bird. In the evening, a bat was hunting under the Cardonald Place footbridge and a Red Fox cub came to peer through the back door.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Three Swifts were hawking over the woods opposite the house this afternoon. This is the third day running that I have seen them. The local conifers seem to be full of juvenile Starlings (judging by the sound emanating from them) so I assume a mass fledging has taken place (I am assuming the same for House Sparrows which are suddenly everywhere in numbers).

Monday, May 18, 2020

Birding highlight of the day was the local hybrid Hooded x Carrion Crow showing well in Rosshall Park. Meanwhile, at least some of the local House Sparrows appear to have fledged young out and about. In the evening, the first Mayfly of the year found its way into the house.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Most notable local bird today was an Oystercatcher calling as it flew over in low cloud. I occasionally hear the species (presumably on passage) at the beginning and end of the breeding season but this seems a strange date. Otherwise, birds were fairly limited, the deterioration in the weather silencing many of the regular singing birds. Beyond my local square, a walk along to Hawkhead Estate Park produced at least three Swifts (my first of the year) feeding over some riverside trees in the company of two Swallows and at least three Sand Martins. A Pied Wagtail was on the rocks at the bend in the river near there. As I type, the rain is teeming down outside - a sound I haven't heard for a month or more.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Two Willow Warblers now seem to be singing in the small patch of woodland across the river. The pair of Moorhens which probably had a failed breeding attempt near the Cardonald Place bridge are trying again - this time on an upturned shopping trolley in the middle of the river! A Swallow was at Locher Park this lunchtime with another four over the walled garden at Pollok Park. A Grey Heron was there and a Grey Wagtail was catching flies near the M77 flyover. A Stock Dove was singing just north of Pollok House. Back home, a Great Spotted Woodpecker called near dusk.

Friday, May 15, 2020

The local Willow Warbler continues to sing from the same small patch of woodland it has frequented for the last month. Unfortunately the Whitethroat which I heard one day last week appears to have moved on.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

In a good year for the species, at least six Greenfinches were singing in my home 1km square today. Stock Doves also seem to be doing well with five singing birds, a pair and a single all seen during a walk first thing.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Another sunny if slightly cool day under lockdown. A Red Fox had a litter of young cubs along the river. A Grey Heron was back on its recent beat.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

One of the highlights of this spring has been the song of the local Chaffinches. At least four males have set up territories in my home 1km square and have been singing every day for the last week or more. The other highlight has been the annual drama surrounding the nesting attempts of the local Moorhens. Two pairs on Rosshall Park Pond (one of which lost at least one newly hatched chick to a Grey Heron a week ago) had broods of two and four on Friday but only one and three today. Yesterday, another pair were trying to escape the attentions of a cat under the farm bridge and a fourth pair were shepherding a brood of 5 under the school bridge.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Everything is fairly settled around south Cardonald right now with (probably) all the migrants that are coming back now back. However still hoping for a flyover Swift or a return of the nesting House Martins from a few years ago.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Goldfinch, Bullfinch and now TWO House Sparrows were visitors to the bird feeders today. A walk along the river produced only one Mallard with a single duckling and another, bigger duckling nearby. However one of the junior natural connectors reports that the leucistic female actually has FIVE young in tow.

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Left today's exercise walk until the evening, which meant birds generally were less obvious. However five singing Chaffinches and the same number of singing Greenfinches were good totals. Blackcaps continue to call from all over the square (I had ten singing birds the other day). News from both Renfrewshire and Ayrshire suggest that Garden Warblers are unusually common this year. I must remember to re-check any odd Blackcap songs I hear. Other news is that a Lesser Whitethroat has been singing near Howwood.

Friday, May 08, 2020

Another sunny day in South Cardonald. The leucistic female Mallard which seemed to have lost her brood yesterday was escorting (pesumably the same) four ducklings today. A Buzzard was soaring high above the estate, being mobbed by Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Decided to spend another of my daily exercise walks exploring my home square in south Cardonald. Altogether 31 species were encountered, the highlight being a singing Whitethroat between the house and the river (the first time I have heard one there for at least three years). Moorhen and Mallard chicks continue to run the gauntlet of the local Magpies, Carrion Crows and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Unfortunately, the lovely leucistic female Mallard which was escorting four ducklings yesterday had none today. A male House Sparrow visited the garden for the second time in two days (yesterday he was bathing in the pond and today he was feeding from the sunflower hear feeder). They are really rare here, although common just across the road, 200metres away. The river was particularly languid today with fallen petals and catkins lying on the hardly-moving water.

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

Managed some excellent totals of singing birds during today's walk round my home 1km square including 10 Blackcaps, four Collared Doves and three Goldcrests. Aim was to get as much evidence of breeding of as many species as possible. Species with evidence of proven breeding were Mallard, Moorhen, Starling and House Sparrow. Most other species are still in the "probable breeding" category. Must try harder.

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Enjoyed a pleasant walk in the early morning sun while checking the two squares incorporating west Nitshill and Blackbyres Road. These were the last two of the 49 squares I committed to visit during the lockdown. It will take a while to analyse the data but I have already calculated that 72 bird species and five mammals were found in the course of the visits (all within 4km of my home. Some of today's highlights included two Linnets, two House Martins and a really excellent number of singing Whiethroats (for instance one singing male every 100 metres of railway embankment in south Nitshill).

Monday, May 04, 2020

An early start enabled me to catch up with a Cuckoo calling on the Brownside Braes before the traffic noise could drown it out. Other good birds in the area included a single Swallow plus what appeared to be excellent numbers of breeding Blackbirds, House Sparrows, Jackdaws and Starlings. Whitethroats were showing well and the walk home provided another three of these south of the Leverndale tower as well as two singing Grasshopper Warblers (neither species has been regular at this site in my experience). Another Whitethroat was singing from the burn to the west of Hawkhead Estate. There used to be a breeding territory there but I assumed it had been lost when the new estate was built. 

Sunday, May 03, 2020

A second walk around the Dykebar area, this time exploring a little further south. The walk took me past a marshy area which added Reed Bunting (4), Grasshopper Warbler (2) and Sedge Warbler (1) to the many singing Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps and Whitethroats (but sadly no Lesser Whitethroats today). Other species added to the square list were Greylag Goose, Mallard, Rook, Grey Heron and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Returning home, my local river and park held Moorhen and leucistic Mallard, both with young.

Saturday, May 02, 2020

A late morning walk around Todholm, Lochfield and Dykebar took place in more of the unseasonably sunny weather we've experienced over the past three weeks. Singing Warblers were out in force with all the usual suspects joined by two Whitethroats and  two Lesser Whitethroats, the latter having  a "sing-off" from adjacent Hawthorns.

Friday, May 01, 2020

Improved weather today also meant more natural connections with a walk around south Braehead this afternoon producing 25 bird species and two mammals (Red Fox and Grey Seal). Best bird was a Whitethroat singing behind the Premier Inn Hotel.