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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.

Friday, July 31, 2020

A Swift was high over the garden first thing and a couple of Siskins were flying around the area all day. In the evening, a single bat braved the warm but extremely damp conditions under the Cardonald Place bridge.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Persistent rain for most of the day led to all walking being put off until the evening. A few Blackbirds were singing but the area seems quieter than it has been for months.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

An evening walk in Pollok Park produced single Sand Martin and Grey Heron.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

A lovely feature of this time of the year is the presence of tit flocks roaming around the area. One has been located in the riverside trees next to Moulin playing fields for the last two weeks or so and today I estimated it contained at least 30 birds. Most obvious were the Long-tailed Tits (perhaps twelve or more) but also notable were between two and four Chiffchaffs.

Monday, July 27, 2020

After an extremely rainy day, a break in the weather allowed a short walk along the river. A pair of Stock Doves with two new juveniles were good to see.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Calling Chiffchaffs remain one of the most obvious species around south Cardonald these days. A juvenile Grey Heron was also a nice find. Sadly the biggest excitment was caused by a single Common Red Soldier-beetle relocated on its patch of Meadowsweet. Sad because this is the only individual I have found in my home 1km square all summer.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

A wander round Shawlands this lunchtime was notable for a Buzzard soaring high in the air and causing panic among the Feral Pigeons and consternation in a large group of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A Broad-leaved Helliborine was in flower beside Camphill Avenue. Later, a single Swift was over the M74 near Auchenshugle.

Plenty of chicks of Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull were on the rooftops on the west side of Gourock. A single Eider was offshore. Earlier, at home, a Great Spotted Woodpecker called exitedly from across the river.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

A Swift was calling over south Cardonald this morning. Later, an adult Rook was on the playing fields accompanied by two very unusual juveniles. Both had badly-deformed bills and one had extensive grey areas over its wings and body.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

In spite of a change in the weather to persistent rain today, birdsong actually seemed to increase compared to of late. Two Blackbirds were singing strongly outside the house at 04:30. Later, during a walk along the river, species in song consisted of: Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, Collared Dove, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Blackcap, Wren, Blackbird, Greenfinch and Goldfinch. Also of note, both Starling and House Sparrow seem to have reappeared after being scarce for the past couple of weeks. Best bird of the walk, however, was a Kingfisher showing well on a branch over the river. Some good plants included Rowan (now heavy with berries) and Lesser Burdock (flowers now opening).

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Today was spent exploring some sites in Badenoch and Strathspey. Our first stop, Glen Banchor, produced plenty of Meadow Pipits plus Pied Wagtail, Redpoll, Swallow, Sand Martin, Buzzard and Red-legged Partridge. Lepidoptera included Chimney Sweeper moth and Small Tortoiseshell butterfly (the latter nectaring on Thyme). Interesting plants were Bog Asphodel, Harebell and Mountain Pansy all in flower. A Common Lizard basking on the cement upright of a roadside bench was the highlight. The Insh Marshes near Ruthven Barracks were very quiet with almost no birds present. At least some of those missing from that site must have been at Loch Insh where fifteen Canada Geese and 105 Mallards were among the waterbirds present. Highlights on the journies up and down consisted of an Osprey hunting over the Spey at Pitlochry and twenty Fallow Deer near Dunkeld.Also, 20 Greylags and a Swift were over the A9 south of Cuaich and a profusion of Biting Stonecrop was covering the rocks in a layby south of the Drumochter Pass.

Monday, July 20, 2020

The summer doldrums have set in locally, with the main signs of activity coming from the many insects exploiting the current pollen bonanza provided by flowering Indian Balsam.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Highlights of two local walks today were two tit flocks, one of around ten birds and the second of as many as fifty. Both contained one or two Chiffchaffs. A Kingfisher was at the river confluence, a Small Tortoiseshell was feeding on Bramble flowers and the 50:50 Carrion Crow X Hooded Crow hybrid was in the park. It is noteworthy that very few birds locally are still singing. However there are exceptions. While Chaffinches have ceased singing, Greenfinches continue (although perhaps less than in past weeks). I haven't heard a Willow Warbler song for a few weeks and only one Chiffchaff has sung lately (although several of the latter remain in the area, as evidenced by their "hooweet" calls). A few Blackcaps continue to sing intermittently although half-heartedly. Blackbirds are also singing only very short, simple songs (possibly young birds practicing for next year), Robins are silent and both Song Thrush and Dunnock almost so. Only Woodpigeons (and the occasional Collarded Dove, Stock Dove and Feral Pigeon) seem at all interested in advertising themselves.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

A day spent in the garden produced few natural connections apart from a Large Yellow-underwing moth on an old bench and a Centipede disturbed from a muddy drain. At 10pm, four Swallows chirruped (they ALWAYS sound cheerful to me) as they flew over the back garden.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Some interesting sightings from south Cardonald today included an Oystercatcher (barely annual here), a fly-through Swallow (ditto) and a singing Chiffchaff (all others have only been giving the "hoo-weet" contact call over the past week). This evening, the same walk produced a Common Toad crossing the path and two bats feeding under the palace bridge.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Some highlights of a walk along the river this afternoon were four Swifts, a Grey Heron, a Grey Wagtail and lots of Broad-leaved Helleborine at two sites.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A dental appointent in Greenock provided a good opportunity to see if there was anything interesting along the Esplanade. Most interesting sightings were a dozen House Martins feeding under some street Sycamores (and drinking from a puddle), a single Swift, fourteen Black Guillemots (with burrows still occupied) and a pair of Mute Swans with a single cygnet. Back home, a single Swift was over Moulin.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

A walk along the river as far as Pollok House produced Great Spotted Woodpecker, Swallow, Sand Martin and Buzzard.

Monday, July 13, 2020

A walk around Govan this morning produced some interesting sightings including nesting Sand Martin and House Mrtin, a Mute Swan with six cygnets and two Swallows. Back home, fledged Magpie juveniles were cackling in the estate.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

An interesting sighting in south Cardonald today was an immature Black-headed Gull - the first of the summer. Other fledged young seen today were a Woodpigeon and seven Long-tailed Tits.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The usual walk along the river again found most birds hidden and silent. However a pair each of Woodpigeon and Jackdaw hasd fledged young (one and three respectively) and there were still two broods of very young Moorhen chicks (Br1 and Br2) on the pond. A Grey Heron was tring to look inconspicuous.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Bird numbers remain quite depressed in south Cardonald with many species skulking and silent. Some notable exceptions were Greenfinch (four singing birds) and Blackcap (three). A Goosander had two young on the river and a Chiffchaff giving its late summer "hooweet" contact call was the first I'd heard this year. In the evening, we went to the Loch Ard Forest to follow up some Common Glow Worm sightings in the area. Sure enough, after much searching four females eventually showed very well. On what was a lovely evening, additional interest was served by plenty of small bats and three "branching" juvenile Tawny Owls. 

Thursday, July 09, 2020

A sunnier day today but no particular change in the birds around the estate. The songs of Collared Dove and Chiffchaff continue to dominate the local soundscape. After being so numerous just a few weeks ago, Starlings continue to be posted missing. I assume that they have moved to somewhere (possibly local farmland) where pickings are a little easier.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Some interesting sightings around south Cardonald today included a Common Red Soldier Beetle on Meadowsweet and a near-full Hooded Crow.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Quite a busy day around my home 1km square with a Swift hawking near the river, a continuation of the recent Siskin influx, a Red Admiral in Rosshall Park and a mass of bees and hoverflies visiting a patch of Meadowsweet.

Monday, July 06, 2020

The partial lifting of the lockdown measures meant that I could cover my WEBS site in Inverclyde for the first time in three months. In the event, there was not much of note but two broods of Tufted Ducklings (Br5 and Br1) were a nice surprise. A detour via Largs on the way home enabled Rabbit and Field Vole to be added to the species list for the day.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Wet and windy all day today. Larger numbers of gulls are gathering on the playing fields. A singing Robin reminded me that I havven't heard one for weeks.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

While the local tits (Blue, Great and Coal) have been silent for weeks (apart from the squeaks of juveniles), thrushes (especially Blackbirds and Song Thrushes) and finches (Green, Gold and Chaffinch) are still singing just as much. Warblers are a little quieter but there are still three Chiffchaffs and one Blackcap singing around the south Cardonald 1km square. The one local Willow Warbler however seems to have fallen completely silent.

Friday, July 03, 2020

After a day of heavy rain and 100% cloud cover, the weather suddenly changed at 9pm with blue skies and golden sunlight. A Wood Mouse was along the path (Why are they so common this year?) and a single Moorhen hadn't yet gone to roost on the pond. Earlier, a Wren took nest material into the conifer opposit the kitchen window. 

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Took my exercise walk at Hogganfield Loch today. The reason was a lovely, summer-plumaged Red-necked Grebe which was showing well near the raft in the north west corner. On the way home, three Swifts were screaming along Strathyre Street in Pollokshaws. I'm very much looking forward to extending my reach a little further after the Covid19 travel restriction is lifted at midnight tonight.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Kingfishers were on the river for the second time in the last few days. A bat was under Cardonald Place footbridge. A Large Yellow Underwing was disturbed from my garden shed.