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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, August 31, 2020

Spent an interesting couple of hours walking around the farmland and forests between Drymen and Balmaha. Some late summer sights included three flocks of ten, twelve and 42 Meadow Pipits and a group of 20 Swallows perched on a dead tree. Other notable birds included Raven at two sites, Great Spotted Woodpecker at three, a nice male Whitethroat showing well in a hedge and a calling Nuthatch near Milton of Buchanan. Four Golden-ringed Dragonflies and two Emerald Damselflies were on a forest lochan. Botanical highlight was a single Fleabane plant, a species I seldom encounter in Scotland. Back home in South Cardonald, a male Blackbird carrying a beakful of worms suggested a late brood was being fed.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

A lot of today was spent working in the community garden in Pollok. Some of the invetebrates uncovered during the works included many Garden Snails, a couple of Eathworms, a Centipede, a big Ground Beetle and a 5cm long beetle larva.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Twenty Swallows and a House Martin were feeding over a stubble field in Balfron this afternoon. Two Meadow Pipits moved through.

Friday, August 28, 2020

A single Dipper was calling from the Kelvin behind Kelvingrove Art Gallery this afternoon. A single Bullfinch was calling quietly from the scrub.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

A VERY rainy walk around Hogganfield Loch today found lots of birds out on the water including 158 Tufted Ducks, around ten Pochard and, surprisingly, a single Goldeneye. Six Cormorants were present and a pair of Gadwall were displaying. Round at the marsh, at least ten Swallows and two House Martins were feeding in the pouring rain.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

A very damp Mugdock Park today nevertheless produced some interesting birds including a Grey Heron, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, two House Martins and a loose group of five Meadow Pipits.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

A very wet day, but the local Robins are more vocal today and the odd Chiffchaff is still calling.

Monday, August 24, 2020

A lovely day spent in Inverclyde produced two soaring Sparrowhawks - one over Murdieston Park, Greenock and one over Levan near McInroy's Point. The Coots on the reservoirs at Murdieston seem to be thriving with plenty of evidence of late broods in the form of two pairs on nests, one with young chicks and two with dependant young. Blue Tits also provided evidence of late breeding (although presumably replacement rather than second or third broods) with two sets of newly-fledged young seen.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

An afternoon visit to Castle Semple Loch found crowds of Mallards and Lesser Black-backed Gulls milling around the waters edge in front of the car park. The Wood Duck which had been reported there was showing well, presenting a good opportunity to study some of the features of the eclipse plumage.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

At least one Chiffchaff is still "hoo-weet"ing in the south Cardonald area. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

A very wet day with few birds showing along the river.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

A one hour seawatch down the Clyde this morning produced plenty of Gannets, Shags and the commoner gulls but no Manx Shearwaters. Plenty of good birds were along the shore including ten Ringed Plovers, a Wheatear and a Hooded Crow. Non-birds included an Antler Moth nectaring on ragwort and an Elephant Hawkmoth caterpillar (sadly dead) on the path. Best sighting of the day was a plant - Scarlet Pimpernel, stumbled across at two places. I have wanted to find this species for years.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

A walk through Linn Park and up onto Netherton Braes confirmed that we are now well into the summer doldrums with almost no birds seen. In fact, the most notable birds were heard only - two Nuthatches and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers. A few Swallows were feeding at the top of the braes and a juvenile Buzzard was giving its begging call from above Linn Cemetery. Best observations of the walk fell into other taxa, namely insects (a Peacock butterfly, an interesting moth (awaiting ID) and two Ladybirds) and plants (Purple-flowered Raspberry, Feverfew and Great Knapweed).

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The weather forecast suggested rain from 2pm so an early start was decided upon. Ardmore Point was quiet with only a handful of people seen during the three hours I was there. As usual for this site, birds did not disappoint in terms of either number or diversity. Some of the biggest counts were for Great Crested Grebe (128), Red-breasted Merganser (55), Canada Goose (80), House Martin (around 100) and Swallow (around 50). Three Little Egrets and up to five Common Sandpipers were also good totals. Two Razorbills were notable but three Black Guillemots were not surprising as I always find this an excellent site for the species. Non-birds included flowering Orpine, Orache, Mugwort, Sow Thistle and naturalised Montbretia. Also of interest were an Ichneumon Wasp and a field rose infected with Robin's Pincushion galls.

Monday, August 17, 2020


Sunday, August 16, 2020

A Red Fox was relaxing on a mound of vegetation behind the house this lunchtime. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was yet again calling from over the river.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Highlight of today's local walk was a Nuthatch inspecting the nesting tree from earlier in the year. Also notworthy was the continued presence of increased numbers of Rooks on the Moulin playing fields.

Friday, August 14, 2020

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling from across the river again this evening. A few Robins were making half-hearted attempts at song but usually obvious species such as Blackbird, Wren and Dunnock remain completely silent.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Two Ravens flew over the house this afternoon, hidden by low cloud. Two Chiffchaffs were calling but I haven't heard a Swift for over a week.

Wednesday, 12 August, 2020

A walk along the coast at Prestwick this afternoon was fairly unremarkable, bird-wise but produced some interesting insect sightings including a mating pair of Six-spot Burnet Moths and some Cinnabar Moth caterpillars (why do I never see the adults?) on Ragwort plants.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

A Great Spotted Woodpecker was alarm-calling from across the river at the end of today's walk. A juvenile Feral Pigeon appeared to be not long out of the nest.

Monday, August 10, 2020

A loud thud on the path in front of me, this afternoon, was made by a Woodpigeon squab, ejected from its nest in the branches above. The culprit, a Magpie, flew down and resumed its attack on the bird before I disturbed it. Unfortunately the chick, still warm, was in its death throes and died as I tried to pick it up and put it out of reach. Its head had been badly cut by the Magpie, but I suspect the real problem was the fall. Nature red in tooth and claw indeed.

Sunday, August 09, 2020

No great change locally. A few Chiffchaffs are still "hooweet"-ing to eachother. A few Rooks have joined the Magpies, Carrion Crows and Jackdaws that have been here all spring and summer. And the Moorhens finally seem to have stopped producing new broods.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

House Martins and Swallows were over Oldhall this evening, but no Swifts were seen all day.

Friday, August 07, 2020

An early morning drive along Glen Lyon found Brown Hares at three sites and Red Squirrel at one. Birds were fairly scarce but a Dipper was at Bridge of Balvie and a male Wheatear was near Lochan na Lairige. Back at Aberfeldy, a lone Sedge Warbler was the only one of the trip. Heading home, a stop in Dunkeld found plenty of Swallows, a couple each of Sand Martin and House Martin, and a single Swift.

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Today was another 30,000 step day due to a long walk along the Rob Roy Way between Pitlochry and Aberfeldy. First notable birds of the day were Canada Goose and Nuthatch near Pitlochry Theatre. The walk up through Forest produced a couple of Common Crossbills, a large dragonfly, an interesting stone circle and a good selection of butterflies including Ringlet, Scotch Argus and Spotted Wood. The grassland south of there had Common Frogs, a Common Lizard and Peacock, Meadow Brown and probable Dark Green Fritillary and Large White butterflies. The walk along the river from Grandtully produced Monkswood, Dipper, Grey Wagtail and Spotted Flycatcher. The day began and ended with Swifts: eighteen over first thing and twelve over in the evening.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

A morning walk around Bolfracks estate produced Roe Deer; Frogs and Toads; Great Spotted Woodpecker, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk. An afternoon walk above Loch Tay meanwhile produced more Frogs/Toads, five Buzzards together, a Peregrine soaring over, Curlew, Meadow Pipit, Spotted Flycatcher, Fly Agaric and Scotch Argus. A Hedgehog, a Tawny Owl and bats were around Aberfeldy at bedtime.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Rain all day meant natural connections were limited. However a short walk produced a singing Yellowhammer across the Tay. A Red Grouse was showing well in Glen Quoich for those brave enough to attempt the journey in the rain.

Monday, August 03, 2020

The Birks of Aberfeldy were quiet first thing with no birds showing. Kinloch Rannoch was a little better with Grey Wagtails on the beach and House Martins over some of the old villas. A circuit of Aberfeldy found Swifts showing well overhead and a drive along the Tay found a fishing Osprey. In Kenmore, a Spotted Flycatcher possibly had a nest under the bridge. Back in Aberfeldy, a Raven flew over and a Tawny Owl and bats were present in the evening.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

A Hedgehog showed well as it wandered across an Aberfeldy lawn first thing. A walk along the Tay near the town produced a Dipper, a second bird being on the Camserney Burn. The wods above the village held two Speckled Wood butterflies.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

A drive north up the A9 produced a Red Kite following the plough north of Dunblane. Aberfeldy in the evening had lots of Swallows and House Martins, a fly-throughSparrowhawk, six bats, two Hedgehogs and a single Tawny Owl.