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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.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A Buzzard was mewing over Pollok Wood when I was working in the garden today. Siskins are again being heard in the area and I thought I heard Redpoll flight calls. Some migrant Blackbirds also seem to have appeared in the area.

Monday, September 28, 2020

A walk along to Pollok Park this afternoon produced nothing of any particular note. However the absence of Swallows was noticeable as they have been a feature of the western fringe of the park all summer. Just after dusk, a flock of Pink-footed Geese flew south over the house.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

The local House Sparrows were much more evident today than they have been for several weeks. I often notice that they seem to go missing in late summer, but it may be just that they are not so vocal at this time of year. Two Nuthatches were feeding on the path several hundred metres from where I normally see them. Two Stock Doves were also present and a Grey Heron flew under Bonnyholm Bridge. Not in my local square but nearby, a Pied Wagtail was on a rooftop behind the convenience shop on Crookston Road.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Seven Goosanders were fishing the weir at Peebles and three Herons were also in the area (I wonder how the water bailiffs feel about them). A Raven was further upriver. Field Cranesbill added some colour among the dock, thistle and Meadowsweet seed heads, and Wild Strawberries were fruiting. 140 Common Gulls were feeding in sheep pasture and a black caterpillar with a yellow stripe was probably a Red Admiral. Heading home, a Kestrel was on wires at Kirk o' Shotts.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Two Goosanders on the river this evening were possibly new arrivals as I haven't recorded any there for several weeks.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

No sign of any autumn migrants through my home 1km square yet, although I notice that one or two Redwings have started to appear at other sites so it shouldn't be long now.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

A full and eventful day spent in the Loch Insh / Kincraig / Inshriach area produced several interesting sightings including masses of fungi (Orange-Peel Fungus and Greater Puffball probably my highlights), three mammals (Rabbit, Red Squirrel and Stoat) and some good birds including 50 Meadow Pipits, Jay at three sites, Redpoll at two, Crossbill at one and a single Stonechat. Full report as follows: 
An early start enabled me to be at the railway underpass at the north west corner of Loch Insh by 08:20. Strong, low sunlight and a mist over the water made counting the birds present quite challenging. However I reckoned there were three Cormorants, one Mute Swan and uncertain numbers of Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck and Goldeneye. Fourteen Greylag Geese flew over and eight Swallows (including some short-tailed juveniles) kept up a constant twittering as they fed around the Sycamores and other trees next to the railway line. Two Meadow Pipits were the first of what would prove to be many for the day. The conditions, by the way, were bright but cold with strong sunshine and little wind; a near perfect autumn day.
At least three Pied Wagtails were feeding on the roof of Kincraig Community Hall and they kept up their cheerful calling as I relaxed, waiting for my walking companions. Another thirty Greylags flew over plus the first of two Pink-footed Goose flocks for the day (this one containing 25 birds flying south). Other birds announcing their presence with their calls consisted of Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Rook, Buzzard, Wren, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Coal Tit, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Bullfinch and Redpoll. The walk down through Kincraig to Loch Insh added more, typical Highland village birds consisting of Collared Dove, Greenfinch and Goldcrest with Goldeneye and Mallard on the loch.
The walk south from Insh Church was notable for Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Coal Tit, Crossbill and Jay plus a big concentration of Meadow Pipits, a Red Admiral Butterfly and an excellent showing of fungi with Brown Birch Bolete in the woods, Common Puffball on the roadside and lots of Orange Peel fungus on the path edges. Fungi really were a feature of the day with all sadly remaining unidentified, except for the very distinctive Fly Agaric.
Uath Lochans were perfectly still except for the presence of numerous small flies benefitting from the calm conditions. The Heather (Ling) had "gone over" for the year (after an exceptional showing this year by all accounts) but a few patches were still in flower in sheltered spots and some Cross-leaved Heath flowers were also found. Walking through the woods, the herb layer was still very luxuriant with extra colour provided by ripe black Blaeberries and red Cowberries. Also by the scarlet autumn leaves on some of the Bilberry plants.

Arriving at the south shore of Loch Insh, the birds present were the same as those seen first thing apart from a flock of 26 Canada Geese. Nearer the water sports centre, a male Bullfinch accompanied by a juvenile showed well and Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit and Siskin were added to the day list.
An unscheduled dash in the car produced two of the best sightings of the day: a Red Squirrel bounding across the road and then a Stoat (in summer coat) standing on the roadside waiting for a Carrion Crow to finish feeding on a small mammal or bird that had fallen victim to the traffic. An afternoon walk down to the loch for some "wild swimming" produced another highlight in the form of a lone Stonechat buzzing around some rank vegetation.
The final outing of the day was to the Insh Marshes Visitor Centre. On the way, eight Feral Pigeons were over Kingussie and a Dipper was under Ruthven Bridge while another three Pink-footed Geese flew south. The marshes were quiet, as they often can be, but a group of Mallards quacked away nervously, two Grey Herons had a minor altercation and a Rabbit crouched motionless on the "island". Heading down the A9 at the end of the day, two Ravens flew over near the turn-off for Trinafour.
Impressions of Badenoch in September:
The light is excellent and the colours vibrant.
Apart from the brown of the heather and the green of the trees, most of the colour in the countryside is provided by fungi, and by the yellowing leaves of Birch.
There is still a lot of bird noise, whether from singing Robins, squabbling Rooks, nervous Mallards, squawking Herons and Jays, anxious Bullfinches or the "honk-honk" and "wink-wink"  of Greylag and Pink-footed Geese passing high overhead.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Yesterday's flu jag resulted in a bit of a "hangover" today so there are no naturalconnections to report.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Coots seem to have had a great year on the Mudieston Dams in Greenock with numerous breeding attempts resulting in a population of at least 41 birds present today. Amazingly, one bird was building yet another nest. Also notable were a couple of Rooks occupying the treetops where they attempt to nest in some years. Lunderston Bay had a lone Golden Plover in with a flock of Redshanks. Also notable there were a Goosander along with ten Red-breasted Mergansers, a Rock Pipit, two Gannets, two Teal and two single Lapwings.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

An evening walk along the river produced some interesting sightings including a Grey Wagtail, a Song Thrush (both inconspicuous of late), an adult Woodpigeon with two newly-fledged young and a Grey Heron.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Troon was bathed in glorious sunshine this lunchtime, although an east wind kept the temperature down a little. Plenty of Pied/White Wagtails, Starlings, Turnstones and a single Purple Sandpiper were feeding on the shore. A tiny brown beetle was burrowing in the sand. The day ended with a Tawny Owl calling from Pollok Wood.

Friday, September 18, 2020

A Chiffchaff was singing in the back garden for about five minutes around midday. I had heard it giving the "hoo-weet call a few minutes earlier, but then it broke into full song. Such a treat, especially as I expect it will be a full six months before I hear it again.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Judging by the blood-curdling screams emanating from a group of Magpies over the garden fence, I guessed a predator must have got hold of one of their number. Sure enough, a few minutes later a Red Fox appeared and slunk away.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Suddenly, yellow and even brown leaves are appearing in some of the local trees. Two Acers in the grounds of Rosshall Park are ablaze with large patches of dark orange foliage.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Some of the local Mallard drakes are now back in their breeding plumage and looking really pristine (as are some of the ducks). Robin song continues to be the dominant sound around the area, although the noisy chatter of flocking Jackdaws is not far behind. Woodpigeons flying high overhead may be on the move.

Monday, September 14, 2020

A milder and calmer day after the recent windy weather. Still relatively few birds were  showing during an afternoon walk. However this evening, up to ten bats were feeding under the bridge, under the trees and around the lamposts.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

On another windy day, the local birds were keeping their heads down. However a Kingfisher was calling from the spot which is usually occupied when the water level, flow rate and turbidity in the river have risen too much.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

A short walk along the burn next to Silverburn Shopping Mall  this lunchtime produced two interesting birds (a Meadow Pipit and a Blackcap) and two interesting plants (Broad-leaved Hellibiorine and Lords and Ladies).

Friday, September 11, 2020

A good-sized flock of Jackdaws (perhaps 60 birds) was over the Cairnhill Estate in blustery conditions this evening. Might be worth checking if this is a regular roost site.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Bird of the day, today, was Grey Wagtail with four birds encountered at three sites during a walk around Govan. Also of interest were some Bolete fungi sprouting up from mown grass under a Birch tree.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Rooks continue to maintain their strong, late-summer presence in the area, apparently mainly exploiting food dropped by the children from the local school (although they do spend a lot of time in between class breaks probing the playing fields).

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

A Stonechat near Glenburn Reservoir was the birding highlight of a breezy wander along the Gleniffer Braes, but best natural connection was with some interesting grassland fungi, especially some beautiful Orange Waxcaps.

Monday, September 07, 2020

Another species which is stretching its breeding season locally this year is Moorhen. At least two newly-hatched chicks were on Rosshall Park Pond this afternoon. The first brood I saw there this year was on 17th April.

Sunday, September 06, 2020

A Tawny Owl was calling (keewick) repeatedly at 00:02 this morning and again at 00:10. This was only the 17th time I have recorded the species in my home 1km square over the past fourteen years. However a graph of the records (below) shows that August is by far the most favoured month (presumably as young birds of the year start dispersing and scoping out winter territories). Around midday, ten each of Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell plus four Peacocks were feeding on a Buddleia bush outside Sainsbury, Irvine.


Saturday, September 05, 2020

A walk around Houston today found a few more species active with, for instance, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Goldfinch and Siskin all heard. Later, a Copper Underwing moth (probably a Svensson's Copper Underwing) was in the bathroom at home.

Friday, September 04, 2020

A Grey Wagtail was on the White Cart in Paisley this morning. Later, the usual birds were along the river in south Cardonald. However a lot of the local specialities (Stock Dove, Kingfisher, Nuthatch, Raven, Goosander - even Greenfinch) have been very difficult to connect with of late.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

Ten juvenile Swallows were lined up on wires in Pollok Park being fed by a couple of adults. 

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

A very wet day again, although more birds were active including Robin, Chiffchaff, Rook and Goldcrest.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Again, few birds were around the Cardonald / Craigton areas of Glasgow, although Robins continue to be noticeably more vocal. Is it too early for them to be setting up winter territories?