Archive - December  2020

Week ending: 27th December:  Strathclyde Country Park, Dalzell Estate, RSPB Baron's Haugh

Tuesday - RSPB Barons Haugh, Motherwell

It was a cold, bright morning as I made my way from the car park downhill to the River Clyde. I came upon a busy Grey Squirrel  that was darting between trees gathering its winter food. On tree branches Starlings and the odd Redwing came and went, and I noticed a Treecreeper high on the trunk of a now leafless Horse Chestnut tree.

Grey Squirrel Starling
Redwing Treecreeper

A few Goldeneye  were on the river, startled by a passing dog walker. Fieldfare were scouring the Hawthorns for the last of their berries. A lone Mallard was the only bird I saw on the recently made ponds just before Chestnut Walk. Near the Phoenix Hide, I was lucky enough to get a shot of a Cormorant on the Clyde as it gulped down a newly-caught fish.

Goldeneye Fieldfare
Mallard Drake Cormorant

A Grey Heron was standing on the far bank of the river, while on my side, a pair of Mute Swans dabbled in bright sunlight. A Goosander drifted past, occasionally diving for fish. Further along, I was pleased to see a male Bullfinch  on path-side bushes.

Grey Heron Mute Swan
Female Goosander Bullfinch

I trekked uphill on my way back to the car and as I paused for breath my eye caught sight of a Roebuck at the back of a field. From its behaviour I’ve a suspicion it may have been injured. As I approached the car park the female Kestrel I’d seen last week was perched on the same tree, this time in much better light. I failed to mention a pair of fungi I snapped with my Linux LX5: (possibly:) Smokey Bracket and Hairy Curtain Crust . (I just love the names they give fungi.)

Roe Deer Female Kestrel
Smokey Bracket Hairy Curtain Crust

Wednesday- Strathclyde Country Park, Motherwell

I set off on a rather gloomy late morning for a walk along the Loch. The young trees at the End of the Bothwellhaugh Pitches were alive with the sound of Long-tailed Tits . They must have sensed that the clouds were burning off and the low sun was breaking through. A bonny wee Robin sat motionless on a low branch allowing me the opportunity to photograph it. When I reached the north end of the Loch a pair of Mallards on a disused raft were well lit by the brightening sun.

Long-tailed Tit Robin
Mallard Drake Female Mallard

Black_headed Gulls were patrolling the Loch edges ever-watchful for people with bread. I snapped a juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull picking up a floating object, probably wood. A Campbell Duck , a domestic escapee no doubt, was with the flotilla of assorted birds gathered at car park no.4, awaiting people to emerge from their cars with loads of bread. I also got a nice shot of a handsome drake Goosander  that had forgotten it is a piscivore.

Black-headed Gull 1st Cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull
Campbell Duck Goosander Drake

I often walk through the centre of the car parks 1 to 4 as there are often passerines to be found. I was lucky because in one large puddle a pair of Goldfinches were having a drink along with a male White Wagtail. A large Mute Swan tired of waiting for folk to leave their car and had gone for a tour of the car park begging for food. On the shingle shores foraging Jackdaws were ready to nip into the middle of a feeding melee for any scraps.

Goldfinch White Wagtail
Mute Swan Jackdaw

Thursday - RSPB Barons Haugh, Dalzell Estate, Motherwell

The next day saw me return back down the Haugh. The weather was entering a cold snap and there had been a hard overnight frost. On my way down to the hides I managed shots of a Treecreeper and a Robin. From the Phoenix Hide I snapped a shot of passing Grey Heron. The Haugh was frozen over and most birds - Mallards, some Wigeon and Teal, and Mute and Whooper Swans - were standing motionless on the ice. At the River Clyde I found a small flock of Canada Geese mid-stream. A cheeky wee Wren made a brief appearance before diving into the undergrowth.

Treecreeper Robin
Whooper Swan Grey Heron
Canada Goose Wren

Further along the path, just past the Centenary Hide, I sighted a pair of accommodating Bullfinches feeding just off the path. When I reached the Chestnut Walk I decided to make my way into the woods of Dalzell Estate by trekking up the slope (which I think is called “Easter Braes”). At the top of the slope I was delighted to come eye-to-eye with a gorgeous Red Fox. Needless to say it didn’t hang about for long, but I managed some decent pictures before it scampered into the woods. My final picture was of a bold Carrion Crow feeding at the edge of a horses field.

Male Bullfinch Female Bullfinch
Red Fox Carrion Crow

Week ending: 20th December 2020: 
Strathclyde Country Park, Dalzell Estate, RSPB Baron's Haugh

Tuesday am - RSPB Barons Haugh, Motherwell

My week of nature-watching delights started on a rather dull morning at Barons Haugh. The sun was hidden by clouds so I started my circuit by searching for fungi. Starting from the car park I walked downhill along the White Walk, then onto the Chestnut Walk where I found Smokey Bracket . At the River Clyde I turned west along the path that runs parallel to the river. There I found three more fungi, Jelly Ear, Velvet Shank and Oak Mazegill.

Smokey Bracket Jelly Ear
Velvet Shank Oak Mazegill

A young Cormorant dried it wings and kept an eye on me from the other side of the Clyde. However, I had to wait until I reached the Phoenix Hide to see more birds, Whooper Swans. There were also Teal and Mallards but the light was too poor for decent pictures. In fact apart from a Magpie foraging in a field and a Wren that whistled at me as I trekked up the path through the woods, that was as good as it got.

Juvenile Cormorant Whooper Swan
Magpie Wren

Tuesday pm- Strathclyde Country Park , Motherwell

The skies cleared a bit after lunch so I ventured down to Strathclyde Country Park, the north end, where I found Greylags and Lapwings were very active. And, like last week, every time I photograph a Carrion Crow, it seems to have given me the evil eye.

Greylag Goose Carrion Crow

A couple of first-year Black-headed Gulls and a mallard were lounging on the rowing starting stations, lapping up the last warm, amber rays of the afternoon. A Greylag passed overhead on its way to join the rest. My final capture the afternoon was of another sunbather, a Song Thrush on a tall Birch tree by the Bothwellhaugh Football pitches.

Black-headed Gull Female Mallard
Greylag Goose Song Thrush

Wednesday - Strathclyde Country Park , Motherwell

The next day was cloudy an damp but I managed a brief walk on the paths behind the theme park. There I saw Candlesnuff, Jellyear, Blushing Bracket and some ageing Common Puffball, all within east reach from the footpath.

Candlesnuff Jelly Ear
Blushing Bracket Common Puffball

Thursday- Dalzell Estate, RSPB Barons Haugh, Motherwell

My final nature-watching outing of the week started in Dalzell Estate with some shots of a nippy wee Nuthatch high in the branches of a tall tree. Present nearer the ground were Great Tits, a Blackbird and a Robin.

Nuthatch Great Tit
Female Blackbird Robin

Around Barons Haugh I saw a few Bullfinches  on Hawthorns. On the Haugh I spotted Mute Swans and, near these, Little Grebes  diving for fish. There were also very distant Cormorant, Teal and Goldeneyes, but I didn’t photograph these.

Male Bullfinch Female Bullfinch
Mute Swan Little Grebe

A few Roe Deer lit by the rich amber light from the low winter sun were grazing in a wild field quite near the Causeway Hide. They were around 40m from the path but seemed reluctant to bolt (as they normally do). This allowed me to take a few nice shots of the buck and his does. Further along the path I came upon a flock of tweeting Long-tailed Tits. After a few failed attempts I managed to get a decent shot of one of the restless beauties. I was also pleased with the shot of a Woodpigeon that was perched in trees between the fields.

Roe Deer
Long-tailed Tit Wood Pigeon

While I was scanning the fields for reported Fieldfares, I was delighted to see a pair of wagtails  dart past - a Pied Wagtail (black and white plumage) followed by a Grey Wagtail (grey plumage with an obvious yellow rump). As I was following the wagtails I noticed a member of the thrush family, a well-lit Fieldfare with Thrushes in the middle of the field. My circuit of the reserve was completed with a sighting of a female Kestrel that was sitting high on a tree bordering the car park. It descended rapidly into the long grass in an attempt to catch some prey. Sadly it was unsuccessful and flew off.

Pied Wagtail Grey Wagtail
Fieldfare Female Kestrel

 I finish this report with a few more fungi seen during my circuit. I am confident that I have correctly identified the first three: the aptly-named Turkeytail and the appropriately-named Yellow Brain and Yellow Staghorn. I’m less certain of the fourth, which for the time being I’m calling Pine Crust, however I’m still investigating that one. I’ll keep you posted.

Turkeytail Yellow Brain Fungus
Yellow Staghorn Pine Crust - T.B.C.

Week ending: 13th December 2020:  Strathclyde Country Park, Dalzell Estate, RSPB Baron's Haugh

Monday - Strathclyde Country Park, Motherwell:

My morning constitutional walk started well, on a nice sunny morning, with a sighting of a wee Robin stationed on top of molehill. This was followed with a slightly scary picture of a Carrion Crow showing its bluish nictitating membrane. On Strathclyde Loch a lone Canada Goose paddled past, while a few Black-headed Gulls were on the lookout for bread - as usual.

Robin Carrion Crow

Canada Goose Black-headed Gull

Greylag Geese are a very common sight in the Park, on and around the Loch. Just as common are the Mallards. I feel they are a bit under-appreciated, which is a pity since the drakes are very colourful. I managed a shot of a flypast at the south end of the Loch.

Greylag Geese
Mallard Drakes

At the Watersports Centre I was pleased to come across a pair of Pied Wagtails. I had noticed that they had disappeared in the summer months. Apparently they might have been breeding in the highlands. Mute Swans are also very prominent on the Loch. They were once the most prolific water fowl but nowadays they are outnumbered by the Greylags. My final picture at the end of my circuit was another flypast - a big black dog flushed a Grey Heron out of the moat at the back of the starting zone at the at the north end of the Loch.

Pied Wagtails
Mute Swan Grey Heron

Thursday- Dalzell Estate, Motherwell

After dull and rainy Tuesday and Wednesday, Thursday was just dull, dull, dull, therefore I took my light with me in the form of my Lumix LX5 camera flash and I searched solely for fungi. My strategy was to look for them in damp places on the forest floor, on tree trunks, and on dead and decaying/rotting wood. I started in Dalzell Estate and, eventually, I hit the jackpot when I discovered a rotting log that hosted three distinct fungi species, Birch Polypore, Ochre Bracket and Purple Jellydisc.

Birch Polypore
Ochre Bracket Purple Jellydisc

Thursday - RSPB Barons Haugh, Motherwell

My route soon took me out of the Dalzell Estate and into the adjacent RSPB Barons Haugh reserve. As I made my way along the path that runs parallel to the River Clyde I came upon several instances of glistening orange Velvet Shank, so named since their stems a covered in fine hairs. They were thriving on discarded branches and small tree trunks. I also encountered slightly weird-looking Jelly Ear fungi (also called Judas’ Ear) on the trunks of a few Elder trees, one of which was at the top of the Centenary Hide stairs.
Velvet Shank
Jelly Ear Fungus

On the banking at the same hide, I noticed on the trunks of decaying Silver Birch trees,  Birch Mazegill and on Willows, Blushing Bracket. On the opposite side of the reserve, on large logs of felled trees there were fairly large fungi, Southern Bracket. Also, on a mossy, damp tree stump, I also was pleased to see striking Dog Lichen.

Birch Mazegill Blushing Bracket
Southern Bracket Dog Lichen

Friday- Strathclyde Country Park, Motherwell

Friday’s weather was a repeat of the previous day’s, so once again I went fungus hunting, this time in Strathclyde Country Park. I started in the woods between the M&D’s Fun Park and the Caravan Park. I was delighted to find an assortment of fungi not far from the path. The first was Candlesnuff Fungus. Next, I spied another bracket, Artist’s Bracket Fungus on a much decayed tree stump. A step away I found Yellow Brain Fungus on a fallen tree. It was an easy spot as it is bright yellow. Just as I was approaching the end of the path I noticed rather pretty little Conifer Blueing Brackets growing in small clusters on fallen pine logs.

Candlesnuff Fungus Artist's Bracket
Yellow Brain  Fungus Conifer Bluing Bracket

On the Caravan Park access road I passed a tall tree whose lower bark was stricken with Brittle Cinder Fungus . I next headed for the woods just northwest of the Loch. There I passed an old tree with a mossy lower trunk. Peeking out of the Moss was a tiny (~1cm) Moss Bell mushroom. Behind bushes that border a BBQ area I found small Olive Oysterlings growing on damp fallen branches. Near them there was a tree that looked as if it had been partially whitewashed. In fact the “paint” is what’s termed a “resupinate” fungus, most likely Irpex lacteus.

Brittle Cinder Fungus Moss Bell
Olive Oysterling Irpex Lacteus

In the woods just west of the north end of the Loch I discovered what is probably Lemon Disco. It look like yellow spots each a few millimetres wide. I noticed later that a Tawny Soil Slug photobombed my Lemon Disco picture. A patch of pretty, orange Sheathed Woodtuft mushrooms were tucked in a mossy corner of the wood, close the the boundary with the M74. I ended my search with Purple Jellydisc that I found clinging to a very damp log. I had been a nice couple of days searching for (not foraging - I NEVER eat wild fungi as a strict rule) fungi, and of course the camera is much lighter.

Lemon Disco Tawny Soil Slug
Sheathed Woodtuft Purple Jellydisc

Week ending: 6th December 2020:

Greenhead Moss, RSPB Baron's Haugh, Strathclyde Country Park

Monday: Greenhead Moss Community Nature Park, Wishaw:

As promised last week, I made a return to this promising site on a sunny morning. In particular, I concentrated on Perchy Pond, set in a pretty area which is about the size of a football pitch.

I was surprised at the variety of water fowl present on the pond. I expected to see Mute Swans and Coots …

Mute Swan Coot

… and of course Mallards,

Drake Mallard Female Mallard

 but there were also a few Tufted Ducks , Pochards and Wigeon. I also saw briefly some Goldeneye, but they flew off before I could get a picture.

Drake Tufted Duck Female Tufted Duck
Pochard Wigeon

In the surrounding bushes Blackbirds and Redwing (sorry no pic) were feeding on Hawthorn berries. A male Kestrel  passed low overhead, brought my brief visit to a pleasing conclusion.

Blackbird Kestrel

Wednesday - RSPB Barons Haugh, Motherwell:

A couple of days later, the weather was fairly dull but brightened up as I set off on my circuit of Barons Haugh. The Marsh Hide was quiet with only a prowling Grey Heron and a few Mallards. However I spent a bit of time watching a pair of Jays foraging in the fields by the path to the Causeway Hide. They were working their way down the field, occasionally hiding in hedges. I was delighted when one of them flew over my head onto trees. Just before the hide I managed a shot of one of a group of Long-tailed Tits.

Grey Heron Long-tailed Tit

The view from the Causeway Hide was disappointing with just a few distant Teal, Mallards and Cormorants. There were also Whooper Swans which I thought I might see better from the Phoenix Hide. On the way there I managed an arty silhouette of a Blackbird and a shady snap of a Goldeneye on the River Clyde.

Blackbird Goldeneye

From the Phoenix Hide I got nice views of Mallards, Whoopers and Teal and I was lucky to see a large flock of Lapwings  make a brief visit before flying off. The water level was probably a bit too high for them.

Mallards Juvenile  Whooper Swans
Teal Lapwings

Around the Centenary Hide I came across a Blue Tit sitting on a bush and also, creeping up the trunk of a large tree, a Treecreeper . And a bit further on I was surprised to see a Grey Squirrel, sitting munching on an acorn. And on the final stage of my journey back to the car park, I discovered an Alder Bracket fungus growing up the trunk of a dead tree.

Blue Tit Treecreeper
Grey Squirrel Alder Bracket

Thursday - Strathclyde Country Park, Motherwell:

The next day I decided to walk around Strathclyde Loch. The weather was cold and bright, and I got off to a nice start at the mouth of the South Calder with a snap of an accommodating Robin. And I followed this up with a some shots of a Song Thrush that was searching for invertebrates on a large grassy mound. At the lochside a large Mute Swan was feeding on pondweed, and, hiding in the thick and thorny bushes, there was a Redwing waiting for me to pass to allow it to feed on the berries. 2

Robin Song Thrush
Mute Swan Redwing

As I passed the marshy area just beyond the Roman bathhouse, a Goldfinch  was on tall vegetation feeding of seeds. Bullfinches had the same idea. Just a I passed the dipping pond I was delighted to see, and hear, about twenty Greylag Geese passing southwards overhead.

Goldfinch Female Bullfinch
Male Bullfinch Greylag Geese

No sooner had they passed, another skein of geese flew by, this time Pink-footed Geese, crossing from east to west. At the Beach Car Park the view to the north was worthy of a photograph. I came upon a lone Cormorant fishing close to the water outlet at the south end of the Loch, and on the bank, a Canada Goose was standing looking a bit lonely.

Pink-footed Geese View
Cormorant Canada Goose

Below is the stunning view looking over the water outlet, northwards along the Loch.

On my walk back along the west side of the Loch I passed many birds, mainly Mallards, Swans and black-headed Gulls, but due to social distancing concerns I was only able to photograph a gorgeous Mallard, a dozey Greylag, a dribbling drake Goosander and cocky Carrion Crow. But I was satisfied enough with those.

Mallard Greylag Goose
Goosander Carrion Crow

Highlights - December 2020

We present last month’s gallery of my favourite pictures I’ve taken during December 2020. They are not listed in the order they have been taken, but according to a series of themes. I’ve kept commentary to a minimum, preferring to let each picture talk for itself.


Black-headed Gull Common Gull  and 1st Cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull
Goldeneye Grey Heron
Drake Mallard Robin


Grey Wagtail Dunnock
Greylag Geese Jackdaw
Jay Lapwing
Lesser Black-backed Gull Pied Wagtail


Canada Goose Male Goosander
Greylag Goose Mute Swan


Fieldfare Grey Heron


Female Goosander Campbell Duck
Cormorant Little Grebe
Mute Swan Whooper Swan



Blue Tit Female Bullfinch
Male Bullfinch Kestrel
Long-tailed tit Nuthatch
Robin Starling
Treecreeper Wren


Common Puffball Conifer Bluing Bracket
Hairy Curtain Crust Jelly Ear Fungus
Moss Bell Oak Mazegill

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