Archive - March 2021

Week ending 28th March: RSPB Baron's Haugh , Strathclyde Country Park  Motherwell

I love the start of Spring as that is when the majority of wildflowers and invertebrates start to re-appear after the long, cold Winter months. This week I begin with listing all the emerging flowers I’ve seen thus far at Barons Haugh. There were masses of Few-flowered Leek  plants lining the paths and riverbanks with only a few of them showing their drooping white flowers. Also, the small white flowers of Barren Strawberry could be seen along the west-facing banks of the path. And in damp, shaded areas I found creeping matts of Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage, a wildflower which has no petals, only eight stamens. At the path edges of Chestnut Walk I noticed the tiny green flowers of Moschatel . This wildflower is also known at Town Hall Clock. I was also pleased to see the quite dramatic-looking spikes of Butterbur. These flowers appear before their leaves and will soon die back and be replaced with very large leaves that will dominate the area.

Few-flowered Leek Barren Strawberry
Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage Butterbur

A single Wood Anemone flower was the first of what will soon be large patches of this spring regular. From a few breaking buds last week, this week there were lots of fully formed Daffodils across the reserve. Snowdrops, on the other hand, were beginning to fade. Gorse  bushes, which flower throughout the year, were showing increasing numbers of fresh, yellow flowers.

Wood Anemone Daffodil
Snowdrop Gorse

I also photographed a few insects. A Hawthorn Mining Bee, Andrena scotica , was resting on a mossy stump. There were many large, solitary bumblebees searching the nooks and crannies for suitable nesting sites. The one shown below is a Red-tailed Bumblebee . My first butterfly of the year was a Small Tortoiseshell  which flew in from the Clyde and landed on grass well with the range of my camera lens.

Hawthorn Mining Bee Red-tailed Bumblebee Small Tortoiseshell

Of course, as always, I kept a eye on the birds. As I started my walk I couldn’t fail to hear a Nuthatch calling as it foraged on the high tree branches not far from the car park. Near it was a big Woodpigeon, bolder than usual as I passed beneath it. I made my way along Chestnut Walk and onto the path along the River Clyde. Unusually, there were a few Oystercatchers on the far banks of the river and near them were a few Goosanders in the water.

Nuthatch Wood Pigeon
Oystercatcher Goosander

On Thursday I made the best of some gloomy weather with a pleasant walk in Strathclyde Country Park, in the woods behind M&D’s. The Hairy Bittercress , a footpath “weed”, were flowering. The rasping call of a Greenfinch drew me to the public car park near the toilet block. I got a pleasing shot despite the poor light. I was also pleased to see the first flowers of a much ignored, but very pretty wildflower, the Common Daisy. In the woods I encountered an equally pretty fungus, a particularly large example of Scarlet Elf Cup, and also Artist’s Fungus. This bracket fungus is perhaps not at pretty as the Elf Cup, but is striking nevertheless.

Hairy Bittercress
Greenfinch Common Daisy
Scarlet Elf Cup Artist's Fungus

Saturday was the best day of the week. I spent an hour or so at the north end of Strathclyde Country Park. My visit started at the head of the Loch where I spotted four Meadow Pipits on the grassy area at the rowing starting area. It was the first time I’d seen Pipits in the Park and I assume they were in transit. The other birds there were “regulars” - Canada and Greylag Geese and Carrion Crows. Fishermen at the water’s edge had scared off the water birds.

Meadow Pipit Canada Goose
Greylag Geese Carrion Crow

Next I returned to the “out-of-use” car park just south of the Theme Park where I knew there were a variety of passerines. I snapped Mr and Mrs Chaffinch and Mr and Mrs Blackbird and also a posing Robin. I also came across a Groundsel plant that wasn’t just blooming, it had seeded.

Chaffinch Female Chaffinch
Blackbird Female Blackbird
Robin Common Groundsel

On a rough path from the car park I noticed an unusual fungus, Frothy Porecrust, on a rotting tree stump, a newby for us. I walked to the woods east of the Bothwellhaugh football pitches and was fortunate enough to have an eye-to-eye encounter with a Roe Deer. I stood still and fired off a few camera shots while the deer casually trotted away. A queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee  flew about the grassy tufts at the base of some trees.

Roe Deer
Frothy Porecrust Fungus Queen Buff-tailed Bumblebee

I finished my trip with a visit to the wooded area that sits between the football pitches and the M74. Those woods are usually quite good for wildflowers. There were lovely yellow Primroses and not so lovely Dog’s Mercury . In the garden of the bungalow I noticed patches of Wood Anemones were almost in full bloom. My last shots were of another plant that flowers before its leaves show, Coltsfoot, so-named due to its leaves having the shape of (you’ve guessed it) the hoof mark of a small horse.

Primrose Dog's Mercury
Wood Anemone Coltsfoot

Week ending 21st March 2021: Baron's Haugh

This week I’ve visited RSPB Barons Haugh on six days. I’ve arranged my pictures according to location. The weather each day was just how I like it, bright, sunny, not too cold and not too hot. On the path down from the car park towards the Marsh Hide I was alerted by a walker that there were Common Frogs and Toads  adjacent to the fenced fields. Presumably they were moving from the small burn at the top of the hill down towards the Haugh. At the Marsh Hide I was disappointed to find that the water level was still on the high side so waders and dabblers were unlikely to be be present. I did however see a few Teal and a pair of Moorhens. On Wednesday I also managed a fairly close glimpse of a female Roe Deer  as I exited the Marsh Hide.

Common Frog Common Toad
Drake Teal Female Teal
Moorhen Roe Deer

On another day the same doe lead her fawns across the waters of the Haugh.

It was a similar story at the Causeway Hide. Only a few Mute Swans  and Teal were close to the Hide, although there were some distant Mallards, Gadwall and Goldeneye. As I emerged from the actual causeway to face the fields I photographed foraging Corvids  - Magpies, Jackdaws and CarrionCrows.

Mute Swan Teal
Jackdaw Carrion Crow

The picture below, taken from the Phoenix Hide, shows a pair of showy Mute Swans gliding across the Haugh in very fine light. 1

On Tuesday I saw a pair of Gadwalls  pass in front of the hide but little else throughout the week. From the Centenary Hide I managed a record shot of distant Shelduck, one of a pair, showing also some Curlew. Pleasingly, the Shelducks  took flight across the Haugh, presenting a fine photo-opportunity as they passed in front of the Causeway Hide. And, as a bonus, a pair of Grey Herons passed about 40m from the Hide.

Gadwall Curlew
Shelduck Grey Heron

One passing birder commented to me that the Haugh was very quiet and most of her sightings were seen from the paths. I agreed. In fact my favourite shot of the week was of a Peregrine Falcon. (I must however keep the location a secret since the bird appeared to be preparing a nest, and, being what you might call a “popular” bird, knowledge of it’s whereabouts could bring in the crowds and scare away the pair). In the most recently landscaped part of the Haugh, just before the Chestnut Walk, I got a pleasant shot of a Grey Heron lurking in some long grass. And in the flood-damaged gateway to that area a very noisy, nest-building Wren was making repeated trips across the gap carry nesting material in its beak. I completed my trio of shots there with a very accommodating and well-lit Robin.

Peregrine Falcon Grey Heron
Wren Robin

With the dearth of birds on the Haugh I hoped that there would be richer pickings from the paths, and, as you will see below, that proved to be the case. All of the pictures that follow were taken on or close to the path that follows the course of the River Clyde from the Chestnut Walk to the northern boundary of the RSPB reserve at the railway viaduct. I saw a variety of birds. These will soon to become more difficult to photograph as the trees fill with leaves. I was pleased to catch sight of a Treecreeper low on the trunk of a riverside tree, although it stayed on the shaded side of the tree. In the woods just before the viaduct I caught a very pleasing shot of a Goldcrest catching a spider. I also photographed Long-tailed, Blue, Great and Coal Tits. There were also Goldfinches and Chaffinches

Treecreeper Goldfcrest
Long-tailed Tit Blue Tit
Coal Tit Great Tit
Goldfinch Chaffinch

There were also birds on on the Clyde. I got snaps of adult and juvenile male Goldeneyes and, from a distance, I watched a pair of mating Mute Swans, a glorious and moving sight.

Male Juvenile Goldeneye Drake Goldeneye
Mute Swan

Week ending 14th March 2021: Strathclyde Park

The start of the week was wild, wet and windy so I kept my camera in its bag until the sun came out to play on Thursday. From car park 4 I was pleased to see the big juvenile Iceland Gull turn up along with the Black-headed, Common Gulls and Herring Gulls  when bread was thrown.

1st Cycle Iceland Gull Black-headed Gull
1st Cycle Black-headed Gull Common Gull
1st Cycle Herring Gull Greylag Geese

A few Lesser Black-backed Gulls were also in the mix, as were the Jackdaws, ever ready to clean up the crumbs.

Lesser Black-backed Gull Jackdaw

The following day I started at the mouth of the South Calder river. In the area where there is a litter boom across the river I got some unexpected shots of a wee serenading Robin. On the grass there were Carrion Crows, but I noticed that there were a pair of Grey Wagtails  actually on the floating litter, searching for invertebrates.

Greylag Geese Carrion Crow
Grey Wagtail

As I crossed the road bridge by the Roman Bridge, I got nice shots of a very vocal Robin  in full voice as it sat high in a young tree. And near the ruin of the Roman Bathhouse another very accommodating Robin allowed me to photograph it as it perched at head level in the path-side hedges.


My next brief encounter was further along the path with a female Bullfinch  , and, near it, a family of Long-tailed Tits  flitting rapidly from branch to branch. I next took the quiet path that took me along the edge of the woods behind M&D’s Theme Park where I saw some Woodpigeons on grassy fields. A Treecreeper  probing the bark of a large tree by the path into the woods.

Female Bullfinch Long-tailed Tit
Wood Pigeon Treecreeper

On the trail I was delighted to see more flowers in bloom. Spring had sprung. There were the yellow Lesser Celandine in the banks lining the path. Some of those were being dwarfed by the masses of planted Daffodils who’s buds were now starting to bloom. There were still patches of Snowdrops around the edges of the woods and I also saw the delightfully-named Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage spreading on the damp, shaded floor. Scarlet Elf Cup fungi were still dotted around the fallen mossy timber. My final shot of the day was of a Carrion Crow possibly telling me to get back to my car as there was a sharp shower moving in. I took its advice.

Lesser Celandine Daffodil
Snowdrop Opposite-leaved Golden Saxifrage

The weather was brighter when I visited the Park on Saturday. I always enjoy photographing drake Mallards when the sun is shining, since the iridescence of their plumage is very beautiful. The females less so. I also enjoy photographing flying Black-headed Gulls, another common, underrated bird whose plumage is very attractive. The Greylags are also very photogenic, especially when they stretch their wings.

Drake Mallard Female Mallard
1st Cycle Black-headed Gull Greylag Goose

Mute Swans also do a fair bit of wing stretching, as shown below, by a cygnet just coming into adulthood. Next I watched the Black-headed and Common Gulls jostling for position on the pontoons at the Watersport’s Centre. There were also Lesser Black-backed Gulls, now that winter has passed, showing beautifully neat breeding plumage. I got a nice shot of a pair of Jackdaws, two of the many that were patrolling to shoreline looking for feeding opportunities.

Juvenile Mute Swan Mute Swan
Common Gull / Black-headed Gull Black-headed Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull Jackdaw

I finished with a cute picture of a Mallard X Muscovy Duck hybrid quacking as it paddled some 5 metres from the shore. How it came to be there is a mystery.

Week ending 7th March 2021: Dalzell Estate, Baron's Haugh, Jim's Garden, Strathclyde Park

Monday: RSPB Barons Haugh, Motherwell

It was a fairly nice morning as I started my walk, moving north from Chestnut Walk. I noticed a pair of Goosanders on the new ponds adjacent to the Walk. This is encouraging since there have been few birds in there until now. Next I was serenaded by a Robin that was on top of a hedge. That was to be my first of several Robin sightings. On the far side of the river, partially silhouetted by the low sun, a pair of Mute Swans were dabbling their way slowly upstream. And as I watched them I became aware of a rather pensive-looking Robin minding its own business on a riverside bush.

Goosander Robin
Mute Swan Robin

As I strolled northwards along the footpath I heard the high-pitched calls of Goldcrests emanating from the hedgerow. Just as I started trying to locate them, a pair of calling Ravens  passed overhead. After a short wait I eventually managed a couple of decent shots of a Goldcrest  as it moved up a tree trunk. Further along the path I snapped a bonny wee Great Tit that was resting on a low tree branch. Nearby I noticed more yellow flowers of Lesser Celandine . In a week or two’s time the banks will be covered by their yellow blooms.

Raven Goldcrest
Great Tit Lesser Celandine

I sat by the riverside for 10 minutes and photographed two fly-pasts, a Goosander and then a Goldeneye.

Female Goosander Goldeneye

On my way back to the car I passed a male Bullfinch crunching seeds on a bush. At the start of Chestnut Walk I managed to see a Blue Tit foraging on a mossy tree trunk, followed by a Treecreeper on the same tree. I also snapped a shot of the fungus, Blushing Bracket.

Bullfinch Blue Tit
Treecreeper Blushing Bracket

Friday: Strathclyde Park, Motherwell

I was pleased to see a juvenile Iceland Gull on and around the observation tower footbridge near the Watersports Centre. In the culvert to the south of the tower there was a juvenile Grey Heron standing, waiting patiently for something to crop up in the outflow. There was also a untidy looking Pied Wagtail, probably a male juvenile.

1st Cycle Iceland Gull
Juvenile Grey Heron Juvenile Pied Wagtail

On the Loch I watched a dominant cobb Mute Swan worrying the younger swans as it displayed its plumage to the onlooking pens. The Greylags were just as busy, but noisier.

Mute Swan Greylag Goose

I often walk through car parks 2-4 looking for passerines. I managed to observe and photograph a Goldfinch feeding on low branches and also a singing Robin just below it In a gap between car parks a Great Tit sat very obligingly as I snapped a few shots. I even got a long shot of Redwing high in the branches of a tall tree.

Goldfinch Robin
Great Tit Redwing

As I continued my walk I passed the water’s edge at car park 4 where I watched Jackdaws nipping between the large birds such as the Canada and Swan Geese. I also managed a shot of a passing Woodpigeon

Jackdaw Canada Goose
Swan Goose Wood Pigeon

Tinto Hill was shining brightly to the south.

There were a few Tufted Ducks  diving near the north end of the Loch. Among them was a female Scaup , identifiable by its lack of head tuft and its white patch at the base of its bill. I also snapped a pleasing shot of a Lesser Black-backed Gull juvenile sitting on a large red buoy. As the light faded, a Cormorant flew past heading over the Clyde.

Tufted duck Female Scaup
1st Cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull Cormorant

Saturday: RSPB Barons Haugh, Motherwell, Jim’s Garden

This brief visit to the Haugh was sadly unproductive, probably due to the increased number of walkers and their dogs. At the Marsh Hide a flock of Curlews  were just about visible as they stood in the mud in gloomy light. Eventually the took off, probably making for Carbarns.


I also came across a flowering Barren Strawberry  plant and a few Teal, but that was about it. However, on arriving home I was pleasantly surprised to see four Buzzards circling high above my garden. One bird descended to about 40m above the garden, allowing a reasonably good shot, considering the poor light level.

Barren Strawberry Teal

Highlights - March 2021

We present last month’s gallery of my favourite pictures I’ve taken during March 2021. They are not listed in the order they have been taken, but according to a series of loose themes. I’ve kept commentary to a minimum, preferring to let each picture talk for itself.








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