Want to join the birdwatchers?

Stewartry Branch of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club

Are you interested in birds and other branches of natural history? If ‘yes’ why not come along to the Stewartry birdwatchers’ meetings this winter? For 39 years since 1976 members and friends have held their monthly meetings in Kells School, New Galloway from September to April.

Throughout the year the more active go on excursions to interesting locations on the coast as well as inland. Places such as Caerlaverock and Mersehead for wintering Barnacle Geese and many species of ducks, the Mennock Pass for the elusive Ring Ouzel, across to Loch Ryan for Brent Geese and numerous species of waders, or to woodlands for small birds such as migrant warblers in the summer.

This winter’s session should get off to a flying start on 24th September when Mark Pollitt, who is manager of the Dumfries and Galloway Environmental Resources Centre based in Kirkgunzeon, will give his talk “Gardening for Wildlife”. Hopefully he will inspire his audience to put in more plants which should attract bees and butterflies and more berried shrubs to attract and feed birds. He will try to encourage people to have less tidy gardens and let some wildflowers flourish so that their seeds will feed birds and to have corners where leaves and other compostable material could be left to allow insects and invertebrates to flourish.

Chris Waltho has studied the Common Eider in the Clyde for over forty years and is co-author of the recently published book by Poyser on that bird. However on 8th October he will talk on the Spectacled Eider Duck, a very much rarer bird whose wintering grounds remained a mystery until recently. He travelled to Russia to study this duck and will also include in his talk a wide range of tundra nesting water birds he saw out there.

Glen Chilton, a Canadian, will describe on the 12th November his globe-trotting adventures while searching for birds that were formally declared extinct but were subsequently rediscovered. Glen’s ability as a speaker and his sense of humour were proven eleven years ago when he held his audience’s rapt attention for well over an hour on the extinct Labrador Duck. That evening was summed up by one member of the audience as ‘amazing and brilliant’.

Swifts are the subject of the talk on 10th December by husband wife team Edmund and Tanya Hoare. An amazing and mysterious bird which even sleeps on the wing the Swift is the last of the summer migrants to arrive in May and the first to return south to Africa in late July/early August but very sadly their numbers have been declining over the years. Some ideas as to the reason for their decline will be discussed and the use of artificial nest sites.

All are welcome at these meetings which are held on Thursdays and always start at 7.30p.m.”