What we do
On the one hand, a birdwatching club. On the other, a network of volunteers across Scotland, gathering vital, impartial information about our wild birds.
What are our aims?
- To promote the study, recording and conservation of wild birds and their habitats throughout Scotland.
- To promote an interest in our wild birds.
- To provide a focus for anyone with an interest in, and for more information relating to, the study of birds in Scotland.
On the face of it, a birdwatching club
The SOC is Scotland’s bird club, with 15 branches around the country and a growing membership of over 3000. We bring together like-minded individuals with a passion for birds, nature and conservation, through a programme of talks, outings, conferences and via the Club’s members’ journal, Scottish Birds. We are heavily dependent on keen volunteers and the support of our membership.
Our bread and butter, recording birds
The network of recording birds in Scotland (called the Local Recorders’ Network) was established by the SOC in 1968. The Club acts as the umbrella organisation for ornithological recording in Scotland. The database of information collected is an extremely important archive of local bird information- a critical tool for future bird conservation.
Why do we do this?
Many people consider birds to be the litmus paper test for the health of the environment. By recording which species we’ve seen when and where, how many we saw as well as what we didn’t see, scientists can gain a greater understanding of the effects pollution, habitat loss, climate change and modern farming methods are having on our wild birds.
The data we collect is made available to organisations, such as the RSPB and is one of the first points of reference in informed conservation planning. It is also available to conservationists, planners and developers.
The SOC is committed to sharing biodiversity data
We work with partnership organisations to promote the practice of bird recording and record sharing- find out more about our involvement in BirdTrack, the online recording system which looks at the migration patterns and distributions of birds throughout Britain and Ireland.
Waterston House, Club Headquarters, is a must for any birdwatcher in Scotland and the perfect place to visit if you’re new to birdwatching and looking to get started. A recent sightings board, tide tables and friendly staff and volunteers are on hand to help you make the most of your visit to the coast.
The centre also houses the George Waterston Library, the largest ornithological library in Scotland and is open to all to browse with the added bonus to members of being able to borrow books. There is also an archive of historically important archives available to browse.
Advancing ornithological research and conservation
The Club operates two grant schemes; the Endowment Fund, providing financial support for ornithological fieldwork in Scotland, and The Birds of Scotland Fund, supporting ornithological publications and special projects. We’ve financed research into everything from Tree Sparrow counts and a Capercaillie census, to beached bird surveys.
Take a look at our surveys page to find out about the wide range of conservation projects we’ve helped support.