The 2017 Annual Conference

Atholl Palace Hotel, Pitlochry

Date: 20 October 2017 - 22 October 2017 Time: Friday evening until Sunday lunchtime Price: Various, please see below

Every year the Club organises an Annual Conference (which includes the Club’s AGM). This takes the form of a weekend event, with registration opening on the Friday afternoon.

Atholl Palace Hotel


The 2017 SOC Annual Conference

Booking information – quick links

Click here to go to the online booking page

Click here to download a printable booking form to book by post

Click here to download the programme


Avian migration has been a topic of interest from the days of Aristotle. In those days, the movements
of Cranes, for example, were particularly noticeable, with the noise of the huge numbers of birds flying
overhead symbolising the changing seasons. Cranes still migrate across Europe, with their southward
movements touching on Champagne in France and many wintering in Spain at Laguna de Gallocanta.

Many myths surround migration: In medieval times, Swallows spent the winter asleep in the mud at the
bottom of ponds, Cuckoos became Sparrowhawks and Storks hibernated!

Over the years, our knowledge has increased dramatically, although there are still many unsolved
mysteries. In the early years, birds were shot to identify them and this continued until the improvement
in optical equipment. Ringing of birds then represented a very important step forward, with recoveries
generating a great deal more information on movements of individuals. This still continues to be an important aspect of bird recording.

It is really only comparatively recently that the tagging of birds has made possible the accurate tracking
from wintering to breeding grounds. The original tracking devices were quite large and relatively heavy
and, as such, could only be used with larger birds. Nowadays, technological advances have made
miniaturisation possible, allowing devices to be attached to smaller species. Indeed, in the US, tiny
devices are being used on Monarch butterflies to monitor their migration to Mexico.

As always, we have an excellent line-up of speakers for this year’s programme, set to deliver a wealth
of insights into this fascinating subject; including one woman’s epic migratory flight with Bewick Swans
and one man’s life-long commitment to Osprey conservation. We’ll also be hearing about advances in
tracking Cuckoos and seabirds, as well as Swifts, thrushes and warblers. We hope you can join us at the
luxurious Atholl Palace Hotel in the heart of Big Tree Country for what is always an informative, thought provoking and sociable weekend.

As well as a chance to hear lots of thought-provoking presentations on this important topic, the conference wouldn’t be complete without its customary social activities; delegates can test their wits against this year’s quiz masters on the Friday evening and/or enjoy an evening’s entertainment at the informal dinner on the Saturday. There is also the usual free time set aside on the Saturday morning for attendees to get out in the field and explore Pitlochry’s bird life. A programme of organised outings will be available nearer the time but to give you an idea of what the area has to offer in terms of birdwatching, as well as a wee bit about this year’s ceilidh band, click here.


Conference costs

Residential delegates

Fee includes Friday night lecture, Friday evening buffet meal, two nights’ bed and breakfast, programmed refreshments, lunch on Sat & Sun, and gala dinner/dance on Saturday.

Members: £225

Non-members: £235

Non-resident delegates

Fee includes Friday night lecture and tea/coffee. Does not include any meals. Day delegates may have meals in the hotel by completing the booking form opposite and making payment to the SOC in advance. Please note that to facilitate speedy service on the Friday evening, the meal will be in the form of a hot buffet.

Attending both days: £55 (£45 SOC members)

Attending Saturday only: £30 (£25 SOC members)

Attending Sunday only: £30 (£25 SOC members)

AGM (click here to view the agenda), Saturday 21 October 2017, 5pm: If you plan to attend the AGM but do not wish to book in for the conference, please just drop the SOC Secretary, Dave Heeley, a note to let him know: Likewise, if you would like to have your apologies for the meeting noted. Equally, if you would like to see a particular item added to the agenda, please email Dave.


Booking information – quick links

Click here to go to the online booking page

Click here to download a printable booking form to book by post

Click here to download the programme



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Joanna Thomson Jewellery
RSPB Scotland
Scottish Wildlife Trust
Viking Optical Ltd
Wader Quest
and others to be confirmed

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