Evening talks programme
Castlehill Heritage Centre, Harbour Road, Castletown, Caithness, KW14 8TG (click here for a map of the venue and surrounding area).
On the following Wednesday evenings at 7.30pm:
04 Feb 2015 ”Seabird studies on the Isle of May: Spreading our wings after 40 years”, with Mark Newell, Seabird Ecologist, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH)
Mark will be telling us about the seabirds and seabird work on the Isle of May (a National Nature Reserve which lies 5 miles off the Fife coast) over the last 40 years, alongside a more general background to the isle and its other wildlife. Mark will also provide an overview as to how CEH have expanded their work to take in other seabird colonies along the east coast.
Mark Newell has worked as a seabird ecologist at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh since November 2004. His role is to undertake and manage the long-term seabird fieldwork that is carried out on the Isle of May. It involves ringing and studying a range of species throughout the breeding season with particular interest in their productivity, long-term survival and diet. Prior to starting at CEH he worked as a Wildlife Tour Guide specialising in trips to Scottish islands. He also has also carried out short term contracts on a wide range of ornithological projects for Scottish Natural Heritage, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Fair Isle Bird Observatory, Shetland and the University of Plymouth.
04 Mar 2015 “Breeding waders of the Uist machair: Land use and predators, past, present and future”, with John Calladine, Senior Research Ecologist, BTO Scotland
The west coast habitats of the Uists hold concentrations of breeding waders that are exceptional in Scottish, British and wider European contexts. Observed declines in wader populations on South Uist and Benbecula since the 1980s were argued to be largely due to predation of clutches by introduced hedgehogs. This argument, supported by evidence from the effects of their experimental removal, led to an ongoing programme of hedgehog removal. Concern remained however that breeding populations of some waders did not show the signs of recovery that might be expected in response to hedgehog control. This talk will present some of the findings of recent work investigating associations of changes in breeding wader densities with land uses and new work on the full suite of predators affecting machair waders. Future implications for conservation will be discussed.
John Calladine has had a lifelong interest birds and natural history and has worked in ecological research and conservation for over 30 years. John is currently a Senior Research Ecologist with BTO Scotland, based at Stirling University, with particular interests in the impacts of land uses on bird populations and distribution.
01 Apr 2015 AGM & Members’ Night
To be announced. Details will be available here in due course.
About the branch
Angus McBay Schoolhouse, Weydale, Thurso, KY14 8YJ, Tel 01847 894663
Bird recording in Caithness
Visit the Caithness recording area page for details of the latest bird report, back issues, species considered locally and for Local Recorder contact information.
Caithness Birds website
What to know more about birds in Caithness? Visit www.caithnessbirds.co.uk , your one stop shop for finding out more about birds and birdwatching in Caithness as well as branch news and activities.
Find the branch on Facebook and Twitter!
Recent Caithness sightings can be also be found at: http://www.stjohnspool-birds.co.uk/
Over the past few years there has been an increase in the number of injured birds brought into Highland Council’s Ranger Service and the local veterinary surgery in Thurso. At present there is no facility on mainland Scotland (north) where birds can be held until fit enough for their release or for transporting to a sanctuary that can provide longer term care. To overcome this problem the Caithness Branch of the SOC have successfully raised money and have built the aviary. We would like to thank the following for helping us to make it happen.
Aviary – breakdown of funding:
Sponsored hill walk £103
Norfrost and Merrimas £59
Sponsored birdwatch £40
Surgery collecting box £29
Sinclair’s books £10
Donations to R.S. and interest £65
Loch of Mey hide
The hide is open all year for public use (apart from 31st December). It provides excellent views of wildfowl and waders, and is suitable for wheelchair access. It is situated on the north Caithness coast, west of the village of Mey. The signposted track starts opposite the road leading to Harrow harbour near the village of Scarfskerry. Parking is available at the old ruin.
The hide and footpath were funded by: Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise, Leader, Scottish Natural Heritage, BT Countryside for All, Scottish Ornithologists’ Club, East Sutherland Bird Club, RSPB, Northern Studies, Highland Council and The Castle Arms Hotel.