Clyde branch

© Ian Fulton

Taiga Bean Geese © Ian Fulton


Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) on the Clyde Estuary

The national WeBS is organised by the BTO, and in Scotland coordinated by the SOC. In the Clyde area we have had excellent coverage for many years, but recently there has been a marked decline due to a shortage of volunteer counters. The most important site urgently in need of new counters is the Clyde Estuary, which requires a team of at least 12 regular volunteers and several reserve counters. The Clyde Branch has been coordinating monthly bird counts of the estuary for the past 45 years, with a break only in 1978 due to shortage of volunteers in that year. Two of our current team of volunteers have been counting throughout that entire period!

This month the count takes place this coming Sunday, 7th December. Three regular counters have indicated being unavailable, which has left us short of stand-in counters on two sectors of the estuary – West Ferry to Newark Castle, and Port Glasgow to Gourock Bay. If you are interested in helping out at short notice for Sunday’s count, or willing to join the team either as a regular or stand-in volunteer, please contact the Clyde area organiser, John Clark on

John can provide helpful guidance on how best to survey individual sectors, and the count methodology. He can also arrange for you to shadow an existing counter to gain experience. We are also looking for additional volunteers to take on a number of freshwater sites. Adopting a regular patch can be an enjoyable and very rewarding experience, as well as making an important ‘citizen science’ contribution to the conservation of our local wild bird populations.

For more information on the Wetland Bird Survey see


The Clyde branch of the SOC holds a varied range of informal talks and presentations on a monthly basis from September – April. Meetings take place in the Graham Kerr Building at the University of Glasgow – students are always very welcome to attend!

Evening talks programme


Zoology Department, Graham Kerr Building, University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ (click here to view a map of the venue and surrounding area).


The following Mondays at 7.30pm

02 Feb 2015        “Shotguns & Short-toed Eagles: Birding on the island of Malta”, with Ian Thomson, Head of Investigations, RSPB Scotland

Malta is a well-known, very popular holiday destination, with a fascinating cultural and historical background. However, it is also notorious for the killings of protected birds, particularly during migration periods. Can it be a holiday destination for birders in a similar way to other Mediterranean islands? This talk discusses the island’s history, politics, birdlife and the problem of illegal hunting as well as taking a look to the future….

Originally from Aberdeen, Ian has an honours degree in Ecology from Edinburgh University. Following this he worked on a variety of contracts, including with the then Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland and RSPB among others, before becoming warden at Aberlady Bay in East Lothian, a position he enjoyed for almost 15 years. Ian joined the RSPB Scotland Investigations team in 2006, and has been head of that unit for three years. He is a fanatical birder and a keen wildlife photographer. Ian has been a member of the SOC since the late 1970’s, including a spell as chair of the Lothian Branch and is the current SOC Vice President.

02 Mar 2015       Paul Walton – Birds in the marine environment

06 Apr 2015        AGM & Members’ Night


Ian Fulton

0141 773 4329


Branch outings

None planned.


Bernie Zonfrillo

0141 557 0791


About the branch

Branch committee


Ian Fulton



Vice Chairperson:

Bernie Zonfrillo

Treasurer and representative of the branch on SOC Council:

David Clugston

Committee members:

Liz Parsons, Toby Wilson, Alan Wood, Dawn Anderson, Fiona Morton, Sandra Hutchinson

Ex officio members:

Iain Gibson and Val Wilson

Clyde recorder:

Iain Gibson

Clyde Islands recorder:

Bernie Zonfrillo

Argyll recorder:

Jim Dickson


Useful information

Clyde SOC Grapevine

SOC branches communicate recent bird sightings to members by various means, and in Clyde this is through an email circulated daily to subscribing members.  It also incorporates the Clyde Islands SOC Recording Area.  We are pleased to provide weekly summaries here.  Any SOC member wishing to receive the Clyde Grapevine on a daily basis should contact Assistant Clyde Recorder Val Wilson on

Weekly Summary 18 – 24 January 2015

A female Common Scoter still in Kilchattan Bay, Isle of Bute is probably only the eighth record for the island.
Seven Slavonian Grebes off Ardmore Point.
A Greenshank in Cardross Bay.
The Lesser Whitethroat of an eastern form still coming to a Lochwinnoch garden.
Three Barnacle Geese with Canada Geese at Low Semple, Lochwinnoch.
34 Whooper Swans and three Shoveler on Barr Loch, RSPB Lochwinnoch, also a pair of Stonechats.
20 Whooper Swans on Loch Libo, Uplawmoor.
400 Dunlin at roost at Coronation Park, Port Glasgow.
A Green Woodpecker for its second day at Fin Glen, Clachan of Campsie NS5980.

Records from Isle of Bute were of nine Snow Buntings at Ettrick Bay, a Slavonian Grebe at Kilchattan Bay and three Slavonian Grebes at Scalpsie Bay.
A drake Scaup still at Carrick Golf Course (Midross), Loch Lomond.
Three Scaup (one drake) still on Castle Semple Loch, also three Barnacle Geese with about 180 Canada Geese on the ice.
An adult male Hen Harrier hunting over Aird Meadow, RSPB Lochwinnoch at 1500 hrs.
Nearby, two  Woodcocks at the entrance to St Joseph’s, Lochwinnoch, also a Nuthatch heard.
A Woodcock at the River Clyde end of Adder’s Gill, RSPB Baron’s Haugh.
A male Brambling in a Glen Drive, Helensburgh garden.
A Raven on a pylon at Morrisons, Johnstone.

Snow Bunting © Doug Menzies

Snow Bunting © Doug Menzies

Now 30 Snow Buntings (in two flocks of 7 and 23) at Ettrick Bay, Isle of Bute.
Records from Lochwinnoch included the Lesser Whitethroat of an eastern form still in a private garden,  a drake and female Scaup on Castle Semple Loch,  a Nuthatch for its second day at feeders at Newton of Barr, a Jay on a tree at St Joseph’s and a male Stonechat on Aird Meadow.
Two female Scaup  on Hogganfield Loch, also 32 Whooper Swans and  21 Gadwall.
A ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier flying over the Endrick Water near Croftamie.
Unusually a Stock Dove in a Hillfoot Drive, Bearsden garden.
A male Blackcap at feeders in a Nithsdale Road, Pollokshields, Glasgow garden.

26 Snow Buntings at Ettrick Bay, Isle of Bute, also a male Stonechat.
212 Greenland White-fronted Geese at Hillhead Farm, Gartocharn; nearby, a Barnacle Goose with 420 Pink-footed Geese at Meikle Finnery, near Croftamie.
The Lesser Whitethroat of an eastern form still in a private Lochwinnoch garden.
A Black-tailed Godwit at Newshot Island.
A female Mandarin Duck still coming to bread on the White Cart Water at Sinclair Drive, Battlefield, Glasgow.
An adult male Hen Harrier at the south end of Barr Loch, RSPB Lochwinnoch in the morning, later a Barn Owl hunting there at 1615 hrs.
Three male Black Grouse at the Stockie Muir lek.
Three Greenshank including a colour-ringed individual, at Cardross Bay, also a flock of 400 Skylarks at Brooks crossing.
Six Brambling and 14 Stock Doves in a Glebe Farm, Kirk o’ Shotts, Salsburgh garden.
Six Mandarin Ducks on the River Leven at Jamestown.
A Nuthatch singing in Balloch Castle Country Park.
Three Blackcaps (one male) at feeders in a Sween Avenue, Cathcart, Glasgow garden, but only one House Sparrow.
Two Ravens over Hollows Avenue, Foxbar in the direction of Paisley.
Still three Scaup on Castle Semple Loch.
A female Blackcap in a Rosshall Place, Renfrew garden.

Blackcap © Norman Tait

Blackcap © Norman Tait

Now 19 Snow Buntings at Ettrick Bay, Isle of Bute, also 30 Skylarks in a nearby stubble field.
A female/immature Long-tailed Duck, a Slavonian Grebe, ten Red-throated Divers at Ardmore and two pairs of Pintail in the north bay; nearby, a Greenshank and three female Scaup in Cardross Bay.
The Lesser Whitethroat of an eastern form still in a private Lochwinnoch garden.
Records from BAE Systems, Bishopton included a Green Sandpiper, a Jack Snipe, a Woodcock, 36 Yellowhammers and 49 Goldfinches.
Two female Scaup, an excellent 37 Gadwall and 23 Whooper Swans on Hogganfield Loch.
At least 30 Brambling with a large flock of Chaffinches feeding on beech mast in Garthland Wood, Lochwinnoch.
Two Barnacle Geese with Canada Geese on Castle Semple Loch.
110 Canada Geese at Waulkmill Glen Reservoir.
Now two Stock Doves coming to the feeders in a HIllfoot Drive, Bearsden garden.
21 Stock Doves visiting a Glebe Farm, Kirk o’ Shotts, Salsburgh garden.

Still two Stock Doves coming to the feeders in a HIllfoot Drive, Bearsden garden.

Ten Snow Buntings remaining at the south end of Ettrick Bay, also twelve Twite and 20 Skylarks in stubble at the north end near the tearoom.
Three Barnacle Geese with 500 Greylag Geese at Coldrach Farm, Drymen.
A Green Sandpiper on the River Clyde at Lower Carbarns.
The Lesser Whitethroat of an eastern from still coming to feeders in a private Lochwinnoch garden.
30 Bramblings again at Garthland Wood, Lochwinnoch NS352583; nearby, a female Scaup on Castle Semple Loch.
Still two Stock Doves coming to the feeders in a HIllfoot Drive, Bearsden garden.

Social media sites

Facebook: To access the Clyde Birds Facebook page, administered by SOC member John Molloy, click on the link on the homepage of the Clyde Birds website ( and sign in with your personal Facebook logins.

Clyde Tetrad Atlas 2007-14


We are making this appeal in the hope that more Clyde Branch SOC members will volunteer to cover at least a single tetrad in the final season of this valuable project. Many thanks to those who have taken part so far.  This is not a survey requiring great expertise - only basic identification skills are required, and we would hope that the project gives greater purpose and enjoyment to local birdwatching.

The Clyde SOC, with invaluable support from BTO, is now halfway through the final breeding season of the Project.  Over seven years, 734 observers have gathered in excess of 300,000 records, an average of almost 7,000 records per 10-kilometre square, a tremendous achievement.  We are well on our way to holding enough data to produce a comprehensive avifauna, Birds of the Clyde Area, including atlas maps for breeding and winter distribution of all species.

However we are struggling to achieve full coverage for the breeding season.  It is almost always the case with such surveys that a small number of observers carries out a high percentage of the fieldwork, but currently we have fewer than ten Clyde SOC members contributing over 95% of the effort.  This is simply not sufficient to achieve adequate coverage in the time left to us.  So we are making this URGENT APPEAL for all members to contribute during the two months remaining of this final breeding season. In reality we have only five weeks to make the most of it, as recordable bird activity diminishes significantly after the first week in July, particularly in woodland.

Even if every member took on only one tetrad it could make a significant difference. (A ‘tetrad’ is a 2km x 2km square on the national grid as shown on OS maps, with each 10-kilometre square dividing into 25 tetrads.)  Some may even find that records from around their own home could make a difference!  An experienced birdwatcher can achieve reasonable coverage of an average tetrad in a single visit lasting two hours, whilst those who are new to the game may require longer, or perhaps two visits of a similar duration. However there is no time limit. Our most active and experienced atlas fieldworkers are currently completing four or five tetrads a day.  The objective is to visit as many habitat types as possible within the tetrad (by foot, car or bike), noting all bird species and attempting to record behaviour indicative of breeding.  The BTO Atlas website at is where to find the methodology and to contribute results for the local atlas.  You will require to log in or register to use the BTO website, a simple procedure.  Note that Timed Tetrad Visits are not required for the Clyde Atlas, only Roving Records, which simplifies the fieldwork.

If you would like to help, local organiser Alan Wood will be happy to answer any questions, and can provide maps and up-to-date information about a tetrad urgently in need of attention near your home or local patch.  Please contact Alan on or by phone on 07799 433407.  For anyone who would like to volunteer to cover remote tetrads in South Lanarkshire or northern parts of Loch Lomondside, more than 50 miles from their home, a vehicle allowance of 30p per mile is available, courtesy of an SOC Endowment Fund Grant.  Alan Wood can provide you with a claim form if you volunteer to help in this way.

Some other Clyde tetrads can be found using these links to neighbouring
BTO regions:

A Guide to Bird Watching in the Clyde Area

This publication is now sold out, however a reference copy is available in the George Waterston Library at SOC HQ.

Bird recording in this area

Visit the Clyde recording area and the Clyde Islands recording area page for details of the latest bird report, back issues, species considered locally and for Local Recorder contact information.

Other information

Clyde Bird Report Highlights 2004

Clyde – bird species list 1999

Clyde – bird species list 1998

Clyde – review of the year 1999

Clyde – review of the year 1998

Clyde Bird News No. 1 (Dec 2001)

Clyde Eider Newsletter No. 1 (Aug 2001)

Clyde Eider Newsletter No. 2 (Jan 2002)

Clyde Eider Newsletter No. 3 (Aug 2002)

Clyde Eider Newsletter No. 4 (Aug 2003)

Clyde Eider Newsletter No. 5 (Aug 2004)

Young Birders CTA

Download the young Birder Application form - Word Doc
Download the training course application form - PDF
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