Clyde Branch

© Ian Fulton

Taiga Bean Geese © Ian Fulton


Appeal for volunteers to help count Slavonian Grebe and Red-throated Diver on the Clyde Estuary

The status of many birds on the Clyde estuary has changed since the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) began as the Birds of Estuaries Enquiry (BoEE) in 1969. One group of birds which has increased significantly is divers and grebes.

Both Red-throated Diver and Slavonian Grebe now occur in nationally important numbers on the Inner Firth of Clyde. The Clyde is currently estimated to be the fourth most important site for Red-throated Diver in the UK (BTO/RSPB/JNCC WeBS Report 2012-13) and the area holds around 7% of the UK winter population of Slavonian Grebe making the Clyde estuary one of the top two sites in the UK for wintering Slavonian Grebes.

To maintain the known conservation status of the Clyde estuary for Slavonian Grebe and Red-throated Diver, it is vital that we obtain at least one relatively complete count each winter. This is an appeal to SOC members and others to take advantage of a good day between now and early April to attempt to count these two species.

Please click here for more information and guidance on the ideal conditions to carry out your count and for a suggested survey route.


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!  If you are interested in joining 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:

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 22 – 28 February 2015

Sunday 22 February
The 1st-winter Iceland Gull still on the River Leven at Balloch.
A drake Smew on Barr Loch, RSPB Lochwinnoch, also 31 Whooper Swans.
Two Slavonian Grebes off Ardmore Point.
A Green Sandpiper on RSPB Baron’s Haugh.
31 Whooper Swans on Loch Libo, near Uplawmoor.

Monday 23 February
Slavonian Grebe on Loch Lomond off Shore Wood, also 18 Whooper Swans on Aber Bog with an Otter; nearby, three Pintail (two drakes) flushed at Crom Mhin.
The 1st-winter Iceland Gull still on the River Leven at Balloch.
A drake Smew on Aird Meadow, RSPB Lochwinnoch; nearby, two Scaup (one drake) on Castle Semple Loch.
A Green Sandpiper again at BAE Systems, Bishopton.
Only one Stock Dove in a Hillfoot Drive, Bearsden garden.

Tuesday 24 February
A drake Smew still on Aird Meadow, RSPB Lochwinnoch;RSPB nearby, two Scaup (one drake) on Castle Semple Loch.
Back to two Stock Doves in a Hillfoot Drive, Bearsden garden.

Wednesday 25 February
A drake Smew back on Barr Loch, RSPB Lochwinnoch.
The 1st-winter Iceland Gull still on River Leven at Balloch.
24 Whooper Swans on Hogganfield Loch.
A Jay at Ross Park, Loch Lomond.
Still two Stock Doves in a Hillfoot Drive, Bearsden garden.

Thursday 26 February
A drake Smew on Aird Meadow, RSPB Lochwinnoch, also a drake Scaup; nearby four Brambling at Garthland Wood.
A Green Sandpiper and a Jay at BAE Systems, Bishopton.

Iceland Gull, Balloch © Sandy McNeil

Iceland Gull, Balloch © Sandy McNeil

Friday 27 February
Now definitely two Iceland Gulls (a 1st-winter and an adult) with an unconfirmed report of another 1st-winter on River Leven at Balloch.
A drake Smew on Barr Loch, RSPB Lochwinnoch, also a Woodcock flushed on Aird Meadow trail.
50 Greenland White-fronted Geese with 1,000 Pink-feet at Tullycross (NS4686).
A Green Sandpiper still at BAE Systems, Bishopton.
Six Black Grouse in flight near the Stockie Muir lek.

Saturday 28 February
Two Iceland Gulls (a 1st-winter and an adult)  on River Leven at Balloch.
A drake Smew on Aird Meadow, RSPB Lochwinnoch; nearby at least two Brambling in Garthland Wood.
A Woodcock flushed at Cathkin Marsh, near East Kilbride.


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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