SOC & Isle of May Bird Observatory, Young Birders' Training Course 2017

Young Birders’ Training Course

Investing in the future of wild bird conservation

1 – 7 July 2017, Isle of May

It’s that time of year again when Scotland’s largest bird club, the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (SOC) and Britain’s oldest continuously accredited bird observatory, the Isle of May Bird Observatory (IoMBO) seek a further six promising young birdwatchers to take part in their Young Birders’ Training Course, a week-long funded training course, run by the SOC and the IoMBO, on the Isle of May this July.

Open to individuals aged 16–25 years, the Young Birders’ Training Course is the only course of its kind in the UK. It presents a unique opportunity for budding ornithologists’, both in its setting and teaching options. The successful applicants will gain invaluable first-hand practical experience of a wide range of bird survey skills and techniques and participants will be able to draw on the talents and knowledge of highly experienced bird ringers, researchers and surveyors.

The course itself will include a thorough introduction to the practice of recording birds and other wildlife, experience of species counts, monitoring, ringing, trapping, ageing and sexing birds, as well as opportunities to participate in activities such as visible migration watches and co-ordinated sea-watching counts. Outwith the scope of most university curricula, these skills are essential attributes for those embarking on a career or role in wildlife recording, surveying and conservation.

The Isle of May, which lies five miles off the Fife coast, nestles in the mouth of the Firth of Forth, and is a wonderful backdrop for the course. The island is one of Scotland’s National Nature Reserves, managed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and protected by European and UK legislation because of its internationally and nationally important seabird and Grey Seal colonies.

The lucky participants will have the chance to find out more about the island’s rich cultural history and to sample bird observatory life, with accommodation for the duration of their stay being provided within the refurbished ‘Low Light’, a former lighthouse.

This course will not only provide a platform for participants to pursue a future in wildlife monitoring and conservation, but a network of contacts to assist the students on their journey.

The application form for the course can be downloaded from the SOC website here or obtained by emailing . The closing date for completed applications is 5pm, Monday 1st May 2017. Completed forms should be emailed to  or posted to: Jane Cleaver (Confidential), SOC, Waterston House, Aberlady, EH32 0PY.

Images courtesy of Harry Martin (top), Radina Atanasova (middle) and Stuart Rivers (bottom).