You can find out about our Caithness branch below.
We're delighted to share details of the meetings season (September 2023 - April 2024) for members to enjoy. This year's programme will be a held as a hybrid (online/in-person) programme.
More information about each meeting will be emailed to members around a week in advance of the event. To receive these emails (including Zoom joining instructions ad workshop booking information, where applicable), you must be signed up to the Branch News & Events - Talks & Workshops mailing list.
Tuesday 5 December 2023
Workshop leader TBA – Wader identification Workshop (online, with Highland and Orkney Branches). Booking required - places limited
Wednesday 6 December 2023 NB rescheduled to Wednesday 24 January 2024
Members' Night (in-person)
Wednesday 13 December 2023
Prof. Debbie Pain – Lead from ammunition: A toxic problem affecting birds and other animals (online). For further information, please click here.
Tuesday 9 January 2023
Workshop leader TBA – Flight identification of raptors Workshop (online, with Highland and Orkney Branches). Booking required - places limited
Wednesday 17 January 2024
Q & A with Prof. Tim Birkhead & Prof. Neil Metcalfe – The Great Auk (online). For further information, please click here.
Wednesday 24 January 2024
New Year quiz (in-person)
uesday 6 February 2024
Les Hatton – Norfolk Pheasants, Velvet Runners, Bog Eagles and other fantastic beasts of the Tay Reedbed (online, with Highland & Orkney branches)
Les Hatton, arguably the nicest man in birding, tells the story of 30 years of bird ringing in the Tay Reedbeds: the species that have been caught, how the reedbeds are managed for them, and how climate change and other man-made problems may change things in the future.
Wednesday 21 February 2024
Ros Green, Claudia Tapia & speaker TBA – Tracking birds' movements (online). For further information, please click here.
Wednesday 6 March 2024
Helen Aiton - The effect of avian flu (HPAI) on an Orkney Great Skua population (online)
Orkney Great and Arctic Skuas have been studied for 10 years now by Helen and David Aiton. Helen talks about how Great Skuas have been decimated by bird flu while Arctic Skuas have not.
Wednesday 20 March 2024
Dr. Phil Atkinson, Dr. Jude Lane & speaker TBA (NatureScot) – Avian flu (online). For further information, please click here.
Wednesday 3 April 2024
Simon Wotton/Dr. Leah Kelly (TBC) – AGM and Results of the 2023 Hen Harrier Survey (in-person)
Once widespread in the UK, the long-suffering Hen Harrier has fallen victim to habitat loss, land use change, and persecution. The sixth national Hen Harrier Survey is hot off the press, and our guest speaker considers the results. How is the species fairing in Scotland and the rest of the UK, and what has changed since the first survey of 1988-89?
Wednesday 17 April 2024
Helen Aiton & Michal Jezierski & Kevin and Mike Sinclair – SOC Endowment Fund Projects (online). For further information, please click here.
Venue for indoor meetings:
Castletown Heritage Centre, Harbour Road, Castletown, Caithness, KW14 8TG (click here to view a map of the venue and surrounding area)
Excursion details will be sent to SOC Caithness branch members by email, if you have signed up for this (or click here if you haven't already done so).
Further outings will be announced in due course.
Members who've consented to Local Branch news and events e-communications from SOC, are sent a reminder about forthcoming talks (with more information on the speaker and subject where possible), usually a week or so in advance of the meeting. If you don’t already receive these alerts and would like to, please make sure you've completed a Mailing List Consent Form to allow the Club to contact you. If you've already completed a form, check your junk/spam/clutter folders to make sure our emails aren't landing there. Still nothing? Contact Headquarters as we may not have a correct or up to date email address on file for you.
2020-21 Branch Accounts and Chair's Report
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.
Birds of Caithness including the Breeding & Wintering Atlas 2007 – 2012
REVISED EDITION - THE BOOK!
The ‘Birds of Caithness’ DVD was published in December 2015 by Caithness SOC. It is the distillation of over 200 years of observations documenting the fascinating birdlife of the county. The 458 page document is formatted to allow for viewing either as double-page spreads on the web or as high-resolution pdfs. To find out more about the publication, click here.
Caithness SOC were then delighted to announce the publication of a revised edition of The ‘Birds of Caithness’, in book form! This hard-backed book is a 458pp and A4 in size, with dust jacket.
The atlas’ new format includes amended maps and revised texts. Unfortunately this is now sold out however watch this space for more info coming soon!
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, SOC, East Sutherland Bird Club, RSPB, Northern Studies, Highland Council and The Castle Arms Hotel.