In putting the Club and Isle of May Bird Observatory’s Young Birders' Training Course (YBTC) forward for an SNH Youth and Education Award at the 2018 Nature of Scotland Awards, previous course participants were surveyed to try and determine the impact the YBTC had had on them as individuals, personally, professionally and developmentally, in their ornithological-related interests/career path.

The objectives of YBTC: 

- To allow participants to gain invaluable first-hand practical experience of a wide range of bird survey skills and techniques including:

  • an introduction to the recording of birds (and other taxa),
  • species monitoring (including helping with ongoing seabird studies),
  • hands-on experience of bird ringing and trapping,
  • activities such as visible migration watches and co-ordinated seawatching counts,
  • practise in learning how to age, sex and identify birds.  

- to provide a wildlife-rich backdrop to test their newly learnt skills.

- to work in partnership with related-organisations to allow participants exposure to some of Scotland’s leading ornithologists including experienced bird ringers, researchers and surveyors.

- to ensure applicants are not prohibited from taking part due to personal financial limitations.

- to offer an exciting learning environment with broad appeal.

- to offer an insight into the work and purpose of a bird observatory and that of a National Nature Reserve.

- to provide a network of support for these individuals embarking on and pursuing their professional careers.

- to engage and encourage young naturalists to develop themselves and seek out future training and skills development opportunities, to ensure that in the years to come, there will be another generation of birdwatchers recording, conserving and speaking up for Scotland’s birds.

The results:

What, if any, impact did YBTC have on the participants who responded?

  • 89% said taking part in YBTC had stimulated an increase in their time spent recording and reporting bird sightings.
  • 88% have found themselves more engaged with nature and Scotland’s wildlife since taking part in YBTC.
  • 89% stated they were now more committed to conserving Scotland’s natural heritage having taken part in the course.
  • 89% believed their employability had improved as a consequence of YBTC.
  • 75% said taking part in YBTC had motivated them to seek to become a bird ringer.
  • 100% felt more confident, personally, as a consequence of YBTC.
  • 89% felt their bird survey skills and techniques had improved as a consequence of YBTC.
  • 78% stated YBTC had given them increased confidence and experience in applying for future jobs/placements.
  • 57% said taking part in YBTC had encouraged them to use BirdTrack to a greater degree than they did before taking part in the course.
  • Since taking part in YBTC, 89% have participated in further training courses/placements/internships (in related subjects). Further to this, all (100%) of these respondents believe taking part in YBTC has helped them to secure this position from a skills/knowledge perspective.
  • 89% were now more actively engaged with (one/more of) the four partner organisations (SOC, IoMBO, CEH & SNH) involved in running the course.
  • 100% of the respondents would recommend the course to others.

Find out more about what SOC is doing to help support and develop young birders and watch this space for news of more exciting developments in this area. If you would like to donate to the help support SOC's development work, please click here