Archives for January 2017

The usual areas in the south the Cairngorms national Park

Mackay’s transmitter is just sending non-GPS data due to the short winter days, but showed clearly that he was ranging as usual south of the Cairngorms in an area of 575 km².

December 30th - January 16th

December 30th – January 16th


Wintering in the Monadhliaths

Due to the short days, Agnes’s transmitter has only sent non-GPS data.  She roosted overnight at the north end of Coignafearn estate on 31st December and 8th January, and during the rest of the time she was in the upper Dulnan River catchment to atleast 16th January.

Usual winter activity

Roxy has mainly spent her time in her usual home range of 24 square kilometres, but on the night of 26th-27th of December she flew south and roosted beside a forest ride in a conifer plantation between Fruid and Talla reservoirs. She returned north on the 27th via Megget reservoir where she was at 2pm.

Usual locations

Canisp remained in her usual haunts in north-west Sutherland but because of the winter short days the transmissions were not GPS accurate.

Usual areas of East Sutherland and Caithness

On 24th of December Loyal was close to the Garvault Inn and then flew east into the flow country south of Altnabreck. On 29th she was south of Borgie Forest and on 31st south of Badanloch. She then ranged until the 14th January on Borrobol estate. She used a range of 430 km².

December 24th to January 16th

December 24th to January 16th


Rangimng in west Sutherland and Ross-shire

Globe has continued to range widely in West Sutherland and Ross-shire, nearly 100 km north to south. She started at the end of December south of Loch Hope and then flew to Cape Wrath on 28th-29th December. By January 1st she was just north of Kylesku and the following week east of Strathcanaird. She flew back north to Ben Stack on 9th and then by the 13th she was in Strathvaich.

December 27th - January 15th

December 27th – January 15th

New Year’s Day and our debt to Nature

I went out birding today trying for a New Year’s Day list but knowing that I will never again see 100 species on Ist January in the north of Scotland, as I did in 1975. Despite a surprisingly long period of mild weather there was a strong cold northerly wind blowing on to the Moray coast. There were big waves breaking over the harbour walls, so when I looked out from Burghead I didn’t manage to see any scoters or red-throated divers in the rough swell. For a ‘big day’ the weather was against me, I did not start at dawn, I stopped to first-foot friends and I’m not as good a birder now as then, especially hearing small birds. My last one at dusk was a woodcock giving me a total of 64 species.

A lingering flock of 48 waxwings in my local town, Forres, and eight bramblings feeding under the beech trees near Elgin were nice finds.  But the most poignant was the covey of 5 grey partridges just inland from Findhorn Bay. It is as though I now know them by name as these are the only ones I know on my usual birding route – they could be the last here of what was a common bird in the 1970s. And once those five die they are all gone! There were so many species that were easy to see then but have disappeared or become rare. Of course there are a few others that have become so much commoner, like pink-footed geese, and those that we have restored, such as red kite. But the general trend in species and abundance is downwards and it’s a stark reminder of the huge task we have to restore nature.

My wife often pulls my leg by saying “I guess you like that person because he agrees with you”. Don’t we all? But the real find is someone with an even greater vision. I’ve always said that 30 to 40% of our lands and seas must be for nature, if we and the other species on planet earth are to have a long future. So I was very encouraged, and concerned, when I recently bought and read Edward Wilson’s new book  ‘Half-Earth’. Prof Wilson argues that we need to dedicate half the surface of the Earth to nature. It’s a convincing argument and concurs with my view that nature conservation needs now to be about restoring and conserving very large functioning ecosystems, I mean very, very large, within which the conservation of individual species is achieved and the earth’s life processes are maintained. Even in Britain this is a mammoth, but essential, task.

All of us who enjoy, use or work with nature must stand up and fight for it, because at the moment it’s future is woefully insecure, despite sterling efforts by many people and organisations. Raise the issue politically, socially and economically. Demand a real change. We owe it to our grandchildren and their grandchildren, so that they will live on a good Earth. Why not buy a copy of ‘Half-Earth’, read it and then loan it to your MP, MSP or AM, with a note saying you want to meet them, once they have read it to find out what they intend to do. As Humboldt said 150 or so years ago,”The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world.” So please take on the challenge.

Just before Christmas, I read a very enjoyable book – “Bobby the Birdman” – an anthology celebrating the life and work of the Shetlander Bobby Tulloch. A great friend to many and the finder of the first breeding Snowy Owls in Scotland. See

Thanks for following our conservation projects, website and blogs; and I wish you a very happy New Year and an excellent 2017.