May, 2013

Our work

Our work
You might be surprised to read that our work is far broader than nature reserves and Big Garden Birdwatch. Read more about what else we do.

Scottish Nature Notes

Keep up to date with the latest wildlife and nature news in Scotland. Regular blogs from RSPB Scotland's conservation teams across the country. Writing about Scotland's amazing wildlife & natural environment.
  • Countdown to Scottish Birdfair!

    Countdown to Scottish Birdfair! May 11-12 at Hopetoun House near Edinburgh

    With a little over 1 week to go before the second annual Scottish Birdfair, it’s all go in the office as we finalise plans for the big weekend.

    The award-winning festival* attracted some 5,000 visitors in 2012 and is expected to be even bigger and better this year.

    The Scottish Birdfair will host over 100 exhibitors showcasing everything from the very best in optics to outdoor clothing, books, arts & crafts, garden accessories and more.

    An exciting programme of expert talks, guided walks, demonstrations and workshops ensures there is something for everyone whether you are new to birdwatching or an old hand.

    For those of you who like to take advantage of a full day- Set your alarm clock for a guided Dawn Chorus Walk around the beautiful grounds of Hopetoun House.  Enjoy a coffee and the sounds of songbirds greeting the day.

    There’s also an opportunity to discover the remarkable birdlife of the Firth of Forth on a special seabird cruise.  Experts will point out the diverse range of species found right on Edinburgh’s doorstep from puffins to gannets and terns. You may even spot seals, dolphins and jellyfish!

    And it’s all for a good cause! Proceeds from the Scottish Birdfair will go to support our efforts to protect and conserve corncrake, a rare and elusive bird and a real Scottish conservation success story.

    There’s also a range of fantastic activities including bushcraft, foraging, cookery demonstrations and a fantastic line up of local folk bands throughout the weekend.

    There’s lots for the little ones too from storytelling and puppet shows, to pony rides and arts & crafts. The Scottish Birdfair is a great day out for the whole family.

    For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit:

    *Scottish Birdfair was named Best Small Festival at the Scottish Event Awards 2012.

    Photo by Ed Mackey

  • Visiting Scotland's seabird cities

    Kara Brydson, Senior Marine Policy Officer at RSPB Scotland, tells us about a recent visit to one of the wildlife wonders of the world.

    Visiting Scotland's seabird cities

    Imagine leaving work at the end of an unremarkable day. Within the hour you’re at what Sir David Attenborough calls ‘one of the wildlife wonders of the world’. That’s what I did on Wednesday night, along with 30 others on an RSPB Scotland ’Date with Nature’ boat tour around Bass Rock.

    Bass Rock is the iconic giant white lump of volcanic rock in the outer Firth of Forth, just a few kilometres offshore from North Berwick.  It’s white because for much of the year it’s home to 150,000 gannets – and in late autumn when the birds set off on their long migration south, often as far as West Africa, they quite literally leave their mark. 

    Bass Rock is so special for northern gannet that it has given the bird its scientific name - Morus bassanus. But it’s not all about them – on our two hour trip we saw guillemots, razorbills, fulmar,  shags, arctic tern and kittiwakes, all hanging out on the lower ledges of the Bass, or shooting (or bobbing) past our catamaran. Common and Grey seals were hauled up on the rocks below and peeking out from sea caves.

    With this wildlife spectacle so close to Scotland’s capital city, it’s easy to forget that, shockingly, numbers of Scottish seabirds have plummeted. Over the past 20 years, two thirds of all our kittiwake and three quarters of Arctic tern and Arctic skua have disappeared. There are three main threats to seabirds: climate change, lack of fish such as sandeels, and industrial developments at sea. Marine Protected Areas can give seabirds a fighting chance against these threats. You can help us urge the Scottish Government to protect seabirds at sea. Visit our website to find out how

    You can fall in love with other islands on the Firth of Forth: RSPB Date with Nature cruises leave from South Queensferry, Edinburgh on 9th June, 19 June, 29 June and 10 July. Call 0131 331 5000 to book.

  • A new career in a new town

    Brand new blog from RSPB Scotland Trainee Ecologist, David Freeman. Find out more about the fascinating Bryophytes found on our reserves!

    A New Career in a New Town

    Back in March, I was delighted to be offered the position of Trainee Ecologist based at RSPB Scotland's Edinburgh HQ. The role is a fantastic opportunity to build on and develop a range of Ecological skills as well as a chance to undertake some real conservation work and make a real difference.

    Conocephalum conicum  by Li Zhang via

    In particular, I am focusing on Bryophytes a group of tiny plants commonly known as mosses, liverworts and hornworts. These often-overlooked plants are some of nature’s most beautiful creations and display a range of deep colours and fascinating growth forms. They are also of incredible ecological importance. Their reliance on ambient humidity for water means they are often vulnerable to atmospheric pollution and the production of peat from the sphagnum mosses is one of the most important ecological processes in the world.

    My calendar for the next few months is already filling up with fieldwork planned in Abernethy, Glenborrodale, Forsinard, Strathbeg, Orkney and Corrimony. Additionally I am being sent on numerous training courses both internal and external in places Like Geltsdale, Loch Leven and Raasay. These represent a fantastic opportunity to learn new skills as well as increase the amount of work I am able to undertake in my current role.

    Thuidium delicatulum via

    So far, I have been out briefly to Loch Leven and Loch Lomond each time gathering a range of samples. At both of these reserves I have only scratched the surface of what must be present, but when you consider how overlooked bryophytes are, any addition to the records is a step forward!  Highlights so far have to be seeing Conocephalum conicum a common but distinctive plant, Thuidium delicatulum that provided me with a fantastic opportunity to practice some microscope ID skills and the Bonsai tree-like Thamnobryum alopecurum. Spotting an osprey fishing on Loch Lomond was a nice moment too.

    Thamnobryum alopecurum

    Over the next few months, I intend to contribute a blog entry regularly to the website. I hope that this will paint a picture of some of the amazing work undertaken by the RSPB and draw attention to the fascinating world of Bryophytes.