RSPB Scotland conservation manager Stuart Benn is back with a new blog - this time about bird watching in the Highlands and the For The Love Of campaign. 

For the love of the next generation

I've blogged before about A Focus on Nature – an absolutely brilliant organisation committed to encouraging young people to develop and then hold on to a love for the natural world. So, when I met young Ben Moyes and his family at the AFON Conference and they asked me if I would show them some Highland birds when they were up on holiday, I jumped at the chance.

I spent a couple of days with them last week in the Cairngorms – we looked for and found golden eagles, crested tits, black grouse and ptarmigan.  All this in amongst glorious mountain scenery – quite a change from their home county of Suffolk!

Ben just after he’d seen his first ever ptarmigan

I was Ben’s age when I first came to the Highlands, though back in those days my mum and dad just packed me onto the train from Glasgow to Aviemore with no means of communication until I got home. I suspect there are precious few parents that would allow their 15 year old to do that now and the world has changed so massively in the last 40 years not just in the freedom we allow our children but with music, the internet, fashion (though I’m sure those flares will come back in one day) and in so many other ways.  But some changes are rather more insidious – every year since the mid-1970s has been warmer than the 20th Century average; not by huge amounts but the effect that this is having on us and our wildlife is slowly but surely being felt.

Ben feeding coal tit, Colin Moyes

On the face of it, East Anglia and the Scottish Highlands don’t seem to have too much in common but these two areas will probably see the continuing effects of climate change more dramatically than anywhere else in the UK. East Anglia as it gets smaller with land being lost to rising sea levels and for us here in the north as birds, animals and plants come under increasing pressures from a steadily warming climate.    

Two teenagers happiest when they’re outside (well, Brin’s a teenager if you convert his dog-years into human-years).

Who can say what the world will be like by the time Ben gets to my age but if the next generation wants to keep enjoying a walk at Minsmere or feel the cold wind on their faces or the scrunch of snow underfoot, we need to keep acting on climate change.  

‘What do you love and hold dear? It could be changed forever by climate change and not be there for the next generation. Add your love here and ask out First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to act via the SCCS online petition

Ben has been blogging about his trip to Scotland as well, you can read more here: