June, 2018

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.
  • Fate of Coul Links now in the hands of Scottish Government

    Fate of Coul Links now in the hands of Scottish Government

    URGENT call to action

    Those of you following the campaign to Save Coul Links will know that we’re part of a group of conservation organisations fighting to stop proposals for a golf course on this triple protected wildlife site. Coul Links is one of the Scotland’s national treasures and is designated as a SPA, Ramsar site and SSSI. Kate Bellew, our Senior Conservation Planner, explains why the fate of Coul Links is now in the hands of the Scottish Government and why we urgently need your to help.

    This week, Highland Council voted to approve proposals for a golf course at Coul Links, against the advice of Council officials, SNH and numerous environmental groups.

    If this shocking decision is allowed to go-ahead it would have terrible consequences for the natural environment. Once these unique habitats are lost, they cannot be replaced. This development would set a terrible precedent. If triple-protected Coul Links is allowed to be destroyed for a golf course – is anywhere safe from development?

    Responsibility of Scottish Government

    All is not lost. Because of the significance of the environmental impacts, it’s the Scottish Government’s responsibility to make the final decision. They have the power to step in and save Coul Links.

    The decision goes completely against Scottish Government’s international environmental commitments, which make it clear that areas like these should be protected.

    We are leading an e-action calling on the Scottish Government to step in and ensure that Scotland upholds its international environmental commitments. Scotland’s reputation depends on it.

    We have only a few weeks to urge the Scottish Government to call-in the decision. Please take action today. Click here for our e-action.

    This decision could have far reaching implications. You don’t have to live in Scotland to take part in this campaign.

    Help us share our campaign

    Look out for content from @RSPBScotland on Twitter, and RSPB Scotland and RSPB Highlands & Islands on Facebook as well as messages from our conservation partners Buglife, Butterfly Conservation Scotland, Plantlife Scotland, Marine Conservation Society, National Trust for Scotland and Scottish Wildlife Trust.


  • Me and the Kentish Glory

    National Insect Week kicks off today until 24th June. You can find out more about it here. To celebrate we’re bringing you a fantastic blog from Mary Laing, a volunteer for Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms on her involvement in the project along with some beautiful photos she has taken.

    Me and the Kentish Glory

    Mary Laing, based in the Cainrgorms National Park, is relatively new to moth recording but has had a big impact in a short amount of time. Whilst also being a talented photographer and contributing important photos to the Rare Invertebrates in the Cairngorms Project and its communications, she has also been key to better understand Kentish glory in Deeside. In 2018, Mary surveyed sixteen 1km square sites and found eight new sites for the species, collecting essential data as she did so. This blog is about how Mary came to be involved and her experience of working with Kentish glory (Endromis versicolora).

    I retired to our old family home in Aberdeenshire in 2011 and started taking rather poor record shots of the birds and other wildlife in my garden, then butterflies and then moths, which I realised were just as beautiful. This surprised me as I’d always disliked them, to the extent of having my father remove them from the bedroom when I was a child! Then a friend offered to put out his moth trap in my garden in the summer of 2014 and I was hooked. In the spring of 2015 I had the amazing pleasure of catching a Kentish Glory in my own moth trap- what an astonishingly beautiful moth it is. I had never even heard of it before and to realise how scarce it was made it even more of a privilege to see.

    The following year I had two in the trap one night, and also located some others in the daytime on the moor near my house. It has been brilliant to learn more about this creature, to see and find egg clutches but even more to take part as a volunteer in the recent pheromone trials to help try and map the extent of the local colonies. Last year was mostly verifying that the pheromones themselves were working properly but this year some of us were allocated one kilometre Ordnance Survey squares that were next to known Kentish Glory sites. I thought that three squares would be enough for me but ended up checking quite a number more as I enjoy a quest!

    This year turned out to be a good one for the Kentish Glory- I had one female and three very different males in my moth trap and found males coming to the pheromones in 12 new OS squares. There were some areas of good habitat where I didn’t find them but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t there, just that they didn’t appear, so next year I’m hoping to try those places again as soon as I know they’re flying. It has been good fun looking for these delightful moths, especially with the purpose of expanding knowledge of their whereabouts. The hope is that knowing exactly where they are will help with conservation of their habitat.

  • Five facts you need to know about swifts

    Swift Awareness Week starts today so in celebration of these birds RSPB Scotland’s Jess Barrett brings you five facts you need to know about them. You can find out more about Swift Awareness Week and find events happening near you as part of it here.

    Five facts you need to know about swifts

    1. Swifts migrate here from Africa

    Swifts spend our winter months away from our cold weather in Africa, undertaking a huge migration every year to return to here to breed. They tend to start arriving in late April and early May and depart by the end of August, and are rarely seen into September.

    2. Their screaming call has earnt them some interesting names

    For many of us the shrill screaming call of swifts as they dart across our skies is a sure sign of summer, and it’s certainly very distinctive. Past names for swifts including deviling, shriek owl, screecher and skeer devil, all inspired by their ear piercing cries.

    3. They spend more time in flight than any other species

    Swifts are truly aerial birds – they spent more time in flight than any other bird and are even known to regularly sleep on the wing! Look out for their rapid racing darts about followed by long glides. You’ll often see groups of them soaring over rooftops.

    4. They can catch up to 10,000 insects a day

    Swifts feed almost exclusively on flying insects, snapping them up as they fly about. In the summer months when they have young to feed they can catch up to 10,000 a day – that’s some hungry babies!

    5. Swifts return to the same place to breed

    Every year swifts will return to the same place to nest and bring up their young. Their nests are made up of a shallow cup of straw cemented together with their saliva. On the whole swifts favour nesting under the eaves of buildings which is why you tend to find them in villages, towns and cities.

    However, breeding numbers of swifts in the UK plummeted by 51 percent between 1995 and 2015. It’s thought that loss of nest sites could partly be responsible. There are several ways you can help them from creating a safe nest place for them to taking part in our swift surveys. Find out more here.