Scottish Nature Notes

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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.
  • RSPB Scotland photography competition

    Introducing a brand new photography competition!

    Are you inspired by nature and wildlife across Scotland? If so, why not enter RSPB Scotland’s photography competition? All donations received will go to support wildlife conservation in Scotland.

    Competition Categories

    • Giving Nature a Home
    • People and Nature
    • Animal behaviours
    • Wildscapes

    The competition is FREE to enter and you  may choose up to 3 categories. There will be one winner and one runner up from each category.

    If you would like to make a suggested donation of £5.00 towards our wildlife conservation work in Scotland, please visit:

    All photographs will automatically be entered into the running to win the RSPB Scotland Photographer of the Year 2013!

    Competition closing date 30 December 2013

    Read on for details of judging panel, prizes, under-18s competition and full Terms & Conditions.


    The winner from each category will win:

    • A 'money can’t buy RSPB experience' with some of our specialist staff (Summer 2014).
    • Specially commissioned copy of winning image.
    • Image featured in RSPB Scotland Photography competition calendar 2015.
    • Image featured in Scotland News magazine.
    • Endurance® PC Compact binoculars from Black and Lizars.
    • £250 voucher from photographic retailers Calumet Photographic.
    • A day with award winning wildlife photographer Dean Bricknell – learning tips/hints on this fantastic medium.


    Under 18’s competition

    If you are aged under 18 years old and a keen photographer enthused by the beauty of nature and wildlife, then this is the competition for you.

    The theme for this competition is Giving Nature a Home and the winner will receive the title of RSPB Scotland’s Young Photographer of the Year 2013.

    A runner up will also be chosen from this competition.

    Competition closing date 30 December 2013

    The prize

    • Specially commissioned copy of winning image.
    • Image featured in RSPB Wildlife photographer of the year calendar 2015
    • Image featured in Scotland News magazine
    • And much much more.....

    The runner up will also be featured in the RSPB Scotland Photography Competition calendar 2015

    Winner/Runners up – will be asked to submit original image/size in CD


    John Aitchison - Bafta winning BBC wildlife cameraman and photographer (Hebrides, Springwatch, Big Cat Diaries).

    Dean Bricknell - Wildlife & landscape Photographer, a lifelong passion for inspirational nature photography

    Andy Hay - RSPB photographer


    How to enter

     Please read the Competition Rules & Terms & Conditions

    E-mail digital images to

    Ensure you tell us the following information:

    • Which category you are entering (for the over 18s competition)
    • Where the photograph was taken
    • Your name
    • Your phone number
    • Your e-mail address
    • Date of Birth (for the under 18s competition)

    Hard Copies

    No smaller than 5x7 – Please post hard copies to:

    Lisa Dove,

    RSPB Scotland,

    2 Lochside View,


    EH12 9DH

    Please note – winners will either be contacted by e-mail or phone, therefore it is vital that you provide this information

    If you would like to make a suggested donation of £5.00 towards our wildlife conservation work in Scotland, please visit

    Your donation will help towards the ongoing conservation work of the RSPB. If we all act together, we can save nature and ensure that there is beautiful areas of Scotland to photograph in the future. Nature is amazing, please help us keep it that way.

    Competition closing date 30 December 2013

    RSPB’s Scotland’s Photography Competition Rules

    When submitting an image please follow the rules below, Thank you

    • This competition is a celebration of Scotland. It is open to everyone living anywhere but must be of Scottish imagery.
    • No shots of birds on nest, the welfare of the animal must come first
    • All photographs should accurately reflect the subject matter and the scene as it appeared, lets see it through your eyes not the tools of software.
    • No shots of captured animals.
    • No HDR (High Dynamic Range) Images.
    • No shots of pets
    • Pictures must not have been entered into other photographic competitions
    • Amateur photographers only
    • Any RSPB employee or their immediate family will be ineligible to enter
    • No wildlife or habitats should be harmed, put at risk, or unduly disturbed in the process of taking photographs. Further guidance is available at:
    • The detail of the photograph should not be altered, i.e. removing an insect from a bird’s beak
    • Full copyright title remains with the author/owner.  Please see full terms below regarding your entry and potential use of
    • Winners will be asked to submit original files
    • Entries must be submitted by 30 December 2013. Late entries will not be accepted Contributions featuring children under 18 can only be accepted if you are the parent or guardian; by accepting these terms and conditions you warrant that you are the parent or guardian and that you grant permission for the contribution to be treated according to the uses set out above.
    • The RSPB accepts no responsibility for entries which are lost or corrupted during upload
    • We cannot judge any pictures whose details have been entered incorrectly
    • The judge’s decision on all matters affecting this competition is final and legally binding
    • The results, winner’s name and town, will be published in Scotland News magazine and on the Scottish pages of the RSPB website
    • There is no cash alternative to the competition prize
    • Any winner who has not responded to notification within 21 days will forfeit their prize; a replacement winner will be selected from other entrants.

    Technical requirements

    • Noise free at 100% crop
    • No pixilation
    • JPEG
    • 900 pixels or approx 1028 pixels in width at longest edge
    • If submitting more than one image please compress to zip file
    • 850 KB’s

    Terms and Conditions

    • By submitting your contribution to the RSPB you agree to be legally bound by these terms and conditions
    • Full copyright title shall be retained by the Author of any submissions.  By submitting any contribution, you agree that the winning entries will be featured in the RSPB Scotland Photography Competition calendar, Scotland News, RSPB Scotland Photography Competition webpage and on Facebook in relation to the competition .  Permission will be sought and author credited where possible.  Any contribution provided will be non-confidential and in accordance with privacy restrictions set out in the RSPB’s Privacy Policy.
    • Any contribution must be your own original work, it must not infringe the rights of third parties including copyright, trade mark, trade secrets, privacy, publicity, personal or proprietary rights;
    •  If your contribution features other people who are recognisable, you are responsible for ensuring that you have their permission for the contribution to be treated according to the uses set out above. Contributions featuring children under 18 can only be accepted if you are the parent or guardian; by accepting these terms and conditions you warrant that you are the parent or guardian and that you grant permission for the contribution to be treated according to the uses set out above.

    The RSPB’s rights in relation to your contribution

    • Publication of your contribution will be at the RSPB’s sole discretion;
    • Save as expressly provided for in these terms neither the RSPB nor its trading subsidiary(ies) shall be liable for any direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage or for any costs, claims or demands of any nature whatsoever arising directly or indirectly out of the use of your contribution or any part thereof;
    • From time to time, the RSPB may run competitions, free prize draws and promotions in connection with its conservation work. In each case these will be subject to additional competition terms which will be made available at the appropriate time.
    • These Terms and Conditions (as amended from time to time) constitute the entire agreement between you and the RSPB concerning your contribution to “RSPB Scotland Photography Competition”. The RSPB reserves the right to update these Terms and Conditions from time to time and any updated version will be effective as soon as it is published on the Website.
    • The RSPB takes your privacy very seriously; we will only use your personal information in accordance with the terms of our Privacy Policy. By submitting a contribution to “RSPB Scotland Photography Competition”, you acknowledge and agree that you have read and accept the terms of our Privacy Policy and these Terms and Conditions.

  • I thought you were bringing it!!

    Conservation Manager, Stuart Benn, tells us how his Big Wild Sleepout went...

    I thought you were bringing it!!

    It hadn’t been a good start.

    We were heading up into the glens for the Big Wild Sleepout when we realised we hadn’t packed the tent! Note for next year – make a list! Anyway, it was too far from home and too late to go back to fetch it so we ended up with the two of us plus dog sleeping in the car - very cosy. From the contented and deep schnufflings coming from the direction of his bed, the puppy got the best sleep!

    But, really, it was just a minor inconvenience – we were out there enjoying the evening, night and the early morning and that’s what it’s about. Next day, while the moth traps were getting checked I took a stroll up the glen – first bird I saw was a dipper arrowing up the burn and the second was a golden eagle which I watched hunting for a good 40 minutes. At one point it perched on the highest hill – what a view it must have had from up there.

    I even managed to get a pic of it – yes, that thing just to the right of the highest point is an adult eagle!

    Maybe we were the only people in Britain to see an eagle on our Sleepout but if you’ve never seen moths or nightjars or stars or meteors or bats or heard an owl or been out at night before then that’s pretty wild too.

  • It’s the best time of the day...

    RSPB Conservation Manager Stuart Benn is looking forward to the Big Wild Sleepout. Will you be participating?

    It’s the best time of the day...

    I’ve always been something of a magpie, always on the lookout for pictures or words that ‘stick to the eyes’, things that I can keep in mind and refer back to. So, when I was on the Tube a couple of weeks ago and saw an advert with the tagline – ‘It’s the best time of the day, the night-time’ – it stayed with me.

    And that image neatly sums up the thinking behind the RSPB’s Big Wild Sleepout – a chance to experience being out at night, to peer into that unfamiliar world, to see things in a different light, to be a part of the magic.

    Well it’s nearly here, it’s next weekend, are you up for it?! We know that there’s loads of people coming up with their own ideas or signing up to the organised events up and down the country and our fingers are crossed that the weather will cooperate.

    Tent and moth trap.

    Last weekend we delved into the cupboard, got the tent out and headed up into the glens for a dry (hopefully!) run. We arrived mid-evening and found the perfect spot, beautiful and still, with the spotted flycatcher, redstart, swallow and house martin families having a great time trying to put a dent in the local midge population. But, a bit of repellent saw us alright as we got the tent up and set out a couple of moth traps. Soon done and then all we needed to do was relax with a cup of tea and watch the world soften and darken until the only light came from the traps and the twinkling stars.

    Spotted flycatcher (RSPB images).

    We turned in for a sound sleep as the lovely night turned into a lovely morning – up early but the birds had beaten us to it and were already on midge patrol. Quick cup of tea and then it was time to check the traps. It’s been said that there’s a bit of theatre about checking a moth catch and it does feel like that – you never quite know what you’ll find, it’s a voyage of discovery and the chance to get up close to such beautifully patterned insects is always fun.

    Brin thought so too and checked out an Antler moth – still doing OK here in the north but in big trouble further south as is the case with the redstarts, flycatchers and hundreds of other species. We need to find out why this is happening and start putting it right – pronto.    

    Brin and Antler moth.

    We were all done by 9am so could leisurely pack up as the day warmed – and there was still nearly all of it ahead of us to enjoy!

    It had been great fun - the night-time really is the best part of the day. But don’t take my word for it, join us this weekend for moths, walks, bats, campfires, stars, surprises, mystery and find out for yourself!