Trip reports

Scottish Birdfair 2014

Scottish Birdfair 2014
Rosie Filipiak

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Scottish Birdfair 2014

The Birdfair this year aims to raise money for FAME (Future of the Atlantic Marine Environment) and STAR (Seabird Tracking and Research), two of the world's biggest seabird tracking initiatives to monitor seabirds across the western European seaboard. In the UK, six species are being monitored, shag, razorbill, fulmar, kittiwake, guillemot and black guillemot. The RSPB will use the money raised from this event to help these initiatives protect the kittiwake, the feature species for Birdfair. Tracking their movements using tiny GPS tags will help understand the reasons for the halving in the population of kittiwakes in the UK since the mid-1980s and the worrying two-thirds reduction in our Scottish breeding population during the same time period. One aim of this project will be to identify and eventually protect foraging areas in the sea for these birds.

The weather forecast was as usual, predicting rain for the Birdfair weekend and Saturday dawned with heavy clouds and rain. However, it faired up well for the afternoon with Sunday being fine and warm, with a consequent surge in attendance.

Eppie hosted a dawn chorus walk on both mornings through the Hopetoun estate, with birds seen including many of the 47 species seen on the site over the weekend, with nuthatch, tree creeper, great spotted woodpecker, tits, siskin and other finches, all of which were spotted from our Group viewing point. We also listened to chiffchaff and blackcap singing. Many of these species were trapped in the BTO mist nets where they were subsequently ringed in view of an interested audience.

Group members volunteered throughout the weekend in a variety of roles, including Brian who again organised the car parking, Ann and Winnie helped at the Silent Auction and Margaret was on the reception desk.

As before, the Group had a tent and viewing point with scopes trained on a number of feeders which we had set up and kept filled during the previous weeks, so the birds would be attracted to them. Volunteers Holly, Margaret(s), Eppie, Brian, Rosie, Hugh, Evelyn, Winnie, Valerie, Sam and Val from the Group were in attendance in shifts throughout both days. Although our site was necessarily, away from the general arena, we had a number of visitors and Hugh signed up a couple to our Group, with 3 other people taking membership forms away with them. Our visitors were happy to chat about the bird list which we kept up to date throughout the weekend and to tell us about their experiences of birding. It was heartening to see a number of youngsters so interested in nature and birds in particular. Thanks must be particularly given to Eppie, Brian, Val and Sam who organised the setting up and dismantling of our tent.