Meet the Team – Susan Montgomerie

If you have had the chance to read the newsletter, you will have noticed a new feature that will include an insight in the committee members of our group. A lot of readers will only know our committee members by name, mentioned in articles or on the syllabus, so this was seen as a chance to delve a little deeper into those who give their time and energy into running the group. Susan had quite a bit to say, so we took a brief summary and published it in the newsletter, but you can read the full interview here.


Where did your interest in nature begin?

It started when I was about four years old. We had moved to a new home and from the French windows in the back room, I was only feet away from a high fence with a mass of redcurrant and honeysuckle covering it. As spring turned to summer, I was enchanted with a pair of blackbirds starting to build a nest in the honeysuckle, finally laying eggs and brooding them. As I peeked out the window, I was eye to eye with Mummy Blackbird who stared at me unblinkingly. We came to a truce – as long as I kept my movements slow, she would relax and settle comfortably in the nest. Over the years, several families were raised, some nests failed and some were predated, but every year, Mummy Blackbird would be back – watching me watching her.


Have you held any other positions in the field of nature – committees, volunteering?

I’ve been on the NA committee since January 1978, when I took over as Indoor Convener from Mike Hancock, who had taken on the position at the Group’s inception in February 1976. I was Field trip Organiser for a short time too, but when the family came along, I reverted to ordinary committee member for a while. When Marco decided to give up being Treasurer, I decided my Dad, Jack Robertson, would have liked me to take it on, since he’d been Treasurer for several years in the 70s and 80s. When the group first formed, I did a fair bit of volunteering at Lochwinnoch, laying foundations for the car park, varnishing the wood of the new Scandinavian-designed centre, planting trees and shrubs, clearing overgrown plants, etc. I’m leaving that to the younger ones now.


Any other interests?

I belong to or donate to several other wildlife organisations, but have so far avoided getting more committed. I love puzzles and reading when I have time. My craft work – making silver jewellery – takes up quite a lot of my time and I am Treasurer to two other organisations, Ayrshire Craft Organisation and the New Cunninghame Art Club. I also enjoy painting and go to a couple of art groups.


Where is your favourite place to go birding?

Lots of nice places like the Farne Islands, Orkney, Leighton Moss, Norfolk, Morayshire coast area but my favourite place is Mull. The islanders have taken sea eagles to their hearts and welcome visitors with open arms, even telling you where to get the best views of these magnificent birds. I must go back there again soon – I’m getting withdrawal symptoms!!


Do you have a story about nature that you still think about and go ‘WOW’?

Probably the most amazing one was when we were on our first holiday to Mull in 1985 and we were driving from Tobermory towards Salen – before the new improved road – and we stopped the car at a little bridge beside a field to watch a male hen harrier doing his skydance. That was amazing enough, but I was standing on the other side of the car and glanced down the stream running away from us and realised that I was looking straight into an otter’s deep brown eyes! He watched me for a few seconds then turned and ambled off downstream disappearing into the overhanging grasses. He’d gone before I had even had a chance to call out to the rest of the family! WOW!

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