Not one, but two newsletters! As an oversight we never uploaded the Autumn 2014 newsletter to the website, so we have rectified that, along with publishing the new Spring 2015 newsletter for you to enjoy.

Spring 2015

Autumn 2014

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Chairman’s Message from Duncan Watt

The past year has been successful and we remain financially sound, thanks to Susan’s careful stewardship. While John’s planning of talks produced a wide variety of talks and speakers.


“Giving Nature a Home” was the theme and Hayley Douglas, Ranger at Clyde Muirshiel stole the season with her track-cam videos of badgers, otters and other fauna. I am very concerned, therefore, about the dwindling Renfrewshire Council support of the Ranger Service there.


The May 2014 group trip to Leighton Moss RSPB reserve and WWT at Martin Mere was a great success (see p1, continued on p4), and other field trips included the ‘best ever homeward sunset’ from Scone Palace and Vane Farm, the ‘colours of Hawfinch’ in the sky consoling those who hadn’t managed to see the bird ‘in the feather’.


Next year becomes very important indeed as in January 2016 our RSPB local group will be 40 years in effective existence. Your committee intend to celebrate in best North Ayrshire tradition, not just with a party at which our guest will be Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland to talk and cut the cake, but with a cruise around the Firth of Clyde (details still to be fully confirmed).


In our 25th anniversary, we hired PS Waverley to circumnavigate Ailsa Craig for the first time in decades – we’ve always been good at ‘firsts’. A couple of miles from the Craig, Jack Robertson (Susan’s Dad) told me that I’d have to do the commentary from the bridge, so I might do that again, but during this year, I’ll be handing group leadership over to my depute, Andy Shand.


Andy is a native of our area and a good naturalist whose service as an RSPB volunteer is long. We are just waiting for the RSPB to give approval and make the appointment, it’s not a post which can be elected.


The big focus next year has to be the RSPB’s ‘Garnock Valley Futurescape’.We’ve already had several speakers explaining this visionary concept, but now with the new A737 set to cut across the valley, we can bring a focus onto our heartland for wildlife.What we have in mind is to host an event at Eglinton Country Park in late April or early May 2016 – a ‘Garnock Valley Wildlife Day’. We have two RSPB groups in Ayrshire, plus an SOC branch with whom we’ve co-operated on major campaigns, Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Trust with whom have a long, co-operative relationship and the BTO, SNH and WWT all have made a strong association with our RSPB group, and will be invited to participate in our programme of exhibitions, walks and demonstrations.


If any members know of other like minded groups in the Garnock Valley Area who might be interested, please inform a committee member. Each partner organisation has a part to play in the Garnock Futurescaping. The biggest aim of course will be to increase local RPSB membership and participation.


Your committee has decided that we should enter into an agreement with the local paper (Ardrossan and Saltcoats / Garnock Valley Herald) to provide weekly articles for a year, at no charge to us. This will provide an opportunity for us to inform the public about seasonal events in nature with appropriate photographs or sketches.52 seasonal articles is a big ask, but I know that you can answer it. The result should be an invigorated North Ayrshire Branch, and another forty years of Giving Nature a Home! 

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We Have Not Forgotten…

It may have come to your attention over the last couple of weeks a series of allegations against the RSPB from another organisation going by the name 'You Forgot The Birds'. Their statements have managed to capture the attention of the media and are seemingly representing the thoughts of conservationists and nature lovers across the UK, throwing doubt onto the credibility of one of the largest nature conservation charities in the world.

A detailed response from the RSPB can be found at the link below, which we hope will clear up the misleading information this group has peddled recently and reassure you that the RSPB is still a leading voice in nature conservation.

RSPB Response


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New Species – Yellow-Crowned Sparrows?

Not quite!

A funny visitor to Treasurer Susan's garden this summer caused a few raised eyebrows. Take a look at the photo to the right showing the young sparrow feeding from the garden feeder with a bright yellow crown. An unusual sight.

After a little investigation and help from others, we worked it out to be a normal young sparrow that had recently been feeding on New Zealand Flax. These strange coloured birds (not exclusively sparrows) had shown up in a few places, and the answer seemed to simply be that the pollen of the flax had been transferred to the birds heads while they were feeding. This particular flax uses birds, rather than insects, to pollinate.

A little searching later found that a garden close by had this New Zealand Flax growing, so now it shouldn't be a surprise if these funny coloured birds pop by again.


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Spring 2014 Newsletter

The Spring 2014 newsletter has now been published online. It can be downloaded from the Newsletters page or by clicking the thumbnail.

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