Feb 212024

Waterston House, Aberlady EH32 0PY 

Wooden building with a reddish roof beyond a short driveway and trees. The sign in the front reads "Scottish Birdwatchers Centre - Waterson House - All Welcome."
The Waterston House, headquarters of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club
©Jim Barton, Geograph

The Waterston House is the headquarters of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (SOC). The SOC was created in March 1936 after a meeting between Scottish ornithologists in the Royal Scottish Geographical Society with the goal to coordinate bird conservation actions and policies in Scotland. The Club promotes systematic recording and study of birds across gardens and nature reserves, and forms a network of local ornithologists all around the country. The Waterston House contains the Donal Watson Gallery, specializing in wildlife art, and the George Waterston Library and Archives collection, containing ornithological books, journals and bird reports since 1948. It also houses ornithological artefacts such as notebooks, correspondence and photographs from members of the SOC and of eminent Scottish ornithologists like Evelyn V. Baxter, Leonora J. Rintoul, and George Waterston. 

Black and white photo of a smiling man with hair wearing rain gear and binoculars.
George Waterston (1911-1980) one of Edinburgh’s most influential ornithologists
©SOC Archive, Scottish Orinthologists’ Club


The Scottish Ornithologists’ Club; Pioneers in Scottish Ornithology, chapter in Bob McGowann and David Clugston, The Birds of Scotland (2007), edited by the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club

Additional Links:

Feb 212024

The Harbour, Harbour Terrace, North Berwick, EH39 4SS 

Stone building with an angular roof up a driveway and set right on the coast; blue skies and water in the background.
The Scottish Seabird Centre
©Edward McMaihin, Geograph

The Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick is a conservation charity and visitor centre, dedicated to the research and protection of seabird wildlife on The Bass Rock, as well as across the Firth of Forth, and further afield. The most iconic are the local colonies of puffins, pelagic seabirds with brightly coloured beaks that feed primarily by diving in the water. These unique birds can be found on many of the uninhabited islands in the Firth of Forth.

The Scottish Seabird Centre was opened by a team of local ornithologists in May 2000. Their goal was to use technologies, such as webcams, to enable locals to witness life on the surrounding seabird colonies in the Firth of Forth without disturbing the wildlife. The Centre not only has a role in sharing knowledge and interest for the marine wildlife, but also participates in its conservation by running several projects like recruiting volunteers to protect the puffins from invasive plant species on the island of Craigleith and cleaning the North Berwick beaches.

Rocky island with green foliage; dark blue waters in the foreground and light blue skies in the background.
The Island of Craigleith
©Mark Anderson, Geograph

The webcams in the Seabird Centre facilitate viewing from afar a kittiwake colony in Dunbar, the gannets of Bass Rock, and the puffins of Craigleith Island and the Isle of May. The Centre is also the departure point for boat trips to some islands of the Firth of Forth which are home to many seabird species (Bass Rock, Craigleith, the Lamb and the Isle of May). 

Tens of grey and white birds nesting on a grey rock cliff.
A busy colony of kittiwakes nesting on a cliff
©Julie St. Louis, PIXNIO


Individual Researcher Walk; Scottish Seabird Centre (webpage)

Additional Links:

  • https://www.seabird.org/ (The Scottish Seabird Centre website for links to the webcam and current conservation projects)

Feb 162024

Isle of May Nature Reserve, Anstruther KY10 3XB 

White lighthouse on a rocky coastline with greens in the foreground and blue skies and sea in the background.
The Isle of May Bird Observatory
©Wikimedia Commons

Founded in 1934 in one of the two lighthouses of the island, the Isle of May Bird Observatory is Scotland’s oldest bird observatory. The Isle of May was and still is a key location for the study of birds, particularly the understanding of bird migration. It is notably where the two ornithologists and founders of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club, Evelyn V. Baxter and Leonora J. Rintoul, conducted fundamental work in the early 20th century to study birds’ migration. You can learn more about their findings in the 1918 publication ‘The Birds of the Isle of May: a migration study’ in the journal from the British Ornithologists’ Union. The observatory is still running today and contributes to the monitoring of birds migrating over Scotland. 


Individual Researcher Walk; Isle of May Bird Observatory; Scottish Seabird Centre; Scottish Ornithologists’ Club

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