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TITLE
Crossbills in the Highlands
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_DESTHOMSON_04
PERIOD
1980s; 1990s
CREATOR
Desmond Nethersole-Thompson
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
1899
KEYWORDS
ornithology
bird watching
audio

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Desmond Nethersole-Thompson first came to the Highlands in 1932 to study birds. Following almost twenty years of study, mainly in the Spey Valley, he published his first account of the greenshank species. From 1964, he and his family lived each spring in a remote valley in Sutherland where they followed a population of greenshanks through many consecutive years. In this audio extract from 1980, Desmond describes the crossbill.

Now, I first came to the Highlands in 1932 when I was encouraged to specialise by a number of very fine and very great ornithologists. I started to live here in 1934, and here I've had my life and my laboratories there, and I still watch and study and each year try to learn a little more. In the thirties, I remember so well, almost before winter was over, and away into the old pine woods of Strathspey, to study the crossbills. My word, the crossbills are among the most marvellous of our small, small birds with a specially evolved bill which is adapted, crossed, to take out seeds from pines. And I was able to watch the flocks of these lovely birds, the cock, the scarlet plumage and the hen green, in their flocks and then mating parties breaking away from them and eventually I was able to watch the nest being built and then had the great excitement and joy of watching the cock fly in from perhaps half a mile or mile away, land on a treetop, and then feed the hen on the nest. And all the time you knew the nest was there right up in the tops of pines. She had a little chittering cry, little squeaky cries, until he came and fed her. And these hens, oh they sat so tightly at times, and I've been up in my work, had to look in to find out how many eggs to compare the clutch size, I've actually lifted the hen crossbill off the nest, thrown her up and she's come down and settled on my finger, fingers, and I put her back on the eggs. Really extraordinary, fascinating, little birds and over the years we were able to do enough work to write a whole book - a monograph - about them and we discovered that our Scottish crossbills were actually a different species from those which come periodically into Britain from the Soviet Union and Fennoscandia; beautiful birds and a marvellous study they were

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Crossbills in the Highlands

1980s; 1990s

ornithology; bird watching; audio

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Bill Sinclair Audio: Bird Watching

Desmond Nethersole-Thompson first came to the Highlands in 1932 to study birds. Following almost twenty years of study, mainly in the Spey Valley, he published his first account of the greenshank species. From 1964, he and his family lived each spring in a remote valley in Sutherland where they followed a population of greenshanks through many consecutive years. In this audio extract from 1980, Desmond describes the crossbill.<br /> <br /> Now, I first came to the Highlands in 1932 when I was encouraged to specialise by a number of very fine and very great ornithologists. I started to live here in 1934, and here I've had my life and my laboratories there, and I still watch and study and each year try to learn a little more. In the thirties, I remember so well, almost before winter was over, and away into the old pine woods of Strathspey, to study the crossbills. My word, the crossbills are among the most marvellous of our small, small birds with a specially evolved bill which is adapted, crossed, to take out seeds from pines. And I was able to watch the flocks of these lovely birds, the cock, the scarlet plumage and the hen green, in their flocks and then mating parties breaking away from them and eventually I was able to watch the nest being built and then had the great excitement and joy of watching the cock fly in from perhaps half a mile or mile away, land on a treetop, and then feed the hen on the nest. And all the time you knew the nest was there right up in the tops of pines. She had a little chittering cry, little squeaky cries, until he came and fed her. And these hens, oh they sat so tightly at times, and I've been up in my work, had to look in to find out how many eggs to compare the clutch size, I've actually lifted the hen crossbill off the nest, thrown her up and she's come down and settled on my finger, fingers, and I put her back on the eggs. Really extraordinary, fascinating, little birds and over the years we were able to do enough work to write a whole book - a monograph - about them and we discovered that our Scottish crossbills were actually a different species from those which come periodically into Britain from the Soviet Union and Fennoscandia; beautiful birds and a marvellous study they were