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TITLE
Greenshanks in the Northwest Flowlands (1 of 2)
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_DESTHOMSON_06
PERIOD
1980s; 1990s
CREATOR
Desmond Nethersole-Thompson
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
1902
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 greenshank.

The great, vast, open spaces of the flowlands of the northwest have always been a tremendous challenge, not only to me and to my family, but to a great number of very fine ornithologists. My favourite bird is the greenshank. It's another wader, about the size of a lapwing; grey mantle, long green legs, a long and a slightly uplifted, upturned eggs, upturned bill. And it also lays exceptionally beautiful eggs, sometimes of a greenish brown colour, other times buff, and always, or nearly always, with enormous blotches of red and violet and purple on them - marvellous eggs to look at. But when the clutch is completed, the hen has laid her fourth egg, she or her mate start to sit and they sit just like wax. You can stand - you can almost put your foot on them. I've actually had my foot over a sitting greenshank before I saw it and then you will not see its partner in the territory except twice a day as a rule; early in the morning, late in the evening, when the partners change duties with one another.

In the meantime, the non-sitting bird goes away to a loch or to a river and it feeds there, hour after hour, and rests as well. And then perhaps, if it's in the evening, you see it getting very excited and calling, and you sit up and you wait there. Perhaps, you've no idea where the nest is at this stage. And then, suddenly, the greenshank will take off, flying in sort of a rapid but nevertheless straight line, far up into the hills or onto the flowlands. And you watch it, you get your glass on it, and it nearly always disappears but you, next day, you go to the place that you lost it, where you saw it disappear, and then you sit you may do that for several days, each time hoping to gain a little ground and then perhaps, if you're very lucky, you'll be in a position to see the incoming bird come in, land on a tree if it was in Speyside, rock if it was in Sutherland, and start a peculiar rhythm of call which announces its presence to the non - to the sitting bird. And then, you nearly always, the greenshank'll disappear into a, into broken ground, and you have to go in and search, but the secret after that is probably going to be yours and it's one of the great and enormous thrills. And remember, even when you've got your bird going into the dip, it'll sit, very often so tightly that you can walk over it half a dozen times

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Greenshanks in the Northwest Flowlands (1 of 2)

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 greenshank.<br /> <br /> The great, vast, open spaces of the flowlands of the northwest have always been a tremendous challenge, not only to me and to my family, but to a great number of very fine ornithologists. My favourite bird is the greenshank. It's another wader, about the size of a lapwing; grey mantle, long green legs, a long and a slightly uplifted, upturned eggs, upturned bill. And it also lays exceptionally beautiful eggs, sometimes of a greenish brown colour, other times buff, and always, or nearly always, with enormous blotches of red and violet and purple on them - marvellous eggs to look at. But when the clutch is completed, the hen has laid her fourth egg, she or her mate start to sit and they sit just like wax. You can stand - you can almost put your foot on them. I've actually had my foot over a sitting greenshank before I saw it and then you will not see its partner in the territory except twice a day as a rule; early in the morning, late in the evening, when the partners change duties with one another. <br /> <br /> In the meantime, the non-sitting bird goes away to a loch or to a river and it feeds there, hour after hour, and rests as well. And then perhaps, if it's in the evening, you see it getting very excited and calling, and you sit up and you wait there. Perhaps, you've no idea where the nest is at this stage. And then, suddenly, the greenshank will take off, flying in sort of a rapid but nevertheless straight line, far up into the hills or onto the flowlands. And you watch it, you get your glass on it, and it nearly always disappears but you, next day, you go to the place that you lost it, where you saw it disappear, and then you sit you may do that for several days, each time hoping to gain a little ground and then perhaps, if you're very lucky, you'll be in a position to see the incoming bird come in, land on a tree if it was in Speyside, rock if it was in Sutherland, and start a peculiar rhythm of call which announces its presence to the non - to the sitting bird. And then, you nearly always, the greenshank'll disappear into a, into broken ground, and you have to go in and search, but the secret after that is probably going to be yours and it's one of the great and enormous thrills. And remember, even when you've got your bird going into the dip, it'll sit, very often so tightly that you can walk over it half a dozen times