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TITLE
The Golden Age of Highland Birds (1 of 2)
EXTERNAL ID
GB1796_SINCLAIR_DESTHOMSON_10
PERIOD
1980s; 1990s
CREATOR
Desmond Nethersole-Thompson
SOURCE
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
ASSET ID
1908
KEYWORDS
ornithology
bird watching
conservation
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 reflects on some of the birds which have returned to the Highlands in the current 'Golden Age' of Highland Birds.

Now, I'm always being asked whether Highland birds have declined, have gone down, since I came to live in the North in the 1930s. Have we lost out? And I can tell you the answer is simple. No! A thousand times no. We are living at the present time in the Golden Age of Highland birds. The ospreys are back. My word, we used to dream of the ospreys; great brown and white fellows and the great huge raft of a nest up in the trees and those superb eggs with the white ground and the great purple and red blotches. We talked and we dreamt about; we never expected them really to come back. And then it happened. And it's not just the nest in Loch Garten; there are probably at least twenty pairs now nesting in Scotland. And the goshawks, another bird that had disappeared in the 1850s from Spey Valley, and it's back again. And if you have the luck to see them and to see the display flight, the courtship flight, you'll have seen something that you'll remember all your life.

We have three hundred pairs of golden eagles nesting in Scotland. They're probably a quarter of the European population and that was the bird that my friend, Seton Gordon, dedicated his life to and on which he made such a superb contribution. And hen harriers; the cock, blue, almost like - blue with white - almost like a gull, and the hen brown, they're not only nesting as they did at previous times in Orkney and in the Outer Isles, but in many, many moorlands and forest spinnies and young thickets in the High- on the mainland. The snowy owl has nested. Admittedly the old cock bird disappeared but the hen's there and I can tell you that other pairs are pioneering and prospecting. And among waders, almost every new year we get a rarity or a new bird; the Temminck's stint, a little wader hardly larger than a sparrow. First nested in Scotland in 1934. Nest- tried to nest again, '36. Nested in Yorkshire 1954. I found it in 1956 and now, it's nesting regularly in Scotland and sometimes, a friend of mine has heard two or three of the cocks giving their little reeling, grasshopper-like song, altogether, in a part of the Highlands

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The Golden Age of Highland Birds (1 of 2)

1980s; 1990s

ornithology; bird watching; conservation; 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 reflects on some of the birds which have returned to the Highlands in the current 'Golden Age' of Highland Birds.<br /> <br /> Now, I'm always being asked whether Highland birds have declined, have gone down, since I came to live in the North in the 1930s. Have we lost out? And I can tell you the answer is simple. No! A thousand times no. We are living at the present time in the Golden Age of Highland birds. The ospreys are back. My word, we used to dream of the ospreys; great brown and white fellows and the great huge raft of a nest up in the trees and those superb eggs with the white ground and the great purple and red blotches. We talked and we dreamt about; we never expected them really to come back. And then it happened. And it's not just the nest in Loch Garten; there are probably at least twenty pairs now nesting in Scotland. And the goshawks, another bird that had disappeared in the 1850s from Spey Valley, and it's back again. And if you have the luck to see them and to see the display flight, the courtship flight, you'll have seen something that you'll remember all your life. <br /> <br /> We have three hundred pairs of golden eagles nesting in Scotland. They're probably a quarter of the European population and that was the bird that my friend, Seton Gordon, dedicated his life to and on which he made such a superb contribution. And hen harriers; the cock, blue, almost like - blue with white - almost like a gull, and the hen brown, they're not only nesting as they did at previous times in Orkney and in the Outer Isles, but in many, many moorlands and forest spinnies and young thickets in the High- on the mainland. The snowy owl has nested. Admittedly the old cock bird disappeared but the hen's there and I can tell you that other pairs are pioneering and prospecting. And among waders, almost every new year we get a rarity or a new bird; the Temminck's stint, a little wader hardly larger than a sparrow. First nested in Scotland in 1934. Nest- tried to nest again, '36. Nested in Yorkshire 1954. I found it in 1956 and now, it's nesting regularly in Scotland and sometimes, a friend of mine has heard two or three of the cocks giving their little reeling, grasshopper-like song, altogether, in a part of the Highlands