Focus is on change as birdwatchers land in town

The Peebles conference will include a session on raptors in the Borders, including urban sparrowhawks.
The Peebles conference will include a session on raptors in the Borders, including urban sparrowhawks.

Seasoned ornithologists and newcomers to the joys of birdwatching will descend on the Borders next month for the annual Scottish Birdwatchers’ Conference.

Jointly run by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (SOC), the one-day event, expected to attract 200 delegates, will be held for the first time in the Eastgate Theatre and Arts Centre, Peebles, on Saturday, March 19.

Split into four sessions, the conference has the theme ‘Exploring change in Scottish Borders Birds’ and features a range of expert speakers including Ray Murray and Mark Holling of the South-East Scotland Atlas Group who will reveal the winning and losing breeds in the most recent “citizen survey” of birds in the Lothians and Borders, containing a database of over 180,000 entries.

Chaired by Ian Thomson, Scottish Ornithologists’ Club president, the conference will have a section devoted to raptors with talks on the return of the Borders Ospreys (Tony Lightley, Tweed Valley Osprey Project), merlins in the Lammermuirs (Alan Heavysides of the Lothian and Borders Raptor Study Group) and urban sparrowhawks (Mike Thornton and Amy Challis, Scottish Raptor Monitoring Scheme).

Book online on www.the-soc.org.uk before February 28; £32 per person, under-25s and students at £15.