Local Recorder Profile #2

The second in a new regular feature where we ask people in our area to talk a little about what motivates them to record wildlife and send their records to NESBReC.  Photo by David Brown.

Local Recorder Profile #2 – by David Brown

I became a recorder through my work as an Aberdeenshire Council Ranger. Being out and about anyway meant I could note species whilst involved in other work. However, a lot of my recording is done at home watching birds after I’ve put out food for them. The species that appear are mainly ‘garden birds’ but regulars also include yellowhammers, crows, jackdaws, magpies, the occasional sparrowhawk – oh, and rats, though the latter have ‘disappeared’ now!

Corvids are a particular interest of mine and it has been interesting to see magpies and jays increasingly appearing in my part of Aberdeenshire (Formartine), two species notable by their absence when I arrived here in 2003. Although people perhaps expect rangers to know every species of everything, this one doesn’t and my time spent recording has slowly extended my species recognition abilities, often by photographing something that piques my curiosity, sending it into NESBReC who can either identify it for me or forward it on to a specialist who can. One example of this is the Chiffchaff in the photo from my garden – I knew it was a warbler but was not sure of the species and they can be tricky to identify, especially as they are usually hard to get a good view of in amongst the leaves of trees, let alone a decent photo. This bird obliged by hunting on my wall.

I would encourage people to start recording, not just for its intrinsic worth but also because, in the same way farmers will ‘keep a weather eye’, recorders ‘keep a species eye’ – you begin to notice more and more in the natural environment around you, inducing a kind of mindfulness where your attention becomes aware of a world beyond the human. Once under Ythanbank Bridge near Ellon, whilst checking a mink raft for footprints (otters – and rats) with the riverbank at my eye level, I became aware that something was moving through the grass towards me. I stood stock still to wait and see what it was. As it got nearer, I became a little apprehensive – just what was moving towards me? Suddenly a stoat’s face appeared and we both gave a little start, being equally surprised, before it shot off. Often if you sit quietly long enough, nature will come to you!