The Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (SOC) is Scotland’s bird club with over 3,000 members and a network of 15 branches across Scotland, each hosting a programme of evening talks and outings. The Club produces the only dedicated journal to Scotland’s birdlife, Scottish Birds – a quarterly publication that has been in circulation since 1957. Here Wendy Hicks updates us on their latest news with a guest blog.
Waterston House is the SOC headquarters and is fully accessible by wheelchair and has toilets and tea/coffee facilities. In addition to housing a wildlife art gallery, the building serves as a birdwatchers’ resource centre and includes a small retail area (optical equipment, birdfood, birdfeeders, art books, gifts and cards), a second-hand bookshop and one of the largest ornithological reference libraries in Scotland, with over 10,000 books and journals (a borrowing service is available to SOC members). There is no charge to visit the centre and visitors (members or non-members alike) are always very welcome.
If you go along to the visitor centre between now and September 9th you will be able to view our latest exhibition – ‘Birds and Light’ by Brin Edwards
Brin has been fascinated by the appearance of birds for as long as he can remember; one of his earliest memories is as a six-year old, drawing a picture of a Black-naped Oriole, which he saw in his garden in Singapore. His parents moved there for a couple of years in the early sixties and the intense saturated colours of tropical birds made a huge impression on him. Most children sadly stop drawing once they reach their teens but Brin kept going. Making drawings of birds became an itch that he had to scratch!
After studying Biology and Ecology at University, Brin spent the next twenty years or so as a freelance illustrator, producing work for many UK publishers and charities including the National Trust, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.
Nowadays he spends most of his time painting birds in oils with a looser, more abstracted style than his precise illustration work. Here he is trying to make bold statements and capture the essence of the birds rather than get bogged down in too much fussy detail. The ideas for his pictures relate to direct observation and often a spit-second glimpse of a bird will set in motion an idea for a composition. Sometimes an image will arrive, fully formed in his head and will demand urgently to be resolved but often ideas will rattle around in his head for some time before he commits to them to canvas.
Brin is a council member of the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) and won the RSPB Award at the SWLA annual exhibition at The Mall Galleries, London in 2010. He also received the British Birds ‘Bird Illustrator of the Year’ award in 1999.
Scottish Bird News – proposed digitisation
From 1986 to 2009, the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (SOC) published a quarterly magazine, Scottish Bird News, which ran for 91 issues and included all manner of articles and Club news from headquarters and SOC branches. It is an important record of SOC activities over that period and the Club would now like to make that record more widely available through the Biodiversity Heritage Library. The BHL www.biodiversitylibrary.org, whose main partners in the UK are the Natural History Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, has become the world’s main free archive of digitised natural history literature, and has established itself as a leading online research library. If you don’t already know it, you should have a look – it offers free access to a vast amount of historical books and journals, including the Scottish Naturalist and the Annals of Scottish Natural History through to 1922, the Proceedings of the Glasgow Natural History Society, rare books by Pennant, Harvie-Brown, MacGillivray and much more. By adding Scottish Bird News to the BHL, the SOC hopes this will allow more people around the world to find and read its past newsletters.
SOC Council has endorsed this proposal but authors, photographers and artists originally submitted their articles and other material to Scottish Bird News for print publication, mostly before the idea of digital access came along. It is now impracticable or impossible to trace all the individual contributors or their legal representatives, but we believe that most or all would be happy to see their work now reaching new and wider audiences to the overall benefit of Scottish natural history. If any copyright holder does not wish to have their material included in free digital access, they are asked to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss this with us as soon as possible, preferably before 1 December 2015. Arrangements are in place to have material excluded from web access where necessary.
Waterston House is open Monday to Friday 10am-4pm, and between 12 noon-6pm at the weekends.
For more information on the SOC and its work, visit www.the-soc.org.uk
Images: ‘Four sleeping Teal’ by Brin Edwards, ‘Oystercatcher Laminarea’ by Brin Edwards, ‘Sandwich Tern with Redshank’ by Brin Edwards, ‘Bullfinch study’ by Brin Edwards