Chairman's Message from Duncan Watt

The past year has been successful and we remain financially sound, thanks to Susan’s careful stewardship. While John’s planning of talks produced a wide variety of talks and speakers.
 
“Giving Nature a Home” was the theme and Hayley Douglas, Ranger at Clyde Muirshiel stole the season with her track-cam videos of badgers, otters and other fauna. I am very concerned, therefore, about the dwindling Renfrewshire Council support of the Ranger Service there.
 
The May 2014 group trip to Leighton Moss RSPB reserve and WWT at Martin Mere was a great success (see p1, continued on p4), and other field trips included the ‘best ever homeward sunset’ from Scone Palace and Vane Farm, the ‘colours of Hawfinch’ in the sky consoling those who hadn’t managed to see the bird ‘in the feather’.
 
Next year becomes very important indeed as in January 2016 our RSPB local group will be 40 years in effective existence. Your committee intend to celebrate in best North Ayrshire tradition, not just with a party at which our guest will be Stuart Housden, director of RSPB Scotland to talk and cut the cake, but with a cruise around the Firth of Clyde (details still to be fully confirmed).
 
In our 25th anniversary, we hired PS Waverley to circumnavigate Ailsa Craig for the first time in decades - we’ve always been good at ‘firsts’. A couple of miles from the Craig, Jack Robertson (Susan’s Dad) told me that I’d have to do the commentary from the bridge, so I might do that again, but during this year, I’ll be handing group leadership over to my depute, Andy Shand.
 
Andy is a native of our area and a good naturalist whose service as an RSPB volunteer is long. We are just waiting for the RSPB to give approval and make the appointment, it’s not a post which can be elected.
 
The big focus next year has to be the RSPB’s ‘Garnock Valley Futurescape’.We’ve already had several speakers explaining this visionary concept, but now with the new A737 set to cut across the valley, we can bring a focus onto our heartland for wildlife.What we have in mind is to host an event at Eglinton Country Park in late April or early May 2016 - a ‘Garnock Valley Wildlife Day’. We have two RSPB groups in Ayrshire, plus an SOC branch with whom we’ve co-operated on major campaigns, Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Trust with whom have a long, co-operative relationship and the BTO, SNH and WWT all have made a strong association with our RSPB group, and will be invited to participate in our programme of exhibitions, walks and demonstrations.
 
If any members know of other like minded groups in the Garnock Valley Area who might be interested, please inform a committee member. Each partner organisation has a part to play in the Garnock Futurescaping. The biggest aim of course will be to increase local RPSB membership and participation.
 
Your committee has decided that we should enter into an agreement with the local paper (Ardrossan and Saltcoats / Garnock Valley Herald) to provide weekly articles for a year, at no charge to us. This will provide an opportunity for us to inform the public about seasonal events in nature with appropriate photographs or sketches.52 seasonal articles is a big ask, but I know that you can answer it. The result should be an invigorated North Ayrshire Branch, and another forty years of Giving Nature a Home!