Conference Celebrates Dumfries and Galloway’s Wildlife

Clair McFarlan, Solway Firth Partnership, speaking at the SWSEIC Wildlife Recorders’ Gathering 2019 at Dumfries Baptist Church on Sat 30th March 2019 ©SWSEIC

130 people gathered in Dumfries on Saturday 30th March to learn about and celebrate the region’s special wildlife.
The Wildlife Recorders’ Gathering was run by South West Scotland Environmental Information Centre (SWSEIC), andwas hosted superbly by the Dumfries Baptist Church Centre in Georgetown.

Brian Smith of North Solway Ringing Group kicked off the conference with a close-up look at bird ringing in Dumfries and Galloway, and was followed by Ellen Wilson of RSPB talking about the recent review of the biodiversity

information infrastructure in Scotland. A series of short talks on a range of topics, including Golden Eagles and RedSquirrels, followed.After lunch, Paul Kirkland from Butterfly Conservation got the afternoon session underway with a look at some of the special butterflies in the region, focussing on the Northern Brown Argus which is found on the D&G coast. The potential threats posed by invasive non-native species found in the marine environment around our coast was highlighted by Clair McFarlan of Solway Firth Partnership. The River Cree was spotlighted by Courtney Rowland of Galloway Fisheries Trust who introduced a wonderful video of Sparling, a rare migratory fish which returns to spawn in the Cree on just a few nights each year. Matthew Cook from Peatland Action presented the valuable work that has been carried out restoring some of the regions peat bog habitats, and Kirkcudbrightshire county plant recorder David Hawker wrapped things up by describing the value of recording our wild flowers.

Numerous local organisations had stands and displays, which gave participants the opportunity to find out about how they can get involved in recording wildlife or support the work of local conservation groups. A challenging wildlife quiz was won by local dragonfly expert Barbara Mearns, and a Certificate of Appreciation was presented to Katie Shellard who has been volunteering at SWSEIC for over 10 years.

SWSEIC Manager Mark Pollitt said,
“This is the first such gathering for many years in Dumfries and Galloway, and we are delighted that it was supportedby so many people and local organisations. It demonstrates just how valued and appreciated our local wildlife is. In these times where our wildlife and habitats are facing growing threats and challenges, we should be doing all we can
to support the work of those who help to record, study and conserve our local natural heritage.”