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An audience of club regulars and visitors were treated to a fascinating slideshow by Graham Wren, which illustrated his lifetime interest in the nests and eggs of Britain's birds.
Like many of his generation, Graham’s interest in this subject was kindled by an egg collecting hobby when he was a young boy.
During his national service in the Middle East, he came to the conclusion that he would be better off making a record of the birds and their eggs so bought his first camera.
Initially, he took photographs of the nests and eggs he found, but advice from Bruce Campbell, an ornithologist he met whilst working on a dairy farm in the Thames Valley, made him realise that the collection would have more meaning if he also recorded the habitat in which he found the nests.
Graham’s slides were mainly taken in the 1970s and he told great tales of the people he met, including gamekeepers who would ring him to tell of a new nest they had found so that he could add another species to his ever-growing collection.
He was at pains to point out that he always sought the required permission and permits before embarking on a photographic mission.
Most of the habitats he recorded were in Scotland and the slides are a testament to the beauty of the Northern land and seascapes.
What came across in such detail was the ability of birds to utilise almost any surface for the laying of eggs and the hatching of their chicks. From bare rock ledges and pebble beaches, through mountain, moorland, grassland and trees, to man-made features like walls, hedges, rooftops and window sills, we were able to see in Graham’s slides the ability of different species to find a place that would best protect their eggs and young.
What also came across was the many and various avian interpretations of the ‘nest’. We saw nests that were little more than bare rock, careless constructions of twigs and grass, and intricate, carefully woven and beautifully lined constructions.
Whilst attitudes to approaching nesting birds have changed in the years since Graham amassed his slide collection, there is no doubt that this photographic record is of great ornithological interest. It comes as no surprise to learn that copies of the slides have been received by the British and Scottish ornithological trusts.
For the audience, used to the beauty and bird life of the Northumbrian countryside in which the club meets and in which many members live, it was also a reminder of how fortunate we are to have the glories of the Scottish countryside and its bird life on our doorstep.
The next meeting is on Friday, May 11, at 7.30pm in The Hub, Seahouses, and is entitled Artists And Albatrosses by Chris Rose, a much respected artist.