Monitoring and conserving Scotland's birds of prey
The origins of the South Strathclyde Raptor Study Group lie in the late 1960s/early 1970s when a small team of raptor enthusiasts started meeting under the enthusiastic leadership of the late Dick Roxburgh. Dick enjoyed upland Ayrshire and Galloway as a hill walker and became concerned with the plight of the peregrine falcon, which at that time was suffering badly due to a combination of organochlorine pesticides, egg collecting, young being stolen and persecution by pigeon fanciers. The team, always small due to the necessity for confidentiality and trust, began to monitor the status of the peregrine and other raptors, and work to protect them.
In 1973 the RSPB employed a roving warden in the south west of Scotland and over the next five years Ian Hopkins, followed by Richard Mearns, patrolled the area working closely with the raptor enthusiasts, making a significant impact on the conservation of raptors. By the late 1970s the situation was improving but with easy access to this region of Scotland from the south there were still major problems with egg collectors and birds being taken for falconry.
A meeting of raptor workers was convened in 1983 and the South West Raptor Study Group was set up in line with others in Scotland, coordinated by the RSPB Species Protection Department in Edinburgh. Such was the success of the group that in 1991 it was strong enough to merit division into the South Strathclyde Raptor Study Group and the Dumfries and Galloway Raptor Study Group. The Strathclyde area was defined as west of the M74 and north of Dumfries and Galloway.
Some of the founder members are still heavily involved in the group - Charlie Park, Gordon Riddle, Ricky Gladwell, Ian Miller, John Rhead and Ian Gibson. Such is the close relationship between the two groups that they share the same peregrine coordinator, Chris Rollie, while the other coordinators are Ricky Gladwell: hen harrier; Gordon Riddle: kestrel; Bob Stakim: merlin; David Gray: barn owl.
As well as the regular annual monitoring of raptor species, due to the proliferation of windfarm proposals in the group's area there is a heavy demand for the provision of raptor data for inclusion in Environmental Impact Assessments, which is taking up a great deal of time and effort.
Chair: Gordon Riddle