The Wildlife Information Centre

Biological data for south-east and part of central Scotland

A hoverfly (Baccha elongata ) on Herb Bennet (Geum urbanum)
 | Home  |  | About Us  |  | News  |  | Recording  |  | Events  |  | Services  |  | Request Data  |  | Support Us  |  | Useful Links  |  | Contact Us  |

News Archive:

Return to Latest News

News Archive

Edinburgh Natural History Society receives the Bob Saville Award

The recent TWIC Autumn Conference held at Oatridge College on Saturday 30 November saw the presentation of the Bob Saville Award. Bob Saville, who died in 2010, was one of the founders and inspirers of TWIC. He was one of the best-known faces in biological recording in Scotland over many years. A silver quaich is presented each year in his memory to others carrying forward his vision.

Presenting the award, TWIC Chair, Sarah Eno said:

“The Bob Saville Award recognises individuals and organisations who have made a significant contribution to recording and encouraging others to get involved. This year we recognise the Edinburgh Natural History Society and its members over the last 150 years. Its work supports people who are active submitters of records and gives novices the confidence to start on that journey. It provides a range of opportunities through an annual programme of around 50 field trips and other events. It has a remarkable heritage and its old journals, which can be accessed online, give a unique insight into the people, wildlife and the places in the Edinburgh area.”

Reflecting on Edinburgh Natural History Society being presented with the Bob Saville Award, President Sarah Adamson said:

"I am delighted to receive this award on behalf of the Edinburgh Natural History Society. In our 150th year it is an honour to be recognised for the work of the many Edinburgh Nats who have been passionate about natural history and what we now call biodiversity. We continue to encourage and support people to get involved in monitoring and recording their local patch or by joining us on field trips and joint recording events with TWIC. Thank you to Bob Saville, who was known by many Nats and it was his focus on observing and recording that has been continued and valued."

Information about the Edinburgh Natural History Society, including links to the historical archive, can be found on its website.

Photo courtesy of David Palmar (

Posted by Natalie Harmsworth, 19 December 2019.

TWIC Chair, Sarah Eno presenting the Bob Saville Award to Sarah Adamson (ENHS President) at the autumn conference.

Book now for TWIC Autumn Conference and AGM 2019

Nature enthusiasts, recorders and students are all invited to book a seat for our TWIC Autumn Conference, to be held on Saturday 30/11/2019 at the SRUC Oatridge Campus in Broxburn (West Lothian).

Did you know that cities can be great for wildlife? This year our conference theme will be Urban Wildlife.

Our conference will explore how humans, animals and plants can coexist with each other in a built environment and discuss related challenges.

To help us covering costs, we will be introducing a charge of £10 (only £5 for students) plus booking fees. This charge includes a buffet lunch and teas.

You can book your place and see our speakers' programme via Eventbrite.

The deadline of booking is the midnight of Sunday 24 November 2019.

Posted by Claudia Caporusso, 04 November 2019.

New GIS and Data Officer – Claudia Caporusso

TWIC has appointed Claudia Caporusso to be the new GIS & Data Officer.

Claudia comes to TWIC from the University of Stirling where she is currently completing her MSc in Environmental Management and Conservation.

Claudia brings experience in GIS and an adept computational ability to continue the development of TWIC’s services to Local Authorities and consultants. She has previously volunteered with RSPB and worked as an assistant editor for

Her interests include hiking, bird watching, wildlife photography and keeping up-to-date with current affairs in conservation, remote sensing and ecology. She is also a trainee bird ringer.

Posted by Natalie Harmsworth, 19 July 2019. Updated 11 September 2019.

Claudia holding a Lapwing chick during a ringing excursion

Photograph of Fieldfare by Teresa Reynolds [CC BY-SA 3.0 (].

2.75 million records!

On Wednesday 8 May 2019, upload of a batch of bird data from the East Lothian Council Ranger Service pushed the total number of species records on TWIC’s Recorder 6 database to 2,750,337. The 2,750,000th record was for a flock of Fieldfare, Turdus pilaris, so no individual bird can take all the credit! Similarly, we are grateful to all the recorders and organisations who continue to share their data with TWIC and help us provide high quality, objective and independent wildlife information. Every record is of value and the total value greater than the sum of its parts.

By Jackie Stewart. Posted by Natalie Harmsworth, 15 May 2019.

Staff changes at TWIC

Graeme Wilson left TWIC on 19 April 2019 after 7 and a half years as Centre Manager to pursue other interests. We are glad to say that Natalie Harmsworth has accepted Acting TWIC Manager for the time being. Because of the support of the staff and Directors over recent months TWIC is able to continue to service its undertakings without interruption.

TWIC Spring Conference 2019 - Fully Booked!

Bookings are now being taken for the TWIC Spring Conference: Biodiversity Matters, which will take place on Saturday 27 April at the McSence Conference Centre in Mayfield (Midlothian). This time our programme is centred around key themes in the new Midlothian Local Biodiversity Action Plan, such as pollinators, people and nature, wildlife corridors, homes for wildlife and protected sites. However, the talks will not necessarily be geographically specific to Midlothian.

The conference is free to attend and includes buffet lunch, but BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL. To view a draft programme and to book please visit Eventbrite.

Deadline for booking is midnight, Sunday 21 April 2019.

Posted by Natalie Harmsworth, 15 February 2019 and updated 22 April 2019.

Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum

The Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum (SBIF) Review has now been published and makes 24 recommendations that will hopefully improve the biological recording infrastructure in Scotland. To learn more about the recommendations and the next steps in the process please visit the SBIF page.

Graeme Wilson, TWIC Centre Manager

Posted by Natalie Harmsworth, 18 December 2018.

An update on the future of Recorder 6

Recorder 6, the venerable database program that underpins the work of almost every Local Records Centre in the UK, is about to regain much of its lost support. Formerly Recorder 6 was supported by JNCC funding, but this ended in March 2018. An extra year's funding was secured from an anonymous source, but the future of the program was looking very uncertain. Now though, a Recorder 6 Steering Group is to be formed from various Recorder 6 users. The group aims to not only keep Recorder 6 going as a viable platform, but to look to the future and look at developing a new platform using the data structures we’ve all come to rely on.

Additionally, the group is planning to introduce licence fees for Recorder 6. Under the new plan, from April 2019 onwards, each Recorder 6 user will pay an annual fee based on what type of user they are (£250 for an organisation or £25 for an individual). This will allow for not just maintenance and bug fixes to the program, but also potentially new features. The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Trust will also be working with the group in a management capacity. Other plans include training new developers for Recorder 6 and to work on new ways for users to obtain support for Recorder. More information can be found on the NBN Forum.

Steve Hannah, TWIC GIS and Data Officer

Posted by Natalie Harmsworth, 18 December 2018. Edited 20 December 2018.

Sarah Eno presenting Barry Prater with the 2018 Bob Saville Award

TWIC Autumn Conference - review

45 people attended the TWIC conference on Saturday 10th November 2018 at Melrose Corn Exchange in the Scottish Borders. An interesting and varied series of talks on the theme 'Hot topics in biological recording' were delivered, as follows:

  • Which city landscapes are best for pollinators, and how can we improve them? - Graham Stone (The University of Edinburgh)
  • South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project Update - Philip Munro (The Southern Uplands Partnership)
  • Plugin for QGIS – What can it do for you? - Natalie Harmsworth (The Wildlife Information Centre)
  • Tree pathogens - Steven Hendry (Forest Research)
  • The SBIF review: Re-imagining our biological recording infrastructure - Christine Johnston (National Biodiversity Network)
  • Scottish Borders Local Biodiversity Action Plan 2018-2028 - Liz Hall (Scottish Borders Council)

The speakers' presentations can now be downloaded as PDFs via our Previous conference page.

In addition to the main talks, four quick-fire talks were included in the programme, giving attendees the opportunity to promote their respective projects or organisations. The speakers were: Roger Manning (Berwickshire Naturalists Club), Vladimir Krivtsov (Biodiversity of SUDS retention ponds), Graeme Wilson (Lothians and Borders Mammal Group) and Katty Baird (Hibernating Heralds).

The TWIC conference is all about sharing knowledge and celebrating the work of the many, mainly voluntary recorders across the region. In order to formally recognise the work of individuals, TWIC annually awards the Bob Saville award at our autumn conference to someone who has made an extra ordinary contribution to biological recording and conservation in our area. This year, the award was given to Barry Prater (pictured), in acknowledgement of all the recording effort and support Barry has given to the lepidopterist community over many years. Barry is Berwickshire vice-county moth recorder, Scottish Borders area organiser for Butterfly Conservation and former chair of the East Scotland Branch of Butterfly Conservation. He has submitted over 15,000 of his own records to TWIC and is an active member of the Scottish Borders Local Biodiversity Sites steering group, the group that oversees the selection, survey and approval of regionally important sites for nature conservation.

TWIC would like to thank all the speakers for their excellent talks, Michael Scott (Live Borders) for chairing the morning session, the stall holders and open mike speakers for their contributions and everyone who attended. The spring 2019 conference is planned for Saturday 27 April in Midlothian. PLEASE SAVE THE DATE!

Photos from the autumn conference can be viewed on our Facebook album (no login required).

Editor comment: Current users of the QGIS Plugin may be interested to know there is a consultation on its future development and features at the moment. Please follow this link to complete a 10 minute questionnaire if you would like to provide feedback to Field Studies Council on the tool.

Posted by Natalie Harmsworth, 5 December 2018. Edited 20 December 2018.

TWIC Autumn Conference - Book now!

Bookings are now being taken for the TWIC Autumn Conference & AGM, which will take place on Saturday 10 November 2018 in Melrose, Scottish Borders. Further details, including a programme of talks can be found on our Conferences page. We have aimed for a varied programme talks around the theme “Hot topics in biological recording”. The event will also include the presentation of the Bob Saville award for biological recording and participants will have the opportunity to promote their own survey or recording initiative during the open mike session (please register for a slot on the booking page).

The event is FREE to attend and includes buffet lunch, but BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL for catering purposes. Bookings are being taken via Eventbrite. Please book by midday, Monday 5 November.

Bookings now closed.

Posted by Natalie Harmsworth, 25 October 2018. Updated 13 November 2018.

Hedgehog Fungus (Hydnum repandum) by Reuben Singleton

Scottish Borders Local Biodiversity Action Plan 2018 - 2028

Scottish Borders Council is consulting on their new Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) 2018 - 2028. Visit: to download the draft plan. Hard copies of the plan are available in each of Scottish Borders Council’s libraries and contact centres. Comments on the plan should be submitted at by 30 November 2018 at the latest.

Posted by Natalie Harmsworth, 4 October 2018.

Photograph of gynandromorph Orange tip butterfly by Nick Morgan.

Spot the difference!

Local recorder, Nick Morgan spotted this Orange Tip butterfly on 27th April along the River Tyne near Haddington, East Lothian whilst out doing his butterfly transect. He noticed the butterfly had a wonky flight, but on closer examination he realised the wings didn’t match! There is the “orange tip” of the male on the left wing, and the plain white of the female on the right wing. What’s going on? It’s a gynandromorph – a mixture of both male and female. More details no doubt to be had on Google, but according to experts it is “a find of a lifetime”. Well done Nick.

Article adapted from June 2018 issue of Best boot forward - Newsletter for East Lothian Countryside Volunteers.

Postscript: Nick tells us that the butterfly was seen twice more following this sighting, but not by him. It was seen the following day about 300 metres downstream from the initial sighting and also the following week about 500 metres along a tributary of the Tyne!

Posted by Natalie Harmsworth, 21 June 2018.

Spring Conference - A Soaring Success!

52 delegates gathered at Sauchie Hall in Alloa for TWIC’s spring conference on Saturday 28 April. This was our second event in the TWIC expansion zone of central Scotland and we were delighted to see that recorders from across SE and central Scotland continue to support the event. We will continue to move the conference around the region in order to allow as many people as possible to attend and to encourage us to explore topics pertinent to different areas. Before lunch three main talks were delivered:

  • Sarah Eno (Borders Forest Trust) - pictured - Reviving the Wild Heart of Southern Scotland
  • Dr Chris McInerny (University of Glasgow/ GNHS/ BRISC) - Reptile study and conservation at Loch Lomond
  • Chris Wernham (BTO) - Recording upland wildlife – Trials, tribulations and future potential

The open mike session was given a welcome return at this event and the following took up the opportunity:

  • Gabriele Grunert – Central Scotland Mammal Group
  • Vladimir Krivtsov (Heriot Watt) – Biodiversity of SuDS ponds
  • Jay MacKinnon/ Robert Engstrom (Water of Leith Conservation Trust and Edinburgh Napier University) – Giant Hogweed control

After a fine lunch provided by our caterers, Cateritaly, Graeme Wilson (TWIC Manager) gave an update on progress with the Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum. Then we returned to the principal talks of the afternoon:

  • Rick Taylor (Southern Uplands Partnership) - South of Scotland Golden Eagle Project
  • Rebecca Yahr (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, RBGE) - Miniature mountain worlds: Lichens for recorders above the treeline
  • Professor Davy McCracken (Scotland’s Rural College, SRUC) - The Internet of Things & its potential to improve environmental data collection in the uplands

Overall, we enjoyed an excellent day exploring different aspects of upland recording and conservation. Thanks to the speakers for their engaging and high quality talks, the open mike speakers for their individual contributions and to everyone who attended or brought a display. The event would be nothing without you the recorders and supporters!

If you want to know what you missed, or would like to recall something from the day, the speakers’ presentations are now available to download from our website as PDFs on the Previous Conferences page. You can also view photos from the event in our Facebook album (Facebook account not required).

The TWIC team are now thinking ahead to the autumn 2018 event – details of which will be forthcoming. To keep up to date with news of future TWIC conferences, please opt-in to our mailing list for “TWIC Events and Conferences” by emailing Due to the General Data Protection Regulations that came into force on 25 May, we need your explicit consent to include you on our mailing lists – so please make sure you do not miss out!

Photograph: Sarah Eno (Borders Forest Trust Trustee) standing by her stall at the spring conference. Photo by Samra Asrat.

Posted by Natalie Harmsworth, 25 May 2018.

Oystercatcher photo by Andreas Trepte [CC BY-SA 2.5 (], from Wikimedia Commons.

2.5 million records!

On Thursday 26 April 2018, our Recorder 6 database passed the milestone of holding more than 2.5 million species records – so a huge thank you goes to all the recorders and organisations who share their data with TWIC. Their continued efforts are fundamental to TWIC’s role in providing high quality, objective and independent wildlife information.

The 2,500,000th record, submitted by Graham Checkley, was for an Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, and was uploaded by our long-term volunteer Lesley Kennedy whose cheerful dedication is an immense help to TWIC. To find out more about how you could help TWIC, visit our Recording or Volunteering pages.

By Jackie Stewart. Posted by Natalie Harmsworth, 24 May 2018.

Bookings now open for TWIC Spring Conference!

Date: Saturday 28 April 2018, 10:00 - 16:30

Location: Sauchie Hall, Mar Place, Sauchie, FK10 3EA.

Theme: Onwards and Upwards: Biological recording & conservation in the uplands

Details: TWIC's Spring Conference is an opportunity for naturalists across the region to get together at the start of the recording season to exchange news and ideas, and to listen to a series of talks on the theme of upland recording and conservation. There will be an opportunity for individuals or local groups to promote their recording initiative or project during the open mike session, by having a stall, or presenting a poster. The conference is FREE to attend, and will include a buffet lunch, but booking is essential.

Booking details: To view the programme and to book, please visit Eventbrite.

Posted by Natalie Harmsworth, March 22nd 2018.

An Introduction to Spider ID Workshop

A joint event with the British Arachnological Society (BAS)

Date: Monday 9 April 2018, 10:00 - 15:30

Location: Vogrie Country Park, near Gorebridge, Midlothian (EH23 4NU)

Details: Join local recorder Katty Baird for an introduction to these fascinating creatures and a chance to observe them in the field. No previous experience necessary. This workshop will be partly field based. Please bring suitable outdoor clothing and lunch. Teas/ coffees will be provided.

Cost: Places are FREE but limited, so booking is essential. To book, please visit Eventbrite.

Posted by Natalie Harmsworth, March 14th 2018.

TWIC Bat Walk Competition

This is your chance to win a bat walk for yourself and up to 24 family and friends at a location on mainland Scotland at a place and date to be agreed between May to September 2018. The walk will be led by TWIC Manager Graeme and will include a talk on bats before being led on a walk to see bats, as well as hear them with the use of bat detectors. The combined talk and walk will last at least an hour and a half.

To be in with a chance of winning this prize all you need to do is donate £10 to The Wildlife Information Centre using details below and send an email to confirming you have made a donation and with your contact details. If you make a donation of £20 then your name will be entered twice into the draw, £30 donation three entries, etc. Minimum donation is £10. Contact details you supply will only be used to contact you regarding this competition.

The competition is open until 31st March 2018 with the winner being drawn in the first week of April. The winner's name will appear on TWIC's website and in our social media.

Donations can be made by bank transfer using:

Bank - The Co-operative Bank
Account Name - The Wildlife Information Centre
Sort code - 08-92-99
Account number - 65490891

Or by sending a cheque made out to The Wildlife Information Centre to:

TWIC Bat Walk Competition
The Wildlife Information Centre
Caretakers Cottage
Vogrie Country Park
Nr Gorebridge
EH23 4NU

Other competition Terms & Conditions

1. Competition not open to TWIC Staff and Board members or members of their direct family.
2. Location of bat walk must be on land with public access or where permission for walk has been granted.
3. Date of bat walk will be by mutual agreement between TWIC Manager and winner. If weather is unsuitable for bats on agreed date then walk will be rearranged for a later date.

Bookings Now Open for TWIC Autumn Conference & AGM!

In Pursuit of Wildlife

Date: Sat 25 November 2017, 10:00 - 16:30

Location: Stow Town Hall, Earlston Road, Stow, Scottish Borders (TD1 2QS)

Details: The TWIC Autumn Conference will provide an opportunity for all those interested in wildlife recording and conservation across the region to join together at the end of the season. Talks will showcase a number of recording initiatives and citizen science studies in southern and central Scotland that are furthering our knowledge of wildlife and sometimes using novel approaches in pursuit of their target organism! The event will also host TWIC's AGM and the presentation of the Bob Saville Award. Download the programme here [PDF, 93.4 KB; updated 01/11/17] and the flyer here [PDF, 3.41 MB].

Cost: FREE, including buffet lunch, but booking is essential as numbers will be limited. To book, please visit Eventbrite. Note that there will be a raffle and other items to purchase, so please bring cash if you are interested in these.

Getting there: Stow is situated on the Borders railway line. The train station is a short walk from the venue. A link to the timetable is below. Note not all trains stop in Stow: Scotrail train times. Stow is also served by the X95 bus. For a route map and timetable click here. There is free on-street parking adjacent to the venue.

Posted: October 27th 2017.

Photograph: Hazel Marr.

The Scottish Spider Search

The search for spiders continues. This month the spotlight is on the Four-spotted Orbweb spider. An impressive species which according to TWIC records has only been seen in a sprinkling of locations across SE Scotland, including coastal sites such as Aberlady and John Muir Country Park but also inland at places like Red Moss of Balerno... Where else might it be lurking?

The Four-spotted Orbweb spider is most obvious at this time of year when the large adults are about. They can be found in areas with vegetation tall and strong enough to support their web, which can be up to 40 cm in diameter. The web is rarely higher than 1.5 m from the ground so undisturbed rank grassland, areas with gorse or heather, marram dunes are good places to look. The key feature to distinguish this spider from other superficially similar species are the four white spots on the back of the abdomen. The colouring of the spider can be quite variable, ranging from greens to yellow to orange. Their colour can change and is possibly related to humidity (in damper places they tend to be paler and greener whist in drier areas they are more orange). Egg-laden females are big; in fact this species is has the accolade of Britain’s heaviest spider, with records of 2 g not unusual. If you see one send your record into the Scottish Spider Search!

More fascinating information about this spider can be found on the British Arachnological Society's website.

Katty Baird. Edited by Natalie Harmsworth.

Posted by Natalie Harmsworth, September 14th 2017.

A White Letter day

Scottish Borders Butterfly recorder, Iain Cowe recently spotted a White Letter Hairstreak butterfly (Satyrium w-album) in Scotland for the first time in recent history. The butterfly was discovered on 9th August 2017 near Paxton House in Berwickshire close the border with England. The butterfly was found nectaring at Ragwort on a south facing field margin on the north side of the Tweed.

There are only two previous records of White Letter Hairstreak in Scotland, one in 1859 (Lennon) Dumfries, and another in 1884 at Sandbank, Dunoon (William Watson) (George Thomson, The Butterflies of Scotland). Since then virtually nothing is known about the butterfly and its status in Scotland.

Butterfly recorders have thought for some time that this species may appear in the south of Scotland, as it has increased its range northwards in recent years, probably in response to climate change.

The butterfly flight period is likely to be July through to mid-August, although there is much yet to learn about its habits this far north. The food plant is Elm and the butterfly spends a lot of its time in the canopy but will descend to nectar at Bramble flowers and evidently Ragwort. South facing wooded banks containing Elm with an understory of Bramble would be a good place to start looking.

In North Northumberland the butterfly is pretty much unknown, apart from, that is, occasional sightings in the far south of the region but now it looks extremely likely that it resides throughout the region as far as the Border and beyond. It’s incredibly difficult to locate along with its cousin the Purple Hairstreak that favours Oak instead of Elm.

For more information on the species, visit Butterfly Conservation’s website.

Iain Cowe (Butterfly Conservation)

Posted by Steve Hannah, August 17th 2017.

White Letter Hairstreak. Photograph: Iain Cowe.

Photograph: Michael Scott.

Wildlife Recording Workshop - Saturday 5 August 2017

Make your wildlife observations count! A practical 1 day workshop from The Wildlife Information Centre (TWIC) including an outdoor ID session. No experience necessary. Bring suitable outdoor clothing and packed lunch.

Location: Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre, near Ancrum - Scottish Borders (TD8 6UQ)

FREE, but booking essential. Ages 16+. To book please go to the Live Borders website.

Posted by Natalie Harmsworth, July 25th 2017.

2.3 million records!

Thanks to the many recorders and organisations sharing their records with TWIC, our database now holds more than 2.3 million records – proof that “Mony a mickle maks a muckle”. The 2,300,000th record was for Hypogymnia physodes, a foliose lichen, entered as part of the British Lichen Society’s Lichen Database: Scotland 1700-2016. For more information on the work of the British Lichen Society (BLS), visit their website,

Posted: July 25th 2017.

Photo: Kristian Peters -- Fabelfroh 15:03, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

The audience assembled in the Brunton Hall, Musselburgh for the talks. Photograph: David Palmar.

The audience assembled in the Brunton Hall, Musselburgh for the talks. Photograph: David Palmar.

TWIC Spring 2017 Conference Report

The TWIC Spring Conference was held on Saturday 29th April 2017 at the Brunton Hall in Musselburgh and was attended by 70 people. The topic was 'Farming and Biodiversity in Scotland - An Essential Partnership' and talks on this theme were delivered by Dr Tim Daniell (University of Sheffield/ The James Hutton Institute), Luke Gaskell (Kittyfield Farm and Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland recorder), Fiona Torrance (The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust), Teyl de Bordes (Whitmuir Farm, near Selkirk) and Dr John Kerr (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture). Two further update talks were given by Pete Minting (Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust) and Katty Baird (Butterfly Conservation National Moth Recording Scheme). We were grateful to all the speakers for their engaging and thought-provoking presentations - but special thanks go to Katty Baird in particular for stepping in at very short notice. TWIC’s Autumn Conference is scheduled for Saturday 25 November 2017 with a venue in the Scottish Borders to be confirmed - please put the date in your diary!

Read the full report here [PDF opens in new window, 7 pages, 2.23 MB].

Posted: June 12th 2017.

Mammal Workshop – 25 June 2017 in partnership with Lothian & Borders Mammal Group

Date: Sun 25 June, 9:30 – 15:30

Location: Whitmuir Estate, near Selkirk (Scottish Borders)

Details: For all who want to learn small mammal ID and mammal surveying skills. Day will involve checking Longworth traps for live captures and hedgehog tunnels for foot prints as well as a classroom session on owl pellet dissection focusing on small mammal skull and lower jaw ID and a bit of time looking at technology to record mammal presence via both video and sound recording.

Requirements: Bring a packed lunch and wear appropriate clothing and sturdy footwear for outdoor session.

Cost: The workshop is FREE but booking is essential as numbers will be limited. To book, please visit Eventbrite.

Posted: June 8th 2017.

Using a bat detector workshop for beginners - FULLY BOOKED

Date: Sat 22 July 2017, 19:30 – 23:00

Location: Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre, near Ancrum, Scottish Borders (TD8 6UQ)

Details: David Dodds will be leading an evening workshop on identifying bats in the field using a heterodyne bat detector. There will be an indoor classroom session covering the theory followed by a bat walk in the environs of Harestanes to get hands-on assistance using detectors in the field. Tea/ coffee will be provided on arrival. Please wear stout footwear and warm clothes. Bat detectors will be available to borrow, but if you have your own please bring it along.

This is a joint event with the Lothians and Borders Mammal Group (LABMAG) and Live Borders.

Cost: The workshop is FREE but booking is essential as numbers will be limited. To book, please visit Eventbrite. Note that the workshop is now FULLY BOOKED. However, if you would like to be added to the waiting please register on our Eventbrite page.

Posted: June 6th 2017.

Morning Chorus Workshop - Sat 3 June

RSPB’s Mike Fraser will be leading a morning chorus workshop for TWIC on Saturday 3 June from 5 am to 8 am at Hadfast Valley SWT reserve in Midlothian. The workshop will provide an introduction to identifying birds by sight and sound. No previous experience necessary. The workshop is FREE but booking is essential as places are limited. To book a place please send a completed booking form to Participants should bring suitable outdoor clothing, binoculars, a drink and a snack.

Posted: May 16th 2017.

Bookings Now Open for TWIC Spring Conference!

Farming and Biodiversity in Scotland – An Essential Partnership

Date: Sat 29 April 2017, 10:00 - 16:30

Location: Brunton Hall, Musselburgh, East Lothian (EH21 6AA)

Details: Talks will highlight the diversity of wildlife found on farmland - from soil organisms through to wildflowers, birds and mammals - and how this interest can be managed. There will also be two talks from previous speakers to update us on their projects. Download the programme here [PDF, 80.9 KB] and the flyer here [PDF, 2.97 MB].

Cost: FREE, including buffet lunch, but booking is essential as numbers will be limited. To book, please visit Eventbrite.

Getting there: For information on how to find the venue, including public transport options please visit The Brunton website.

With thanks to Caledonian Conservation Ltd. for sponsoring lunch.

Posted: March 14th 2017.

TWIC AGM and talk

The TWIC AGM that is to take place on Wednesday 1 March in The George Washington Browne Room Edinburgh Central Library at 6.30pm is followed by a talk by Enya O'Reilly of Edinburgh Napier University on "The many uses of biological records: analysis of long-term trends in East Lothian's birds using Wetland Bird Survey data". Non-members welcome and can also take opportunity to become members if they wish, cost £5. Please arrive in plenty of time as we will be starting at 6.30pm prompt.

Posted: February 28th 2017.

Volunteering Opportunities

We are currently advertising two volunteering roles at TWIC:

Public Survey Assistant (Scottish Spider Search)

A volunteer is required to support TWIC’s new wildlife survey, the Scottish Spider Search – a project supported by the British Arachnological Society, Buglife and Caledonian Conservation Ltd. and part funded by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH).

The volunteer will be responsible for organising the distribution of survey postcards, processing data and publicising the survey online.

We are looking for a volunteer to commit a minimum of 1 day per week, ideally for 6 months (we can be flexible with length of time). Applicants must have an organised approach to work, be a competent user of Microsoft office packages especially Excel and have the ability to work well as part of a small team. An ecology-related degree or equivalent experience would be an advantage, but training will be provided.

CVs should be sent to Natalie Harmsworth, Records Ecologist, or phone 01875 825968 for a chat. Applications should be received no later than March 31st.

You can download the job description and person specification here.

GIS Assistant

A volunteer is required to support TWIC’s Phase 1 Habitat digitisation project. The volunteer will be responsible for the digitisation of habitat data and the extraction of species data from Scottish Wildlife Trust's Local Wildlife Site survey files in Stirling, Clackmannanshire and Falkirk areas.

We are looking for a volunteer to commit a minimum of 1 day per week. Applicants must have experience of using GIS software (preferably ArcGIS) and the ability to work well as part of a small team. An ecology-related degree or equivalent experience would be an advantage, but training will be provided.

CVs should be sent to Steve Hannah, GIS and Data Officer, or phone 01875 825968 for a chat.

You can download the job description and person specification here.

Posted: February 28th 2017.

2016 recipients of the Bob Saville Award: Brian & Sandy Coppins. Photo: Natalie Harmsworth.

TWIC Autumn 2016 Conference Report

The Autumn Conference was held on Saturday 26th November 2016 at Bo’ness Town Hall and was attended by 61 people. The programme of talks focussed on the marine theme – from examples of citizen science and recording initiatives to more applied aspects of ecology – with a brief detour to launch the Scottish Spider Search before lunch! The calibre of speakers was very high and they provided both interesting and entertaining talks. 2016 marked 25 years since the inception of TWIC's predecessor organisation “Wildlife Insite” in 1991 and TWIC Manager, Graeme Wilson, provided a potted history of TWIC during his talk. Another highlight of the day was the presentation of the Bob Saville award, which this year was awarded to Brian and Sandy Coppins (pictured) for their huge contribution to the recording of lichens in Scotland and their generosity in giving their time in supporting and educating new lichenologists.

A full conference report can be downloaded from here.

Posted: January 25th 2017. Updated February 28th 2017.

BRISC & GNHS Bursaries 2017

BRISC (Biological Recording in Scotland) and GNHS (Glasgow Natural History Society) are together offering 6 bursaries towards attending a training course in natural history field studies. The bursaries will be for up to £200 or 75% of the cost of the course, whichever is lowest.

Further information:

  • Bursaries are open to anyone living in Scotland.
  • Courses must be chosen from the taxonomic courses listed under the Field Studies Council (FSC) Professional Development Programmes (see or similar professional development courses run by academic institutions. Please note that NVC courses are not eligible for the bursary.
  • Courses should be completed before 31 October 2017.
  • BRISC and GNHS are keen to ensure that any biological records gathered are mobilised to the Atlas of Living Scotland or NBN Gateway, through local record centres, local data hubs or online recording schemes depending on what is available. We are also keen to encourage the sharing of skills with colleagues and others. We are particularly interested in applications for courses where the species/group has a lack of taxonomic expertise, and/or geographic areas where records are limited.
  • The successful candidates are required to write a short article (300-400 words) on their course experience for BRISC Recorder News and/or the GNHS Newsletter. £30 of each bursary will be held back until receipt of the relevant article.
  • Successful candidates will be given a year’s free membership with BRISC and/or GNHS, and will be invited to give a short presentation at the annual BRISC Conference.

All applications should be submitted to by 31 January 2017

Download the application form here (Word document, 2 pages, 67 KB).

Posted: January 17th 2017.

Students studying bryophytes. Photo courtesy of Mike Beard.

Bookings Now Open for TWIC Autumn Conference!

Recording at Siccar Point. Photo courtesy of Jackie Stewart.

Sea Change? A Conference on Marine Recording and Conservation

Date: Saturday 26th November, 10:30 - 16:30

Location: Bo’ness Town hall, Falkirk (EH51 9NJ).

Details: Talks will highlight some of the excellent work undertaken by marine recording schemes and citizen science projects to improve knowledge of marine species in our area as well as some of the challenges associated with managing and conserving marine biodiversity. Download the programme here. A flier can be downloaded here.

Cost: FREE, including buffet lunch, but booking is essential as numbers will be limited. To book, please visit our Eventbrite page.

Getting there: The nearest train station is at Linlithgow and from there it is a short trip on the bus (Bus No. 45) to Bo'ness. There is also free on-street parking adjacent to the venue.

Posted: September 16th 2016. Updated October 10th 2016

Small Mammal Workshop, Harestanes (Scottish Borders)– 15 October 2016

When: Sat 15 Oct, 10:00 – 16:00

Where: Harestanes Visotor Centre, near Ancrum, Scottish Borders

Description: For all who want to learn small mammal ID and surveying skills or refresh their knowledge. Day will involve checking Longworth traps for live captures and hedgehog tunnels for foot prints, classroom sessions looking at ID features of mice, vole (except water vole which is a workshop in itself!), shrews, mole and hedgehog and a session on owl pellet dissection focusing on small mammal skull and lower jaw ID.

Requirements: Bring a packed lunch or use the café for food and wear appropriate clothing and sturdy footwear for outdoor session.

Booking essential: Please contact with your details if you would like to attend.

Posted: October 4th 2016.

Photograph courtesy of Teyl de Bordes

Introduction to Wildlife Recording Workshop

TWIC's Manager, Graeme, will be leading a practical 1 day workshop covering the essentials of wildlife recording at Paxton House, 5 miles west of Berwick, on 1 October. The workshop will include outdoor recording sessions so please bring suitable outdoor clothing. No previous experience or equipment necessary. Either bring a packed lunch or there is a café at Paxton House.

Times: 10:30 - 15:30. Ages: 16 to adult.

Cost: Free. Booking essential, for further information and to book email

Posted: September 27th 2016.

Ray Murray

It is with great sadness that we heard of the passing of Ray Murray, SOC Borders Recorder. He suffered a fatal heart attack on Saturday when on holiday in Peru with his wife Sheila. He had been the Borders Recorder since 1978 and will be sadly missed, not just in the birding community but in the wider recording community. His contribution to recording was marked by TWIC in 2013 with the presentation of the Bob Saville Award which he was delighted to receive. Our thoughts are with Sheila and all of Ray's family and friends at this sad time.

Posted: September 19th 2016.

2,000,000 records!

TWIC has surpassed the two million records mark in its database! The 2,000,000th record was a Dusky Brocade moth, supplied to TWIC by Mark Cubitt as part of Butterfly Conservation’s National Moth Recording Scheme Vice-County 84 (West Lothian) Dataset. We’d like to thank all our recorders and partners for their support, recording efforts and for sharing your records with us.

Posted: June 20th 2016.

Dusky Brocade in Vice-County 84. Photo courtesy of Mark Cubitt.

NEW Edinburgh Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-18

The new Edinburgh Biodiversity Action Plan was officially launched on Wednesday at a celebration event at Holyrood Park Education Centre. The plan sets out local conservation priorities for Edinburgh for the next 3 years. TWIC is one of the partners involved in delivering the plan and has a key role to play in the collation and dissemination of species monitoring data. Sarah Eno (TWIC Chair) attended the launch event on Wednesday. Sarah said "It was excellent to hear about the great work being undertaken to conserve Edinburgh's important habitats and species. A highlight for me was the guided walk with Historic Environment Scotland's Ranger, Matt McCabe in Holyrood Park to see at first hand how the site is being managed for the Endangered and UKBAP Priority Species, Purple Milk Vetch (Astragalus danicus) and reintroducted populations of Maiden Pink (Dianthus deltoides)."

The Edinburgh Biodiversity Action Plan 2016-18 can be downloaded by following this link:

Posted: May 27th 2016

SWT & TWIC: Mammal ID & Surveying Course - 11 June 2016

When: Sat 11 June, 10:00 – 16:00

Where: Ben Cleuch Centre, Tillicoultry

Description: For all who want to learn mammal ID and surveying skills or refresh their knowledge. This is a joint event between the Central Scotland Mammal Group, The Wildlife Information Centre and Lothians and Borders Mammal Group (LaBMaG).

Requirements: Bring a packed lunch and sturdy footwear for outdoor session.

Booking essential: Please contact with your details if you would like to attend.

Posted: May 25th 2016. Updated 10th June 2016.

Bumblebee Workshop, Vogrie Country Park (Midlothian)– 5 July 2016

Beginners bumblebee identification training: this is an opportunity to learn about the ecology and identification of common bumblebee species. Run by Helen Dickinson, Bumblebee Conservation Trust Surveys and Volunteer Officer, learn how to identify our most common bumblebees and how to take part in the national bumblebee monitoring scheme BeeWalk. The day will be split into indoor and outdoor sessions. Teas/coffees will be provided. Please bring suitable outdoor clothing and a packed lunch.

Times: 10:00 - 15:30. Cost: Free. Booking essential.

The workshop is now FULLY BOOKED.

Posted: May 17th 2016. Updated June 13th 2016.

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Trust's New Great Crested Newt Detectives Project

Delegates attending the TWIC Spring conference held in Galashiels last weekend will have heard a talk by ARC’s Scottish Project Officer, Pete Minting, on a new project called Great Crested Newt Detectives. This exciting new project has been made possible by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Scottish Natural Heritage.

For more information on the project, please download a PDF copy of the press release here.

Posted: May 6th 2016

Introduction to Wildlife Recording Workshop - 28 May 2016

Make your wildlife observations count!

TWIC's Ecologist will be leading a practical 1 day workshop covering the essentials of wildlife recording at St Ronans Wells Visitor Centre, Innerleithen on May 28th. The workshop will include an outdoor identification session in the afternoon. No previous experience or equipment necessary. Please bring suitable outdoor clothing and a packed lunch.

Times: 10:30 - 15:30. Ages: 16 to adult.

Cost: Free. Booking essential, for further information and to book telephone 01835 830306 or email

Posted: April 29th 2016

Photograph courtesy of David Long

1st of April marks BIG changes for TWIC!

It is 25 years since what was to become TWIC was formed in 1991 and covered just the Lothians. We have really grown in that time and continue to grow because as of 1st April 2016 TWIC is not just the Local Environmental Record Centre for the Lothians and Borders but also for Falkirk, Stirling, Clackmannanshire and most of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. This is extremely exciting for us and due to the work of both staff and volunteers we have added 259,043 to our database for the new area we cover which means we are able to offer services to more local authorities, consultants and voluntary organisations as well as students and recorders. Remember we only charge for commercial work so that we can be a more sustainable organisation and support the biological recording community through events and training. Keep your eyes peeled for news of our first training workshop in our new area that is already in the planning stage and please feel free to contact us if you wish to contribute records of any sort.

Posted: April 1st 2016

Staff changes at TWIC

It is with mixed emotions we said goodbye to Christine Johnston on 31st March after nearly four years working for TWIC, first as part time Data Processer and then also taking on the Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum (SBIF) Co-ordinator post that TWIC hosted. Prior to being employed by TWIC Christine had been volunteering with us for quite a while. Although we are sad to see her depart we are also pleased at where she is headed. TWIC will no longer be hosting the SBIF post as the funding is being transferred to the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Trust and they are also contributing to the post to make a new full time NBN Scottish Liaison Officer post starting on 1st April. This is fantastic news for all involved in the biological data community and TWIC is proud of the part we have played in this coming about. We wish Christine all the best in her new post and look forward to seeing developments in Scotland, especially with the Atlas of Living Scotland (

Of course with Christine moving on to take up a full time post we are also losing her from her Data Processor post. However Jackie Stewart, TWIC’s other Data Processor, is increasing her days to 4 days a week which will ensure we are able to continue our current level of data processing.

Posted: April 1st 2016

Bookings now open for TWIC Spring Conference!

TWIC’s Spring Conference will take place on Saturday 30th April, 10 am to 4 pm at the MacArts Centre, Galashiels. The theme of the conference is “Tools and technologies to assist biological recording” and we will aim to showcase a variety of resources available, from iSpot and online recording to new sensor technologies such as eDNA. The conference will provide opportunities to find out about wildlife recording initiatives across the region – including information on how to get involved - and live demonstrations of BirdTrack and iRecord over the lunch break. Entrance is free and includes a buffet lunch, but booking is essential. To book follow this link to Eventbrite to our online booking form.

Deadline for bookings is Wednesday 27th April 2016.

Posted: March 18th 2016

Photograph courtesy of Rebecca Brassey

Small Mammal Workshop - 26th March 2016

TWIC will be hosting a Small Mammals workshop with the Lothian and Borders Mammal Group (LaBMaG) at Vogrie Country Park on Saturday 26th March. The workshop will be led by Graeme Wilson and David Dodds and will cover Longworth trapping, other small mammal monitoring methods such as field vole signs and owl pellet analysis. No previous experience or equipment necessary. The workshop is now full.

Posted: March 11th 2016

Frank Bowles: Obituary

We were saddened to hear of the passing of Frank Bowles recently. Frank was instrumental in sitting up the Lothian Amphibian and Reptile Group (LARG) and promoting amphibians and reptiles throughout Scotland.

Attached is further information about Frank, which was written by the former secretary of LARG, Peter Leach. Download the PDF here.

Posted: January 5th 2016

Bookings are now being taken for TWIC’s Autumn Conference & AGM!

TWIC's Autumn Conference and AGM will take place on Saturday 5th December at the Burgh Halls, Linlithgow. To tie in with TWIC's expansion plans, the theme of this years’ event is "East meets West". Find out why biological records are vital to local decision making and how TWIC fits into the National Biodiversity Network. Learn about important conservation initiatives across the region and how you can get involved.

Visit the Conferences page of the website for more information and a booking form. Booking deadline has been extended to midnight Sunday 29th November.

Posted: November 17th 2015; updated November 27th 2015

John Sawyer - 1st November 1968 - 6th November 2015

It is with great sadness that I write this bit of news. John Sawyer, CEO of the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Trust, died on Friday 6th November of a heart attack on his beloved Isle of Mull. John only became CEO of the NBN Trust in May 2014 but in that short time he managed to do so much. He revolutionised the Network and had lead the way in developing a new Strategy for the NBN. I worked closely with him through the Scottish Biodiversity Information Forum and also the Atlas of Living Scotland project, the latter being a project that John managed to take from an idea to actual project within a matter of weeks. He was an inspirational person in many ways and was also very honest in his views of how the biodiversity data community worked but even when he was being critical he managed to do so in a positive manner. The biodiversity world has become slightly smaller and less bright with the tragic passing of John but his legacy through the future work of the NBN and the development of the Atlas of Living Scotland shall continue. My and TWIC’s staff and Board members’ thoughts are with John’s family at this time, especially his partner Karlene with whom he was expecting their first child.

Graeme Wilson, Centre Manager.

For the NBN’s response to John’s passing see

Posted: November 13th 2015

John Sawyer 11/11/68 - 6/11/15. Photograph courtesy of NBN

The Blue Shieldbug (Zicrona caerulea)

Jim Easton took this photograph of the beautifully coloured shieldbug on a rush head at the Little Boghead Nature Park in Bathgate, West Lothian on the 22nd July this year. The bug is from 5 to 7 mm long and deep, metallic blue with very dark wing membranes. It is a predator specialising in the adults and larvae of similarly coloured and metallic leaf beetles. In this photograph you can see one of these larvae impaled on the bug’s sucking proboscis.

The bug is found throughout the British Isles and it has been recorded from at least 12 Vice-counties in Scotland. However, looking at the records held by TWIC, those on the NBN Gateway and the specimens at the National Museums Scotland’s collections, there appears to be only 20 actual records! Within the TWIC area there are single records from Midlothian (Edinburgh), East Lothian, Berwickshire, Roxburghshire, Selkirkshire and Stirlingshire. This is the first record for West Lothian and the first one in this area since 1994.

Theoretically this very brightly coloured bug and its even brighter red and black larvae should be easily found and easily identified. It is obviously very local and possibly rare but why that should be is a bit of a mystery, as the various species of prey are widespread and common and records for this bug come from a wide range of habitats including lowland mosses, heaths, rough, wet grasslands and even woodland. The adult bug is also found from mid May though to the end of August and its larvae are found before that. Maybe we have all been overlooking it but now that this fascinating insect has come into the spotlight maybe there will be a mass of new records next year?

By Alastair Sommerville

Posted: November 13th 2015

Doors Open Day 2015

TWIC is participating in Doors Open Day in Midlothian again this year. Why not drop in between 11am and 4pm on Saturday 12th September to find out about the work of the local environmental record centre, the different wildlife surveys we are involved in and learn how to take part in wildlife recording? For full details see the Midlothian Council Website.

Posted: September 8th 2015

Photograph courtesy of Mike Beard

TWIC Newsletter

The TWIC Autumn 2014 Newsletter is now publicly available here. A new newsletter will be released every 6 months and added to this page.

Parasitoid Wasp Acaenitus dubitator – An East Lothian Speciality?

By Alastair Sommerville

Abbie Marland took this excellent photograph of a female ichneumon cleaning its wings on the 6th June this year. She was in the dunes at Yellowcraigs and had managed to find the very rare and local species Acaenitus dubitator that lays its eggs in the larvae of the Large Thistle Weevil (Cleonis pigra), which is itself a very local coastal species. The weevil lays its eggs in the stems of Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense), but only on those plants growing in bare sand in dune habitats. The hatching weevil larva causes the upper part of the tap root to swell and form a gall in which the immature beetle feeds until turning into an adult weevil that emerges in the autumn to overwinter in the sand. The ichneumon passes the winter in the old weevil gall as a pupa and the adult wasp emerges in June to lay its eggs in the young weevil larvae. The weevil is restricted to coastal sand dunes with a few scattered records from Scotland, but has a more widespread distribution in England and Wales. The wasp however is only known in Britain from Aberlady, Gullane and Yellowcraigs.

Posted: August 12th 2015

Acaenitus dubitator at Aberlady Bay. Photograph courtesy of Abbie Marland.

Volunteers Needed

Due to the expansion in the area TWIC covers, we are in need of additional volunteers to help process incoming data. If you have good keyboard skills, an eye for detail and are interested in gaining experience working in the conservation sector, we would love to hear from you! Volunteers are expected to commit a minimum of 1 day per week and are based at the TWIC offices, which are situated in the picturesque Vogrie Country Park, Midlothian. For more information, including a job description, visit the Volunteering page of our website.

Posted: June 23rd 2015

TWIC Spring Conference - April 25th 2015

58 wildlife enthusiasts from across the region gathered for TWIC's Spring Conference at Newtown St Boswells in April. The conference theme was 'Arrivals and departures: the changing face of wildlife in the Lothians and Borders'. The day provided an opportunity to find out about how wildlife is faring in our region, including updates on recent arrivals - benign or otherwise - and the results of long term monitoring.

The following talks were delivered as part of the conference:

  • Wildlife Monitoring on the Forth Islands (Ron Morris and Bill Bruce, Forth Seabird Group)
  • The Lothians Bat Group and the National Bat Monitoring Programme (Nigel Terry, Lothians Bat Group)
  • Recent Discoveries and Changes to Invertebrate Populations in Central Scotland (Gabby Flinn, Buglife)
  • The State of butterfly species in South East Scotland (Iain Cowe, Butterfly Conservation)
  • Changes in the Bryophyte Flora of the Lothians and Borders (David Chamberlain, British Bryological Society)
  • The Tweed Invasives Project (Alex Baillie, Tweed Forum)

Sarah Eno (TWIC chair) also gave an update on TWIC plans for 2015 & beyond at the event.

TWIC would like to thank all the speakers for their fascinating talks and to everyone who attended. The full conference report can be downloaded here.

Posted: June 8th 2015

Have you seen a Common Cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha) beetle in YOUR moth trap?

Photo: Common Cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha).

The Common Cockchafer or May bug is not a true bug but a beetle encountered infrequently in Scotland.

A couple of specimens - or one recidivist - have recently been caught in a moth trap in Dalkeith. This is just TWIC's second record of this species, the previous one being in 1904. There is also a report of one being seen since then in the Dalkeith area. At 30 mm long they are spectacularly big beetles, so you might like to keep an eye open for them in or near your traps between May and July on warm evenings.

Richard Lyszkowski from the National Museums of Scotland suggests switching on the traps an hour or so before dusk to have the best chance of catching both M. melolontha and its smaller relative the Northern Cockchafer (M. hippocastani).

For further information on recognising M. melolontha visit the Natural History Museum website.

Good hunting and remember to send records of your finds to Natalie at TWIC (

By Ian Malcolm

Posted: May 28th 2015

Wildlife Recording Workshop, Saturday 16th May

Want to make your wildlife observations count? Find out how on this free one day workshop.

TWIC Ecologist, Natalie Harmsworth, will be leading a one day Introduction to wildlife recording workshop at Harestanes visitor centre, near Ancrum on Saturday 16th May, 10:30am - 3:30pm. The workshop will cover the essentials of recording and will include an outdoor identification session to practice your recording skills. No previous experience or equipment necessary. Please bring suitable outdoor clothing and a packed lunch. The workshop is FREE but booking is essential. To book a place please phone Harestanes visitor centre on 01835 830306. Ages 16 to adult.

Posted: May 8th 2015

Recording in the field. Photo: Michael Scott.

Message from Graeme, TWIC's Centre Manager

It is an exciting time for TWIC! Those of you that are TWIC Members and attended our AGM in November will already know that TWIC, which currently covers the Lothians and Borders, is looking to expand its geographical coverage. We are looking at moving into Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire Council areas and are also looking at part of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park as a significant part of Stirling is part of the National Park.

We will not be rushing this process and do not plan to be up and running as a fully functioning Local Record Centre for these areas until 1 April 2016. However from 1 April 2015 we will officially be covering these areas so that we can gather as much data as possible during the coming year. We will be making data requests to download data from the NBN Gateway and receive directly from national and local recording schemes but as always we will welcome records from individual recorders. If you have any records for these areas then please send them into Natalie (

This expansion will not only make a significant increase in the area covered by LRCs but will also help in making TWIC a much more sustainable organisation. TWIC's Chair, Sarah Eno, will be talking about TWIC's future plans at our Spring Conference in Newtown St Boswells on Saturday 25 April 2015 (see and more details of how our plans are progressing will appear on our website in due course.

I look forward to a bright future for TWIC and hope you will join me on this journey into an exciting future!

Posted: April 1st 2015

Bookings now being taken for TWIC Spring Conference

A programme, booking form and flier for the forthcoming Spring Conference on Saturday 25th April is now available to download from the conferences page of the website. The booking deadline is Friday 17th April.

SBIF Spring Conference: Making the Most of Biodiversity Data - 16th April 2015

Date: Thursday 16th April 2015, 10:00 - 16:30

Location: Battleby Conference Centre, Perth

Cost: Free and includes a buffet lunch. Booking essential; download a booking form here.

Details: The day will include the launch of our publication Making the Most of Biodiversity Data which explores some of the ways that biodiversity data are currently used. John Sawyer (CEO, NBN Trust) will give the keynote talk: A new Network vision for putting knowledge creation at the heart of Scotland's biodiversity strategy. There will be talks from some of the contributors to Making the Most of Biodiversity Data and updates about current SBIF Actions. The afternoon will be devoted to discussions and workshops to develop a National Data Flow Pathway.

Posted: March 16th 2015

Dawyck Bioblitz

On Friday 24th and Saturday 25th July 2015 the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) will be holding a BioBlitz at Dawyck Botanic Garden and is looking for volunteer recorders to help with the recording effort. The aim will be to record as many species as possible in a 24 hour period. Volunteers are invited to help lead walks or other recording activities, but are equally welcome to record independently on site. During the Friday evening the focus will be on bats, moths and other nocturnal wildlife.

If you think you would be able to help, RBGE would love to hear from you. Please register your interest by emailing Max Coleman at indicating which group/s of organisms you have expertise in. Alternatively, please phone Max on 0131 248 1033 (switchboard 0131 552 7171).

This will be the third in a series of BioBlitz events organised by the RBGE that is aiming to cover all four of its gardens. In 2013, 556 species were recorded in Edinburgh at the Botanics and last summer over 360 were recorded at Logan Botanic Garden.

Posted: February 27th 2015

Image: Dawyck Botanic Garden. Photograph contributed

TWIC Spring Conference - April 2015

Small Skipper - a butterfly expanding its range in the Lothians and Borders. Photograph copyright Mike Beard.

TWIC Spring Conference: Arrivals and Departures: The Changing Face of Wildlife in the Lothians and Scottish Borders

Date: Saturday 25th April, 10:00 - 16:00

Location: Scottish Borders Council Headquarters, Newtown St Boswells, Melrose, TD6 0SA.

Cost: FREE and includes a buffet lunch. Booking essential. A programme of talks and a booking form will be available to download from the website shortly.

Details: The conference is an opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts from across the region to join together to learn about all aspects of biological recording. The theme of this year's conference is 'Arrivals and departures: the changing face of wildlife in the Lothians and Scottish Borders'. The format of the day will be a series of talks around the conference theme and will include presentations on the results of long term monitoring as well as non-native invasive species. The conference programme will also feature the popular 'Open Mike Sessions' - a series of short 5 minute talks designed to promote the activities of local groups across our region. Delegates are encouraged to provide display items on behalf of their organisations (with prior arrangement with TWIC). The event is free and is open to everyone, so please encourage interested friends or colleagues to attend. Further details, including a programme of talks and a booking form will be published on the website in due course.

Getting there: A map for the conference venue can be found on the Scottish Borders Council website. Car parking can be found opposite the venue at Waverley Place.

University Moth Challenge 2015

In 2013, A Focus on Nature (AFON) - the network for young conservationists, established a University Birdwatch Challenge where teams of students recorded as many bird species as they could on their university campus throughout the year. This initiative has been a great success and AFON would like to extend the idea by having a University Moth Challenge, which would follow the same format, with the simple aim of recording as many moths as possible on university land. The Challenge aims to encourage students to take an active interest in moths and contribute to national recording schemes.

We're aiming to start the Challenge this year, commencing in April and running to the end of the year. AFON can provide support and help in setting up your Moth Challenge team.

AFON can provide advice and help on moths and trapping, and may be able to put you in touch with a local expert to help with identification. I am afraid that we cannot provide equipment but we can help you make your own trap. Prizes will be given to the winning teams, which have been kindly donated by partners and sponsors.

So, if you are at university or know someone who is, and would like to take part, please get in touch with the AFON co-ordinator Simon Phelps at

By Simon Phelps, AFON Co-ordinator

Posted: February 19th 2015

Bordered beauty (Epione repandaria). Photograph copyright Simon Phelps.

TWIC Autumn Conference & AGM - November 2014

The TWIC Autumn Conference and AGM took place on Saturday 15th November at the Eric Liddell Centre in Edinburgh. The conference was based around the theme 'The under-recorded and obscure - addressing gaps in species recording' and provided an opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts from across the region to find out about some of the more obscure or under-recorded taxonomic groups.

The following talks were delivered at the conference:

  • Mighty Microfungi - What they are and Where they Grow (Dr Stephan Helfer, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh)

  • Recording Leaf-mining Insects (Keith Bland). Download the talk and slides here.

  • Recording Spiders - It's nothing to be scared of (Katty Baird, British Arachnological Society). Download the presentation here. Please note that the presentation is 16.6 MB.

  • Water Beetles - The Which Lothian Question (Garth Foster, Balfour-Browne Club). Download the presentation here.

  • Seaweeds - More than just Slime: Seaweed Biodiversity and Uses in a Changing World (Dr. Clare Scanlan, British Phycological Society). A list of useful websites for algae can be downloaded here.

The event also hosted TWIC's AGM and saw the presentation of the Bob Saville Award to Rod Corner of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland and British Bryological Society for a lifetime's dedication to biological recording. TWIC would like to thank all the speakers for their stimulating talks and to everyone who attended. The full conference report can be downloaded here.

Posted: February 4th 2015

TWIC Autumn Conference and AGM: The Under-recorded and Obscure - Addressing Gaps in Species Recording

A caddisfly, Limnephilus flavicornis. Photograph courtesy of Emma Ross.

Date: Saturday 15th November, 10:00 - 16:00

Location: Eric Liddell Centre, 15 Morningside Road, Edinburgh (EH10 4DP)

Cost: FREE and includes a buffet lunch. Booking essential. Download a programme of talks and a booking form here. A flier for the event can be downloaded here.

Details: The conference is an opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts from across the region to join together to learn about all aspects of biological recording. The theme of this year's conference is the under-recorded and obscure - addressing gaps in species recording. We hope that the conference will provide a platform for experts of some of the less well recorded groups to promote the study of their taxa. Fittingly, the autumn conference will also include the presentation of the Bob Saville award. This award is presented annually to someone who has made an extra-ordinary contribution to recording in our area and is awarded in memory of the late Bob Saville. Bob was responsible for setting up the records centre and did much to further recording of one of the more obscure and less well studied groups, Barkflies (Psocoptera), previously known as booklice. The conference is usually a good social event and participants are encouraged to promote their own surveys and events during short, 5 minute, Open Mike Sessions and/or through the displays and exhibits. The conference will also host TWIC's AGM. Everyone welcome.

Getting there: A map and directions for the conference venue can be found here.

Posted: October 8th 2014

Urban Flora of Scotland - a new project from the Botanical Society of Scotland

By John Grace, President of the Botanical Society of Scotland (

This short article is intended to draw members' attention to a new project, The Urban Flora of Scotland. We aim to stimulate botanical interest in Scotland by engaging the public in surveys of the plants they find in their towns and cities, the length and breadth of Scotland. We believe that Citizen Science can make some new botanical discoveries, and at the same time we can raise public awareness about the wildflowers people see every day, and their ecologies.

We hope to involve people who already have an interest in Natural History, plus complete beginners including school-kids. This is how it will work. Imagine a would-be ecologist Violet Bloom, walking down a street in Dundee with her smart-phone. She sees a sow-thistle growing from a crack in the wall. She's fairly sure it's a Sonchus, and she turns to her flora to identify it as (Sonchus asper) Prickly Sow Thistle.

She activates the App on her phone, types in the name of the plant. The phone in the meantime has stored the date and location to the nearest few metres, and now asks her for the habitat, to which she replies WALL. It then asks, how common is this plant: dominant, abundant, frequent, occasional or rare? She decides to take a photograph; the App deals with this. It will be used later in the verification process. If it's an excellent photograph it may be used much later in an illustrated flora we'll make. The whole process has taken a few minutes, later when her identification skills increase, it will take only seconds. She moves on.

But Violet was not a complete beginner. Now imagine young Basil Bush, an eleven year old who has been assigned the task of finding where Red Campion (Silene dioica) grows in Stranraer. It's part of a nation-wide school project to map the ten most common and 'easy' species in our towns and cities. He knows well what it looks like, as he has been given only ten species to learn! Off he goes, and this time he checks the 'starter' section of the App, just next to the 'novice' section. Once more, an interrogation process occurs, much as in Violet's case, and he takes a picture too.

Imagine these processes occurring many tens of thousands of times over several years. The software draws a map, organizes the data by habitat, compares it with existing data, throws up suspicious records for checking further.

We think we can achieve all these things and more. This first year has been almost entirely planning; this has been challenging and at times frustrating for those of us who wanted to be out in the field recording. Some of us did, however, already do some recording. The data can be entered later. Our bryologists for example have completed a comprehensive survey of the Water of Leith. But soon the software will be ready, and we are applying for funding to employ staff to co-ordinate the work and to help in the day-to-day running. Moreover, we are planning various events for next year, so that local groups can include these now in their programmes.

We will hold a Walls Week, 9-17th May next year, with the intention of making a strong start on the flora of walls, and we would like to hear from groups out there who would like to take part. First we have to engage the interest of as many local groups as possible, and with them, hammer out some of the remaining issues. So on Sunday November 2nd we will host an event at the Royal Botanical Gardens to bring together relevant people, and I hope that many of you will be able to attend.

Posted: October 8th 2014

Exploring the urban jungle: what grows in this corner of an allotment field in Edinburgh?

Sawfly Surprise!

During the first weekend of September, recorders from across the region converged on Borders Forest Trust's (BFT) Talla and Gameshope estate to help generate baseline data on the wildlife found there. The Talla and Gameshope estate is a recent acquisition of BFT, covering some 4500 acres (1830 ha) of the Southern Uplands and lies south of the Talla Reservoir, near Tweedsmuir. Teyl de Bordes was one of the recorders who took part in this survey and he photographed several stunning sawfly larvae on Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) along the Gameshope Burn. The larvae had stripped all bar the main veins of the foliage. The larvae were identified as Trichiosoma sorbi by Keith Edkins on iSpot. An identification that was later confirmed by Guy Knight of the Symphyta Recording Scheme via TWIC. This species has not been previously recorded from the Scottish Borders and is rather uncommon, occurring locally in the north and west of Britain. The National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Gateway shows just 12 records of this species in the UK! The most recent nearby records are from Argyllshire and Westmoreland and North Lancashire in England (Guy Knight pers. comm.). The find was therefore notable and goes to show that it is still possible to make new discoveries - particularly for the more obscure and under-recorded taxa. There are 545 species of sawfly (Symphyta) known to occur in the UK. These fascinating insects belong to the order Hymenoptera, which includes wasps, ants, bees, sawflies, gall makers and spinners. Sawflies get their common name from their ovipositor, a saw-like organ that is used to cut into host plant material to deposit their eggs. If you would like to find out more about identifying and recording sawflies, please look up The Symphyta Recording Scheme, details of which can be found on the recording scheme website.

References: 1. British Sawflies (2014). What are sawflies? [Online] Available: [23 Sept 2014].

Posted: October 1st 2014

The sawfly, Trichiosoma sorbi is a new record for the Scottish Borders. Photographs courtesy of Teyl de Bordes.

TWIC Opens Doors to the Public

TWIC is participating in Doors Open Day in Midlothian again this year. Why not drop in between 11am and 4pm on Saturday 13th September to find out about the work of the local record centre, the different wildlife surveys we are involved in and learn how to take part in recording in the Lothians and Borders? For full details see the Midlothian Council Website.

Posted: September 8th 2014

Photograph courtesy of Mike Beard.

Record a a Raptor Survey Update - July 2014

The record a raptor survey is well under way and here at the TWIC we have processed almost 150 sightings of Buzzards, Kestrels and Red Kites so far. There are more awaiting entry to our database, so please keep them coming, the more the better. You can see from the table below just how many sightings have been reported. Prior to asking the public to submit sightings we were aware that Buzzard numbers were thriving and Kestrels were in decline, these records appear to support that.

Red Kites have been sighted in the Pentland Hills, Roxburghshire and in the City of Edinburgh Council area. However, Red Kites are a rare in these parts, so we are having all sightings verified by the experts before they become part of our permanent records. If you think you have seen a Red Kite (or another raptor) please email us a photo (if you manage to get one) or a video to our dedicated email address: as this will help confirm your sighting. We will update you on these again in the autumn. Hopefully in the future Red Kites will become a more common sight in the Lothians and Borders.

Photographs and silhouettes of all of the birds are on our website. Please follow the links for details on each species. Your sightings can be submitted via our online form, the above email address or by postcard, which can be picked up in many local visitor centres, tourist attractions, libraries and other places of interest.

Look out for our survey postcards on display near you!

When you are submitting your sightings to us, we ask you to describe what the bird is doing at the time you observe it. We have had some interesting feedback on behaviours. I can tell you that Buzzards everywhere are being mobbed by crows, perching on telephone poles and trees, flying in circles and not sharing road kill with those unfriendly crows. Kestrels have not been as vivid; they have been witnessed hovering and hunting quite a lot and occasionally perching on telephone wires.

We would like to say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to report their sightings to us. Knowing the locations of where these raptors are flying, breeding, nesting and hunting is very important. This knowledge gives us the power to offer them better protection, as sadly raptor persecution has not been eradicated in Scotland. I am happy to report that no sightings of dead raptors have been submitted to us to date; hopefully it will stay that way. Please keep us updated on what you saw, when you saw it, where you saw it and who you are, by submitting a record to TWIC.

Posted: July 30th 2014

Press release from East Lothian Council - Nature's Beloved Son: Rediscovering John Muir's Botanical Legacy

East Lothian Council have issued a press release regarding John Muir:

A major new exhibition opens in Dunbar on Saturday 28th June 2014 and will take over both the John Muir's Birthplace and the Dunbar Town House Museum and Gallery, on the town's High Street. The exhibition, which runs until 30th September, is being delivered in partnership with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and is on loan from Exhibit Envoy. It was curated by Bonnie J. Gisel with photography by Stephen J. Joseph.

It will offer a unique opportunity to see John Muir's American botanical collection displayed for the first time in Dunbar; the town that inspired his love of nature. It brings together prints of Muir's plant specimens, drawings and journal notes with herbarium specimens from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh including one collected by John Muir himself. The exhibition will include activities for families, project work from local schools and living plant displays.

Each print celebrates the fascinating structures, patterns, and anatomies of the plant world through the eyes and words of John Muir and is accompanied by a quote that expresses Muir's spiritual love and wonderment for the natural world. On encountering a rare orchid he writes "I never before saw a plant so full of life, so perfectly spiritual, it seemed pure enough for the throne of its Creator. I felt as if I were in the presence of superior beings who loved me and beckoned me to come. I sat down beside them and wept for joy. Could angels in their better land show us a more beautiful plant? How good is our Heavenly Father in granting us such friends as are these plant creatures, filing us wherever we go with pleasure so deep, so pure, so endless."

East Lothian schools who undertook the John Muir Award will showcase their project work and explore the relevance of Muir's legacy today. Muir wrote "When I was a boy in Scotland I was fond of everything that was wild ... I loved to wander in the fields to hear the birds sing, and along the shore to gaze and wonder at the shells and the seaweeds, eels and crabs in the pools when the tide was low; and best of all to watch the waves in awful storms thundering on the black headlands and craggy ruins of old Dunbar Castle."

Nature's Beloved Son: Rediscovering John Muir's Botanical Legacy Saturday 28th June to Tuesday 30th September 2014 at Dunbar Town House Museum and Gallery, 79 High St, Dunbar and John Muir's Birthplace, 128 High St, Dunbar.


16 May 2014

Issued by Jill Mackay, Media Manager East Lothian Council Tel: 01620 827743.

A pdf poster for the exhibition can be downloaded here.

Posted: June 20th 2014

Credit Stephen J. Joseph. Cassiope tetragona. Courtesy of the Harvard University Herbaria.

Credit Stephen J. Joseph. Dicentra spectabilis. Courtesy of John Muir National Historic Site.

Credit Stephen J. Joseph. Polypodium californicum. Courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Credit Stephen J. Joseph. Cypripedium montanum Dougl. Mountain Ladys Slipper 2008. Courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden.

The new 'Record a Raptor' survey is here!

Photo owned by Dean Bricknell Photography (

TWIC recently launched a new public survey; 'Record a Raptor'. We need your help recording Buzzards, Kestrels and Red Kites in the Lothians and Borders. Buzzards are the most common birds of prey in Scotland, but 20 years ago they were a rare sight. In contrast, Kestrels used to be very common, but there has been an alarming decline in population numbers across Scotland since the 1990s. Red Kites are currently extremely scarce in the Lothian and Scottish Borders, although re-introduced kites from overseas populations have established at several locations across the UK. There is therefore a need to record raptors to monitor how they are faring, and we are asking everyone to let us know every time they see a Buzzard, a Kestrel or a Red Kite. To find out how to submit your record online and to learn more about birds of prey, visit our Record a Raptor survey page.

Posted: May 30th 2014

TWIC Spring Conference - May 2014

The TWIC Spring Conference took place in the second week of May at the Scottish Borders Council Headquarters in Newtown St. Boswells. The conference was based around the theme 'Recording in 2014 - what's new' and provided an opportunity to hear about some of the exciting new projects and publications that are relevant to our area.

The following talks were delivered at the conference:

  • Scarce, Rare & Extinct Plants of Midlothian (Dr. Barbara Sumner, VC83 Recorder, Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland)
  • Public Survey - Unveiled (Louise Christensen, TWIC intern and PhD student at the University of Aberdeen)
  • Track a Tree: Recording Spring in the Woods (Christine Tansey, PhD student at the University of Edinburgh and Woodland Trust)
  • Scottish Dragon Finder (James Stead, Scottish Dragon Finder Project Officer, Froglife)
  • Dragonfly Recording & Conservation in Scotland (Daniele Muir, Scotland Officer, British Dragonfly Society)
  • Using Camera Traps (Chris Sydes, Lothian and Borders Badger Group)

The event proved to be very enjoyable. Many thanks to all the speakers for their stimulating talks and to everyone who attended. The full conference report can be downloaded here.

Posted: May 29th 2014

Plant Surveying & Identification Workshop, Saturday 7th June

TWIC will be hosting a joint TWIC/ Plantlife workshop on plant surveying and identification at Vogrie Country Park on June 7th. The workshop will be led by Plantlife Scotland's Conservation Co-ordinator, Davie Black and will largely be field-based in the grounds of Vogrie Country Park. For further information on the workshop read our workshop flier. Please note that the workshop is now fully booked, but people can be added to the reserve list if they contact TWIC.

Posted: May 12th 2014

Rare plant register for Midlothian Vice-county published

Local Plant Recorder, Dr. Barbara Sumner, has just finished a Rare Plant Register (RPR) for Vice-county 83, Midlothian. The register provides information on the occurrence of the rarest plants in the vice-county, along with details on how they are faring. This is an excellent resource for planners, conservation organisations, land managers and anyone interested in the flora of Midlothian. To view the RPR visit the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland website.

There will be a chance to hear from Barbara about the publication at the TWIC Spring Conference on Saturday 10th May. Hard copies of the RPR will also be available to purchase at this event and will be sold in aid of BSBI funds.

Posted: April 21st 2014

The local authority areas covered by Vice County 83 (Midlothian). The map contains Ordnance Survey data Crown copyright and database right 2014.

TWIC Spring Conference: Recording in 2014 - What's new?

Photo courtesy of Mike Beard

Date: Saturday 10th May, 10:00 - 16:00

Location: Scottish Borders Council Headquarters, Newtown St. Boswells (TD6 0SA)

Cost: FREE and includes a buffet lunch.

Details: The conference is a chance for wildlife enthusiasts from across the region to join together to learn about all aspects of biological recording. The conference will promote some of the exciting new projects and publications that are relevant to our area, including the new Rare Plant Register for Midlothian Vice County, the 2014 TWIC Public Survey, the use of trial cameras in biological recording and much more! Participants will have the chance to promote their own surveys and events during the Open Mike Session and/or through the displays and exhibits. Come along and see how you can get involved with wildlife recording in the Lothians and Scottish Borders. Everyone welcome.

Posted: April 14th 2014

TWIC welcomes Intern, Louise Christensen, to the team

In March 2014, TWIC were pleased to welcome Louise to the team as an intern. Louise graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 2012 with a BSc (Hons) in Zoology. Shortly after graduating, Louise started her PhD project at the University of Aberdeen. Her PhD investigates the physiological costs associated with various life history trade-offs in the wild population of Soay sheep on St Kilda. The internship has been arranged through the PIPS- scheme (Professional Internships for PhD Students). Her internship runs until June 2014, during which time she will be planning a new public survey to be launched this year.

The public survey will seek to engage more people in recording, increase awareness of environmental issues and encourage understanding of the natural environment. Data collected via public surveys (or 'citizen science' projects) can be incredibly important for scientific research, planning, site assessment and for understanding changes in the wider environment.

The survey will follow on from 2 previous successful public surveys arranged by TWIC on Hedgehogs (launched in 2011) and Leopard Slugs & Badgers (launched in 2012), respectively. The Hedgehog data is now available to view on the National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Gateway: These surveys are still operating, so please do continue to send in your sightings to TWIC either online or via our postcard survey. Watch this space for news of what theme or species Louise chooses for the new survey.

Posted: March 17th 2014

Louise in her natural environment

TWIC hosts Work Experience Student

Last month, a work experience student, Rory Low, from Lasswade High School joined the TWIC team for a week. Rory reflects on his week at TWIC:

I have really enjoyed my week at TWIC and I have learned a lot from it. I was excited when I found out that I would be coming here for work experience and it has not disappointed me. Most of the week I have been processing mammal data using Microsoft Excel. To be a valid account [record] it must include who the recorder is, what species of animal was seen, where this animal was seen and when the recorder saw it. It should also usually include how many of this species were seen.

During the week, Rory got some hands-on experience small mammal trapping in the grounds of Vogrie Country Park using humane Longworth traps loaned from the Lothian and Borders Mammal Group (LaBMaG). By using the mark and recapture method, it was possible to see which animals had visited the traps previously. Rory says:

I enjoyed the mammal trapping the most as I prefer to see the animals rather than read about them. We caught 5 the first time and 6 the second time, although three of the first five came back and got trapped again so we had caught a total of 8 different wood mice.

I would like to thank the TWIC team for helping me gain this kind of knowledge. They have made it much easier and I could not have done it without them. I'd also like to thank Graeme [TWIC Manager] for having me here at TWIC. You have all made me feel very comfortable in this office and created a very friendly environment.

Posted: December 18th 2013

Rory learning how to hold a Wood Mouse while on placement at TWIC

TWIC Autumn Conference - November 2013

The TWIC Autumn Conference took place at the end of November at Vogrie House, Vogrie Country Park. The conference was based around the theme of 'Why biological recording matters' and it showcased some of the ways in which biological data are put to use. Over 50 people were in attendance, making it one of our most well-attended conferences to date.

The following talks were delivered at the conference:

  • Where are our Butterflies and Moths? (Dr Barry Prater, Butterfly Conservation East Scotland). Download a copy of the presentation here. N.B. The file is 15.3 MB.
  • Using your Data: Why Biological Records are Invaluable to Local Authorities (Caroline Peacock, City of Edinburgh Council)
  • Local Biodiversity Sites: from Recording Excursion to Assessment (Steve Hannah & Natalie Harmsworth, TWIC)
  • Biological Records in Research: Extent and Detail (Dr Patrick White, Edinburgh Napier University)
  • Biological Records - A Consultant's View (Melanie Ingledew, Findlay Ecology Services)

As always, the event provided fascinating insights into ecology and biological recording. For example, did you know that Nuthatches display 'feedback song matching' and will drop a song from their repertoire if the song is not returned by other birds?

The need for good quality biological data to underpin conservation action was a common theme. Translating recording on the ground to conservation action was something everyone wanted to see more of. TWIC would like to thank all the speakers for their excellent talks and to everyone who attended.

Posted: April 10th 2014

TWIC ID Workshops: Fostering Skills in Under-recorded Groups

Photograph courtesy of Mike Beard.

TWIC ran four free identification workshops in 2013; three in the Scottish Borders and one in the Lothians. The Borders workshops were made possible by a donation from the former Scottish Borders Biological Records Centre (SBBRC) Recorders' Group. Funding for the Lothians workshop came from TWIC's funds. The aim of the workshops was to help local recorders develop their identification skills and encourage recording of under-recorded taxa. The groups covered by the workshops and corresponding course tutors were: woodland bryophytes (Liz Kungu), spiders (Chris Cathrine), aquatic invertebrates (Dave Colvill) and lichens (Brian and Sandy Coppins).

Some of the positive feedback:

  • "Really excellent training day, with a good introduction and a good combination of both lab and field work." (Woodland Bryophyte Workshop)
  • "Superb venue. The course furthered my use of keys." (Aquatic Invertebrates workshop, Harestanes Visitor Centre)
  • "An instructive and informative day. It was excellent to have the opportunity to contribute towards a real monitoring project." (Lichens Workshop)

Posted: October 11th 2013

BioBlitz season - the race is on!

Enthusing the next generation of recorders at Wilton Lodge Park BioBlitz, Hawick. Photograph courtesy of Susan Kevan.

BioBlitz events have become increasingly popular in recent times, but what are they?

A BioBlitz is an event where experts and members of the public work together to identify and record as many species as possible at a particular site over a 24 hour period, or shorter. The 'blitz' of BioBlitz therefore refers to an intensive survey, while 'bio' relates to the wildlife that is identified as part of the survey. BioBlitz events are an excellent way to engage new audiences in biological recording, particularly young people. BioBlitz events should be fun to participate in, but are also a means of generating useful biological data.

This year, TWIC organised two BioBlitz events in collaboration with Scottish Borders Council. The first, and the smaller of the two events, was held at Harestanes Visitor Centre near Ancrum on June 1st. A respectable tally of 115 different species was recorded as part of the event, mostly by a small band of botanists led by Luke Gaskell (Peeblesshire Plant Recorder). Other activities included small mammal trapping and pond dipping in the wildlife pond. Unfortunately, the bumblebee survey that was scheduled to take place had to be cancelled due a scarcity of bumblebees on the day.

The second event took place in the grounds of Wilton Lodge Park in Hawick on the weekend of June 15th - 16th. On the Saturday evening, Borders Bat Group members led a short twilight bat walk in the grounds of the park to see and hear bats (using bat detectors). This was followed by a late night moth trapping session overseen by Teyl de Bordes, an East Scotland Branch member of Butterfly Conservation. Early on Sunday morning, the moth trap was opened to reveal the catch from the previous night. The catch consisted of Beautiful Golden Y, Common Marbled Carpet, Brimstone and Triple-barred Argent moths.

Throughout Sunday, there were guided walks and drop-in sessions in the park. A particular highlight was the electro-fishing demonstration given by Tweed Foundation biologists, Kenny Galt and Ronald Campbell, which seemed to capture the imagination of the adults and children alike. The electro-fishing sessions also contributed 6 fish species towards the total of 267 species that were recorded on site.

The number of species for each taxonomic group recorded were: 30 Birds; 17 Conifers; 6 Fish; 22 Invertebrates; 54 Mosses and Liverworts; 134 Vascular plants (including 37 trees planted in the park); 4 Mammals. Of the 54 bryophyte species identified by David Long, the best finds were Anomodon viticulosus, Didymodon sinuosus, Leucodon sciuroides, Orthotrichum stramineum, O. tenellum and Syntrichia latifolia. An interesting find in the lawn outside Hawick Museum was the vascular plant Lawn Lobelia (Pratia angulata), which has tiny white flowers and originates from New Zealand. The species was first recorded in Wilton Lodge Park in 1972 (Rod Corner pers. comm.). Could plants of Lawn Lobelia have been included in former rockery plantings in the park and have subsequently escaped and become naturalised in the lawns?

Often the highlights of public events are the reactions of individuals when they see something for the first time or when they get a particularly good view of a species. On this occasion, the memorable moments included the excitement of the group seeing fish being 'zapped' and netted by the Tweed Foundation biologists, the delight of a child when Botanist Douglas McKean produced some enormous pine cones from a Weymouth Pine (Pinus strobus) and the satisfaction gained from some close and prolonged views of the Spotted Flycatcher near to the museum building.

Shona Sinclair, Curator of Hawick Museum, commented:

"This was the first BioBlitz event that the museum has been involved with and I must admit that we were slightly anxious due in the main to our ignorance of the subject matter! However, the event went really well, the TWIC team's organisation was first class, the weather was fair, the public were enthusiastic and the volunteer leaders were keen to share their knowledge. From a personal point of view I enjoyed seeing the mix of visitors enjoying their day out in the park but looking at it in a whole new way - not just as a place for them but a place that is shared with wildlife."

All the records generated from the event will be added to TWIC's database of species records and will feed into other local and national datasets.

TWIC would like to thank Scottish Borders Council staff for their assistance in organising the two events and to the following organisations and individuals who contributed time and expertise:

Borders Bat Group, Botanical Society of the British Isles, British Arachnological Society, Butterfly Conservation - East Scotland Branch, Mike Beard, Sarah Eno, Douglas McKean, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Tweed Foundation.

Natalie Harmsworth

Posted: August 1st 2013

TWIC 'Spots and Stripes' Survey exceeds 300 records mark!

Photograph courtesy of Mike Beard.

Thanks to records submitted online and via a dedicated postcard survey, TWIC have now received over 300 records of Leopard Slug (Limax maximus) and Badger (Meles meles) for the Lothian and Scottish Borders. As a result, we now have a better indication of the current distribution of the species in the region. Thanks to everyone who has submitted records to us to date - please keep them coming.

Sara-Jane Ponting (pictured) was one of many individuals who have submitted Leopard Slug sightings to us this year. The photograph shows her triumphantly holding up her find on a TWIC outing earlier in the season. Leopard Slugs prefer damp, shaded places, such as beneath rocks or vegetation and can be found in a range of modified habitats, including gardens. They are not uncommon - simply under-recorded. They are also a gardener's friend, helping to recycle nutrients in the garden by consuming decaying plant material and not feeding on living plants.

There are still gaps in our distribution maps for these species, so please keep sending in your Lothian or Borders Leopard Slug or Badger sightings. And remember, for Badgers we are interested in hearing about road kill records as well as live sightings.

Posted: August 1st 2013

Large Red-belted Clearwing in Berwickshire

On 4 June 2013 I found two freshly-hatched pupae of the Large Red-belted Clearwing moth in my woodland at Spottiswoode (NT 6050 5016). The pupae were on two stumps of Downy Birch trees cut 18 months ago during birch thinning work by the Lothians Conservation Volunteers. The pupae are left behind as the adult emerges at the mouth of a hole between the bark and wood on the cut surface of the stump. There are no previous confirmed records for Berwickshire or the Scottish Borders. Barry Prater confirmed the identification of the pupae and came up on 7 June with a vial of pheromone but no males were attracted. In November 2012 LCV thinned more birches in the same woodland so hopefully we may get a new brood of clearwings next year. In my garden at Spottiswoode a Greater Spotted Woodpecker has been attacking the base of a large Willow tree - could it be be feeding on larvae of the Lunar Hornet Clearwing? Mysterious insects!

By David Long

Posted: June 26th 2013

TWIC Spring Conference March 2013

Last month 40 people attended the TWIC Spring Conference at Newtown St Boswells in the Scottish Borders. Delegates enjoyed a series of talks on the topic of upland recording and conservation, a free lunch and the chance to browse displays by various organisations. You can read the full conference report here.

Posted: April 5th 2013

TWIC Autumn Conference and AGM, Saturday 17th November 2012

The TWIC Autumn Conference and AGM took place in the Eric Liddell Centre in Edinburgh on Saturday 17th November and was attended by 50 people. The day provided an opportunity for recorders to get-together at the end of the recording season and for TWIC to publicly thank the recording community for their continued support. A variety of talks were delivered on the theme of grassland recording and conservation, from the challenges and opportunities associated with recording bees, ants and wasps to the lessons learned from a grassland management project in East Lothian. Speakers included Ali Murfitt, Duncan Davidson (Butterfly Conservation), Andrew Jarman (Bees, Wasps and Ants Recording Society), Stuart MacPherson (East Lothian Council) and Heather McHaffie (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh). The conference also hosted the first TWIC AGM since there had been a concerted effort to increase the number of TWIC members in the spring of 2012. The day proved to be very enjoyable. Many thanks to all the speakers for their stimulating talks. The full conference report can be downloaded here.

During the open mike session Natalie Harmsworth, TWIC Ecologist, plugged the new public survey, which is aiming to gather information on the distinctively marked Leopard Slug (Limax maximus) and Badger (Meles meles). For information on the survey visit the survey page of the TWIC website

Updated: June 26th 2013

A second sighting for Scotland - courtesy of iSpot

The conservation charity that I work for had been creating a 'window list' of the species that we observed at our offices at Sighthill, Edinburgh. So, in November 2010, when I saw a weevil at the bottom of our stairwell I decided to try to find out what it was. I took a few photos and asked around our countryside and gardening staff to see if anyone had any clues to the weevil's identity. None were entomologists, but they thought that it was most likely a Vine Weevil (Otiorhynchus sulcatus). Little did we suspect that it would prove to be much more interesting.

Wanting to explore iSpot ( I decided to post my observation and see how it could help me to confirm the ID. Pretty soon an invertebrate expert called Mark Telfer posted on my photo record page ( that it actually looked like one of two species of foreign weevil recently arrived in England, and that it might be the first time that either had been seen in Scotland! His opinion was seconded on iSpot by an ecologist from the National Biodiversity Network, so clearly this was worth taking further. Mark said that a specimen would be required to confirm the ID, but unfortunately I had released it after taking my photographs. Anyway, he advised me to keep looking in the same area because I was pretty sure to find another one. He also told me that I could send a live specimen to be confirmed and how best to keep it alive.

I spread the word around the office that I wanted any weevils that people saw; surprisingly it took over a year for one to appear on my desk enclosed within two sellotaped plastic cups; it had been captured that morning by our facilities officers. I decided that I should liaise with our local expert, and referring to the TWIC website found that it was Richard Lyszkowski, who is Assistant Curator of Entomology at the National Museums Collection Centre. Once I had contacted him to confirm that he was interested and available to receive my weevil, it was carefully packaged up as advised and sent in the post.

Otiorhynchus armadillo (c) Mike Beard

Richard replied that it was indeed Otiorhynchus armadillo as suspected, but it was not the first record for Scotland because the late Bob Saville had found one in Dalry, Edinburgh in July 2000. Nevertheless it was an interesting and important record because it helped confirm that the species was probably widespread throughout the UK, but under-recorded due to its similarity with our native vine weevil Otiorhynchus sulcatus. Richard also very kindly forwarded me an article that discussed this species, so that my colleagues and I could find out much more about our unexpected foreign guests.

Mike Beard

Posted: July 18th 2012

Most southerly record for the Longhorn beetle Judolia sexmaculata

Last month, Chris Sullivan found the Longhorn beetle Judolia sexmaculata in a cleared area within a conifer plantation at a site in West Lothian. This beetle is Nationally Notable A, which means it has been found in fewer than 30 10km squares in Great Britain. This is the first time the species has been confirmed in the Lothians and it is also the most southerly record for the species.

To keep up-to-date with Chris' recording activities, visit his blog

Posted: July 18th 2012

Are British Slugs under Threat?

An interesting article by the BBC on an invasive slug species from Spain possibly threatening native species. Has anyone seen this invader in their gardens? If so, please send your records in!

Posted: July 4th 2012

New Beetle Species for the Lothians

Chris Sullivan recently identified Oedemera (Oncomera) femoralis in West Lothian. This is the first record of the species in the Lothians, and is the first time it has been sighted in Scotland in nearly 80 years. For further information, visit Chris' blog

Posted: July 3rd 2012

Beetle Identification Workshop, Thursday 19th July

TWIC are pleased to announce that we will be hosting a joint TWIC/Buglife workshop on Beetle Identification on Thursday 19th July, 10am-4pm at Vogrie Country Park, Midlothian, EH23 4NU.

This workshop is an introduction to the identification of different beetle families that are found in Britain. There will be a short presentation introducing beetles and their different families and this will be followed by an outdoor session where you will learn were and how to survey for beetles. The workshop will be led by Suzanne Bairner, Project Officer at Buglife.

No prior experience is necessary; however booking is essential as places are strictly limited. Please return the booking form to to book your place on the workshop or call 01875 825968.

This event has been generously supported by a European Year of Volunteering 2011 grant funded by the Scottish Government.

Posted: June 25th 2012

Green tiger beetle, Cicindela campestris, by Greg Hitchcock

Bloody nosed beetle, Timarcha tenebricosa, by Suzanne Bairner

Mammals Workshop, Saturday 16th June 2012

TWIC will be hosting a Mammals workshop on Saturday 16th June, 9am - 12pm and 5pm - 11pm, at Vogrie Country Park, Midlothian. The workshop will be jointly led by Graeme Wilson and David Dodds. The day will consist of two sessions covering a variety of mammal subjects including Longworth trapping of small mammals as well as badger and bat survey skills. No prior experience is necessary, but booking is essential as places are strictly limited. Please return the booking form to to book your place on the workshop or phone 01875 825968.

This event has been generously supported by a European Year of Volunteering 2011 grant funded by the Scottish Government.

Posted: June 11th 2012

Ground beetle Bembidion bipunctatum found in West Lothian

Chris Sullivan recently found the Nationally Scarce ground beetle Bembidion bipunctatum at Harperrig Reservoir, West Lothian. This is the first record of this species for the Lothians.

Bembidion bipunctatum is a small (3.5-4.5mm) ground beetle found on sandy mull river banks and lake shores among sparse vegetation. Chris recorded his beetle on the shoreline of the reservoir under stones.

Posted: June 7th 2012

Rare snail found in the Scottish Borders

Adrian Sumner found the rare Three-toothed Moss Snail, Azeca goodalli (pictured, courtesy of Adrian Sumner) on a recent TWIC excursion to Denholm Dean. This is only the second modern site for the species in Scotland; the other site being Kippenrait Glen near Bridge of Allan, Stirling. Due to its rarity, the species is listed on the Scottish Biodiversity List of species of principal importance for biodiversity conservation.

The shells of Azeca goodalli are small, ranging in height from 5.5-7.0 mm when adult. The species occurs locally, amongst moss, herbage and ground litter in woodlands, hedgerows and scrub, usually though not always on calcareous soils. It prefers light shade (Ellis, 1969; Kerney, 1999).

TWIC are always keen to receive your wildlife sightings - both rare and common species - please do not assume we already know.

Posted: June 4th 2012

Recorder's Conference, Saturday 24 March 2012

The Wildlife Information Centre's (TWIC) Spring Recorders' Conference took place in the Scottish Borders Council Chambers in Newtown St Boswells on Saturday 24th March. The day provided an opportunity to hear a range of talks on the theme of recording in woodlands. Presentations were given by individuals representing Borders Forest Trust, Fungi Group of South East Scotland, Lothian & Borders Badger Group, the British Bryological Society and Red Squirrels in South Scotland.

Anna Craigen, Borders Forest Trust (BFT), spoke first. Anna started working for BFT in 2002. Much of her work is focussed on working with young people and local communities - sparking their interest in the natural world as she shares her enthusiasm for wildlife and the environment. Her presentation focused on some of the projects that BFT are currently involved in, including woodland habitat projects like Carrifran Wildwood. Anna highlighted the value of volunteers and the need for long-term monitoring on sites undergoing habitat restoration. Recording on such sites is vital if we are to understand how specific management actions affect biodiversity. To find out about ways to volunteer with BFT visit their website Anna would be interested in receiving photographs that people have taken on BFT sites for use in publications etc. Email

Neville Kilkenny of the Fungus Group of South East Scotland (FGSES) described some of the challenges involved in recording fungi and outlined the support available for anyone thinking about becoming involved in recording this group. Some of these challenges would have been familiar to people recording other groups. A live demonstration of the Scottish Fungi website followed, with particular reference to the online data entry feature that feeds into the British Mycological Society (BMS) database. This is one of two UK databases for fungi. The other database is hosted by the Association of British Fungus Groups. In the fast moving world of taxonomy, it is vital when recording fungi to state the literature used for identification purposes. The BMS database is therefore preferred as it retains the original name that the recorder gave the fungus with its literature reference. This allows the record to be interpreted correctly in the future if taxonomic changes occur. Download the PowerPoint presentation here. To find out about recording fungi and other useful resources visit the Scottish Fungi website The site also contains a link to FGSES.

The presentation of the Bob Saville award followed. This award is presented each year to someone who has made an extra-ordinary contribution to recording in our area. It is awarded in memory of the late Bob Saville, someone who did so much for TWIC as well as recording. Douglas McKean made the presentation and the recipient was Jackie Muscott. Jackie is a respected botanist and botanical recorder for West Lothian. She has been involved in the Wildlife Sites system since the 1980s and does a lot of voluntary work with local groups. Records submitted to TWIC date back to the late 1970s. To date she has submitted around 70,000 records covering 20 species groups, a truly phenomenal effort!

Before lunch, there was an 'Open Mike' session, which allowed participants to advertise their projects and events. Chris Sydes from the Lothian and Borders Mammal Group (LaBMaG) talked about the 2012 Mammal Society Hedgehog Monitoring project, which has been greatly 'slimmed down' this year. Please email for details and to sign up.

Natalie Harmsworth, Ecologist at TWIC promoted the 2012 recording excursion programme and encouraged as many people to attend as possible. These events are aimed at existing and budding recorders and cover sites across the Lothians and Borders. Excursions this year will focus on Local Biodiversity Sites. Before a site can be assessed as LBS an up-too-date plant list and other species records are needed. A full list of excursions can be downloaded from the Recording Events page of the TWIC website

Finally, Graeme Wilson, TWIC Centre Manager, announced that TWIC are seeking a wider membership and outlined the various benefits associated with becoming a member of TWIC. Individuals and organisations can become members and the membership fee is currently set at £5. For further information, including a membership form, please visit the Get Involved section of the TWIC website

Over lunch delegates were able to view the various displays and posters, and have a go at the woodland themed quiz. The Borders Recorder Group also met during the interval.

After lunch, Chris Sydes from the Lothian & Borders Badger Group (LBBG) spoke on the topic of badger recording. Sadly, illegal badger-baiting activity remains a threat to badgers in the Lothians and Borders, as in other parts of the UK. Legal protection is therefore aimed at safeguarding badger welfare rather than species conservation. Chris indicated that badger recording varies markedly between Local Authority areas; the coverage is fairly complete for Midlothian and Edinburgh, while recording in the Borders is still in its infancy. Through a series of photographs, Chris outlined the badger signs and tracks that indicate that badgers have been in the area. His presentation also included a captivating video of a family of badgers, which he had recorded himself. Chris' badger videos are available to view on YouTube, while his photographs of badger tracks and signs can be viewed on his aptly named website 'How to Read Badger'

David Long, British Bryological Society (BBS), spoke on the topic of woodland bryophytes. The bryophytes comprise the liverworts, hornworts and mosses. With over 1000 species, Britain is rich in bryophytes. David gave an overview of the life cycle of bryophytes, using specific species as illustration; described the reasons why bryophytes are important in the context of woodlands (for example for nutrient cycling and as indicators of air quality); and highlighted some of the most bryophyte-rich habitats present in Scotland and the Scottish Borders. The Oceanic Woodlands on the west coast of the Highlands have been dubbed "Atlantic rainforests" due to their terrific diversity. Bryophytes are an important and conspicuous component of such woodlands. David finished his presentation by describing the essentials of bryophyte recording, emphasising the need to record location information accurately using a GPS. He also called for further action for bryophyte conservation.

The British Bryological Society website,, contains useful information on recording bryophytes, including an online Field Guide and details of forthcoming field meetings. Details of how to become a member of BBS are also available on the website. There is also an active Bryophyte Group in Edinburgh, which covers the SE Scotland region. Please contact David Chamberlain,, or Liz Kungu, for further information on the local group.

Karen Ramoo, Red Squirrels in South Scotland (RSSS), provided an interesting talk on the RSSS project and the Importance of Data Collation. The Grey Squirrel was introduced to Britain from North America in the 19th Century and has since displaced the native Red Squirrel by disease and competition for food in much of the country. Grey Squirrels carry the parapox disease, which is deadly to the native Red Squirrel (the Greys show no ill effects of the virus). Karen described the main incursion routes used by Grey Squirrels to move into South Scotland, and through a series of maps indicated the instances of seropositive Grey Squirrels and pox outbreaks in Red Squirrels. Karen went on to talk about the measures being implemented to try to prevent further northwards expansion of the greys, including the trap loan scheme, and touched on new novel approaches to controlling the spread that may be used in the future. The RSSS and Saving Scotland's Red Squirrels (SSRS) projects will soon merge, providing a more coordinated approach to Grey Squirrel control. Please visit the RSSS website for further information

Graeme Wilson, TWIC Manager, announced the winners of the quiz (Neville Kilkenny and Reuben Singleton) and summed up the day. Graeme touched on facts from the talks that were particularly interesting or memorable, for example the badgers that 'remembered' where the edge of the woodland used to be and the fact that mowing your lawn will encourage moss growth by generating new propagules (the perfect excuse for not mowing your lawn as frequently!).

All in all, the Conference was an enjoyable and interesting event. The next Conference will be in the autumn of 2012 at a venue in the Lothians and the plan is to host TWIC's AGM at that meeting.

Posted: April 20th 2012

Scottish Invertebrate News Volume 3 Issue 1 available now

The Scottish Invertebrate News Volume 3 Issue 1 is now available to download at:

This issue is packed with articles covering a wide range of topics, including a report on Scottish dragonflies during 2011 and a report by Adrian Sumner on the rediscovery of the Small Amber Snail in East Lothian. There is also a feature on Buglife's Action for Scottish Invertebrates project, and progress update on delivering the Strategy for Scottish Invertebrate Conservation.

The need for invertebrate records is highlighted throughout. Please send your invertebrate records for the Lothians and Borders to TWIC or to the appropriate recording scheme.

Posted: March 28th 2012

Plants of Peebleshire - the first checklist for the county

BSBI David McCosh has recently published an annotated checklist of plants for Peeblesshire. This attractively produced book is available for £6. Full details are currently prominently displayed at

Posted: March 2nd 2012

Bee Orchids found in East Lothian

A fantastic colony of Bee Orchids Ophrys apifera has been discovered by Ian Andrews in East Lothian, the first time this beautiful plant has been seen in the Lothians. In fact this species is not normally found in Scotland with only a couple of recent records from Dumfries and Galloway and from Ayrshire. These very unusual looking plants, about 15 to 40 centimetres high, have spectacular flowers whose swollen petals mimic the colours and textures of the body of a bee. It is now known that the flowers also smell like a female bee and the male bees, attracted by the scent, attempt to mate with the flower and get pollinia (sacs full of pollen) stuck to their heads as a result which they inevitably take with them to the next plant. However, this highly specialised mechanism doesn't work in the UK as the particular species of bee which does the pollination doesn't occur here and the orchid have to rely on self pollination! As with other orchids the plants produce millions of dust like seeds which can be blown large distances.

This particular species is a specialist in disturbed ground, such as quarries and roadside verges, especially where the soil is lime rich and where the necessary soil fungi (i.e. mycorrhizal fungi) occur which can interact with the roots of the orchid to make available the appropriate nutrients. Bee Orchids are perennial plants but can suddenly appear at a site, flower for a few years and then disappear again when that particular plant dies. The fantastic photographs of these East Lothian plants were taken by Peter Macdonald.

Posted: June 24th 2011

Photo courtesy of Peter MacDonald.

Photo courtesy of Peter MacDonald.

Hedgehog Sighting in West Lothian

TWIC Chair Alastair Sommerville poses with a hedgehog found in his garden.

TWIC Chair Alastair Sommerville was delighted to find this hedgehog in his garden at Woodbank near Armadale. "I have been dedicatedly looking out for hedgehogs all year but the only records I have managed to submit to the TWIC Hedgehog Survey this year have been road casualties" said Alastair. "We have seen hedgehogs locally, know they have been in neighbour's gardens and have found hedgehog dropping in the front garden in previous years but this is the first time I have actually seen one in the garden." The hedgehog was found exploring the garden at dusk and after pausing for a photo opportunity the hog headed off into an overgrown hedge.

Posted: June 14th 2011

Lothians Local Biodiversity Sites Network Strategic Habitat Survey: 145 sites surveyed!!

During the period November 2010 to April 2011 TWIC carried out a habitat survey of 145 proposed Local Biodiversity Sites (LBS) throughout the Lothians. The surveys included gathering habitat data and also reviewing and updating boundaries for these sites. Target notes identifying key features of the site were also recorded and photos taken to help interpretation of the sites.

The four LBS systems in the Lothians are organised by local authority area and are currently in different stages of development. All of the LBS systems follow national guidance and are co-ordinated by TWIC. To enable sites to be assessed both species and habitat data are required. Habitat data for the proposed sites are needed, as the large scale Phase 1 surveys for the region are not sufficiently accurate and now out of date.

All the data collected in the survey have been computerised and provide an excellent baseline for further more specialised survey - e.g. botanical surveys.

As part of the survey process TWIC has identified and contacted landowners of the sites, seeking permission to carry out survey, but also advising them of the work and sending them copies of habitat maps for site(s) in their ownership.

The project was made possible by a grant from the Central Scotland Green Network Development Fund.

Posted: May 24th 2011

A scene of the lower reaches of the River Esk near Musselburgh taken by one of our surveyors.

Has anyone seen the Rhinoceros Beetle?

The Rhinoceros Beetle (Sinodendron cylindricum) is the only member of the Stag Beetles (Lucanidae) found in Scotland. All Stag Beetle grubs specialise in feeding in very rotten wood and the large, soft, greyish-white larvae have curled-up soft bodies with a hard brown head capsule and three pairs of legs at the front end. This species can be found mainly in the very soft and crumbly wood that develops in the rotten trunks or stumps of large trees particularly beech but also in ash, elm and alder. The adult beetle in about 2 cms long, glossy black but with a knobbly surface to its body. The male has a single, short horn on its head which is only a bump in the female. The beetles can be found for much of the year including during the winter when they hibernate in the deadwood in which they developed.

TWIC only has 18 records for this species, three from the Lothians (Polkemmet County Park, River Avon Gorge, Vogrie Country Park and the rest from the Borders including Glenkinnon Burn SSSI, Mossburnford Wood, Cragbank - Wolfehopelee NNR, Avenel Hill and Gorge SSSI, Wolf Glen Wood and Tweedwood - Gateheugh SSSI). There are few other records for Scotland but the beetle is found as far north as Inverness.

I suspect that as with so many deadwood beetles, they are under recorded simply because they live deep in the rotting wood of very large and inaccessible trees. The adults do emerge and fly around in summer and can be found crawling about on large tree trunks where they mate.

This very interesting and beautiful beetle might well be more widespread than we think as there are a great number of over-mature beech trees in the TWIC area. If you would like to see if they occur near you why not go out now and look for a large, very rotten tree stump and search for the adult beetles. If the wood is not soft and crumbly enough for you to pull it apart with your own fingers then it is not suitable for the Rhinoceros beetle! Once found you will be able to identify it with certainty but obviously a photo of your find, and of the tree where you found it, would be valuable.

Remember rotten wood is a rare and valuable habitat and home to many species of specialised beetles and flies, many of them rare. Do not destroy large amounts of this material but just look in the most likely places and return all of the rotten wood, with any beetles you do find, to where it came from.

Send your records including any previous sightings to me at TWIC ( giving the place, date, grid reference and any comments on the find with photographs whenever possible.

Alastair Sommerville

Posted: April 13th 2011

Bob Saville Award is presented to Dr Adrian T Sumner

A brand new annual award has been created by The Wildlife Information Centre to recognise special, individual contributions to the recording of wildlife in the Scottish Borders and the Lothians.

This year the award has gone to Dr Adrian T Sumner who has, virtually single-handedly, managed to put the slugs and snails of Scotland on the map. This has been achieved by an astonishing amount of recording looking for shelled and un-shelled creatures which can be as small as 1 millimetre across. Adrian has also spread his enthusiasm for this group of molluscs by teaching others about them through formal and informal courses and by organising and leading trips out into the field.

The perpetual award, a silver quaich, is in memory of Bob Saville who was the key staff member of The Wildlife Information Centre since its foundation in 2002 until his untimely death in 2010. Without doubt Bob Saville was one of the best known faces in biological recording in Scotland over the last 25 years. His enthusiasm and determination on behalf of biological recording was a lesson to us all and his own contribution of records, either directly or by encouraging and organising others, was outstanding. This award will encourage others like him to find out more about the fascinating wildlife of south-east Scotland and to pass that knowledge onto others.

On receiving the award, Adrian said "It is a great honour to be given this recognition and the award itself is a very fitting memorial to Bob. I really hope that it will be a stimulus to biological recording in the future."

Dr Adrian T Sumner was a founding Director of The Wildlife Information Centre for nine years and worked very closely with Bob Saville as the Centre developed. He is also a leading contributor to the Conchological Society as their Scottish Recorder for all of the 41 Vice Counties in Scotland!

Posted: April 1st 2011

Dr Adrian T Sumner (left) receives the Bob Saville Award from The Wildlife Information Centre chair Dr Alastair Sommerville.

Changes to TWIC data supply, including availability of Midlothian LBS data

Midlothian Council have now completed the first phase of assessment of their Local Biodiversity Sites and data are now available. While there are still a number of proposed sites (pLBS) in the process of having survey work done and data collated to allow assessment, data on assessed sites are available as are the boundaries of pLBS.

This means that Local Biodiversity Sites are now available for both City of Edinburgh and Midlothian. LBS Systems are still being developed in East Lothian, West Lothian and Scottish Borders but the current SWT Wildlife Sites are still available in these areas. There is an updated data request form available to reflect these changes.

As from 1st April 2011 TWIC will be registered for VAT. This will affect all TWIC users as we will now have to add VAT to all our charges, the current rate of VAT is 20%. At the same time we have reviewed all our charges and produced a new table of charges. Our minimum charge for a standard data request is now £110 (ex VAT).

The updated data request form and associated guidelines, along with our current table of charges, are available here.

Posted: March 29th 2011

Phase 1 Habitat Workshop 8th May

The Scottish Borders Habitat Dataset (SBHD), derived from recently flown aerial photographs, is now complete but is in need of further ground-truthing to check, and possibly improve, the quality of the data. TWIC is looking for volunteers to help with this process by comparing the SBHD habitats allocated to their local patch with what is on the ground, or by checking other sites elsewhere on behalf of TWIC. This workshop is designed to give you an understanding of what is needed and to provide you with the basic skills to interpret Phase 1 habitat survey data and use aerial photographs and maps to review the habitats on a site.

The one day course is an excellent refresher for those of you who already have had experience of carrying out Phase 1 habitat surveys, but will also suit anyone who has no previous experience of habitat surveying and would like to learn the basics.

The course will involve both indoor and outdoor work, using Harestanes as an example to look at the Phase 1 habitat data. The trainers for this day are Dr Alastair Sommerville and Imogen German.

Please bring: outdoor shoes or wellies, waterproofs (just in case!) and a packed lunch.

To book a place, please download the booking form and return to

Posted: March 29h 2011

Dragonfly Workshop Saturday 7th May

TWIC are holding a free training course on Dragonfly and Damselfly identification at Vogrie Country Park in May, to encourage recording of dragonflies in the Lothians and Borders. The course will be led by Jonathan Willet of the Highland Biological Recording Group and British Dragonfly Society. This course is now fully booked.

Updated: April 15th 2011

Sculpture for new primary school in Dunbar

In December 2010 TWIC were contacted by Mary Bourne, an artist working on a project for East Lothian Council, who are building a new primary school in Dunbar. As part of the project, East Lothian Council's "Percent for Art" policy has enabled the inclusion of artists in the overall design of specific areas of the new building, one of whom was Mary Bourne. As the celebrated conservationist and environmentalist, John Muir, was born in Dunbar, East Lothian Council was keen that the artists include themes from John Muir's legacy within their designs. Mary Bourne's stone carvings reflect John Muir's love of the wild and his desire to conserve the natural environment. Mary contacted TWIC in December 2010 to ask for advice on which plant species to include in the carving that would be found in the Dunbar area. She then produced the fantastic sculpture, pictured below, out of Locharbriggs sandstone from Dumfriesshire.

Posted: March 15th 2011

Lothians and Borders Mammal Group meeting with talk about Wildcats, Beavers and Water Voles

The first meeting of the Lothians and Borders Mammal Group will be on Thursday 24 March at 7-9pm, in the Committee Room of Midlothian House, Buccleuch Street, Dalkeith. The meeting will consist of an introduction to the committee of the group and other formalities including draft survey and events programme for 2011, before we get onto the talk from our guest speaker. The talk will be by Rob Thomas, Conservation and Research Manager at Edinburgh Zoo, on Wildcats, Beavers and Water Voles, so there should be something to interest everyone. Following the talk there will be the opportunity to ask questions and afterwards there will be coffee, tea and biscuits.

Posted: March 4th 2011

Photo of a beaver.  Image Beaver pho34 by Per Harald Olsen.  Image reused under Creative Commons Share Alike Licence found here

Wanted: New Directors!

TWIC is looking to recruit three new Directors to join its Board. As a Director, you will be fundamental in shaping TWIC's future and contribute to the strategic direction of TWIC. As a member of the Board you will a Director of the Company and a Trustee of the charity. Responsibilities include ensuring that appropriate policies and programmes are developed and implemented, meeting the Centre's legal obligations and ensuring financial and personnel policies are implemented. There are exciting prospects to contribute to the further expansion of customers and our services as well as supporting staff and volunteers in developing projects to improve our knowledge of the biodiversity of Lothians and Scottish Borders. For further information and a job description please click here

Posted: March 1st 2011

The Wildlife Information Centre Spring Recorders' Forum 2011

TWIC's Spring Recorders' Forum will take place on Saturday 26th March 2011 at the Scottish Borders' Council Headquarters in Newtown St Boswells. There will be talks by representatives from various organisations, a free lunch, posters and displays to look at over lunch, and a chance to get up on the stage to promote your own surveys/events if you are planning any this year. Please see here for the full programme and link to booking form. Space is limited so booking is essential! Hope to see you there.

Updated: February 16th 2011

Black Grouse in the Southern Uplands.

by Chris Land, Upland Habitat Enhancement Officer

I have been in post since October 2009 and during my first 3-4 months in post i visited numerous landowners and tenants to talk about Black Grouse and to get an idea on how many birds each location had. From these visits i had built up an idea of how many birds were to be found and where. However during the severe winter of 2009/10 the news that Red grouse were being forced off their moors in search of food became a recurrent nightmare for me. The pictures of birds sat in trees away from their moorland habitat brought home how difficult successful conservation work can become in the face of unfavourable weather. I was concerned that the vast majority of Black Grouse were likely to die in the bitter weather and that the upcoming Southern Uplands Black Grouse Survey would prove to be an anti-climax with few birds surviving through to Spring.

The Southern Uplands Black Grouse Survey started in mid March with snow still visible on many hills and my apprehension still present. A team consisting of 5 volunteers 1 contract surveyor and myself spent many early mornings listening for the distinctive sounds of lekking Black Grouse and tracking them down across some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain. My doubts on the ability of the birds to survive the severe winter were unfounded as we increasingly found occupied lek sites, although the distribution of them centred on the larger estates focussed on traditional upland management of grouse/sheep, birds were still to be found in low numbers elsewhere.

The final total of 230 lekking males was much better than I had come to expect after such a harsh winter and gave the project a real lift. The overall figure masked the concentration of the population on 3 core sites/areas which had a total of 150 birds between them. However this has now become the focus on a developing strategy for The Borders Black Grouse population.

Habitat management and predator control work carried out within the species dispersal range of the core sites will hopefully lead to range expansion and to the creation of a meta-population. With the interest shown in Black Grouse it is a real opportunity to see a renaissance for the species especially given the funding from the SRDP. Competing land use is an issue in the Borders but I'm certain progress has been made and numbers and range of the species will increase. If anyone has any sightings of Black Grouse to report could they please contact Chris Land on 01750 725157 or email

Posted: January 26th 2011

A message to all customers

TWIC are pleased to announce that we now offer Phase 1 Habitat data for all of Scottish Borders. We would like to thank Scottish Borders Council for supplying us with this data and we hope that it is beneficial to all our customers in their work.

Our data request form now reflects this change in services.

Posted: January 13th 2011

TWIC Christmas and New Year Competition Winner

The TWIC Christmas competition is now closed. The winner of the BWPi interactive version of Birds of the Western Palearctic from Birdguides was Dr McGuigan from Montrose. See the correct answers by clicking here, and the original questions by clicking here. Many thanks to those of you who entered!

Posted: January 11th 2011

Happy New Year!

TWIC would like to wish all its customers and recorders a Happy New Year.

Thank you for your continued custom and support and we look forward to serving you this year.

With best wishes for the upcoming year to all,

the TWIC team.

Updated: January 5th 2011

Earthworm Survey

What's wriggling around in your bin? Take part in the UK wide Compost Earthworm Project today!

The Earthworm Society of Britain needs your help: are there earthworms in every compost bin in Britain?

More and more people now have compost bins or heaps in their gardens as they are an excellent way of recycling garden and household green waste. The resulting compost is excellent for potting and a good fertiliser for use in the rest of the garden.

In many of these bins you can find earthworms. But, have you ever wondered how they get there? Some people buy earthworms to put in their bins, others get them from their neighbours and, in some bins the earthworms just appear by themselves. As part of our dedication to carrying out research about earthworms and their environments across the UK we want to know where all these earthworms come from.

You can help! All you have to do is have a look in your compost bin or heap and see if you can find any earthworms enjoying your tea bags and vegetable scraps, then fill in our short survey telling us about what you found. It's that simple.

It's the perfect excuse for getting a little bit dirty this autumn and finding out more about what is wriggling around in your compost!

Find out more about the survey here:

Posted: December 17th 2010

Winter ID and Data Mobilisation Workshops - January and February 2011

The Wildlife Information Centre has teamed up with four other Local Records Centres/Centres for Biological Recording in Scotland and the NBN Trust to provide 1-day identification and data mobilisation workshops. The aim of these workshops is to train Recorders in taxonomic groups that are unfamiliar to them and target regions where there is a lack of expert recorders in a particular taxon, thereby encouraging more recording.

Date Course Leader Location
15th January Bryophytes Liz Kungu Dumfries and Galloway
22nd January Dragonflies Jonathan Willet Edinburgh
5th February Lichens Katie Grundy Aberdeen
19th February Molluscs Adrian Sumner Glasgow
26th February Harvestmen Mike Davidson Inverness

Each workshop will cover:

  • Introduction to the taxon group including its ecology and niches

  • Identification techniques

  • Recording techniques

  • Identification of common and key species

  • Recording schemes relevant to the taxon group

  • Data and recording techniques

  • Submitting data to records centres, recording schemes and the NBN


Updated: January 5th 2010

TWIC Update!


It is with great excitement that I can share TWIC's latest news with you. Thanks to Local Authority support and a generous grant from the Central Scotland Green Network Development Fund, TWIC successfully recruited three staff for our pioneering winter Phase 1 habitat surveys of all 145 proposed Local Biodiversity Sites across the Lothians. In addition TWIC has employed a new Data Assistant too. We had around 300 applicants for the posts, amazingly! All four staff are now in post and settling in well to our expanded office space at Vogrie.

We have been joined by Natalie Harmsworth from Somerset Environmental Records Centre (SERC) as the Data Coordinator for the CSGN LBS survey project, who will be directing and coordinating the work of the two very experienced Field Surveyors, Innes Muir and Gill Christie.

Rebecca Brassey (previously Forest Research) joins us as Data Assistant to assist us with data entry for the BSBI project, the RED Squirrels Southern Scotland data project and other priority data, greatly adding to TWIC's resources.

Claire L. Pannell, Centre Manager

Posted: December 10th 2010

Otter sighting at Cameron Toll Shopping Centre

We recently received a DVD which was sent to us by staff at Cameron Toll Shopping Centre in Edinburgh. Security staff monitoring CCTV cameras in the early hours of the morning spotted an otter rolling around in the grass and water. They couldn't believe their eyes and sent it to us for a second opinion and we confirmed that it was indeed an otter!

Otters are by their nature an unusual sighting so to see them in the centre of Edinburgh is very rare. There have been a few sightings in recent years in more populated areas and this could be an indication that the environment is improving and is providing a habitat they can survive in.

You can watch the news report about the otter that was on STV by clicking here.

We are keen to hear from anyone about other otter sightings and sightings of any other rare animals so that we can keep track of their populations and movements.

Posted: November 15th 2010

Death's Head Hawkmoth found in the Lothians

Two records of the huge Death's Head Hawkmoth (Acherontia atropos) with a wingspan of up to 13 cms have been found in the Lothians recently. One in Roslin by David Burns on the 28th August (pictured) and another seen by June McDonald at South Queensferry on the 11th September.

These huge moths are immigrants from the continent and their caterpillars feed on potato leaves but normally appear here in the autumn when their numbers are at their greatest and the weather conditions suitable. The name comes from the very realistic pattern on the thorax - once seen never forgotten! Are there any more about?

Posted: November 12th 2010

Death's Head Hawkmoth.  Photo David Burns

Obituary for Bob Saville (1952 - 2010)

Bob Saville, 2nd from right, with other wildlife enthusiasts on a recording excursion.

Bob Saville, 2nd from right, with other wildlife enthusiasts on a recording excursion.

With the death of Bob Saville The Wildlife Information Centre has lost one of its key inspirers. He was the person who created the record centre and through his personal enthusiasm and good ideas, brought it to its current position of being one of the leading LRCs in the UK. Without doubt Bob Saville was one of the best known faces in biological recording in Scotland over the last 25 years. His enthusiasm and determination was a lesson to us all on how to understand what was happening in the very complex community of natural historians.

Bob will be most fondly remembered by all that met him and were inspired by him; doing what he loved, observing nature.

For the full obituary please click here

Dr Alastair Sommerville, TWIC Chair, October 2010

Posted: October 29th 2010

New website launched by Edinburgh Sparrowhawk Monitoring Project

Edinburgh Hawkwatch is a new website launched by the Edinburgh Sparrowhawk Monitoring Project. The website has been designed as a place where information is available for someone who has seen a sparrowhawk for the first time. The aim of the website is to increase awareness and support for the the sparrowhawk and other birds of prey. In addition to this the project hopes to gather intensive data on sparrowhawks in the urban environment. Visitors to the website can view videos recorded at sparrowhawk nests in Edinburgh and of sparrowhawk chicks being ringed.

If you see a sparrowhawk in Edinburgh please email the project at and if possible include the date, location, grid reference (i.e. NT267706), Sex, Age, Flight Direction, Behaviour and any other details you can. Then tell us all about it on the Forum page.

New centre manager - Claire Pannell

Claire Pannell

Claire snail hunting in the Anaga peninsular, Tenerife; a region of cloud forest with unique fauna (especially gastropods) and flora (photo by Dr Alan Gray, CEH, Edinburgh).

The Centre has appointed Claire Pannell to be the new Centre manager.

Dr Claire L. Pannell comes to TWIC from the National Museums Scotland Natural Sciences department and is experienced in the issues around data quality, verification and validation. Her interests involve freshwater and terrestrial molluscs, and palaeontology. She brings enthusiasm, drive and commitment to continue TWIC's expansion of services to other Councils and consultants; for project development and increased volunteer engagement and training initiatives.

Scottish Invertebrate News - A new newsletter launched

Scottish Invertebrate News logo

Scottish Invertebrate News is a biannual newsletter which aims to update everyone who is interested in invertebrate conservation in Scotland - from the interested amateur to the experienced expert. It includes articles on new initiatives, the latest discoveries, and opportunities to get involved. It also provides updates on the progress of the Strategy, and a calendar of events - from introductory bugwalks to talks to under-recorded species ID workshops, there is something for everybody.

The articles have been written by a range of contributors from different organizations and with different specialisms, providing wide taxonomic coverage. Contributions for future issues are very welcome - this is your newsletter!

Rare alien snail at university

Between 2007 and 2008, Queen Margaret University moved to a new campus at Craighall, Musselburgh. One feature of the campus is a SUDS (sustainable urban drainage system) pond, which collects rainwater from the roofs of the University buildings and from paved areas. This pond, which is surrounded by well developed reed beds (Figure 1), has quickly attracted wildlife, including dragonflies, and breeding swans and coot. Investigation of the freshwater molluscs in the pond in 2009 showed that it supported a large population of snails, as well as some freshwater bivalves.

Physella acuta from QMU SUDS pond
SUDS pond at Queen Margaret University

The commonest snail, which has been identified as Physella acuta (Figure 2) by Adrian Norris (Non-marine Recorder of the Conchological Society), was a surprise, as it is a species that has only been found twice before in Scotland. Presumably it was introduced with the marginal plants that surround the pond. P. acuta is an alien species, probably introduced to Britain from southern Europe in the early 19th century, although it may originally have been introduced to Europe from America.

At present it is doing well at Queen Margaret University, and also occurs in an artificial pond next to the university's academic building. It will be interesting to see how the population develops in future years as the site matures, and whether P. acuta turns up elsewhere in the Lothians.

A name change and a new remit

We are very pleased to announce that the Centre now has the responsibility for providing its services across the Scottish Borders area as well as the Lothians. We have taken on the role previously held by the Scottish Borders Biological Records Centre (SBBRC) and now extend our services to the Scottish Borders Council and Scottish Natural Heritage in the Borders.

As a result of our new coverage we have changed our name to more accurately reflect what we now do.

It is particularly exciting that we are working with the naturalists in the Borders and have had talks with the existing SBBRC Recorders Group (chaired by Sarah Eno) about meeting their members and holding a Recorders' Forum in the Borders. We will, of course, be carrying news about the developments as they happen.

Welcome to the Borders!

There are a great many keen naturalists in the Borders who have contributed in allsorts of ways to the development of the previous record centre and we hope that you will welcome the change to The Wildlife Information Centre. To start to get to know you and what you are doing we have started a Yahoo discussion group specifically for the Borders, paralleling the one we already have in the Lothians.

We would encourage all of you in the Borders to also join

Blaeberry Bee in East Lothian

As a result of the article on Bryan Hickman's dragonfly sighting, we've had an email from Abbie Marland. Abbie spotted a blueberry/mountain bumblebee (Bombus monticola), in her garden in East Lothian. Although the species has been recorded in Edinburgh and West Lothian over the past ten years, there are no previous records of it in East Lothian.

Abbie spotted the bee on 23rd March, where it fed on Sallow for a week. It's nice to see that despite the recent decline of bumblebee numbers, we are seeing species in new places.

Interestingly, one of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust featured surveys this year is for B. monticola. Links to this, and other surveys, can be found on their website

Red-veined Darter at Bindwells

Bryan Hickman spotted a male Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) at Blindwells (near Tranent in East Lothian) this month. This species is a regular migrant to the British Isles, mainly in SW England. Although there are scattered records for elsewhere in the UK it has not been recorded in the Lothians since 1911! Back then it was recorded at Aberlady Bay, Edinburgh and the Isle of May.

Bryan posted his find, with photographs, on the Lothian Wildlife Yahoo group. The group provides a great platform to discuss news, events and views relating to Lothian's wildlife. As well as posting your own photos of unusual sightings, you can find out about up-and-coming excursions or ask for advice on where to see the species or groups you are interested in.

To join the Yahoo group go to and click on "Join This Group!"

Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) at Bindwells.  Photo Bryan Hickman

TWIC is a company limited by guarantee - registered in Scotland No. SC234339. A recognised Scottish Charity SC034113. This project is supported by NatureScot.