The Wildlife Information Centre

Biological data for south-east and part of central Scotland

Bumble Bee (Bombus pascuorum)
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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, www.britishlichensociety.org.uk.

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 natalie@wildlifeinformation.co.uk. 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, natalie@wildlifeinformation.co.uk 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, steve@wildlifeinformation.co.uk 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 www.field-studies-council.org) 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 bursary@brisc.org.uk 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 graeme@wildlifeinformation.co.uk 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 graeme@wildlifeinformation.co.uk.

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: http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/biodiversity

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 mammals.clacksandstirling@gmail.com 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 Harestanes@scotborders.gov.uk.

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 (www.als.scot)

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


TWIC is a company limited by guarantee - registered in Scotland No. SC234339. A recognised Scottish Charity SC034113. TWIC acknowledges financial support from Scottish Natural Heritage.