Visibility Scotland are charity dedicated to supporting people with sight loss and helping them to live independent and fulfilling lives. Some colleagues and I recently had the pleasure of joining them for a morning of wildlife discovery at their Glasgow headquarters.

It was a beautiful, sunny day as we arrived at the office, tucked away just a few minutes’ walk from Charing Cross. Amidst the city centre location, we found ourselves at a charming little park on Queen’s Crescent. Here we met Jeni from Visibility Scotland and service-users Jen, Joyce and Michelle, along with Joyce’s husband Alan. Not forgetting loyal and loveable guide dogs Snowball and Zeb of course.

The session began in earnest with a lovely stroll through the park, where David Anderson took us on an aural journey of the city’s wildlife. David is the Warden at our Baron’s Haugh nature reserve so is very experienced in identifying different calls and songs, especially those of birds found in parklands and urban environments.

RSPB Scotland's David Anderson and Colleen Turner are discussing bird calls with service users of Visibility Scotland in the garden at Queen's Crescent.

David gives the group some tips on identifying different bird calls. Image credit: Jeni Queen, Visibility Scotland.

David’s teachings ranged from some useful tricks like listening out for the ‘teacher teacher’ call of a great tit, to some more personal identifiers such as a blue tit reminding him of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony (dun-dun-dun-DUUUUN!). Special mention must be made to Snowball and Zeb who seemed to enjoy listening as much as everyone else. They didn’t even let a passing cat distract them from the action.

In total we recorded 11 different species calling including wrens, (tic tic tic), house sparrows (chirp chirp) and goldfinches (whit-a-whit,whit), so plenty of highlights to choose from. However, when asked to name her favourite species, Jen had no hesitation: goldcrest (tee-lee-de)!

A goldcrest is sitting on a branch, with it's bright, gold crest visible.

Goldcrests are the smallest birds found in Scotland. Image credit: Ben Andrew, RSPB Images.

After a quick cuppa and more than a few biscuits, it was time for part two of the session. Colleen Turner from our Giving Nature a Home Team showed the group how to make bird feeders for their own gardens, using common items found around the house. Such a hands-on activity went down a treat and it wasn’t long before we had a selection of apple and plastic-bottle feeders to show off. The birds of Glasgow will have been well-fed that night.

Check out the links at the bottom of the page if you’d like to make your own bird feeders.

An apple bird feeder hangs from a tree in a Glasgow park. It is made of an apple covered in sunflower seeds with protruding sticks giving birds a spot to perch.

Jen's apple bird feeder is now hanging proudly in the garden on Queen's Crescent (unless the birds have already demolished it). Image credit: Jeni Queen, Visibility Scotland.

Focusing on sound in the garden and touch when making the feeders really helped me appreciate the different ways people enjoy nature. Hearing from Joyce and Alan about how much they enjoy waking up to the sounds of the dawn chorus was wonderful, as was Jen telling me how her interest in bird calls has developed over the years.

Many of our reserves will be running special Dawn Chorus walks over the spring (including David at Baron’s Haugh), so make sure to check out our Events page if you’d like to come along.

Thank you so much to Colleen and David for running the session, Jeni for the amazing work she does and everyone who came along and made it such an enjoyable experience.

Further reading

How to make an apple bird feeder

How to make a bottle bird feeder

Visibility Scotland website

RSPB Scotland Baron’s Haugh webpage

RSPB Scotland Giving Nature a Home Twitter

RSPB events page

Header image credit: Jeni Queen, Visibility Scotland

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