Wildlife lovers wanted to help spot species in annual Souter Bird Race

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Wildlife lovers, bird watchers and conservation group members are helping the National Trust get a flying start to the year at the annual Souter Bird Race.

Teams will spend Sunday January 7 scouring the coast around Souter Lighthouse to find as many bird species as they can in the annual one-day count.

A siskin, Picture by Dougie Holden

A siskin, Picture by Dougie Holden

Dougie Holden, National Trust ranger at Souter Lighthouse and The Leas, said the event is open to bird spotters of all ages and abilities.

“The more eyes we have out there on the day, the better. It’s great that the bird race has become a bit of a tradition, starting each year with a positive step in nature conservation.

"The Leas offers a home to a huge variety of wildlife including seabird colonies and wildflowers. On a calm day, you might spot porpoise, dolphins or even a passing whale from the cliff tops."

Teams will split up, either in vehicles or on foot, to cover as large an area as possible over an eight-hour period, with some expected to walk up to 15 miles.

Birdwatchers. Picture by Chris Lacey

Birdwatchers. Picture by Chris Lacey

Each team will record their findings, with the National Trust hopeful of finding more than 100 species, including peregrine falcons, waxwings and siskins.

Dougie added: “The National Trust is a UK-wide conservation charity. Teaming up with the Coastal Conservation Group allows us to share knowledge and expertise at a local level, which we can use to protect wildlife and habitats.

"The bird race is the first of several joint events this year which we’re hoping will inspire people to get to know and love nature.”

The bird race starts and finishes at Souter Lighthouse in Whitburn on Sunday January 7.

Picture by Dougie Holden

Picture by Dougie Holden

Participants should wrap up warm, bring binoculars and meet in the lighthouse's cafe at 7.30am for an 8am start.

They will then return to the cafe at about 4pm for refreshments.

Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/souter-lighthouse-and-the-leas for more information, or email souter@nationaltrust.org.uk or phone 0191 529 3161.