This beginner birds course provides a unique opportunity to embark on a guided ornithological tour of a beautiful, yet accessible, Scottish island.

This is the perfect short weekend break for bird enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds.

In winter, the sheltered Clyde is a haven for wildfowl and a vital staging point for waders. This weekend course is a unique opportunity to get to grips with our waders and sea ducks, passage migrants, and west coast specialities.

Be inspired and engaged by the expertise of our specialist tutor and enjoy being surrounded by likeminded individuals who share your interests.

Whether you’re new to the wonders of the bird world, looking to improve your identification skills further or simply wanting to learn more about these amazing creatures in their natural habitat; this is the course for you! Spend a fascinating weekend birdwatching in Scotland.

Who Should Attend?

Nature enthusiasts, Students, Rangers, Early career consultants and ecologists, Keen birders.

Knowledge Level

Introductory/Beginner. Level descriptors can be found on the following webpage: Framework and Course Level Descriptors

Prior Knowledge

No existing knowledge, or experience is needed for this course. Just a willingness to explore and learn.

What will be covered during this course?

  • Exploration of a range of natural habitats around the beautiful Scottish island
  • Introduction to the common species of birds found in each habitat
  • Overview of their unique biology and ecology
  • Identification tips to use in the field
  • Practice using binoculars, scopes and field guides

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Recognise common species of the Scottish island
  • Understand the basics of bird biology and ecology
  • Gain confidence in the use of professional field equipment in the field
  • Share this knowledge with friends, family, and fellow volunteers.

The course gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new subject and acquire novel skills. Our fantastic tutor Jack Lucas will combine the use of classroom-led learning and outside learning opportunities to give individuals the skills and confidence to learn more about Scottish Island birds.

  • See the ‘Example Timetable’ and ‘What’s Included’ sections below for more information about this course.
  • Upon booking you will need to provide individual details of all attendees
  • Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.

Group Bookings Made Easy

If you have a group of 10 or more individuals wanting to complete one of our courses, our team are available to discuss your options – from discounts to private team courses.

  • Discounted rates
  • Privately run courses for your group
  • Bespoke courses developed specifically for your needs

Email [email protected] to discuss your options! 

Tutor: Jack Lucas

Jack is an experienced professional marine ecologist with broad range of field skills and scientific knowledge. With a focus on marine mammals and seabirds, Jack has worked all over the world on research projects studying these animals in their natural habitats. Jack was formerly the Senior Tutor at FSC Millport, where he led the provision of science, wildlife and outdoor activity courses to learners of all ages. He has taught seabird, marine mammal and other wildlife courses at FSC centres for the last 6 years and has an in-depth knowledge of the sites and species that feature in his courses. His love of marine megafauna is channelled through his teaching, where learners will discover how they too can get involved with these amazing creatures! Jack currently lives on the west coast of Scotland, and when back on land he can usually be found in the highlands or the islands, photographing wildlife or engaging in a variety of outdoor activities!

Book with Confidence

We understand the difficulties of making plans in the current situation when guidelines continue to change, and insurance conditions are being tightened. In response, we will continue to offer additional flexibility. Find out more here

Example Timetable

Example Timetable

This timetable is subject to change but should give a clear outline of what to expect

    • Please arrive in time for the course to start promptly at 10:00am
    • The course will end at 5:00pm

Day 1

10:00am Introductions and prepare for field visit
10:30am Field visit to the Isle of Great Cumbrae exploring following habitats:

  • Beach / shoreline
  • Pelagic (open water)
  • Coastal scrubland
  • Woodland
  • Farmland
  • Urban

Will include tips for identifying each species we see in the field will be discussed, along with how best to use binoculars, scopes and field guides to help

11:30am Break and prepare for field session – refreshments not provided 
11:45am Guided walk
1:00pm Lunch – Not included
2:00pm Continued field visit
4:00pm Classroom plenary and final questions
5:00pm End of day 1

Please note accommodation and an evening meal is not included

Day 2

10:00am Day 1 recap and prepare for field visit
10:30am Field visit to the Isle of Great Cumbrae exploring additional locations not covered on first day
12:30pm Lunch – Not included
1:30pm Field visit to local bird reserve
4:00pm Classroom plenary and final questions
5:00pm End of course

This course will involve lots of walking to various locations on the island, and participants should expect to cover approximately 10+ miles, most of which will be done on the first day. However, most of this is on roads, tracks and paths with very little boggy or rough terrain and not much ascent (the island is very flat). The activities are not strenuous, but participants should have a reasonable level of fitness to make the most of the course.


What's Included

The course has been carefully created by expert tutors and educators to help you constantly build develop your knowledge and apply it within the field surrounded by like-minded individuals.

The course includes:

  • Classroom learning covering the theory of the species
  • Field excursions to apply new knowledge
  • Expert tuition for which the FSC is renowned
  • Clear objectives and progression

You can rest assured that the absolute best content from an expert in environmental education will be provided. In choosing an FSC course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.

Before You Attend

What to Bring:

  • Notebook and pencil
  • Lunch and refreshments
  • Sensible footwear and clothing for being outdoors
  • Binoculars

Please note all of the above can be hired at the centre during the course, but participants may be comfortable with their own equipment if they have it.

The following equipment may prove useful if owned, but is not required:

  • Notepad and pencil
  • Spotting scope
  • DSLR camera
  • Bird identification guides

There will be a member of staff with first aid training and access to a first aid kit on site. If you have special medical or access requirements, please let us know as soon as possible so we can plan the course.

In order to keep our customers and staff safe we ask that anyone attending our centres:

  • Wears a face covering when in shared indoor space (unless exempt).
  • Maintains social distancing.
  • Cleans their hands regularly.
  • Takes a Covid-19 test before they arrive.

Sorry this course has ended