Highland Naturalists win National Awards
Issued by the Highland Biological Recording Group
Two Highland-based wildlife enthusiasts have been honoured with awards by the National Biodiversity Network Trust at a ceremony in York on 19th November. Ian Evans from Nedd in north-west Sutherland and his late wife Pat won the inaugural Gilbert White Adult Award for terrestrial and freshwater recording. Young Callum Ullman Smith from Auchtertyre in Wester Ross won the David Robertson Youth Award for marine and coastal recording.
Ian and Pat Evans (who died in April this year) have been tireless exponents of and ambassadors for biological recording for many years. As an individual, Ian has submitted more than 14,000 wildlife records to the Highland Biological Recording Group (HBRG) database in many taxonomic groups including butterflies & moths, mammals, fungi, lichens, dragonflies, vascular plants, worms, slugs & snails, spiders, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and many different insect groups.
Pat was for many years the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland’s (BSBI) vascular plant recorder for North-West Sutherland and together (with Gordon Rothero covering the bryophytes) they published the ‘Flora of Assynt’ in 2002. Since Pat’s death, Ian has undertaken to continue as the BSBI Recorder. Previously, before they ‘retired’ to Sutherland, Pat had co-authored the ‘Flora of Leicestershire’ with Tony Primavesi.
The Evans’ joined the HBRG in 1992 and Ian quickly became active as a committee member, successively serving as Chair (1993-97), membership secretary (1997-2000) and recorder co-ordinator (2000-07). During this period he led two ‘Know Your Patch’ projects as part of the Highland Biodiversity Action Plan in two Sutherland parishes, resulting in the publication of ‘Wildlife of Scourie’ in 2006 and ‘Wildlife of Rogart’ in 2007. These projects involved enthusing local people of all ages, who may not necessarily have had much prior knowledge of, or interest in, wildlife or biological recording.
Since 1992 Ian has contributed at least one article to every issue of the HBRG Newsletter and its successor publication ‘The Highland Naturalist’ - a total of 64 articles. As well as the Assynt Flora mentioned above, Ian has led HBRG survey projects on: house spiders 1993-94; oak spangle galls 1994-95; garden snails 1998-99; earwigs 1999-2001; and (with Philip Entwistle) winter galls 2002-2003.
The Evans’ were active members of the Assynt Field Club, a local club devoted to natural history and biological recording. Ian remains on the committee (see http://www.assyntwildlife.org.uk/). In 1998 (with Doug Mainland) he produced ‘Birds of Assynt - an annotated checklist’, which is now in its 3rd edition.
In accepting the Award Ian said: “By 2016 I shall have been recording my observations of wildlife and the landscape for 70 years, having started my notebooks at the age of ten. For the last forty of those, my constant companion, and mentor in matters botanical and digital, was my dear wife Pat, who died this April in her 86th year. She was a very accomplished naturalist and writer, and our partnership was a succession of small and enjoyable adventures”.
Callum Ullman-Smith has been out recording wild flowers, fungi and basically everything with his mother since he was tiny. He is now 13. He developed a personal passion for amphibians and began recording coastal palmate newt populations in Highland in spring/summer 2011 when he was 8 years old. In 2012 Callum began a research project to investigate whether stable breeding populations of palmate newts occur in coastal brackish rock pools. His first report was published in the Highland Naturalist (May 2012, No. 8, 7-8). Over the following three years he sampled up to 9 rock pools on a monthly basis (weather-depending!) - his results were presented at the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Symposium at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh in 2014. For the past three years he has also been a regular seashore recorder on the Highland Seashore Project.