Birder Jock helps club celebrate 50 years

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A WILDLIFE club based around Moffat celebrated its 50th birthday earlier this month.

And founder member and president Emilio “Jock” Dicerbo has compiled a book of the club’s history.

Jock told us: “It’s material from over the 50 years: it took me about three months (to pull together). I enjoyed it, seeing all the things that had happened over that time.”

‘Moffat and District Wildlife Club’ is the 77-year-old’s third book and through it he hopes to encourage children to enjoy wildlife.

His own interest started when as a boy he would collect eggs from hedgerow nests. After his national service with the RAF – when he started logging seabirds he saw at Lossiemouth – he came back home to run the town’s ice-cream shop and start what was then the bird club.

One club achievement was campaigning successfully in 1973 to stop pickled warblers being imported to the UK.

“They were being trapped in Cyprus, they squeezed their heads off and pickled them in jars. We got 1,000 signatures on our petition in practically a day.”

Noted wildlife television personalities, writers and artists have spoken at the club which changed in the 1970s to become a wildlife club to reflect members’ interests.

The lifelong birder told us he has seen 130 species of birds within a 10-mile radius of Moffat.

“Farmland birds are suffering more than garden birds. Bird habitats have changed dramatically since the 1950s. Some species that were once common are now in decline. There is no doubt that major changes in land use is the main factor for that decline of our popular birds,” he says.

The book covers talks, club outings, newspaper reports, the club’s seven-acre reserve and all bar two photographs of birds and animals in the book are by Jock.

The new millennium saw him update his locally famous slide shows with shots from the Grey Mare’s Tail including images of snow buntings and golden eagles.

“I’m hoping people pick this book up and think that the reserve would be a good place to go and I would like to get this book into schools to encourage children’s interest.”

Copies at £12.99 are available at Grieves in Moffat (01683 220006) or online www.moffatwildlife.co.uk