the Bird-Man of the Isles
hospital for birds on the Scottish island of Skye
Rossiter talks to Graham Ross, who runs a
hospital on the wild and beautiful Scottish island of Skye.
Graham; people call you the "bird man of the Isles"; so can you tell me
what exactly is
it that you do with birds?
I take in injured
birds, mainly birds of prey; I fix them, and
hopefully return them to
the wild. These injuries would be broken wings, or starvation,
lot of birds of prey
on the Scottish isles, or are there less than there used to be?
islands are still a
stronghold for a lot of birds of prey. There are probably as many as
a bird in, what do
you do to it? Do you keep it in a bird's hospital, or do you send it
out to a
doctor? Or are you the doctor yourself?
doctor! But the veterinary
surgeons here tend to be more acquainted
rather than birds. And I tend to look after the bird side of it. In
of the veterinary surgeons here refer patients to me!
falcons and eagles
here! How does an eagle manage to get here? How do people find eagles
maybe come across an injured eagle, for example, on the hill;
and report it to
somebody. And more often than not it's the police that contact me and
there's an injured bird, eagle or whatever, at such and such a
place. And I
usually go for it if it's an eagle, but if it's something like a
I ask people just to put a box over it and bring it to me.
birds you have come
from the island of Skye? Or do people bring them in from further afield?
the ones I have at the moment come from the Isle of Skye. I have had
further afield; from the mainland of Scotland, and from some
of the other
you've had a bird, what
do you do with it? Do you release it into the wild?
And if so, how many
of your birds can you release into the wild? Or do you have to keep
them because they're unable to fly?
of the birds are
released back into the wild. I do have some that over the years I've
keep, because they were unable to fend for themselves
in the wild.?
lot of people doing
this kind of rescue work for birds of prey in Scotland? Or are
you one of the few?
Scotland; and most areas are covered by somebody who will take
in birds and attend
to them as best as possible.
situation for birds of
prey or eagles still getting worse, or is it improving in this
part of the
world, would you say?
compared to the situation
in the sixties, when they had a pesticide problem, the
situation is improving.
say it's going to go on
improving? Or have we reached a sort of equilibrium now?
Skye's concerned, I
think probably that the numbers of birds of prey are about as
high as we could
expect; as high as the habitat will stand.
sometimes breed birds,
I believe, in particular owls. What do you do with these? Do you put
in the wild, or do you send them to other parts of Britain, or what?
breeding barn-owls for
several years now, and we release them into the wild on Skye.
any plans to breed
any other types of bird?
immediately. It just
depends on what I might have; and if I had a pair... the buzzard*, for
There's no point in breeding buzzards; they're so common. Peregrine*;
not many peregrines in the area, but to breed them and release them
improve the natural stock. But I think they're doing quite well
I think if they reach their own levels, that's quite sufficient.
are fairly common throughout Skye and the country, so there's no point
published in 1990. First
online publication 2009. Copyright Linguapress 1990-2016
Andrew Rossiter was chief editor of Linguapress Magazines
include hawks, falcons and eagles
- vetinerary surgeon: vet, animal doctor -
be acquainted with:
be familiar with, know about -
: having nothing to eat
: let go fend for
: live without help
- attend to
: help, pay attention to
Kestrels, buzzards, peregrines and sparrowhawks are four different
types of birds of prey found in Britain and Europe.
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The Bird man of the Isles Pair work,
recreate this interview in their own words, working in pairs. In each
student taking the role of the interviewer should read the questions,
student answer them as best as he can.
that this interview
is to be used as the basis for an article , and write this
article in 400 words
you have some
keen ornithologists in your class; if so, get them to talk about the
raised by this interview.
true or false?
through these true/false
statements, then listen to the interview and try and answer them:
Ross sends as
many birds as possible back to nature.
- There are more birds
in Scotland now than ever before.
- Vets on Skye are more
specialized in large animals.
- The only birds that
Graham actually goes out to get are eagles.
- People send birds from
all over Britain to Graham Ross.
- He only keeps weak
- The environmental
situation has improved since the sixties for birds.
- There are not enough birds
of prey on Skye.
- Barn owls are released
after several years on the island.
- It is impossible to
breed Peregrine Falcons in captivity
Advanced level English resource
Originally published in Spectrum magazine
© Linguapress 1990 - 2016
falcon, a bird of prey
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