Dr Watson tells his ‘tails...’


A new book published by ‘Mr Cairngorms,’ Dr Adam Watson, looks back at 56 years of personal experience with breeds of pointers and setters while researching game birds.

The main area of study was the population biology, territorial behaviour, habitats and environment of red grouse and ptarmigan in Scotland.

Dr Watson, who has devoted his life to the scientific study of wildlife and geography of Scotland wrote this book as a tribute to the animals who have helped him so crucially in his research.

He said: “With the dogs, the sky was the limit, and the dog-human partnership became ever more effective in producing results in the filed.

‘‘A person can see the odd nest or chick or adult of a grouse, but with the dogs one can find all of them, and catch them for marking.”

It joins his writings over the last 58 years, which include over 20 books and countless publications of scientific note.

The 245-page tome tells the tail of the partnership between man and dog and of its development and fruition and how the input of these highly intelligent animals is often overlooked.

The narrative comes mainly first hand from the authors own life and describes how the human members of his research team gradually gained insight and experience in the field.

The research carried out led to promotion as scientists for Dr Watson and others in his team.

‘Mr Cairngorms’ was quick to share credit for their achievements with the helpful hounds, he said: “The dogs so greatly raised the research achievements of the humans.”

Scientific papers published off the back of their research led to visits from peers from across the world and opened up new research opportunities abroad.

The visitors included scientists studying rodents, fish, insect pests, hares and rabbits as well as birds.

A valuable international aspect to the book has been contributed by a few of these foreign colleagues.

As well as the rich, informative, scientific text there are numerous pages of photographs demonstrating Scotland’s beauty and the prowess and skill of the dogs.

He said: “we took many photos, so I had to select strongly and I wanted to include even more!”

Born and educated in Turriff, where he attained the Dux award, Dr Watson went on to gain a firstst class honours degree in Pure Science (Zoology) at the University of Aberdeen.

In the same year (1952), he won the MacGillivray Prize, Department of Natural History at Aberdeen University. He gained his PhD in 1956, again at Aberdeen University, for his thesis on the “Annual Cycle of Rock Ptarmigan”, the bird that has fascinated Watson all of his adult life.

This personal account has been written by a man who’s work is his passion and it shows in the quality of the writing.

He said: “I found it stimulating to write a book about the wonderful dogs that have shared life with my family.”

The book is priced at £14.99 and is available locally.