Dr Adam Watson

Watson was born and educated in Turriff, Aberdeenshire and gained a 1st class honours 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”, a bird that has fascinated Watson all of his adult life. A second doctorate (DSc) was secured in 1967 for scientific papers on populations and behaviour of northern animals.

While a student, he used the first part of the summer vacations to climb in the far north and the second part to work as a deer-stalking gillie in the Cairngorms. He was also one of the pioneers of ski-mountaineering.

In 1954 he seconded Tom Patey when they climbed most of the rock routes in the Cairngorms during checks for the Scottish Mountaineering Club’s first climbers’ guide there. Later in 1954 he became a member of the SMC and from 1968 author of the Club’s District Guide to the Cairngorms. As a mountaineer and ski-mountaineer since boyhood, he experienced Scotland, Iceland, mainland Canada and Baffin Island on foot and ski, and climbed in Norway, Swedish Lapland, Newfoundland, Finland, Switzerland, Italy, Vancouver Island and Alaska.

In 1971 he was Chief Expert Witness to the Crown in the Cairngorm Disaster Fatal Accident Inquiry. For many years independent scientific monitor at the three ski areas in the Cairngorms, he has also given technical advice at Scotland’s other two ski areas.

His main professional research was on the population biology, behaviour, habitats and environment of northern birds and mammals, and he contributed hundreds of scientific publications on these and other topics. In recognition of this, during 1971 he was promoted to Senior Principal Scientific Officer for Special Merit in Research.

He will be sadly missed.