BTO Cymru

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Monday 18 November 2019

Welsh Ornithological Society / BTO / RSPB conference

Saturday 16th November saw the 30th Anniversary Conference of the Welsh Ornithological Society at the University of Aberystwyth. It was a huge success, with almost 150 delegates attending, including an encouraging number of talented young ornithologists.

Tony Cross was presented with the society’s Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his long term work on key Welsh species. His roll of honour is too long for this post but for those who don’t know Tony is renowned and respected for his expertise and knowledge gained from many long term ringing programmes. The go-to man for Red Kites, Barn Owls, Chough, Curlew, Dippers, Hawfinches, Pied Flycatchers, Kestrels, Ravens, terns, swans, Woodcock, and Nightjars across Wales.

 Jack Devlin of Cardiff University received the Student Award for his well-researched and highly topical work on Pheasants and their impact on invertebrate communities in upland Wales.

The presentations were worthy of such a special occasion, with Iolo Williams reflecting on the past 30 years of birds in Wales and gazing into his crystal ball for possible scenarios for the next 30 years – not all doom and gloom, but the threats to wildlife are all too evident and present.

Tim Birkhead presented outcomes from one of the country’s longest running studies – 47 years of Guillemots on Skomer – and did his best to convince us that Guillemots were far more lovable and interesting than Puffins!  I now know why a Guillemots egg is shaped as it is. Although it’s almost invidious to identify one single highlight from the conference, the mixture of poetry, passion and good science in Mary Colwell’s presentation on Saving Curlews will live long in the memory of all who were fortunate enough to hear and see this.

In the afternoon, an innovative feature was Question Time, chaired by Steffan Messenger, BBC Environment Correspondent, featuring a panel of Katie-Jo Luxton (Wales RSPB Director), Andy Clements (BTO Chief Executive) and Mark Isherwood (AM and active species champion for Curlew) and pertinent and topical questions from the audience. The final session of the day was presented by Steve Stansfield, Warden of Bardsey BO, enthralling us with highlights of the changing seasons on this magical island. Has anyone in the audience actually seen 365 Grasshopper Warblers, let alone all in one day!
The presentations, more photos and news from the day will be on the WOS website shortly. Next year’s conference will be held in the south west of Wales and it will be some job to keep the quality of the speakers up.

Many thanks to Bob Haycock for the photos


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