I grew up in Bristol and went to Bristol Grammar School where a couple of masters (Derek Lucas and Tony Warren) were instrumental in fueling my interest in birds. I was in the Young Ornithologists' Club.
In the school holidays I practically lived at Chew Valley Lake - a bicycle and a pair of binoculars were all I needed.
My parents liked nice scenery and walks in the countryside and that gave me plenty of opportunities for birding.
I spent a few years when rare birds were very important to me but aside from the very occasional lapse they aren't any more!
I did a Ph.D. on pipistrelle bats but most of my research before joining the RSPB was on bee-eaters in the south of France (nice eh?) and great tits and marsh tits around Oxford. However, the first scientific paper I wote was about the lekking behaviour of great snipe.
I joined the RSPB staff in 1986 as a researcher, became Head of Conservation Science in 1992 and Conservation Director in 1998 - all have been great jobs!
What do Andorra, the Vatican City and the USA have in common?
Yes Mark sure you are right and I am on your side but if we can influence the more moderate shooters it will be to birds of prey advantage.
Sooty - our message at the Game Fair was not a confrontational one this year. It was - are shooters and conservationists like chalk and cheese? And then it listed all the ways in which we are similar. Although there are differences, and legitimate differences, between some of our community and some of the shooting community, we do have a lot in common.
This week, try buying a copy of Shooting Times and either Birdwatch or Birdwatching magazines. Compare the two. I'd be surprised if shooting gets a mention in the birding magazines (perhaps Maltese 'hunters' would) but I'd be surprised (although it does happen!) if the RSPB weren't criticised for some sin of omission or commission in the Shooting Times. That doesn't help us win over the moderate shooting folk.
Hi Mark I have been reading James Marchington blog RSPB at Game Fair and I quote instead of confrontational message about birds of prey perhaps RSPB stand at next years Game Fair will feature a welcoming message to shooters and keepers come and talk to us about how we can help you do ever more for the wildlife on your shoot.Seems quite a good chap to keep on our side and spread the message probably shooters take quite a lot of notice of one of their own and he does seem really moderate in his views.Perhaps gave you a bit of a challenge in return for signing Bird Of Prey Pledge.Consider going for it.Really like his moderate views.