Happy Birthday BTO

Apparently the BTO is 80 today – Happy Birthday!

Personally I wouldn’t have said that Andy Clements was a day over 65 but you never can tell can you?

There’s quite a lot of interesting stuff about the BTO’s past on their website – click here.

However, unlike for most people in their 80s, it seems perfectly OK to speculate on the BTO’s future – because I hope it has a long and glorious one (like its past).

The BTO seems to have rejuvenated itself in recent years and the up-and-coming Atlas (not just BTO of course, there are some Scots and Irish involved too) will be its next great achievement.

I confidently predicted that the last breeding Atlas would be the last breeding atlas produced as a book, and I’m going to say the same about this one, and eventually I will be right.  In this day and age it is possible to produce a real-time atlas every minute or so online and surely now the days of Atlas books are over?

These are challenging times for all NGOs who depend on the voluntary donations of people for their cash.  Many of us are a bit strapped for cash and organisations have to prove their worth to get our money.  I think I’ll be happy to give my money to the BTO for years to come.

And I’m happy to give my time and ‘expertise’ too – on Sunday morning I got up at 5am to do the late visits for my two BBS squares (more of those later this week).

BTO staff get a little bit tetchy, sometimes, when I say they aren’t a conservation organisation, but they aren’t – they really aren’t.  And that’s fine, and I don’t want them to be.  I want the BTO to be what they are – an intelligent organisation full of clever and nice people who ask me, and lots of others, to contribute to the knowledge of bird populations in a useful way.  If they carry on doing that, and amaze me with projects like the cuckoo-tracking project, then I will keep shelling out my money even if I have to ditch some other contributions, maybe to real conservation organisations, along the way.

I’m looking forward to seeing BTO staff at the Bird Fair and I’m looking forward to the Swanwick Conference too.  And I’m looking forward to my next BTO News and I’m looking forward to getting the Atlas.  That’s enough looking forward to make me think that the BTO has a pretty good future for the next few years at least.

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3 Replies to “Happy Birthday BTO”

  1. I would also like to say a big thank you to the BTO, they have helped me with lots of advice since I joined last year. I even have the opportunity to go ringing every week and have learnt so much already about everything from migration to the physical structure of birds. Retraps have really shown me how returning migrants can travel thousands of miles and return to exactly the same spot. It's amazing.
    From Findlay

    1. Findlay - keep it up. Birds are fascinating and will lead you into all sorts of interesting adventures.

  2. I'd agree there's a new spring in the BTO's step these days - well done to the (not a day over 65) leadership of Andy Clements & the imagination & originality of the BTO team.

    Actually, it is one of the BTO's great strengths (citizen science is obviously another) that it is not a 'conservation' organisation in the sense that it lobbies for conservation - that it is completely neutral on the politics is crucial to the quality of - and confidence in- it's science (there must be times when it is very frustrating not to be able to intervene for BTO staff !) - but it most definitely, and powerfully, is in the crucial value of the information it produces which is second to none and of vital importance for conservation policy making.

    BTO has over the past 50 years played a key role in the painstaking work on birds in woods & forests that has underpinned conservation management practise, and is now filling in the hidden part of the story with its stunning migrant tracking.

    So a big Happy Birthday !


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