Not tied up in Notts

I should have taken some photos but someone took this one of me
I should have taken some photos but someone took this one of me

I spoke at a BTO regional meeting in Nottinghamshire on Sunday, but so did many other people and I enjoy learning new things and being reminded of old things.

Chas Holt gave an excellent talk about WeBS (that’s WeBS not Webs, WEBS, WEbs or any other combination!).  Have you looked at the excellent WeBS online report? You should – click here.  WeBS is arguably the most important monitoring scheme that happens in the UK in terms of nature conservation – but whether it is or not, it is incredibly important.

Carl Cornish reminded me of some RSPB projects and places: Langford Lowfields and the Idle Washlands.  He also had to stop his talk at 11 for a two-minute silence.

Blaise Martay (interesting name!) talked about climate change and birds.

Robin Brace showed lots of great photos of rare birds in Notts, or, in fact, birds rare in Notts.

Lucy McRobert spoke about young people (and a bit about old ones too) but I wasn’t really listening carefully enough because I was still running my own talk through my head.  However, I heard enough of what Lucy said, and noticed the reaction of the audience, to know that her talk went down very well indeed.

I can’t really remember what I said, but there were some bits about Passenger Pigeons and some bits about Hen Harriers. In between there were a few ideas about how the ‘already really, really good’ BTO-led surveys might be made even better:

  • never produce another Atlas – use Birdtrack to produce a ‘rolling atlas’ (controversial? No, just think 25 years ahead)
  • get the BBS interim results for some species out within a couple of months of the end of the survey work (how about early September?) and then update them at the time when they are currently published.
  • tell non-ringers more about the interesting results from the ringing scheme (or is it just me who hardly notices?)
  • tell non-NRC people more about the interesting results from the Nest Record Scheme (or is it just me who hardly notices?)
  • put more effort into getting ‘lists in notebooks’ into Birdtrack before their owners die (not to put too fine a point on it) and their descendents bin the data

…and here are a couple more I didn’t mention…

  • an App for BBS?
  • how could the volunteer surveys be made more independent of government funding? With continued cuts, and perhaps a continued low level of government interest in evidence, such work is in a somewhat vulnerable position

And I spoke to several people from the #sodden570 of Hen Harrier Day, and talked to artist Michael Warren for the first time, and met some people who read this blog, and was complimented on giving a talk without slides, powerpoints, or any other sort of technical ‘aid’, had a good lunch, sold some books, and remembered that I ought to book for the BTO Conference (which I have now done – for the Saturday alone – see you there?).


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