I was talking about grouse shooting at a joint Dorset Bird Club and BTO conference on Saturday and to the Bedfordshire Bird Club on Tuesday evening. Both were really nice groups of people.
The advantage of a conference is that you hear others speak too and I really enjoyed hearing Nick Moran on Birdtrack (great talk, great app – you could vote for it here), Roger Peart on nest recording, Durwyn Liley on heathland disturbance (a useful reminder too of the importance of SAC/SPA status of lowland heaths), Peter Hadrill on Hen Harriers, Dawn Balmer on the RBBP, and Sarah Levett of Biotrack on advances in tracking techniques. The talks were, without exception, really good and I enjoyed sitting in the audience. I’m sure I would have enjoyed hearing Paul Morton of the Sound Approach and Mark Thomas on managing rare breeding birds too but I was back on the road home by then.
I’ve been to a few of these joint Bird Club and BTO day-long conferences and each has been excellent. I hope I get asked to a few more!
And then yesterday I was closer to home at the Beds Bird Club south of Bedford and talking to a fairly packed hall about hen harriers and driven grouse shooting again.
I’m really impressed and enthused by the determination of many of these birders to keep the campaign going to ban driven grouse shooting. There is a deep well of good will and determination out there which is tinged with a bit of anger because of the way the debate played out. I’ve yet to meet anyone who says that they have any time for the Defra approach to things – and these are audiences that are inherently fairly conservative and might well be predominantly Conservative too.
If Therese Coffey spent time with the birders of Beds or Dorset, who must quite closely resemble the birders of her own constituency of coastal Suffolk, there is no doubt that she would be given a very polite but very unimpressed reception.