Poor old Gilbert is getting restless. Despite the fact that there is more interest in wildlife than ever before, it seems that most of the so-called conservation organisations are losing interest in species. Instead they prefer to babble on about landscape scale conservation and ecosystem services (whatever they are). Could this be because most of their staff don't have any knowledge about species if they don't have four legs?
This is my attempt to encourage an interest in good old-fashioned natural history.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

BTO annual conference

It has been some considerable time since I posted anything but I hope to reinvigorate the blog.

I have just got back from the British Trust for Ornithology's annual conference in Derbyshire. The theme for the majority of the talks was the forthcoming atlas of breeding and wintering birds. Given the huge size of this undertaking and the resulting book, I fear that it will not be a cheap publication but if the various maps shown at the conference are anything to go by, it will be worth every penny and will be an essential reference for everyone with any interest in conservation in the UK.

The culture of the BTO has improved considerably in recent years. It is hard to find fault with them these days (if only the same could be said of many other organisations in the 'conservation' sector!) and this conference reflected that, with an excellent set of presentations and a number of exciting new initiatives. It is pleasing to see that BTO membership has grown significantly over the last 2 years when many other organisations have seen membership declines. It looks like the public isn't as stupid as we are lead to believe and in harsh economic times it is those organisations that are doing really good work that are thriving.

Two personal highlights from the weekend were an incredibly assured presentation by 16-year old Alex Rhodes on how to attract young people into conservation and a couple of video clips shown by Prof Chris Thomas showing Blue & Great Tits wimping out from attacking Peacock and Swallowtail butterflies respectively when the butterflies flashed defensive markings at them.