• Highlights from the RSPB AGM

    Birmingham was, for the first time, the host city for yesterday's RSPB AGM.   The ICC provided the venue and it was great to see many new faces amongst familiar friends.  I always enjoy the day - it is a celebration of what we have achieved over the year and it is nice to be able to sit back and listen to the wonderful work that my colleagues have been up to.

    There is a little moment at the beginning of the day when…

    • 27 Oct 2014
  • Say it ain't so, Beefy

    It's a sad day when your childhood hero, whose picture hangs in your downstairs loo, attacks the organisation you work for and whose mission you care passionately about.  But, remarkably, Sir Ian Botham (who owns a shoot) has joined forces with others from the shooting community to launch a complaint to the Charity Commission regarding the RSPB's expenditure on fundraising as opposed to nature reserves.

    When I…

    • 24 Oct 2014
  • When humans and wildlife collide...

    Am off to Bristol today to participate in a meeting of Defra's Biodivesity Programme Board. This is the group that has the responsibility for ensuring targets in England's Biodversity Strategy are on track.

    These targets (for species, habitats, sites and ecosystems) are a translation of global commitments which the UK Government signed up to at the Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in Nagoya, Japan in…

    • 23 Oct 2014
  • The case for Catfield (part 2)

    Catfield and Sutton Fens are two really special places.  They are home to a remarkable number of rare and threatened species: 109 Red Data Book species including well over 90% of the UK population of the endangered Fen Orchid.

    Readers of this blog will know that I’m very fond of these sites (see here).  Their importance means that we take our management responsibility very seriously indeed (in the case of Catfield…

    • 22 Oct 2014
  • Giving People (and Nature) a Home

    Yesterday the Labour leader Ed Miliband launched the report of the Lyons Housing Review (here), which sets out how a future Labour Government could deliver 200,000 homes a year by the end of the next Parliament.

    It's good to see this report. There’s no doubt that there is a significant housing need in England, and whoever is in power after next year's election will have to try and address this issue.  We want…

    • 17 Oct 2014
  • The state of our birds and why Bob matters

    At the weekend, I read Caitlin Moran's brilliant piece in the Times Magazine about how she was missing the birds (if you have a subscription, you can read it here).  It is raw, it hurts but unfortunately it is real - there are 44 million fewer birds today in the UK than when Caitlin was growing up.  And, as demonstrated by the State of Nature report last year, the declines in wild birds have been replicated across many…

    • 16 Oct 2014
  • Good news from RSPB reserves in 2014

    Through work and play, I have managed to visit about 25 of the RSPB's 210 reserves over the past year or so.  And, with our AGM coming up in a couple of weeks, it seems timely to report on how they have fared this year.  My instinct was this has been a good year: whereever I went, wildlife seemed to be flourishing and the spring and summer weather had been kind.  But as our head of reserves ecology, Jo Gilbert, said to…

    • 13 Oct 2014
  • A musing at the end of the party conference season

    Once Nick Clegg completed his speech to his party faithful in Glasgow today, the curtain fell on the 2014 political party conference season.

    For the RSPB's hard-working parliamentary team it means that they can go home and recover from a month on the road which took in Brighton, Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow.

    And, the end of the conference season means it is possible to take stock on the how the parties are…

    • 9 Oct 2014
  • Grouse shooting: three positions

    Following yesterday's blog, I thought it might be useful to expand on the three different perspectives regarding the future of grouse shooting.

    Here are the quotes will appear in this autumn's issue of Nature's Home magazine.  They offer three different way forward.  I encourage you to read the full article when/if the magazine arrives on your doorstep.

    Dr Mark Avery, Wildlife writer and organiser of the Hen…

    • 7 Oct 2014
  • Sky may have fallen, but Hope is not lost

    When I started this job in 2011, I was surprised to be repeatedly asked whether the RSPB was obsessed with birds of prey.

    At the time, I found it odd - of course our conservation work included action to recover threatened birds of prey such white-tailed eagle, red kite and hen harrier. But we were equally obsessed about declines in farmland birds, woodland birds and seabirds.

    Our strategy was clear - we did whatever…

    • 6 Oct 2014
  • A birthday present from Europe?

    I write this on my birthday.  I am 44 years today.  Happy birthday to me.

    But I also write this in the week that WWF produced a report (here) saying we have lost half of the world's wildlife since 1970 - the date I was born.

    Given that most graphs depicting wildlife declines start in 1970, it is no wonder that I feel guilty and responsible for what has been happening in my lifetime.   Every time another report…

    • 4 Oct 2014
  • A Licence to kill?

    September is notoriously a busy month and, now it is October, I am only now catching up on one or two things.  I promise an update on hen harriers and the shenanigans in Europe very soon.  Today's post focuses on when and how licenses can be granted to kill birds.

    The Wildlife & Countryside Act makes it illegal for anyone to take, kill or damage any bird, nest or eggs. However, in reality, the situation is not quite that simple…

    • 2 Oct 2014