BTO Cymru : A New Dawn
The BTO’s strength in Wales is a testimony to the efforts of all its volunteers. For many years, BTOs Honorary Wales Officer, John Lloyd, and his team of volunteer Regional Representatives have promoted the Trust’s work, leading training events and recruiting birders to take part in surveys.
In 2010, a BTO Cymru Appeal was launched, which has attracted £32,000 from birdwatchers, and widespread and long‑term support for the new Welsh Office is being sought.
We are delighted to announce that a new office, based at Bangor University, is now open, with three key aims for the next few years:
- attract more volunteers and members – so that we can provide more comprehensive information on important species of Welsh habitats – whether they be Pied Flycatchers in oak woods, farmland Lapwings, coastal ducks or House Sparrows in gardens
- work with partners in Wales, particularly the Welsh Ornithological Society, RSPB and CCW, so that we can develop studies and research which can explain rapid changes in numbers for species such as Curlew on upland farms
- develop a Welsh voice for the BTO, focusing on issues that are important to Welsh birdwatchers – providing information in both English and Welsh
Two key appointments were identified for the new office:
- Development Officer to work with Regional Representatives, to recruit more volunteers, promote the work of the Trust, develop courses for birdwatchers and represent the BTO in the media
- Senior Ecologist to be the link between science teams at Thetford HQ and potential partner organisations in Wales, helping to focus attention on issues facing birds in Wales and other western parts of Britain. New surveys and ecological projects will all strengthen evidence-based conservation.
Kelvin Jones has been appointed as the BTO Cymru Development Officer and Dr Rachel Taylor is our new Senior Ecologist and will take up her new post later this year.
Kelvin has been passionate about birds since childhood and for many years like others, just did his own thing, not realizing there was a side of birding to which he could make a meaningful contribution. On a quiet afternoon in 1991, he was diligently patrolling Porthmadog High Street, when he came across a number of young people all stood at the harbour bridge looking at something. The group was led by local RSPB stalwart, Reg Thorpe, who pointed out a Black Guillemot. From here on Kelvin was recruited for BTOs Nightjar survey and subsequently took up training as a ringer, and the rest as they say is history.
Kelvin has been very active bird surveying, being an Assistant RR Caernarfonshire and Meirionydd, is on the North Wales Atlas Committee, and has been Chair of the Wales Raptor Study Group for several years. He is looking forward to work with the team of Regional Representatives, offering support at shows and training events.
Rachel currently works for Bangor University and was a late starter in bird ecology, starting out in biochemistry and physiology with field experience studying reptiles in the UK and southern Europe. Her PhD started out on ‘the influence of spatial scaling in tropical biodiversity’, but having realised that birds would be the ideal study group in tropical farmland, in 2002 she turned up on the BTO’s doorstep as an aspiring trainee ringer with huge enthusiasm but absolutely no birding experience at all. Three years and 1800 Costa Rican birds (plus rather a lot of UK passerines, waders and seabirds) later, bird ecology, ringing and the effects of agriculture on the natural environment had become the focus of her work (and play!) and remain so to this day.
Rachel is an active bird ringer with SCAN (North Wales) and the Wash Wader Ringing Groups, amongst other projects. She anticipates a very challenging and exciting time helping to raise the profile of the BTO in Wales and working with the BTO’s committed and talented volunteers, alongside partners in Government and conservation organisations to help secure the future of Wales’ iconic and charismatic birds.
Welcome Kelvin and Rachel, we look forward to working with you.