Thursday, 24 December 2015

Birdwatch - latest editorial

January 2016 | Issue 283

A friend who left the RSPB recently after a long and productive career commented “I’m not sure what difference I made,” lamenting that the same problems continue to affect Britain’s birds year after year, even decade after decade: persecution of raptors, declining numbers on farmland, falling migrant populations, illegal hunting, environmental challenges and so on. My response was to point out how much worse things might be without the likes of those at the RSPB to champion the cause of birds.

Someone who knows that only too well is Chris Packham, subject of this month's Birdwatch interview. Broadcaster, impassioned spokesman for wildlife and the man voted Conservation Hero of the Year last year, his tireless campaigning work on behalf of birds earned him a second shortlist nomination in the latest annual Birders’ Choice Awards. We launched these honours a year ago to single out those who go above and beyond in the fields of birding and conservation, and you took to them like – well, like a duck to water. Fully established in their first year, I have to say that this time around we have been truly astonished by the scale of participation: thousands of you in many countries cast your votes to acknowledge the best people, products and services in a range of categories. We were very touched by your nominations for local heroes and their achievements; while there can only be one category winner, there are clearly many working hard on behalf of birds at a local level up and down the country, and we will return to this subject soon.

In the meantime, if you feel inspired by those who take an active role on behalf of birds, perhaps a new challenge or developing a special interest will be for you in 2016. In the first of his two-part ‘New directions' mini-series in the January issue, Peter Alfrey explores different ways from political activism to participating in surveys to take your birding to the next level, while Chris Harbard also has suggestions for giving your birding a shot in the arm over the next 12 months.

Have a great New Year!

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