I grew up in Bristol and went to Bristol Grammar School where a couple of masters (Derek Lucas and Tony Warren) were instrumental in fueling my interest in birds. I was in the Young Ornithologists' Club.
In the school holidays I practically lived at Chew Valley Lake - a bicycle and a pair of binoculars were all I needed.
My parents liked nice scenery and walks in the countryside and that gave me plenty of opportunities for birding.
I spent a few years when rare birds were very important to me but aside from the very occasional lapse they aren't any more!
I did a Ph.D. on pipistrelle bats but most of my research before joining the RSPB was on bee-eaters in the south of France (nice eh?) and great tits and marsh tits around Oxford. However, the first scientific paper I wote was about the lekking behaviour of great snipe.
I joined the RSPB staff in 1986 as a researcher, became Head of Conservation Science in 1992 and Conservation Director in 1998 - all have been great jobs!
On Wednesday we handed in 210,567 signatures to the wildlife Minister Huw Irranca-Davies demonstrating public support for our campaign to end illegal killing of birds of prey in the UK.
Three MPs (see below) have tabled the following Early Day Motion (EDM) in Parliament:
That this House congratulates the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds on acquiring over 200,000 signatories to its campaign to end the illegal killing of birds of prey; recognises the depth of public support this shows for more action to be taken to protect birds of prey; further recognises the socio-economic benefits healthy bird of prey populations can bring to rural communities; notes that the shooting, poisoning and other destruction of magnificent species including hen harriers, golden eagles and peregrine falcons remains unacceptably common; acknowledges that such persecution represents a major impediment towards the recovery of such species to their historic levels; and calls on the Government to make ending the illegal killing of these iconic birds a greater priority.
Well said! And thank you to those three sponsoring MPs. Angela Smith has worked closely with us on birds of prey and other issues. Norman Baker is a long-term friend of the environment and the RSPB. Alistair Burt has the RSPB's Sandy UK Headquarters in his constituency and is an enthusiastic supporter of our work.
An EDM draws attention to a cause or event and allows MPs to show their support by signing the EDM.
So far, the following 58 MPs have supported EDM 654:
Conservatives: Alistair Burt, Peter Bottomley, Andrew Rosindell
Democratic Unionist: David Simpson, Gregory Campbell, Jeffrey Donaldson
Independent: Bob Spink
Labour: Angela Smith, Lindsay Hoyle, Stephen Hepburn, Joan Humble, Chris McCafferty, John McDonnell, Laura Moffatt, Ronnie Campbell, Janet Dean, Andrew Dismore, David Drew, Paul Truswell, Desmond Turner, Robert N Wareing, Brian Jenkins, Alan Meale, Edward O'Hara, Martin Caton, Jeremy Corbyn, Neil Gerrard, John Battle, Keith Vaz, David Lepper, Bill Etherington, Betty Williams, Alan Simpson, Ann Cryer, Graham Stringer, Rudi Vis, Harry Cohen, David Anderson, Lindsay Roy, Greg Pope, David Crausby, Paul Flynn, David Heyes
Liberal Democrats: Norman Baker, Andrew George, Paul Holmes, Mike Hancock, Phil Willis, John Leech, John Hemming, Mark Hunter, Annette Brooke, Lorely Burt, Andrew Stunell, John Barrett, Richard Younger-Ross
Social Democratic and Labour Party: Eddie McGrady, Mark Durkan
I'll update you on progress with this EDM but if you would like to contact your MP on any issue, or to tell them of your support for the bird of prey campaign, or maybe ask them to sign up EDM 654 then use this link.
I've just checked the current EDM list and it looks like there are currently 109 MP's signed up. Yay! I have also just emailed the MP for North Norfolk in the hope that he will add his name and his voice. Finger's crossed it all counts towards a better future for our magnificent birds of prey.
I have e mailed my MP in Taunton, requesting he signs EDM 654.
Rose - I'll give an update on sign-ups later in the week now that Parliament is back from recess. We have heard that there are quite a few MPs of all parties who are going to sign up.
IS THE DEARTH OF CONSERVATIVE MPS SIGNING UP A SYMPTOM OF THIER HISTORIC AND CURRANT LINKS TO LANDED GENTRY AND LARGE ESTATES WHICH ARE STRANGELY BEREFT OF THE BIRDS OF PREY THAT "OUGHT"TO BE IN THAT HABITAT AND THEREFORE A SIGN THAT THEY ARE THE SAME OLD TORIES?
All - we have heard from RSPB members and MPs that more MPs are about to sign up to EDM 654. Some MPs don't tend to sign any EDMs - others do. Government ministers and shadow ministers tend not to sign EDMs. I'll update you during the next week when Parliament returns from its recess. but many thanks everyone!
Hi Mark, here is the response from my Conservative MP, i would appreciate your advice to any further appropriate response I might send:-
Like many colleagues, I have taken the decision not to sign EDMs. There's too many of them, they're never debated and invariably they're signed without proper thought, care or attention.
Message from:- Eddie - Hertfordshire
Over 210,000 signatures was a great response- now lets hope that the MPs will take some notice of what is now an important issue for a lot of us who care about wildlife. Thanks for keeping us informed of developments.
Well done and glad so many people signed this as i love watching raptors on my weekends off.
Birds of prey are no different from many other birds and they must be allowed to live,it is their right,thanks to everyone who supports this cause.
I have written to my MP re the above EDM and I got this response on House of Commons notepaper:
"Whilst I support calls on the Government to make protecting these species a greater priority, I do not generally sign EDMs as experience has shown that they are not the best way to make Minister aware of such issues. EDMs also have no legislative effect. Accordingly, In order to ensure that the Government is aware of your concerns, I have written directly to Hilary Benn MP, Secretary of State for Environment,Food and Rural Affairs. I have asked him to look into your concerns about the protection of birds of prey. I will write again when I hear further."
Valerie - thank you for doing that - much appreciated. I will look out for his name on the official website but will do an upfate at the weekend!
Hi Mark Just to let you know I have just had a email from my MP Michael Mates and he says he has signed the EDM hope you are well
Nightjar, Valerie, Bob - many thanks. I'll update you all on EDM654 as time goes on.
Mark, Have emailed my MP who is on the DEFRA Rural Affairs Committee and a CLA member. I will let you know what response I get. Bob
Hi Mark can't wait to see what RSPB going to do in Peak District,hope you will soon have some information for us even if just a small amount.