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!
I hope you've enjoyed reading this blog over almost 2 years - over 700 blogs have been posted. Does anyone claim to have read them all? I doubt it.
I've enjoyed writing here enormously - sometimes it has been a bit tricky to fit in with the rest of my work and the rest of my life but it has been great.
And being the RSPB's Conservation Director has been fantastic - it's a great job in a great organisation. As I said on the Today programme on Monday - everyone should be an RSPB member!
My successor, Martin Harper, will be picking up the blog reins as well as everything else - I think he's very brave, as I had 10 years of the job under my belt before I started this blogging lark. Good luck Martin - I'm sure you'll be great at the blogging and at everything else too.
And trimbush, Jockeyshield, Sooty, mirlo, lazywell, nightjar, redkite, Stackyardgreen, Bob Philpott, miles, Gert Corfield and others - be nice please! I wonder why I put you all in that order?
And a bit later today there will be a last blog which tells you how to keep in touch - if you want to.
Nor me Bob - like you I am proud to stand up and be counted and not hide behind pseudonyms.
Gert, My view on why I use my real name is that if I believe in what I am saying then I proud enough to say who I am. That is no reflection on anyone else who's views I have always appreciated.
Received the RSPB magazine today and thought what a wonderful job they have done which for sure you have made a major contribution in approximately the last one hundred years.The benefits will be there for wildlife without doubt and lots of people will have better knowledge and be filled with the enthusiasm that you put over on wildlife.Perhaps after such responsible job you can have it a bit easier for a while and recharge your batteries.A whole new experience beckons and for sure lots of people will wish you well and I feel sure a new enjoyable phase begins.
Goes without saying no one enjoyed your blog more than myself and do not think have missed one since finding your blog,best wishes for your new life.
Thanks for a most informative & entertaining blog. You'll be well missed. Best wishes for the future. Three cheers for Mark.......Woof, Woof, Woof.
Why is it just Bob and me that use our real names? Having attempted to blog myself I'm impressed how you've kept this going on a daily basis - I gave up a long time ago - ah but then 'the book' my change all that..