My passion for wildlife was stimulated in my teenage years, mainly thanks to my Mum (a biology teacher) who made me look at the world differently and being inspired by writers such as Paul Colinvaux. This early interest developed into biological research in my 20s, when I did practical conservation work in places such as the Comores and Mongolia.
Today, any free time I have I spend pottering around the flatlands of East Anglia or escaping to our hut on the Northumberland coast looking for wildlife and castles with my wife and children.
I studied Biological Sciences at Oxford and Conservation at UCL, and worked at Wildlife and Countryside Link before spending five years as Conservation Director at Plantlife.
I joined the RSPB as Head of Government Affairs in 2004, became Head of Sustainable Development in 2006, before becoming Conservation Director in 2011.
Part of the RSPB's mission is to raise awareness of nature conservation and to do that we need a cracking media team and an abundance of good stories. We are not short of either.
It was a good news week last week, and we very nearly featured in in a soap too. The Observer printed a feature about the land grabbing that's happening in Kenya's Tana Delta to make way for crops for biofuels. We arranged for the paper's writer to visit the Tana Delta with Nature Kenya to see first-hand the affect it was having on the people who lived there and the wildlife.
In The Sunday Times , AA Gill compared BBC's coverage of Glastonbury to that of Springwatch and asked 'Who'd have thought that rock 'n' roll would turn into the urban, middle-aged wing of the RSPB?' - I think we'll take that as a compliment...
The BBC covered our story about data from the satellite-tracked seabirds in Scotland showing that they're travelling further for food. This is all part of our FAME project (Future of the Atlantic Marine Environment) and as time goes on will hopefully give us answers to why we've seen some dramatic declines in numbers of these birds. Also on Tuesday BBC 2 aired a programme called The Truth About Wildlife, where Chris Packham took a look at the nation's wildlife and its conservation. The episode focused on farming and the decline of many farmland species. The RSPB's Cath Jeffs was interviewed about the red-listed cirl bunting.
The Daily Telegraph (the article's not online, unfortunately) reported how we've been working closely with the Forestry Commission to create an osprey-friendly environment in Kielder Water and Forest Park in Northumberland and how this week all that hard work's paid off. In a breakthrough for bird conservation, a second pair of ospreys have produced a chick, which means it's the only place in England in more than 170 years where more than one pair of naturally recolonising ospreys have bred successfully at the same time.
I wrote a letter to The Times after reading an article in the paper on Monday entitled "Millions more trees will be felled to fan flames of the wood-burner revolution". I think sustainable wood fuel has its place, but we need tight rules to ensure we don't destroy forests overseas to produce biomass so we can meet our renewable energy targets. I said as much in my letter and the paper printed it on Wednesday.
Despite lots of householders, building companies, and local authorities doing great things to help swifts as they spend the summer in the UK, it seems that many people are doing all they can to stop them breeding successfully. We've learned of people going to unbelievable lengths to stop the birds getting access to nest sites, such as putting up spikes, scaffolding, and plastic and we told Radio 5 Live all about it when one of our media officers was interviewed on Thursday morning.
And finally, I mentioned how we (kind of) appeared in a soap this week. Well, those of you that listen to The Archers may have heard Kirsty and Pat discussing the positive results of Patrick's bird survey and how excited they got when they discovered numbers going up. OK, so they didn't actual mention the RSPB by name, but we all know what they meant!
We'll see what next week brings. As things stand at the moment, I am due to be in the Today programme tomorrow morning talking about the Our Rivers campaign and on You and Yours on Thursday talking about biomass. Things may scupper these plans, but it is always good when our work is noticed and picked up by the press.
Good point GH!
Patrick works for the Borsetshire Wildlife Trust - credit where it's due!