Conference 2019

The 30th Anniversary WOS Conference at the University of Aberystwyth on Saturday 16th November was a great success, with almost 150 delegates attending, including an encouraging number of talented young ornithologists. Tony Cross was presented with the society’s Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his long term work on key Welsh species. His roll of honour is too long for this post but for those who don’t know Tony is renowned and respected for his expertise and knowledge gained from many long term ringing programmes. The go-to man for Red Kites, Barn Owls, Chough, Curlew, Dippers, Hawfinches, Pied Flycatchers, Kestrels, Ravens, terns, swans, Woodcock, Nightjars ++++ across Wales and Jack Devlin received the Student Award for his well researched and highly topical work on Pheasants.

The presentations were worthy of such a special occasion, with Iolo Williams reflecting on the past 30 years of birds in Wales and gazing into his crystal ball for possible scenarios for the next 30 years – not all doom and gloom, but the threats to wildlife are all too evident and present. Tim Birkhead presented outcomes from one of the country’s longest running studies – 47 years of Guillemots on Skomer – and did his best to convince us that Guillemots were far more lovable and interesting than Puffins! Although it’s almost invidious to identify one single highlight from the conference, the mixture of poetry, passion and good science in Mary Colwell’s presentation on Saving Curlews will live long in the memory of all who were fortunate enough to hear and see this.

In the afternoon, an innovative feature was Question Time, chaired by Steffan Messenger, BBC Environment Correspondent, featuring a panel of Mary-Jo Luxton (Wales RSPB Director), Andy Clements (BTO Chief Executive) and Mark Isherwood (AM and active species champion for Curlew) and pertinent and topical questions from the audience.

Following Question Time, Iolo Williams presented Tony Cross with the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award and Jack Devlin with the 2019 Student Research Award.

The final session of the day was presented by Steve Stansfield, Warden of Bardsey BO, enthralling us with highlights of the changing seasons on this magical island. Had anyone in the audience actually seen 365 Grasshopper Warblers, let alone in one day!

The presentations, more photos and news from the day will be on the website shortly – our thanks to all who helped make it such a memorable day.

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