Bob Haycock arrived on the Welsh scene as NCC warden in Brecknock in 1978 straight from the wardenship of the Calf of Man Bird Observatory and his arrival at Llangorse Lake prompted the formation of the Llangorse Ringing Group; he became its first Secretary and then Chairman – a position he still holds. Early initiatives were targeting the large Sand Martin roost (every available “hook” in his office being occupied by bird bags during the nightly ringing) the establishment of one of the first CES sites in the country (CES 010 where aside from restrictions due to Foot & Mouth and Covid only one visit has been missed) the annual roundup of Canada Geese (which has proved to be so successful in allowing visiting ringers to become familiar with the species and the use of larger rings) and one not so successful – an attempt to cannon net Wigeon (with Bob in the church tower overseeing the operation and a large team including WWT staff awaiting his signal) but the birds flew off faster than the net and Wigeon is still not on the Group species list.
In 1984 he arrived at Stackpole in Pembrokeshire as CCW warden for the Bosherston Ponds, Llangoffan Fen and other NNRs in the county but he was very quickly intimately involved with conservation issues within the Castlemartin Tank Ranges, especially the Chough and the seabirds along with such diverse creatures as Shrill Carder Bees and especially the Greater Horseshoe bat breeding colony at Stackpole which also uses the ranges for foraging and roosting. He initiated a colour ringing project for Chough on the Ranges and on Ramsey Island in the 1992/3 winter and maintained it until the early 2000’s recruiting a small team of expert climber to access the sites scattered along the south Pembrokeshire limestone cliffs. The Chough study was a pioneering venture at the time and allowed the monitoring of the adult survival, the chick dispersal and survival and demonstrated the huge variability in juvenile survival overwinter as well as monitoring their dispersal and the fidelity of adult pairs. He continues today to study the Chough and, along with Jane Hodges, seeks to monitor their status and their annual breeding success around the whole of the Pembrokeshire coast. As an aside he does the same for Peregrines!!
Bob isn’t quite satisfied with his fieldwork though. With his wife Annie, he took on the BTO Representative role for Pembrokeshire in 2003 and remains in that role today. He was on the WOS Council for the maximum period of 8 years between 2011 and 2019 and has been Chairman of the Pembrokeshire Bird Club since 2014 having been involved for many years prior to that.
More recently he has spent many hours in front of his computer as one of the Editors of the recently published Birds of Wales. He is also a Director of the West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre, has helped to organise and then co-authored the Pembrokeshire Breeding Bird Atlas 2003-2007.
For his commitment to conservation he was awarded an MBE in 2008 and we are delighted to honour him with a richly deserved WOS Lifetime Achievement award.