WOS Lifetime Achievement Award hall of fame
The WOS Lifetime Achievement Award, for the people who have made a lasting contribution to ornithology in Wales, is presented at the WOS annual conference. A summary of their achievements is provided below, or click on the links for the full citations. For details of how to nominate someone, see our Awards page.
Hall of fame
2018 – Bob Howells
2017 – Jerry Lewis
2016 – Steve Roberts
2015 – Stephanie Tyler
Peter Davis MBE
Having been warden of Lundy Bird Observatory from 1951, Skokholm from 1954 and Fair Isle from 1957, and after a short spell as BTO Migration Research Officer, Peter returned to Wales as Warden Naturalist for the Nature Conservancy, where he developed work to understand the impacts of big upland-management changes on wildlife. Arguably his most well-known contribution to conservation came with the Red Kite protection programme, and he subsequently became a founding trustee of the Welsh Kite Trust. In a voluntary capacity, he was Ceredigion bird recorder for many years and, with Hywel Roderick, co-authored the avifauna, Birds of Ceredigion.
Watch the presentation to Peter.
Starting his career at the newly-founded Fair Isle Bird Observatory, Peter returned to Wales in the 1960s, firstly as NCC warden at Newborough Warren and then managing nine National Nature Reserves in Meirionnydd. In the 1970s, his work focused on seabirds, and in the 1980s, he studied black grouse for RSPB Cymru. Author of 148 published works, he was first chairman of WOS, and has played a pivotal role in the development of ornithology in Wales.
Watch Iolo read Peter’s citation.
Bob Howells was one of the founder members of Gower Ornithological
Society some sixty years ago, beginning a lifetime of generating bird data in
the area, a contribution to GOS that is without equal. His counts of birds in Gower track the seasonal populations of estuarine species; he was West Glamorgan Regional Rep. for the BTO for 37 years, and he continued as Wetland Bird Survey co-ordinator for the vice county beyond that. Bob’s dedication to record-keeping provides an invaluable record of the
estuarine bird populations in the Burry Inlet and Swansea Bay SSSIs and has provided invaluable context for studies into Oystercatchers
and the cockle fishery in the Special Protection Area.
Read the full citation here.
John Lawton Roberts
For more than 40 years, John Lawton Roberts has been watching, ringing, reporting on and photographing birds, primarily in Northeast Wales. John is most at home in the uplands, as are the subjects of his studies, particularly birds of prey. He has maintained studies of Ravens, Buzzards, Peregrines and Merlins since the 1970s, a period that has seen the recovery of these species. His ringing work has also helped to track the changing fortunes of Barn Owls and Ring Ouzels. And his knowledge of Ruabon Moor has provided a 30 year record of the changes in birdlife on a single site.
Jerry has played an important birding role within Gwent and the wider area of South Wales over many years. He was a co-author of the first Gwent Atlas of Breeding Birds published in 1987 and the more recent Birds of Gwent published in 2008. He has expanded our knowledge on Goshawk, Wood Warbler and Hawfinch, and authored many reports and articles on a wide variety of species. His Hawfinch study, in particular, has expanded the knowledge of this ‘difficult’ species enormously, and one for which Wales is proving of great importance. He is a leading light in Llangorse Ringing Group, contributing to one of the UK’s longest running Constant Effort Schemes and a Reed Warbler RAS project. Jerry has been BTO representative for the vice county of Gwent for over 21 years, recruiting and liaising with volunteers and co-ordinating the regular BTO surveys as well as almost 20 species-specific surveys.
Read the full citation here.
Roger is the foundation on which RSPB Cymru still operates today. In 27 years as its Director in Wales, he developed the society’s operations from a one-man office to an environmental powerhouse. A naturally gifted communicator, Roger is a skilled practitioner at influencing decision-makers and the wider public to benefit the conservation cause. He spread the conservation message as a broadcaster and very well respected author. The Welsh arsenal of natural history publications would be much the poorer without Silent Fields, his co-authorship of Birds in Wales, and The Kite’s Tale.
Graham has been a ‘Strumbler’, one of a hardy band of birders at Pembrokeshire’s Strumble Head, for many years. He helped to establish the Pembrokeshire Bird Group and has been a co-author on both editions of The Birds of Pembrokeshire (1989 and 2009). He was county bird recorder and BTO Regional Rep for many years, and also a fine illustrator of West Wales’ birds.
Watch the presentation to Graham.
Steve has spent his spare time seeking out and researching birds and in recent years has been a chief-nest finder for the BBC Springwatch team. Steve’s long-term monitoring of Hobby, Goshawk and Honey-buzzard has added considerably to the accumulated knowledge of what had been thought of as difficult birds to study. Two landmark papers in British Birds in 1999 and 2014 synthesise a lifetime’s work on Honey-buzzards: understanding of the species’ habits and behaviour during the breeding season being a critical step towards their effective conservation.
David Saunders MBE
Being appointed Skomer’s first Warden in 1960 began a lifelong association with Pembrokeshire, from where he organised the first ever census of the breeding seabirds of the British Isles, Operation Seafarer. For 20 years he was Director of the West Wales Trust for Nature Conservation, and Honorary Warden of Grassholm. He helped to initiate the Pembrokeshire Bird Report and is a prolific lecturer and author, including Where to Watch Birds in Wales, The Birds of Pembrokeshire and Seabirds of Britain and Ireland. He is also a former President of WOS.
Watch the presentation to David.
Mike’s knowledge of the birds of agricultural landscapes has helped to ensure that our understanding of the impacts of farming changes have been documented, analysed and publicised. As editor of Welsh Birds and the Welsh Bird Report for many years, he provided an outlet for amateur and professional ornithologists to tell the stories of Wales’ birds, yet was also an active fieldworker, from area surveys of Brecon to kestrels and their prey. Mike Shrubb died in September 2013.
Watch video of presentation to Mike Shrubb.
Dr Stephanie Tyler
Until very recently, there were too few women in conservation or the natural sciences. Steph Tyler was one of the few, a pioneer. Her professional career took her from Gwent Wildlife Trust to the RSPB as Wales Conservation Officer, but she has been involved with the Gwent birding scene continuously since 1981. With Professor Steve Ormerod, she authored the standard volume on Dippers, and wrote numerous papers that highlighted the impact of acid rain and forestry on water quality, insects and Dippers in the Welsh uplands. That was a huge environmental issue in the 1970s and ‘80s, and Steph was central to gathering the evidence that brought about change for the better.
Watch video of presentation to Steph.
Graham Williams has done more for the acquisition and management of land for wildlife than any other person in Wales. For 26 years, he oversaw the acquisition and management of RSPB Cymru’s nature reserves in Wales. These have matured into some of our most precious habitats, safeguarded for generations to come. His knowledge of bird identification led to his membership of the British Birds Rarities Committee and he was one of the authors of the seminal Birds in Wales. Most importantly to WOS, he edited our journal for many years, has been a WOS member since its inception, and chaired the Society in the early 1990s.