Dilys Breese and Marsh awards presented at SWLA exhibition

1 Nov 2012
The SWLA exhibition award ceremony

Four awards were made yesterday evening (31 October) at the SWLA’s annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London, after a warm welcome by the President of SWLA, Harriet Mead.  BTO guests represented a wide range of partner organisations, long-standing members, funders and media contacts, all of whom support the work of the Trust. The Dilys Breese Award was presented to Sheena Harvey and a Marsh Award each to Jeremy Wilson, The Herts Bird Club and the BTO Cuckoo Team. 

Sheena Harvey with her Dilys Breese Medal

Sheena Harvey with her Dilys Breese Medal

Sheena Harvey was presented with the Dilys Breese Medal by Dame Barbara Young, the BTO’s President.  As editor of BirdWatching, Sheena Harvey was tremendously supportive of the BTO for several years and she is continuing to promote the BTO’s work in her new role as editor of LandScape, a new magazine in the same Bauer stable.  At BirdWatching, Sheena continued and developed the monthly series of BTO species-focused articles, written by Kate Risely, found plenty of space for BTO stories and worked with staff to develop major features on subjects such as migration.

Dilys Breese, a former Vice President and Honorary Secretary of the BTO, was not only a renowned radio and television producer, she also did much to promote the science of ornithology to broader audiences, particularly through the work she did for the BTO. In recognition of this service, a medal is awarded on an annual basis to outstanding communicators who deliver BTO science to new audiences.

Professor Ian Newton, Chair of BTO Council, and Jo Winyard of the Marsh Christian Trust presented this year’s Marsh Awards.

The Marsh Trust runs a portfolio of awards with a number of internationally and nationally recognised organisations. Recipients of Marsh Awards range from scientists working in conservation biology and ecology to authors and sculptors from the arts world, and those who give their time unselfishly to work with the young, the elderly, people with mental health issues and for our heritage.

Jeremy Wilson accepts his award from Jo Winyard

Jeremy Wilson accepts his award from Jo Winyard

The Marsh Award for Ornithology was presented to Professor Jeremy Wilson

Jerry Wilson, currently Head of Research at RSPB Scotland, has published well over 100 peer reviewed papers, made contributions to more than 15 book chapters and countless scientific reports, and supervised 11 PhD studentships. Jerry has sat on a great many groups to advise Scottish government on biodiversity and was Chair of the Indicators Working Group for the Scottish Biodiversity Forum. 

As well as developing and leading on the RSPB’s science in Scotland, Jerry is a long-term dedicated volunteer bird recorder and active bird ringer with Lothian Ringing Group, spending a large part of his personal time contributing to bird monitoring activities and encouraging others to get involved. He has been an unwavering ambassador for the long-term monitoring of birds, and a supporter of BTO-led monitoring programmes. He willingly lent his support to the recent BTO Scotland Building Bird Monitoring in Scotland (BBMS) initiative to encourage and train more Scottish volunteers for bird monitoring. He previously sat on the BTO Ringing Committee and on SOC Council, and was on the editorial board of Ringing and Migration and Bird Study. Jerry is actively involved with Butterfly Conservation, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and the Isle of May Observatory Trust.

The Marsh Award for Ornithology is made to an ornithologist who is making a significant contribution to the field. Amongst other things, the selection panel considers the significance of the research undertaken so far, contributions to training and capacity-building within ornithology, alignment with the BTO’s mission and engagement with the wider ornithological community.

Jo Winyard presents Chris Dee with the award

Chris Dee accepts the award from Jo Winyard

The Marsh Local Ornithology Award was presented to Chris Dee of the Herts Bird Club

The BTO Bird Atlas 2007-11 has provided the opportunity for many local bird clubs or societies to undertake their own local tetrad based Atlases. The Herts Bird Club was one of these and the first to place its reporting and results on-line. The Atlas website developed by Chris Dee for the Bird Club has grown to be an archive of the status of birds in Herts. Its detail includes previous data from three Atlases – all now electronically mapped – with hidden but accessible geographical data showing towns, local bird hot spots, tetrad names and numbers and the breeding status of the species chosen. The success of this website has spawned a similar site, by Chris Dee, for the Bedfordshire Atlas.

The Marsh Local Ornithology Award is made to a bird club or group that publishes a book, completes a study or conducts any other exceptional activity that advances knowledge about birds.

The Cuckoo Team accept the award from Jo Winyard

The Cuckoo Team accept the award from Jo Winyard

The BTO’s Cuckoo Team received the Marsh Award for Innovative Ornithology 

This new award celebrates an important contribution which takes forward our understanding of avian ecology or conservation science.

Brian Marsh has asked that the first Innovative Ornithology Award should support the BTO’s Cuckoo research. The prize was collected by Chris Hewson, Phil Atkinson and Paul Noakes, the volunteer ringer who has done most to help BTO staff. This project was devised to be both a ground-breaking scientific project but also as a way of engaging the public with science as it happens and to highlight the plight of our migrant birds. We are delighted that Brian recognised this work and would like to extend our thanks to all our wonderful Cuckoo sponsors and funders who helped make this ground-breaking project possible.

The formal part of the evening closed with a celebration of the creative links between science and arts by the BTO’s Director, Dr Andy Clements.

The BTO is very grateful to the Society of Wildlife Artists and the Mall Galleries for providing this opportunity to present these awards and to highlight the success of the last year. Sales of artwork during the course of the evening  will help support the BTO’s research.