Stars of ornithology shine at the Marsh Awards 2022

Stars of ornithology shine at the Marsh Awards 2022

18 Oct 2022

Marsh Awards 2022. Nick Caro

The 2022 Marsh Awards event took place on Wednesday 12 October at London's Mall Galleries. On this prestigious occasion, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), in partnership with the Marsh Charitable Trust, recognises professional and amateur ornithologists who have made outstanding contributions to the field.

Over 125 guests attended to celebrate the ornithological achievements of the prizewinners, with BTO’s CEO Juliet Vickery proclaiming the night for ‘birds, science and people’. Birds were centre stage throughout the evening, represented by the astounding artwork of the Society of Wildlife ArtistsThe Natural Eye 2022 exhibition.

Medallists and Award Winners

The Jubilee Medal for outstanding commitment to BTO was awarded to Simon Taylor. As the regional representative for Cornwall, Simon has led a remarkable recovery of survey coverage across the county. In a moving acceptance speech, he dedicated his medal to his late father, who inspired his love of birds. The Dilys Breese Medal, awarded for outstanding communication of BTO’s science to new audiences, was received by Kit Jewitt. Kit – better known by some as @yolobirder on twitter and from the Golden Grenades podcast – was acknowledged for his invaluable work on the BTO books Red Sixty Seven (2020) and its recently published update Into the Red (2022).

The Marsh Award for Ornithology was received by Dr Alex Bond, Senior Curator in Charge of Birds at the Natural History Museum at Tring. The award recognises an outstanding contribution to the field of ornithology, embodied in Alex’s charismatic approach to science communication and his commitment to inclusivity. The Marsh Award for Innovative Ornithology was presented to long-time BTO contributor Rob Clements, recognising 30 years of work during which Rob developed new techniques for measuring population estimates for some of the UK’s most elusive birds. Rob has frequently challenged accepted population estimates for hard-to-record species including Honey-buzzard, Lesser-spotted Woodpecker and Hawfinch, and, through detailed fieldwork, helped to improve them, developing a vital network of species experts along the way.

The values our award winners represent are at the core of our special partnership between citizen scientists and professional staff. Juliet Vickery, BTO Chief Executive 
The Natural Eye exhibition. Nick Caro
The Marsh Awards took place at London's Mall Galleries surrounded by the Society of Wildlife Artists’ The Natural Eye 2022 exhibition. 

Several volunteers from the Chilterns Landscape Partnership project ‘Tracking the Impact’ graced the stage to collect the Marsh Award for Local Ornithology. This prize is awarded to a group that makes an exceptional contribution to ornithology; in this case, Tracking the Impact encourages the people of the Chilterns to protect their local biodiversity, providing training in biodiversity surveys. Nick Marriner of the Chilterns Conservation Board - which leads the project - thanked the many organisations and volunteers who contributed to this project’s success. Last but not least, the Marsh Award for Young Ornithologist went to Cardiff University student Anna Webberley for her tireless efforts to restart the university’s Ornithological Society after it was disbanded due to COVID-19. Relaunching the society as a welcoming and diverse community, Anna has helped to promote citizen science surveys, organise trips to other parts of Wales and arrange talks from leading conservationists for fellow students.

Hope for the future 

The event was also an opportunity for BTO's Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) and placement students to meet the award-winners and discuss the future of conservation. 

I am often asked what gives me hope for the natural world. One answer, without doubt, is the drive and determination of people like these who refuse to accept the status quo and work to make a difference. Juliet Vickery, BTO Chief Executive 

"Once the ceremony ended it was time to wander around the gallery and socialise with the other guests. Outfits were admired, canapés were consumed and art was purchased, but most importantly, connections were made between people who have a shared admiration of birds. The atmosphere was one of hope that the contributions we recognised tonight will make a positive difference for the UK’s struggling bird populations. A final huge congratulations to all the award winners and also to all those involved in organising this elegant and enjoyable evening!"

- Fionnuala McCully (BTO Science Communications Placement Student)

All photography by Nick Caro.

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