BTO celebrates excellence in ornithology

22 Oct 2021 | No. 2021-47

At a glittering awards ceremony held at the opening of the Society of Wildlife Artists (SWLA) Natural Eye exhibition in the Mall Galleries in London, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) gave out six awards to recognise the contribution the recipients have made to British ornithology.

The Marsh Award for Local Ornithology was awarded to Vic Fairbrother and Ken Hutchinson for their twenty-plus year study of Ring Ouzels on the North York Moors. During this time Ken and Vic have amassed a huge dataset on this red-listed bird of conservation concern and the rigour of their fieldwork and record-keeping was deemed to be of sufficiently high calibre to be used as a reference dataset for the last national ring ouzel survey in 2012.

The Marsh Award for International Ornithology was awarded to Professor Lukas Jenni. Among his 200 publications he is best known as the lead author of Moult and Ageing of European Passerines. After the book went out of print it acquired a legendary status for the fantastic prices asked by hopeful eBay sellers of second-hand copies. Now, the second, expanded edition of this book is out plus, in a separate book The Biology of Moult in Birds, a long-awaited thorough synopsis of moult in birds.

The Dilys Breese Medal was awarded to Dominic Couzens. Dominic received his award for outstanding communication of the BTO’s work. He is the author of over forty books, several of them highlighting the huge contribution the BTO has made to British Ornithology. There have been 17 previous recipients of the Dilys Breese Medal including wildlife campaigner and TV presenter, Chris Packham, Environmental Editor, Michael McCarthy, wildlife author, Mary Colwell and BBC Radio Presenter, Brett Westwood.

The Marsh Award for Innovative Ornithology was awarded to the West Midlands Ringing Group (WMRG) for their pioneering work using thermal technology to help monitor farmland birds. WMRG are gathering accurate data across thousands of hectares of farmland and are providing critical information to aid wildlife-friendly farming, ecology and other land management, enabling landowners to plan and measure the effectiveness of their policies and practices. This information has only become available as a result of WMRG’s effective use of thermal technology. By using this technology, WMRG have added to the bank of knowledge of declining farmland bird species, roosting birds and those that become active after dark.

The Marsh Award for Ornithology was awarded to Dr Alison Johnston. Her work has informed key conservation challenges including the impact of climate change and land use on birds and options for mitigating these impacts. This has included important applications, such as in the understanding of the effect of offshore wind turbines on birds. She created innovative ways to crunch the numbers in order to understand how high seabirds fly, which in turn helped alter the design of turbines to reduce the risk of bird collision with the blades. Dr Johnston has also devoted much of her career to improving the methods we use to analyse citizen science data, which has helped unlock the power of huge datasets on both sides of the Atlantic.

The Marsh Award for Young Ornithologist was awarded to 16 year old Sian Mercer for her passion for the natural world and in particular birds, and the way in which she shares this passion with others. During 2020 she organised events and activities that included bird walks and talks. She also takes part in bird monitoring schemes, such as the Breeding Bird Survey, Wetland Bird Survey, Grasshopper Warbler surveys and is a member of the British Trust for Ornithology’s Youth Representative Scheme.

The awards were presented by Professor Juliet Vickery, CEO of the BTO, and Charles Micklewright, Marsh Trust Trustee.

Juliet Vickery, CEO of the BTO, said, “It is wonderful to be able to recognise the contribution that each of these exceptional individuals have made to British Ornithology in this way. They are an inspiration to all and very worthy winners of this year’s awards.”

The Marsh Awards are supported by the Marsh Trust and presented by the BTO.

Contact Details
Paul Stancliffe
 (BTO Media Manager)
Mobile: 07585 440910
Email: press [at] (subject: News%20release%20enquiry)

Images are available for use alongside this News Release. These can be downloaded from this link for which you will need to enter the password MarAw202147 alternatively, please contact press [at] quoting reference 2021-47

Notes for editors

The MarshTrust was founded in 1981 by its current Chairman, Mr Brian Marsh OBE. From the outset the Trust has aimed to create long-standing relationships with the organisations it supports and partners through both its principle areas of work; the Grants Programme and the Awards Scheme. The Trust supports around 350 charities every year through the Grants Programme and gives around 80 different Awards to individuals and groups from across the charity sector, who make a difference to a cause that they believe in.
BTO is the UK's leading bird research charity. A growing membership and up to 60,000 volunteer birdwatchers contribute to BTO's surveys, collecting information that underpins conservation action in the UK. BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Thetford, Stirling, Bangor (Wales) and Belfast (Northern Ireland), who analyse and publicise the results of surveys and projects. BTO's work is funded by BTO supporters, government, trusts, industry and conservation organisations.

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