I am using this brief WaderTales blog to say ‘thank you’ to the BTO for kindly presenting me with the 2020 Dilys Breese Medal, in recognition of the role that WaderTales plays in the dissemination of BTO science relating to waders. Some of these blogs are listed below.
Receiving the Dilys Breese Medal is very special. It’s an honour to follow previous recipients such as Chris Packham and Michael McCarthy but it’s more personal than that.
Before I worked for BTO I was a Council member of the Trust for several years, at a time when Dilys Breese was also a Trustee. Later, during my time as a member of BTO staff, Dilys continued to be an active Council and working group member, culminating in her role as Hon. Secretary (1998-2001).
In 2007, Dilys died and we learnt that the BTO was to receive a significant legacy which was subsequently used to reinvigorate nest recording. Paul Reddish, who was acting as Executor, and I wanted to make sure that Dilys would be remembered beyond the end of her gift. With this aim in mind, BTO created the Dilys Breese Medal, awarding the first six medals in 2009 and one a year thereafter.
Few people who are reading this will have known Dilys Breese but they will recognise her through her TV productions, especially her work for the BBC Natural History Unit. She created the Living World and Wildlife series for the BBC, before leaving the Corporation in 1991 and setting up Kestrel Productions. Her 1987 Meerkats United programme, with David Attenborough, is probably her most famous programme but there were many more highlights over a distinguished radio and TV career.
Dilys became a BTO member in 1973, bringing many BBC and Kestrel films to annual conferences, working with Chris Mead and others to increase the profile of the Trust and playing an active role in the charity’s governance. Dilys Breese fervently believed that nature and science should be shared with as many people as possible and I am happy to play my part in doing just that.
WaderTales and the BTO
WaderTales blogs that are about BTO-led research and surveys have included:
- Why are we losing our large waders? The BTO’s Director of Science, James Pearce-Higgins, is lead author of a review of the problems facing all of the curlews and godwits of the world
- Curlews can’t wait for a treatment plan. Sam Franks is lead author of a joint BTO/RSPB review that helped to establish the key gaps in our knowledge of problems faced by Curlew, setting the direction for Curlew conservation science and interventions.
- Green Sandpipers and Geolocators and Winter territories of Green Sandpipers. These two blogs describe the results of a fascinating study of Green Sandpiper behaviour by BTO volunteer ringers who colour-marked and tagged Green Sandpipers in Hertfordshire. There are also links to BTO-led atlases.
- Do population estimates matter? This blog summarises the ‘waders’ section of the population estimates paper in British Birds, based on data from the Wetland Bird Survey.
- 25 years of wader declines is a nice example of long-term survey work by Mike Bell, a BTO volunteer and Regional Representative, written up with John Calladine of BTO Scotland.
The Dilys Breese medal
The Dilys Brees Medal was designed by Norfolk artist Robert Gillmor. It features a Robin, the subject of a book that Dilys was working on at the time of her death, set against the outline of an old fashioned TV screen. This will be a lovely memento of fifteen years of working with Dilys to promote the work of the BTO. I am grateful to Mary Colwell (author of Curlew Moon) who kindly nominated me for the award.
Click HERE to see more blogs from the first five years of WaderTales