27th October – Kingston Maurwood College, Dorchester.   Leave a comment

Kingston Maurwood College

On the 27th to celebrate 25 years since the formation of the independent Dorset Bird Club (DBC), chairman Neil Gartshore arranged a conference with the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) at Kingston Maurwood College near Dorchester. I have been involved with the DBC since its inception, writing articles for the newsletter, sub-editing the Bird Report and organising indoor meetings. For three years between 2003 and 2006 I served as chairman. These days I have a lesser role but as a result of this conference I have volunteered to be the BTO representative for Dorset, coordinating the scientific surveys of Dorset birds.

Birders gathered at Kingston Maurwood in a room (decked out at a tent) for the joint Dorset Bird Club / BTO conference.

leuan Evans from the BTO talked about the exciting new developments in tracking migrants using geolocators and satellite tags.

The morning session comprised of four talks, leuan Evans of the BTO brought us up to date in the findings of geolocator and satellite tagging of European – Africa migrants. Studies on Nightingales, Swifts, Cuckoos and Lesser Black-backed Gulls have thrown new light on these species and in some cases have highlighted causes for recent declines.

After a talk on a new software system for recording all forms of wildlife in Dorset, Neil Gartshore gave an account of the recent Dorset Bird Club trip to the Tarifa area of Spain and Andy Daw, vice-principle of the college, talked about conservation efforts and ringing within the college grounds.

During our lunch break we had time to wander around Kingston Maurwood’s gardens

Margaret, who once ran a gardening business, loved the formal gardens …….

… however she doesn’t like pampas grass, which she admits is one of her pet hates.

Although it was a beautiful day but the wind was bitterly cold and we were glad of this ornate shelter.

Time to return to the house again for the afternoon session.

During the afternoon session Steve Davis talked on the devastating fire on Upton Heath in June 2011 and the subsequent recovery, Simon Breeze gave an account on the new initiative for the conservation of farmland birds at Durlston and Paul Morton spoke passionately about his love of Poole Harbour and how, working with Mark Constantine, he is setting up a website about Poole Harbour birds, placing a web camera on Brownsea lagoon with a feed to the website and arranging boat trips for schoolchildren to show them the wildlife of the Harbour. Both of the last two species are ringers with Stour Ringing Group and I am glad we have such enthusiastic young people in our group who are helping to advance birding and bird conservation in Dorset.


The final talk was given by Stephen Moss, formerly of the BBC Natural History Unit. He was responsible for producing the ‘Birding with Bill Oddie’ series and he showed a series of clips from the series (which uniquely was able to convey the excitement and unpredictability of birding to an non-birding audience).

So concluded a great day, a chance to speak to many other Dorset birders, hear some great talks and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. As far as I was concerned the only drawback was the date, organising a birding conference at the end of October, when vagrant species are most likely to be found, to my mind is a folly, but perhaps the college offered no other option. Unlike the rest of the week, no accessible major rarities were found so nobody had to leave the conference part way through!

Stephen Moss gives a talk entitled ‘Behind the scenes at the BBC Natural History Unit’

Posted October 29, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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