National BTO award presented to Mike Smart

Each year the British Trust for Ornithology presents awards for outstanding contributions to ornithology.  They are sponsored by the Marsh Christian Trust and therefore known as the Marsh Awards for Ornithology.  There are five categories: one for a professional ornithologist; one for innovation; one for international work; one for local ornithology; and one for a young ornithologist.

This year’s Marsh Award for Local Ornithology was awarded to our very own Mike Smart for his work on Curlews.  The presentation was made at the Mall Gallery in London on October 23rd, coinciding with the opening of the annual exhibition of the Society of Wildlife Artists.  The photo shows Mike receiving his award from Frank Gardner, President of the BTO (and the BBC’s security correspondent), with BTO’s Director Andy Clements in the background.

Mike’s breadth of experience and popularity is evidenced by the fact that his nomination was put together by myself (as Gloucestershire’s BTO representative), the Curlew Forum, and a RSPB conservation manager, with enthusiastic support from GNS’s Mervyn Greening and from Roger Mortlock, Chief Executive of the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.  Here is the citation from the programme for the award ceremony…

“Mike’s passion is the Curlew and he has worked tirelessly on this species’ behalf for decades, seemingly almost single-handedly at first.  Winning over landowners and involving them in conservation measures, he laid the foundations for the establishment of new nature reserves and, mostly importantly, undertakes meticulous fieldwork to monitor breeding outcomes.  Mike’s regular Curlew reports are legendary for their completeness and attention to detail and are an extraordinary example of how regular monitoring can lead to conservation actions.   As the plight of the Curlew worsened, Mike’s determination and work-rate on its behalf accelerated.  Mike’s vision, powers of persuasion, endless list of contacts and his enthusiasm have enabled the Curlew Forum to establish the multi-agency Severn Curlew Project, based at WWT Slimbridge in Gloucestershire and launched in 2019.  This professionally staffed project aims to help Curlews using the techniques being used for Black-tailed Godwits, Cranes and Spoon-billed Sandpipers.”

 Gordon Kirk

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