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Saving the Dawn Chorus for Tomorrow
Blue Tit
Robert Middleditch
Chairman, Board of Trustees

BlackcapRobert farms in Suffolk.  All the land is classified as high value for farmland birds by the British Trust for Ornithology due to the small field sizes, large number of ancient hedgerows and numerous woods coupled with areas of marshland. All the land is in various agri-environmental schemes.

One block of land has been subject to yearly bird counts since entering the agri environmental schemes in 2002 and has witnessed a 20% decline in breeding territories in the period 2002-2012.  This decline is in line with national statistics and reinforces the opinion of many leading ecologists that the agri-environmental schemes are not delivering on increasing the farmland bird populations.

Robert is one of 19 farmers who participated in Unilever’s sustainable farming project and was a founder director of the Forum for Sustainable Farming. The work of this forum was instrumental in persuading over 400 farmers to have Biodiversity Action Plans carried out on their farms and to enter into environmental schemes.

He also participated in the Sustainable Arable Farming for an Improved Environment (SAFFIE) with 27 other farms, which studied the effectiveness of undrilled plots in cereal fields for the benefit of skylarks.  This project also highlighted the widespread mammalian predation of nests and fledglings on all 27 sites. He is member of LEAF (linking environment and farming)

Robert joined the Farmers for Nature project, which was EEC funded. It involved visiting all the countries around the North Sea rim with leading conservationists from Germany, Holland, Belgium, Norway and the UK. Many conservation issues were studied ranging from farming systems to help the Black Tailed Godwit on the polders of Holland, to crofting in the Shetland Isles.

Lord Rankeillour
Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees
Treasurer & Newsletter Editor

BullfinchLord Rankeillour (Michael) was brought up in the country in Sussex and also partly in Canada where his father was a Diplomat. He read Engineering at University and went on to work in the electronics industry and then into the computer industry and spent 30 years working with IBM.

From a very young age Michael was always been keen on wildlife and particularly birds and spent much of his spare time either with a fishing rod or crawling round fields trying to find birds’ nests and learning about bird life in general.  His father took him climbing and walking in the Alps, Wales, the Lake District and Scotland and this instilled a love of wild places and wildlife.

He was an RSPB member for many years and was strongly supportive of what they were doing in the 1960's and 70's to establish new reserves and get the public interested in conservation.  His main interests are still ornithology, fishing, hill walking, love of wild places and many technical subjects such as energy generation, aircraft design, climate change etc.

Michael strongly believes in the science based approach that SBS is taking now as it is clear that this is the only sensible way forward to influence future debate and policy at government level.

Lord Leicester
Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees

ChaffinchLord Leicester lives at the Holkham Estate on the North Norfolk coast.  The Holkham National Nature Reserve extends to over 4,000 acres including seven miles of coastal frontage.  It is arguably one of the most important nature reserves in England.  In 2010 it recorded the first successful fledgling of Eurasian Spoonbills in the British Isles for three hundred years.

The Holkham Estate runs a predominantly wild bird shoot and has been doing all it can to promote the welfare of the red listed grey partridge.  An amazing 335 species of birds have been counted on the estate. 

He is a life member of the Norfolk Wildlife Trust, The British Trust for Ornithology, The Game and Wildlife conservation Trust and the British Association for Shooting and Conservation.

John Pugh
Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees

ChiffchaffJohn Pugh moved into his hill farm on the Cambrian Mountains in Wales, with his parents over 60 years ago and has been working with Luing, Beef Shorthorns, Galloways and Welsh Blacks ever since.  He also sent some years working as a warden for the National Trust.
He campaigns for native cattle breeds to survive alongside traditional crafts such as dry-stone-walling.  All of which he can demonstrate are beneficial for wildlife and the environment.  He quests to show the world that traditional farming goes hand-in-hand with conservation.  In his view, it’s a marriage that is as old as the hills.

David Griffith
Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees

CrossbillDavid has been interested in birds since he was a boy and has been fortunate to live in a wonderful wild upland of North Wales since a teenager.  He spent most of his working life in the Brewing Industry.  He also did 9 years as a Board Member of the Wales Tourist Board.  He now runs a Hill Farm at his home in North Wales with sheep and Welsh Black beef cattle.
The farm is involved in Environmental Schemes and they have planted a number of woods over the years.  During his 60 years there he has seen a drastic reduction in the songbird and ground nesting bird populations. He notes that this downturn appears to be continuing despite the environmental efforts on the farm but at the same time there has been a huge increase in Corvid numbers; mainly Carrion Crows and Jackdaws.  He continues to plant woods and try to improve biodiversity.

Clive Sherwood
Board of Trustees

Lesser RedpollClive’s interests as an amateur naturalist are broad.  These stem from a very early introduction to the natural world by an enlightened teacher with weekly double periods for outside nature study and reading natural history books.  This progressed into an interest in everything from looking in birds’ nests at the eggs with mirrors to catching lizards for vivariums and making ponds for amphibians.

A former beekeeper, his many interests range from promoting habitat for wood ants thus contributing to providing diet for many birds including green woodpeckers, to conserving open woodland for wild flowers and establishing a large variety of nectar producing shrubs for butterflies.  He protects any known underground bumblebee nests from destructive badgers by using a light steel mesh.

Clive’s main interest for many years has been improving and maintaining habitat for all birds wherever he has lived and worked which included many years in parts of Asia.  These included the Mai Po marshes in Hong Kong where he was supportive of work to conserve world migratory birds.  One of his main birding pleasures whilst living in Asia, where deforestation is such an enormous threat to biodiversity, was enjoying watching eagles, kites and other birds of prey, including the threatened Philippine eagle, the white breasted sea eagles and soaring kites in Hong Kong.

It was after reading an article in the Times on disappearing song thrushes and responding that he had actually witnessed four song thrushes predated within a fortnight, that Clive was introduced to SongBird Survival. He was chairman of the Charity for over 10 years until 2013 and now continues as a trustee.

Nick Forde
Board of Trustees

GreenfinchNick Forde is a former stockbroker who now divides his time between London and Norfolk.  He has a young family to whom he enjoys teaching about the countryside.

The loss of the dawn chorus in his London garden drew his attention to the problem of declining songbird populations. He is the London representative of the charity and helps with media communications.

Nick has brought the work of SongBird Survival to public attention on TV, radio, national and regional newspapers across the UK. Nick also plays a key part in contacts with ministers and other conservation organisations.

Colin Strang Steel FRICS
Board of Trustees

Grey WagtailColin is a Chartered Surveyor and for thirty years has worked for an international firm of property consultants responsible for their Scottish business, based in Edinburgh.

He lives on a 412 hectare livestock farm in The Scottish Borders.  Since moving to The Borders twenty years ago he has been involved with a number of conservation organisations in the area.  These have included being on the steering committee of Borders FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group) and being a Trustee of Borders Forest Trust, a charity set up to acquire and manage woodlands for local communities.  He is a Trustee for a large estate in The Borders with substantial farming, forestry and sporting interests.  He is also involved in the restoration and improvement of another estate in The Borders where there is considerable emphasis on conservation and environmental improvement.

Many habitat improvements have been carried out over the years on his farm and in 2010 it won the Telegraph RSPB Nature of Farming Award for Scotland.

Sarah Potter
Board of Trustees

House SparrowSarah grew up in the Northamptonshire countryside and from a young age was encouraged by her mother, an RSPB member for many years, to observe birds.   As a result she became an early member of the Northamptonshire Naturalists Trust in the sixties.

With a background in charity PR she now manages the woodlands and biodiversity on the family farm as well as helping run a free range poultry business.

She is a trustee of two other charitable trusts and until recently was a volunteer caseworker for forces’ charities.  She is an avid gardener as well as a beekeeper.

Simon Lester
Board of Trustees

Stonechat Simon has been a professional gamekeeper for nearly 40 years. Beginning his career on lowland reared bird shoots, he was most recently headkeeper of Holkham Estate in North Norfolk for seven years and, for the past eight years, headkeeper at the Langholm Moor Demonstration Project in Dumfriesshire.

Long committed to the health and wellbeing of the countryside and all wildlife, not just game birds, Simon is keen to find a workable solution to current conservation conflicts

Keith Cowieson

Tree CreeperKeith retired from the RAF as a Group Captain after a long and successful career. He then did an important assignment with the Government Olympic Executive for 18 months which has recently ended.  He has been a keen ornithologist all his life and been active in the RAF Ornithological Society (RAFOS) for many years.

He has considerable knowledge of birds and their conservation issues. Keith also led a number of RAFOS Expeditions to study birds in such places as Svalbard, Arctic Norway; the Hebrides and in the Falkland Islands.  He has also participated in survey work for both previous and the new BTO Bird Atlas to be published in 2013.

Georgina Bradley
Office & Shows Manager

Long Tialed TitGeorgina (George) grew up on a small holding in rural Norfolk.  She is passionate about animals and the countryside and all the wildlife and plants therein.  She studied Civil Engineering at University but now splits her time between her bookkeeping business and running the office and shows at SBS.

The office is supported by 2 further part time staff

SongBird Survival is a charity commissioning research into the decline of Britain’s songbirds. With your support and membership we hope to reverse their decline. 
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