Writer and blogger (WaderTales)
Follow Graham on Twitter @grahamfappleton
Involved with the BOU as:
Ordinary member & Council member (Honorary Treasurer)
BOU member since: 2016
Most likely to be found . . .
. . . looking at Black-tailed Godwits or writing about birds
Why are you a member of the BOU?
Having retired as Director of Communications for the BTO, I wanted to maintain my involvement in ornithology.
What is your role on the BOU Council or committee on which you sit?
I attend BOU Council meetings and as many of the BOU’s other committee meetings as I can. IBIS Committee is of particular interest, as I managed Bird Study when at BTO and understand just how important IBIS is to BOU; it’s at the heart of the Union and a key part of the funding model.
What do you enjoy most about your involvement with the BOU?
It’s great to be working with a group of dynamic people who care about the future of ornithology. Committee members leave their institution hats at the door and ‘get stuck in’ to drive the BOU forwards.
What would you say to anyone who is considering joining (or leaving!) the BOU?
If you are thinking of joining BOU, come to a conference. You’ll find lots of interesting people and you will be made most welcome.
If you’ve attended a BOU conference, what did you get out of it?
BOU conferences make me think. I learn so much from the presentations, the posters and in conversation and come away with ideas for articles and blogs.
When did your interest in ornithology begin?
I have been an active ornithologist since I was at school, where I discovered waders in my last year. The Wash Wader Ringing Group and three summers in James Bay (Canada) set me on course for a lifelong interest in waders.
What is your most memorable bird-y experience?
I love seeing the same colour-ringed individuals in different countries. Knowing ‘old friends’ and seeing them year after year provides unique insights into migration. When we see the Black-tailed Godwit GL-YX in April in western Iceland, he’s always in the same channel. In the intervening twelve months he has re-found his mate, hopefully raised some chicks, flown to Portugal and crossed the Atlantic for a second time. When we stop seeing him I shall be sad.
What is your favourite outdoor place and why?
Iceland in April is magical. Waiting on the south coast for returning Black-tailed Godwits and seeing flocks of waders, geese, White Wagtails etc. coming in off the sea is awe-inspiring.
What would you say to anyone considering research in ornithology?
My suspicion is that it is going to be harder to find a career in ornithology in the next few years – with government cuts and a squeeze on grants. BOU will do all it can to support Early Career Researchers both financially and through the community of the Union.
What are the big conservation challenges in the next decade?
Birds and people need space. As the human population grows and the aspirations of people expand, the pressures on birds, particularly from food producers, are going to be huge.
Has your career in ornithology turned out how you expected it to?
I expected to be a teacher with birds as a hobby. In my second career, I used my management experience at the BTO. Now, I can use 40 years of accumulated knowledge about birds in my writing – it’s a pleasure.
What are your interests outside the world of ornithology?
Pottering about the garden – especially with test match cricket on in the background.
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