James Gilroy

Gilroy, James

University of East Anglia (UEA)
Norwich, UK

View James’ UEA profile.
Find him on Twitter @j_gilroy1

Involved with the BOU as:
Member of the BOU Records Committee (BOURC)

BOU member since: 2007

Most likely to be found . . .
. . . at a keyboard, crunching data

Why are you a member of the BOU?
To be part of one of the most venerable and important ornithological organisations in the world, and to get special rates for top-notch BOU conferences!

What is your role on the BOU committee on which you sit?
BOURC is charged with maintaining ‘The British List’ of birds, upon which key conservation legislature is based. As a committee member, I draw on my background in research on animal movements to help decide whether newly-arriving species are ‘natural’ visitors to Britain, or are more likely to have arrived here under human influence.

When did your interest in ornithology begin?
My father is a keen birder, and his interest inspired me at a very early age – apparently I was using binoculars before I could walk! Most of my early memories involve birds in some way – including a trip to feed the ducks that ended in me being viciously attacked in my pram by an over-zealous Mute Swan! Thankfully that experience didn’t put me off…

What is your most memorable bird-y experience?
A few years ago I was lucky enough to join an expedition to the breeding grounds of Spoon-billed Sandpipers in a remote part of the Russian Far East. I’ll never forget my first morning out there on the tundra, watching a pair of those amazing birds in full display, with a soundtrack of crooning White-billed Divers in the background. Unbeatable!

What is your favourite outdoor place and why?
One of the great things about being a birder is that you can find interesting birds literally anywhere – if you’re outside, there will be birds to see. But for me, the most exciting locations are those where you can witness migration in action. Small islands are often the best places to witness ‘falls’ of migrants, and for me the most special island of all is Fair Isle. There’s something magical about that place – the rich ornithological history, the stunning scenery, and the fact that you never know what you might see next! I only wish I could go there more often…