Last Saturday I had a very enjoyable day at the Natural History Museum in London. The main reason for my visit wasn't to peruse the displays, but instead to attend my first African Bird Club (ABC) AGM. After successfully navigating the underground and the massive queue that greeted us upon our arrival at the museum, we finally made it up to the Flett Events Theatre which is were the AGM was being held.
Next up was Dr Shiiwua Manu, Director of the A.P. Leventis Ornithological Research Institute (APLORI) in Nigeria. He was talking about the research institute itself, how it has developed, aims for the future and a brief look at some of the research that has been conducted there so far.
The last talk before lunch was from Niki Williamson of RSPB and Simon Tonkin of Conservation Grade all about Turtle Doves and the research that is happening in Senegal. The researchers are looking into their behaviour in their wintering areas and working out what the bird's priorities are while they're there. This research highlighted the bird's 3 major activities: foraging, resting and drinking/waiting to drink. This is important because it shows that water is obviously of major importance to the birds and in sub-Saharan countries such as Senegal this knowledge is vital so as to protect important water sources. Simon went on to talk about Fair to Nature foods whereby crops that are used in bird foods, such as millet and peanuts, can be grown in a more environmentally friendly way and so that the famers are incentivised to grow such crops that the Turtle Doves (and other birds) will feed on. It was really interesting to hear about the other threats that this declining species face since shooting/hunting is the one you hear about most often. It was also great to hear about some solutions to the problem and that such strategies are already being implemented in some places and can hopefully be rolled out to more locations across the East Atlantic Flyway over the coming years.
Next came a superb talk from Debbie Pain (Director of Conservation at WWT) on the Madagascar Pochard Project. She spoke about the last 10 years of the project; how it began, the challenges faced and the establishment of a successful conservation breeding programme. She then went on to talk about the future of this threatened species, and how a nearby lake has been deemed a suitable location for the reintroduction of the Pochard in order to increase population levels in the wild in order to give the species the best chance of survival. A really interesting talk and I look forward to hearing how the project develops over the coming years!
After the AGM had come to a close and I'd said goodbye to those I could find, we made our way through some of the exhibits to one of the shops to have a nose at the books on offer. With a huge amount of willpower I managed not to buy any books at all on the day - a rare occurrence given my love of reference books!
Anyway after a brief look around the shop we made our way out of the museum and headed back to the tube to begin the journey home.
I had a lovely day and I would like to take this opportunity to thank those behind the scenes of ABC for organising such brilliant speakers for the AGM - it was such an interesting day with lots to take away from it. I would also like to thank you for inviting me to sit on the Council as the NGB representative - I look forward to working with the club in the future!