It has been two weeks now since I returned from Bristol for the 2016 Birders Against Wildlife Crime Conference. I have been so busy though and this is the first miserable day that I have to start writing things up. I no longer consider myself to be a birder, I am an everythingist, or to steal Andy Musgroves term, an omnithologist. I am yet to find a group that doesn’t fascinate me, but do have a particular passion for invertebrates and plants. I knew neither would feature in the BAWC conference, but went along anyway as wildlife crime in Britain is atrocious and not something I know much about.
The theme for the conference was the 3 Rs of wildlife crime:
- RECOGNISE – What is wildlife crime and how do we recognise it?
- RECORD – How do we document wildlife crime and collect evidence?
- REPORT – Who should we report wildlife crime to?
The two days of the conference were packed full of talks on these topics, including talks by Mark Avery, Mike Dilger and Dominic Dyer. At times the talks were shocking, or depressing, but overall there was a positive energy as we were all together and are doing something. Together we are strong and can make a difference!
One of my favourite talks was from Craig Jones , a wildlife photographer. Craig’s talk reminded me of why I love wildlife photography so much, the ability for it to engage with other people. His photos are awe-inspiring and I hope to do the same with my invertebrate photos.
I was lucky enough to be one of the ‘new generation conservationists’ at the event, which meant that I didn’t have to pay for entry to the conference, which was really amazing and I am very thankful to the sponsors for this.
It was great to visit somewhere new too, I have never been to Bristol before and although I wouldn’t want to drive through there again, it is a beautiful part of the world and I’ll be back. One of my most memorable moments was snuggling up with Sophie on the beach as we watched 4 dunlin slowly foraging in the dark, keeping in constant contact with each other with their mellow contact calls. Magic.