BTO Conference 2014!!

Back in September, I got an email from Ieuan Evans saying that I was going to be talking at the BTO's 81st Conference/AGM which will be held at the Hayes conference centre in Swanwick Derbyshire between the 5-7 December. I was ecstatic to know that I'd be talking in front of such an inspirational audience. Also my friends had been invited by the likes of Findlay Wilde, Evie Miller, Josie Hewitt, Ben Moyes and Ellis Lucas. One or two days before the conference I got an invitation to have dinner with Andy Clements and CHRIS PACKHAM!!!!!!!!

Invite to have lunch with Chris Packham

Day 1

I got home from school on the Friday afternoon, races to my bedroom, got changed and we were off to the conference, the traffic was horrible in Nottingham, we arrived at the conference at 5:30pm after going through Nottingham at rush hour was a bad idea! We were greeted by Chris Morley and some of the other staff. They showed us to our family room, with a double, single and a bunk-bed, so I had dib's on top bunk! Then I rushed down to the Lounge and Ben Hoare from the BBC Wildlife Magazine, Dawn Balmer, Ieuan Evans and Ellis Lucas and his dad. After the rest of the 'crew' arrived, we headed to the first talk of the weekend, it was Helen McDonald's talk about raptors, falconry and humans connecting together, also Helen has just released a book called H is for Hawk! After Helen's talk, all us young'uns went to the quiz straight after, our most important aim was to beat our parents! And yes we did, also we came 3rd out of 9 groups!

Day 2

At the start of the day after breakfast, we headed down to the first talk of the day which was by Liz Humphrey's talk  how renewable energy could affect birds and how birds cope with turbines offshore, which was shortly followed by 2 amazing talks by James Pearce-Higgins talking about climate change, and Kevin Gaston talk about Urbanisation and how this is affecting the birds and humans. Then after lunch it was kicked off by Mark Thomas from the RSPB, to talk about Raptor Persecution in the U.K .

75 years of the NRS

2 shot Buzzards found

Followed by Dave Leech celebrating 75 years of the Nest Recording Scheme with some of the younger nest recorders and what they've found including my Spotted Flycatcher nest!

As I said earlier we were just about to have dinner with Chris Packham, when we arrived at our table I was sat diagonally opposite to Chris, whilst we were having our lunch we talked about his experiences, especially his few weeks in Malta back in April. Also giving us sneak peeks at one of his new shows and some of his younger experiences with him collecting skulls of mammals and birds. After some amazing discussions and Andy Clements gives all 6 of us one of Chris Packham's books called '100 things that caught my eye' then Chris sign them all

All us 'Young-ns' with Andy Clements and Chris Packham

After lunch we had the option of going to a ringing meeting or more amazing lectures, so my dad and I chose the lectures, this started with Kate Plummer talking about why Blackcaps are starting to winter in this country and the BTO have found that the birds that winter in this country have developed to have a sharper bill so they can collect more fat from fat balls. After that fascinating talk it was Viola Ross Smith talked to us about her Lesser black-backed Gulls, then Ed Drewitt celebrating our Urban Peregrines. And Tanya Hoare talking about the Swifts that she has nesting under the eaves of her house, she even filmed them at the nest with some amazing footage.
After a delicious dinner, Fin, Ben, Ellis, Josie, Evie and I went with our parents and Lucy McRobert  to go and practice our speeches before the big day! When went up to the podium, and whilst I was doing my talk, my knees were shaking uncontrollably, this got me wondering what my knees would be like in front of 350 people! 

Blackcap Study

Day 3

I woke quite early and practised my speech a couple of times before taking to the podium, we all had a very nice breakfast, then us 'Young-ns' headed down to the Conference Hall early, so we could set up, and soon as we got in, everyone flooded into the hall, all 350 people, full of Ringers, Nest Recorders. Birders and Experts! Lucy introduced all of us and Ben Moyes stepped first with some amazing watercolour pictures and birding around his patch, next was Josie talking about her week on Bardsey and getting her C-permit recently, then it was my turn, I was talking about my ringing experiences, finding bird nests and starting to do the House Martin Survey. After my talk was Ellis (who had never spoken in front of an audience before!), but he talked about Waxwings outside his house, and his amazing nests which he has found including Whinchat, Common Sandpiper and Chaffinch. Next was Evie Miller (which this is her first time talking in front of an audience before) and she talked about her ringing, and last was Fin who talked about how he got interested in nature and that he wants to save nature. After our talks there was a sigh of relief from all of us, after our talks there was a break so I headed down to the bar, I never got down there because people were just asking me questions about my House Martins and Nest Recording, I bet the others had the same thing, it was amazing.

I would just like to say a massive thanks for those who have supported me and inspired me over this weekend; Evie, Ben, Ellis, Fin, Josie, Dawn Balmer, Lee Barber, Andy Clements, Chris Packham, Dave Leech, Andrew Tongue and finally my family.

But before we left, we stayed for lunch and us Young-ns and one of the people from Wildsounds, approached us and had many copies of 4 bird books, including Helm Confusing Species and North American Helm guide as well, so I ordered to which would come for free! What an early Christmas present!

Us Young-ns

Wordle of the highlights of the Conference

And a massive thank you to the BTO for hosting this event and for letting me speak in front of an amazing audience.