What is your role in the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme?
I manage the website, Facebook page and Twitter feed and updates to the PBMS database structure.
The PBMS has an Oracle database which allows the team to store, manage and use the large amount of both biometric and pollutant information generated about the birds we receive. I deal with changes to the layout of the database and sometimes add data that cannot be copied straight into the database for some reason (often because it is too large to handle manually). Information recorded during the post mortem is recorded directly into a live database. Sometimes, the team decide that they would like to record something new. For example, I recently added a new column entitled BTO ring number to allow the PBMS to report information about where birds have been found to the BTO more quickly and efficiently.
How did you get involved in the PBMS?
I was asked to join the team because the PBMS needed someone who could work with Oracle, the Confluence website, and create a Facebook page and Twitter feed. I had some previous experience with Oracle and wiki-markup language (a web editing tool), so the PBMS drafted me in. I enjoy working with the team and the challenge that the database provides. More recently we have moved the website to Drupal and I dealt with upgrading the content. I add news items and try to keep the website looking fresh. I welcome feedback and suggestions for improvements.
What is your favourite bird of prey and why?
Of all the birds studied by the PBMS, I love Red Kites. One time I went down south, I bored my family counting Red Kites over the motorway in Oxfordshire. I counted 18 within a few miles. Magical and so distinctive with the kite shaped tail. Also, whilst visiting our CEH headquarters, I stayed at a hotel in Wallingford and there were a group of Kites nesting in the grounds. The sight was amazing; the birds fly towards each other with talons out, then twist and turn away at the last minute! They were very acrobatic and put on quite a show.