What is your role in the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme?
I am the Principal Investigator and provide the scientific leadership and project management of the PBMS. I manage the PBMS team and resources to ensure that the scheme runs efficiently and maximises its activities and outputs. This includes liaising closely with funders and other stakeholders to agree our work programme. My aim is to ensure the PBMS remains focussed on contaminants of current and emerging concern, gains new scientific insights, and provides the evidence needed to underpin stakeholder policy needs. I am involved in data analysis, report and paper writing, supervision of PhD students who work with the PBMS, and I present the scientific findings of the PBMS at conferences and meetings. I also represent the PBMS on the WILDCOMS network in the UK and am the UK representative on the EURAPMON (Research Monitoring for and with Raptors in Europe) network.
How did you get involved in the PBMS?
I studied Zoology at the University of Bristol and completed a PhD at Manchester University. I then joined the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology (later to become part of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology) at Monks Wood in 1988 where I worked primarily on the effects of contaminants and pesticides in wild mammals. In 2000, following the retirement of Prof. Ian Newton, I was asked to take on the role of Principal Investigator for the long-running “Wildlife and Pollution” monitoring programme, which we soon re-named the Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme. The PBMS relocated its “nest” to CEH Lancaster in 2007 where we have also forged close research links with colleagues in the Lancaster Environment Centre.
What is your favourite bird of prey and why?
Of the birds we focus on in the PBMS, gannets are probably my favourite. They are just fabulous to watch, particularly when feeding. I was roundly told off by my family when we were at the open-air Minack theatre in Cornwall as my attention kept wandering from the play (excellent and funny) to a group of 20 or so feasting gannets that were providing an ever-changing and spectacular backcloth. The actors never stood a chance! The PBMS currently monitors gannet eggs for a range of contaminants (see Reports, Scientific papers and Data downloads).