Worcestershire Record No. 17 November 2004 pp. 4-5
G H Trevis, Committee Chairman
The advent of Worcestershire Recorders has seen a significant rise in recording activity in the county and in the flow of records to the Biological Records Centre, and 2004 has continued the pattern. I cannot thank too much all those who have contributed to this success and particularly my thanks go to the committee members who have given their time to planning the programme of activities and managing the projects that have been started. The current committee is Mike Averill, Tessa Carrick, John Day, Gary Farmer, Harry Green, Ann Hill, John Meiklejohn, Shaun Micklewright, John Partridge, Bert Reid, Joy Ricketts, Patrick Taylor, John Tilt, Geoff Trevis (chairman) and Simon Wood (BRC manager). John Tilt replaces Neil Gregory who has moved to Glasgow to take up a new teaching appointment. Neil was county moth recorder for Butterfly Conservation and co-ordinator for the butterfly transect scheme. We are very grateful to Neil for his contribution to the committee’s work and we are pleased to welcome John Tilt who has taken on the role of transect recorder, and also manages the Register of Worcestershire’s Ancient Trees. The committee members bring a wide range of natural history expertise which has led to the success of our enterprises.
The committee meets six times per year and the outcomes of the initiatives started are reported in the Worcestershire Record. However, a short review of what has been achieved follows as the extent of the work can be lost when reported piecemeal throughout the year.
Although planning is a year round process, the main active recording season begins with the annual meeting at which we start with the business side of running the organisation and follow this with scientific presentations from members and a talk from somebody of national importance. The meeting in 2004 continued the high standard of previous years with Matt Shardlow of Buglife as the principal invited speaker. We do hope that any members who record in the county will consider offering presentations of their work.
As usual, there were three recording days during the summer. These were at British Camp reservoir and Broad Down on the Malverns, Habberley Valley near Kidderminster, and Paradise Dingle in the Sapey valley. Reports of these appear elsewhere in this volume of the Record but suffice it say that interesting and important records were made on all the sites, including several nationally notable and Red Data Book species. Habberley Valley proved of sufficient importance for lichens to interest staff at the Natural History Museum and one of them later came to Worcestershire to visit the site.
An important function of the committee is to publish data about the county wildlife. Generally, random recording will not produce sufficiently robust data for publication in an atlas form, hence the specific projects were initiated. These cover mammals, veteran trees and breeding birds appearing on the BTO red and amber lists. Records for the first two have been received regularly but more information is needed and we would urge everybody to complete and send in recording forms as often as possible. The newly started breeding bird survey has got off the ground rather slowly and further details appear separately in this journal. The status of many birds is locally uncertain and this is a vitally important project to which almost anyone can contribute. We have also contributed to national schemes such as that for Noble Chafer and members have been active in projects for other organisations such as the butterfly transects and the Wyre Forest Study Group’s EN sponsored survey of orchards at Bowcastle Farm. For the future, discussions are underway with the Woodland Trust about running a workshop on ancient Lime trees to be followed by a recording scheme.
A vital aspect of the committee’s work is to support and encourage biological recording, to disseminate information and to assist members with developing their expertise. The main vehicle for this is the Worcestershire Record which remains a quality source of information and is achieving a widespread reputation. The annual series of adult courses (organised with the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust) has again helped many to gain a foothold in a new area of natural history or to develop an interest for the first time. However, when a course has been completed we would urge participants to use their newly acquired knowledge to contribute records to the BRC and to support the projects e.g. ancient tree recording. We also need to get the message about the importance of recording to conservation across to a wider public and to this end members manned the BRC display at the Tiddesley Wood open day. This generated a lot of interest, particularly among children, and we hope to do an even better stand next year. Manning the stand means facing some very interesting and unexpected questions. My own favourite recollection is of a young lad of perhaps 8 or 9 years who came up and politely enquired whether he could ask a question and on receiving an affirmative response promptly wanted to know if worms can be sick! Answers on a postcard please!
A tradition has been established that at the end of the committee meetings we give the members the opportunity to report any special or unusual records they have made. These range from the infrequent but expected species of birds, plants and invertebrates to the downright bizarre such as Kangaroos on Hartlebury Common and Egyptian Fruit Bats in south Birmingham. I should say that these last are not direct observations of committee members whilst in a state of intoxication but rather things reported to them by third parties!
The bottom line of all this work is to support the WBRC and provide the data it needs to develop into a successful enterprise. In this we are succeeding well and there are now over 118,000 records on the computer database in addition to the records from the flora project. My thanks, therefore, go to all those who take the time to send their records to the centre and who have contributed financially to Worcestershire Recorders over and above the basic subscription. Without you the committee’s work would be a complete waste of time.
Generally I do not single out individuals in relation to a committee’s work as the success derives from the effort everybody puts in, in so many different ways. However, I cannot let this annual report pass without special mention of Harry Green for the many, many hours of patient work he devotes to producing the Worcestershire Record, organising the field meetings, supporting the projects, leading training sessions and carrying out a vast amount of recording over a wide range of taxa, not to mention monitoring our financial status. Thanks Harry, your efforts are much appreciated.
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