Welcome to The Sound Approach podcasts, interviews and conversations with a focus on birds and conservation issues hosted by Charlie Moores.
Episode 26: March 2019
Bob Elliot has had a long and illustrious career in conservation, working for a number of organisations including the National Trust for Scotland and the RSPB where he became a renowned Investigations Officer, a role he is rightly immensely proud of and where he recounts one of the first calls he ever received was from a member of the public who described seeing two large birds of prey lying dead on a grouse moor in northern Scotland.
As the Head of Investigations for the RSPB Bob went back onto grouse moors looking for dead birds of prey many times. He’s seen first hand the war being waged on our birds of prey and many of us in his position might have become embittered – tightly wound and unapproachable even – but as anyone who knows him will attest, Bob Elliot is an extremely genial, friendly and approachable man – unless, of course, you’re standing over a dead raptor with a bottle of carbofuran in your tweed jacket.
In the middle of last year Bob announced that he was leaving the RSPB to take up the role of Director of OneKind, a campaigning animal welfare charity based in Edinburgh. When I bumped into Bob at the People’s Walk for Wildlife in London in September I asked if we could talk for a podcast. ‘Let me get my feet under the table first’ he – quite understandably – replied, but just a few months later here we are, preparing to discuss wildlife crime investigation, golden eagles, the trophy hunting of goats in Scotland, Mountain Hares, OneKind, and what it’s like to move from Sandy to Scotland. Only as Bob explains in answer to that particular question, he’s actually been in Scotland this whole time…
Episode 25: February 2019
Bruce Pearson has been a fixture on the UK wildlife art scene for more than forty years. He is perhaps best known for ‘Troubled Waters’ – a study of the impacts of longlining on the albatrosses of the southern oceans, which he wrote and beautifully illustrated in his distinctive and evocative style.
Charlie went to meet Bruce in his studio in Cambridge, finding a complex and deeply thoughtful man, who is both great company and a naturalist with an in-depth knowledge of the wildlife he paints – both near his home and during his travels around the world. The following conversation took place in January 2019.
Gwent Wildlife Trust
Episode 24: January 2019
For several decades a proposed 14 mile / 20 km long motorway extension has hung over the Gwent Levels – and its five SSSis and a Special Area of Conservation – south of Newport in South Wales. Charlie was invited to visit the area by Ian Rappel, chief-executive of Gwent Wildlife Trust (GWT), and in January 2019 spent a really interesting day looking at the Levels and then at GWT’s Magor Marsh Nature Reserve with Ian, GWT’s deputy CEO Gemma Bode, and Sarah Harris, the Trust’s Senior Press and Communication Officer.
The conversation is in turns thoughtful, forthright, and philosophical and begins on a small foot bridge overlooking one of the Level’s ‘reens’, the ancient drainage ditches that house so much of the site’s remarkable biodiversity.
• Gwent Wildlife Trust (external link)
• Gwent Levels campaign video ‘Leisure’ narrated by Peaky Blinders and The Detectorists actress Aimee-Ffion Edwards (external link)
• Campaign Against the Levels Motorway (CALM) podcast on Lush Player (external link)
Episode 23: December 2018
Lizzie Bruce is something of a high-flyer within the bird conservation world. From being a Conservation Intern at the RSPB just six years ago, she has already been the warden at Sandy, the RSPB’s headquarters in Bedfordshire, and is currently the RSPB’s NW Norfolk Reserves warden covering Titchwell Marsh and Snettisham reserves. She’s also on the committee of Spurn Bird Observatory and a director of British Birds magazine. Charlie met up with Lizzie in her office at Titchwell to discuss her career, her future plans, and what he assumed must have been a childhood love of birds that had simply grown and grown…
Episode 22: November 2018
In 1991 the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) moved to its current headquarters in a converted nunnery in Thetford, Norfolk in the east of England. The following year twenty-two year old Dawn Balmer started working at the Nunnery – and is still there today. She has worked on a wide range of census, fieldwork, ringing and online bird recording projects, was the Atlas Coordinator for the Bird Atlas 2007–11 project and is now Head of Surveys. She also represents BTO on the Rare Breeding Birds Panel, is on the British Ornithologists’ Union Records Committee, and on the Editorial Panel of British Birds magazine.
Episode 21: October 2018
A former magazine publisher – and if you read specialist-hobby magazines the chances are you’ll have read at least one magazine he either created or developed – Kevin Cox is the current Chair of the RSPB Council, the body tasked with ensuring the Society conducts its affairs in accordance with its Constitution (more of which in the interview) and within the law.
Elected in October 2017, Kevin brought a wealth of experience to the position, including a previous stint on the RSPB Council, his role as Chair of Devon Birds, and twelve years on the board of the World Land Trust – as well as a tangible commitment to conservation, excellent communication skills, and a life long passion for birds.
In this interview Charlie talks with Kevin about his commitment to conservation, publishing, and of course the RSPB – and in particular its ethical stance on predator control and neutrality on shooting.
Episode 20: September 2018
Dr Rob Sheldon has worked in nature conservation for almost 20 years, twelve of them with the RSPB (the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds). He’s worked on projects that have taken him to Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates, and worked for the Zoological Society of London as the Director of the King Khalid Wildlife Research Centre in Saudi Arabia. Since 2013, he has been the Chairman of OSME, the Ornithological Society of the Middle East, The Caucasus and Central Asia.
Charlie met up with him to discuss his life in conservation and his new venture as a freelance consultant.
Episode 19: August 2018
The Ornithological Society of the Middle East, The Caucasus, and Central Asia (OSME) celebrated its fifty year anniversary this June at its Summer Meeting at The Nunnery, the Norfolk (UK) headquarters of the BTO. In this podcast Charlie talks with a range of delegates and speakers at the event about OSME and birding in the region, including OSME Chair Rob Sheldon, Richard Porter, Ian Wallace, Dawn Balmer, Dominic Mitchell, Georgia Locock, Steve Rooke, and Saj Ahmad (the new OSME Secretary).
Episode 18: July 2018
Dr Tim Mackrill began volunteering at Rutland Water when still a teenager, starting just as a project began to relocate Ospreys from the Scottish breeding population to Rutland. He became – in his own words – hooked on the birds, eventually leading the Ospreys Project at Rutland and completing his PhD (on Ospreys of course) in 2016. In June 2018 Tim launched a new initiative, the Osprey Leadership Foundation. Charlie went along to chat with Tim about the Foundation and the species that has become the focus of his life’s work.
Episode 17: June 2018
Stuart Housden OBE, retired last year after 41 years at the RSPB. Affectionately nicknamed The Monarch of the Glen, Stuart began his remarkable career based at The Lodge in Bedfordshire, before heading north where he spent more than twenty years as the Director of RSPB Scotland.
Charlie met up with Stuart in Edinburgh in May this year, where they talked about his work, persecution of birds of prey, and ‘what comes next’.
Episode 16: May 2018
Charlie talks with multi-award winning Scottish artist and birder Derek Robertson about his love of his native Scotland, the wildlife he has always been fascinated by, an important project he is still working on called Migrations, the disappearance of Fred the Golden Eagle from near Edinburgh, and the remarkable view from his studio on the banks of the Firth of Tay…
• Derek’s website (external link)
• More on the Migrations project (external link) including the painting discussed in the podcast (with the fire and the Common Redstart) We were never so cold
• To report bird-related wildlife crime (external link) in Scotland please call the RSPB Investigations Unit on 0131 317 4100.
Episode 15: April 2018
Charlie talks with Martin Cade, the likeable and easy-going warden of Dorset’s Portland Bird Observatory, one of nineteen bird observatories around the UK, about how the famous ‘Lower Light’ became an observatory, his career, and of course – birds…
Episode 14: February 2018
Towards the end of 2017 the world held its breath as the USA and the DPRK/North Korea squared up to each other. Remarkably just a few months later at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics delegations from both the host nation South Korea and North Korea marched together under a Korean Unification Flag, and – less high-profile but nevertheless important – the DPRK joined the Ramsar Convention, an inter-governmental agreement on the wise use of wetlands.
In this interview Charlie talks with his brother, Dr Nial Moores, a South Korean resident and conservationist on his experiences bird surveying in the DPRK gathering data that was used by the government to determine which sites they would list under Ramsar.
• Birds Korea (external link)
• English-language articles on visits to the DPRK (external link)
• Hanns Seidel Foundation (external link)
• The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to become the 170th Contracting Party to the Convention on Wetlands (external link)
Episode 13: January 2018
Charlie meets birdwatcher, conservationist, and film maker Ruth Peacey to talk activism, her recent Conservation Hero award… and penguins!
In part one Ruth talks about growing up in Bristol, her early – very early as it turns out – determination to work for the BBC, the encouragement – and discouragement – she met along the way – and about the birds that really captured her heart on a trip to one of the remotest places on earth…I began though by asking about that Birdwatch Magazine Award…
In the second part we discuss Ruth’s trips to document illegal shooting and trapping in Malta, Cyprus, and Italy, talk about why she joined Lush after so many years at the BBC, and end with a quick question to find out which bird species she would choose to film above all others; but I begin by asking why the BBC have seemed reluctant to make hard-hitting conservation stories…
• Follow Ruth on Twitter and Facebook (external links)
• Birdguides interview (external link)
• Malta: Massacre on migration (external link)
• Cyprus Songbird Slaughter | Hunting the Bird Hunters (external link)
Episode 12: December 2017
In September 2016 Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust announced that it was looking for a new manager for its near 400 ha Rutland Water Nature Reserve part of the huge Rutland Water reservoir operated by Anglian Water. The announcement said that “The current Reserve Manager, Tim Appleton MBE, is stepping down after more than 40 very successful years in post.”
For many birdwatchers and conservationists this was the ending of an era.
In part one of a two part podcast Charlie talks with Tim about his early days growing up in Bristol, working with Sir Peter Scott at Slimbridge, and about coming to Rutland Water long before the water did…
In the second part Tim talks about setting up Birdfair at Rutland Water NR, the army of volunteers that ensure Birdfair’s smooth running, the huge amount of money the Birdfair has raised for conservation projects, and finally plans for his own future.
Episode 11: November 2017
Charlie talks with Assad Serhal, Director General of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon.
• Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (external link)
Episode 10: October 2017
Charlie talks with conservationist, author, and expert on the birds of the Middle East Richard Porter.
• Ornithological Society of the Middle East (OSME) (external link)
Episode 9: September 2017
Charlie talks with Dr Ruth Tingay, a raptor conservationist with field experience from North & Central America, Europe, Africa, Central and SE Asia. She studied the critically endangered Madagascar Fish Eagle for a PhD at Nottingham University and is a past president of the Raptor Research Foundation. She’s currently researching the illegal persecution of raptors and its link with driven grouse shooting in the UK uplands.
• Ruth’s blog (external link) – essential reading for anyone interested in learning about the illegal persecution of our birds of prey
Episode 8: August 2017
Charlie talks with Rob Adams, Chairman of Spurn Bird Observatory.
• Spurn Bird Observatory (external link)
Episode 7: August 2017
Charlie joins Georgia Locock at the mouth of the Humber following her cross-country Walking for Swifts.
Episode 6: August 2017
Charlie chats to birding legend Ian Wallace about a lifetime of birding.
In Part One they discuss Ian’s start in birdwatching, early trips abroad, and the fellow ‘greats’ that built birdwatching into the passion, hobby, and science that we know today.
In Part Two Ian and Charlie discuss Ian’s writing, the current and future state of birdwatching, and end with a genuinely lovely tribute to the ‘fellow beings’ that have so enriched Ian’s life….
Episode 5: April 2017
Charlie talks with Mark Constantine about all things Sound Approach.
Episode 4: April 2017
Charlie joins Magnus Robb for a morning of listening in the Portuguese cork-oak woods, where they discuss some of Magnus’s favourite tracks from The Beauty of The Sound Approach LP.
Episode 3: 2017
Charlie talks with Anna Clayton, a writer and researcher at Ethical Consumer magazine, shortly after the launch of a report she had written on the optics industry titled ‘Shooting Wildlife’ – Who makes your binoculars, cameras and spotting scopes.
Dr Mark Avery
Episode 2: 2017
At the end of October 2016 Dr Mark Avery was in Parliament to debate a petition he wrote to ban driven grouse shooting, Charlie met up with Mark in November when they chatted about what had been a long campaign.
Episode 1: 2017
Named after Estonian scientist and explorer Karl Ernst von Baer, Baer’s Pochard is a poorly-known but Critically Endangered species of East Asian duck. Charlie visited the Wildfowl and Wetlands’ Slimbridge Wetland Centre to talk with Richard Hearn, WWT’s Head of Monitoring.