Leading Scottish raptor researcher wins national award

RSPB Scotland, co-sponsored by NatureScot, hosted the annual Nature of Scotland Awards on Thursday evening, giving recognition to some of the best people working in nature conservation in Scotland.

HUGE congratulations to Scottish Raptor Study Group member Dave Anderson, who deservedly scooped the RSPB Species Champion Award!

This award is ‘to recognise someone who has achieved something extraordinary to conserve a vulnerable or threatened species‘. If you know anything about raptor research and conservation in Scotland, you’ll have heard of the legendary Dave Anderson.

His citation reads:

For over 40 years Dave Anderson has worked at the forefront of birds of prey conservation in Scotland, pioneering new methods to study these much-loved species. His outstanding field skills, determination and sheer force of will have cemented him as one of Scotland’s best birds of prey field workers‘.

He’s all that, and more. There are some outstanding raptor fieldworkers in Scotland whose years of field study have made them accomplished species-specific experts, but very few can match the breadth and depth of Dave’s expertise on so many different raptor species. He’s been involved with so many projects over the years that are frankly too numerous to mention, working in challenging environments in atrocious weather conditions that would defeat even the hardiest of fieldworkers. As well as conducting his own research, he’s always been generous with his time, offering first-class training, advice and support to others, particularly to students and fellow Raptor Study Group members.

His trail camera work has led numerous TV production companies to seek out Dave’s help and his footage has been seen by millions on programmes such as the BBC’s Springwatch, Autumnwatch and Winterwatch, amongst others.

In recent years he’s been at the forefront of satellite-tagging raptors, particularly golden eagles but other species too, using his vast experience of ringing and handling raptors to help refine and improve the tagging techniques and strict protocols that are quite rightly demanded by the licensing authorities to ensure the welfare of the birds. His expertise in this field has led to Dave being appointed as a consultant on numerous, high profile conservation projects, including several overseas projects.

[Dave satellite-tagging a young golden eagle. Photo by Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert]

The data that have been made available from the tags that Dave and a few other experts have fitted to golden eagles in Scotland has transformed our understanding of this species. Or to put it more bluntly, exposed just how little we actually knew. The tag data continue to challenge our long-held theories about the ecology of golden eagles, and this is what I like the most about Dave Anderson – he’s one of just a handful of people who have studied this species in depth for decades and probably knows more than most, and yet he doesn’t brag or blag – he’s still open to learning and embraces new technology and the information it provides with the sole purpose of wanting to help conserve the species.

Of course, his work has brought him to the attention of the raptor-killing gamekeepers who have sought to discredit and smear his reputation with the most appalling and vile online abuse, including attacks on his young family. Dave’s reputation speaks for itself though, and it has been pleasing to see him called as an expert witness in a number of prosecution cases, helping to secure the convictions of these nasty criminals.

I’m sure they’ll be thrilled that his work has now been recognised with this richly-deserved national award. Well done, Dave, long overdue!

10 thoughts on “Leading Scottish raptor researcher wins national award”

  1. Congratulations to Dave Anderson, well deserved award for all the hard work he has put in to help preserve birds of prey and shame on the mindless aggressive people who try to discredit him and his family, keep up the excellent work you do Dave

  2. Wonderful . Congratulations to a dedicated and determined man who must have come up against so much to thwart his amazing work . At last recognition

  3. Well done David-you are an absolute inspiration to all of us who admire and love Raptors and other species and your research work on Golden Eagles helps advance scientific knowledge and inspires other conservationists to protect these stunning birds and defend them against nasty criminals who driven by greed and selfishness, attempt to harm these amazing birds and try to discredit you-they will not succeed

  4. Others are more aware then I of the recognition in the award. Their response is obviously heartfelt.

    Not being so aware, I would simply comment that I never knew Golden Eagles were so big, I assume it is about fully grown. I would like to see an equivalent photo of a Sea Eagle, sometime, please.

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