Colin Harrison was one of the most talented and least appreciated British ornithologists of his generation. Born in London, he gained a scholarship to a local grammar school and at first worked in a government testing laboratory, then as a librarian and school teacher. He had been interested in birds since childhood, and was soon publishing numerous notes. At this time, in the 1950s, he joined the Cambridge expeditions to study autumn migration in Norway, and later jointly authored the last report and summary of the results (Sterna 23, 29). He went on to secure a post in the Bird Room at the British Museum (Natural History), where he was placed in charge of the egg collection. This led to the publication of many notes and books about the nests and eggs of both European and North American birds. He found, however, that eggs provided limited scope for expressing his talents, and quickly joined the group in the Bird Room studying bird behaviour, both in the field and in captivity. Their publications in British Birds and the Avicultural Magazine did not require stuffy and cumbersome official approval. In turn, this led to an increasing interest in biogeography and the sadly neglected avian palaeontological collections (unfortunately housed in a different department, which necessitated regular trips from Tring to London). Working through these with Cyril Walker, he produced a further stream of publications. His research on distribution is summarised in the Atlas of the Birds of the Western Palearctic (Collins, 1982), while
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British Birds – how it works
BB 2000 Ltd, the company that owns and publishes British Birds, is run by a board of directors, all of whom are volunteers. The company employs two full time staff – Roger Riddington is the journal’s editor while Hazel Jenner manages subscriptions and administration – and three part-time design/editorial staff.
The company is wholly owned by The British Birds Charitable Trust (BBCT, registered charity no. 1089422). Neither the company directors nor the trustees are paid for their services, providing their time and enthusiasm because they passionately believe in the value of BB. The Company is managed with a view to making a small profit which can be donated to the Trust to help fund its charitable work.
Over the past six years, this, combined with donations from other sources, has enabled the Trust to give almost £70,000 support to a variety of conservation and educational projects ranging from rat eradication on seabird islands to the study of cuckoo migration, as well as assisting young birders develop their interest.
A full list of projects is given here. The Trust is seeking to expand its charitable endeavours and would welcome donations from like-minded organisations and individuals.