Robin Prytherch

Published on 14 March 2011 in Other

This is a taster of a potential new feature in BB. The idea is to bring you an insight into the lives of key figures in modern-day ornithology, by posing a standard set of questions – some serious, some less so. We decided it to trial it on our website by putting the questions to members of BB‘s editorial board. Let us know what you think by posting a comment.

Robin Prytherch was born in Sussex but school took him to London. Work there, as a structural designer, then took him to Bristol. Not long after he joined the Natural History Unit in Bristol, where he worked for 23 years researching, directing and producing a wide range of programmes (TV and radio). Luckily, early retirement allowed him to put more time into his long-term study of the Common Buzzard, which continues. He has subscribed to BB since the 1960s and joined the editorial board in 1987.

What’s your earliest memory? Probably watching a ‘dog fight’ (presumably involving Spitfires and German fighters) in the air over the English Channel just south of St. Leonard’s-on-Sea, East Sussex. I remember having them pointed out to me by others in the family from out lounge window. (I wonder? Now I watch Buzzard ‘dog fights’!)

What was your first job? A draughtsman with Dexion Ltd.

How and when did you get into birds? At school in Snarsebrook , London. My older brother was also interested in birds, so was certainly an influence. I actually mapped the breeding birds in my school grounds, which included three pairs of Spotted Flycatchers.

Who are your heroes and why? Darwin (do I have to say why?), Rachmaninov, Delius, Elgar and other ‘English’ composers for their inspiring and consoling music.

What’s the biggest conservation challenge/priority in your country today? In the World – controlling the human population.

What would get more kids interested in birds? Getting them out and showing them real birds.

What are your views on reintroductions? I once said on National Radio at a Canada Goose round-up that I’d happily ring their necks as soon as put a ring on their legs! I’m basically against introduced birds and where possible, they should be eliminated (where are the Daleks!!). I am not, though, averse to reintroduced birds under properly researched conditions.

When did you last use a notebook? Yesterday.

Where and when would your ideal birdwatching day be? A warm breezy day in spring in my Buzzard study area.

If you could go back in time, where and when would you go? England, c.500 years BP, just to see how different it all was.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? My on-going Buzzard study, and (I got paid to do this) produce a natural history film titled “Beneath the Greenwood”.

How do you relax? Attending concerts or listening to recordings or Radio 3 – almost always classical music. Reading books on a variety of subjects – ornithological, human evolution and psychology , on music and even the occasional novel.

What keeps you awake at night? Virtually nothing.

What book would you take on a cruise? A note book. (I’ve taken real books in the past, but never looked at them!)

What are you doing to save the planet? I support, by giving money, to a number of nature conservation organisations. I buy goods, food etc., ethically, if possible. I’m careful when at home, making sure that lights and other electrical equipment are not left on (even on standby) unnecessarily. I like to think that I am frugal, but not miserly, with heating etc. Most of my holidays/breaks are with groups, which helps to reduce my carbon footprint.

Don’t forget – tell us your opinion of this feature – would you like to see it appear in BB? Are there particular people you’d like to see featured, are their particular questions you would like to see answered? Thanks for your feedback.

The BB editorial team