Sussex Naturalists Shortlisted for Award

29 September 2017 | Posted in Volunteering
Sussex Naturalists Shortlisted for Award
Peter Hodge

A pair of local naturalists have made the shortlist for the 2017 UK Awards for Biological Recording and Information Sharing.

Peter Hodge, 73, from Ringmer, East Sussex, has been shortlisted in the ‘Gilbert White Adult Award for terrestrial and freshwater wildlife’ category of the 2017 UK Awards for Biological Recording and Information Sharing.

John Newnham, 68, from Worthing, West Sussex, has been shortlisted for both the ‘Gilbert White Adult Award for terrestrial and freshwater wildlife’ category and the ‘David Robertson Adult Award for marine and coastal wildlife’ category of the 2017 UK Awards for Biological Recording and Information Sharing.

Peter and John both volunteer as recorders with the Sussex Biodiversity Records Centre.

These annual awards started in 2015, and have been developed by the National Biodiversity Network, the National Forum for Biological Recording and the Biological Records Centre.Their intention is to recognise and celebrate the outstanding contributions made to biological recording by adults and young people, which is helping to improve our understanding of the UK’s wildlife.

Regarding what motivates Peter Hodge to record, he says:

It’s not really anything to do with the thrill of the chase; because the recording happens later, when you get home. I do it because I want to make use of the records and share them. Otherwise what else do you do with records? Leave them at home and die with them. I see recording beetles as doing my share of building up a county archive: contributing to a county list.”

John Newnham says:

“I have been involved with the British Trust for Ornithology’s bird ringing scheme since a teenager and this initially encouraged and taught me to note and record accurately. About the same time, I started survey work and had a particular interest in recording visible migration of birds along the Sussex coast.

“Once I had settled into a medical partnership in the late 1970s I became involved in the organisation of county, and taking part in national, bird surveys. By the mid-1980s I had started keeping my bird records on a micro-computer, an old Amstrad 6128, with a particularly emphasis on recording the daily counts of migrating water birds passing the local beaches.

“This then led to me investigating and being involved in the setting up of a county database for bird records in Sussex which went ‘live’ in 1989. I remain as the database manager for the Sussex Ornithological Society (SOS) and oversee the amalgamation of observations from many sources into one database, currently holding in excess of three million records.

“These records are used to produce an annual county bird report and various other publications including county avifaunae. Where allowed these records are shared with the Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre and the records are therefore used to guide those involved in planning and conservation matters.

“Whilst working in a busy medical practice I found watching wildlife, and particular birds, very relaxing and seeing my records with all others translated into an annual report, a paper or map is most satisfying. Even more rewarding is the knowledge that these records may, at some time, assist those making decisions about where future developments should be opposed.”

The winners of the 2017 UK Awards for Biological Recording and Information Sharing will be announced at a special ceremony on Thursday 16 November during the National Biodiversity Network's annual conference in Cardiff.


John Newnham

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