Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor at the Independent and author of the best-selling Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo, was presented with the British Trust for Ornithology’s (BTO) Dilys Breese medal, awarded to outstanding communicators who deliver BTO science to new audiences.
During the last few years Michael has provided a major impetus for the BTO’s migrant-related work. Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo is dripping with BTO-related material and his follow-up articles on Nightingales and Cuckoos provided a benchmark which was followed by journalists, not only here in the UK, but around the world.
Michael really understands conservation and environmental issues but, more importantly, he really understands the importance of the work of the BTO. Many of our summer visitors, birds like the Nightingale and the Cuckoo, have experienced alarming declines; we have lost more than half of both during the last twenty-five years, and Michael has gone out of his way to support this work by putting BTO messages before an Independent audience, including decision-makers and opinion-formers.
Presenting the medal to Michael, Dame Barbara Young, President of the BTO, said, "I am delighted to present this award to Michael, with a small number of words he can grab your heart - he is a very fitting recipient."
Michael commented, "I had the great pleasure to meet Max Nicholson, one of the driving forces behind the formation of the BTO in 1933. Max saw the power of harnessing the interest of amateurs in the collection of meaningful data - BTO has continued to do so ever since. I am delighted to receive this award and thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Additionally, Dr Ian Hartley was awarded the Marsh Award for Ornithology for his significant contribution to the field, and Henfield Birdwatch’s Mike Russell received the Marsh Local Ornithology Award for their published study on the birds of the Parish of Henfield, Sussex. Earlier the same day, we also honoured the long service of 12 of our BTO Regional Reps, who have all dedicated 25 years of time and effort to supporting our volunteers.
The ceremony was hosted by the Society for Wildlife Artists.