Fighting for Birds - Pelagic Publishing

Fighting for Birds

25 years in nature conservation

By Foreword by
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    • It should be read by RSPB members past, present and potential – which means anyone interested in British conservation.
      —Bill Oddie
    • birds
    • conservation
    • nature
    • ornithology
    • politics
    • popular wildlife
    • rspb
    • wildlife


    Devoted to birds and wildlife since childhood, Mark’s early scientific research at Oxford, Aberdeen and the RSPB provided a solid background for his management, ambassadorial, and political lobbying activities which were to follow – and his larger than life, yet quietly humane personality has provided the final tools in his own, unique, nature conservationists’ toolbox.

    In this book, Mark mixes a great many stories from his professional life at the RSPB with personal anecdotes and passionate arguments on past and present issues in bird and nature conservation. He shows us something of the many scientists whose work paves the way for conservation action, places domestic conservation into an international context, takes us behind the scenes to glimpse the politicians who have worked with him, or against him, along the way. Mark leaves us armed with practical tips and a guiding philosophy to take wildlife conservation though the troubled years that lie ahead.

    A personal, philosophical and political history of 25 years of bird conservation, this book provides an instructive and amusing read for all those who would like a glimpse into the birds and wildlife conservation world – what the issues are, what must be done, how it can be done, and the challenges, highs and lows involved.


    Birdwatchers, conservationists, ecologists, wildlife enthusiasts, policy-makers

    Table of Contents

    1. Early years
    2. Flow Country days
    3. In the pink – roseate terns
    4. Counting, cubes and curves
    5. Is it ever right to be nasty to birds?
    6. Special places
    7. Hope for farmland birds
    8. Reintroductions: putting something back
    9. Nature reserves
    10. Climate
    11. The raptor haters
    12. Trying to change the
    13. Advocacy in practice
    14. Snippets
    15. Whither the RSPB?
    16. The tangled bank
    17. What we need to do to win


    • I couldn’t put it down. It is a damned good read packed with interesting information and insider insights into some of the classic conservation battles of the period. All students of conservation should read it. —John Bowers, ECOS
    • ... the other 13 chapters which are the meat of the book, and should be required reading for anyone with aspirations to be an advocate for conservation, and especially for anyone who has any influence on environmental policy. Also of course, anyone interested in conservation and the environment will get a lot of information and some forthright views both on the issues themselves and on how they should be tackled in the corridors of power where it matters. —Peter Lack, IBIS
    • This is a very enjoyable read and one to fuel one’s own passion. Now independent he can certainly ‘say it like it is’ but he is not loose-lipped or rash now that he can see it from the outside, his commitment to preserving and enhancing the environment is still paramount and it shows. —Fatbirder
    • Mark Avey is a tonic to anyone who thinks conservation is essentially a grey study. He fights, all right, but he is also a good listener, and perhaps more sympathetic to those of a contrary standpoint than many of us would be. —Peter Marren, British Wildlife
    • These 300 pages, with their relaxed and fluent prose and the constant presence of wild birds with all their beauty and wonder, slip by in an instant. This is a book not to be missed by anyone in Britain seriously interested in the natural world and its conservation. —Michael McCarthy, The Independent
    • Peppered throughout with entertaining and poignant anecdotes, Fighting for Birds brings conservation to life in a way that a dry, text-book style book never could. If you work in nature conservation, or simply love nature and wildlife, buy it and read it. It’s an education! —Calvin Jones, Ireland's Wildlife
    • It is a damned good read packed with interesting information and insider insights into some of the classic conservation battles of the period. —John Bowers, ECOS
    • As always he is controversial, and in that way I suspect he will find life as an independent commentator much to his liking. If you care about conservation you should read this book. I found myself agreeing with about 80% of his views, but regardless I learned a lot from his experiences. —Keith Betton
    • Fighting for Birds is an extraordinary work. It explains most aspects of conservation in a succinct, intelligible way that makes one want to pick up the gauntlet and do what one can to join the fight for birds. —Ceri Levy
    • Avery’s passion comes through very strongly, and it is hard not to feel motivated about conservation after reading the book. If you know an aspiring young conservationist, this book will be a perfect present. —Rebecca Nesbit, The Biologist

    About the Author

    Mark Avery is a scientist by training and a naturalist by inclination. He writes about and comments on environmental issues. He worked for the RSPB for 25 years until standing down in April 2011 to go freelance. He was the RSPB’s Conservation Director for nearly 13 years. He lives in rural Northamptonshire and is a member of Cheltenham Racecourse, the RSPB, the Wildlife Trusts, the National Trust, Buglife, Plantlife, Butterfly Conservation, Pond Conservation, the BTO, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the Labour Party.

    Bibliographic Information

    • 324 pages
    • BISAC SCI070040, NAT043000, NAT004000, NAT011000