Mike Smart is a British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) regional representative for Gloucestershire and still organises WeBS and the Heronries Census. He has been the leading figure in Gloucestershire ornithology for many years; in addition to his BTO duties he has, until very recently, chaired Gloucestershire Naturalists’ Society and was a trustee of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.
Mike is a fine all-round birder, but his passion is the Curlew and he has worked tirelessly on this species’ behalf for decades, seemingly almost single-handedly at first. Winning over landowners and involving them in conservation measures, he laid the foundations for the establishment of new nature reserves and, mostly importantly, undertakes meticulous fieldwork to monitor breeding outcomes. Mike’s regular Curlew reports are legendary for their completeness and attention to detail and are an extraordinary example of how regular monitoring can lead to conservation actions.
As the plight of the Curlew worsened, Mike’s determination and work-rate on its behalf accelerated – as Mary Colwell, champion of the Curlew and recipient of the Dilys Breese Medal in 2017, writes… “This last year (2018) Mike has continued his excellent and thorough work on the Curlews of the Severn and Avon Vales, especially in Gloucestershire. He has continued to establish where the pairs are nesting, has worked with farmers and landowners to forge good relations and does an amazing job at keeping the Curlew high on the agenda in the West Country. He also a founding member of the Curlew Forum, which helps encourage and coordinate the different Curlew groups working throughout the south of England. He is, quite simply, invaluable.”
Mike’s vision, powers of persuasion, endless list of contacts and his enthusiasm have enabled the Curlew Forum to establish the multi-agency Severn Curlew Project.
The first phase of the work involves establishing a recovery programme in the Severn region. This will involve translocation; working with partners and land managers to create and improve Curlew habitat; designing innovative conservation methods; and engaging local communities. This hugely important initiative would not have happened without Mike’s energy, foresight and sheer hard work.