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Welsh Kite Trust Home

The Welsh Kite Trust

Red Kite - © Roger Wilmhurst

Who's Who
Tony Cross
Peter Walters Davies MBE
Peter Davis MBE
John F Roberts
Dafydd Davies
Michael Hayward
Sir Michael Leighton BT
Welsh Kite Trust Home

‘Who’s Who’ of the Welsh Kite Trust:

Peter Walters Davies MBE

I was born in Llanfarian in the old County of Cardigan in 1928, just marginally senior to my friend, colleague and fellow trustee, Peter Davis. A modest scholarship took me from Aberystwyth to Christ College, Brecon where when not dabbling in secondary education I learnt to play rugby and hockey.


After leaving school, compulsory national service then introduced me to one of the most exhilarating periods of my life. As a young subaltern in the Royal Engineers I was posted to Egypt and then to East Africa. Encamped under canvas in what is now the Tsavo National Park, game both big and small roamed freely through the bush outside our perimeter fence providing me with a very convenient and certainly unequalled opportunity to watch birds.

After two and a half years of army service demobilisation found me back home farming in the hills of Wales. At that time acceptance into the Agricultural Department of the University College Aberystwyth was conditional upon my having at least one yearÎs practical experience, and so for six months I learnt about pedigree stock in the Black Mountains of Breconshire before moving on to the arable fields of Pembrokeshire to help produce early potatoes, a very profitable crop in those days.

My interest in birds persisted during my College days and after graduating in zoology I applied join the Edward Grey Institute for Field Ornithology at Oxford. I failed to get a grant to study the Mute Swan but was accepted as a field assistant to help David Lack with his work on Swifts, and to look at the Song Thrush. I was offered and accepted a place at Jesus College and I think they were as intrigued to have an ornithologist among their ranks as I was excited to find myself associating with Oxford academia.

In those days zoology graduates could reasonably expect to get a zoologically-related occupation but it was becoming increasingly difficult, so when the one job I really wanted became available I left Oxford to return to Wales. I joined the then Nature Conservancy as the Regional Officer for South Wales, with responsibility for a vast territory extending from the Dyfi in the north to the Wye.

It presented a daunting challenge as very little was known about nature conservation, and few of my contemporaries even understood what the term meant. I was supplied with a Landrover, a desk in the Swansea University College Zoology Department, and half a typist and instructed to get on with the job of establishing nature reserves and identifying SSSIs. I was also expected to take an active interest in protecting the 12 pairs of Red Kite, which were known to be breeding in Wales.

Peter Panting, my first field assistant appointed in 1959 helped with this work; he was succeeded in 1966 by Peter Davis with whom I collaborated to produce a paper in 1973 summarising our knowledge at that time. This paper served two purposes. It highlighted gaps in our knowledge of Red Kite ecology which had to be filled if we were to make any progress towards effective conservation, while at the same time it lead directly to the setting up of a heavy-weight research programme to investigate the Kites, Buzzards and Ravens inhabiting central Wales. Professor Ian Newton (a Trust patron) along with two of my fellow trustees (Peter and John Davis) formed the team.

Together over the following years they gathered, analyzed and published some very high quality data. Their results helped to extend and improve our knowledge of kites, which enabled us to undertake a comprehensive review of our conservation strategy. At last we had the facts we wanted; we were able to determine with much greater precision what was needed, and we were beginning to unravel the reasons underlying the failure of Welsh kites to proliferate and expand.

Since then the dramatic increase in the numbers present in Wales (1000+ at the last count) suggests that not only was the conservation programme well founded, but that it was also being well implemented by the network of Nest Watchers who operate within the main kite breeding area. For more years than I care to remember my involvement with this band of dedicated volunteers has given me a great deal of pleasure, not only as an ageing civil servant representing NCC on the main co-ordinating committee (Joint NCC/RSPB Kite Committee, now the Welsh Kite Watchers Group) but also as an equal operator in my own right. I sometime get the feeling that at one time or another I have searched the canopy of every tree in every oak wood in central Ceredigion !

When my days as Regional Officer finally came to an end I found myself posted back to the office from whence I started all those years ago, to NCCÎs Bangor headquarters as Scientific Development officer for Wales. I have never taken kindly to a purely office job, but it did provide me with an opportunity to get interested in the quantitative handling of data and in the associated technology, and my agricultural experiences of earlier days actually came in useful when I came to design a system to cope with the practical management of national nature reserves - the precursor of what is now called the Countryside Management System.

I am now retired trying to help Tony Cross occasionally with Trust affairs; each year my field season starts on St David's Day, the first day of March when kites once more begin to soar. I help with environmental issues around and about Aberystwyth and occasionally I have been known to fish. . . .

PWD's involvement is far greater than just trying to help! He is integral to the successful running of the Trust, acting as Honorary Treasurer and keeping a tight reign on the Trust's finances. He also acts as the Trust's general secretary, arranging trustee meetings, insurance, contracts etc. His input is considerable and very much appreciated. Ed.
Who's Who
Tony Cross
Peter Walters Davies MBE
Peter Davis MBE
John F Roberts
Dafydd Davies
Michael Hayward
Sir Michael Leighton BT
Welsh Kite Trust Home

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