New leader wanted to keep group going

A WELLS-BASED birdwatching group that has been going for more than 20 years will come to a halt unless somebody can be found to take on the leadership.

The Roundabout Birdwatching Group has 15 members at present who live in Wells and nearby villages including Dinder, Croscombe and the Horringtons.

Current leader Brian Roberts-Wray is nearly 88 years old and has announced his intention of withdrawing from his leadership role at the end of 2023. 

“The Group are unanimous that it would be a shame if it was disbanded at that point, but nobody has volunteered to take over leadership,” he said.

Members go out six times a year – three times in the spring (between March and May) and three times in the autumn (between late August and mid-November), thus taking advantage of both migration seasons, when more birds are about.

Usually each group of meetings includes two half-day trips and one full-day trip to such places as the New Forest, the Forest of Dean, Weymouth and Portland, and the Exe Estuary.

“The Group currently numbers 15 people, but seldom more than seven or eight go out per meeting,” said Brian.

“The Group includes four people who have been members from the beginning. In addition to the usual suspects they have seen rarities such as Hudsonian Godwit, Glossy Ibis, Merlin and Bearded Reedling on these outings. But more often than not they are satisfied with much commoner fare, simply because most people just see birds in their garden.”

He said that the Group could do with up to six new members, as well as a new leader.

“The new leader needs a reasonable knowledge of birds and their identity, but there is no need for a real expert. It is more important that they have a good knowledge of where to go and when,” he said.

Brian’s own interest in birds goes back to childhood. He said: “I was first interested in birds as a child of about 11, because friends of my parents were both keen naturalists. That interest stayed with me for about seven years, then other things got in the way – like National Service, university, getting married and trying to balance the raising of a family with building a career.

“I resumed about 25 years ago when I retired, and discovered that the quality of both field guides and optical equipment had improved substantially in the intervening years. So it became a more rewarding pastime than before. As a result  I have been at it ever since.”

People who wish to join the Roundabout Birdwatching Group, and perhaps be leader of it, are invited to contact Brian by calling 01749 672649.