2022 was a significant year for NBC because we converted our legal structure from an unincorporated association into a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO). For all intents and purposes, the conversion was effected on 1 April 2022 when the undertaking of the unincorporated association (‘old NBC’) was transferred to the CIO. I am pleased to report that the process went relatively smoothly. This was the result of a significant amount of work by my fellow members of Council and especially Chris Balchin, Chris Collins and Roberta Goodall.
Strictly speaking, my report as Chair of the CIO, ought not to cover the activities of ‘old NBC’. However, bearing in mind the ‘conversion’ process was intended to be a seamless transfer it is appropriate for me to include ‘old NBC’ activities during the period from 1 January to 31 March 2022. Accordingly, in my report, I am not going to draw a distinction between what happened pre or post 1 April.
Calendar year 2022
NBC had another good year in 2022, with our membership standing at 599 by the year end. Even so, we do need more members and I would encourage each member to encourage at least one of their contacts to join NBC. Joining is very easy to do through the website. We have improved the payment system. This seems to be working well. Full details are on the NBC website.
During the year, NBC continued with the same publications policy of producing one large issue of Cotinga, our peer-reviewed scientific journal, and two issues of Neotropical Birding our birding magazine. All issues were published on time and I’d like to thank our editors Guy Kirwan and James Lowen and their editorial teams for all their hard work on our publications.
All three publications contained many fascinating articles including in Cotinga papers on:
- the endangered Grey-breasted Parakeet of Bahia, Brazil;
- distress calls of Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush and Chestnut-capped Brushfinch;
- a nesting record of White-throated Quail-Dove in Argentina; and
- conservation of birds in part of the Atlantic Forest of north-east Brazil.
While in Neotropical Birding there were articles as diverse as:
- a feature on the rare and delightful Cherry-throated Tanager;
- birding Vale do Café, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Las Tangaras, Ecuador and Aruba in the Caribbean;
- raptor migration across South America; and
- an updated gap analysis for the Neotropical avifauna.
In 2022 we continued to offer the option to receive our publications in digital format at a cheaper rate than the normal subscription.
We also produced an e-newsletter in December with items on keeping members up to date with NBC’s activities, reporting on recent taxonomic changes by Cornell/e-Bird and noting some recent ‘firsts’ for Peru.
Our other major activity in 2022 was funding conservation orientated projects through our Conservation Awards Programme. Seven awards were made totalling just shy of US $23,000.
This means that during the last 22 years NBC has provided over US $350,000 to support Neotropical bird conservation projects. That is a fantastic achievement. Huge thanks are due to our members and donors over this period.
The 2022 awards were:
- A project to monitor nests of Alagoas Antwren in Brazil;
- A project to stabilise the population of Yellow-naped Parrot in Honduras;
- A project to save Baudo Guan in Colombia;
- A study of the population density of Horned Guan in two parks in Guatemala;
- A project to establish a protected area for the long-term conservation of the Critically Endangered Marsh Antwren of Brazil;
- A project for bird conservation in Guanare Municipality, Portuguesa State; and
- A project concerning the density and occupancy of three rare woodpecker species in the Atlantic Forest of Argentina.
The Conservation Awards Programme was managed by Rob Clay, Chris Sharpe and Ivan Samuels. I would like to thank them for their hard and dedicated work on the programme.
I should also mention that the conservation awards fund continues to be boosted significantly by very generous donations from the March Foundation in the United States and Mark and Mo Constantine. Because of their support we are able to fund far more projects than would otherwise have been the case. In addition, I would like to thank our Corporate Supporters, most of whom have been supporting us for many years now.
During the year, the NBC continued to operate a Facebook page and we have a small team of Facebook administrators and I’d like to thank them for their hard work and support.
We also have a Twitter account which is managed by Council members and others – and again much thanks to them.
In July 2022, NBC had a stand at the first physical Global Birdfair at Rutland Showground, Oakham, UK. The announcement that there would be such a Birdfair was somewhat ‘last minute’ and so we did not have all our ‘usual’ volunteers present. This meant a heavy burden fell on Council members Chris Balchin, Roberta Goodall and Charles Wilkins plus Anna Hughes. They did a superb job. My heartfelt thanks to them for stepping in at short notice. This year we were also present at the XI South American Birdfair in Cusco, Peru in October 2022. This was an opportunity to raise our profile in Peru and also for me to meet local and international members. A ‘first’ for me was to meet at last Tom Schulenberg who you will know for many years has written the very popular ‘Splits, lumps and shuffles’ articles in Neotropical Birding. On your behalf I thanked him for his excellent contributions. Very special thanks go to Barry Walker for not only doing all the background organisation but also attending each day and drawing in a crowd to sign his book –The Birds of Machu Picchu!
Turning to our strategy, Council met in December 2022 to agree a new five-year plan (2023-2027). This sets out, in high-level terms, our goals for the next five years. A synopsis appears on our website under the tab ‘Our Mission’. I would like to thank our working group of Carl Downing, Roberta Goodall and Rob Williams for their diligent work in producing a draft plan for Council to review.
NBC would not be able to function without the dedication of our Council and I would like to thank them most sincerely, especially Chris Balchin who, as NBC Secretary, does the bulk of the work in keeping NBC running. I would also like to thank Gillian Thomas who designs both journals, Mike Dawson of Swallowtail Print, the company that handles our printing, Gordon Ellis who keeps the NBC accounts and Heather Tarrant who helps Chris Balchin with the membership admin. Thanks to the RSPB for acting as our UK postal address and for handling the mailing of our publications at a very advantageous rate. Finally, thanks to Carol Jeffers without whose support I could not carry out my role.
Current year and the inaugural David Fisher Memorial Lecture
Next, just a quick update on the current year. Another great issue of Neotropical Birding was published in the spring. In February Council agreed to fund three more projects and will later this year be reviewing the next round of applications.
Lastly, but by no means least, this is the first AGM since we lost David Fisher. Many tributes have been paid to David including in our own journal. David did so much for NBC in his two spells as ‘Chairman’ (his preferred term) that it is no surprise that NBC continues to reflect his work. I know David was a friend to many of you and so I am sure I speak for all you when I say we miss him greatly.
As you will know from the cover letter to the Notice of AGM, Council has decided to establish a biannual memorial lecture-so every other year. The aim is to invite a distinguished speaker to deliver a lecture on an important topic concerning Neotropical birds.
Our first David Fisher Memorial lecturer is Alex Lees. I am particularly pleased that Alex accepted our invitation. Alex was not only a colleague of David on NBC Council for many years, but also, Alex is a leading light in the scientific world and the birding world. Once we have completed the AGM you will be able to watch Alex’s lecture on our YouTube channel.
So, I shall finish in order that we can complete the remaining items of the AGM and then view the lecture.
Raymond Jeffers, Chair – 3rd May 2023