Above: Winner of the Marsh Award for Ornithology, Dr Jen Smart. Photo: BTO


A PASSION FOR waders has led to a top prize for a leading expert in the field. Dr Jen Smart won the prestigious Marsh Award for Ornithology in late October for her work in the conservation of breeding waders such as lapwing, redshank and black-tailed godwits.

She earned the accolade for her research which has helped to define conservation strategies for these birds, including in the management of low-lying wetlands, such as those found on RSPB reserves, and grasslands managed by farmers both in the UK and abroad.

Dr Smart, who was recently appointed as head of RSPB Conservation Science for Scotland & Northern Ireland, paid tribute to everyone who had played a part in the work. She said: “When you receive awards like this, it  creates moments that last a lifetime.”

Her recent research has focused on how predation impacts ground-nesting birds and how this can be alleviated, for example by managing field margins to provide alternative prey for predators.

Ecologist Dr Sam Franks, who nominated Dr Smart, said: “Jen’s passion for waders can be summed up by her recent 600-mile bike ride in eight days across southern England to raise funds for waders. She shares her expertise and leadership with humour, compassion, enthusiasm and openness, and is an exemplary and inspirational role model to many.”

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