A New Year Message

At BirdLife International’s Rare Bird Club Christmas Dinner in London last month, BirdLife’s Middle East Advisor – Richard Porter – was presented with a painting of a Sociable Lapwing – a species he has a particular affinity for, having helped advance its conservation, over many years.

Richard takes up the story here, in the form of a New Year message of support to the hundreds of conservationists that work tirelessly to protect┬áSociable Lapwing and other threatened species throughout the lapwing’s extensive range.

“Two thousand and fourteen will be another challenging year for the field workers, conservationists and champions supporting the Sociable Lapwing conservation programme. I wish you all Good Luck.

I saw my first Sociable Lapwings over 30 years ago in winter in fields near the Gaza Strip. Since then I have had the privilege of also seeing them in India and especially memorably, on their breeding grounds on the plains of Kazakhstan. I vividly remember watching three chicks, shepherded by their mother, run out of a cereal field and across the track immediately in front of our vehicle.

Hunting is a major threat to Sociable Lapwings, especially in the Middle East where large numbers stop-over on their Amazing Journey. I warmly salute the work of the dedicated young teams from Nature Iraq and the Syrian Society for the Conservation of Wildlife. These brave conservationists, often in difficult and dangerous situations, are engaged in an education programme to tell of the plight of this Critically Endangered bird and win the support of hunters.

From left to right - Margaret Atwood, Marco Lambertini, Richard Porter, Graeme Gibson.

When you join BirdLife International’s Rare Bird Club you can choose a painting of one of the world’s most threatened birds. It seemed natural to me to pick Sociable Lapwing – and with a request that it was painted by the great Lars Jonsson. Here it is being presented to me by the Rare Bird Club Presidents and celebrated authors, Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson and in the company of BirdLife International CEO – Dr. Marco Lambertini.

I have bequeathed this painting to BirdLife – a small gesture to help raise funds for the future conservation of this iconic bird.

To all involved, ‘Good Fortune’.

Richard”