Guernsey Press

Birdwatchers’ book proceeds help to create nature reserve

THREE FRIENDS who used their combined skills to publish a book on local birds have been able to purchase a plot of land for a nature reserve with the proceeds.

Left to right, Tony Bisson, Roy Carre and Mike Cunningham. (Picture by Shaun Shackleton, 23786172)

Three years ago birdwatching enthusiasts Mike Cunningham, Roy Carre and Tony Bisson got together to produce The Birds of Guernsey, a guide book which utilised the trio’s knowledge and photography skills.

The book was an instant success and a print run of 1,000 sold out in just six weeks. A further 1,500 copies were printed and these too have all been sold.

‘From the outset it was the intention that any profits made from the sale of the book would be utilised solely for bird protection and conservation projects on the island,’ said Mr Cunningham.

‘The profits, bolstered by a private loan, have enabled us to purchase a small derelict field which is now being restored and will be planted with a mix of crops which hopefully will make life a little easier for some of our birds – birds which are trying to cope with the continual erosion of their natural habitat.’

The plot of land in St Peter’s had been subject to fly tipping and became the resting place for scrap farm machinery, old beds, mattresses and nearly 100 empty alcohol bottles.

‘Not surprisingly, the field was also littered with broken glass,’ said Mr Cunningham.

‘With help from Geoff Guille and his digger, the local group of the RSPB and Rod Dyke the farmer, the field has been rotovated and seeded with a mixed seed crop which should produce plenty of natural food for the birds as spring arrives.’ As soon as conditions are right, more planting will be done to strengthen and enrich the hedgerows.

The project would not have succeeded without the support of the people of Guernsey who purchased the books, said Mr Cunningham.

‘Nor without the help and enthusiasm of local retailers who were prepared to work on small margins to help the fund-raising effort.

‘We would like to publicly thank the girls at the Press Shop and the staff at R H Gaudion & Sons, Candie Museum, The Lexicon, Earlswood Nurseries, Stan Brouard, Saumarez Park Cafe and many other shops who sold books on our behalf.’

When the private loan has been repaid and the field is a proven success, it will be handed over to a local organisation such as the RSPB or La Societe so that it can be retained and maintained in perpetuity for the benefit of Guernsey’s wildlife.