An interview with...

John Wilson

Principal Warden (Retired), RSPB

Date: 10 January 2006
Arnside, Silverdale
Interviewed by:
Sue Weldon

John Wilson has recently retired after forty years as the principal warden at the RSPB reserve at Leighton Moss. During his lifetime John has seen many changes in the local environment and he has an intimate knowledge of the wildlife, particularly the birds. As farming practice changed and farms were lost he has witnessed the demise of some common farmland birds like yellow wagtails. But, partly due to the active management of the wetlands at Leighton Moss, he has overseen the protection of the bittern, which is an icon of the AONB. Conservation choices are not always straightforward. For instance, management of the reed beds for bitterns, marsh harriers and bearded tits has meant that encroaching woodland has been discouraged in those areas. However, the RSPB has been keen to experiment with woodland management in other areas to encourage other species. Again this is a balancing act because, as John pointed out: ‘the coppicing regime you have for butterflies is to coppice and then re-coppice in about 7 years. But the rotation that you would have for garden warblers would be to coppice and leave it for about 25 years’.

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