ASHLEY CROWNED ‘BIRD BRAIN OF BRITAIN’
It’s been a good year for Ashley Banwell. In July this year, the Norfolk ornithologist and oriental bird expert rediscovered a bird not seen in the wild for 52 years. Detective work and a fair portion of luck during a trip to Papua New Guinea led Ashley to some superb sightings of the Karimui Owlet-nightjar, a race of Allied Owlet-nightjar. Very little is known about this secretive and nocturnal species, and until Ashley’s successful sighting the last specimen of the Karamui race to be seen was an individual captured in 1964. And as if that wasn’t a good enough year, Ashley was also crowned ‘Bird Brain of Britain’ at this year’s Rutland Birdfair. His specialist knowledge of the birds of Sumatra secured him a £2,000 prize, which he has donated to the Oriental Bird Club to help with its work protecting endangered Asian species such as the Spoon-billed Sandpiper.