Remembering Peter Davis MBE

Peter Davis weighing a Goldcrest

Peter Davis weighing a Goldcrest

Peter Davis MBE

1929 – 2019

Although known to many as the ‘The Kite Man’ receiving an MBE in 2006 for his services to Red Kite Conservation, his first involvement in Wales was as warden of Skokholm from 1954 to 1956, particularly noteworthy being his detailed studies of the European Storm Petrels nesting on the island.

Skokholm was a stop one might say on a northward passage for Davis was previously warden of Lundy from 1951 and subsequently Fair Isle from 1957. In 1963 no more islands, but to the British Trust for Ornithology as Migration Research Officer, though he quickly chafed at a desk job in Tring and so in 1966 to Wales.

Having been appointed field officer in mid-Wales for the then Nature Conservancy his prime responsibility being to develop the Red Kite conservation programme, work which proceeded so very successfully with his colleague Peter Walters Davies. In 1966 just 21 pairs nested in Great Britain, all in mid-Wales. Ten years later 33 pairs and ten years further on 58 pairs, with over 100 pairs in 1993.  Now some 200 pairs nest in Wales the success of Kite conservation can be attributed to the dedication of Davis, in 1996 a founding trustee of the Welsh Kite Trust, and his co-workers.

Davis as Ceredigion Bird Recorder, a post he held until 1995 was one of the editors of the three Dyfed Bird Reports covering the years 1967 to 1976 and joint editor with Peter Hope Jones of the first Welsh Bird Report also 1967. As joint author with Hywel Roderick who died in 2008 far too young he ensured the Birds of Ceredigion, a sumptuous volume was published in 2010.

In 2007 Davis received an MBE for his work on the Red Kite and in 2014 a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Welsh Ornithological Society.  He is survived by his wife Angela who accompanied him on Skokholm and three children.

Words by David Saunders