Find Leila on Twitter @leilakwalker
Involved with the BOU as:
ECR member; Engagement Committee Web Support Officer
BOU member since: 2012
Most likely to be found . . .
. . . cycling out to a nature reserve!
Why are you a member of the BOU?
A few of my friends were going to the BOU’s 2012 annual conference ‘Ecosystem services: do we need birds?”, so I first joined to get cheap conference rates and tag along with my friends. It turned out to be a great couple of days. I learnt a lot about a field outside of my experience, and also got to participate in an early-career researcher event where myself and fellow ECRs got to quiz the great and good of the ornithological world. Since then I have remained a member for the continued access to and engagement with the BOU community.
What is your role on the BOU’s Engagement Committee?
The Engagement Committee supports all the BOU’s engagement with BOU members, the wider ornithological community and the public. My specific role sees me lending support to Steve Dudley with website maintenance and development. I am currently working on a couple of new initiatives that include developing a database of ornithological institutes and an expansion of BRANTA to include current Masters and PhD students.
What do you enjoy most about your involvement with the BOU?
The best thing about the BOU is that it has introduced me to many interesting, knowledgeable and friendly people. Being able to sit on a committee, as an early-career researcher, is also a fantastic opportunity to contribute something to a society whose membership I have benefited from.
When did your interest in ornithology begin?
I have always had a general interest in the natural world, but my specific interest in birds began with an undergraduate research project looking at the foraging behaviour of black-headed gulls on the North Norfolk coast. Since then, I have been lucky enough to work on other fascinating projects with an avian theme, including studying the colourful plumage of New Zealand’s Hihi and assessing the benefits of agri-environment schemes for England’s farmland birds.
What is your most memorable bird-y experience?
One of my most memorable experiences involving a bird was getting the chance to hold a Western Brown Kiwi chick. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time when an ecologist at Maungatautari Mountain in New Zealand needed an extra pair of hands. I was most struck by how un-feather-like their feathers were – the chick seemed to be just a big warm ball of fur!
What is your favourite outdoor place and why?
Somewhere I can get to easily . . . the North Norfolk Coast, for the walking, nature and pub-rich villages. Somewhere considerably harder to get to…the high point on the Tongariro Crossing (NZ), before the crowds get there.