I've noticed since I came back to birding that there seems to have been a change in the way the Northumberland Wildlife Trust is viewed by some. Perceived failings in reserve management seem to have turned a number of birders away from Trust supporters and members to individuals who view them as 'liars' & 'thieves'.
This situation saddens me, I'm no longer a member myself and apart from posting news stories from them on Bird North East I have no contact, but the Wildlife Trusts are an important organisation in conservation here in the UK.
The combined Trusts manage over 2250 nature reserves covering 90,000 hectares. They are key advocates for our wildlife. They have lofty visions ' an environment rich in wildlife for everyone', something as birders, naturalists, wildlife watchers or photographers we can all appreciate, support and aspire to.
At a local level NWT has 12,000 members and manages 60 nature reserves. They take the lead role in many conservation projects across the region, inevitably they won't get everything right but does this warrant the kind of vitriol and criticism they seem to get from time to time?
I would argue not. They may well be slow to respond sometimes, even slower to take what some see as essential management action. Often their eyes may be elsewhere, focused on other projects, priorities dictated by national campaigns or 'bigger pictures' but should we stop supporting them? Are our goals not the same?
Surely it is better to work within the framework of the Trust to influence policy, change poor management practice, gain a voice through establishing 'Friends of...' groups than to stand outside and pass occasional criticism that may or may not even be seen by the people that are employed by the Trust.
Now maybe it's just the minority that are making their voices heard, maybe it's the tip of the iceberg. I do know that one thing that hasn't changed much is the tendency for birders to keep their own council, whisper in the shadows of the hide and not make their opinions public, go on prove me wrong.