The Royal Air Force Ornithological Society – RAFOS
RAFOS is a volunteer organisation which was formed in 1965. It is part of the broader RAF community of clubs and societies and exists to promote an interest in birds among members of the RAF and associated civilians. RAFOS members are keen conservationists and Bird watchers, most of whom are serving or have served in the Royal Air Force some time ago. The problem now presenting itself to RAFOS is that we have far too little ‘young blood’ especially among the serving population who are all clearly very busy people. We are happy to accept new members from any quarter, but are especially keen to increase our serving membership; those with an interest in conservation and our ‘feathered friends’; and people who will add to our knowledge base. Novices are equally welcome as there is a vast wealth of experience within the group and we’re just waiting to pass this on and thus keep the interest in birds alive.
RAFOS run a programme of field trips each year, and in 2014 visited Scotland, Norfolk, Dorset, Spain and Ascension Island with an equally diverse menu of expeditions being planned for 2015. Some of these trips involve survey work, sometimes bird ringing and sometimes are just social birding outings but they’re all fantastic opportunities to improve knowledge, pass on experiences and simply enjoy and appreciate the Natural History around us. The atmosphere on these trips reflects the typical comradeship of the RAF with as much humour as serious birding.
While this is a very pleasant hobby, it also serves to provide very important assistance for other scientific organisations by carrying out surveys and data gathering for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), a UK national, non-governmental organisation and its Birdlife International partners. RAFOS surveys made a significant, and much acclaimed, contribution to the recent BTO Atlas of British Birds a highly important work that identified bird population changes to inform the management of resources to aid the national conservation effort.
Do not be concerned if your interest is currently limited to feeding garden birds or watching Springwatch on the BBC. We are not looking for experts or specialists (although they would also be most welcome) – we are looking for personnel with a general interest in birds. No experience or knowledge is necessary, just enthusiasm and a willingness to be a part of the Society. If you have even the smallest interest in birding, please have a look at the RAFOS website at www.RAFOS.org.net or find the ‘Royal Air Force Ornithological Society’ group on Facebook and Twitter (@RAFOSBirding).