Hugh Boyd was born and educated in Bristol. His interest in ornithology, and wild geese in particular, began at a young age. He used to bicycle out from Bristol at weekends to watch the wild Whitefronted Geese which wintered on the Severn marshes. This interest led to his subsequent career as a trained biologist and his first job as warden of Lundy Bird Observatory in 1948. The following year Peter Scott appointed him the first resident biologist at the newly formed Severn Wildfowl Trust (now the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust). Here he was able to start the detailed population and behaviour studies that are now common practice and also embark on a wide range of scientific and conservation initiatives that would build the foundations for our understanding and management of birds in the UK and Europe. Among Hugh’s many stellar contributions during this period, his studies of Arctic-breeding geese and shorebirds were highlights. Indeed his focus on Arctic geese, their population dynamics and active site management were particular interests throughout his professional life.
In 1967, Hugh began the North American phase of his career with the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) in Ottawa. Hugh served in many senior roles including Director of CWS’s migratory birds branch, and Senior Policy Adviser. Before Hugh retired from the CWS in 1991, he had left a lasting egacy of improved science-monitoring programs to guide population management and habitat conservation in Canada, for the waterfowl, shorebirds, seabirds and landbirds.
Hugh was made a research associate of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in 1992 and, in 1996, received the first Peter Scott Medal for his “exceptional contributions to wildfowl and wetland conservation on two continents”. In 1997, Hugh was the recipient of the Society of Canadian ornithologist’s Doris Huestis Speirs Award to recognize his many outstanding contributions to Canadian ornithology. Hugh was awarded the distinction of being elected a Member of the Order of Canada in 2003.
Hugh Boyd, born May 12 1925, died July 3 2016.
Hugh Boyd’s wife, Gillian, and their sons Alastair, Duncan and Guy – along with other family members and friends - share Hugh’s great vision and deep passion for the Arctic in establishing the Hugh Boyd Scholarship in Arctic Waterbird Ecology at the University of Saskatchewan, to support excellence in graduate student research, education and training.