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RSPB presents biologist with highest honour

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 05, 2012

Peter Harrison takes the measurements of an emperor penguin chick in the Antarctic

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The life work of a renowned Westcountry seabird biologist is to be rewarded the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' highest honour.

Peter Harrison will be awarded the Gold Medal Conservation Award by the charity, which is the world's oldest conservation body, at a glittering ceremony in London tomorrow.

The award is the UK's top conservation honour and past recipients include Sir David Attenborough and Bill Oddie.

It is being given in recognition of Mr Harrison's outstanding contribution to conservation causes around the world.

Mr Harrison was born in Plymouth and spent a period of his young life at The British Seamen's Orphan Boys' Home in Brixham.

In 1973 he set out from his home city in a Land Rover on a seven-year, round-the-world odyssey to conduct groundbreaking research on seabirds.

During his expedition he visited every major seabird area from the High Arctic to the Antarctic and a decade after his return published his first book, Seabirds: An Identification Guide, generally regarded as one of the most authoritative bird books ever published and which has been the standard reference work on seabirds for almost a quarter of a century.

Although he lives in the USA for most of the year, Mr Harrison retains Swingates, a 30-acre smallholding at Land's End, which is maintained year round as a private migratory bird reserve.

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