Prof. Chris Perrins

Prof. Chris Perrins LVO, FRS joined the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology at the University of Oxford as a student in 1957. Chris retired in 2002 but remains at the University as a Professor Emeritus. His main studies have been on population biology: Great Tits (in Wytham Woods), seabirds, especially Manx Shearwaters (on the Pembrokeshire islands of Skokholm and Skomer) and Mute Swans (especially on the River Thames and at Abbotsbury, Dorset). In the 1970s, Chris was asked to study the reason for the decline in Mute Swans in the UK. Intensive studies showed that the greatest single cause of mortality of the birds was lead poisoning – almost entirely from the ingestion of lead angling weights. Not only did the lead cause the deaths of many swans, but many of the living birds were carrying high lead burdens. The importation and sale of lead angling weights from 0.06 and 28.35 grams (No.6 shot to 1oz) was prohibited in 1987 and their use banned by most regional water authorities shortly afterwards. Nationally, the Mute Swan population doubled in the ten years to 1997, with the largest increases being observed on the lowland, heavily fished, rivers.