In thinking about the origins of the World Wildlife Fund in 1961, I pondered whether there was something to be said about the ornithological background of most of the founding members of the charity.

On an excellent website dedicated to Max Nicholson (who Sir Peter Scott acknowledged as the “architect” of WWF), I have just come across the transcript of his appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs in 1995. And it seems that Sue Lawley had a similar idea.

“Has birdwatching got you on in your career – do you suddenly find very distinguished chaps suddenly turn out to have this hobby in common,” she asked him.

“Well sometimes,” replied Nicholson, “but it would be wrong to say that its ever given me a leg up in my career.”

More on ornithologist cliques