All our leaders have a strong background in conservation, many have worked (or are still working for) the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). All are experienced in guiding and have an essential good sense of humour!
Chris is the company owner of Wise Birding Holidays Ltd and lives in Devon with his partner Helen. He currently sits on the Devon Birds Rarities Committe and when not overseas, he is often to be found on his local patch, the Otter Estuary looking for rarities!! Chris has travelled throughout Europe, North and South America and his favourite continent, Africa, all following his birding interest, as well as wildlife and conservation. Employed by the RSPB for 7 years and based at the RSPB’s HQ at Sandy for most of that time, in the species protection department. Here he was part of a team working to combat bird of prey persecution, illegal trade in birds and egg collecting. He then moved to Devon and worked on cirl buntings for 3 years including a year spent managing the cirl bunting re-introduction project. Chris now works as a freelance bird guide and ornithological consultant. He has led numerous birding holidays for a number of well known bird tour companies during the last 12 years. His first passion is birds, but this is closely followed by mammals, particularly the cats! He is a people person keen to share knowledge and ensure that bird tours are full of wildlife, humour and good quality puddings!
Stu Elsom is a professional ecologist, tour leader and wildlife photographer based in Cambridgeshire, from where he runs his own consultancy, Stuart Elsom Ecology. A keen naturalist from an early age, Stu’s passion for wildlife conservation has seen him serve on several regional environmental and conservation forums and he is a former chairman of his local bird club. A lifelong interest in birds and insects has taken him to over 50 countries on six continents. Recently he has specialised in the birds of the New World with the avifauna of both North and South America, and The Caribbean being the focus of his attention.
Stu is an enthusiastic wildlife photographer and a member of the Royal Photographic Society Nature Group, through which he was awarded his Licentiate Distinction (LRPS) in 2012. Over 800 of his images have appeared in various natural history journals, magazines, CD guides and books including the recently published Handbook of Western Palearctic Birds; Owls of the World; Birds of Brazil; The Crossley Guide series and Stokes Birds of North America. While birds are Stu’s main focus he has always maintained a huge interest in insects, especially butterflies and moths, dragonflies and damselflies, but most recently, hoverflies. We are very pleased to have Stu leading a number of new tours in 2019. His numerous years of experience in guiding and easy going approach will fit perfectly to the growing Wise Birding team.
Mike is well known as a bird illustrator, Devon County Recorder (1996-2002), tour leader and avid Devon birder. His fabulous illustrations can be seen in almost every RSPB reserve from identification cards to large murals. Mike worked for the RSPB for nine years after leaving Art College. His interpretation work for nature centre information boards can be found across Britain and in Europe. Much of Mike’s work can also be found in numerous international bird books and magazines. Mike spends much of his free time birding, particularly Berry Head in Devon where he spends many hundreds of hours seawtaching and searching for migrants. His numerous hours in the field have been rewarded with many good finds that include Sardinian Warbler, Little Shearwater and Britain’s first Yelkouan Shearwater! His approachable and relaxed character along with exceptional field skills will be a great asset to the Wise Birding team.
Ryan lives in east Norfolk and has recently become a freelance ornithological consultant after 7 years working for an offshore company leading ornithological surveys for renewables projects. Prior to this Ryan worked for the RSPB in various roles in Wales, Scotland and Cornwall over a 6 year period. Ryan is a member of the Norfolk Bird Recording Council and when he isn’t working you will probably find him on his patch in east Norfolk, patch birding a real passion of his that ultimately led him to become a co-founder of the very popular Patchwork Challenge, the largest birding competition in the world. Ryan has travelled extensively throughout much of the world through his work and numerous birding holidays. Ryan’s great field skills and friendly personality will be a great asset to our tours.
Richard is a first class bird and mammal man working for a leading Ecological Consultancy, Biome Consulting. We are very pleased to have Richard as part of the Wise Birding team and he will be leading our exciting tour to the Western Sahara in 2018. In Richard’s own words – “If it’s got fur or feathers then I’m basically interested! I developed my zeal for ecology during many a formative hour trailing my gamekeeping father around the south Shropshire countryside. Whilst mammals have become a dedication, birds will always retain my devotion with migration and waders a real affection of mine. As happy in the Saharan Desert or in an Estonian forest, if there’s a glimmer of hope of seeing something incredible (in my eyes, even non-descript shrews fall into this category) I’ll be at the head of the queue!”
Dani lives in Huesca, close to the Central Spanish Pyrennees, where his interest for nature and wildlife began at a very early age. He spent two years working on Steppe bird surveys focused on habitat management and conservation. This included both species of sandgrouse and bustards as well as Lesser Kestrels in the Ebro Steppes. He also worked for seven years as a forest ranger in the Pyrenees and river Cinca valley.
In more recent years Dani has been giving environmental education talks for children and adults focusing on bird ecology and migration; something he is very passionate about. Dani also has a passion for photography, which he finds a great tool for studying both bird plumage & behaviour. Dani has travelled throughout Spain and elsewhere in Europe as well as Africa, with several visits to his favourite country Morocco. Like Chris, Dani has a fondness for good puddings too! We are very pleased to have Dani on the Wise Birding team. He will be guiding our Morocco tour in 2018 as well as some Spanish tours.