Members

Role Name Location Started
Chairman Paul French East Yorkshire 2015
Secretary Chas Holt Norfolk 2017
Member Micky Maher East Yorkshire 2014
Member Nigel Jones Hampshire 2016
Member David Fairhurst Suffolk 2015
Member Chris Batty Lancashire 2007
Member Mike Pennington Shetland 2007
Member Paul French East Yorkshire 2008
Member Nic Hallam Oxfordshire 2009
Member Richard Millington Norfolk 2009
Member Richard Schofield NE Scotland 2010
Member Steve Votier Cornwall 2010
Vice Chair Andy Stoddart Norfolk 2014
Summariser Reg Thorpe Caernarfonshire 1995
Museum consultant Brian Small Suffolk 2001
Genetic advisor Martin Collinson NE Scotland 2013

 

Chas HoltChas Holt pic

Chas was born and bred in Sussex, where he began birding and learning to ring birds from an early age.  Moving to university in Norwich was followed by three rarity-filled years monitoring seabirds and migrants at Fair Isle Bird Observatory (1998-2000), where memorable finds included Yellow-rumped Warbler, Harlequin Duck and Calandra Lark.  A career in ecology was ignited, and Chas went on to work at British Trust for Ornithology (2002-2015) on a range of research projects focused on different habitats and species. During this period, he undertook a part-time PhD on the effects of deer on woodland birds, developing specialist knowledge of Nightingales. Chas organised the BTO/RSPB/JNCC Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) from 2008 to 2015; responsible for management of the WeBS database and outputs such as the annual WeBS report and collaborative waterbird research. He now works in the consultancy sector and continues to contribute to ecological research. Seizing opportunities to find rare birds play a large part in Chas’s birding; he particularly enjoys the lure of the East Anglia coast and offshore islands during migration times. Chas holds a full BTO ringing licence, served for several years on Sussex Ornithological Society Records Committee and joined BBRC as Secretary in 2017.

 

Paul French Paul French

Paul has been a birder since about 8 years old when he identified his first Greenfinch. The obsession has lasted ever since. His education took him to the dark streets of London, and after graduating from the University of East London with a degree in Wildlife Conservation, he embarked upon a career within the bird conservation and monitoring sector, becoming assistant warden on Fair Isle in 2001-02, assistant warden for the RSPB on Fetlar and Sumburgh in 2003-05 with a spell in Devon for the Barn Owl Trust, then warden at Frampton Marsh and Freiston Shore between 2005-10 and finally as restoration advisor for the RSPB’s “Nature After Minerals” project in 2010-11. Ultimately, he decided that more time for actual birding was required from life, and he became a freelance ornithologist in 2011. Paul now splits his time between tour leading for Sunbird in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, doing bird surveys for the renewables sector and expanding his Spurn and garden lists.

Paul moved to East Yorkshire in 2014 and now lives in Easington, within an easy sprint of Spurn. Migration and rarity finding are Paul’s main drivers, and over the years has been fortunate to find a few good birds, with highlights including Black-faced, Yellow-breasted and Black-headed Buntings, Buff-bellied, Pechora and Red-throated Pipits, Fea’s Petrel, Least Sandpiper, Booted, Paddyfield, Lanceolated and (5) Blyth’s Reed Warblers, Swainson’s Thrush, King Eider and (2) Two-barred Crossbills. He became Chairman of BBRC in 2015.

 

Chris BattyChris Batty

Chris developed a diverse interest in birds from an early age and – as well as a natural enthusiasm for rarities – he is a trained ringer, and has enjoyed roles as both local bird recorder and report editor on the Fylde, Lancashire, where his lifetime’s local birding was rewarded with the discovery of Britain’s third Great Knot on his childhood local patch. After graduating in Ecology at the University of East Anglia, Chris completed a further degree and worked for the RSPB, before returning to Rare Bird Alert where twenty years of service have given him a sound knowledge of the British birding scene that, alongside a wide range of identification interests, was recognised by his election to the British Birds Rarities Committee. As well as travelling extensively in the Western Palearctic, Chris has enjoyed productive rarity-hunting in Britain and Ireland with notable discoveries including Pechora Pipit, Pine Bunting, Pacific Golden Plover, Caspian Tern and Semipalmated Sandpiper, along with multiple Fea’s Petrels and American Herring Gulls.

 

Richard SchofieldRichard Schofield

Richard has been a birder from a very early age, first in Cheshire and then North Wales. He moved to Aberdeen in 1976 to study zoology and has remained there ever since. His first jobs were on the North Sea oil rigs where the spectacle of bird migration was of far greater interest to him than the work. He became a self-employed ornithologist thirty years ago and has since enjoyed a great variety of survey work from land, sea and air. Seabirds are a particular interest and he is one of the few JNCC accredited ESAS trainers. He has been a consultant for many organisations including JNCC, RSPB, BTO and WWT and currently co-leads the HiDef aerial surveying identification team.

He has travelled widely leading well over a hundred birding tours to all seven continents. South America is his favourite destination having spent a total of five years in the field there. Closer to home he has been actively involved in the local birding scene finding six county firsts including ruddy duck and has served on the North-East Scotland Rarities Committee for most of the last thirty-five years and on the Scottish Rare Birds Committee from 2001 to 2008. When not birding his interests include sport, especially rugby and he has a well-known and unaffordable love of real ale, fine wine and malt whisky.

 

David FairhurstDave Fairhurst

Dave has been birding as long as he can remember. Originally from the north-west he is very much an honorary Suffolk-boy now living on the Suffolk coast with his wife and two young daughters. He is a warden for the RSPB and when not working and birding he leads tours for Limosa and Shetland Wildlife. Prior to settling down, Dave worked on various projects including studying Woodlarks on the Dorset heaths, Bittern monitoring throughout the UK, species protection on Anglesey, bird monitoring in Jordan, Griffon Vulture research in Israel and habitat restoration on the Seychelles.

David has a very impressive UK self-found list with it at present standing just over 320 and includes Marsh, Baird’s and White-rumped Sandpipers, Pacific Golden Plover, Laughing Gull,  Lesser-crested Tern, Isabelline and Pied Wheatears, Brown Shrike, Thick-billed and Pallas’s Grasshopper Warblers, Red-flanked Bluetail, Two-barred Crossbill,  Yellow-breasted Bunting and Red-eyed Vireo.

 

Mike PenningtonMike Pennington

Mike was born in Ormskirk, Lancashire, in 1962 and studied Ecology at Loughborough University, where he also began bird-ringing. In the 1980s, he worked at the bird observatories at Sandwich Bay, Fair Isle and North Ronaldsay. He has been resident on Unst, Shetland, since 1988, initially as warden at Hermaness NNR, but then working as a teacher at the island school. Birds found while actually at work have included Pallid Harrier Great Snipe, Ring-billed Gull and Siberian Stonechat. Those that know Mike will know that the ‘only list that matters’ is his Unst list, which currently (end of 2016) stands on 314 BOU. His three best-ever finds (or ‘airplane birds’ as his wife calls them, birds good enough for planes to arrive at Unst’s semi-mothballed airport) have all been within a mile of his house: Common Yellowthroat, Cape May Warbler and Green Warbler.

Mike co-authored the county avifauna (The Birds of Shetland), edited the Shetland Bird Report for the Shetland Bird Club since 1997 and has been involved in the Nature in Shetland website in some form since its inception in 1995. He is interested in all aspects of natural history and his firsts for Shetland include birds (Bufflehead and Cape May), plants (four casuals) and invertebrates (Oleander Hawkmoth amongst other moths, several hoverflies and others). When not birding or otherwise looking at natural history, his other activities are likely to involve cameras, maps, travel, mp3 players, Liverpool FC, the England cricket team or, especially, grandchildren.

 

Nigel JonesNigel Jones

Based in Romsey in Hampshire, just on the edge of the New Forest, Nigel has been the managing director of the tour company Ornitholidays since 1990 and has travelled extensively around the world, visiting all seven continents.  His interest in birds started at age four, but his first encounter with rare birds happened while still at school, when he found Hertfordshire’s first Cetti’s Warbler in the 1970s. A job as assistant warden on Fair Isle in 1979 helped expand his knowledge and he was lucky to add Cretzschmar’s Bunting, White-billed Diver, Yellow-breasted Bunting and a fist-full of other rarities to his self-found list.  From the 1980s onwards, Nigel has been part of the rarity hunting scene in the UK and has found a number of good birds in his adopted county of Hampshire, with recent BBRC submissions including Savi’s Warbler, Spotted Sandpiper, Iberian Chiffchaff and Spectacled Warbler. He is also involved in research and is am one of the co-founders of the New Forest Woodcock group where they have started an in-depth study of breeding and migrant birds.

 

Micky MaherMicky Maher

Micky is a professional ecologist and nature tour leader from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. His love of birds started with numerous forays into Northumberland National Park and coast with his parents when he was a child. At seventeen he began a career in conservation with Northumberland National Park and went on to work for many of the UK’s conservation and advisory bodies. In 2001, after a spell in the Seychelles, he came to live in Shetland and took up the role of Site Manager at Noss NNR. In 2016 he moved to Easington, East Yorkshire and now divides his rarity hunting time between Shetland and Spurn. Some of Micky’s favourite finds are Siberian Accentor, Stilt, Upland and Terek Sandpipers, three Yellow-breasted Buntings, Blackpoll and Pallas’s Grasshopper Warblers, Greater Yellowlegs, Gyrfalcon, White’s and Swanson’s Thrushes. Micky has travelled throughout the world in search of birds and other wildlife, he has a particular interest in cetaceans and fish. Recently he has had the privilege to swim with Whale Sharks and Mantas in Maldives and Blue Whales in Sri Lanka.

 

Andy StoddartAndy Stoddart

Andy Stoddart started birding on Wirral in 1974 and adopted Hilbre Island as his first local patch, enjoying its annual Leach’s Petrels and learning to ring at the bird observatory there. He went on several holidays to Spurn in the late 1970s, a trip to Fair Isle in 1981 and enjoyed a spell of twitching in the early 1980s. He moved to Norfolk in 1986, since when his local patch and main birding focus has been Blakeney Point, to which he has now made around 1,300 visits. Further afield, his main interest is in Holarctic birds, particularly those of Northeast Asia and America’s Great Plains. In the early 1990s he undertook two exploratory migrant-watching trips to South Korea and in 2008 worked for a spring at Delta Marsh Bird Observatory, Manitoba. He has found most of the ‘usual’ British rarities including over 60 Arctic Redpolls. His best finds are Masked Shrike, Moltoni’s Subalpine Warbler, two Pallas’s Grasshopper Warblers, Snowy Owl, Solitary Sandpiper and Iberian Chiffchaff.

He was a voting member of BBRC in the 1990s and returned as Vice-Chair in 2014. He is a member of BOURC, Editor of the Norfolk Bird Report, a member of the Norfolk Records Committee and an identification consultant to Birdwatch magazine. He has published four books on ornithological and environmental history and is a regular contributor of papers, articles and book reviews to British Birds, Birdwatch and the Rare Bird Alert website among others. He also runs guided birdwatching trips in north Norfolk and is the occasional voice of Birdline East Anglia.

 

Nic HallamNic Hallam

Nic was educated in Wolverhampton and Sutton Coldfield before moving to London to complete an MA degree in Fine Arts. After a spate in St Ives, Cornwall he eventually settled in Oxfordshire. Birds were an integral part of Nic’s younger days, and with that in mind he opted for a career of self-employment to allow for plenty of birding and flexibility! He now spends the majority of his time birding in and around Oxfordshire, and notable finds within the county have included; Buff-bellied Pipit, 2 Franklin’s Gulls, 3 Bonaparte’s Gulls, Gull-billed Tern and Pied-billed Grebe. Further afield in the UK, Nic has discovered Eye-browed Thrush, Fea’s Petrel and Baird’s Sandpiper and has enjoyed many birding themed holidays overseas. He is currently serving on the Oxfordshire Rarities Committee and joined BBRC in 2009.

 

Steve VotierSteve Votier

Steve was born and grew-up in North Norfolk, and spent much of his time birding and ringing at Sheringham. This gave him a taste for working at Bird Observatories, which led to placements at the International Birdwatching Centre in Eilat (1991), Long Point Bird Observatory (1995) and two stints as assistant warden on Fair Isle (in 1992 and 1996).  After graduating with a degree in Zoloogy & Botany from the University of Newcastle in 1995, he started a PhD at the University of Glasgow, studying the foraging ecology of Great Skuas in Shetland (1998-2001).  Following post-doctoral positions at the University of Glasgow, the University of Sheffield and IMEDEA in Mallorca, he became a lecturer at Plymouth University in 2005, before moving to the University of Exeter’s Cornwall campus in 2013. His research is primarily focussed on understanding how seabirds are responding to changes in fisheries, climate change and pollution – at the individual, population and community level. As well as serving on BBRC since 2010, he was also a member of BOURC (2004-11), BOU’s Taxonomic Sub-committee (2011-2016) and is on the editorial board of BB (2008 – present). He is the current Chairman of the Seabird Group (2015 – present).

Steve has always been ‘fired’ by rarity finding, whether on ponds in the middle of Glasgow or on offshore islands. Highlights include; Fea’s petrel, Pacific Diver, Pallid Harrier (the first Norfolk record – when they were really rare), Great Snipe, Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Franklin’s, Laughing & Bonaparte’s Gulls, Pechora & Buff-bellied Pipit, Red-eyed Vireo and Yellow-breasted Bunting.

 

Richard MillingtonRichard Millington

Richard Millington has been bird-spotting ever since he was a child in the 1950s and his passion for birds still colours his daily life. By assiduously following his father’s advice of never getting a proper job, he has negotiated his way through careers in art, journalism, information dissemination and, lately, interior décor – in other words, absolutely nothing that a good bird can’t disrupt. Twitching is a habit that he finds hard to resist, but it is his position as top Norfolk lister that Richard is most keen to defend. His other claims to fame include being the author of a book that was sensationally censored on the cover of the RSPB’s Birds magazine, appearing on TV clutching a metre-long Broadhurst-Clarkson between his knees, and being the finder of a new bird to Britain in Norfolk (fittingly at Cley, where he has lived for the past 30 years).