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 Andrew Holden Yorkshire 2019
Member Roger Riddington Shetland 2017
Member Stephen Menzie London 2017
Member Michael McKee Cornwall 2020
Member Dave Pullan Highland 2018
Member Phil Crockett NE Scotland 2020
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 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, Desertas type Petrel, Least Sandpiper, Booted, Paddyfield, 2 Lanceolated and 5 Blyth’s Reed Warblers, Swainson’s Thrush, King Eider and 2 Two-barred Crossbills. After eight years as a voting member of the committee, he became Chairman of BBRC in 2015 and also sits in an ex-officio role on the BOURC. Paul now splits his time between working as a Senior Ornithologist for HiDef Aerial Surveying, doing the occasional tour for Sunbird and expanding his Spurn and garden lists.

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.

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.

Roger Riddington

Born and brought up in Lincolnshire, Roger started birding in his schooldays. Rarities barely featured for ten years or more, in fact not until he started his PhD, when the availability of lifts to various rare birds in Britain provided the perfect antidote to nesting Great Tits in Oxford. His first visit to Shetland was in 1992, when he spent six months as an assistant warden on Fair Isle, learning a lot, including how to fill in a BBRC form. He returned to Fair Isle as the Observatory warden in 1994, then after four years at the helm moved to mainland Shetland, where he still lives. He became the editor of British Birds in 2001 and that job is currently still keeping him occupied and at a computer for more hours of the day than is healthy. Moving to Shetland cured his desire to cultivate a large British list but he is always keen to see, and especially find, rarities in Shetland. Species on his find list include Red-necked Stint, Thick-billed Warbler and Taiga Flycatcher, although more regular rarities that he’d always dreamed of stumbling across, including Ross’s Gull and White’s Thrush, gave particular pleasure, as did a Yellow-rumped Warbler in his garden. Rarities are an important part of his birding year in Shetland, but by no means the only thing to look forward to. He has been an A-ringer since 1993 and is equally enthusiastic about a morning in a Guillemot colony as an unstreaked acro in the hand. He also enjoys the shoulder season of Shetland birding, and months such as July and November, when the chances of something good are slimmer but the pace is more relaxed. He is currently in his second spell on the Shetland rarities committee, has served a term on the Scottish Birds Rarities Committee (latterly as chairman) and is a former chair of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory Trust.

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 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.

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, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Franklin’s, Laughing & Bonaparte’s Gulls, Pechora & Buff-bellied Pipit, Red-eyed Vireo and Yellow-breasted Bunting.

Stephen Menzie

Originally from Liverpool, Stephen grew up birding in the northwest. Far from Britain’s liveliest birding region, the lack of rarity-finding opportunity gave him time for focus on some of life’s finer details, such as ageing and sexing of common birds. Naturally, this led on to ringing and expanding his interest in ageing and sexing of birds beyond the northwest. Stephen has birded across Britain and the wider Western Palearctic, including leading tours for Sunbird in Oman and Morocco, and has experience of ringing in multiple countries. He currently lives and works in Sweden as manager of Falsterbo Bird Observatory, one of Europe’s biggest and busiest stations – a job that sees him ringing anywhere up to 20,000 birds a year under a backdrop of up to 3 million birds migrating annually. Suffice to say, Stephen is never short of birds to look at! From March 2021, he will also be editor of British Birds – a position that may limit the number of birds he rings and sees each year but that will no doubt provide fulfilment in so many other ways. While Falsterbo is famed more for its passage of common birds that for its rarities, Stephen nonetheless gets to see and handle a number of rarities each year plus a host of species that are regularly encountered in Sweden but are rarities in Britain. He has found or been involved in finding a number of locally rare or very rare species in the region, including Eastern Subalpine Warbler, Yellow-breasted Bunting and three Collared Flycatchers in southern Sweden (where the last species is still a rarity), and the fifth record of Watercock in Oman.

Dave Pullan

Dave is originally from Yorkshire but is now based in Speyside after an early career in conservation took him to the Scotland where he has been based for over 30 years, frequently birding in Highland and along the Moray coast. He now work as a freelance wildlife tour guide and has birded in over 50 countries on 6 Continents, with extensive travelling in Europe and North America (as well as Japan, China, Thailand and India to name a few). Like so many of us, his early years in conservation were spent on Shetland where he was the RSPB’s first seasonal warden at Loch of Spiggie, leading to him finding a hatful of rarities in the Northern Isles during the 1980’s, including Blue-winged Teal, Great Snipe, Black-eared Wheatear, Yellow-breasted and Rustic Buntings and Aquatic Warbler. Elsewhere, Dave played a key role in the identification of Britain’s first Short-billed Dowitcher and has found many a good bird in Highland and the Moray Firth areas, including Steller’s Eider, Black Scoter, Terek and Baird’s Sandpipers , Wilson’s Phalarope and Pied Wheatear. He also serves on the Scottish Birds Records Committee.

Andrew Holden

Andrew was fascinated by birds by the time he started primary school. Perhaps influenced by a chance encounter with an unsuccessful Ancient Murrelet twitch on Lundy Island, this soon developed into a passion for rarities and ultimately their identification. He is particularly interested in the birds of the Western Palearctic and as well as enjoying many British twitches throughout his teens and twenties, he undertook extensive travel throughout the region, additionally trips across North America. As well as twice entering and winning Dutch Birding’s ‘Masters of Mystery’ competition, his interest in identification has been reflected in his involvement in many identifications and re-identifications over the years, recently including Britain’s first Pale-legged Leaf Warbler. Whilst now living with his wife and daughter in North Yorkshire, his favourite place is the Isles of Scilly, where he is a serving member of the Scilly Rarities Committee and recent finds have included Grey-cheeked Thrush and Rustic Bunting.

Phil Crockett

Phil started his birding life in Cambridgeshire after been introduced to the interest by his father. He spent long hours in the countryside around about his home after school with Lesser Spotted Woodpecker one of his earliest memories, as well as the local Corn Buntings. The passion became obsessional once he got to Aberdeen to attend University and he joined the University Bird Club. This gave him the taste for finding local rarities and he graduated to national rarities when the club found the first of three Ross’s Gulls that turned up at Fraserburgh in 1993. Even before then he was spending time in spring and autumn on Shetland, initially twitching the rarities. As time went on though he, with like-minded friends, became more driven by the bug of finding his own. Having by the late-nineties decided to settle back in Aberdeenshire, it was an easy choice to move to Collieston with its close proximity to the Ythan Estuary and the Forvie NNR. He is now reasonably well tolerated by his neighbours. Since then he has travelled more widely to different world locations, but his chief passion in birding is the Collieston patch and the surrounding areas. Finding the first Eastern Olivaceous Warbler for NES had cemented his belief in patch birding and he spent several years on the local rarities committee. His more notable finds include several regional firsts, and finds he has particularly enjoyed through this time include;  Isabelline, Pied and Desert (2) Wheatears, Great Snipe, Pechora and Red-throated Pipits, Pacific Golden Plover (2), Lanceolated Warbler, Semipalmated Sandpiper (2), Moltoni’s Warbler and Brown Shrike. He has learnt the most from the people he has spent time birding with, both finding and studying birds with them and from their knowledge. He hopes to continue that development, whilst still spending as much free-time as his family will allow wandering in and around Collieston, where there are still a few pairs of Corn Bunting to enjoy.

Michael McKee

Michael is originally from Fort William in Scotland and moved to Berkshire when he was 11. An interest in wildlife developed at a young age but it was after the move south that an active birding life began with school weekends spent around the local sewage farm and west London reservoirs. After graduating from Exeter University, every autumn was spent on trips to Shetland. His first trip to Foula in 1993 produced a Pechora Pipit and Rustic Bunting which kicked off the rarity finding bug. Since then almost every trip to Shetland has produced at least one rarity with highlights being White-crowned Sparrow, Bobolink, Brown Shrike, White’s Thrush, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Yellow-breasted Bunting, Isabelline Wheatear, Lesser Grey Shrike, Pechora Pipit (6), Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler (2) and Lanceolated Warbler (7). Other rarity highlights include 2 Buff-bellied Pipits in Berkshire and a Gull-billed Tern on Tiree. He has carried a camera since these first Shetland trips and spends a lot of time photographing any rarities he sees. Many of his photos have appeared in British Birds and in 2017 he was awarded the Carl Zeiss award. He has birded widely around the world including North, Central and South America, the Middle East, Asia and North Africa.

In 2016 Michael moved to west Cornwall where he now birds the valleys and headlands of Penwith in search of that next rarity.