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Oriole Birding Staff & Tour Leaders

Oriole Birding leaders are carefully chosen for their ability to convey their knowledge in a friendly and informative manner. We believe that this is as important as knowing the best sites to visit and being able to identify the wildlife that we see. When not leading tours, they are all active field naturalists, who contribute important work for our respective local bird clubs and Natural History societies. They all have many years experience in watching wildlife worldwide. The company ethos is that these are holidays that people have previously or still are working hard to be able to afford and therefore should be entitled to expect a high level of professionalism from their guides, whilst not forgetting that holidays are supposed to be about fun too. Our leaders come from a variety of different backgrounds, but all have one thing in common: - a love of birds and their environment.

 

 Ashley Saunders


Ashley has been watching birds since a very young age and has lived in North Norfolk all his life. At 33 he is one of the youngest in the business but with seven years of running his own company before helping to form Oriole Birding, and vast experience in tour leading in the UK and abroad, there is no-one more skilled and enthusiastic to lead your birding holiday. Ashley leads all our Norfolk tours, plus the majority of our UK based holidays as well as several trips overseas. Conservation and bird ringing are his other passions when not tour leading, and he has also written occasionally for the UK birding magazines, not to mention TV and radio appearances! Ashley has birded in France, Germany, Spain, Greece, Mallorca, South Africa, Costa Rica, Florida, Israel, Cyprus, Panama,The Gambia, Holland, Romania, Morocco, Cuba, Honduras and Trinidad. Finding rare birds is Ashley’s great passion, developed through a lifetime of birding remote east coast locations during the spring and autumn migration. This has resulted in the discovery of such gems as Pine, Little and Ortolan Buntings, Little Bittern, European Bee-eater, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Red-flanked Bluetail, Red-rumped Swallow, Gull-billed Tern, White-billed Diver, Greenish, Pallas’s, Subalpine and Radde’s Warblers, Pallid Swift, American Golden Plover, Swainson’s Thrush and Wilson’s Storm-petrel. Ashley joins the Norfolk Rarities Committee in July 2017, an accolade which arrives as a result of many years of high quality rarity submissions at both county and national level.  Being a major shareholder in the company, Ashley oversees tour logistics and itineraries, and runs our website and marketing alongside other administrative duties. Ashley lives in the Norfolk market town of Fakenham with his fiancée Lucy and 5 year-old daughter Lily and enjoys supporting Norwich City in his spare time.

 

 

 Nick Parsons

 

Nick is delighted to be coming on board as a shareholder and Director of Oriole, giving him the opportunity to combine his business background with his love of the natural world. His role within the company includes working alongside Ashley on general management of the business and marketing, but may also involve working occasionally as a second leader when required. Nick’s interest in birds started as a child, but like for so many others until relatively recently his career and family kept him away from my first love, birding. Nick and his family, Jane and Amelia divide their time between Nottingham and Norfolk, where their Great Ryburgh home will become the centre of operations for Oriole Birding. Nick is a firm believer in putting something back when it comes to nature and he has been a trustee of the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and the Sherwood Forest Trust for many years. Locally, he is also an active committee member of the Ryburgh Wildlife Group. When work and family commitments allow Nick is usually to be found out in the field in Norfolk putting in the effort to find his own birds, ever hopeful of unearthing something impossibly rare. He is a seasoned birder overseas and has birded in China, the United States, Spain, Mallorca, Cyprus, Israel and South Africa. His other interests are cricket ( Yorkshire CCC), football ( Liverpool FC ), history and archaeology. 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 Neil Donaghy

 

Born in Cardiff, Neil is a full time partner in Oriole Birding having spent the past twelve years at the helm of Celtic Bird Tours. He has travelled independently worldwide and has worked and lived in France and Germany. It is this love of travel and birds that finally convinced him to take the long desired step of combining the two. Neil has three sons – Sam, Billy and Andrew. He runs the day to day aspects of the business, arranges all your flights, guides and accommodation and other elements of your holidays and will be the first contact you have with Oriole Birding via the office. Neil also leads many of our South Wales holidays; as well as joining forces with Ashley in leading a select band of international and other UK based holidays. His birding travels so far for have taken hi m to Texas,Finland and Norway, Iceland, Russia, Hungary,Turkey, Florida, New York, Morocco, Poland, Austria, Ireland, Lesvos, Madeira, Speyside, Andalucia, Mallorca, China, Israel, Romania, Bavaria, Holland, Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, Devon, France, Norfolk and Fair Isle and Shetland. He has also written articles for Birdwatch magazine, Welsh Birding and The Birds of Bridgend, which was published in February 2001. He has been fortunate enough to find a good number of rare and uncommon species while birding his patch at Kenfig Pool, which he does on an almost daily basis when not away leading. Away form birding and travel he is a passionate Cardiff City supporter, enjoys family life, cooking a variety of cuisines, wine, landscape photography and reading.

 

 

 

 Jason Moss
 

We are delighted to welcome Jason on board as a staff leader for Oriole Birding in 2018. Our search for a new guide to come and work for us on a full time basis led us to Jason, who immediately impressed us with his people and birding skills, the two most important aspects of being a tour leader! Jason has had a passion for birds and nature conservation for as long as he can remember. However the hobby became more of a profession after completing an undergraduate degree in Biology at Portsmouth University, when he began working as a warden on a wide variety of UK nature reserves, beginning with Blakeney Point in Norfolk. Working closely with both sea and migrant birds led to a strong passion for both, and a keen interest in bird ringing, leading to further work on similar seabird and migration hotspots, such as the Farne Islands in Northumberland, Fair Isle in Shetland and Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, where he recently worked as seabird warden. Living in these remote hubs of bird migration has meant that Jason has been fortunate to witness many stunning days of migrant arrivals and falls, whilst also finding numerous British rarities and scarcities including Britain’s second Magnolia Warbler. Jason has also travelled extensively on birding trips, including Argentina, Israel, Southern Africa, mainland Spain and Mallorca, where he recently spent several winters.

 

 

 

 Steve Cale

 

Originally from Wolverhampton, Steve is now based in Norfolk and leads our holidays to Bulgaria, Finland, Falsterbo plus occasional Norfolk tours and second leader roles. He is an extremely talented bird artist and gives demonstrations of his skills when guiding. His work has been exhibited worldwide and we are pleased to use Steve's Golden Oriole image as our company logo. Steve was heavily involved in the creation of a small nature reserve in Great Ryburgh, base for our Norfolk tours, and along with Ashley is a committe member of the Ryburgh Wildlife Group that manages it. He has a tireless enthusiasm for birds and his outgoing and friendly manner have proved very popular on previous tours. Steve has one daughter.

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 Paul Roberts

Hailing originally from the north west of England, Paul is now lives with his wife and children in South Wales, and after two decades there reckons that he almost qualifies as a native! Paul is very active on the local birding scene, serving on various committees and is involved in a number of biodiversity projects. He is a dedicated patch worker, never happier than when finding his own birds. He has had a curiosity with the natural world for as long as he can remember, but only caught the birding bug relatively late, following an earlier passion for plants. Paul also enjoys studying dragonflies and butterflies, but has yet to succumb to the allure of moths! Photography has been a long-standing interest, expressed recently through a growing interest in digiscoping. Paul works freelance as an ecological surveyor and is a contributor for ‘Bird Watching’ magazine. He leads our Extremadura, Northern Adriatic, Lake Kerkini, Forest of Dean and South Wales Summer Wildlife Tour and will also be present on occasions when the group size requires a second leader.

 

 

 

 David Gosney

Dave is known to many British birdwatchers as the face and voice on most of the products made by Bird Guides including the DVD Video Guide to British Birds, the DVD-ROM Guide to All the Birds of Europe and all the videos in the Birding in… series. Prior to cofounding Bird Guides he travelled widely throughout Europe, guiding tours and researching his ever-popular series of books ‘Finding Birds in…’ which have, for many years, been invaluable aids to travelling birders wanting to find the rarest species throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. With Bird Guides he has continued to travel on many filming trips in Asia and North America but mostly in the Western Palearctic, to generate many of the film clips you can see on the definitive BWPi (BWP on DVD-ROM). His interest in identifying birds by songs and calls led to him writing and recording the commentaries for the new iDentify guides, helping birdwatchers to learn bird songs via their MP3 players. Dave is helping to devise and lead our series of short tours targeting Western Palearctic specialities and we re delighted to welcome him on board.

 

 

Adrian Riley

 

Adrian was born in Birmingham but spent his formative years amongst the Shropshire countryside, where he developed an interest in natural history at an early age. After moving to Hertfordshire in 1979, he became the supervisor and chief taxonomist of the light-trap network of Rothamsted Research, Harpenden. By 2001, he had written over 150 scientific papers and articles and three books with 'British and Irish Pug Moths' still considered the standard work on the subject. Many will know Adrian for his foray into competitive year listing in 2002, when his effort to take on the World was documented in his book 'Arrivals and Rivals: A birding oddity', but it is his knowledge of Butterflies, Dragonflies and Moths for which we make the use of his services. Adrian will be guiding our Norfolk Summer Wildlife and Butterfly tours, as well as the New Forest in July. His newest book, 'British and Irish Butterflies' is an essential reference for anyone joining these tours!

 

 

 

 

 

 Dr Robert Flood

 

Bob is a Doctor of Science and a Doctor of Philosophy. He has been an active and enthusiastic birder since the age of twelve when his parents, recognizing a zeal for birdlife, bought his first pair of binoculars. Subsequently, Bob has pursued his avian passion from the tropics to Antarctica, across all continents and in very many countries. More recently, Bob has semi-retired and focused his energies on his two core ornithological interests, birds of the Isles of Scilly and seabirds across the world. Bob has become well known in the UK for pioneering pelagic trips off the Isles of Scilly and for the many extremely rare birds he has found in the Isles of Scilly. Bob’s name hit the international press in 2003 when he and friend Bryan Thomas became the first people to positively identify and locate a population of the thought to be extinct New Zealand Storm-petrel in New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf. Bob leads our Scilly pelagic tours as well as Madeira.

 

 

 

 

 Gerard Gorman

 

Originally from Merseyside, Gerard lives in Budapest and is recognised as a leading
expert on birds and birding in Eastern Europe. Indeed, he has led over 500 tours
around Eastern European destinations. He is author of several books including The
Birds of Hungary, Birding in Eastern Europe, Central and Eastern European Wildlife.
He has also travelled globally in search of birds. His main interest lies in
woodpeckers: he is author of the handbook Woodpeckers of Europe, the monograph The Black Woodpecker and is author of the acclaimed Woodpeckers of The World - The Complete Guide. We are delighted to retain his services for our Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia and Romania tours.


 

 

 

 

 

 Javier Elorriaga

Javi Elorriaga (pronounced “habee”) Born in Bilbao, northern Spain, in 1978. Javi has worked on the conservation of the Cinereous Vulture in Dadia National Park (WWF-Greece), the Bearded Vulture in the Pyrenees and Picos de Europa National Park (FCQ), the monitoring of bird migration in the Strait of Gibraltar (Migres Foundation), the study of the migration geography of the Turkey Vulture (Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Pennsylvania, USA) and the Osprey reintroduction in Andalucía and Basque Country (Urdaibai Bird Center). He has also been a member of the Spanish Committee of Rare Birds and has participated in over 30 scientific papers, book chapters and articles in birding journals. Wildlife photography is another of his great passions and a powerful tool he uses to raise awareness of conservation issues through social networking and lectures. Javi lives in Tarifa, the Strait of Gibraltar, where he is birding on a daily basis and works as a full time bird guide in Andalucía and Morocco. Javi leads our Straits of Gibraltar and Northern Morocco tours, plus our new Iberian Lynx itinerary.

 

 

 

 

 

 Andy Mitchell
 

Andy Mitchell was a career civil servant before realising that the outdoor life was calling him. He moved from Leeds to North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory in Orkney for a year's training and ended up staying for nearly five years, as well as falling in love with Orkney. A spell of various expeditions abroad and jobs in conservation followed which gave him a breadth of knowledge and experience. He then joined the RSPB working on research into Song Thrush declines before moving back to Orkney to manage the reserves on Egilsay and Rousay. After ten years with RSPB he left to set up his own business advising on wildlife tourism and doing environmental assessment work based at his home on South Ronaldsay. Birds and their conservation is his main interest but he has a passion for natural history in general . His other interests are all things Cuban, music (he plays the fiddle) and seeing the delight on people's faces when they see those special wildlife moments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 David Pearce
 

Originally from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, Dave is now based in East Yorkshire and works as a freelance ornithologist undertaking bird surveys, monitoring and research for several ecological consultancies, from northern Scotland to Kent, Wales to Norfolk and many points in-between. Since 2009 he has also been involved in the conservation and monitoring of upland breeding waders and other bird species in the Peak District and is currently co-editing a breeding bird atlas covering a large part of South Yorkshire. Birding since the early 1970’s he has travelled widely throughout Britain in search of birds and has also spent time birding in Europe, the Middle East, North America, Asia, Australia, Africa and the Caribbean. Outside birding, his interests include music, playing the drums and football. We are pleased to welcome Dave onto our team to lead our 2017 tour to Norway and we are looking forward to introducing him to a few more trips in due course.