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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 36 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 many of 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, Estonia, Spain, Greece, Mallorca, South Africa, Costa Rica, Florida, Israel, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Sri Lanka, 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, Cackling Goose, Short-toed Lark, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Black Kite, Red-flanked Bluetail, Red-rumped Swallow, Surf Scoter, Gull-billed Tern, White-billed Diver, Greenish, Pallas’s, Subalpine and Radde’s Warblers, Siberian Stonechat, Pallid Swift, American Golden Plover, Swainson’s Thrush, Semipalmated & White-rumped Sandpipers and Wilson’s Storm-petrel. Ashley joined 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 50% 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 wife Lucy and 7 year-old daughter Lily and enjoys supporting Norwich City in his spare time.

 

 

 

 Nick Parsons

 

Nick came on board as a 50% shareholder and Director of Oriole in 2017, 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 also involves acting as a second leader when required. Nick’s interest in birds started as a child, but like for so many others until recently his career diverted him from his love of birding. Nick and his family now live in 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, Morocco, Canary Islands, Cyprus, Israel and South Africa. His other interests are cricket ( Yorkshire CCC), football ( Liverpool FC ), history and archaeology. 
 
 
 
 
 Jason Moss

 

Jason has been leading tours for Oriole since January 2018, and in that time has quickly become a firm favourite with new and returning tour participants alike. A combination of excellent birding skill and knowledge, an enthusiasm to share and teach, and his easy-going personality are some of the keys to his seamless integration into the Oriole Birding fold. Having an interest in birds and natural history since early childhood, Jason took his hobby into his education, obtaining a degree in Biological Science from Portsmouth University. After this, a career in conservation followed, working as a conservation warden for 10 years on some of the UK’s finest nature reserves; Blakeney Point, the Farne Islands, Fair Isle and Skomer Island. Working intimately with both sea and migrant birds, led to a strong passion for both, and an expertise in bird ringing, surveys and monitoring and various other fields of natural history, including butterflies and moths, botany, and most other living things! Living in these remote hubs of bird migration has meant that Jason has been fortunate to find many rare birds, with highlights including Britain’s second Magnolia Warbler, Norfolk’s first Trumpeter Finch, Northumberland’s first Melodious Warbler and other rarities including Pallid Harrier, Buff-bellied Pipit, Fea’s Petrel, Lanceolated, River, Paddyfield, Hume’s, three Blyth’s Reed, two Dusky and Arctic Warblers, two Black-headed Buntings, two Thrush Nightingales, Pied Wheatear  and, on tour with Oriole, Europe’s first Siberian White Wagtail. Jason has travelled extensively on birding trips, including Argentina, Chile, Israel, Estonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Georgia, Cyprus, Lesvos, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Cape Verde, The Gambia, much of the UK and also Spain, the Canary Islands and Mallorca, where he currently lives with his partner Elisa, and also serves on the Balearic Rarities Committee.

 

 

Jane O'Leary
 
Jane joined our team in 2018 and when you ring the office with an enquiry or to make a booking, she is the person you are mostly likely to speak with. Jane took on the role of company administrator in September of 2018, having moved to Norfolk with Nick and their daughter that summer. Jane’s background is in public sector insurance, risk management and civil claims, so her move to Oriole Birding was certainly a change of direction and pace! As well as fulfilling her role as the administrator, ensuring your bookings are properly processed and the tours well organised, Jane provides expertise in company governance, finance and all things risk related!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Paul Roberts

 
Paul joined our team as a staff leader at Oriole Birding in 2019, having spent the last decade working for us as a freelance guide. Paul is an excellent naturalist, and guides overseas tours to a variety of destinations as well as our summer wildlife tours in South Wales and Northern Italy. 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, including the Welsh Records Panel, 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 previously through an interest digiscoping, but more recently using a Sony RX10 iv, which has been proving a great travel camera. Having worked as an ecological surveyor, Paul is now excited to be joining our team full time and we are sure you will enjoy his company on our tours - if you are lucky, he might even bring his ukulele!
 
 
 Gary Elton

 

A keen birder from the tender age of nine, Gary spent the majority of his early years birding near his childhood home, in and around North West London. Local patches in later years included Wormwood Scrubs and Hilfield Park reservoir, where at this latter site he also served as site warden for 12 years on behalf of the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. Gary also served as a Herts Bird Club committee member and has contributed to several birding publications and made several television appearances. Living now in Norfolk, and playing an active part in birding there, working part time at Holme Bird Observatory. He is a qualified ringer involved in running a local constant effort ringing site for the British Trust for Ornithology. Tour leading has become a major part of his working life though, and recent destinations include Israel, Northern Greece, Lesbos, Iceland, Spain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Borneo, Sri Lanka and The Gambia (over 15 visits), with other visits to Morocco, Switzerland, Northern India, Goa and North and Central America. His other work also revolves around birds, primarily working off shore, gathering data on seabirds and cetaceans in and around the countries Wind-farms and in recent years he has worked for the Norwegian government, partaking in their annual inventory of wildlife in and around the Norwegian and Barents Sea. Gary joins our team this year to guide a selection of our UK holidays, plus overseas tours to The Gambia & Israel.

 

 

 Marcus Nash

Marcus grew up in Norfolk and started birding there at the age of 8. He went on to study Zoology at Durham University, where he managed to spend a summer studying Little Egrets in the Camargue and two months in the Peruvian Amazon studying the effects of the then emerging ecotourism on rainforest species distribution. After 14 years living in London and working in the financial services industry, he saw the error of his ways and returned to Norfolk, where he initially spent as much time birding as possible in between taking time out to look after his family, volunteering for the RSPB farmland surveys team, serving on the Norfolk rarities committee, contributing to the Norfolk Bird & Mammal Report and writing other articles, and much more besides. In 2014, he acquired The Bird ID Company and now works as an independent wildlife guide. He has travelled extensively – throughout Europe, to India, Nepal, down through SE Asia to Australia, to Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Chile, Costa Rica and the USA. And he has still managed to find a few rarities here including the UK’s second Citril Finch, Black-and-White Warbler, Eastern Yellow Wagtail, Red-flanked Bluetail, Siberian/Stejneger’s  Stonechat, Spotted Sandpiper & several White-rumped Sandpipers,  Rustic Bunting & several Little Buntings, Dusky, Radde’s, Pallas’s & a couple of Subalpine Warblers, Short-toed Lark, Parrot Crossbill, European Bee-eater, Pallid Harrier, Black-headed Wagtail and several Citrine Wagtails, Gull-billed Tern, Common Rosefinch, Olive-backed Pipit, Northern (‘trumpeting’) Bullfinch and Ring-necked Duck. As well as butterflies, dragonflies and orchids, he also has a growing interest in moths and is hoping to revive his historic entomological training in other directions too. And he is trying to become a better wildlife photographer - if he has any spare time!

 

 

 Steve Cale

Originally from Wolverhampton, Steve is now based in Norfolk and leads our holidays to Bulgaria and Ethiopia 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 Nick 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.

 

 

 

 

 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. Daveleads our tours to Portugal and Morocco and we are very pleased to be working with him on these excellent trips.  

 

 

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 as our ground agent for Hungary, Belarus 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 Canary Islands and Iberian Lynx tours.

 

 

Simon Ginnaw
 

Simon has been passionate about birds & natural history for as long as he remembers - his mum tells him that he only ever got excited about bird books as early as 2 years old.  Simon has over 13 years of guiding and tour leading experience after starting in his late teens, and his experience has led him to Asia, the Americas, and widely across Europe from Svalbard to the Mediterranean islands, spending much of his time in Fenno-Scandinavia, Poland, and Eastern Europe.
Simon is trained in Forestry & Conservation to Masters level, and this has led him to work with organisations such as the RSPB, as a Park Ranger, and for the Forestry Commission.  Bats, butterflies, dragonflies, reptiles, amphibians, cetaceans, and mammal tracking are all in Simon's skill-set, which can add further dimensions to your birding trips.  Simon lives in Kent, where he leads his own evening classes on bird identification and behaviour, and spends much of his spare time with his wife and son, whilst fitting in long-term volunteer work from local wildlife charities where he can.

 

 

 

 

 

 Andrew Kinghorn
 

Andrew is from county Durham and is based in Sunderland. Most of his birding is done around Durham and Northumberland, particularly on the North Tees Marshes. Andrew has had an interest in birds since the age of 14 and despite being qualified in I.T. he landed his first job as an ornithological surveyor working on number of renewable energy projects in England and Scotland. He started as a freelance guide for Birdwatch Northumbria in 2018 and is in the process of acquiring the tour company.  In his spare time, he is a recorder for Durham and has been a Durham Bird Club trustee for eight years, with his prior role being as a web developer. He is currently chair of the Durham records sub-committee and also liaises with RBBP on the club’s behalf. Andrew has birdwatched in Morocco, Bulgaria, Israel, Spain, Cyprus, Poland, Lesbos, Fuerteventura, Majorca, and most of the UK.