ASHLEY SAUNDERS – DIRECTOR & TOUR LEADER
Ashley has been watching birds since a very young age and has lived in North Norfolk all his life. At 38 he has twenty years experience in the business having spent seven years running his own company before helping to form Oriole Birding. Ashley has vast experience in tour leading in the UK and abroad, and 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 Bunting, Little Bittern, Cackling Goose, Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Red-flanked Bluetail, Gull-billed Tern, Siberian Stonechat, Pallid Swift, Swainson’s Thrush and Semipalmated Sandpiper. Ashley joined the Norfolk Rarities Committee in July 2017 for a five year term, 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 company strategy alongside Nick, helps manage our tour logistics and itineraries, and runs our website and marketing. Ashley lives in the Norfolk market town of Fakenham with his wife Lucy and 9 year-old daughter Lily and enjoys supporting Norwich City in his spare time.
NICK PARSONS – DIRECTOR & TOUR LEADER
Nick has been a Director and shareholder of Oriole since 2017. Nick and his family live in Norfolk and their Great Ryburgh Home is also the office for Oriole. A solicitor in private practice for many years Nick works with Ashley on our business strategy and general management as well as tour leading. Nick is a firm believer in putting something back when it comes to nature and he has been a trustee of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust for many years and is currently Chair of Trustees. Locally, he is an active member of the Ryburgh Wildlife Group. When work and family commitments allow Nick is usually to be found out in the field looking for his own birds. He is a seasoned birder overseas China, USA, Colombia, Morocco,South Africa, Spain, Mallorca, Canary Islands, Cyprus, Lesvos and Israel. His other interests are cricket, football, history and archaeology.
JANE O’LEARY – DIRECTOR & TOUR OPERATIONS MANAGER
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 is a director of Oriole and provides expertise in company governance, finance and all things risk related!
JASON MOSS – TOUR LEADER
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 newborn son Jan. He also serves on the Balearic Rarities Committee.
GARY ELTON – TOUR LEADER
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.
PAUL ROBERTS – TOUR LEADER
Paul has worked as a freelance guide for Oriole for the last 15 years. He is an excellent naturalist, and guides overseas tours to a variety of destinations as well as our Somerset & Forest of Dean and Shetland Spring tours here in the UK. 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. Paul works as an ecological surveyor when not guiding, and enjoys playing the Ukelele!
NEIL GLENN – TOUR LEADER
Neil’s birdwatching has taken him to six continents over the last forty years. If pushed, he would say Central and South America are his favourite destinations – “you can never see too many hummingbirds!” – but he is happy anywhere in the world if watching birds.
Neil has written two county site guides for Buckingham Press (Best Birdwatching Sites in Norfolk and …in Yorkshire) and his articles have featured in many magazines over the years (BBC Wildlife, Bird Watching Magazine, Birds Illustrated, Wild Travel, etc). Neil is a proud Patron of Birding For All, a charity promoting easy access for everyone on bird reserves and is also Chair of Nottinghamshire Birdwatchers.
When not birdwatching ‘in the field’, Neil can usually be found standing next to a field of a different kind: a football field! His other obsession is non-league football and will often combine visiting a new football ground with some local birdwatching somewhere in the country on any given Saturday.
MARCUS NASH – TOUR LEADER
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!
DR ROBERT FLOOD – TOUR LEADER
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.
STEVE CALE – TOUR LEADER
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 his Golden Oriole image was our first 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 committee 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.
DAVE GOSNEY – TOUR LEADER
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 leads our tour to Morocco and we are very pleased to be working with him on these excellent trips.
JAVIER ELORRIAGA – TOUR LEADER
Javi (pronounced “habee”) was 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 – TOUR LEADER
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 – TOUR LEADER
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.
ROB SHELDON – TOUR LEADER
Rob started birding at the age of 7 on Sunday afternoons around a local patch in Wombourne, South Staffordshire. Whilst at the University of Hertfordshire he undertook a one year placement at the National Avian Research Centre in the United Arab Emirates to study wintering Houbara Bustards. This began a lifelong interest in the birds of the Middle East. After completing a PhD on the breeding ecology of the Northern Lapwing, Rob joined the RSPB as an agricultural adviser before spending many years in the Reserves Ecology department that took him to many of the RSPB’s famous nature reserves. During this time Rob was seconded part-time to the Conservation Science department to study Sociable Lapwings in Kazakhstan. His final job at the RSPB was as the Head of International Species Recovery which involved projects on globally threatened species such as Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Vultures and Eurasian Curlew. After two years based in Saudi Arabia, Rob now works as a freelance conservation consultant. Rob has been a Council member of the Ornithological Society of the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia (OSME) since 2011 and the Chairman since 2013 and most of his international birding is undertaken across this region. We are delighted to have Rob joining us as a Middle East and Central Asia specialist kicking off with leading our Georgia & Kazakhstan tours.