A Little About The ‘Bustards…

We love birds and wildlife! But even more than that we love making sure you see it, experience it and have a fantastic time to boot.  Between us we have a great deal of experience in Nature conservation, ecology, tour-leading and the hospitality industry, and we’ll use it to bring you fantastic wildlife spectacles alongside chilled-out birding, local culture and sustainably-produced food.

All our team fulfil these criteria:

  • Are professional naturalists with expertise and training in their speciality fields.
  • Demonstrate active conservation work both through tours and independently.
  • Have a proven track record of inspiring a love of the natural world through all generations.
  • Great no-fuss problem-solvers where required, and always ensure the enjoyment and safety of our groups.
  • Have an exceptional background in the country they are leading in.
  • Are fully insured and compliant with Travel and Tour regulations.
  • Always patient, helpful and inspiring teachers.

Here’s who we are…


Simon Tonkin

fullsizeoutput_22c3Simon is co-owner and partner in Inglorious Bustards, living in Facinas in the heart of The Straits of Gibraltar, Spain.

Simon was raised in Plymouth in the UK and his early birding habitats were rubbish tips, sewage outfalls and fish factories. It all started when, at nine years old, his enthralment with the natural world led him to sneak out with his father’s massive binoculars at first light, returning home many hours after dark covered in estuarine mud and other indescribable detritus, to face the music!

Fulfilling a boyhood dream, Simon worked for the RSPB full-time for fifteen years; the first projects he was involved in were to protect breeding Hen Harriers and Bee-eaters in the North of England. Simon has lectured in ornithology, specialising in a variety of subjects including bird ethology, migration and bird populations. He worked in farmland bird conservation for the most of his RSPB career, latterly working at the RSPB’s headquarters in Sandy.  He and Niki launched the first landscape-scale farmland bird initiative, The Thorney Farmland Bird Friendly Zone.

Simon has conducted research on Corn Bunting crop nest site selection and on the seed palatability of farmland granivores. He also co-launched Operation Turtle Dove, co-ordinating efforts in the UK and internationally to save the species from extirpation. Simon has worked as the Conservation Manager for Conservation Grade, working on ground-breaking and exciting conservation projects in Spain, Portugal, Central America, Morocco, Senegal and The Gambia and is widely travelled in these countries, being particularly familiar with their avifauna, lepidoptera and mammalian species. Simon now lives in the epi-centre of migration at The Straits of Gibraltar as one of the Inglorious Bustards working on a variety of conservation projects, and tour leading.

Despite this long and varied career, he was once described by an eminent public figure as having no discernible talents apart from hanging out at sewage outfalls looking at gulls!

You can view Simon’s conservation and guiding career history and further information about him here.


Niki Williamson

image-6Niki is also co-owner and partner in Inglorious Bustards, and lives with Simon in the delightful village of Facinas in the epicentre of migration – The Straits of Gibraltar, Spain.

Niki grew up playing amongst the woodlands, fields and streams of the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire.  She was given a YOC (Young Ornithologist Club) membership for her 6th birthday, and has loved nature ever since.  Somehow, Niki has managed to remain a member of the RSPB Wildlife Explorers under 9’s to this day, and has found her intellectual level in the Rookie cartoons.

Describing herself as a professional tree-hugger, Niki worked and volunteered for the RSPB for twelve years, managing habitats, brandishing chainsaws with varying levels of threat to limbs (her own and others) and honing her birding skills in amazing wetland, upland and coastal habitats.

In recent years she had the pleasure of working with Nature-friendly farmers to make the countryside a better place for wildlife.  Latterly she headed up RSPB’s Eastern England farmland advisory team which, together with the other partners in Operation Turtle Dove, were working to ensure a future for this iconic bird.

Niki is one of the original members of #teampeanut – a crack troop of A-team style conservationists looking at ways in which West African peanut growers could not only provide peanuts for birdfood but also provide habitats for struggling migratory species – including Turtle Doves – through Fair to Nature accreditation.

Seeing first hand the challenges faced by journeying birds all across the flyway has given Niki a deep passion for the epic spectacle of migration.  This, and her love of international adventure makes her a proud founder member in the Inglorious Bustards’ motley line-up  (Oh and by the way, it was her that thought of the name…).


Dr. Alejandro Onrubia

12553076_10153968419703933_8742924961196982075_nAlejandro is the project coordinator at Fundación Migres, working on a number of scientific monitoring schemes here in The Straits of Gibraltar. Many will know Alejandro from his skills in monitoring the crossing of thousands of soaring birds here in The Straits, where seemingly he spends every waking moment at a watchpoint busily ‘clicking’ each new traveler through the migration bottleneck.

Aside from monitoring work, Alejandro is also working on new sustainable eco-tourism opportunities in partnership with the Inglorious Bustards.

Alejandro is a well published ornithologist having authored a vast array of scientific studies, improving our knowledge of bird migration and the ever-increasing and changing threats these migrants face on their travels. Alejandro has vast experience and knowledge and he translates that through his friendly, patient and enlightening guiding skills.  Every time you go birding with Alejandro, you learn something new!


Juan-lu

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If you join us for our Birding Two Continents tour you will be blessed to have Juan-Lu as one of the guides. Together Simon and Juan-lu pioneered the concept of birding on two continents and together they make a brilliant team, having worked together over many years.

Juan-lu is a Spain-based trekking guide who, through his unbelievable array of contacts and friends in Morocco, can gain access to some incredible places, experiences and sights and immerse us fully in the culture and the flavours of this very special country.

 

 


Tijan Kanteh

48418833_1521187904650754_6208209316076322816_nTijan is one of the most experienced conservationists, birders and guides in The Gambia.  He is much respected by his peers and renowned for his ability to use his wealth of knowledge to train new and upcoming guides in the country.  So much so that locally he is often referred to as ‘Elder’ or ‘Uncle’!  He certainly has our respect too, and we are proud to have him on the team. Tijan is a passionate conservationist and is involved in local projects around land use policy and illegal hunting and trafficking of birds.  He even hosts the unofficial RSPB Brufut office at his home! He also was one of the original members of the aforementioned #teampeanut, working on sustainable peanut production management to protect wildlife habitats and the wider environment.  Simon and Tijan have worked with each other for nearly twenty years and are often locally referred to as brothers!


Dave Grundy

29101106_2087898097894485_4883348085738805619_nDave Grundy is an experienced naturalist and has a particular specialist interest in moths.  He regularly leads training courses throughout the UK and Iberia, particularly for the Field Studies Council, with both beginners and more advanced participants, on moths and other natural history subjects. 

He also carries out professional moth and butterfly surveys averaging over 150 nights per year in the field, giving him the essential background field knowledge for moth identification.  

From 2003 to 2013 he organised and administered the Garden Moth Scheme, which now covers  over 300 gardens across Britain and Ireland. The scheme monitors changes in the fortunes of common moth species and uses the data as indicators of environmental change.

Since 2013 he has been an annual visitor to Andalucía to study moths and since 2017 has been spending his winters in the area trapping moths at a wide variety of local sites.  He is often the first person to moth-trap at these sites. He is also proud to have been a ‘polillero’ (Moth-studier), helping form the very first Iberian moth conference in April 2018.


Eddi Pitcher

Eddi Pitcher arrived in Lisbon in 2013 to walk the 600km pilgrim route from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. Once a pilgrim, always a pilgrim, her way took her deeper into the wild side of Spain and Portugal. Her book Wild Guide Portugal was published in 2017, packed with outdoor adventures ideas, hidden places and wild escapes. In 2018 she hopped over the border to southern Spain and is currently travelling and researching its caves, forgotten castles and rivers for her next book, Wild Guide Andalucía. She has written for Condé Nast Traveller, the Guardian and Sunday Express.

Eddi lives in Cádiz, the oldest city in Europe, and leads 10 day cultural tours in Spain and Portugal. She has led small groups through the historical centres and backstreets of Córdoba, Granada, Seville, Lisbon, Porto, Guimares and Coimbra (to name a few!) but she is most happy taking groups to the wilder sites discovered during her book fieldwork.  She has taken a rally of vintage motor cars to a beautiful but forgotten Portuguese stone circle, a ruined Templar castle and ancient olive groves with a stone tomb dating back to 3000 BC. She is looking forward to more wild adventures!

We are thrilled to have Eddi on hand as our wild places guru and “culture vulture”.  Her enthusiasm for and knowledge of Andalucía’s rich hidden history, archaeology and little-visited wild places know no bounds!  On featured tours and during specially-arranged day tours, her insight further enriches a day out amongst the area’s glorious wildlife.


 

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