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 vast 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 and local culture and 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 the Travel and Tour regulations.
- Patient, always helpful and inspiring teachers.
Here’s who we are…
Niki 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 12 years, managing habitats, brandishing chainsaws with varying levels of threat to limbs (her own and others) and honing her birding skills in some of the best wetland, upland and coastal habitats in the UK.
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, is 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 can not only provide peanuts for your birdfood but also provide habitats for struggling migratory species including Turtle Doves through Fair to Nature accreditation.
While in The Gambia Niki was involved in an unfortunate but amusing incident involving a Pel’s Fishing Owl, a boat and a wheelbarrow, which will no doubt often be recounted on Inglorious Bustards trips…
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 an eager addition to the Bustards’ motley line-up and a now permanent resident in centre of Bird migration at the Straits of Gibraltar.
Simon was raised in Plymouth 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 has worked in farmland bird conservation for the most of his RSPB career and recently worked 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.
Once being 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 work history and further information about him here.
Dr. Alejandro Onrubia
Alejandro is the project coordinator at Foundation Migres working on a variety of scientific monitoring schemes here in The Straits of Gibraltar. Many will know Alejandro from his skills of 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 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 something new is learnt !
Tijan 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 for training other new and upcoming guides in the country. So 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 #teampeanut working on sustainable peanut production management to protect wildlife habitats and the wider environment. Simon and Tijan have worked with each other for close to twenty years and are often locally referred to as brothers!
Bubacarr is a young prodigy in The Gambian ornithological world. No wonder as he has a great teacher – his father Tijan! Bubacarr shares his passion for the enjoyment and protection of the natural world and Gambian wildlife with a calm confidence and he is always on hand to help. Before you know it your bag has arrived in your room and he is already pointing out wildlife before you’re off the bus! With Bubacarr’s friendly approach and sharp eyes, local Tendaba legend has it that he has the eyes of an African Hawk Eagle !
Jake Gearty – Student and Youth Groups
Growing up birding in Brighton, Jake plied his early birding trade with his grandad who first introduced him to the commoner species before he became fully hooked. Jake has birded all around the world including the likes of Honduras, Borneo, Ghana and Bulgaria as well as widely in Iberia.
One of the many brilliant things Jake is known for is his part in the foundation of Next Generation Birders, which continues to help many young people find support and friendships in birding.
Jake applied his amazing people skills to nursing for a number of years before taking the decision to pursue his other great passions – birding and conservation. Jake is now studying Ecology and Conservation at University of East Anglia, where he hopes to develop a career in this field.
Whilst Jake now resides in Norfolk, birding in the Straits is a passion for this fellow ‘migration junkie’ and he is always a welcome addition to the Flyway line-up at the Inglorious Bustards. We love his passion and superb knowledge of migration, nature and conservation combined with his engaging and supportive approach to all comers. We are very proud to have him on the team.
The Mothin-man – Dave Grundy.
Dave Grundy is an experienced naturalist and has a particular specialist interest in moths and regularly leads training courses throughout the UK on this subject, particularly for the Field Studies Council, with both beginners and more advanced participants, for these and for other natural history subjects and now also in Iberia starting from 2018.
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 Andalucia to study moths and since 2017 has been spending his winters in the area trapping moths at a wide variety of local sites and is often the first person to moth-trap these sites. He is also proud to have been a ‘Polillero’ (Moth-studier) helping form the very first Iberian moth conference based at Huerta Grande in April 2018. With this unrivalled knowledge our very own Mothin-man of The Straits is leading specialised Inglorious Bustards mothy adventures !