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Meet the Team

MARK AYRE lives on the southern South Island of New Zealand and has been a keen birder for most of his life. He is originally from the UK, where we worked as a warden on various bird reserves. Mark is very active in the local Royal Forest and Bird Protection Societies and is particularly involved in the conservation management of the endangered Mohua (Yellowhead). When not taking bird tours or being involved in conservation work, Mark is involved with a yacht charter business. He has been leading bird tours for Mark Hanger of NatureQuest, New Zealand for many years and has led our tour for the past  12 years.


LUCA BOSCAIN is one of SKUA Nature's guides who has worked at Ultima Frontiera in the Danube Delta in Romania, as well as on some of the Spanish photographic estates. He is fluent in a number of languages, including English, and is a great birder with a good sense of humour. He has helped lead a number of our tours to Romania and Spain.


SIMON BOYES  was brought up and learnt his birds in the Cotswolds. He graduated in Classics (helpful for scientific names of birds!) from Oxford University in 1974, and took his Master's Degree in Environmental Conservation in Edinburgh. Before leaving college he had already travelled round Kenyan and Tanzanian game parks, overland to India and round Scandinavia. In 1976 he worked for the RSPB as a summer warden on Fetlar and at Minsmere. In 1977 Ornitholidays invited him to co-lead a tour to the Seychelles, which turned out to be the first of many international tours. Since then he has become one of Ornitholidays' principal leaders and has now led over  300 tours to all seven continents. There can be few bird tour leaders in the world that rival Simon's knowledge of world birds. He is especially interested in bird-song and taxonomy and his other interests include swimming, snorkelling, wildlife gardening, cricket and playing the mandolin. He lives with his family in the Welsh borders.


KUEN-DAR CHIANG has been the co-leader for our last three tours to Taiwan. He has been a licensed tour guide and tour leader since 2006 and has led over 30 tours. He has close ties with the Wild Bird Society of Taipei. He has a good knowledge of where to find all the island's endemics and he is a master at finding the best restaurants for eating Chinese banquets!


RICHARD COOMBER  has been associated with Ornitholidays for over 40 years as in 1968, as a young bank clerk on the Isles of Scilly, he showed Lawrence Holloway and one of our early groups to the islands an Upland Sandpiper that he had discovered on St. Mary's. By 1974 he had given up banking to run a guesthouse on the Isle of Mull, where in 1976 he hosted our first tour to the island. On moving back to the south in the 1980s he joined the Ornitholidays team and has now led over 240 tours covering all seven continents, visiting over 50 countries watching birds and wildlife. He is a past winner of the Dusk to Dawn section of the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and willingly shares his knowledge of digital photography with clients on tour. In addition to birds and photography he is interested in other aspects of wildlife, especially flora, butterflies and moths. When not on tour he gives illustrated talks to RSPB and other groups. He now lives near the New Forest in Hampshire where he is an active member of the Hampshire Moth Group.


ENRIQUE COUVÉ   is an Industrial Design Engineer by profession, but a naturalist at heart and has been birdwatching for more than 40 years. He is extremely knowledgeable about Chilean birds, having travelled from the High Andes in northern Chile to the frozen Antarctic seas. He is extremely skilled in finding and identifying birds in the field. Enrique is also the main author of the forthcoming book entitled Field Guide to the Birds of Chile and also author of Birds of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and Antarctic Peninsula. He is an excellent nature photographer, having one of the most complete photographic collections of Chile's birds and other wildlife. He is a partner and Director of Fantastico Sur and lives in Punta Arenas with his wife Cecilia and their four children.


MARIANA DELPORT  has made a study of the natural history of the Western Cape and is a member of the Cape Bird Club, Tygerberg Bird Club, BirdLife SA, the Botanical Society of SA, the Indigenous Bulb Society of SA and Field Guides' Association of SA.  During her five years as chairperson of the Tygerberg Bird Club she has organised and led many birding outings, most of which ended up as natural history outings as many of her birding friends share her passion for nature.  She says that becoming a qualified cultural and nature guide was the best thing that has happened to her, as nothing makes her more happy than sharing her passion with visitors to South Africa. She has led many of our recent tours to South Africa.


JACOB GARVELINK has been a birder since he was eight years old. Even though his parents weren't avid birders, they did encourage his curiosity for nature and took him around the Netherlands looking at nature on a regular basis. From his hometown Bloemendaal he explored the superb dune habitats at the Kennemerduinen. The Ijmuiden pier was another one of his favourite spots to go birdwatching. After his high school years, he spent a full year travelling, exploring Australia and New Zealand. It was during this trip that a new passion for travelling emerged. During his studies (Art History) in Amsterdam he travelled to Southeast Asia, China, Morocco, Egypt, Sri Lanka and the USA. After his studies he visited Ethiopia, South Africa, Botswana and Namibia several times. The magnificent continent of Africa has even further broadened his passion for birds. Jacob likes to photograph birds, a new challenge he likes to commit himself to!


ALAN GILLANDERS is a local tablelander who grew up on the western Cape York Peninsula in Australia. His interest in natural history has been lifelong. While earning his living as a teacher Alan led botanical, geological and birding tours for various local, interstate and national interest groups and operators. He has been a national park volunteer for two decades, leading many public activities including spotlighting tours. Alan has a wealth of amusing stories from personal experience to illustrate his points about the plants and animals his guests see. He led out 2015 and 2016 Ornitholidays tours to Queensland.


ORLANDO HARASEB is a lead guide and guide trainer with Ultimate Safaris. Before starting as a safari guide he was the Captain of the Namibian National Football Team and is thus a well known personality with lots of friends throughout the country. He then went to work at Hobatere Lodge for several years with Steve Braine who is one of the most knowledgeable best respected birding guides in Namibia, and it was here that Orlando built up the knowledge that allowed him to become a birding guide in his own right. Orlando moved to Ultimate Safaris when in 2005 and has increased his experience as a national guide over that time while also obtaining the qualifications necessary to become a national guide trainer. He now divides his time between leading specialist safaris and offering guide training through the prestigious Namibian Academy of Tourism and Hospitality of which he is Board vice Chairman.


MARTIN HROUZEK studied zoology at the Brno's Masarky University. His overall knowledge of the animal and plants of his local area is outstanding. He has been leading tours for over 10 years, his command of English is excellent and he has been a great asset on our European tours.


CRISTIAN JENSEN grew up in Barcelona and having a Danish father and a Catalan mother, he is fluent in Spanish, Catalan and English as well as having basic French and Danish. He has been a keen birdwatcher from the age of 12 and is a ringer and is also involved with educational projects for schools. He has been a tour guide for many years as well as working on the re-introduction of Peregrine Falcons in Barcelona and for the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.


NIGEL JONES  is the Managing Director of Ornitholidays. His interest in birds and natural history led to a degree in Biological Sciences at the University of East Anglia, then to employment as Assistant Warden on Fair Isle in the Shetlands and as an ornithologist working in the Camargue, France. Subsequent posts in teaching and research have finally culminated in his position running Ornitholidays since 1990. He  has has travelled extensively to all seven continents in search of birds.


HARRIET KEMIGISHA is a Ugandan who grew up close to Kibale National Park and was raised by her grandparents. Her love of birds began at a young age as her grandfather taught her to identify and name the local forest birds. After school she worked with the Uganda Wildlife Authority as a guide based in Kibale National Park. She is undoubtedly one of the best bird guides in the country and is Uganda's only female bird guide. She discovered a new species for Uganda, Orange-cheeked Waxbill and rediscovered the Green-breasted Pitta in Kibale Forest National Park in 2005. She has co-led two of our previous tours to Uganda.


LEON MARAIS  was born and raised in South Africa and is a THETA/FGASA (Level 3) Specialist Guide. He studied for a Postgraduate Degree at the University of Natal and then began his guiding career in the safari industry, spending around six years guiding at various game reserves in South Africa, where he developed a special fondness for African mammals and the predators in particular. He was introduced to the pleasures of birdwatching by his grandfather and has been looking at birds through binoculars since he was but knee-high to a Marabou Stork.


FRANK McCLINTOCK  was born in Africa and educated in England. He emigrated to Portugal over 20 years ago and bought some scrubland and a few ruins overlooking a vast, man-made lake. He has turned this property into Paradise in Portugal, a guest lodge, which, in addition to a view to die for, offers excellent eco-friendly accommodation. He has always had a passion for nature and has been a professional bird guide for over 10 years.


GABOR ORBAN  became interested in birding whilst a young boy and later widened his interests to botany, geology and zoology. During the 80's and 90's he led several tours firstly in Hungary, then in other Eastern European countries and Western Europe as well. He lived and worked for years in the US criss-crossing the continent several times. He became a licensed professional birdwatching and nature guide, and since 2006 he has spent six months every year in Latin America and six months in Eastern Europe. He leads birding, nature, cultural, butterfly and photographic tours worldwide. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge of nature and the culture of different countries and his hobbies include nature and wildlife photography, birding and travelling to hidden places. He has visited Ethiopia on  four occasions and Belarus numerous times.


VICTOR OWUSU was born in Eziama in the Western Region of Ghana close to Ankasa Reserve surrounded by the upper guinea rainforest. His childhood was spent exploring the forest around his community and is the main reason for his exceptional ability to identify and find most of the difficult species. He is a very experienced guide having led over 100 tours and his calm and professional style ensures a smooth and enjoyable trip for all the tour participants. Now in his mid-thirties Victor knows all the birds by song and call and can identify all the West African species. He has a love of nature and is also very knowledgeable on the culture and history of Ghana which he enjoys sharing with clients.


BERT PALTHE is a long-standing registered guide and has many years of experience, both in tourism and wildlife conservation. After qualifying as a specialist in Nature Conservation, he went on to manage exclusive game reserves in the previous Eastern and Northern Transvaal. He is now a full time tour leader based in Cape Town. Bert has a passionate interest in wildlife, birds and nature conservation, and genuinely enjoys sharing his wealth of knowledge with others. He has led our Natural History tours to the Cape region for the past few years and he has proved very popular with our groups.


LUKE PATERSON's interest in birds has developed over many years after camping trips around the state of Victoria with his family triggered off his passion for these winged beauties. After completing his studies of Natural Resource Management in Bendigo, he moved to Broome, where he worked as an Assistant Warden at the Broome Bird Observatory. Luke led bird watching tours around the magnificent Roebuck Bay and surrounding environments, where he also assisted in the capturing and research of various bird species involving mist and cannon netting. From Broome he moved to Darwin and has been working throughout the top end for more than eight years, His passion for birds has only got stronger through the years. Luke has the necessary Kakadu permits and is accredited with Birds Australia. 


MITKO PETRAKIEV is a Bulgarian who has a passion for the outdoor life. He has led many walking and bird tours, and his knowledge of the geography, geology, and natural history adds immensely to each holiday where he is the guide. He has co-led our previous Turkey and Jordan  tours


PAUL ROGERS  has had a life-long interest in natural history, which is underlined by his qualifications in Ecology and Animal Behaviour gained at London University. He is a principal leader for Ornitholidays and has led over 210 tours. He now has the privilege of living at Shorelands on Anglesey, the former home of wildlife artist Charles Tunnicliffe. He is widely travelled in Europe, North America and Africa and lectures on ornithology, ecology and all aspects of natural history.


NICOLA SCATASSI has been interested in birds, and nature in general, since he was young. He is an excellent birdwatcher, as well as a very good all-round naturalist. His ornithological interest is perfectly combined with his great passion for travelling through the Italian Peninsula and to all continents. He used to work as a ranger for the Po River Natural Park in Piedmont, but now guides nature and bird watching tours. He speaks fluent English and he has led many of our Italian tours as well as our Georgian holiday.


GABOR SIMAY has been interested in birds and nature conservation since his first years in primary school. During his studies at the University of Debrecen he deepened his knowledge on birds, carried out research on ground-nesting birds of the Hortobagy National Park, spending most of his time in the field. His favourite area is the Bihar Plain and the Hortobagy. In 2008 he started to work for the Hortobagy National Park as a full time warden in the Bihar Plain area. He is also a member of the Hungarian Rarity Committee. He frequently visits other parts of Hungary as well as many sites of the Carpathian Basin to study birds. As a keen birdwatcher and photographer, he has visited several different Western Palearctic countries (e.g. Turkey, Spain, Egypt, Jordan), as well as Namibia, Mexico, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and India. He speaks perfect English and some German.


ANTERO TOPP has been a bird enthusiast ever since he was 10 years old. After traditional birding trips in his school years, he developed an interest in ringing and acting in organisations, in bird observatory work in particular. He ringed birds in southern Finland for more than 10 years and acted as the secretary and editor-in-chief of Tringa, the Ornithological Association of the Helsinki area, and as a member of the Finish ringing committee. He has made many birding trips to Greece, Spain, Israel, Ireland, India, Scotland, UAE, Oman, Maderia and Antarctica. Today he concentrates on guiding and nature photography.


UTHAI TREESUCON  is undoubtedly the most experienced Thai birdwatcher. His knowledge of bird song and his use of tapes has helped our previous groups see many elusive species. He has led hundreds of birdwatching tours in his native Thailand in addition to the many tours he has led to Vietnam.


HERMAN VENEGAS is a native Costa Rican and his story of how he got into birding shows how contagious the love of birds can be. He began working at the birding lodge Rancho Naturalista in jobs unrelated to birding. The bird guides there noticed he showed great interest in the birds and that he was eager to learn more. Of course the bird guides obliged him and soon Herman was joining them on hikes and day trips to nearby areas in his free time. Fast forward, Herman soon became the resident bird guide at Rancho Naturalista for six years. As many guides do, Herman wanted to branch out and get to know all of Costa Rica's birds and took every opportunity to travel with his fellow birding friends. He has worked for our agents for the last three years doing an excellent job. His birdfinding skills and easy personality will greatly add to your tour not to mention his knowledge of all things Costa Rican. Herman lives in Platanillo with his wife Jenni and son Yurei.


DAVID WALSH  has recently retired from teaching and lives in Suffolk. He has been a keen birdwatcher for most of his life. Over the last few years he has led many tours to Europe, Africa and North America. His other interests include butterflies and dragonflies. David has proved very popular with Ornitholidays clients on the tours he recently led to Morocco, Corsica, Camargue and the Canary Islands. He has travelled widely in Asia and the countries he has visited include China, Tibet, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.


DEEPAL WARAKAGODA  is one of Sri Lanka's top birdwatching tour guides and the author of the new Field Guide to the Birds of Sri Lanka. He will be happy to show us all of the country's endemic birds on our tour. He has been the leader on our last nine holidays to Sri Lanka.


STEVE WEST first started birding on his walks to and from school when he was a seven year old schoolboy in Hampshire, England. He had his first taste of foreign birding in Spain in 1983 with the UEA bird club while studying for his degree in Ecology at the University of East Anglia. Further foreign trips led him around different parts of Europe before he settled in Spain in 1988. Steve has combined teaching, translating and conducting bird surveys with leading bird tours around Spain since 1996. Fluent in both Spanish and Catalan, he is also the author of two books, Where the birds are in northeast Spain and  Flying over the Pyrenees, standing on the plains. He has been leading Ornitholidays' tours to Spain since 2011.