When I was five years old my Grandmother took my sister and I on a day trip to a local raptor centre in my home county of North Yorkshire in England. (I'm sure you've heard various versions of this story before so i’ll be quick!). All it took was that one visit for a spark of passion to ignite that would never be extinguished. Little did I know at that time in my life my dream career would become an actual reality.
I never achieved good grades during school and endured every parents evening hearing the same thing, “he’s underachieving” or “he doesn't apply himself to any subject at all so there’s not a huge amount of career prospects available if he does not step up to the mark”. I can remember sitting there thinking my teachers had no idea and certainly didn't understand the career path I had already chosen so there was no point in trying to explain myself.
In hindsight I probably should have applied myself more and not bunked school to wander the countryside searching for wild Kestrels and the then not so “Common” Buzzards. I certainly shouldn't have lied in the face of the Bird Trainers I so highly respected, telling them “there’s no school, today is a teacher training day” so I could volunteer for that day, but I did and I cant really go back and change that now. More to the point, I guess my career/adventure with birds of prey up until now may have missed a few important- amazing moments that carved out my dream!
At the age of 18 I relocated from North Yorkshire to Hampshire in the south of England. I began a career with the globally recognised Hawk Conservancy Trust, I spent 10 incredible years working for the organisation which was packed full of opportunities. From creating and managing a bird show at Longleat Safari & Adventure Park were I presented and produced the "Hunters of the Sky" shows and the amazing DEADLY60 shows with Steve Backshall and Naomi Wilkinson. It was so important for me to make sure that each show played a role in raising awareness and vital funds for vulture research and conservation work. I was also given opportunities to travel and assist with the Hawk Conservancy Trust’s conservation efforts in Africa and Pakistan. I proudly regard The Hawk Conservancy Trust as my spiritual home.
In 2014 I moved back to North Yorkshire to assist my parents on their small holding and began a new venture working as the Curator of birds for the National Centre for Birds of Prey, which has strong links to the internationally acclaimed International Centre for Birds of Prey.
My adventure took a huge turn in september 2015 when I packed my bags, got on a plane and landed in Pokhara, Nepal. My BirdNerd adventure so far has been a whirlwind of amazing experiences with awesome people. I certainly had no idea that I (the underachieving school boy with no future prospects) would end up in the stunning mountains of Nepal working with the amazing Parahawking Project directly helping a group of birds i admire so much. I really wish my school teachers and their lack of vision could see me now.... “Living the Dream!”
When i returned to the UK i joined the International Wildlife Consultants (IWC). The IWC have over 40 years of practical conservation achievements, mainly
The IWC support the wise and sustainable use of wildlife and habitats. To achieve their aims they undertake front-line field research, hands-on management of habitats and wildlife, education of biologists, managers, end-users, the public and consultancies on wildlife law and regulation. Working with the IWC has provided me with many essential skills such as the captive breeding techniques of raptor species, habitat management and further experience working overseas.
I'm now based at the National Centre for Birds of Prey and have taken up the role of Curator once again... It's hard to stay away from North Yorkshire!