The Birding Ecotours Bandits

While the majority of our team hails from the southern extremity of the Africa Eurasia Flyway, we still feel deeply connected by the extraordinary movements of birds that take place each migration season and greatly enjoy the incredible spectacle of birds arriving from Europe and Asia each year.  Here in South Africa (and especially in Cape Town where Trevor lives), of course these long-distance migrants are unable to travel any further if they don’t want to find themselves in the middle of the Atlantic or Indian Oceans!

While the four of us are completely, unstoppably enthusiastic birders on our home patches, and earnestly take part in local birding challenges, our world lists are also extremely important to us – so we travel the world at every opportunity trying to find (and get to know) less familiar species.  When we’re in North Africa, Europe and Asia, we study waders, warblers, brown eagles and other tougher-to-ID groups, observing them thoroughly – in case a new species for South Africa arrives that we need to be able to identify! We feel kind of ‘at home’ in the Palearctic – and also right into East Asia, because we share such a large number of migrants that spend their non-breeding seasons in South Africa, and also because so many bird families are shared.

We are all, also passionate bird conservationists and are very proud to be able to participate for the second year running, in the truly epic Champions of the Flyway event this year.

It’s all good and well that birds are relatively well-protected in Britain, Israel and South Africa (as examples of where bird conservation is fairing relatively well) – but many of the species that migrate between these areas are, quite literally, massacred en route so we applaud Champions of the Flyway  as an awareness and fund-raising event specifically aimed at reducing this.

We are keen to do our bit, so please sponsor our team and in so doing – help alleviate the dire challenges facing migrants passing through Greece and its islands.

Trevor Hardaker

Trevor Hardaker

Trevor Hardaker has been interested in wildlife and, in particular birds, since a very young age and has spent a major portion of his life in the field, both locally and abroad, looking at and enjoying birds. Whilst he loves travelling abroad for birding and enjoying some of the iconic species that the world has to offer, his passion for birds started at home in Cape Town, South Africa. Here, his interest in birds has covered many aspects of the pastime, whether it be just general birding close to where he lives or chasing a rare bird that has turned up in some far-flung corner of the country and he is also actively involved with the popular bird atlas project that is currently underway in SA. He is also passionate about conservation and has been involved, in various ways over the years, to raise much needed funds to continue important conservation work.

He is one of only four people to have ever seen more than 900 species in Southern Africa (he currently has the second highest list ever recorded) and is also the youngest person to ever achieve this milestone. He currently serves as the Chairman of the BirdLife South Africa Rarities Committee and also as a member of the BirdLife South Africa List Committee whilst he also owns and operates a service called SA Rare Bird News, an email alert system that notifies birders across the region of any rare birds that are found, a service that is currently followed by several thousand birders. Together with a good friend, he also operates a business called Zest for Birds which runs pelagic trips out of Cape Town to go and show people all the amazing species that visit the nutrient rich waters of the Cape.” Please do check it out!

Jason Boyce

Jason Boyce

Seniour Tour Leader and Bird Guide for Birding Ecotours

Jason Boyce, 26, is finishing off a BSc Environmental Management while working for Birding Ecotours, leading tours as well as doing office work. His energy, enthusiasm and knowledge are bottomless, and his people skills are absolutely superb. He has been fascinated by birds ever since he could see them. He has loved the journey that birds have taken him on up to this day, having been birding for over 16 years and couldn’t imagine the next 30 years without them.

Jason has spent most of his life in Pretoria, South Africa, with a 2-year stint in the Western Cape. He has an incredible passion for leading outings and teaching others about the wonders of the birding world, nature and the environment – from the “Desert of the Lark” to the “Mountains of the Eagle”. He is very well-known for his involvement in young birders’ groups and contributes a great deal to research and conservation projects, such as the Southern African Bird Atlas Project. His passion for birds is contagious (so beware of catching it from him!). He knows southern African birds thoroughly and has recently started birding elsewhere; his most recent trips include, Gabon, Zambia, Israel for the Champions of the flyway race for conservation 2015 as well as Tanzania. He is looking forward to the Champions of the Flyway race 2016 as well as birding Uganda later this year.

Andy Walker

Andy Walker

Senior Tour Leader and Bird Guide for Birding Ecotours

Andrew Walker is Birding Ecotours’ UK representative, and he also guides some of our birding tours in many parts of the world. He lives in York, North Yorkshire, England, where he is the York Ornithological Club’s Bird Recorder and Assistant Editor, and he also works as a Principal Consultant Ornithologist for a multi-disciplinary consultancy. Andrew holds a BSc (Hons) degree in Countryside Management and Ornithology (Hull University), is a Full Member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (MCIEEM), and is a Full Member of the Association of Environmental and Ecological Clerk of Works (MEECW).

Andrew has spent the last 26 years birding extensively across the world with recent focus in the Oriental and Australasian regions. A love of traveling came about after he spent two years living and studying (mainly birding!) in Kenya, followed by two years living in Costa Rica, where he worked as a bird guide and tour leader. Andrew has recently scoped out numerous birding tour locations, including Australia, Taiwan, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo, and various European birding destinations (e.g. the UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, Sweden, Canary Islands, and Poland). Andrew gains great satisfaction from being able to show people new and exciting birds and help them learn about their behavior and biology. He enjoys putting in the hours for those secretive, yet highly rewarding forest skulkers.

Within his consultancy role, Andrew manages a large team of ornithologists and works on a range of medium- and large-scale developments for a variety of sectors including renewables (wind, solar etc.), industrial, commercial, transport, and residential developments throughout the UK and South Africa. Andrew’s involvement in ecological projects ranges from design and implementation of diurnal and nocturnal ornithological survey methodologies, consultation, report writing (e.g. Environmental Statement Chapters, Technical Baseline Reports, Monitoring Reports, Habitat/Environmental Management Plans and Habitat Regulation Appraisals), and data analysis (including Collision Risk Modeling and Population Viability Analysis) to mitigation advice. This work gets Andrew birding in some incredible environments and results in continued professional development and learning.

His enthusiasm is completely infectious, and like all our guides he’s excellent with people, in addition to his impeccable birding skills and knowledge. Andrew cannot wait to get involved with the Champions of the Flyway race for Conservation, 2016, Bring it on!

Dylan Vasapolli

Dylan Vasapolli

Senior Tour Leader and Bird Guide for Birding Ecotours

Dylan Vasapolli grew up in the suburbs of Johannesburg, and fortunately, due to a very supportive mother, was able to experience the joys of the then largely still wild surroundings on a regular basis. From a young age, the beauty of birds was instilled in Dylan, and it would go on to shape his life.

Turning annual “family holidays” into pure birding adventures was one way how he and his family went about this. The warm, coastal forests of Natal were a regular stomping ground, and in recent years he has expanded and largely covered the bird-rich nations of Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

At the ripe young age of 22 he has caused many a surprise in local birding circles, not only with the knowledge of birds he possesses but also with his experience beyond his years. It has been his lifelong passion to become a bird guide, and he is definitely on the right track! Fluent in the art of birdsong, his hearing abilities only add to his repertoire!

Dylan is mastering many birds of the Americas with trips to Peru, the United States, and the Caribbean. In addition, he has birded a large part of Europe. His incredible ability with bird calls is an asset to any tour participants in Africa, Europe, and other places he guides.

In the meantime, he is currently studying Nature Conservation and works for Birding Ecotours on a part-time basis. When he is not engrossed behind a few books or completing assignments, he readily ventures to his local patch – a wetland basin within an extensive band of grassland, finding such skulkers as Red-chested Flufftail and Barrow’s Korhaan.

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