Neil spent his early years on his parents’ farm in Kent, south east England, and has had a keen interest in wildlife and birds for as long as he can remember. He tried bird photography for a while during the early seventies without much success, so eventually settled on being a bird watcher first with occasional photos as a bonus.
In his final years at school he would often ‘bunk-off’ early with a mate to go sea-watching from the sea cliffs on the Isle of Thanet and remembers seeing and photographing the very first Northern Fulmars to breed there in the early seventies.
Another friend met while studying at Nottingham University in the early to mid-seventies introduced him to bird ringing and the Wash Wader Ringing Group and the next few years found him mist-netting and cannon-netting a wide variety of waders along the Lincolnshire and Norfolk coast. He continued his ringing training at Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory, where he encountered a wide range of migrant passerines, marshland breeding birds at Stodmarsh and Sturry Lakes and the shore-birds at Pegwell Bay.
Career and family commitments in Scotland during the early 80s meant Neil’s birding activity slowed down for a while, but he still regularly worked a local patch at Fife Ness on the east coast, where he found a number of rare migrants and vagrants, including the first red-billed chough in Fife for nearly a century. The late 80s saw the twitching bug take hold and soon Neil was combining work trips with birding in many parts of the UK, with an annual mid-October trip to Scilly becoming a regular feature. When he left the UK to move to New Zealand in 2005 his UK list was 435.
Overseas birding initially took Neil to Florida, Australia and New Zealand and Trinidad and Tobago during the 90s. He has since travelled and birded extensively in Europe, North America, South America, South Africa, India, China, Australia and South-east Asia.
Neil has spent the last ten years guiding in Fiordland, a huge national park in the far south west of New Zealand’s South Island, showing his guests the amazing scenery and wildlife in this very special area.
Updated: September 2017