A little about the Bustards…

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 over 40 years 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. Here’s who we are…

Niki Williamson
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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 Tonkin

fullsizeoutput_22c3Simon 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.

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!

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Niki and Simon monitoring seabird migration with friends and conservation partners from Migres