Ocean Adventures Staff Biographies

Mark Beaman lives in Lancashire with his partner Hilary and daughter Rachel, and is Managing Director of Birdquest/Ocean Adventures. After graduating from Cambridge University he led an ornithological expedition to Nepal and then spent several years studying seabirds at Aberdeen University before creating Sunbird Holidays in 1978 for Executive Travel and subsequently going on to found Birdquest in 1981. Mark has travelled to every continent in search of birds and has a worldwide interest in every aspect of birding, but it is the farthest flung and most inaccessible reaches of the Palearctic region (where he has travelled more extensively, and seen more species, than any other ornithologist) that most excite his imagination. He is author of The Handbook of Bird Identification for Europe and the Western Palearctic (1998) and also author of Palearctic Birds: a Checklist of the Birds of Europe, North Africa and Asia north of the foothills of the Himalayas (1994).

Nik Borrow
lives in London. As well as being a Birdquest Senior Leader, Nik is also a major illustrator of the Birdquest brochure. His formal Fine Art training was undertaken at Wimbledon School of Art and subsequently he taught art for some years. Always a keen birdwatcher, his two main interests finally merged when he turned professional bird artist. An enthusiastic traveller, Nik’s birding travels have taken him to Siberia, Mongolia, China, Tibet, Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea and North and South America, as well as many areas in the Western Palearctic, but his major interest is the birds of sub-Saharan Africa. He has travelled very extensively throughout Africa, spending years in the field, and is co-author and sole illustrator of the definitive Birds of Western Africa (2001).

Dave Farrow
lives in Norwich with his partner Kumiko. He cut his birding teeth amongst the woodlands and gravel pits of Hertfordshire, but much of his adult life has been spent overseas. Dave has a special love of Asia and North Africa, where his field experience now amounts to quite a few years. A skilled and experienced tour leader, he has escorted birding and adventure travel groups to over 20 different countries, and is at home almost anywhere. His knowledge of Arabic in particular has stood him in good stead when exploring the Yemen, where he has even visited the southern governorates and Socotra during OSME surveys.

Hannu Jännes
lives near Helsinki with his partner Jutta and sons Paavo and Aleksi. He originally set up the Earlybird bird tour company together with Dick Forsman and still works as a freelance ornithologist and sound recordist. Hannu is completely fluent in English. Before starting to lead bird tours in the mid-1980s, he spent four breeding seasons travelling all over the country collecting data on the abundance and distribution of Finnish birds for the University of Helsinki. He has a passion for bird identification, especially warblers, and he has been a member of the Finnish Rarities Committee since 1988. Hannu has already published two CDs of his sound recordings, on the birds of Goa and southern India, and on the flight calls of Palearctic migrants, and is now working on mammoth projects for the Indian subcontinent and China. His expertise in his native Scandinavia and adjacent Estonia is second to none, and he has also travelled very extensively in the Indian subcontinent and China, with eastern and southern Africa being added to his growing repertoire more recently.

Linda Kilby Linda Kilby was born and bred in Lancashire and joined the Birdquest/Ocean Adventures team in 1995 after a varied career including a spell as a gemmologist and auctioneer. Her passion for literature led her to undertake an Open University degree in Literature which she successfully completed in 2001. When not keeping the ground side of our Birdquest tours and all our Ocean Adventures arrangements in order (no mean task!), Linda spends much of her spare time with her family, although her two children have now flown the nest. She enjoys the outdoors and walking. With more freedom beckoning, and Antarctica, Sri Lanka, Kenya and Tanzania already under her belt, Linda is looking forward to completing the set of continents and adding to her growing world list!

Pete Morris
lives in Lancashire with his partner Nina and sons Jack and Josh, and is both a Birdquest/Ocean Adventures Senior Leader and Deputy Manager of the Birdquest office. He has been birdwatching for as long as he can remember, growing up on the North Kent Marshes and at Dungeness. After graduating in Environmental Science at the University of East Anglia in 1987 he spent a year working at English Nature before taking off overseas. He lived for a time in Australia, returning to Britain to work as an environmental consultant. Over the past decade he has travelled very extensively in the Western Palearctic, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Australasia, Southern Africa, Madagascar and South America. He has published many articles and photographs from his travels, and also given a number of illustrated talks at bird club meetings. Pete is senior author of the well-received Birds of Madagascar: a photographic guide (1998).

János Oláh
lives in Debrecen, Hungary with his partner Gabriella and daughter Enikö. A keen birder from the age of 10, János (pronounced ‘Yanosh’) speaks fluent English (his grasp of idiom is remarkable), has a degree in Ecology from the University of Debrecen and is now doing post-graduate research on the ecology of aquatic birds (especially shorebirds, on which he has published a number of scientific papers). He is currently working with Zoltán Ecsedi on a handbook to the birds of the Hortobágy and is now embarked on a survey of the entire Carpathian range. A member of the Hungarian rarities committee and the operator of the Hungarian Birdline, János is a highly accomplished bird tour leader who guides groups both in his native Hungary (and adjacent Slovakia and Romania), where his knowledge is unsurpassed, and across the globe. János has now travelled very extensively in search of birds on six continents, building up a remarkable expertise in a series of countries and regions, and in particular Vietnam, Sumatra, Ethiopia and Ecuador.

Nigel Redman
lives in Sussex with his partner Cheryle and daughter Emily. He joined the Birdquest team so long ago that he is virtually a founding member. After training as an accountant he worked for a spell in publishing before taking a year off to travel overland to Nepal. Later he became assistant bursar at an independent school before joining Birdquest in 1984. He was one of the founders of the Oriental Bird Club (and served two terms as Chairman), is co-author (with Simon Harrap) of Birdwatching in Britain: a site by site guide (1987), later republished in a revised edition as Where to Watch Birds in Britain (2003). Nigel’s birding travels have taken him to many parts of the world but his main areas of interest are the Palearctic, sub-Saharan Africa and in particular the Oriental region, where very few people can claim to have such wide experience. Nigel has resumed a career in publishing and is now responsible for the Christopher Helm, Pica Press and Poyser imprints of A & C Black, but he still manages to escape twice a year to lead tours.

Derek Scott
lives with his partner Joanna on Dursey Island off the southern Irish coast. Derek also works as an ornithologist/conservationist on a consultancy basis for various international conservation bodies. After growing up in northwest England and completing his DPhil on Storm Petrels at Oxford University in 1970, he worked for six years at the Department of the Environment in Iran, giving him an unrivalled knowledge of the country, and since then has been involved in conservation projects in many parts of the world. Much of his work has involved wetland birds and their habitats (he has compiled inventories of internationally important wetlands in Europe, North Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific), but he has also studied forest birds in South America and once spent six months as resident naturalist at the remote Explorer’s Inn in the Peruvian Amazon. His travels have now taken him to over 120 countries and territories, covering all seven continents, and in the process Derek has managed to amass almost 7000 species on his life list! In 1998 Derek took a year off from other work in order to see all the bird families of the world in a single year with a birding friend, a feat that earned the two of them a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

Mark Van Beirs lives with his partner Kathleen and daughter Caroline near Ghent, Belgium and now has well over 100 bird tours to his credit. Born and raised in Ghent, he was soon travelling abroad in search of birds, firstly all over Europe but soon throughout the world. His varied career has included a spell in a travel agency and fifteen months working as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos and in the Amazonian rainforest of Ecuador. Mark’s impressive fluency in six languages and invariably cheerful manner allow him to travel with ease anywhere on earth and he has now visited more than 80 countries! He has a wide-ranging knowledge of birds, but he is particularly interested in the Neotropics, where he has travelled very extensively indeed and spent many years in the field. Africa, Indonesia, the Southwest Pacific and Mongolia are other favourite areas, although in reality he now feels at home almost anywhere. Mark has now observed more than 7200 species of birds, but he also gets very excited about mammals and at night likes to indulge in stargazing.

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