The President and Board of the British Trust for Ornithology

Meet our President, Frank Gardner OBE, the four vice-presidents, and the Board who steer BTO.

President of BTO - Frank Gardner, OBE

  • Frank Gardner is the BBC’s full-time Security Correspondent, reporting and presenting on a wide range of global security and terrorism stories. He has also written four Sunday Times bestsellers.
  • He was awarded the OBE by HM The Queen in 2005 for services to journalism. Frank is a keen birder, his childhood interest having been renewed while working in the Middle East.
  • In Spring 2019 he presented Nature Notes on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme looking at the provision of habitat for Nightingales. Frank is also patron of the charity Disability Snowsports UK (DSUK), and is now President of BTO.


Vice-president - Dr Fiona Barclay

Dr Fiona Barclay is the managing director of NatureGuides Ltd (formerly BirdGuides Ltd). She has produced scores of apps for mobile devices, and runs a digital consultancy for classical music.

Fiona has encouraged a lasting partnership between the BTO and NatureGuides, sharing data and opportunities between the organisations. Fiona was also one of the recipients of the inaugural Dilys Breese awards for communication of BTO activities to a wide audience. 

Vice-president - Prof. Stuart Bearhop

Stuart is an ecologist with a range of interests mainly related to the migration and foraging ecology of vertebrates and the application of stable isotope techniques in animal ecology.

He is Professor of Animal Ecology, University of Exeter, and the author of over 120 scientific papers. He has marked birds all over the world, and has dedicated many years to working on the East Canadian High Arctic Light-bellied Brent Goose.

Vice-president - Prof. Tim Birkhead

Tim is Professor of Behavioural Ecology at the University of Sheffield and a Fellow of the Royal Society. His research focuses on bird populations, reproduction, and the history of science. Tim's research has changed the way we think about bird mating systems.

He has published many research papers and fifteen books including Birds and Us: A 12,000 Year History from Cave Art to Conservation, and is the recipient of awards for his scientific research, history of science research, undergraduate teaching and public outreach.

Vice-president - Prof. Ian Owens

Ian Owens

Ian is the Louis Agassiz Fuertes Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. His personal research is based on a combination of experimental, phylogenetic and molecular approaches to study the evolutionary ecology of vertebrates, particularly birds.

Current areas of particular interest include large-scale patterns of biodiversity; ecological impacts of climate change; genetics of wild populations; speciation and diversification; phylogeny and ecology of extinction.

The Board

Chair - Prof. Zoe Davies

Zoe is a Professor of Biodiversity Conservation at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent. Her PhD examined the validity of the metapopulation approach to species recovery. Over the last two decades, Zoe’s research interests have become increasingly diverse, often crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries, but focus on the use of empirical data to address questions of importance to conservation management/policy and human-biodiversity relationships.

She is incredibly proud to be part of DICE and was delighted when it was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2019. Zoe has held a number of roles within the British Ecological Society (BES), sitting on the Policy Committee, Meetings Committee and Council as a trustee. This included a period as Meetings Committee Chair, with responsibility for overseeing all scientific meetings and the special interest groups (SIGs) run by the Society.

In 2021, she received the BES Award for recognition of exceptional service to the Society and ecological community. Zoe currently sits on the Natural England Science Advisory Committee. She is also a Senior Associate Editor for the journal Conservation Letters and is on the Advisory Board for the revolutionary publishing initiative Applied Ecology Resources.

She is passionate about widening participation within STEM subjects and public engagement with research.

Iain Coucher

Iain is an experienced Chief Executive who has led a number of large organisations involved in the delivery of public services in technology, infrastructure, transport and defence sectors. He is a life-long birder and is passionate about the environment and sustainability. He owns a small, coastal farm in west Scotland that he manages for the benefit of birds and other wildlife.

He has been a trustee of a global environmental charity, Earthwatch (Europe) for around six years. He is committed to continual learning and, over the last decade has completed Masters degrees in Environmental Decision Making and in Systems Thinking (with a focus on climate change and ocean acidification). He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Cranfield University, in 2019.

Emma Dresser

Emma is an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Loughborough University where she plays a central role in work to drive forward the university’s activity to identify and dismantle discriminatory practices and to create an inclusive, fair and respectful culture in which all staff and students feel valued, are able to voice differing perspectives and realise their full potential.

She has possessed a strong interest and appreciation for birds and wildlife from a young age and relishes the opportunity to work with BTO to address the barriers to equity and diversity and support their ambitions in creating an inclusive environment. She hopes to bring her professional experience and personal passion to expand access to the work of BTO to broader audiences, thereby providing access to the benefit of engaging with nature to individuals from all backgrounds. 

Richard du Feu

Richard is a network engineer at Lancaster University where his primary role is improving service reliability and performance for students and researchers. BTO has played a major part in Richard’s life since he was at school in the 1990s, and his involvement has mainly been through the Ringing Scheme on long term projects and schemes including a Retrapping Adults for Survival (RAS) on Sand Martins and wader monitoring around the UK.

In 2017 Richard started colour ringing Knot on the Sefton coast, which is now producing interesting survival and movement data. He has also been involved with the monitoring of Red Knot and Horseshoe crab in Delaware Bay where adaptive management of crab harvest relies heavily on high-quality data being collected throughout the migration period.

Dr Paul Fitzpatrick

Paul is an academic Research Chartered Psychologist dual qualified as an ‘Environmental Psychologist’: He focuses on (a) the mental health benefits of environmental contact (b) the significant issues of human impact on both non-urbanised areas and nature reserves/SSSIs. He chaired his university Ethics, and Equality, committees and headed a research team responsible for Cultural Cohesion in relation to both the Home Office and Welsh Government.

Paul has worked, and published from, Antarctica for three separate periods. He is a voluntary warden with the RSPB and South West Lakes Ecology Team, and is a council member for Devon Birds where he is responsible for Partnership, Ethics, and Diversity. Although recently retired, Paul remains an accredited academic for his university for ongoing research and supervision.

Simon Marquis

Simon’s career was in the advertising, marketing and media sectors. He worked in a number of ad agencies before becoming the editorial director of a number of marketing magazines. He was appointed CEO of one of the UK’s biggest media planning and buying agencies.

He subsequently took on a range of advisory and non-executive roles, including the chairmanship of a PR agency, media research company, media events business and TV post-production company.

He has had an interest in birds since childhood and became a trustee of the RSPB in the 1990s and chaired its Education and Membership committee. He is involved with the Cornwall Birds (CBWPS) and edits its quarterly newsletter.

Jane Miller - Treasurer

Jane is a Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and has worked in the Telecoms, Retail Banking and Insurance industries in both the UK, the US and New Zealand.  She has experience in line finance, programme management, transformation, regulatory change and business optimisation.

Jane lives on the Suffolk coast and has a strong interest in waders and coastal birds. She is keen to bring her business experience to help BTO achieve its strategic aims.

Emma Thornton

Emma is a student in her third year studying Biology at the University of Oxford. In her gap year she became involved with BTO as a novice birder. She has grown in confidence through BTO training courses and participating in Garden BirdWatch. She has been part of BTO’s Youth Advisory Panel since its formation at the start of 2020 and became inspired to set up and lead a new society at university – Oxford Ornithological Student Society.

She enjoys engaging in the avian parts of her course, in particular spotting BTO data in lectures and referencing it in her own work. She recently enjoyed an Avian Behaviour and Ecology field course to Copeland Bird Observatory. Emma is passionate about creating opportunities for young people to connect with nature and science, particularly around improving mental health. She is excited to bring a young person’s perspective to the Board.

Dr Lucy Wright

Lucy has had a lifelong interest in birds, with a particular passion for waders. She has been a bird ringer for 20 years and a ringing trainer for eight years and a PhD on Woodlarks led to a job as a Research Manager at BTO for several years.

She then moved to the role of Principal Conservation Scientist at RSPB, researching how man-made developments, such as offshore wind farms, affect birds. Lucy is also an Associate Editor for Bird Study, the journal of the British Trust for Ornithology.

Joel Ziff

Joel is a Partner at Clifford Chance, the international law firm, specialising in Mergers and Acquisitions.

He is responsible for Clifford Chance's pro bono relationship with the RSPB. Before joining Clifford Chance, Joel worked as a manager in the NHS. He has been a keen birder for more than 50 years.

Dominic Buscall

Dominic began his career in conservation and land management when he founded the Wild Ken Hill project in 2018. Wild Ken Hill combines rewilding, regenerative farming, and traditional conservation to restore nature, fight climate change, and engage and educate people about the natural world.

Dominic’s background before this career was in management consulting, where he built strategic skills. Dominic is very excited to deploy these skills to help BTO fulfil its new strategy.

Away from work, Dominic loves the outdoors, whether hiking, cycling, swimming or birding.

Stephen Willis

Stephen is currently a Professor of Ecology and Conservation, Director of Research, and Deputy Head of Department at Durham University. He has had a lifelong interest in birds and the study of birds, which resulted in his academic career in ecology, as well as spending much of his spare time over many years watching and surveying birds, for fun and as a citizen and professional scientist.

Stephen has been involved with BTO in various ways over the years, including survey volunteering, learning to ring, and participating in research collaborations.

Stephen has experience as a trustee for Discover Brightwater, which is Heritage Lottery-funded and focused on improving the biodiversity and environment throughout a northern river catchment. Stephen brings expertise and a commitment to working to remove barriers to equality, diversity, and inclusivity.

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