Our Trainers

BTO are fortunate to have a team of superb trainers. All our courses will be taught by someone who understands the challenges of bird identification and doing structured surveys. We all have experience of this as volunteers and, in many cases, as professionals as well.

Our team – consisting of some BTO staff and a carefully chosen selection of external trainers – are all BTO volunteers and have a huge amount of experience training and doing bird surveys. Between us we offer courses and workshops on a range of subjects around the country. To find out a bit more about the individual trainers, read our mini-biographies below.

Matt Collis

Matt has trained and worked as an ecological consultant for the last 5 years, and has a depth of experience conducting ornithological surveys both in the UK and overseas. He is currently working for Avon Wildlife Trust as their 'My Wild City' officer, helping to turn Bristol into a more wildlife friendly and aware city.

Matt is a regular contributor to the BBS and Nest Recording Scheme, and a former WeBS counter around the Severn Estuary where he currently lives. His specialist interest areas are winter waders and urban birding around the streets of Bristol.

Matt has run courses for BTO for a number of years and is a popular, enthusiastic and patient teacher. Based in Bristol, Matt runs many of our day courses in west and southwest England, and has also been a co-leader of the professional training courses we offer.

Ben Darvill

Born to naturalist parents, Ben's childhood was spent knee deep in ponds, chasing lizards or visiting local birdwatching sites with his father. As a lifelong birder, Ben was delighted to join BTO in 2012 following a degree in Zoology, PhD and several years running the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.

Ben is a good birder, though like most people still gets stumped occasionally by tricky warblers and waders – the learning never stops. Ben believes birding skills should make a positive difference and participates in the Breeding Bird Survey, WeBS and BirdTrack plus other annual surveys such as House Martin and Woodcock. Ben is also heavily involved in monitoring birds of prey.

Ed Drewitt

Ed Drewitt is a freelance naturalist, broadcaster and wildlife detective. Ed loves helping others to discover and enjoy the natural world, and has worked for the BTO delivering identification and survey courses since 2014.

Ed's other work ranges from taking groups fossil hunting to showing people wildlife from boats. Over the past 15 years Ed has worked in different roles as a learning officer and, alongside his freelance work Ed works part-time in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol managing postgraduate demonstrators and overseeing biology practical sessions in the teaching laboratories.

Ed’s wildlife detective title relates to his ability to identify the tiniest of bird feathers left over from a Peregrine’s meal. A zoology graduate from the University of Bristol, Ed has been studying the diet of urban Peregrines and colour ringing their young for the past 12 years. His most exciting discovery was that Peregrines hunt at night over towns and cities.

Based in Bristol, Ed runs many of our courses in that area, as well as the south Midlands, south Wales and also southeast England.

David Hodkinson

David has had a life-long passion for birds and discovered the joys of surveying at a young age with his first BBS survey at age 14. He is especially drawn to the surveyor’s ethic that ‘every bird counts’, no matter how unassuming the species. He also enjoys the challenge of identifying every bird, no matter how brief the glimpse or snippet of song.

He has worked on conservation and research projects around the world from the central Asian deserts to the Arctic tundra, and now runs an ecological consultancy specialising in wildlife surveying.

David has been sharing his enthusiasm for birds for over a decade, teaching on birding and ringing training courses as well as guiding birding trips in the UK, USA and Canada. He hopes that his courses will give you the tools and confidence to take the next step towards becoming a BTO surveyor.

David Jarrett

David first worked with birds in the peatlands of Caithness and Sutherland, a great wilderness with some fantastic birds. He has since worked across Scotland on a variety of species including Whinchats, Osprey, Black Grouse, Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl, Merlin, and Scoters. David is passionate about the wild and remote parts of Scotland – whenever he is able David is out in the mountains, walking or cycling, and of course keeping an eye out for birds. Having spent lots of time working in the uplands and mountains, David is now enjoying learning more about Scotland’s woodland birds.

David has been very lucky to get to some fantastic places to survey birds, and it began with a BTO thrush survey in a park in Edinburgh a few years ago. In hosting training courses he is keen to encourage people to have a go at bird surveying whatever their skill level – because you never know where you might end up.

Kelvin Jones

Kelvin is a former police officer with the North Wales Police. In addition to his normal duties he was also a voluntary Wildlife Liaison Officer for 15 years, a role which his lifelong passion for birds suited very well. As a Community Constable he has no difficulties speaking to groups of people, and found the community engagement side very fulfilling.

Kelvin has been a bird ringer since the early 1990s and is currently a Ringing Trainer as well as co-organiser of the Welsh Ringing course, held jointly with the Gower Ringing Group. He has been a keep participant in BTO surveys for more years than he cares to admit and currently undertakes both BBS and WBBS in spring with WeBS in the winter.

Since being appointed the Development  Officer for BTO Wales in 2011, Kelvin has worked at promoting the mentoring of new and existing BBS volunteers, held WeBs training courses, managed single species surveys and is always available to answer any survey, square, or general bird enquiries in Wales.

Nick Moran

Nick taught Biology at secondary schools in Suffolk, Shanghai (China) and Abu Dhabi (UAE) 2000–2009, when he joined the BTO Surveys team as BirdTrack Organiser. After eight years working with birders, data users, partner organisations and colleagues throughout BTO, Nick was appointed Training Manager. This is providing a perfect opportunity for him to combine his life-long interest in birds with his own background in education, and passion for helping others to develop their birding and surveying skills.

Although he did some bird surveys as a youngster and during an Environmental Biology degree, Nick's survey involvement has increased greatly since joining the BTO staff. He carried out Timed Tetrad Visits in four counties for Bird Atlas 2007–11, has monitored a BBS square since 2011, compiles BirdTrack complete lists most days and has volunteered for various single-species and one-off surveys. Participating in surveys has added a new dimension to Nick's birding and he's a better birder as a result – join one of our training courses or just dive in and take on a BTO survey to experience this for yourself! 

Scott Paterson

Scott is a passionate and enthusiastic birder who enjoys anything involving birds and Birdwatching. He has been fortunate to work for several conservation organisations over the several decades on fantastic nature reserves including the Farne Islands, Loch Garten, St Abbs Head, Vane Farm, Loch of Strathbeg and Minsmere. Currently County Recorder for Perth and Kinross and a self-employed ornithological surveyor, he enjoys leading events and training courses in Scotland and northern England - particularly bird identification courses. Based in Kinross, Scott has two BBS squares, has been a keen WeBS counter for twenty years and has contributed to several Atlas projects including Bird Atlas 2007–11.

Steve Piotrowski

Based in Suffolk, Steve is a general naturalist and very experienced birder. He facilitates bird-related courses on behalf of the Field Studies Council and BTO. These courses are specifically tailored for those wishing to improve their bird-watching/surveying skills and Steve has been taking a lead on our ID courses for many years now, proving a hugely popular and successful trainer. He is self-employed and runs his own consultancy which specialises in providing wildlife information to landowners, developers and planners; and runs a wildlife tour and guiding service, both locally and abroad. He is author of Birds of Suffolk, co-author of The Butterflies of Suffolk and was a principal recorder during fieldwork for the Dragonfly Atlas.

A founder member of Landguard Bird Observatory (1982) and Waveney Bird Club (2006), he has been at the forefront of the development of both organisations. He specialises in bird migration and holds a BTO bird ringing ‘Trainer’ permit. As with all the trainers, Steve has undertaken numerous hours of voluntary recording for a range of surveys and a range of organisations, giving him great depth of knowledge of the challenges faced by new observers. Steve has provided the initiative and energy for the management of very successful conservation projects such as the Suffolk Community Barn Owl Project.



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