There are a few key members of the BirdTrack team who spend at least part of their working day beavering away behind the scenes. Here is a little bit about us (more serious information is available by clicking on our names). If you manage to identify us in the field, please come and say hello.
For any information about BirdTrack, help with the website and smartphone apps or to make any comments, please email us at birdtrack [at] bto.org.
So as not to imply any hierarchy within the team, we are listed by the number of BirdTrack complete lists we collected last year!
Nick started scribbling wildlife notes when he was 6. Migrating north from inland North Yorkshire to coastal Fife at 18 rapidly expanded his opportunity and appetite for birding, and over the next 20 years he travelled extensively in the UK, Europe, Africa, Asia, Central and South America. Nick spent two years in Shanghai before moving to Abu Dhabi in 2004, where he headed the Biology department at the British School.
In the UAE Nick contributed more than 15,000 records to the Emirates Bird Records Committee – these are now making their way into BirdTrack via the global data entry tool! Notable finds there included Paddyfield Warbler, Marbled Duck and the Western Palearctic's first Ashy Drongo.
Since returning to East Anglia to take up the role of BirdTrack Organiser in 2009, Nick's best returns have been Pallid Harrier, Broad-billed and White-rumped Sandpipers. This haul has been inhibited by most of his birding taking place 40 miles inland at the BTO's Nunnery Lakes. Having a diverse local patch on his doorstep more than compensates for lack of rarities though and has helped him log over 100,000 bird, dragonfly and mammal records in BirdTrack!
Stephen began BirdTrack-ing while studying Environmental Science in Ireland in 2005 and his total stands now at around 22,000 bird records (plus another 50,000+ sightings in other moth, butterfly and mammal databases!).
In recent years, he's been involved with BirdWatch Ireland in a number of different roles, including working with Roseate Terns on Rockabill Island, conducting bird counts in Dublin Bay and some office-based work. Stephen has also led birding tour groups in Ireland and Europe (Poland, Spain and Austria, among others), as well as acting as Chairman for BirdWatch Ireland's South Dublin branch for three years.
Karen has been involved in building and maintaining the BTO's online database since its beginning (Migration Watch) right through to the present. As well as managing this and the internal databases, she is Associate Director – Information Systems (IS).
When not dealing with databases or other IS matters, Karen prefers to be outdoors, and is interested in all flavours of natural history – sadly she isn't an expert in any particular one!
After many years running WeBS (the Wetland Bird Survey) and heading the Surveys team, Andy is now Associate Director – Monitoring. His brief involves overseeing the work of the BTO's two monitoring teams – Surveys and Demography – which collectively cover almost all of the surveys and schemes where volunteers contribute their records of birds they have observed, counted, ringed or nest-recorded.
Andy has a strong interest in developing BirdTrack to be the best online bird recording system possible, as he has been scribbling sightings of birds down in paper notebooks since 1983, amassing about 75,000 UK bird records in the process; as a result he is busy making use of the upload facility to get all his old records into BirdTrack! Most of Andy's birding has been in Yorkshire, Avon, Cornwall and Norfolk, with his most visited sites being the BTO Nunnery Lakes and Barnhamcross Common, Whitlingham Country Park, Horsey Dunes, Buckenham Marshes, Chew Valley Lake, Landulph Marsh and Knotford Nook. Andy has also recorded birds in 26 countries abroad.
Andy's memorable birding moments include finding Fea's/Zino's Petrel, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Pacific Swift in the UK, whilst overseas highlights include watching raptor migration over Israel and Short-legged Ground-rollers in Madagascar.
After spending three years of climbing and sometimes falling out of trees, ringing Cormorants, Stuart felt that it would safer to spend more time in the office trying to make sense of some of the BTO's fantastic datasets. Working as a Senior Research Ecologist, he has come to appreciate that other species can be interesting too! Stuart's recent work has included producing national population estimates, examining the impact of parakeets on native hole-nesting birds and the impacts of climate change, bird flu and deer browsing on woodland birds. At some time or other he has worked with most of the BTO's surveys, and is now looking at what the BirdTrack / Migration Watch dataset can tell us about changes in migration timing.
Stuart is an active birder and has found a few lesser rares [you're too modest, Stu!] in his time in the UK, including Citrine Wagtail, Rustic Bunting, Black-winged Stilt and Black Kite. He was also in the right place at the right time to see the Norfolk Grey-cheeked Thrush, and to twitch Andy’s Yellow-rumped Warbler – thanks Andy!
Mark joined the BTO as a Java Web Programmer in May 2010 and spends his work time fixing bugs and building new modules, including the fantastic global data entry tool.
Mark prefers his creature comforts above the great outdoors, and so lists his hobbies as retro computer games and electronics, reading, movies, sleeping, and eating pizza. He is often found after work in a swimming pool in a long running failure to keep fit. Mark is not a ‘twitcher’, and while he likes birds, he couldn’t eat a whole one…