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Upon finishing high school in 2013, I made my first overseas birding trip to Borneo, which spawned a passion for chasing birds across borders. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have traveled widely since then, birding across much of Asia, Southern Africa, Europe, Morocco, Ecuador, and Australasia.

I first started guiding professionally in 2018 before being offered my dream job by Victor Emanuel the following year, alongside David James, Scott Baker, and veteran Dion Hobcroft as one of VENT’s growing list of leaders “down under.”

Australia is where I spend most of my time, having recently found my 700th species for the island continent. Sydney has been my home for the majority of my life, and it always feels just such after returning from any trip away. However, the pace of life and cost of living in Sydney now make it a much less desirable place for me to live. These days I live with my partner, Fernanda, a roughly two-hour drive north of Sydney, close to Lake Macquarie and the regional city of Newcastle. I am fortunate to live adjacent to bushland and just a short drive from the beautiful wet forests of the Watagans National Park.

Changing circumstances, early in 2021, facilitated a “tree-change” for me from the suburban bustle of Sydney to the forested isolation of my grandparents’ property in rural western New South Wales—a roughly five-hour drive from Sydney. Time there felt like a blessing. The new morning ritual of recording each species heard or seen while sipping the day’s first coffee allowed for a closer insight into the day-to-week changes of the local birds. I came to know the special feeling of living on the land and bearing witness to the changing of the seasons, albeit more subtle in temperate Australia than many other parts of the world. During this time living “out bush,” I witnessed what would be the last months of my grandfather’s life. The significance of being present during that time was not lost on me.

During the COVID inflicted hiatus from touring, I worked on projects for BirdLife Australia, and continue to do so when I can find the time. I was fortunate to be heavily involved with three significant releases of captive-bred and critically endangered Regent Honeyeaters. These were the first releases ever conducted in the state of New South Wales. My work involved tracking a proportion of the released birds, which had been fitted with radio transmitters. This allowed me and a small team to monitor their success over the weeks after their release from captivity. We had many firsts and failures over the two releases, but the future is now looking a little brighter for this enigmatic species, which numbers fewer than 300 individuals in the wild.

Another special project I was tasked with was investigating the presence of Thick-billed Grasswrens in far-west NSW. Grasswrens are an endemic family of Australian birds closely related to the gaudy and popular fairywrens, but they are their antithesis in many ways. Where fairywrens are typically bold and bright, grasswrens are the opposite. They inhabit remote and unforgiving terrain and actively avoid human habitation. To put this in context, the population of grasswren we were tasked with finding had only been rediscovered in 2008, and the population was estimated to be fewer than 20. Our work went well, and we managed to effectively double their population estimate within several weeks of searching.

It has been very rewarding to be a part of on the ground conservation efforts. It has given me a greater appreciation and respect for those who devote their lives to these efforts. As the insatiable global progress marches on, I see it as imperative that we all do our part to promote the significance of the natural world. Working for and traveling with VENT provides us all with an unrivaled opportunity to witness the beauty of our planet while playing an important role—sustaining and encouraging ecotourism and associated conservation efforts from Costa Rica to Papua New Guinea and everywhere in between.

My schedule for this year (and particularly 2025) will be busy, with several new tours and destinations on the cards. Visiting Bhutan for the first time in 2023 was a dream come true, and I can’t wait to get back there soon! I’m also especially looking forward to traveling to New Caledonia, Fiji, West Papua, Madagascar, and Antarctica in the next two years.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to traveling with you in the future!