My passion for wildlife was stimulated in my teenage years, mainly thanks to my Mum (a biology teacher) who made me look at the world differently and being inspired by writers such as Paul Colinvaux. This early interest developed into biological research in my 20s, when I did practical conservation work in places such as the Comores and Mongolia.
Today, any free time I have I spend pottering around the flatlands of East Anglia or escaping to our hut on the Northumberland coast looking for wildlife and castles with my wife and children.
I studied Biological Sciences at Oxford and Conservation at UCL, and worked at Wildlife and Countryside Link before spending five years as Conservation Director at Plantlife.
I joined the RSPB as Head of Government Affairs in 2004, became Head of Sustainable Development in 2006, before becoming Conservation Director in 2011.
I was happy with the morning’s work.
Despite the mist, the five kids and I were relatively happy with our nine species: blue tit (3), chaffinch (2), collared dove (2), robin (1), dunnock (1), house sparrow (1), carrion crow (1), woodpigeon (2) and blackbird (1).
We were a little short on previous years. There may have been more (species, not kids), but we had to cope with various distractions. A lego version of Camelot’s court and a brace of Mums proved too much for some. But for our small suburban garden it was OK.
Just one of the kids (not mine) saw it through. At five, she is mainly interested in dinosaurs so I explained the evolutionary link. She indulged me until I quoted Robert Bakker “when you see the geese honking overhead, say - the dinosaurs are migrating, it must be spring!”. And then she was gone.
Here’s hoping that another 600,000 or so folk saw it through and had a great weekend.