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.
For reasons I have yet to fully understand, my wife recently bought me a copy of Marie Kondo's book The life changing magic of tidying up. In it, Ms Kondo encourages you only to keep those things that spark joy. It's quite a radical and eccentric approach that forces you to look at all of your stuff and discard/recycle anything that doesn't give you joy.
I'll leave you guessing as to whether applying her philosophy has changed my life. Most of us would think it's worth taking some time to notice the things that bring us joy. In his excellent book, The Moth Snowstorm, Mike McCarthy talks of the joy that nature brings and sorrow that its loss imparts.
I hope, therefore, that this weekend, you are one of the half a million people that will find joy in watching birds in your garden for an hour and take part in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. I promise you that it's a lot more fun than tidying up.
And, if you feel sorrow for the loss of abundance of wildlife and want more joy in your life, do something about it: help provide habitat for widllife in your garden, think about what impact your lifestyle has on the planet or write to your local politician to defend the laws that defend nature.
May the birds spark joy in you this weekend...