Passionate about birds and nature
I began birding in 1965; this childhood passion evolving into a career as a research ornithologist, receiving a PhD in seabird biology as part of a research career. I worked at the Fitzpatrick Institute (Marion Island and Lake St Lucia), Sea Fisheries Research Institute (seabirds of western Cape) and Durban Natural Science Museum. I changed role to that of administrator after acting as Secretary-General for the 22nd International Ornithological Congress in Durban in 1996, and became BirdLife South Africa’s first director in its founding years. I initiated many programmes including avitourism, Birding Fair, Wakkerstroom Centre, Ingula Partnership and Community Guide Training Programme. I moved to AGRED (gamebird research and conservation) in 2004 before moving to the southern Drakensberg in 2013, where I enjoyed the freedom and joy of being a specialist birding and tour guide on Sani Pass. COVID ended this path, and so I founded the online birding courses of Birding with Aldo with Emile van den Heetkamp. This was a return to the life-long practices of introducing people to birds, including a great many talks, summer schools in Cape Town and Durban in the 1980s, and writing South Africa’s first Where-to-watch Birds book with Ian Sinclair in 1984. I love introducing people to birds.
I grew up in Zululand, which instilled my lifelong deep-seated affinity for the natural world. I have a BSc Botany (Hons) cum laude and an MSc (Environmental Sciences) cum laude in vegetation ecology. Birds have been an integral part of my life with Aldo, and my plant expertise led to the Bring Birds to Your Garden course of Birding with Aldo. I co-host our course sessions, share the administration of Birding with Aldo, including preparation of material.