The British Trust for Ornithology Board and President

Meet the Board who steer BTO and our President, Frank Gardner OBE.

The BTO Board

Chair of council - Prof. Jennifer Gill

Jennifer Gill is Professor of Applied Ecology at the University of East Anglia. She has been a BTO member for over 25 years, and is a ringer, regular BirdTracker and BBS volunteer. She has previously served as President of the British Ornithologists’ Union (BOU) and chaired the BOU Ibis Journal Committee.

Honorary Treasurer - Ian Packer

Ian is a chartered accountant, company director and keen birder. He has commercial, financial and managerial experience gained from careers in practice and industry across many sectors, including audit, corporate finance, investment banking and manufacturing. A former voluntary finance director of the journal ‘British Birds’ and present BTO Benefactor, Ian has been a BTO member for over forty years. Birds have been a lifelong passion and he enjoys travelling to see birds in new environments.

Honorary Secretary - Frances Hurst

Ms Frances Hurst runs an organisational development consultancy in the UK voluntary sector, helping charities work more effectively with their people. She was Director of Marketing at RSPB throughout the nineties, with responsibility for fundraising and membership development.

Iain Coucher

Iain is an experienced Chief Executive who has led a number of large organisations involved in the delivery of public services in technology, infrastructure, transport and defence sectors. He is a life-long birder and is passionate about the environment and sustainability. He owns a small, coastal farm in west Scotland that he manages for the benefit of birds and other wildlife. He has been a trustee of a global environmental charity, Earthwatch (Europe) for around six years. He is committed to continual learning and, over the last decade has completed Masters degrees in Environmental Decision Making and in Systems Thinking (with a focus on climate change and ocean acidification). He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Cranfield University, in 2019.

Richard du Feu

Richard is a network engineer at Lancaster University where his primary role is improving service reliability and performance for students and researchers. BTO has played a major part in Richard’s life since he was at school in the 1990s, and his involvement has mainly been through the Ringing Scheme on long term projects including a RAS on Sand Martins and wader monitoring around the UK. In 2017 Richard started colour ringing Knot on the Sefton coast, which is now producing interesting survival and movement data. He has also been involved with the monitoring of Red Knot and Horseshoe crab in Delaware Bay where adaptive management of crab harvest relies heavily on high-quality data being collected throughout the migration period.

Simon Marquis

Simon’s career was in the advertising, marketing and media sectors. He worked in a number of ad agencies before becoming the editorial director of a number of marketing magazines. He was appointed CEO of one of the UK’s biggest media planning and buying agencies. He subsequently took on a range of advisory and non-executive roles, including the chairmanship of a PR agency, media research company, media events business and TV post-production company.                   

He has had an interest in birds since childhood and became a trustee of the RSPB in the 1990’s and chaired its Education and Membership committee. He is involved with the Cornwall Birdwatching society and edits its quarterly newsletter.

Dr David Parker

David is an ecologist and environmental manager with a career covering both environmental consultancy and the statutory nature conservation sector. He has a lifelong love of birds and the places where they live, and is particularly interested in the Dee Estuary where he has been a WeBS recorder for almost 40 years.

Dr Debby Reynolds

Debby has a strong record on effective governance to help organisations deliver successfully on their vision and strategy. She has been a member of BTO for 20 years and is an enthusiastic world birder. As Chief Veterinary Officer and DG Animal Health at Defra, Debby was the Government’s media spokesperson on veterinary issues and primary adviser to the Prime Minister on avian influenza, for which she was awarded the CB.

Nick Sherwin

Nick’s professional career was with the major international law firm Clifford Chance LLP, where he introduced the provision of pro bono legal advice for a major conservation organisation. He is a trustee director of conservation charity The Murray Downland Trust, and has travelled internationally in support of conservation and other charities. He is a churchwarden, enthusiastic gardener and looks after his own wildflower meadow.

Jean Spencer

Jean is an executive director of Anglian Water, with a current focus on strategic growth and resilience. Jean has worked for water companies for almost thirty years - the last thirteen as Regulation Director. Jean is a Chartered Accountant by background.

Dr Lucy Wright

Lucy has had a lifelong interest in birds, with a particular passion for waders. She has been a bird ringer for 20 years and a ringing trainer for eight years. A PhD on Woodlarks led to a job as a Research Manager at BTO for several years before moving to the role of Principal Conservation Scientist at RSPB, researching how man-made developments, such as offshore wind farms, affect birds. Lucy is an Associate Editor for Bird Study.

Vice-president - Dr Fiona Barclay

Dr Fiona Barclay is the managing director of NatureGuides Ltd (formerly BirdGuides Ltd). She has produced scores of apps for mobile devices, and runs a digital consultancy for classical music.

Vice-president - Prof. Tim Birkhead

Tim is Professor of Behavioural Ecology at the University of Sheffield and a Fellow of the Royal Society. His research focuses on bird populations, reproduction, and the history of science. Tim's research has changed the way we think about bird mating systems. He has published many research papers and fifteen books and is the recipient of awards for his scientific research, history of science research, undergraduate teaching and public outreach

Vice-president - Prof. Stuart Bearhop

Stuart is an ecologist with a range of interests mainly related to the migration and foraging ecology of vertebrates and the application of stable isotope techniques in animal ecology. He is Professor of Animal Ecology, University of Exeter, and the author of over 120 scientific papers. He has marked birds all over the world, and has dedicated many years to working on the East Canadian High Arctic Light-bellied Brent Goose.

Vice-president - Prof. Ian Owens

Ian is the Louis Agassiz Fuertes Director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. His personal research is based on a combination of experimental, phylogenetic and molecular approaches to study the evolutionary ecology of vertebrates, particularly birds. Current areas of particular interest include large-scale patterns of biodiversity; ecological impacts of climate change; genetics of wild populations; speciation and diversification; phylogeny and ecology of extinction.

President of BTO - Frank Gardner, OBE

Frank Gardner is the BBC's full-time Security Correspondent, reporting and presenting on a wide range of global security and terrorism stories. He has also written four Sunday Times bestsellers.

He was awarded the OBE by HM The Queen in 2005 for services to journalism. Frank is a keen birder, his childhood interest having been renewed while working in the Middle East.

In Spring 2019 he presented Nature Notes on BBC Radio 4's Today programme looking at the provision of habitat for Nightingales. Frank is also patron of the charity DSUK (Disability Snowsports UK), and has now been elected President of BTO.

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