The tutor is Nigel Matthews
“Most of my working life has been spent finding ways to enable and encourage people to enjoy, learn about and appreciate different aspects of the countryside.
I’ve been particularly interested in birds since I was a young boy. This continued through university and even a brief spell of ‘twitching’ for rare birds! My PhD research work (on bullfinches) gave me the marvellous opportunity to become a bird ringer and thereby to examine many species ‘in the hand’.
My interest in bird songs and calls developed over the years and I found great pleasure in helping other people to recognise birds by their sounds. Of all the wildlife-related adult education classes I have run, the spring field trips which focused on learning bird songs were the most enjoyable – they ran for 15 consecutive years in Kent.
In 2006 I moved from Kent (where I worked for Kent Wildlife Trust) to the New Forest (to work for the New Forest National Park Authority). I now oversee a team of staff whose work enables both residents and visitors to learn about and enjoy the many special features of the New Forest, and travel about it in sustainable ways. Most of my working time is spent inside, so it was probably inevitable that I would start field courses again in my own ‘spare’ time! They get me out in some amazing places, listening to and seeing great birds, with people who are good company and who enjoy learning – long may it continue.
My aim is to help people on the courses to tune in to the birds, perhaps understand what they are ‘saying’, and be better able to find and identify both common and not-so-common species. Bird watching becomes bird listening, something you can do subconsciously on a country walk, in the back garden or even in the High Street.
Until 2013 most of the sessions I ran were through work, educational organisations or wildlife trusts, but from spring 2014 I have run them independently – hence this web site.”