Stu Elsom is a professional ecologist, tour leader and wildlife photographer who is based in Cambridgeshire, from where he runs his own consultancy, Stuart Elsom Ecology. A keen naturalist from an early age, his passion for wildlife conservation has seen him serve on several regional environmental and conservation forums and he is a former chairman of his local bird club.
Stu’s lifelong interest in birds and insects has taken him to over 50 countries on six continents. Recently he has specialised in the birds of the New World with the avifauna of both North and South America, and The Caribbean being the focus of his attention. Stu is an enthusiastic wildlife photographer and a member of the Royal Photographic Society Nature Group, through which he was awarded his Licentiate Distinction (LRPS) in 2012. Over 800 of his images have appeared in various natural history journals, magazines, CD guides and books including the recently published Handbook of Western Palearctic Birds; Owls of the World; Birds of Brazil; The Crossley Guide series and Stokes Birds of North America.
Over 10,000 images from both his UK forays and worldwide travels can be seen on his Flickr pages. He also contributes to the Handbook of the Birds of the World Internet Bird Collection. In 2016, two of Stu’s images were shortlisted in the final selection of the International Bird Photographer of the year competition, which saw over 7000 entries from photographers in over 100 countries. While birds are Stu’s main focus he has always maintained a huge interest in insects, especially butterflies and moths, dragonflies and damselflies, but most recently, hoverflies. Stu holds an MSc in Biological Recording from Manchester Metropolitan University. His research concentrated on hoverflies, and their feeding behaviour/dispersal in areas where nectar sources are separated by natural barriers such as rivers and open water. He is a member of the British Entomological and Natural History Society and an active member of The Dipterists Forum, he is also an invertebrate referee for the citizen science project, iSpot.
As a professional ecologist, Stu undertakes a wide range of surveys on protected habitats and species including vascular plants, bats, birds, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and invertebrates. He holds Natural England protected species licences for Great Crested Newt, Reptiles and for Barn Owl. Stu has authored species chapters for several large national infrastructure projects, and for regional ecological forums. He is a member of The Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management and in 2013 he was elected a member of the Royal Society of Biology, through which he has delivered workshops on wildlife photography and bird identification. Even though Stu is travelling for much of the year, he is still an active volunteer with his local wildlife trust Woodland Ecology Group when time permits, and takes a particular interest in their conservation initiatives and projects, He also serves on the governing council of Bedfordshire Bird Club as Hon. Programme Secretary and is a past serving council member of the Neotropical Bird Club.