Meet Dusan Brinkhuizen (Full Time Tour Leader)

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Dušan Brinkhuizen is a biologist and Rockjumper leader who resides in Ecuador. He graduated from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands with an MSc specializing in avian research. Dušan has been an avid “Dutch Birder” from a young age.


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    His studies included projects on extra-pair paternity, breeding systems, evolution of song, speciation and community ecology in countries including Australia, China, Hungary, Zweden and Ecuador. During fieldwork, he got seriously hooked on Neotropical biodiversity and wilderness. Dušan lives in the capital Quito where he has been actively involved in the ornithological community since 2007. Activities apart from leading birdwatching tours include scientific research, bird sound recording and bird photography. Dušan is a member of CERO (Comité Ecuatoriano de Registros Ornitológicos), Ecuador's rarities committee.

    How did you get into birding?

    At the age of six, I went biking with my father (an ichthyo-archaeologist by profession but always inspired by the outdoors and nature) where he pointed out a striking blue bird that flew across the path. It was a stunning Common Kingfisher and all the excitement had me instantly hooked! From then on, I spent more hours in the city park looking for new birds than I spent time at home. During our annual family holidays, my uncle Mima, a keen speleologists, brought us to the remotest corners of eastern Serbia to search for my most wanted bird “Sivi Soko”, the Peregrine Falcon. At the age of ten a colleague of my dad’s, Jaap Schelvis, invited us to go birdwatching in the Eemshaven. That day I discovered a drake Blue-winged Teal, a very rare vagrant to the Netherlands, and there was clearly no going back; birding had become my ultimate passion. Soon I hooked up with more local birders including Bert de Bruin (at the time, a member of the Dutch rarities committee) who became one of my birding mentors in the early days.

    What led you to choose a career in tourism?

    My first introduction to avi-tourism was in Ecuador while I was doing field research in the Mindo area. At the time I frequently ran into tour groups and realized that I could be out birding with them instead of taking birds out of a mist net. Of course I still have a strong interest in scientific research but clearly, tourism is a more direct way of sharing my passion for birds with others. Coupled with the fact that tourism in Ecuador has a strong impact on local conservation, a career in tourism was an inevitable choice.

    What are your other hobbies and interests?

    In general, I like to travel (but who doesn’t?) and meet interesting people and cultures from all over the world. I also enjoy playing a good game of basketball.

    What do you enjoy most about being on tour?

    Being outside in nature and the wilderness is a delight. There are so many things to see and learn out there - enjoying nature is simply inexhaustible. I really derive great pleasure from sharing my knowledge and passion with others and aim to inspire as many people as I possibly can. And of course, adding a few “lifers” to my list is very exciting too!

    What are your strengths as a tour leader?

    Over the years I have gained a lot of experience as a tour leader. Also being a lifetime birder I developed a good understanding of how birding works, which is crucial for understanding clients. With my enthusiasm, I have always been able to create a good group dynamic which is very important to me. My background as a biologist and my expertise in bird photography are things that many clients have appreciated during tours. As a birder, my best skill must be my ability to recognize species by their vocalisations.

    Are you a keen bird photographer?

    Yes. I have been photographing birds with a telephoto lens since 2000 and my current setup is a Canon 100-400mm with a 70D body. If the situation permits I like to snap a few shots during a tour but any great bird image taken is a bonus. Some of my work can be seen on www.sapayoa.com.

    Are you a lister?

    Yes. Although numbers are usually not that important to me I do like to keep detailed track of all the species and taxa that I see. My current Ecuador list stands on 1521 species (IOC taxonomy), which is quite a lot for that country. I have to admit I did do some twitching in-country. A team of friends and I recently broke the world record for a Big Day in birding with 431 species in 24-hours. A little competition is just part of the game! I also like to keep track of current taxonomic changes (although I do not always agree with new splits or lumps).

    What are your future goals as a tour leader?

    One of my main goals is to popularize birding and inspire as many people as I can to travel so we can continue to protect more habitats around the world. Furthermore, I would like to improve my skills as a tour leader and expand my knowledge of birds throughout the world.

    What is your favourite country to guide in?

    Ecuador.

    What is your advice to people who are interested in going on a birding tour?

    Go out birding as much as you can! Birding keeps you fit and it’s great fun! Furthermore, it’s a fantastic way to support conservation.

DS, Cuba

We had a great time birding with you. Thanks for working so hard making sure we saw all the target endemic and near-endemic birds. We very much enjoyed being around you because you have an upbeat and positive demeanour. Thanks for pointing out so many wintering warblers that we, on the west coast of US, do not get to see. Will always remember the Tody and the "G" Hawk.

NP, Cuba

I still find it hard to believe that we saw all 40 of my targets in Cuba - you led a great trip and it was great birding with you again.

RK, Cuba

The tour was great. It exceeded our expectations. We got more than our money's worth. Part of that was Dušan making everyone feel welcome. He was a great guide and worked really hard at locating Cuban Endemics for us. We also saw, surprisingly, many other North American Warblers. He was very friendly and didn't mind being asked over and over, "which bird is that," even though he had named the bird many times before. Talk about patience!

KL, Dominican Republic

Dušan was excellent, I plan to travel with him again in Ecuador.

BS, Guatemala 2017

Dušan is an exceptional guide in all respects. He has a wealth of knowledge and experience, is courteous and diplomatic with the clients, and excellent with the local people. I could not ask for anything more. Thank you very much for providing this tour. For me, it was a success in every way. I will definitely recommend Rockjumper to anyone interested in birding in the future. You guys do a great job.

NL & CL, Cuba

Dušan was an extraordinary guide. His birding skills, humanity, and concern for all of us was beyond reproach.

CF, Cuba

Dušan was great. He took charge of the group with enthusiasm. His birding skills are excellent. The office staff were super in responding to emails and answering questions. I have told my birding friends to consider Dušan and Rockjumper when they schedule their next trip.

MS, Ecuador

We really enjoyed the tour and being with Dušan again, as we were in Argentina with him in July of this past year. He was one of the good reasons for taking this tour. He is a great guide and fun to be with.

DH & JH, Ecuador

We were so fortunate to be able to experience the top notch birding skills of Dušan. He is very professional but also so personable. It is a tricky thing to manage many different personalities and keep everyone happy but Dusan made our trip so enjoyable.

JR, Ecuador

Dušan is an excellent field ornithologist with an encyclopaedic knowledge of bird song, taxonomy, and field identification marks. Ornithology is Dušan’s passion. He is also excellent with the clients – friendly, courteous, patient, and anxious that everyone sees all the birds and enjoys the tour. It was a great tour!

BS & VS, Chile 2017

Chile with Dušan and Rockjumper exceeded our expectations. What a wonderful experience Chile was for birding. Dušan really worked hard at finding the birds for the group. A very satisfying tour! Looking forward to our next trip with RBT.

KM, Dominican Republic 2018

This tour may have been short, but it was not easy, so thank goodness our guide, Dušan Brinkhuizen, was so much fun to be with and so knowledgeable.

SS, Cuba 2018

Dušan Brinkhuizen made the trip so enjoyable. His birding expertise is impressive and he has such a friendly personality. Customer service is really important to him and he started every day asking us how we were doing and if there were any problems. When there were problems, he addressed them promptly. He made sure everyone saw every bird, and remembered who wanted to see which birds or still needed to see them. I definitely want to bird with Dušan again.

CB, Cuba 2018

Honestly, this was a tremendous experience! The tour was extremely well organised and balanced, the guide, Dušan Brinkhuizen, was excellent and very professional, and the local guides also impressed me. I look forward to travelling with Rockjumper again.

MB, Cuba 2018

This was an excellent tour. The itinerary was really good, the guides - both main and local - were all very good. I would have no hesitation being on another trip with Dušan Brinkhuizen, as he is an outstanding guide. It was all very well organised. Many thanks to all involved in organising the trip.

TN, Ecuador - Galapagos 2018

I really enjoyed this trip, it's probably the best one I've been on! I loved the knowledge and personalities of both our guides, Andrés Trujillo & Dušan Brinkhuizen, as well as the naturalist guides and the boat crews.

KP, Ecuador - Galapagos 2018

The guides, Dušan Brinkhuizen and Andrés Trujillo, conducted the tour very professionally. They were meticulous in what they did and took care of us, seeing to our every need.

SF, Ecuador - Galapagos 2018

Our guides, Dušan Brinkhuizen and Andrés Trujillo, are excellent in their jobs. They are very helpful and kind. All our tour members were very happy with them.

SH & PB, Ecuador and Galapagos 2018

We had a great time, both Dušan Brinkhuizen (all 4 trips) and Andrés Trujillo (Galapagos) were excellent. We were very happy with the accommodation, transport and the variety of wildlife that we saw.

CM, Ecuador 2018

The tour was very good and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Dušan Brinkhuizen is an excellent guide, a superb birder whose enthusiasm is infectious. We had members of our group with differing levels of birding skills, fitness and expectations. Dušan showed a high level of professionalism and went out of his way to meet everyone's expectations of the trip.

ES & JS, Ecuador 2018

Dušan Brinkhuizen is a wonderfully skilled birder and he readily shares his enthusiasm for birds and their environments. He is also skilled in Spanish and knowledgeable about the country.

MY, Papua New Guinea 2018

Dušan Brinkhuizen was very personable, great birder, keen on helping us all see the species.

RL, Papua New Guinea 2018

Dušan Brinkhuizen was especially sweet and encouraging when I was having trouble with pain or with getting onto birds. I would be happy to travel with Dušan again.

GH, Papua New Guinea 2018

Special thanks to Dušan Brinkhuizen for his care in helping me to locate birds on my camcorder.

RC, Ecuador 2018

Dušan Brinkhuizen is an excellent birder and leader with an excellent temperament to handle diverse personalities. I look forward to birding with him again.

JK, Ecuador 2018

Dušan Brinkhuizen is an awesome guide. Very knowledgeable, patient, never got tired and made sure everyone got the bird. You are fortunate to have a guide like Dušan.

AB, Ecuador 2018

Dušan Brinkhuizen is a fantastic guide! He is incredibly talented as a birder but equally important, he is very patient and he managed our group perfectly. We had a great time together based on his leadership. He is an asset to Rockjumper.

PR, Ecuador 2018

You have a stellar guide in Dušan Brinkhuizen... he is a fantastic asset!

DS, Ecuador 2018

It was a well-oiled machine. Dušan Brinkhuizen is an excellent guide. It goes without saying he knows his birds and he kept the whole adventure moving smoothly. I would hope Dušan would be the guide on my next Rockjumper tour.

WB, Ecuador 2018

Dušan Brinkhuizen is great bird master, very friendly and helpful. The trip was brilliant.

JM, Ecuador 2018

I was particularly impressed by Dušan Brinkhuizen. His knowledge of Ecuadorian birds, both visual and auditory, was amazing. He showed an unflagging energy and was sensitive to the myriad of special interests of our participants.

LH, Ecuador 2018

This was my first Rockjumper experience and it was excellent. Dušan Brinkhuizen was amazing at finding birds.

RO, Ecuador 2018

In the Rockjumper tradition, Dušan Brinkhuizen went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure the serious birders in our group found our birds. This included several later night expeditions into the forest for owls and other nocturnal critters. Dušan managed to handle everyone with great patience and skill. A very kind man, dedicated advocate for the environment, a master birder.

NH, Cuba 2019

Dušan Brinkhuizen was a first class leader. His birding skills and knowledge were well-known to us and his concern to ensure that every participant was happy at all times ensured the success of the tour.

DD, Ecuador 2018

[To Dušan Brinkhuizen] Truly, it was the very best birding trip I have ever been on, including several other Rockjumper trips which have all been great. As I think back on it, I can only marvel at your amazing ability to hear and identify the "chips" and "tsits" of birds calling or singing from deep in the understorey or high in the canopy of mature cloud forest while walking with a noisy group of folks or, even more unbelievable, from a moving vehicle.  And if this wasn't amazing enough, you would then expertly call the desired individual bird into view and, with incredible calm and patience, succeed in making sure that everyone of us on the tour got a crippling look (and maybe even a spectacular photo) of the target bird -- that as often as not -- was not only beautiful but also both rare and furtive.  And to further blow our minds, you often would pull out your vegetation clippers and create a setting and stage on which the bird would perform for us -- even sometimes, like some magician, telling us on which perch it would sit!!  As a measure of your expertise as a trip leader, let me tell you that on the two back-to-back trips with you I "got" 110 life birds (101 seen and 9 heard) and only missed 1 species that would have been a life bird for me (Blue-mantled Thornbill).  Never on any trip before in my life had I experienced such a high rate of success!! But above and beyond all of the uncanny skill and expertise that you exhibited, was the kindness, friendship, and humanity that you showed to each us.  For this I am so very grateful. Thank you!!!  Moreover, I'm sure everyone on the trip felt this way and I'm sure it created a safe and happy feeling among all of us that made the trip even more enjoyable.  I truly hope that I can go with you on another trip sometime. And finally thank you also for the wonderfully detailed and beautifully illustrated trip report you sent.  I remain amazed at how you could remember so clearly all the details of the trip.

CR - Ecuador 2019

I have just finished a very successful snipe day with Dusan. I got all three species I was after, which was a result of some excellent guiding by Dušan Brinkhuizen. I cannot commend him highly enough. He can fill you in on the detail but looking for an Andean Snipe in the rain and cold wind at 4300m takes some effort!  I will certainly need my rest day tomorrow.

GW - Papua New Guinea 2019

This has been an incredible tour with Stephan Lorenz and Dušan Brinkhuizen as amazing guides. Experts in their knowledge of the New Guinea birds and wonderful companions who looked after the needs of all the participants. We all worked as a team under their guidance and saw many challenging as well as beautiful birds.

RL - Ecuador 2019

This was the second time I have traveled with Dusan Brinkhuizen (the first time was in Papua New Guinea in 2018). I would go with him anywhere. His expert knowledge of the birds and places, his skill at making sure that everyone gets on the birds, his patience and kindness, and his warm and engaging personality make him a perfect guide. I really hope I have a chance to tour with him again.

RL & CL - Papua New Guinea

We thought the birding went very well. Both Dusan and Stephan were great guides - very knowledgeable, very dedicated, quite determined to get everyone onto pretty much everything, and they combined very well. And, they both tried very hard to help all the participants who needed it, whether it was locating a bird, getting up a steep section or getting in or out of the boats. They did an admirable job.

AG, Ecuador 2019

An excellent tour with an excellent guide. Dušan's knowledge of all the vocalizations is exceptional and he made sure I saw almost all the birds the group managed to see.

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