Stuart Elsom

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.

  • JH - Tanzania 2022

    Both the tour leader, Stuart Elsom, and the local driver were great. he knew exactly where to go for a certain set of species - all knowledge from his many trips to these areas of the tour.

    DH - Tanzania 2022

    I had traveled with Rockjumper to India in 2019 with Stuart Elsom, so was looking forward to experiencing another trip with this most excellent guide. He is so knowledgeable and professional while remaining always approachable and good humored. The accommodations were superb- I especially enjoyed the tent camps! This tour really has it all- fantastic birds, wonderful opportunities to see the African mammals up close, lovely accommodations and always good food. There were a few “ glitches” for me personally but Stuart kept everything running smoothly. Our driver, Geitan, was fantastic. It was obvious he drove with great care and concern for our safety. What an experience- not only the birds but the people and other things we experienced. Thank you, especially to Stuart, for a wonderful adventure!

    TW, Kenya 2022

    I've never been on a safari trip so I had no way of knowing what was involved. Due to my age (83) and slight incapacity (I use a cane, aka "stick," to maintain balance) the trip was more challenging than I had anticipated. But Stuart Elsom, our guide, and Jack, our expert driver and expert birder, made accommodations that made it possible for me to undertake and get the most out of the experience. 342 life list birds! All in all, an unforgettable experience. Thank you for the wonderful birding experience. I will definitely recommend Rockjumper tours to my younger friends and family members.

    IS, Kenya 2022

    Stuart took my "hit list" and ensured that I saw as many as possible. Driver/guide Jack and local guides also helpful. Accommodation and food generally good. One negative was that Landcruiser was cramped and difficult to enter and exit, but apparently a 4X4 is necessary for this tour. Overall very happy with the tour and total list. Other participants also enjoyed it.

    AK - Sri Lanka 2023

    Both Stuart and Greg went all the way to make the group have a pleasant and memorable trip. They both worked hard on ensuring everyone in the group got onto all the birds, and made sure we all were comfortable with our hotels and food.

    TM - Sri Lanka 2023

    This was a fantastic tour and I attribute its success to the guides, Greg de Klerk and Stu Elsom. They are professional and skilled, both at finding birds and handling people, and I learned a lot from them. We saw all of the endemic bird species and had some great views of game, including a jungle cat. At the beginning of the tour, I thought that a group size of 12 was going to be too many, but I had better experiences seeing birds than I have on tours with half as many participants.

    MC - Sri Lanka 2023

    I have a great time on the Tour. This was my first time with Rockjumper Tours and I would 100% recommend to travel with them again. The Leaders always put the participants first in seeing the bird and made sure everyone could have time at the scopes. Very well organised and a pleasure to be on tour with. A sense of humor always is a plus and there was not shortage of that, lots of laughs and great memories. Go...Rockjumper, a real pleasure