Richard Thomas

Richard lives in Cambridge, UK, and has been fascinated by birds ever since the age of five when he spotted some Bohemian Waxwings in his front garden. Richard has had a long career in the conservation sector and loves sharing his passion for birds and birdwatching. Richard’s birding travels have taken him to all seven continents, where his focus has been on seeing at least one representative of every bird family: a feat he temporarily achieved until taxonomic rearrangements intervened. He has led tours to Fiji and New Caledonia, where the primary goal for all participants was an encounter with the unique and spectacular Kagu—a mission they all duly accomplished. Richard’s other birding aim is to see all the world’s true pittas: another goal recently made harder by the intervention of taxonomists but a goal he still hopes one day to achieve.

  • Born in Wales, Richard’s early birding career was in the industrial heartland of northern England, from where he branched out with trips first within Europe then gradually farther afield, including extended excursions to South and Southeast Asia: the Oriental avifauna has been a favourite ever since. In 1990, Richard moved with his wife Sarah to Australia, following which they together wrote The Complete Guide to Finding the Birds of Australia, a compilation of the best birdwatching locations encountered during their travels throughout this fascinating continent. The guide was subsequently updated, thanks to input from David Andrew and Alan McBride, and published by CSIRO.

    Richard and Sarah’s subsequent year-long return home to the UK took in parts of the South Pacific, New Zealand, Malaysian Borneo and Indonesia. Richard then began his career in conservation, first as a volunteer Council Member for the Oriental Bird Club, for whom he edited their regular Bulletin. He is still an active member of OBC Council, helping now with the Club’s online presence. In 1998 Richard began full time work as Editor of World Birdwatch, based at BirdLife International, where he helped publicise the plight of Asia’s vultures through Diclofenac poisoning and the impacts of longline fishing on the world’s albatrosses.

    In 2007, Richard moved to TRAFFIC International, as Head of Communications. His work there centres around encouraging government action to address the poaching of Africa’s iconic rhinos and elephants and in promoting protection for Asia’s songbirds and many of the world’s parrot species.

    When not at work, Richard can usually be found at RSPB Ouse Fen, his local patch, where he has been fortunate enough to add two species to the Cambridgeshire county avifauna: Semipalmated Sandpiper and Long-billed Dowitcher.