Our leaders are a mix of Asian-based and Asian nationals, whom lead both our scheduled and custom tours.
On top of the broad range of scheduled tours offered, we offer a range of custom tours, whether it be extensions to the advertised scheduled tours, but also stand-alone tours. Using Birdtour Asia in-house expertise we can tailor the custom tours to suit your requirements. We use a number of locally-based guides for this, and are actively encouraging and promoting the use of young, keen guides throughout the region. Some of our most popular guides are below, though we also have several other guides who lead custom, private tours with us.
James's teenage years eventually led him to Asia, thinking nothing of skipping college lessons for a long trip with Rob to India!
Residing in Malaysia, he has built an enviable, intimate knowledge of the identification, vocalisations and behaviour of the birds throughout the whole continent. This has resulted in the discovery of at least five undescribed species to science in Indonesia (two now described!), as well as numerous rediscoveries during his visits to over 70 islands within the archipelago.
The culmination of his field-time has resulted in the publication of over 95 manuscripts and articles, over the past 20 years, and lead-author of the Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago.
James has a PhD, having studied taxonomically cryptic species and their conservation status. A keen conservationist, with a particular interest in trying to put an end to the bird trade through surveys and research, and a member of the IUCN Asian Songbird Trade and Hornbill specialist groups. On top of that, he is the eBird reviewer for Indonesia and East Malaysia.
Like all our leaders, James has more than a passing interest in the mammals of the region, and is attempting to see all of Asia's megafauna and primates (a very slow, drawn-out and often frustrating process!).
Rob began birding almost as soon as he could lift a pair of binoculars and foreign travel soon developed this into a passion for world birding, with a special interest in the birds of the Oriental region. Since graduating with a BSc in genetics he has travelled throughout the region, visiting many remote areas in search of the regions very rarest birds.
Rob is an accomplished photographer and keen sound recordist who has authored many scientific papers on the vocalisations, distribution and taxonomy of the region’s birds including several elevating little-known forms to species rank. His main interested is his adopted country of the Philippines where he has seen most extant species and co-authored A Naturalists guide to the birds of the Philippines, and is passionately involved in the conservation of the islands. His travels across the region have netted more than 2,800 species - likely more than anyone else - and he enjoys sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm with others.
Wilbur is a Malaysian who started birding in his early teens, an obsession which has blossomed into a lifelong love affair with the region’s birds. Having travelled the length and breadth of the country for birding, Wilbur knows intimately the habits and calls of Malaysian birds. He has led numerous trips and field surveys as a member of Malaysian Nature Society, spending hours in the field honing his field skills, before deciding to be a full-time guide.
Birding in other countries throughout Asia has also helped him to broaden his experience, and though Malaysia will always be his specialty, he's one of the more experienced guides in Papua, and other areas of eastern Indonesia now. Whether in the field or out of it, he is always keen to share his knowledge and passion for the local avifauna.
His easy going, relaxed attitude, even during the most intense birding days has made him an extremely popular guide.
Shashank is a researcher, conservationist and entrepreneur from India with more than 20 years of field experience and an immense knowledge of the natural history of the country. His work has led to the discovery of the new bird species, Himalayan Forest Thrush, apart from several rediscoveries and range extensions across almost all vertebrate taxa in India. His research work on birds also includes understanding biogeographic barriers on population genetics and the impact of land use change on bird communities.
Shashank was also instrumental in exposing the mass-scale hunting of Amur Falcons in Nagaland and subsequently designing a conservation action for the species. In 2015, Shashank completed a Big Year in India, with 1,128 species seen just within the country. This led to him developing a mobile application called Vannya to get more Indians to actively start watching birds. The application is now used by more than 50,000 people across the world. For 15 years, Shashank has been juggling all his research, conservation and education work with guiding bird tours because he enjoys the challenge and the constant reminder of the reason he fell in love with India's wildlife. He is also the only birder to have spent time on all the main Nicobar islands, during his research projects over several months in recent years.
Mike has been a birder since he was six, when he became fascinated with the birds in his English garden. With a father in the oil industry, he grew up in the Middle East and the Caribbean, eventually settling in the United States in 1980. Having lived in and travelled to over 40 countries he is an experienced world birder and as an avid sound recorder, he has logged over 12,000 sound recordings.
Mike developed a particular interest in Asia during his birding travels and having led numerous tours in Asia, working as a full-time guide for Birdtour Asia was a natural progression to share his knowledge and enthusiam on tours throughout our region. He is now a firm favourite on several of our tours where he now spends far more time on tours than he does at home!
Born and raised in the Malaysian state of Sarawak in Borneo, it was little surprise that Yeo grew up influenced by the natural world. He was involved in numerous expeditions to remote areas of this rich island, and he can include the rediscovery of Black Oriole among his achievements. Although his first love has always been birds he is renowned for his all-round expertise in Borneo’s organisms, including finding a new species of pitcher plant, Nepenthes appendiculata, and was the first person to record the sound of a rare, fossorial frog species - Gastrophrynoides borneensis.
Yeo is a keen conservationist, heavily involved with the Malaysia Nature Society and the Sarawak Forest Department, for whom he surveys the states National Parks. A Sarawak tour with Yeo will not only be productive birdwise, but an all-round nature experience as he enjoys sharing his knowledge with participants.
Growing up in Thailand's lush countryside, Jay has been a wildlife enthusiast for as long as he could remember. As a young kid he explored the seasonal floodplains armed with a pair of cheap plastic binoculars and the famous Lekagul & Round's field guide published in 1991. Bird identification has become one of his lifetime obsessions, culminating in the publication of Birds of Thailand in 2018, which he co-authored with the renowned Uthai Treesucon.
Having seen over 940 species in Thailand, he's the regional eBird reviewer for Thailand, and a member of both the Thai and Philippine Rarities Committees. On top of his, he studied his MSc on the ecology of mixed-species flocks, and is an avid researcher, his publications can be viewed here. He has led bird tours throughout Thailand for over a decade since his years in college, there really is no one better to guide you through Thailand.
Born and raised in the metropolis of Jakarta, Khaleb was soon venturing outside of the urban sprawl while still a kid, where he soon gained an appreciation for birds and mammals. Since then he has gained an intimate knowledge of the endemics and specialities of Java, Bali and Sumatra with a particular emphasis on west Java, where he has shared many of his adventures with his brother, Boas.
He has been involved in several bird research monitoring projects, including taking boats off Java for Burung Laut Indonesia as a member of the Seabird Working Group, and avifaunal studies in the Moluccas. Khaleb is the perfect guide for custom tours throughout Java, Kalimantan and Sumatra, and increasingly the rest of Indonesia as he's now becoming increasingly experienced in Papua and Wallacea.
Martin, like the rest of us, has been a birder since childhood, cutting his teeth around the gravel pits of the Trent Valley in Nottinghamshire. His travels have taken him to all parts of the globe and he’s amassed well over 8,000 species worldwide.
For nearly 20 years he’s been based in Asia, mostly in Singapore where he was involved in the discovery of several country firsts and numerous other rarities. This gave him the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Asia and build up an excellent knowledge of the region which he now shares on several Birdtour Asia tours with a focus on the Eastern Palearctic including Middle East, across to Mongolia, China and Japan.
Following his early retirement (from his professional work, not birding!) he lives with his family in the Philippines where he is already an active member of the birding, Odonata and Lepidoptera communities.
Otani was born and raised in Tokyo, with a few years in London during his formative years. His loves for nature and birds began in childhood and he's been studying and enjoying birds ever since.
After graduating from the University of Tokyo, his life has evolved around nature, working as researcher for nearly 40 years and as a bird guide for much of that time. His passion has led him across the world in pursuit of birds (even rediscovering Roborovski’s Rosefinch in the process!), though it’s in Japan where his in-depth knowledge has been of most value, culminating in him authoring the ‘Birds of Japan’ field guide.
With such a background, Otani is the perfect guide to make any birding trip to Japan a memorable experience.
Sayam has been working in behavioural ecology, research and conservation of globally threatened species in Bangladesh and abroad for the last ten years, especially on Critically Endangered birds including Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Baer’s Pochard and Masked Finfoot, and vanishing riverine birds. His undergraduate degree in Environmental Science, coupled with international training and an MPhil in Biodiversity Conservation from the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, has further cemented his footing in Conservation Science. Working in close quarters with local communities has helped him gather unique experiences as an advocate of nature, inspiring people and being inspired at the same time.
He is Assistant Coordinator of the International Spoon-billed Sandpiper Task Force. His other notable works include gathering scientific knowledge on the secretive Masked Finfoot, identifying conservation problems and actions to address those, leading forest bird monitoring programme at 15 PAs in Bangladesh and proposing two new protected areas in Bangladesh based on his work on riverine birds. He serves as a member to the IUCN Species Survival Commission. On top of all that, he's a very keen birder!
Summer has been guiding in China for more than a decade, initially in Sichuan before branching out to cover all corners, bit specialising in Sichuan, Qinghai, Tibet, and Eastern China, honing her birding skills to become a knowledge and well respected tour leader, with an eye for detail to make sure every aspect of a tour runs smoothly.
With a close connection to the Chinese birding network, she is always up-to-date on the latest birding news, and happy to tailor tours to best suit your requirements. Summer is an accomplished photographer and a keen sound-recordist which has helped her develop a keen ear for bird sounds, even for the multitude of Phylloscopus warblers. On top of the birds, she has a nose for culinary delights, making any China tour an experience beyond the birds and the scenery!
'Raja is a much loved face on all of our Sumatra, Java, Lesser Sundas and Banda Sea tours, and anyone who has been fortunate enough to share a tour with him will sing his praises for his attention to detail, and his legendary banana pancakes!
Raja is also an experienced birder, having co-led over 60 tours with us since 2007 he has more experience in the region than any of us! Prior to guiding for Birdtour Asia, he was Ben King's righthand man on many of his tours and explorations, including birding on Wetar, successfully finding Wetar Ground Dove way back in 2008 - three years before we began our Banda Sea Cruise.
Majored as an International Tour Guide in China and after graduation from college, he guided numerous cultural tours throughout China for several years before he peered through a birders telescope at Poyang Lake in 2008 and discovered a new passion! This was his life-changing moment and since then has become a top birder, and proficient in leading birding tours throughout China. He has co-led several tours with Birdtour Asia since 2013 and already solo-guided several of our private, custom tours. Steven is able to lead private tours throughout China, including targeted trips for the rarest species.
Pete started birding around Britain as a kid, graduated to Western Palaearctic trips in his twenties and world birding in his thirties. He left the UK for good in 2006 on a world trip that took in all seven continents in the first two years. His first trip to Philippines was in 2007 and he returned regularly between tours around Southeast Asia, eventually settling permanently in Davao, Southern Mindanao in 2010.
Pete has been working since with the Philippine Eagle Foundation, Regional Department of Environment on shorebird and raptor migration and with the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines to introduce more people to birdwatching. He is undoubtedly the the most active and knowledgeable birder in Mindanao and between guiding tours Pete is busy exploring Mindanao and adjacent area of the Visayas, finding new sites and studying its least-known birds.
Mony was born in Siem Reap, and still lives there today, where he is one of the chief guides at the Sam Veasna Centre. The Sam Veasna Centre was set up as a conservation initiative to promote community-based ecotourism projects throughout Cambodia. Highly success, and the winner of many awards, Mony has been central to its success, being the centre's longest service guide. He has been co-leading our scheduled tours for many years now, and regularly guides our custom tours to his beautiful country.
Known for his cheeky smile and personality, he adds an extra dimension to our Cambodia tours. Not only that, he is the leading bird guide in the country, with his initimate knowledge of the culture, communities, wildlife, and of course first-and-foremost, the birds.
Hery is a senior ranger of Bali Barat National Park in Bali, Indonesia.
He has worked tirelessly for the protection of the Critically Endangered Bali Myna conservation program for several years now, empowering locals community around the park. He started birding at an early age and has extensive experience leading custom birding tours for Birdtour Asia for several years now, primarily in East Java and his native Bali.
His patience, passion and keen eye are already well-known, add to that his ever-present smile he’s been a firm favourite with all of our participants. Whether it be an extension to a scheduled tour or a stand-alone tour we are able to offer the best opportunities to see the Java and Bali specialties with Hery.
Chuck, a dedicated Taiwanese birdwatching guide with a Master's degree in Biology specialising in avian vocalisations, has been leading birdwatching groups for nearly 15 years now, sharing his extensive knowledge and passion for birds with fellow enthusiasts. He has observed over 550 bird species in Taiwan, and as an eBird Taiwan local reviewer and iNaturalist curator, Chuck possesses a comprehensive understanding of Taiwan's bird species, as well as its common flora and fauna, while promoting the importance of documenting and learning about local ecosystems.
With experience serving in bird-related NGOs, Chuck holds an in-depth knowledge of Taiwan's avian conservation status and ongoing efforts to protect its diverse bird populations. Embark on an unforgettable birdwatching adventure with Chuck and explore Taiwan's vibrant birdlife and natural wonders through the eyes of a seasoned expert.
Boas was born in Jakarta and developed a passion for wildlife at a young age, during his teenage years his interest focused more and more on birds, after making birding expeditions with brother Khaleb. He lead his first birding tour in 2010 and his experience has continued to grow so that he now guides across much of the archipelago, including many photographic tours for those hoping to capture the spectacular endemics with a particular focus on endemic pittas.
Besides his tour leading, Boas is heavily involved in survey work when the opportunity arises, this includes the Indonesia Seabirds Survey (ISSUE) now known as Burung Laut Indonesia, and he was part of the Black-browed Babbler survey team that rediscovered the species in 2021 after it had been lost for over 170 years.
Tim is one of the most experienced, and sought-after birdwatching guides in Vietnam. He started his bird-guiding career in 2010 and has rapidly evolved since, seeking out not only the most well-known Vietnamese specialties, but with a knack for finding some of the least known-species in the country.
Tim’s favourite bird families are the babblers and laughingthrushes from Vietnam, and his skills at finding them, and creating feeding stations, has meant that many visitors to the country have benefited from his skills without having ever met him!
A tour with Tim will mean that you have special access to the feeding stations, allowing you the most intimate views of the wonderful Vietnamese endemics. Back at home, Tim has a loving wife, a six year old daughter, and a son that is as stubborn as a bird.
Born and raised in Aceh, the northernmost provice of Sumatra, Agus has been a birder since 2007. A qualified vet, his first experience of birding in Sumatra was part of a migratory water-birds survey studying Avian Influenza in Sumatra, since which time he has spent many years conducting and organizing exploration within Leuser Ecosystem Forest in Aceh and is currently very active in promoting tourism through a Birds conservation awareness program in Aceh.
He has taken numerous birding trips across Sumatra including several scheduled and custom tours with us. A competent photographer, he enjoys sharing his passion for birds via his blog, tours and workshops and can take people on custom tours throughout Sumatra including clean-up trips for the toughest endemics.
Peter has led a colourful life; his formative years in hospitality in India took him to Oman where he ran his own restaurant, before returning home and settling in the scenic village of Kalimpong, in the foothills of the Himalaya. Here, he setup Adventure Gurudongma and All India Birding Tours, focusing on wildlife and birding tours, where he has built up a formidable reputation.
Having spent 25 years honing his birding skills, not only is he a renowned bird guide but has explored little-known areas all across the Himalaya, many of which are now firmly on the birding path. He takes great pride in unearthing and developing talented local guides into outstanding bird guides, and continues to develop areas through workshops and lectures.
An elected number of the prestigious Bombay Natural History Society's Governing Council and serves as Chief Advisor to the Sikkim Ornithological Society. Currently working on his PhD in Environmental Science (Bio-diversity of Birds of Northeast India: A Key to ornithological Tourism), he is one busy boy!