Our Staff

Fighting to protect Ireland's birds

Our Staff

Our staff cover a wide range of roles and projects including species- and habitat-specific conservation efforts, management of nature reserves, coordinating and coordinating surveys to monitor of birds in different habitats, engagement with politicians and lobbying on behalf of nature, and communicating and engaging with our branches, members and the general public to help them appreciate and learn about our native wildlife. We also have an experienced admin team who facilitate us carrying out this important work.

Staff Member - Declan O'Sullivan (Photo: Dick Coombes)

Declan O'Sullivan

Interim CEO

Declan has been an Interim CEO across a number of industries and NGOs. He holds an MBA, is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants, and is a Banking Licentiate of the Irish Institute of Bankers. Declan’s interests include Masters’ Swimming at international level, flying and coffee.

Fintan Kelly

Policy Officer

Fintan has worked as a Policy Officer with BirdWatch Ireland since 2017. He works to make Irish fisheries and land-use policies more sustainable for wildlife and people. He has a MSc in Environmental Biology from Utrecht University and a BSc in Environmental Science from NUI Galway. He specializes in Environmental Policy, Advocacy and Planning and has been working with Irish eNGOs since 2012, having previously worked for An Taisce, SWAN and the Irish Wildlife Trust.

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Niamh Fitzgerald

I-WeBS National Coordinator

Niamh started with BirdWatch Ireland as an Intern to the conservation team and is now the National Organiser of the Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS). She coordinates the survey and its 400 plus participants – largely consisting of volunteers. This work is instrumental in monitoring waterbird populations and protecting the wetlands they rely on.

Lesley Lewis

Project Manager I-WeBS & CBS

Lesley began working for BirdWatch Ireland in 2009, initially as a waterbird ecologist to NPWS, but from 2014 worked on a variety of other projects before taking over the project management of the Irish Wetland Bird Survey (I-WeBS) and the Countryside Bird Survey (CBS) in 2017. Lesley has a BSc in Zoology and a PhD in shorebird ecology from University College Cork and maintains a research interest in shorebird ecology and human disturbance.

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Dick Coombes

CBS National Coordinator

Dick is National Coordinator of the Countryside Bird Survey (CBS). He oversees some 380 sample sites across the country which are surveyed by over 220 participants annually, most of whom are volunteers. He participates in several other surveys including I-WeBS and the Swift Survey and is a regular contributor to Wings magazine. Dick has had a lifelong interest in birds and is always especially active in spring and autumn when migration is in full swing. Dick is a frequent visitor to Cape Clear Island where he holds a week-long course every year. For more than 10 years, he has been studying and documenting the colonisation of Ireland by Great Spotted Woodpeckers.

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Dr. Stephen Newton

Senior Seabird Conservation Officer

Stephen is responsible for managing the long-term conservation projects at Rockabill (Roseate Terns), Kilcoole (Little Terns) and a variety of other seabird monitoring and research initiatives, including the FAME and MarPAMM programmes which have focused on deploying loggers on seabirds to identify key feeding areas and migration strategies.
Away from seabirds, Stephen has coordinated surveys of Choughs, upland birds and was a member of the team who developed the ‘Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland’ concept back in 1999. He is also Chairperson of the Irish Rare Breeding Birds Panel and in his spare-time is a keen local patch ‘Birdtracker’.

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Brian Burke

Conservation Team

Brian is the coordinator of the Irish Garden Bird Survey as well as a key member of the I-WeBS and CBS teams. Under the banner of I-WeBS he coordinates annual nationwide surveys of post-breeding Tern roosts (Aug/Sept) and the Icelandic Goose censuses (Greylag, Pink-foot) in liaison with WWT. Having spent three breeding seasons working on the Rockabill conservation project, Brian retains a strong interest in the monitoring and conservation of our Tern and Gull species. He has a BSc. in Zoology and MSc. in Wildlife Conservation and Management, both from UCD. Brian is also a keen bird ringer.

Kathryn Finney

Curlew EIP Project Manager

Kathryn is the Irish Breeding Curlew EIP Project Manager. An agri-environment specialist, she joined BirdWatch Ireland in 2005 and has worked in breeding waders, scheme design, specialist advisory, habitat management and predator control.
In addition to designing nationally adopted breeding wader schemes, she also worked on the RBAPS project to develop and trial results-based schemes. She has experience in predator proof fence design and habitat restoration for breeding waders.
A graduate of Aberdeen University, she holds an MA degree in Countryside and Environmental Management. Kathryn believes passionately in working in co-operation with farmers to ensure a more sustainable future for Ireland’s biodiversity.

Tara Adcock

Conservation Support Fieldworker

Tara is a Conservation Support Fieldworker on both the Dublin Bay Birds Project and on the EU Life Roseate Tern Recovery project on Dalkey Island, where she works as a warden. These projects involve a variety of elements including Tern monitoring, waterbird censusing, predator control and monitoring, and public engagement. Tara has an MSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare from Queen’s University Belfast and a BSc in Geography from Trinity College Dublin.

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Niall Hatch

Public Relations, Branches & Development Officer

Niall heads up BirdWatch Ireland's membership recruitment, fundraising, education & communications work and edits our membership publications. A keen birdwatcher since early childhood, he is a frequent contributor to radio and television programmes and works closely with our BirdLife International Partners. Niall is a qualified solicitor and is a graduate of University College Dublin and Cornell University, New York.

Oonagh Duggan

Assistant Head of Policy and Advocacy

Oonagh heads up the advocacy team which focuses on a better future for birds, their habitats and other biodiversity in Ireland. She has 23-years experience working for the environment in Ireland and in California including in the areas of climate change, marine and inland waterways, energy policy, and working with farmers on biodiversity issues. Oonagh holds an undergraduate degree in European Studies and Languages, a Masters in Arts in International Development and a Masters in Science in Biodiversity and Land Use Planning.

Valerie Lowth

Shop assistant and SEUPB Administrator

Valerie is our newest member to the team, joining us in 2018. Valerie started with us on a 3 month contract but became invaluable so she is now full-time permanent. She is jointly responsible for the shop, doing orders, sales and stock control. Valerie is the administration assistant on two European projects under the SEUPB umbrella.The SEUPB is responsible for the implementation of the EU’s PEACE IV (€270m) and INTERREG VA (€283m) Programmes. Valerie also assists with membership when required and all other aspects of the admin office. In her spare time she enjoys watching all sports particularly Football, Golf and Rugby. She is a life long Liverpool supporter and also enjoys cinema and socialising with friends. She is a super fan of Game of Thrones.

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Alain Gatel

Head of Administration & Finance

Alain is in charge of Administration & Finance. He is a fully qualified accountant, graduated from CNAM in Paris. He has wide experience at an executive level in Finance & Accounting as Chief Financial Officer in France, Indonesia, French Caribbean and Vietnam for French and German MNC. His favourite destination in Ireland is the Aughrus Peninsula.

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Annette Lambkin

Office Manager

Annette has worked with BirdWatch Ireland since 1993 and is the longest serving member of staff. She is responsible for the daily maintenance of accounting records, payroll and office administration. She also assists with the shop and answering the telephone. Annette qualified in 2011 as an Accounting Technician and is a member of Accounting Technicians Ireland. In her spare time she enjoys the Gym and socializing with friends and family.

Andrew Lynch

East Coast Nature Reserve Warden

As the East Coast Nature Reserve warden Andrew is responsible for the day to day running of our flagship reserve. This includes practical conservation such as reed bed, fen and woodland management. He also runs volunteer workdays, public events and walks on the reserve. Andrew previously worked for the London Wildlife Trust and holds an MSc in Environmental Management (Countryside Management / Protected Area Management) from Birkbeck, University of London.

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Paul Whitelaw

MarPAMM Seabird Fieldworker

Paul works on the Marine Protected Area Management and Monitoring (MarPAMM) project. Through MarPAMM, he is involved in various aspects of seabird monitoring such as organising and undertaking surveys of breeding seabirds, conducting winter waterbird surveys and tagging & ringing seabirds. Paul has a MSc. in Marine Biology and a BSc. in Zoology, both from UCC. He has a keen interest in marine ecology having worked as a MMO and a fisheries observer on commercial fishing ships as well as spending several years working on seabird survey & monitoring projects in Ireland.

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Kieran Flynn

Bog Restoration Officer

Kieran is a graduate of Social Science from Plymouth University, with many years’ experience in Project Management in the finance industry in the UK. In more recent years Kieran has managed various conservation projects for the National Trust in the Channel Islands, EarthWays in Skye, and the Marine Institute in Samos, and is currently studying part-time towards a BA in Environmental Science. After returning to live in Ireland in 2018, Kieran worked on projects for An Taisce, and the NPWS, before taking on the role of Bog Restoration Officer for BirdWatch Ireland.

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Paul Baker

MarPAMM Seabird Fieldworker

Paul is a fieldworker on the Interreg MarPAMM project, working on many aspects of the seabird work package, including tracking and ringing of seabirds, monitoring and breeding productivity. Paul has a BSc in Ecology and developed a keen interest in seabirds having grown up on the Yorkshire coast. He has previously worked on the Farne Islands, with the RSPB in Scotland with Barnacle Geese and on the Isle of Man where he worked on the Manx Bird Atlas.

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Daniel Moloney

CABB Breeding Wader Advisory Officer

Daniel is the Breeding Wader Advisory Officer on the Cooperating Across Borders for Biodiversity Project (CABB). His role is the management of breeding wader sites in the border counties. He has been working with Birdwatch Ireland since 2008 where he initially spent 5 years on the corncrake project based in Co Donegal. Daniel is a keen birdwatcher in his local peninsula and is involved in various voluntary projects as well as having a keen interest in the monitoring of Raptors in the North West.

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Dave Suddaby

Reserves Manager

Dave is responsible for overseeing our Reserves work across the country, principally in advising and managing land under our ownership. He also participates in other projects, including those related to breeding waders, seabirds and wintering birds. He is based out at our Mayo Office on the Belmullet Peninsula and joined BirdWatch Ireland in 2001 to lead and deliver on a LIFE-Nature funded project based at the Termoncarragh Lake SPA. This has resulted in the successful restoration of our Annagh Marsh Reserve and the ultimate return of breeding Red-necked Phalaropes. Before joining us, Dave worked on a variety of projects linked with seabird research and monitoring, and wetland ecological management for breeding waders.

Helen Boland

Dublin Bay Birds Project Manager

As manager of the Dublin Bay Birds Project (supported by Dublin Port Company) Helen’s primary interest is in the wintering waterbirds and breeding terns of Dublin Bay. Since joining in 2003, Helen has worked on a range of projects with BirdWatch Ireland including garden birds, terns and seabirds. But with 10 years as I-WeBS Organiser, and her involvement in several wader colour-ringing schemes, her main expertise is in coastal waterbirds. Helen is carrying out PhD research on wintering wader ecology, distribution and population trends, and the factors influencing them, including climate change and human-related disturbance. Helen enjoys the connections with other organisations, researchers and enthusiasts that the study of migratory birds brings about.

Kendrew Colhoun

MarPAMM Project Manager

Kendrew has held a range of positions across the conservation sector. He was I-WeBS National Organiser at the start of that project and has since worked on multiple long-term waterbird projects. Whilst with RSPB as Senior Conservation Scientist (2008-18), he worked on farmland birds and breeding waders, Birds of Conservation Concern and a diverse range of autecology studies - including chough, red kites and swifts. Most recently he has worked at UCD on Curlew ecology (with NPWS), co-supervises PhD projects on Whooper Swans and Brent Geese and runs 'recreational' projects on Barnacle Geese, wintering and breeding waders.
In his current post, Kendrew is responsible for managing BirdWatch Ireland's work package of the MarPAMM Interreg project, the best bits of which are seabird monitoring and tracking work.

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Anita Donaghy

Assistant Head of Conservation

Anita heads up the Species and Land Management section of the Conservation Division. She has been with BirdWatch Ireland for over ten years, previously completing her PhD on the management of habitats for Corncrakes in the Shannon Callows. She oversees a range of projects and work areas related to practical conservation management for some of Ireland’s most threatened species, including Corncrakes, breeding waders and seabirds.

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Ricky Whelan

Project Officer - Citizen Science and Outreach

Ricky is a Project Officer with BirdWatch Ireland overseeing many aspects of our citizen science and outreach work as well as playing a key role in the Dublin Bay Birds Project and Urban Birds Project. Ricky coordinates our work on Swifts including our County Swift Surveys as well as other seasonal volunteer surveys including Project Lapwing and Riverbird Surveys. As part of his work Ricky hosts many bird and wildlife related events. Ricky started his career in the UK working for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) as part of their reserve’s teams in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Ricky has a BSc in Zoology from NUI Galway, is an experienced bird ringer and is involved in various wildlife related voluntary roles outside of work.

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Nicholas Duff

CABB Project Officer for Conservation Action Plans 2020

Working with partner organisations (eg RSPB, Butterfly Conservation) in N. Ireland and Scotland, in the INTEREG CABB project, to produce detailed plans for three peatland SACs in Co Donegal. Entails identifying all management issues and planning a programme of nature conservation actions with close participation of stakeholders, the landowners, farmers, government and NGO,s.

Steve Wing

Cape Clear Wildlife Officer

Steve runs the day to day operation of the BirdWatch Ireland Bird Observatory on Cape Clear Island, where he has been involved with the ‘Bird Obs’ since 1998. Steve carries out daily bird surveys around the island, seasonal breeding seabird surveys, bird ringing in the famous Cotters Garden in addition to a constant effort ringing site on the island. Over the years, Steve has welcomed many thousands of guests to the Obs, showcasing the impressive wildlife found on Cape Clear. His Birding interest began while living and working on Lundy, another ‘bird’ famous island, in the Bristol Channel.

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Brian Caffrey

Assistant Head - Surveys & Monitoring

Brian heads up the Survey and Monitoring section of the Conservation Division. He has been with BirdWatch Ireland since 2003, previously working on a range of projects including Corncrakes, bird atlases, corporate engagement and citizen science. Brian is responsible for the volunteer surveys and research projects which allow us to monitor the changing status of birds in Ireland, helping us to focus our conservation work on our most threatened birds and habitats. A graduate from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and the University of Gloucestershire he holds a BSc in Environmental Management and Policy. Based in the Midlands Office in Banagher, he loves living in the Shannon Callows, but also enjoys escaping to the coast for a bit of whale watching.

David Miley

Curlew EIP Ecologist for Lough Corrib

David works as the seasonal ecologist on the Curlew EIP in Lough Corrib. He is responsible for carrying out breeding curlew surveys as well as engaging with farmers in the area, mapping curlew habitat and helping to administer the project. Previously he has worked for two seasons as a Research Assistant on Rockabill Island as part of the Roseate Tern Conservation Project and as an Assistant Ecologist for the Hen Harrier Project. A keen bird ringer and bird watcher he also has interests in bats, Irish flora and conservation. He holds a B.Sc. in Marine Science and M.Sc. in Applied Environmental Science.

Kate Bismilla

Curlew EIP Ecologist for south Leitrim

As Curlew EIP ecologist, Kate surveys and monitors Irish breeding Curlew in south Leitrim and is involved in the setting up of the agri-environmental scheme, working with farmers in the area. Over the past four years she has worked as a consultant ecologist on various projects across Ireland carrying out ornithological, botanical and protected fauna surveys and monitoring. Kate previously worked as an intern with BirdWatch Ireland in 2014 where she gained experience working on agri-environmental projects for breeding waders on the Shannon Callows. She has a BSc in Wildlife Biology from the Institute of Technology, Tralee.