Wildlife Holiday News

Ed Drewitt, Antarctica

Tour leader spotlight: Ed Drewitt

Sara FrostBy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website & Media Manager
20th November 2019

Those who’ve been lucky enough to travel with Ed unfailingly describe him as extremely enthusiastic and charismatic! He has been a naturalist for over 30 years, with a special interest in birds and marine mammals. His passion for communicating the wonders of natural history means that he’s never far away from the media, and is regularly involved with broadcasting on TV and radio, ranging from appearances on the BBC's One Show, Springwatch and Autumnwatch, Radio 4 Natural History radio, and BBC Radio Bristol. We’re delighted to have had Ed guiding Naturetrek groups since 2008, to various wonderful destinations across the world including Madagascar, Canada, The Gambia, the Azores, Antarctica and many more places in between! So Ed, please tell us…

When and how did your interest in wildlife begin? 

I’ve been passionate about wildlife for as long as I can remember, and certainly since I was six years old, when I used to feed the ducks with my grandma and watch the sparrows and starlings come down into my garden. My schoolteachers nurtured my interest and I’ve been hooked ever since!

When and where was your first tour leading assignment for Naturetrek?

My first tour was in October 2008 when I co-led a holiday with Byron Palacios to Spain, in an area near Valladolid to see Wolves and bustards. I remember really hot sunny days and very cold mornings when it was -4oC. However, on those cold mornings we had memorable Wolf sightings; hearing wild Wolves howling is one of those wildlife moments that will stay with me forever. I remember watching Red Kites flying over ploughed fields and the odd ghost-like Black-winged Kite, huge Black (Cinereous) Vultures, my first Long-tailed Blue butterflies and of course Great Bustards.

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Black-winged Kite

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Cinereous Vulture

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Great Bustard

What is, or was, your ‘day job’?

For just over 15 years I spent a lot of my work life as a learning officer, engaging people with wildlife and culture through different organisations such as Bristol Zoo, the RSPB, Bristol Museum and the Bristol Dinosaur Project (University of Bristol). During that time I took people out to see wildlife and hear birdsong, giving wildlife talks and beginning tour leading. Today I do this full time as a freelance naturalist, juggling different seasonal peaks in wildlife activity that allow me to deliver bird identification courses, dawn chorus bird walks, surveys, writing about wildlife and the environment, showing people wildlife where I live in the Forest of Dean and developing learning resources for nature organisations.

What other interests do you have outside of wildlife? 

I’m a scuba diver (and trained in British waters!) although I have that on hold now while I juggle life as a dad. I am enjoying bringing up our two-year-old who loves being outdoors and exploring as most children do at this age. I love bird ringing and during the spring months I work as part of a team ringing Goshawks and Peregrines. My time at the museum helped me appreciate our history and art even more, and I really love seeing and learning about this wherever I go and discovering more about the stories that people have to tell.

What current conservation projects or issues most interest or concern you?

Closer to home the long-term survival of British wildlife under our ongoing intensification of agriculture and development, and how our changing climate will continue to affect wildlife and people here and around the world. Abroad I see the continuing conflicts and solutions between people’s need to live and survive and the pressure that places on the environment. In the last five years I’ve become particularly aware of how changing weather is affecting many of the countries I visit and how the wet and dry seasons are becoming less predictable.

Do you have a favourite bird, mammal or plant?

I have many, although I reckon the cryptic Leaf-tailed Gecko that we see on our Madagascar Lemurs tours comes high on the list – during the day it is rendered almost invisible by a cloak of skin that mimics lichens and mosses.

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Goshawk

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Mossy Leaf-tailed Gecko

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Indri

What is your most memorable wildlife encounter to date?

Being alongside a family of Indris singing in Madagascar – their penetrating calls can be heard miles away and you can hear other families responding. Their song has a sense of melancholy, especially as they are so endangered, while being a remarkable adaption to sending their message out across the forest to other Indris.

What do you enjoy most about leading wildlife tours? 

I love being part of the group, getting to know and looking out for each other while enjoying magical wildlife experiences that can be shared beyond the life of the tour – and the delight on people’s faces and excited chat after they’ve seen something that they cherish and have always wanted to see. For me on a personal level it is not only a remarkable way of seeing wildlife, people and landscapes around the world; it provides the opportunity to learn about nature beyond a book, lecture or website and return enriched to pass on my stories and experiences, in order to help others to appreciate what we still have left.

What new destination would you most like to travel to next? 

I’d love to visit the Democratic Republic of Congo to see gorillas, the island of Komodo for the Komodo Dragon, Mauritius, where the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust has helped reverse the declines of many species, and the Philippines to see critically endangered bleeding-heart doves and Visayan Warty Pigs.

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Western Lowland Gorilla

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Komodo Dragons

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Luzon Bleeding-heart Dove

What are you reading at the moment? 

I always have several books on the go, so am reading Mark Cocker's 'Our Place: Can We Save Britain's Wildlife Before It Is Too Late?', Peter Wohlleben's 'The Hidden Life of Trees' and a Poyser classic, in preparation for leading the Spirit Bears tour, 'The Ancient Murrelet: A Natural History in the Queen Charlotte Island' by Anthony Gaston. 

Which 3 people would you invite to dinner?

Aside from David Attenborough (who wouldn’t?), I would invite Isabella Tree, author of ‘Wilding’, a book about the remarkable rewilding of the Knepp Estate in West Sussex.

Barbara Young, a former CEO of the RSPB, is a real hoot with many stories to tell. I’d also ask Ian Newton, a fountain of knowledge about raptors, in particular Sparrowhawks, and author of many books including ‘Farming and Birds’ and ‘Bird Migration’.

What tours are you due to lead in the future?

St. Lucia (January departure)

Bali to Komodo – In Search of the Dragon! (2021 departure)

St. Lucia

A relaxing, 9-day holiday to this beautiful Caribbean island to enjoy its birds,...

9 days £4,795 inc. flights

Bali to Komodo - In Search of the Dragon!

A 13-day wildlife holiday, including a 9-night cruise (11-day / 7 nights in 2019...

13 days £6,795 inc. flights