Follow That Bird
- Sydney's Birding Company


Ornithologists &
Bird Guides

Edwin Vella
Edwin has been interested in birds since a teenager. His keen interest all started more than 16 years ago when he one day walked into the book shop, opened up Simpson and Day’s “Field Guide to the Birds of Australia” and was instantly ecstatic on the huge variety of birds that our wonderful Australia has to offer. He really enjoys watching and listening to the birds that roam around in their natural environment whether it be the majestic albatrosses and petrels battling against the winds, the male Victoria Riflebird in its stunning courtship displays or listening to the haunting call of Pied Butcherbirds at dawn.

An excellent knowledge of bird calls and good “ears” are Edwin’s strengths in birding. His recognition of calls, together with his strong identification skills and sharp eyes means sightings of birds not often seen by us mere mortals.

Edwin takes an active part in Macquarie University Bird Survey Project at Prospect and twice a year Regent Honeyeater and Swift Parrot surveys and managed to find both target species on the first survey in Sydney.

His infectious, enthusiastic guiding skills ensure others find the birds and have a better understanding of Australian birds and wildlife.

Tiffany Mason
Tiffany’s birding exploits began early: as a three year old, she fought off many a Blue Tit from the milk bottles on her Mum’s front doorstep in England…she continued this close avian association when she arrived in Australia at 14 and has certified her passion with qualifications from Southern Cross and Charles Sturt Universities. Extensive travelling (including adventures on foot and by bicycle) throughout Australia has given Tiffany a great appreciation for the uniqueness of its birdlife and serendipitously improved her knowledge of plants, insects (particularly butterflies) and skinks along the way. She can only be separated from her binoculars by the temptation of sub-marine excitement, such as snorkelling with Whale Sharks, although a hot cup of tea and piece of cake at the end of a long day has been known to have a similar effect.

Tiff is a great believer in the value of volunteers, having spent many years volunteering herself on projects such as radio-tracking Regent Honeyeaters in the Capertee Valley, assisting students on the Mallee Fire Project, surveying for the Cowra Woodland Bird Project and banding birds in Orange, Munghorn Gap and Burrendong. When not out in the bush, she can sometimes be spotted riding her bike or playing her guitar in the environs of Bathurst, NSW.

Steve Anyon-Smith
Steve Anyon-Smith is a prominent birdwatcher, who has been a lifelong neighbour of Royal and Heathcote National Parks. He is commitment to the study of local biodiversity and highlighting the conservation role of the two national parks.

He has written 2 books about Royal National Park listing the status and distribution of native birds recorded within the park boundaries: habitats the birds use, profiled sites and the access to them, cross referenced to the birds list specifying ‘key’ species commonly sought after by watchers and their whereabouts.

“I know of no other national park in NSW with so many native bird species have been recorded – 279 is an extraordinary number and a credit to Steve’s long association with the two parks. His work will be appreciated by conservationists, bushwalkers and birdwatchers for years to come,” Brian Gilligan, NPWS Director-General said.

Royal’s birdlife is prolific, varied and beautiful. As Steve says “The amazing variety of natural settings allows a diversity that is rarely found in an area of this size combining heath, rainforest, a mixture of other forest types, ocean, estuarine and freshwater habitats. Where else in the world could we watch the magnificent wandering albatross, and no creature has a greater wingspan, or admire the speed and efficiency of the swiftest living thing – peregrine falcons – or be entertained by the world’s greatest mimic and largest songbird, the Superb Lyrebird … all in the one day in the same area.”.

Margaret Christian
Margaret Christian spent 20 years working in the Norfolk Island environment as a ranger in the Norfolk Island National Park.

She continues to research numerous aspects of the island’s unique animal and plant life, and is publishing a series of books in order to share the knowledge so gained. The first of those books is a guide to the birds of the island.

Between providing articles for magazines and newspapers, working on scientific papers with a variety of specialists and leading two of the island’s environmental groups, Margaret shares her love of the island’s unique biota by guiding interested visitors, scientists and nature lovers through the paths of the island’s reserves. Beneath towering Norfolk Island pines, and amidst over 50 other endemic plant species, Margaret will reveal the workings of the complex ecosystems in the forests she loves.

Margaret lives with her husband Ken on a clifftop shared with a colony of masked boobies in the island’s north. Her two children with their families also live on the island.

Christina Port
Christina has always been interested in Nature and Wildlife. But it is in recent years that she has become a passionate bird observer and photographer.

Most days she is out exploring her local area encountering birds in their natural environment. Learning about the relationships between birds and their habitats and food sources. Her enthusiasm in finding the birds and learning about the area is what has honed her skills as a guide. She has a great ear, which is invaluable in helping find birds and an understanding of the habitats birds prefer.

She has guided for the Central Coast Birding group, as well as introducing other birders to her area. It gives her great satisfaction helping people discover and find the birds they are looking for. She is always striving for a better view!

She has also been involved in the threatened Little Tern breeding program as a monitor.

Carol Probets
Carol Probets comes from the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, and few people know more than she does about the birds in this spectacularly beautiful region.

A sweeping claim? Not if you consider the work behind that reputation. An example: Carol is one-third of the team which won the NSW Twitchathon 4 years out of the past 6 (three times breaking the record for the number of birds found in 24 hours in NSW), raising money for bird conservation.

Since 1994 she’s been designing and teaching courses in bird identification and other environmental topics; and takes part in regular field work including radio-tracking Regent Honeyeaters in the Capertee Valley, part of a program to save this endangered species.

Carol’s wide knowledge comes from a childhood fascination and 20 years of walking the mountains studying birdlife, flora and environment. She shares her passion by working as a guide, engaging in voluntary projects such as bird banding, wildlife rehabilitation and bush regeneration.

Carol enjoys the company of like-minded bird and environment lovers and introducing visitors to her “home territory”, the Blue Mountains.

Rob Hynson
Rob’s interest in birds and wildlife started while growing up in London. Growing up playing golf from a very early age, there were always interesting birds to see. Birding adventures moved away from the golf course and on to reservoirs around London and RSPB reserves around the country. A move to America with work in his early twenties sparked an interest in worldwide birds which has led him to visits far-flung places such as Antarctica, Japan, UAE, Canada, Argentina and of course Australia.

While in America Rob developed a keen interest in seabirds and spent many weekends away on local pelagic boat trips. A final move with work to Australia in 2008 sealed his enthusiasm for pelagic birds. He has spent countless days at sea over the past 8 years on pelagics all round Australia, finding several state and national rarities and has even start organising his own pelagic trips.

Since settling in Sydney, Rob has travelled throughout almost the entire country and has seen nearly 700 species of birds in Australia. A keen and very competent photographer, his photos have been used in field guides and newspapers and he is always happy to help give tips to anyone keen to improve their photography skills.

Jennie Wiles
A love of nature and the bush has always been a part of me. Growing up with bush at my backdoor and parents who enjoyed bushwalking, surfing and the outdoors influenced my development. Birds in particular have always captured my interest, starting with the local birds and then as I have travelled around Australia I developed greater knowledge and appreciation.

Since retiring I have been able to pursue my interest of birdwatching with time more available. On my property on the edge of the Southern Highlands I have counted just over 100 bird species and I do regular surveys to record the movement of these birds. The Birdlife Southern Highlands branch is a group with whom I have been keen to get involved. As well as being on the committee and editor of the newsletter, I have led various walks with this group and I’ve been told I can hear and identify the calls better than most. On a weekly basis I go out with a group of friends to enjoy the outdoors and specifically bird watch and capture them on film. This regular bird watching certainly keeps the identification and bird calls fresh in your mind and as we roam further afield new birds and calls are learned – a process that I find particularly rewarding.

Janene and I used to go to school together and it was exciting to reconnect with her after about 40 years. This came about when I read her name in a Birdlife magazine associated with a Christmas Island trip. I decided it would be interesting to follow this up, not believing at this stage it would be my school friend, and I googled her name. The link to her company Follow That Bird came up and I rang the number and we have been in contact since.

Dion Hobcroft
Dion, a birdwatcher since the age of seven, has birded extensively throughout the Asia-Pacific region, North America, Argentina, and Antarctica. His informative and relaxed nature, combined with sharp eyes and ears, have established Dion as a favorite tour leader.

His field studies for over 30 years on birds and other terrestrial vertebrates have allowed him to amass an extraordinary knowledge of the biodiversity in these areas.

Born in Tasmania and based in Sydney, Dion has traveled widely throughout Australia listing over 750 species, placing him in the top echelons of Australian birders. He is very tuned-in to the songs and calls of bird species in the Asia-Pacific region, and specializes in rare and elusive species. He is delighted to show these skulking rarities to his travel companions.

Dion has published several papers on field ornithology and has undertaken work with the Australian Antarctic Division, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Australian Museum, CSIRO, Sydney University, James Cook University, Taronga Zoo, and the Zoology Research Unit of the Queensland Department of Primary Industry.

Dion lives with his wife and two children in Sydney.

Janene Luff
As a bird lover my only ambition upon the sale of my motel in 2002 was to see Budgerigars in the wild. This took me deep into the channel country of central Queensland, and of course it was the journey, not the actual eventual sighting, that brought a tear to my eye. This set me on a steep learning curve, continuing to this day learning about the birds and their very special habitats. After a life in hospitality I bought the Follow That Bird (then ASIT) tour company that same year.

What has kept me going is simultaneously the people, whom I delight in, and the joy of being in the bush with its excitement, beauty, fragrances and calming ability to take you out of bustle of everyday life to a levelling plain where you are not the centre of the universe; nature dictates if you are listening. I work facilitating this transition and running the administration, designing tours, driving, cooking cakes for morning tea and luckily, birding.

Over the past 10 years I have been privileged to work with some extremely knowledgeable ornithologists and naturalists who have given me enough experience to put on my “P plates” (trainer driving) and guide the tours of late with great success. I look forward to introducing you to the birdlife in its wild surroundings.

Follow That Bird   Phone: +61 2 9973 1865
3/59 Central Road
Avalon Beach NSW 2107
(Sydney) Australia
- Sydney's Birding Company  
Photos of Splendid Fairy-wren and Diamond Firetail by Nevil Lazarus. Header design by Participant Daphne Gonzalvez.