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WINGS Tour Leaders – Matt Jones

Matt Jones

Image of Matt Jones

Matt was born in Kent in the south east of England and from a young age had an interest in all wildlife but particularly birds. He was a proud member of the Young Ornithologists Club and always had his nose in a bird book. Early years of birding were spent in his home county at Dungeness, Elmley and Oare Marshes. Kent with its corridor of marshland and reed beds provided the ideal location for Matt to get his fix of waders, one of his favourite groups of birds. The twitching and listing bug soon took a hold and Matt travelled the UK far and wide to get birds on his list, finding a few rarities along the way such as American Robin and Roller. His UK list stands at over 400 birds.

Overseas birding initially took Matt to Mallorca where most British birders cut their teeth birding away from their home turf. He has since travelled extensively around Europe, North America, Asia, Pacific Islands as well as Australia and New Zealand. Highlights of these trips included seeing Tiger in India, Leopard in Sri Lanka and most recently Kagu in New Caledonia. The Kagu was on Matt’s “most wanted bird” list and is now on his world list!

It was during one of these trips to New Zealand that Stewart Island found its way into his heart and since 2007 is where he calls home. As a freelance bird watching guide, Matt enjoys showing fellow bird watchers the vast variety of seabirds on pelagics, the endemics of Ulva Island, and the iconic kiwi during evening trips. He has led TV and film crews on his trips, and also works on an annual project to monitor forest bird call counts.

On his days off, Matt goes bird watching! Stewart Island is not the easiest place to twitch from so he has become a local patch watcher finding his own rarities. These include Black-faced Cuckoo Shrike, White-naped Petrel on Stewart Island and a Nankeen Kestrel in Southland.

Matt began dabbling in digi-scoping in the late 1990s. He has since upgraded to a digital SLR and has been fortunate enough to have his images published in books, magazines and websites both nationally and internationally, but he sees himself as a bird watcher first and photographer second. Visit Matt’s website.

In his spare time, he has volunteered for the Department of Conservation; in 2009 for the Kakapo Recovery Programme on Codfish Island; in 2010 helping to tag Great White Sharks off Stewart Island; and most recently gathering data for the Southern New Zealand Dotterel project. He is also a volunteer for the Stewart Island/Rakiura Community & Environment Trust doing Blue Penguin surveys, banding Sooty Shearwaters and Kiwi/Morepork/Weka bird call counts. In 2011 Matt became Chairman of the Ulva Island Charitable Trust, a group that (with DoC) works towards keeping Ulva Island open to the public, remaining predator-free, and aspiring to be one of New Zealand’s premier bird watching locations.

Updated: February 2018