Catherine Simmons - observer
At ease in the field, Catherine's birding experience was gleaned whilst working with Rob in Namibia from an early age, and later in South Africa where she has shown herself to be adaptable and efficient.
She is a dedicated observer, works well solo or part of a team and has extensive off-road 4WD experience.
Birds & Bats Unlimited offer rapid and intensive surveys with an emphasis on rare, threatened, endemic and collision-prone species.
In a collaborative move, Marlei and Rob joined forces with Stephanie Dippenaar (bat specialist) and Tania Anderson (ecologist) in order to expand the services they offer.
Collaborating with these knowledgeable specialists and deploying state-of-the-art satellite-tags allows us to follow cryptic, wide-ranging species and gain statistical data that can be used in risk-modelling.
Brian Vanderwalt - observer
Brian has run a bird watching tour company for the past 15 years as well as being involved with bird and bat monitoring teams since 2011. He has exceptional bird identification skills which he has been honing for the last 40 years. Brian has worked with our team in some of the most rugged terrain and always comes home with a smile as long as his species list. Brian is semi-retired and the Honorary President of Tygerberg Bird Club.
James Harrison - collaborator (bat research)
We collaborate with James as a bat specialist. His specialities are vertebrate zoology and ecology, environmental impact assessment, bird and bat monitoring, and scientific editing. James has an M.Sc. in Nature Conservation from the University of Stellenbosch, and an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town. James operates primarily in the Eastern Cape, South Africa.
Kirsten Retief - observer
Kirsten has a masters degree in conservation biology from the University of Cape Town and has helped bird monitoring studies in several of our Karoo sites. She has also done some independent research on habitat selection by foraging raptors. She has good bird identification skills and great stamina and enthusiasm for covering lengthy transects in mountainous terrain. Kirsten has since branched into assessing cycad conservation in Cape Town.
Julia Simmons - observer
Julia helps us out on an irregular basis and her sharp eyes miss nothing. Recently, at an operational wind farm, she was tasked with searching turbines for birds or bats that may have been killed beneath them - an important aspect of data collection. In six days Julia walked 33 turbines and found previously undiscovered raptors. Her ability to drive 4WD was invaluable to our work.
Observers and Collaborators
Shobana Makhubu - observer
A Lesotho national, Shobana has years of avian experience and is a member of the Bearded Vulture Group. Keen eyesight and intimate knowledge of the extreme Lesotho terrain means that Shobana is at home in harsh landscapes and all weather conditions where he undertakes observations and searches for roost-sites of endangered species. Skilled at 4x4 driving and able to communicate with the locals makes him a valuable asset to our team.