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Richard Baines PGdip MCIEEM

Richard Baines PGdip MCIEEM

Company Director and Birding/Wildlife Guide

Qualifications: National Diploma Land Use and Recreation, Post Graduate Diploma Environmental Conservation

Professional Membership: Member of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM)

Personal Profile:

Richard’s love of birds and wildlife started at age nine when he watched wide eyed as a charm of European Goldfinch fed on a thistle within a few feet of him in the grounds of his primary school. The next day he was busy drawing the flock in his art class. This sense of wonder and the thrill of watching and helping birds has never left him. He still draws occasionally.

As a teenager in the 1980’s Richard spent a very happy time twitching many rare birds with friends from his home south of Middlesbrough. His first local patch was Locke Park and South Gare near Redcar. On the 9th November 1982 with his friend Carl he found his first rare bird in Locke Park, a Pallas’s Warbler. The 1980’s was an exciting time for birding. With no internet available there were queues at every phone box and the legend of Nancy’s Café was very much alive. At the age of 16 Richard was the Junior Representative for Teesmouth Bird Club, a role of which he was very proud. 

In 1987 Richard started studying to become a Countryside Ranger. His enthusiasm for environmental education took him to Bewl Water in East Sussex where he spent a happy summer in 1988 leading school parties around the nature reserve. On the 5th May 1988 his love of education and rare birds collided spectacularly when he found a beautiful male Black-eared Wheatear O. h. hispanica whilst leading a group of children.

Having worked for East Riding of Yorkshire Council as a Countryside Officer since 1990, Richard moved to Flamborough in 1999 where he started living the birders dream. At this time, he managed to combine east coast birding with conservation work. Improving habitat for birds and people became his passion. Working for ERYC and in a voluntary role for Flamborough Bird Observatory he generated over £100,000 of funding for the farming and community sector between 2005 and 2010. In 2007 he was instrumental in achieving the restoration of a local wetland called North Cliff Marsh. As he stood next to the digger as the first buckets of mud were lifted, he was thrilled to see a group of Dunlin land by his feet only 30 minutes after the work started!

A few months later on the 3rd October 2007 Richard, along with friend Phil Cunningham, identified Britain’s second Asian Brown Flycatcher at the famous Old Fall Plantation on Flamborough Headland. This felt like winning the birders lottery especially as Buckton birder Mark Thomas had also found an Isabelline Shrike just down the road. In the following 48 hours visiting birders donated £1,600 for St Catherine’s Hospice and FBO. A great example of what can be done when the local farming community work closely with birders.

During the past 25 years Richard has undertaken many ecological surveys in the UK in his role as a professional ecologist. This work has also taken him abroad. His work for Wold Ecology even took him to Russia in 2008 where he was dropped into the middle of the Boreal Forest and left to survey breeding birds. This was paradise when the mosquitoes stopped biting!

Moving further east, after a first visit to China in 2004 he became beguiled by Asia. He has since spent several months birding in Thailand and Cambodia and led tours for YCN in India and Bhutan. Every time he returns his experience of the wildlife and people of this region increases, as does his love for the food!    

Closer to home he has worked extensively with the North York Moors National Park (NYMNP) including a project in 2014 and 2020 surveying a large area of open moorland for breeding waders. In 2015 he was instrumental in setting up the North Yorkshire Turtle Dove Project, a volunteer led conservation initiative to survey and create new habitat for this declining bird. In 2016 he started work part time as the North Yorkshire Turtle Dove Project Officer. The project won Best UK Conservation Project at the National Parks conference in 2019.

One of his greatest recent achievements was winning the Guardians of the Flyway trophy as a member of the Yorkshire Terriers  Champions of the Flyway team in 2018. Richard, Mark, Jono and Darren raised $28,000 for migrant bird conservation at the world cup of bird races in Israel.

When Richard and Steve set up Yorkshire Coast Nature as business partners in 2011, they were one of the few companies delivering local nature tourism in the UK. A few years later the YCN team were very proud to win best tourism stand at the British Birdwatching Fair. YCN has now become the ‘go to’ company for nature travel and wildlife photography in Yorkshire and further afield.

Richards greatest assets are his lifetime of knowledge and enthusiasm, passing on his experience of wildlife and ecology to a wide range of ages and abilities. As YCN goes from strength to strength, Richards passion for his work grows stronger. He continues to develop strong conservation partnerships and funding opportunities to help birds and wildlife.