Who we are

Birds SA has members from all walks of life.

We have a General Committee and several sub-committees.

Members of our Committee are listed below.

Our committee

David Paton


David Paton AM is an ecologist at the University of Adelaide with a passion for conservation and restoration with a strong commitment to long-term studies that help understand and manage the natural environment for future generations. He completed a B.Sc. (Hons) at the University of Adelaide and a Ph.D. at Monash University. His work on the Coorong and declining woodland birds is well known. He frequently provides informed comment on wildlife and environmental issues to politicians, the general public and the media. His passion for birds began before he was ten trapping and tagging birds at the family home in Beaumont, an interest nurtured by his mother, Joan and grandfather, J.B. Cleland, both former Presidents and long-term members of Birds SA. David was the recipient of the SA Great Award for the Environment (1999), the Premier’s Science Excellence Award for Excellence in Research for Public Good Outcomes (2006), received a National Carrick Citation for environmental education (2006) and was appointed a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia for service to conservation, education and the environment (2008).

John Gitsham


I have been an avid Birdwatcher and Naturalist for over 40 years. I’ve been fortunate to also have worked professionally in the Conservation industry for the past 20 years (previously a Professional Photographer for 18 years), having a Graduate Diploma in Photography and Design from the SA School of ART and a Degree in Ecotourism from Flinders University (specialising in Conservation Biology). I worked for Earth Sanctuaries’ and Australian Wildlife Conservancy (Warrawong, Yookamurra & Scotia Sanctuaries’) as a Land & Wildlife Manager and EcoTour Guide for 9 years. I’ve also worked for nearly 10 years for (DEWNR) National Parks and Wildlife as a Senior ranger working around the state in many important Conservation Parks (Innes NP, Coorong NP, Ngakat CP etc.) and currently I’m an Environmental Projects Officer with the Goolwa to Wellington LAP as well as running my own business “Nature Connections” facilitating ‘Birdwatching & Monitoring Courses’ through the NRM/DEWNR and private Bird Guiding Tours. I have been a Birds SA member since 2001. Also I’ve been on the Management Committee of Birdlife Australia’s Gluepot Bird Reserve for the past 13 years and facilitate their Birwatching course annually.

Dan Rogers


Dan Rogers has had an interest in birds and their ecology since undertaking his PhD on Rufous Bristlebirds (baptism of fire!) in 1998. He has since undertaken a wide range of bird conservation projects across South Australia, most notably investigating the ecology of waterbirds in the Coorong, Lower Lakes and Murray Mouth region, to support the management of this internationally important site. Dan has also undertaken research in Sweden, investigating habitat restoration options for re-introduced White Stork and how this benefits other wetland and grassland bird species. Dan is currently a Principal Ecologist in the South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. In addition to his professional interest in birds, Dan has spent a lifetime immersed in nature, and has a deep passion for the power of natural places and wildlife. His favourite spots to watch birds include the Coorong, and a special secret spot on the lower Murray River that he visits frequently. Dan still gets excited when seeing new bird species, but would never consider himself a serious ‘twitcher’.

Brian Blaylock


I have been interested in all aspects natural history but particularly birds since primary school. I worked in the information technology sector for most of my working life and following early retirement I was employed as a contractor for the South Australian environment department carrying out vegetation and bird surveys. At this time I also became a volunteer in the Bird Section at the SA Museum.

Brian Walker


Brian is a Chartered Accountant and has been a member of Birds SA since 1993. Brian has held the position of Membership Secretary and served on the Committee of Birds SA in the positions of Ordinary Member, Assistant Secretary, Vice President and Treasurer. Brian is a keen birder, and an occasional leader of Field Trips and regular participant in Shorebirds 2020 surveys.

Kate Buckley

Assistant Secretary

On holiday in Broome 2003, I happened to see a Black-winged Stilt through a telescope – clean sleek lines of black and white, but then, PINK LEGS!!! Long, thin, pink legs – just blew my mind! My days as a ‘normal camper’ were over – I purchased a pair of binoculars, joined Birds SA and began the never ending search for the “birding high”.

Merilyn Brown

Journal Editor

I joined BirdsSA in 2001, newly retired from working life as a librarian, environmental officer and energy project officer. An avid bushwalker, I was introduced to birding by fellow walkers years before but hadn't time to develop that interest while working. A trekking trip to Sikkim in 2004, bird book in hand, showed me the frustrations of little knowledge and less skill: I vowed my next trip would be with a birding guide. It was Namibia, about 380 species in three weeks (almost doubling my life list) and I was hooked. Now I've seen over half the world's birds and members of all but eight bird families. It's a fascinating way to explore other countries, cultures and food, as well as Australia. Editing South Australian Ornithologist is an interesting challenge both technically and intellectually. I have learnt quite a lot about putting the journal together but there is still plenty more to find out.

Cynthia Pyle

Newsletter Editor

I was born in England, but most of my adult life has been enjoyed in Adelaide. As I was growing up, I became interested in birds of the English countryside and I was keen to learn the names of the birds I saw around Adelaide. One of my first memories of Australian birds was the sight of a Galah perched on a fence by the side of a road. I was entranced to see such a beautifully coloured bird. I attended several series of Joan Paton’s WEA classes to learn how to identify Australian birds, and I really enjoyed her excursions, especially the ‘Grand Prix Getaway weekends’ she ran as long as the event was held in Adelaide. I joined Birds SA when I retired from teaching, just when the Association was looking for a replacement Newsletter Editor. A combination of my almost illegible handwriting and the need to produce tests and other materials for my students had made me an eager candidate for word processing as soon as it became available. For this reason, my daughter, Josie, very kindly volunteered my services as Newsletter Editor for Birds SA. I have occupied that position since the beginning of this century. Each time I post the Newsletter to the printers, I think I must be crazy, but I always approach the next edition with interest and enthusiasm. My ambition, which I am sure will never be fulfilled, is to produce a Newsletter with no errors!

Simon Brealey

Membership Officer

I grew up roaming the moors and coasts of northern England and learning about birds from my father. My work as a geologist eventually brought me to South Australia twenty years ago, where I became fascinated and enthralled by the diversity of new and amazing wildlife, most of which I’d never heard of. Armed with a pair of binoculars and a sketch pad I have spent the intervening years exploring the breath-taking variety of landscapes and habitats offered by SA, and getting to know its birds. I believe that without a connection to nature we lose something of our humanity. After 13 years living in apartment blocks in London, the more I have reconnected with the natural world, the more incredible close natural encounters I have had. Initially to better inform my painting, I did a Graduate Diploma in Ornithology by correspondence and met some wonderful people, some of whom were members of Birds SA. Although I’ve always been fiercely antisocial about my birding (it being a good reason to get away from other people), through these new friends I joined the Conservation Subcommittee because I wanted to actually do something to make a difference. This experience has been so rewarding that this year I volunteered for the main Committee and I am enjoying meeting and learning from the passionate and generous people of Birds SA.

Jody Gates


I grew up in Murray Bridge and spent a lot of my childhood playing in nature, and I became passionate about conservation through this early contact with our great wildlife. I pursued this interest through University and work, and have been with the state government environment Department since 1993, on Kangaroo Island, in the Murraylands, and now in head office in Adelaide.

Lynton Huxley

Field Program Coordinator

My interest in birds started when I kept and bred budgies about 40 years ago. Shortly after that my wife Karen and I built aviaries and expanded into also breeding King, Princess and Scarlet-chested parrots for the next 12 years. Our life and free time changed when our son Michael was born and so the birds and aviaries were sold and we concentrated on our other interest, remote area travel. As a family we have been most fortunate in being able to film/ photograph many of Australia’s birds and reptiles during our extensive travels. We joined Birds SA as a ‘young family’ about 12 years ago and appreciated the support and friendship shown to us from day one. The Newsletter, Journal and monthly general meeting are very informative and the field trips and campouts have increased our birding knowledge and been a lot of fun. Planning expedition holidays, photography and maintaining the family home and our faithful 80 series Landcruiser keeps me fully occupied in my retirement.

Graham Carpenter

Bird Record Secretary

John Hatch


I grew up in England and my father was a keen amateur birdwatcher. From the 1950's we had holidays in strange places like Cley, Blakeney and Southwold, and at strange times, like April and October. I ringed (banded) with the great Richardson at Cley in the 50's. I lapsed in my youth, but moved for some years to Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies), but I hated killing and when I came to Australia in 1967, I took up birds again. I joined the SAOA as soon as I got here and in nearly 50 years have been on the committee for almost 30 of those years being variously Librarian, President, Vice-President, Member and Editor of the Ornithologist. I was on the National Rarities Committee BARC for several years. I have a broad interest in and love of nature and continue to lead walks for Uni3A, talk on the radio and help to give our WEA course. As Simon Barnes says in "How to be a Bad Birdwatcher", ... I don't go birdwatching ...., I AM a birdwatcher. (My emphasis).

John Fennell


I have had an interest in birds since the 1950's and started taking notes of what I saw since 1963. I have been involved in bird conservation, bird banding and bird photography in the UK, New Zealand and Australia and now enjoying a bit of travel in retirement to see birds elsewhere. Was a member of the Rare Bird Committee in NZ and assisted Birds SA to set up a similar committee of which I am still a member.

Emma Montgomery


Our Sub-committees


This sub-committee considers all issues impacting upon the conservation of birds that we are aware of, or are brought to our attention. We act upon those we deem important and where we think we can have an impact. Our responses include letters of advocacy and meetings with interested parties. Increasingly we are drawn to positive actions such as supporting on ground activities such as Tolderol and the International Bird Sanctuary. We are also interested in promoting birding and increasing the general public's knowledge of birds generally. Members: John Spiers, Jim Allen, Rodney Attwood, Simon Brealey, William Brooker, Phil Cole, Nigel Gammon, John Gitsham, David Hansman, Jeff Groves

Conservation Grants

This sub-committee assesses applications for grant funding, and makes recommendations to the General Committee. Members: Andrew Black, Phillipa Horton, Peter Bird, Jody Gates