Current Panel Members


The current Panel members (to 31st March 2020) are (left to right in this photo):
Dr Ian S. Francis.
Mark Holling (Secretary)
Dawn E. Balmer
Dr Mark A. Eaton (Chairman)
Professor David Norman
Andrew King
Helen Baker
David A. Stroud

Rare Breeding Birds Panel, BTO Thetford April 2019.

Helen Baker
Member of RBBP since 2018; JNCC Representative
Marine Species Team Leader at JNCC

Helen is Marine Species Team Leader at JNCC and responsible for managing the marine ornithology group, which includes UK seabird monitoring, strategic and technical advice, and offshore industry evidence and advice. Prior to this she had several roles in JNCC providing technical advice to UK government on bird conservation, research needs, ecosystem services and natural capital, and biodiversity reporting. As part of her ornithological roles in JNCC, Helen has advised on EU Birds Directive implementation, the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement, the Agreement on Albatrosses and Petrels, Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar), and has been involved in managing aspects of the JNCC-BTO Partnership Agreement, including BBS and WeBS, and the WWT Goose and Swan Monitoring Programme.

Before working for JNCC, Helen worked for SNH on Special Protection Area designation, and before that on a number of research projects, including five years in Hawaii working on Hawaiian honeycreepers and Nene, and studying Crested Tits in Abernethy Forest for her PhD. She was also the Fair Isle Bird Observatory administrator in 1998 and helped run the ringing station at Elms Farm in Sussex for a year. Helen has also been involved in the British Ornithologists’ Union (BOU) for over 10 years and has been its Honorary Secretary since 2014. As well as birding in NE Scotland, she is a field mycologist with an unhealthy interest in Russulas, records moths and flowering plants, and is a bad ceramicist.


Dawn E. Balmer
Member of RBBP since 2014; BTO Representative
Head of Surveys at the British Trust for Ornithology

Dawn has worked for the BTO since 1992 on a wide range of census, fieldwork and ringing projects and was the Migration Watch and BirdTrack Organiser from 2002–2006. She was the Atlas Coordinator for the Bird Atlas 2007–11 project, which resulted in the publication of the book in November 2013. During that time Dawn worked closely with the RBBP Secretary and attended two RBBP meetings to discuss appropriate mapping scales for rare breeding birds in the Atlas.

Her current role within the Monitoring team at the BTO is Head of Surveys. Dawn lives in the Brecks and is a keen birder, fieldworker and ringer and enjoys spending time at the local pigfields looking at gulls. Dawn is on the Editorial Board of British Birds, a Trustee of the Eric Hosking Charitable Trust and writes regularly for British Wildlife and Sandgrouse.


Dr Mark A. Eaton
Member of RBBP since 2007; RSPB representative
Principal Conservation Scientist, RSPB

Mark has worked for the RSPB since 2001, and is now Principal Conservation Scientist in the Monitoring section at the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science. He is responsible for overseeing much of the RSPB’s involvement in monitoring and reporting upon the state of biodiversity in the UK and internationally. This includes overseeing surveys of rare and threatened birds, providing the RSPB’s input into partnership schemes such as the UK Breeding Bird Survey and BirdTrack, the production of biodiversity indicators at a range of scales, red-listing, the development of monitoring schemes abroad and ‘citizen science’ surveys, and leading the multi-partner ‘State of Nature’ reporting and research programme since its beginning in 2012. He is Chair of the European Bird Census Council. Before the RSPB, Mark studied wintering waders on the Northumberland and Durham coasts, and worked on conservation projects in Canada and Mexico. When not working he’s often to be found birding on the Northumberland coast.

From 1st April 2020 Mark will be Secretary of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel, replacing Mark Holling, who retires from this post during April.


Dr Ian S. Francis
Member of RBBP since 2001; independent
RSPB Scotland - Area Manager for NE Scotland since 1992

Ringing permit holder, member of Grampian Ringing Group and Osprey co-ordinator for the NE Scotland Raptor Study Group. Joint co-ordinator of Greenland White-fronted Goose Study and NE Scotland Breeding Bird Atlas. Founding Chair, NE Scotland Biological Records Centre. Past editor, NE Scotland Bird Report and Scottish Bird News, Born 1959. Ph.D. in peatland hydrology. BSBI vice-county plant recorder for South Aberdeenshire.

Particular interests within ornithology: Geese, especially Greenland White-fronts, raptors (especially Ospreys), waders, Lapland Buntings, atlasing and biological recording, and African birds. Publications: wide range of publications, e.g. on Greenland White-fronted Geese, Lapland Buntings, Broad-billed Sandpipers, African birds, peatland and land use issues, many articles in local bird reports. Author/editor of three books on birds in NE Scotland including ‘The Breeding Birds of North-East Scotland’.


Mark Holling
Secretary of RBBP since May 2006

After a long interest in the status and distribution of breeding birds in the British Isles, Mark became RBBP Secretary in May 2006. An active member of the birding scene in southeast Scotland, he is a former President of Scottish Ornithologists’ Club (2003-2005) and was a member of Atlas Working Group for Bird Atlas 2007-11.

He is a co-author of Birds in South-east Scotland 2007-13 (2019) and The Breeding Birds of South-east Scotland (1998), both local tetrad atlas studies.

Mark is particularly interested in the status of bird and their distributions and has organised and taken part in many local and national surveys. He has written up a number of such studies, including Nuthatches in Lothian and roof-nesting gulls in Edinburgh. Since 1995 he has also been a member of the Lothian & Borders Raptor Study Group, initially compiling data on the re-colonisation of the Borders by Buzzards and now co-ordinating records of Long- and Short-eared Owls. He is also a member of the Forth Seabird Group, focussing his counting on gulls and Common Terns. Recent interests include the status of Yellow Wagtails and Rock Pipits in Lothian.

Since 2002 he has lived by the sea in North Berwick, East Lothian, finally returning to the coast after spells in Scottish Borders, Leicester and Nottingham, having been brought up on the Yorkshire coast. He has been active in local ornithology in all these areas, initially cutting his teeth on Herring Gulls on his local cliffs and roof-tops in Scarborough, and, as a teenager, advising Scarborough Borough Council about their "gull problem" in the 1970s.

After almost 14 years of service to the RBBP, Mark plans to retire in April 2020 to pursue more of his own ornithological interests, but will remain Archivist for the Panel, in a voluntary capacity.


Andrew King
Member of RBBP since November 2010; independent

Andrew has been a keen ornithologist since his school-days in Hampshire, then a spell in London, before settling in South Wales from the mid-1980’s. He has served on the Breconshire Ornithological Records Committee since 1992, becoming Breconshire Bird Recorder and Editor of ‘Breconshire Birds’ in 2004.

Since his ‘teens he has ‘foot-slogged’ most habitats acquiring data for a multitude of surveys into birds, butterflies and moths for national and local organisations. Within the BTO stable, Breeding Bird Surveys, WeBS and Atlas projects are the pick, but Andrew has contributed to them all, and is BTO Local Organiser for the county. Early retirement from the Agriculture Civil Service allowed Andrew to develop a surveying/conservation consultancy with especial interest in upland species. With that came the opportunity to take up ringing, and he is currently a ‘C Licence’ holder assisting the Llangorse Lake Ringing Group.

Involvement with RBBP species includes contributing to long-term site occupancy, productivity and diet studies into Peregrines in Breconshire and across SE Wales, and several montane waders in Scotland, are continuing commitments.

He is widely travelled across Europe, particularly in Scandinavia, and in parts of Africa and Australia.


Professor David Norman
Member of RBBP since 2005; independent

David has lived in Cheshire since 1978 where he was a physicist and Director of a national scientific facility before retiring early. He wrote the 704-page Birds in Cheshire and Wirral: a breeding and wintering atlas, for which Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society won the inaugural Marsh Award for Local Ornithology (2010). He chairs Merseyside Ringing Group and publishes their acclaimed website, is an elected member of the national Ringing Committee and is an avid contributor to the BTO’s Nest Record Scheme.

David’s RBBP-related activities include ringing chicks in Cheshire’s Peregrine nests since 1993, a long-running study of Wales’ only Little Tern colony, and proving several ‘first breeding records’ for Cheshire: Marsh Warbler (1991), Cetti’s Warbler (2009) and Marsh Harrier (2010). His broad interests in birds are illustrated by papers on Sand Martins, waders on the Mersey Estuary, Fieldfares, Common Terns, Little Terns, Wood Warblers, Firecrests and Bramblings; and he wrote the BTO Migration Atlas texts on Common Tern, Wood Warbler and Chaffinch. The BTO recognised his volunteer work in surveying, nest recording and ringing birds by awarding him its Tucker Medal in 2002.

He has always been an advocate for the conservation value of bird study, and has been active in committee rooms as well as in the field. David was a Council member of English Nature (1996-2002), acting as Chairman for six months, a member of RSPB Council (2004-09) and Chairman of Cheshire Wildlife Trust (2004-12).


David A. Stroud
Member of RBBP since 1991; independent

David Stroud was responsible for providing aspects of JNCC’s ornithological advice to government, the statutory conservation agencies and others at both UK and international scales from its creation in 1991 until March 2019. Since 2019 he has been an independent member of the Panel, and acts also an Emeritus Principal Advisor to JNCC. He currently represents the European region on the Ramsar Convention’s Scientific and Technical Panel, chairing the Panel through 2019. He maintains advisory functions with a range of other national and international conservation processes.

Among David’s personal ornithological interests are the long-term population study of Greenland White-fronted Geese; developing a better understanding of the historical and current distribution and trends of Spotted Crakes in the UK; and the pressing need to turn around current Curlew declines.