Natural Habitat Adventures

Simon McLaughlin

Simon was born in the U.K. and traveled among various military camps throughout his early years, while his father served in the first battalion Royal Scots. He discovered a passion for wildlife while exploring quiet corners of military land that were inaccessible to civilians, the places people rarely see. These quiet untouched spaces along the coastline of Northern Ireland, heathland moors and hills in and around Edinburgh, ancient south England woodlands and the northern mountains of Wales stole his heart and nurtured his curiosity for nature. Meanwhile, his mother inspired him through through art and nature walks wherever they lived, spurring a keen interest not only in observing nature, but also in making detailed drawings.

Educated as a horticulturalist, Simon's career started in tree surgery, earning him practical skills in plant physiology and identification. A passion for wildlife and the mountains ultimately expanded the scope of his career into conservation, working as a countryside ranger in Newcastle Upon Tyne and educating local people living near special reserves. He worked for a time in Ontario, Canada doing forestry, nature walk and hide development, and growing shiitake mushrooms, among other projects. Ultimately, he returned to the U.K. to work for the British Trust for Volunteers leading large groups of volunteers on practical conservation projects in County Durham and Northumberland, a post-coal-mining community where he retrained people in high-level conservation and ecology. Simon then served as reserve manager at the Shropshire Wildlife Trust, and reserve warden at Forsinard Flows in Scotland, where he restored native flora and fauna to the globally significant Blanket Bog. Currently, he is a site manager for RSPB, working to restore Caledonian pinewood and Western Atlantic oak-woodland habitats across the central highlands of Scotland, managing a red kite feeding center near Black Isle, and supporting initiatives for Earasian curlew and other birds.

Simon's expertise in the Highlands and various nature reserves turned him into a full-fledged guide, leading people into wee corners with the best chances of viewing wildlife. When he's not guiding, he surveys golden eagles as a member of the Highland Raptor Study Group, as well as local arachnids. He's an active member of the Kintail Mountain Rescue Team, as well as being a keen kayaker, mountaineer, rock climber and nature lover.
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