Nick is an amateur naturalist who remains in a state of perplexity at the fact he cannot really use that title anymore. He has somehow turned a childhood passion for living things into a livelihood and therefore really should be described as a professional naturalist. All the same, to this day, he continues doing what he did when he was ten years old … and he has no intention of stopping!
The proto-naturalist made himself known as soon as he could crawl. It all started off in a fairly normal manner with little to worry about the boy who collected small and unfortunate creatures like spiders, ladybirds, frogs and toads and stuffed them into jam jars, tanks, buckets and ice-cream tubs. It is, after all, a healthy occupation for an eight-year-old.
His natural curiosity with the world around him, and an obsession with stocking his jam jar zoo, did make him unpopular with his parents, as he spent much time continuously over turning rockeries and trampling his mum’s prize nasturtiums in the endless pursuit of new specimens.
Little did they know, his poor suffering parents had other horrors to come. Their curious little naturalist underwent a metamorphosis into a full blown adolescent, with not only spots and dodgy dress sense, but also some fairly unwholesome and socially taboo hobbies.
On the positive side, the butterfly house that he had constructed with his hard earned paper round money was a pleasant talking point at coffee mornings.
The darker side involved behaviour harder to explain; disappearing into the woods at night to be with badgers and foxes, boiling up skulls and skeletons for a growing collection, pots of owl pellets, otter droppings, bones and shells on shelves, turning his bedroom into a walk through moth trap (by leaving all the lights on and opening the windows!) and a clandestine production line of tarantula and silk moths under the bed and in the wardrobe.
Things haven’t really changed all that much; he’s a little bigger and uglier but still doing much the same thing, albeit with a little more kindness directed toward his subjects. Scared of being left alone in these pursuits he now spends quite a lot of time and effort trying to get the new generation of potential naturalists to do much the same!
Finding that the education system didn’t really know what to do with him he bumbled through school picking up his GCSE’S and A levels and struggling with most subjects unless they involved living things or pencils and paints. He did apply his passion to the nature table turning it into a small Natural History museum and used, and to an extent abused, his ability to pick up spiders and worms to keep himself off the bottom of the school playground food chain!
He doesn’t care much for numbers, and English was never an easy subject (a fact that is made more ludicrous by the fact he has now published eight books!)
Popping out of the rear end of his A levels he still didn’t really have a clue what to do with himself so he left his Sussex home and headed for the West Country and the University of Exeter. This was really a way for him to bide his time academically while deciding which particular discipline in the world of wildlife was suitable for him.
By 1993 he had achieved lots; he learned to play Harmonica and sing (for that read shout), grew his hair so he could sit on it, smelt of patchouli oil, had his ear pierced and developed a penchant for weird clothes from second hand shops.
By the end of 1993 he was gigging with various Jazz, Blues, Skiffle, Rock and Funk bands around the Exeter area and so it came as a surprise to all who knew him when he walked away with some kind of half decent biology degree. As well as almost accidentally getting the said degree he also had an epiphany around about the same time.
Whilst at the University of Exeter he met Dr. Clive Betts, who needed a willing slave to help him get an educational youth project off the ground for the Royal Entomological Society of London. This was known at the time as the Y.E.S (Young Entomologists Scheme) but later metamorphosed into a slightly funkier “Bug Club”, which is still running to this day.
He will be forever grateful for this opportunity. He took over the university greenhouses to breed stick insects and other exotica for shows and school tours but it was also here that he discovered his extrovert side – until now in life he had been a rather shy and meek geek.
Now he was the “bug man” and enjoyed telling the stories of these much-misunderstood creatures’ lives. He must have done a reasonable job as he started to feature on local radio and in local newspapers as well as guest appearances in the national press and media – including stints on the BBC’s Blue Peter and Channel 4’s Big Breakfast. The rest, as they say, is history.
He has since surprised himself by pretty much being a full time broadcaster on the subject of Wildlife and Natural History, presenting many popular shows for the television and radio, including BBC, Channel FIVE, National Geographic, and Animal Planet.
He also writes for several publications and has written several books. He is currently working with educational “toy” manufacturer, Interplay, designing and advising on a series of wildlife watching kits.
He lives in Devon; he moved there originally because of Devon’s lumps and bumps; he fell in love with them and now he lives on one – one that is known as Dartmoor National Park.
He shares his life with Ceri, a very beautiful, tolerant and understanding partner, and his little daughter, Elvie. Their home includes a psychotic parrot called Thomas and an ever-expanding menagerie of weird and wonderful exotic creatures.