More About the Author
Born in Brighton, UK, in 1949, Richard Crombet-Beolens - known to all as 'Bo' Beolens, aka the 'Fat Birder' or the 'Grumpy Old Birder', I just about remember post war rationing'. I used to toddle off to the corner shop with my coupons to buy sweeties'. This penchant for all things tasty probably stems from the shortages in Britain during the Fifties. That alone is not entirely responsible for my undoubted corpulence. I am by misfortune disabled, (a form of arthritis called Ankylosing Spondylitis which makes walking painful and sometimes impossible) and by disposition I am indolent. The combination of these two factors with my propensity to consume copious quantities of curry, Belgian Buns and (since giving up smoking in 1998) extra strong mints, has conspired to add more poundage. The curvature of my back is an accident of fate; the curvature of my front a self inflicted injury.
In 2001 I created the disabled birders association to address the access needs of birders with mobility problems. This became 'Birding For All' recently http://www.birdingforall.com
I grew up in Kent [the South East corner of England] and was introduced to birding by my late father. An accident-prone boy I dislocated my left hip at the age of nine and then the right hip falling out of my wheelchair in hospital! Needing a passive outdoor pursuit my father took me fishing and, when a kingfisher used my fishing rod to perch on, I was completely hooked (sorry) by birding. The pursuit of girls, and career, and the delights of British beer enticed me away for a while, but I returned to the pastime just too late for the famous 'Tesco' warbler [an American golden-winged warbler that was found in a supermarket carpark in my home county].
I have lived in Scotland, Lancashire, Buckinghamshire and London pursuing a career as the Managing Director of various charities before moving back to the county of my youth in 1995. In August 1999 I moved to Margate [try to go any further south east and you develop a French accent] and have been discovering the joys of working a small coastal patch since then.
I rarely twitch [well maybe in Kent] now but still love to travel the world whenever finance allows... I have birded (under my own direction and usually just with the company of my wife who loves birding in exotic places but hates spiders) in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaya, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Hong Kong, Florida, Texas, Ontario, Trinidad & Tobago, Cuba, Jamaica, Panama, France, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, Montenegro, Poland, Hungary, Gambia, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, and Zambia, etc. I have taken 'disabled birders association' (now 'Birding For All') groups to Kenya, Canada, Northern India & Southern Africa. I regret that I also visited several other countries when young and foolish without my binoculars! This way I missed lots of birding in places like Greece, Tunisia, Morocco, Fiji, Tahiti, Hawaii, Russia, and the Ukraine. Although I did once take a trip on a tour bus in Tunisia and remember the guide pointing out a huge flock of 'Pink Floyds' in a saltpan.
Between us, Maggie and I have four children (two boys and two girls); in age order they are Matthew, Julia, Suki and Ashley, all grown and married. My son (Ash) is the only birder and was a keen twitcher who has already overtaken me with his UK life list. A fourth generation of birders made their appearances in 2000; Owen started birding as soon as he could hold his binoculars steady... he now even 'grips off' his dad on a walk - for example, he pointed in the direction of a bird which his father told him was a pigeon - no he shouted, pointing again - his father had missed a kingfisher picked up by his son!); 2004,Toby, and 2009, Bo - she is already a keen entomologist and birder. Jade (Julia's offspring and my first granddaughter) at 20 has strangely been more interested in boys, booze and music. Maggie's son Matthew has no interest in birds but does try his luck in the 'Reality Birding League', thus proving luck is as important as knowledge; his daughter Eve, at 11 years old, already likes birds? My daughter Suki, tragically died on her fortieth birthday (17th March 2013). She was not a birder despite my best efforts, but she did enjoy everything in the wild world and was passionate about conservation, re-cycling and green energy. She would ring me if a bird turned up in her garden that she didn't recognise. As a tribute to her we have set up a trust to buy some land to create an accessible wood http://www.sukiwoodlandtrust.org
I set up the Fatbirder website - www.fatbirder.com - in early 1999 in an attempt to put as many birders as possible in touch with each other throughout the world in order to encourage friendship and conservation. It has more than 2000 pages covering every country and state in the world, every bird family and much more and gets c.4 million hits a month! I also have several other websites about birds and birding - www.birderstravel.com - www.anytimetours.co.uk - www.grumpyoldbirder.com as well as one dedicated to angling - www.fatfisherman.com and another about my postage stamp sized garden www.fatgardener.net
I have co-authored several books: Whose Bird (2003) - Beolens & Watkins, The Eponym Dictionary of Mammals (2009) - Beolens, Watkins & Grayson, The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles (2011) - Beolens, Watkins & Grayson, The Eponym Dictionary of Amphibians (2013) - Beolens, Watkins & Grayson and The Eponym Dictionary of Birds is due out in 2014. My first solo effort - The A-Z of Birds - was published August 2013. I've also written articles in several UK and US Birding Magazines. I was a columnist as 'the Grumpy Old Birder, for several years in several magazines, and, although this now lives on as a monthly BLOG and Podcast, it will soon be appearing as amagazine column again. Several other books near completion.
As of August 2013 my World Life list stands at 2,607, my U.K. list at 374 and County (Kent) list 300 birds thanks to a recent Dusky Thrush!