Meet the Expert: Jim Wilson
Where are you from and where have you lived?
I am from the historic and picturesque harbor town of Cobh, Co. Cork, Ireland and have lived there pretty much all my life.
Tell us about yourself—what path led you to becoming a Zegrahm Leader?
I have always had an interest in and passion for natural history—birds in particular. I have been involved in nature conservation in Ireland since my teens and for a while was chairman of BirdWatch Ireland, the equivalent of the National Audubon. They say you never know how life will twist and turn and that is true for me. I was one of the few people in my area that rescued and rehabilitated birds and a chance encounter with someone who rang me up early one Sunday morning asking me to come rescue a mute swan that got stuck in a ditch near their house led me to my first job with Zegrahm. It’s now 15 years later and I have been working for them ever since.
What other jobs, positions or credentials do you have?
I was a senior medical laboratory scientist specialising in Blood Group Serology (Blood Transfusion) and also held a post as a regional Pathology IT Systems Administrator. I am also a qualified cultural tour guide for the region where I live.
What other fields are you passionate about?
Many—Music, Photography, Archaeology, History, Art, etc. etc.
Any awards, publications, appearances documentaries etc. do you have?
I have been very honored to receive a few local and regional awards for my work in the area of nature conservation and education. I have been lucky enough to have written and co-written a number of books on birds and other aspects of Ireland’s wildlife as well as producing education videos on bats in Ireland and whales and dolphins in Ireland. I recently co-produced the most comprehensive phone app for Antarctic wildlife called Antarctic Wildlife Guide. I have been a regular contributor to nature programs on national radio and have made occasional appearances on national television.
What organizations are you a part of?
What excites you (or what do you enjoy) about working for Zegrahm?
I enjoy working for Zegrahm because the level of professionalism of my work colleagues is hard to beat and the knowledge they bring to any of the trips I work on is second to none.
What is your favorite Zegrahm memory?
I am asked that about favorite birds too and my answer is I have none as I find them all fascinating. The same can be said for Zegrahm memories, I have been privileged to have experienced so many, from landing on a beach on South Georgia teeming with incredible wildlife to visiting any of the amazing seabird colonies on the west coast of Ireland or Scotland, all memorable for so many reasons it would be very hard to pick just one.
Can you tell us about a time that you were on an expedition that ended up taking an unexpected turn or made an unexpected discovery that took you off the planned trail?
That is actually a tough question. There are so many great twists and turns on a Zegrahm Expedition, the hint is in the title, it’s an expedition, expect the unexpected. I am racking my brain to think of one that stands out and for some reason the one that has come to mind is of a day out birding at Bordeaux in France when we were going to have a packed lunch and following an executive decision by Zegrahm Cofounder and all-round great guy, Jack Grove we all ended up sitting in the sun eating fresh oysters, local cheese, and wine. We even managed to see some great birds (before the food and wine!). Totally unscripted and everyone loved the experience that day.
What non-for-profits or causes do you support or feel strongly about?
There are a few human and natural history charities that I support.
What are your top three countries or regions in the world to explore?
Any and all. Like I said I have no favorites.
What’s left on your explorer’s bucket list/where do you still want to go that you haven’t been yet? Why there?
There are so many places, I would not know where to start. My focus has been what I call ‘the Atlantic corridor.’ From the Arctic to the Antarctic and many places in between touched by the Atlantic. I would like to go to the Galapagos because it is so special in the history of Natural History and because every Zegrahm guest that I talk to that has been there speak so highly of their experience.
What does being a part of the Zegrahm family mean to you?
It means knowing there is always someone looking out for you and helping you to do a good job.
Who is the Zegrahm Explorer/Traveler?
The Zegrahm Explorer is someone open to new experiences and importantly open to learning as much as possible about the places we bring them.