Former ExCo members

On this page we say thanks to those dedicated people who have served on the IWSG’s Executive Committee in the past.

Back to current ExCo members

Ole Thorup ~ Vice Chair

Ole Thorup

Ole Thorup

Ole gave 30 years service to IWSG joining ExCo as an ordinary member in 1993 before becoming Project Co-ordinator in 1995. He became vice-chair in 2008, a role he maintained until 2023.

Being among his favourite birds since he started birding as a kid in the late 1960s, Ole started working with shorebirds at Tipperne, Denmark in 1981. Since then his main topic has been breeding meadowbirds and grassland management in Denmark and the Baltic. A breeding biology study of the endangered Baltic Dunlin was begun in 1987 and is still active. In the past he also studied breeding Arctic shorebirds in northern Sweden, Norway and NE Greenland. Ole became a member of the EXCO in 1993, Project Coordinator of the group 1996-2008 and compiled the publication Breeding Waders in Europe 2000 1997-2004. Now he is working as a freelancer in a small consultancy company (Amphi).

Mike Pienkowski ~ Honorary Member


Mike Pienkowski

Mike was involved in organising and leading wader-study expeditions to Iceland, Morocco and Greenland 1970-4, being at the time active in the Wash (and other) Wader Ringing Groups. His PhD (supervisor Peter Evans) was on plover ecology and behaviour, and he stayed at Durham University to run projects on shelduck population dynamics and behaviour, and on Movements of Wader Populations in Western Europe. A founder member of IWSG, Mike was Editor of Wader Study Group Bulletin 1973-82 (when paste-up involved physical pasting!), Vice-Chairman 1982-7 & Chairman 1987-92 (concentrating particularly in expanding WSG from a British to an International Group), and (reluctantly) President 1992-2009. From 1984, he worked for the UK Government’s conservation agency, initially as Head of Ornithology and later as Director (while still trying to promote wader, as well as other, work). In recent years, he has worked in a largely voluntary capacity supporting local conservationists in UK’s Overseas Territories, but sneaks shorebird work into this too.

Jim Wilson ~ Colour-mark co-ordinator

Jim WilsonJim’s interest in waders was awakened by the Merseyside Ringing Group in 1965-1968 when he and his mates began marking waders on the Dee Estuary. At the same time he became a member of the Wash Wader Ringing Group and in 1972 a member of the Wader Study Group. In the 1970s he was involved in the Iceland and Mauritanian expeditions. He took his Masters on the breeding ecology of waders on the Hebrides in 1976. Jim worked on and off with waders for the next twenty years. In 1996 he moved to Australia and he worked full time on waders and wetlands there for five years. He was also chairman of the Australasian Wader Study Group from 1998 to 2001, and in that capacity he first came onto the ExCo. By profession Jim is a Civil Engineer and still works in the construction industry, and thus he is one of the last of the amateurs.

Gerard C. Boere ~ Honorary Member

Gerard Boere

Gerard Boere

Following a Phd on the importance of the Netherlands Waddensea as a moulting area for Arctic breeding waders Gerard has been active at the policy and governance level in global nature and bird conservation issues with an emphasis on flyway conservation. He has been heavily involved in AEWA and the Bern Convention and Bonn Convention. Gerard was IWSG Chairman for almost 10 years.

Hermann Hötker (Germany) ~ Honorary Member

Chairman, until 2008.

Theunis Piersma (Netherlands) ~ Honorary Member

Vice-chairman until 2008.

Elwyn Sharps (UK) ~ Publicity Officer

Publicity Officer 2017-2021

Yvonne Verkuil (Netherlands) ~ former Chair

Yvonne Verkuil_IMG_1756

Yvonne joined the ExCo in 2007 and has been a member of the WSG since she started to study stopover ecology of Red Knots with Theunis Piersma in 1990. Since then the wader world has sucked her in and she has studied the stopover behaviour and population genetics of a variety of waders. She has worked at the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada and for a short period with IUCN. She is currently at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. Yvonne was Chair of the IWSG from 2008 to 2020.

Pavel Tomkovich (Russia)

Pavel TomkovichPavel left ExCo in 2020 after 28 years where he provided the link between the IWSG and wader enthusiasts of several countries of the former USSR as a chairman of the Working Group on Waders in CIS. He functioned as a regional coordinator in several IWSG projects, coordinates the Arctic Birds Breeding Condition Survey initiated by the IWSG and is a member of the editorial board of the Bulletin. Pavel works for the Zoological Museum of the Moscow State University having main interests in Arctic waders, mostly Calidridinae sandpipers.

Nick Davidson (Switzerland)

Nick Davidson

Nick Davidson

Nick has been involved in the IWSG since the mid-1970s and has served at various times as a Committee member, WSG Bulletin editor, WSG-Wetlands International Liaison Officer and Vice-Chairman. Since 2000 he has been the Deputy Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, but in limited spare time continues with shorebird research and conservation interests, especially on the eco-physiology of Red Knots and other migratory species, and on waterbird population status assesssments.

Yahkat Barshep (South Africa/Nigeria)

Yahkat Barshep was the African representative in ExCo until 2020.

Yahkat has two research interests (1) investigating population dynamics of migratory (Palearctic) and resident African waders and (2) the patterns of moult particularly in relation to breeding and migration and the consequences of environmental change on this trait.

Bob Loos (Netherlands)

Treasurer for 15 years, until 2008.

Rodney West (UK)

Former Publicity Officer, until 2008.

Rowena Langston (UK)

Rowena Langston

Rowena Langston

Following a PhD on shorebird ecology with the late Peter Evans, at Durham University, Rowena has worked for over 20 years as a conservation biologist, mainly with the BTO and the RSPB. Her work involves providing scientific advice on a range of issues, notably relating to sites and species safeguard, to conservation and policy colleagues at RSPB and partner organisations. Formerly, Rowena was a very active shorebird ringer, especially with the Wash Wader Ringing Group and SCAN in North Wales. General Secretary, 2001-2004, ExCo member 2001-2007.

Tómas Grétar Gunnarsson (Iceland)

Tomas Gunnarsson

Tomas Gunnarsson

Tómas became a member of the IWSG in 1997 and a member of the ExCo in 2007. Since becoming a wader ringer as a teenager, he has been active in the study and conservation of waders, primarily in Iceland. After finishing postgraduate studies on the population ecology of Whimbrels and later on Black-tailed Godwits, his main focus has been on a long-term project on Black-tailed Godwit migration ecology and he is working with colleagues from across Europe. He works at the University of Iceland.  He is a former Vice-Chairman.

Robin Ward (UK)

Robin was a Membership Secretary until 2011.

Julia Karagicheva

Julia was Membership Secretary from 2011 to the end of 2013

Henk van Huffelen (Netherlands)

Henk van Huffelen

Henk van Huffelen

Since his research in Lauwersmeer area (Netherlands) about the consumption of Agrostis seeds by Greylag Geese, Henk started studying colour-ringed birds. Since the early 1980s he has read 23,000+ birds with a colour rings or a metal ring only. After four years as Colour-mark Coordinator, Henk retired from exco in 2013.

Pedro Lourenco (Portugal)

Pedro Lourenco

Pedro Lourenco

Pedro joined the ExCo in 2007, being part of the editorial board of the Bulletin and collaborating with Rodney West as publicity officers for the IWSG. He started working with waders at the University of Lisbon, studying the diurnal and nocturnal ecology of waders in the Tejo estuary. Since 2006 he has been working towards his PhD at the University of Groningen, studying the migratory and breeding ecology of the Black-tailed Godwit.

Hans Schekkerman (Netherlands)

Hans is a researcher at the Vogeltrekstation, the Dutch ringing centre. In his previous job, he has studied the breeding ecology of waders in agricultural grasslands in the Netherlands (particularly Black-tailed Godwits), and of several arctic shorebirds in the Siberian tundra. Little Stint is his favourite shorebird species. On the ExCco, Hans served as the editor of International Wader Studies, the IWSG’s series of ‘special publications’.

Les Underhill (South Africa)

Less was our former African representative. He brought the southern hemisphere perspective to our minds.

Jorge S. Gutiérrez (Spain/UK)

Jorge was Publicity Officer from 2010 to 2016.

Mark Collier (Netherlands)

Mark ran the IWSG Colour-mark Register from 2003-2009 and was a member of ExCo from 2008-2016. Mark’s experience of ringing waders began in the UK and continued through volunteering in projects in Iceland, France, USA and the Netherlands. He has previously worked for the BTO, both in the Ringing Unit and the Wetland and Coastal Ecology Unit. Mark now lives in the Netherlands where he works as an ecologist for Bureau Waardenburg.

Simon Gillings (UK)

Simon Gillings

Simon Gillings

Since counting them on the Wash for the Birds of Estuaries Enquiry, Simon has been interested in waders. He works at the British Trust for Ornithology on a range of projects including the 2007-11 Bird Atlas, habitat and population studies of Golden Plovers and Lapwings, and stopover ecology of Red Knot. Simon joined the ExCo in 2007 and sat on the editorial board of the Bulletin and acted as IWSG Webmaster until 2010. He was Projects Coordinator from 2008 to 2014. Simon resigned from ExCo in 2017.

Ken Gosbell (Australia)

Ken was representative  of the Australasian Wader Studies Group from 2011 tot 2017.

Simon Feys (Belgium)

Simon started serious birding in 1996, and read his first colour-ring (a Shag from Scotland) in 2001. Since that moment, he has been a dedicated ring-reader and has taken the first steps to become a ringer himself. For the IWSG, he has been the SPEX for Dunlin and Black-winged stilt for some years now, and will continue doing this. In his professional career, he works for the Belgian Research Institute for Nature and Forest where he investigates the effects of agro-measures on farmland birds. Simon took over the coordination of the IWSG-sightings-inbox from Henk van Huffelen in 2013. Simon resigned in 2017.

Rick and Ellis Simpson (UK)

Rick and Ellis were Membership Secretaries from September 2015 to late 2017.

David Turner (UK)

David Turner

David Turner was co-opted onto ExCo at the end of 2007, took over as treasurer from October 2008 and resigned in October 2018. An enthusiastic amateur, David is leader of the Humber Wader Ringing Group on the east coast of the UK, concentrating on the relationship between feeding and roosting sites on the estuary.

Humphrey Sitters (UK)

Humphrey Sitters

Humphrey Sitters

Humphrey was the chief editor of Wader Study, and the editor of the Bulletin from 2001 to 2018. For 25 years he tried to combine his interest in waderology with being a lawyer, but in 1990 gave up the unequal struggle and is today involved in a variety of wader studies. These have included the non-breeding ecology of Dunlins and Oystercatchers in England, waders in NW Australia, plus Knots, Turnstones and Sanderlings in the West Atlantic flyway. He is slightly ashamed that he has spent so much time on well-studied species because he often says that more attention should be given to the world’s “obscure” waders. That is why he is happy that the photo shows him holding a Magellanic Oystercatcher, one of the least known of the world’s oystercatchers, in Tierra del Fuego.

Piet van den Hout (Netherlands)

Piet was Editor of International Wader Studies, the IWSG’s series of ‘special publications’, from 2012 tot 2018.

Stephen J. Dinsmore (USA)

Stephen Dinsmore

Stephen is  shorebird enthusiast who joined the International Wader Study Group in the mid-1990s. His graduate research involved studies of the stopover ecology of the Sanderling (M.S. degree) and the population ecology of the Mountain Plover (Ph.D.), both occurring in North America. He is currently employed as a Professor of wildlife ecology and Associate Department Chair in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Iowa State University. His primary research interests are population biology, capture-recapture analysis, and monitoring animal populations, especially when they involve shorebirds. In addition to projects involving graduate students, he maintains his own research program with Mountain Plovers, which he began in 1991

Nils Warnock (USA)

Nils Warnock

Nils Warnock

Nils has been a member of the WSG since 1987. He joined the executive committee in 2008 as a North American representative and sats on the editorial board of the WSGB. He resigned from ExCo in 2019.

He oversaw the Wetlands Division of PRBO Conservation Science from 2000 – 2008. Subsequently Nils was the Executive Director of Audubon Alaska located in Anchorage, AK. Since 2018 he is Director of Conservation Science, based at Audubon Cayon Ranch in California. His current shorebird research focuses on migration of Pacific Basin shorebirds.

Magdalena Remisiewicz (Poland)

Magda Remisiewicz

Magda has been in the ExCo from 2004-2019  and has been a member of the Editorial board of the WSG Bulletin for many years. She did a post-doc at the ADU at the University of Cape Town, and she is the Head of the Bird Migration Research Station at the University of Gdańsk in Poland. She is a ringer of the WRG KULING and Operation Baltic. Magda has coordinated project Tringa glareola 2000. Her research focuses on migration and moult strategies of waders and passerines between Eurasia and Africa.