Leader Biographies

The Huron Fringe Birding Festival attracts top leaders in the birding and natural history communities. From our own Bruce and Grey county experts to Ontario's foremost naturalists, we have a wonderful roster of leaders on a range of event topics.

Each of our leaders is selected for his or her skills leading birding hikes, workshops and presentations, photography sessions, wildflower walks or archaeology outings.

Presenters have been selected for the 2021 Huron Fringe Birding Festival Virtual-lite. They are as follows: Andrea Gress, Ethan Meleg, Stephane Menu, Martyn Obbard, Mark Peck, Michael Runtz and Ian Shanahan. Click on each name to view the Leader Biography.  You can also access the biographies during the registration process.

 

  • Andrea Gress
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    Andrea Gress first fell in love with shorebirds during an internship in South Africa, where she worked with the White-Fronted Plover. That led her to work with Piping Plovers in Saskatchewan, and now Ontario, where she coordinates the Ontario Piping Plover Conservation Program for Birds Canada.  

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  • Ethan Meleg
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    Ethan is a freelance photographer from Ontario, Canada. He specializes in photos of outdoor recreation, landscapes, ecosystems, birds and wildlife. He photos have been published by National Geographic, Canadian Geographic, Forbes, Ontario Tourism, Lonely Planet, Popular Photography and many more. Ethan is a popular keynote speaker, workshop leader and magazine columnist. He writes the humor and bird photography columns in every issue of Outdoor Photography Canada Magazine.

    Growing up near world famous birding hotspot Point Pelee National Park, Ethan often skipped school to watch songbirds during migration. By the time he was a teenager, he had developed an in-depth knowledge of nature. At 19, he received a hand-me-down camera from his parents and began to learn the basics of nature photography. In between watching birds and taking photos, he completed a degree in Environment and Resource Studies at Trent University. Before becoming a pro photographer, Ethan had developed a career as a nature guide and tourism specialist in national parks.

    Ethan is 43 years old and lives in the Georgian Bay area of Ontario. His greatest passion in life is exploring the natural world through his camera, whether on exciting trips or in his own backyard.

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  • Ian Shanahan
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    Ian Shanahan was exposed to the natural world from the very beginning alongside his father Don. The moment that truly hooked him, however, came at age 12 when a Peregrine Falcon whizzed by him and his dad at top speed on the beach at Presqu’ile Provincial Park on Lake Ontario. 

    Ian's formal education in the arts and education was interspersed with working as an interpretive naturalist at Presqu’ile and Algonquin Provincial Parks over 13 seasons where his interest in birds spread to other winged creatures and all aspects of the natural world. He also served as Senior Park Naturalist at Algonquin where he coordinated the Park's long-standing education program.

    Ian has led nature tours across southern Ontario, including two annual birding outings with the Ontario Field Ornithologists. He completed a two-year term as the co-editor of OFO's long-standing tri-annual publication OFO News and is now the General Editor of Green Teacher magazine. Previously, Ian led group tours to destinations including the Canadian Arctic, the Bay of Fundy, Hudson Bay, the Prairies, Iceland, the Galápagos Islands, and Costa Rica. He leads tours locally near Presqu'ile Park with Shrew - Connecting People with Nature.

    The spring bird migration through southern Ontario has always been a source of inspiration and wonder, and Ian can't wait to share it with you!

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  • Mark Peck
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    Mark Peck is the Manager of the Schad Gallery of Biodiversity at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). He has had a lifelong passion for Ontario breeding birds and wildlife photography and has spent much of his springs and summers looking for bird nests since he was 8 years old. He has volunteered in all three Ontario Breeding Bird Atlasses (OBBA) and is currently one of the Regional Coordinators for Region 12 (Toronto), and a member of the Significant Species Committee for OBBA-3. In addition, he is the ROM Liaison for the Ontario Bird Records Committee, a consultant for Ontario Birds/Ontario Field Ornithologists and the Program Director for the Toronto Ornithological Club.

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  • Martyn Obbard
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    Dr. Martyn Obbard is an Emeritus Research Scientist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and adjunct professor in the Environmental and Life Sciences Graduate Program at Trent University (Peterborough, Ontario). He retired in 2016 after a 32-yr career with the Ministry, including 28 in the Wildlife Research Section studying black bears and polar bears in Ontario.  He is a member of the IUCN-Species Survival Commission’s Polar Bear Specialist Group, a member and former chair of the Polar Bear Range States Conflict Working Group, and is a former Chair of the Canadian Federal/Provincial/Territorial Polar Bear Technical Committee. 

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  • Michael Runtz

    Michael’s association with Algonquin spans nearly 50 years and includes working in the Park as an interpretive naturalist for 11 seasons.  Michael hosted the international television series Wild by Nature, authored and illustrated 14 natural history books including Algonquin Wild and, his latest, Wildflowers of Algonquin Provincial Park.  Additionally, Michael provided the images for the award-winning children’s book At Home with the Beaver.  In addition, Michael has written more than 1,100 natural history articles for newspapers and magazines (Nature’s Way was nearing its 30th season when Covid-19 cut it short). Michael teaches Natural History and Ornithology courses at Carleton University where more than 52,000 students have taken his courses. His numerous awards include the Council of Canadian University Biology Chairs Distinguished Public Science Education Award, the Friends of Algonquin Directors Award, and several Carleton University Teaching Achievement Awards. A popular keynote speaker and media guest, Michael was the only Canadian featured in the TVO/NHK Japan’s Superteachers series.  Visit Michael on Facebook  at Nature by Runtz.

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  • Stéphane Menu
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    Stéphane Menu graduated from Laval University, in Quebec City, in 1998 with a Ph.D., studying the population dynamics of Greater Snow Geese. He started working for Bruce Peninsula Bird Observatory at the Cabot Head Research Station in 2003 and has almost never left (except for a three-year hiatus from 2012 to 2014). His main interest has always been birds and, more specifically, bird migration. That’s why he has volunteered and worked at several other Bird Observatories, notably Observatoire d’Oiseaux de Tadoussac (in 1998 and 1999), Long Point Bird Observatory (in 1997 and 2001), Delta Marsh Bird Observatory (Manitoba, 2002), and Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory (in 2013).

    He also feels the strong lure of the North. Besides his doctoral studies on Bylot Island (in Nunavut), he has answered the call of the North by, notably, atlassing in Northern Ontario (summers of 2003 & 2004) and Northern Saskatchewan (summer 2019), working at the James Bay Shorebird Project (summers of 2014&2015), banding Canada Geese in Northern Québec with Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS - summer of 1999), and, being part of the long-term ecosystem monitoring at Karrak Lake Research Station, just north of the Arctic Circle, with Environment Canada (summer of 2006, and every summer since 2016 - except in 2020 because of Covid19).

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