While birdwatchers around the world are confined to their backyards, Ashley Grove, owner of Experience Nature – a Terra Incognita Ethical Ecotourism Operator – launched a Worldwide Garden Birdwatch. Ashley shares the story of how his idea united a worldwide community of birdwatchers for a day, including training future bird guides of Sri Lanka.

With the world currently on hold and the travel industry wondering what the future might look like, I came up with an idea to take our mind off things… well, for 24hrs at least!

Being homebound since returning from a ‘recce’ of Honduras and its birdlife in mid March, I began to log my garden birds and became aware that others were doing the same. With that in mind, I declared the date of May 9th 2020 as Worldwide Garden Birdwatch day and set about communicating the idea to my contacts, customer base and local guides around the world.

I involved 150 gardens across 23 countries – spanning Europe, North America, Central America, South America, Asia, Australia, Africa and the Caribbean – where observers recorded an incredible total of 577 species of birds for the day. Off the back of this I set up a Just Giving page to raise money for the RSPB (a UK nature conservation charity) and so far have raised over £1,700.

A male Great-Spotted Woodpecker, species 26 of the day for Ashley. Credit: Ashley Grove.


Inspiring future bird guides of Sri Lanka

One lovely spin-off story from the day came from Sri Lankan guide Dhammi Samarasinghe, who, like bird guides around the world, had been kicking his heels and itching to get back to work for weeks already.

Upon hearing from me, he was keen to help and took things one step further by turning his garden birdwatch into a masterclass on spotting birds for some local youngsters.

Renowned as being the best bird guide in Sri Lanka, Dhammi likes nothing more than to share his knowledge, and for him encouraging the younger generation to follow in his footsteps is part of his role in life. His young team of six – two boys and four girls – avidly took notes and studied their field guides throughout and truly loved their day of learning from the master. 

Dhammi Samarasinghe teaching young Sri Lankan girls and boys about birding.


Experience Nature work with Dhammi through Seerock Holidays and offer their clients a fabulous bespoke 16 night wildlife watching holiday in Sri Lanka, which includes time in the much untouched North of the country.

Dhammi is the perfect example of the people we like to work with as a business. He is not only an incredible spotter, knows his wildlife inside and out, but also has conservation and education at the forefront of his mind as he works.

To learn more about Experience Nature, you can read about their commitment to conservation, local communities and education, and explore their Jewels of The Gambia tour.