The EcoTravel Team
Andrew Griswold has been the Director of EcoTravel for Connecticut Audubon Society (CAS) since 1996. He graduated as an honor student in biology from Hartwick College, where he worked at their biological research station in the Bahamas studying avian ecology. Andy is the original concept creator and scientific consultant for a cable television series on bird watching called All Bird TV that aired on Discovery’s Animal Planet. He is the original concept creator of the award winning Connecticut River Eagle Festival (during its time the largest birding festival in the world). Andy has conducted bird surveys for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and been participating as a CBC captain for nearly 30 years. He has been a consultant to the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism concerning development of birding tourism in its more remote islands. Andy leads trips for CAS to Canada, Texas, South Florida, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, and many other unique destinations. Andy is a licensed USCG 100-Ton Master boat captain and lives in Essex, Connecticut with his wife and their young son. He is known for his attentiveness to traveler’s needs, fine birding skills, and infectious sense of humor.
Priscilla Allen has been with CT Audubon EcoTravel since 2007 as the Sales & Marketing Manager. She attended the University of Massachusetts and spent over 20 years as a Special Education Behavioral Consultant before changing careers in 2000 to become involved in the education and conservation of the lower CT River Valley. She works in the EcoTravel office in Essex designing and organizing day trips and has also been leading and creating overnight trips. Many of our EcoTravelers have enjoyed Priscilla’s companionship and state that her leadership style, organization, and sense of humor make for a great travel experience. Her attention to detail and traveler’s needs is well known. Priscilla has traveled to Cornwall England numerous times, led trips to Tuscany, throughout New England, and to the headwaters of the Connecticut River. Priscilla lives in Old Saybrook.
Rami Haxhi loves studying nature and recently completed both levels of the DEEP/Goodwin Master Naturalist program. He leads hiking groups and is the resident naturalist for the Mayflower Inn in Washington, CT. Previously, Rami, who is a classically trained pianist, taught public school music for 30 years. He holds degrees from the Hartt School and Wesleyan University. During his teaching days, he led many trips for his students to places like New York, Washington, D.C., and Montreal. Some of his favorite travel destinations have been numerous U.S. National Parks, Machu Picchu, Albania, and Turkey. Rami is a part-time EcoTravel Assistant in the Essex office.
Jim Sherwonit fell in love with being in the woods and birding early in his life; birding since high school. Jim started birding more seriously in 2010 after his first EcoTravel trip and has participated (as traveler, driver, and coleader) in over 30 trips. He is a professional engineer and has been managing the local office for a major transportation engineering firm for over 30 years. Jim has an enthusiasm for conservation, all things nature, and is an avid photographer. “Any day spent in the woods is a good day.”
Joe Bear has been actively birding for over 25 years. A University of Florida graduate, and now Director of Treasury at Royal Bank of Scotland, he entered into his passion for birds by signing up for as many Connecticut Audubon Society trips as his weekends would allow. After not too long, his abilities and desire to give back to the birding community had him leading trips for CAS to Cape May and the Florida Everglades. A 3-year overseas work assignment in London sidetracked his US trips, but led Joe into a whole new world of birds. With a world list now exceeding 2,100 species, he has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa and takes great pleasure in helping people find and identify our avian friends. His enthusiastic and friendly personality compliment well his overall leadership abilities. His upcoming trips for CAS include Mount Auburn, Block Island, and Monhegan Island. Keep an eye out for future overseas trips, too. Joe believes that each time we pick up our binoculars, both beginners and experts alike, we learn something new about birds. He now resides in Wilton, CT with Barabara, his wife, and their two children.
Lucretia Bingham studied writing at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. Upon graduation, she went to Los Angeles, where she made a living as a free-lance travel writer and photographer. Her credits include publication in Vanity Fair, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel and Leisure, Islands, and Saveur. One of her food pieces was published in an anthology of the best food writing in 2005. She was a frequent contributor, for many years, to both the Los Angeles Times Magazine and their travel section. Twelve years ago, she moved back east to her roots where she lives with Jim Fitzpatrick, her husband, and writes in a grand shingle-style house on Long Island Sound. Lucretia’s second novel, SHE, a sequel to The Talcott House, has recently been published by Keith Publications.
Milan Bull is Senior Director of Research and Science for Connecticut Audubon Society and is a long-time expedition leader for Connecticut Audubon including destinations throughout the Americas, Australia, Antarctica, and Africa. Miley has acquired a strong following that comment frequently about his wide ranging knowledge of natural history and birds. You will appreciate his enthusiastic willingness to share that knowledge and his unequalled passion for the natural world. His leadership and sense of humor will add immeasurably to your experience. Miley has a BS degree in Wildlife Management from the University of Connecticut and a MS degree in biology from the University of Bridgeport. He currently is a member of the Long Island Sound Advisory Committee, the Citizens Advisory Council to Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection and was a founding director of the Connecticut Ornithological Association. He has also published numerous articles and speaks statewide on topics relating to ornithology and the environment. Milan and his wife, Cathy, reside with their two children in Fairfield.
A musician and writer by profession, Rob Taylor began birding in earnest around the same time he picked up the violin at age eight. His love of music, languages, literature, and birds has led him to a lifetime of study and travel. A graduate of Holland’s Royal Conservatory, Union College, the University of Bonn, and Princeton University, he has taught foreign languages and ornithology in New York, English and music in Asia, and has birded extensively in Australia, Bhutan, Brazil, the Caribbean, Central America, China, Europe, India, Russia, Thailand, Vietnam, New Zealand, Africa, and North America. As a lyricist and librettist, he has written several new musicals, including “Ace” (Repertory Theatre of St Louis, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Old Globe Theatre San Diego, Signature Theatre of Washington DC), “Journey to the West” (New York Music Theatre Festival),”The Parenting Project” (Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati), and “The Sandman,” based on the writings of E. T. A. Hoffmann (Fredericia Theatre, Denmark, National Alliance of Music Theatre Festival), and “Bandstand” (Paper Mill Playhouse, National Theatre of Washington DC) which opened on Broadway at the Jacobs Theatre in April 2017. A member of the Dramatists Guild, Rob is represented by the Gersh Agency.
Jay Hand is a veteran of the Connecticut Audubon Society travel program. He has led many tours, each one with rave reviews. Jay has led tours to Texas, Chincoteague, Block Island, Cape May, South Florida, East Africa, Costa Rica, and Arizona, to name just a few! A former Connecticut native, Jay now lives in Tucson, AZ where he has been the voice of the Southeast Arizona Rare Bird Alert. Jay is a graduate of Yale University with a degree in Geology. Jay is known for his competent birding skills, great ear, energy, and commitment to your having a memorable trip.
Nick Bonomo has been birding New England since the age of 16. He graduated from Stonehill College with a degree in Biology in May of 2006. In autumn 2007, he began attending Yale University from which he recently graduated as a Physician Assistant. Despite his rigorous career schedule, Nick has escaped to bird such locations as Nova Scotia, Florida, Texas, Arizona, Costa Rica, eastern Australia, and New Zealand. He currently lives in Connecticut and can often be found birding the New Haven County coast in his spare time. His interest in bird identification, status, and distribution makes him a skillful leader, and his youthful enthusiasm is matched by few.
James Restivo has been leading tours for Connecticut Audubon for a number of years and is now a veteran guide. His resume of tours includes Nebraska’s Platte River, New Hampshire’s Connecticut Lakes, Pennsylvania’s Hawk Mountain, and Massachusetts’ North Shore. Before his introduction to CAS EcoTravel, he spent time working with The Nature Conservancy in central Texas on various projects including banding and nest monitoring of Black-capped Vireos, habitat control for Golden-cheeked Warbler, and a management program for prescribed fires. His experience includes bird banding in Alaska and California. James has traveled throughout North America in search of birds, and touts a world life list of approximately 1,400 species.