Mark is the founder of Japan Nature Guides and its principle international leader. Mark developed his fascination with the natural world, especially birds, during his boyhood in the landlocked English county of Worcestershire. He then pursued his academic interests in biology during studies in England and then Scotland, while exploring the coasts and mountains of Britain in search of birds. Mark earned his Ph.D. from Stirling University, Scotland, for his work on avian ecology and behavior in Iceland. His cravings for the sea and then for mountains led him to live for several years in the bird-rich east coast county of Norfolk, and also in New Zealand's south island, before he settled in Hokkaido, Japan's northern island. His career has included periods working in research, in conservation, more than ten years making natural history TV documentaries with various companies, but mainly NHK (Japan) and Natural History NZ.
Fascinated by island biology, Mark has become a leading authority on the natural history of Japan, where for ten years, until 2007, he was professor of biodiversity and conservation at Rakuno Gakuen University, near Sapporo. In addition to being a field naturalist, he is a columnist (his Wild Watch column in The Japan Times newspaper has been running continuously for more than 29 years), author, editor and lecturer. He has published a number of scientific papers. Mark's books include: "A Birdwatcher’s Guide to Japan” (1987), "Wild Asia - Spirit of a Continent", "The Birds of Japan" (1991) (the definitive text on avian biology and distribution in the Japanese archipelago), "The Whooper Swan" (the only monograph on the species), and the recently published, and widely acclaimed, “A Field Guide to the Birds of East Asia” (2009). Mark is currently at work on "Dancing Cranes and Flying Fish: The Nature of Japan" and "The Birds of Taiwan". He has also written many articles for various newspapers and magazines, including on travel topics, and contributed to the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Japan volume.
Mark’s main regions of interest include East Asia, especially Japan and the Russian Far East, the Asian Arctic, tropical South America, South Asia, and northwest Africa, but he has travelled to many other countries, and all continents. He has been involved in ornithological tourism since 1980, and has worked on expedition cruise ships as a lecturer in natural history and ornithology since 1998 in: the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Bering Sea, the Okhotsk Sea, and in West Africa, North Africa, Europe, North and South America, Antarctica, and East Asia.
Mark has planned and led nature-focussed tours of Japan since 1983. For much of each year he lectures on board expedition cruise ships for Zegrahm Expeditions and leads small group nature tours for Eco-Expeditions. Companies he has worked for include: Zegrahm Expeditions, Wildlife and Nature Tours, Sunbird, Society Expeditions, Ornitholidays, Natural Habitat Adventures, Jo Van Os Photo Safaris, Island Holidays, Ibis Tours, Abercrombie and Kent, Birdquest and Noble Caledonia.
Mark currently resides in Hokkaido, Japan's northern island, dividing his time between natural history and travel writing, editing, further travels in search of wildlife, and sharing his love of the natural world with fellow travellers. Mark's other interests also revolve around the outdoors: mountain hiking, snowshoeing, mountain and cross-country skiing.