Richard was born and grew up near Portsmouth on the south coast of England. An avid birder from an early age, he soon developed an interest in other areas of natural history, although birds remain his primary interest. Despite being told that bird watching was not a 'proper’ job, he always wanted to turn his hobby into a career. After graduating from Plymouth with a degree in biological sciences he started work researching the impact of oil and gas exploration on seabird populations, initially in European waters and then in waters around the Falkland Islands, where he lived for three years.
Richard then moved to Ascension Island— an isolated volcanic island in the equatorial waters of the South Atlantic Ocean, around 1,000 miles from the coast of Africa, and 1,400 miles from the coast of South America, whose sea bird population was nearly destroyed due to the rats, cats, and people who came to the island from the 16th-century onward. While there, Richard worked on an ambitious project to restore sea bird populations on the island, and in 2006 after a successful campaign headed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the main island is now home again to nesting birds. He has also worked on conservation projects in the Caribbean and the Seychelles.
Richard has been working as a full-time naturalist for Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic since.