Humphrey Gilbert was born on June 2, 1886, at Malabar Hill, Bombay (now Mumbai), India. He was educated at Charterhouse, then went on to Christ Church College, Oxford in 1906. Gilbert was a first-class cricketer, as well as a bird enthusiast, a great angler and a keen shot. He played cricket for the University against a touring Australian XI in 1909, when he took 8 wickets for 71, and was chosen as reserve for the first Test Match in the same year. After Oxford he was called to the Bar and went to India to practice, but returned to England in 1912, when he joined the South Wales Borderers and served in the First World War. The war over and after playing first class cricket for a few seasons, Gilbert wrote
Secrets of Bird Life (1924) - the first of three books written in collaboration with the great bird photographer Arthur Brook. Secrets of the Eagle and other Rare Birds (1925) followed, along with a film of the Golden Eagle, taken in Scotland, for which Gilbert was in great demand as a lecturer. Watchings and Wanderings among Birds was published in 1931, and covered Gilbert’s in-depth study of Hungarian birds. As an angler though, few could match his knowledge of the Wye and The Tale of a Wye Fisherman published in 1929, is now widely regarded as a classic of angling literature. He was a keen shot, especially if the shooting was ‘rough’ and had experience of punt-gunning in Pembrokeshire. He was involved in the rebuilding of the Orielton decoy near Pembroke and established it as the first regular ringing station for wildfowl. He was a member of the Wildfowl Inquiry Committee of the International Council for Bird Preservation from its inception in 1936 and contributed to an important report called Factors affecting the General Status of Wild Geese and Ducks. He was joint author with Dr. C. W. Walker of Herefordshire Birds (two editions 1941 and 1954) and was President of the Woolhope Naturalists’ Field Club in 1929 and 1948.

He resigned as a member of the British Ornithologists’ Club after a meeting in January 1931 when a member exhibited some Kite’s eggs taken from Wales and, although a rule of the Association decreed expulsion, it was not enforced. Gilbert, with many others, resigned, and later circulated a printed pamphlet entitled
A Mid-winter Night’s Dream or The Egg Collecting Society. He was an early member of the British Trust for Ornithology, then in its infancy. Gilbert first visited Hungary in 1930 with Arthur Brook and this expedition led to others in 1931, 1933 and 1934. Gilbert was so interested in the welfare of Hungary that in 1944 he left the Regiment he had rejoined and went to London to study for a post-war appointment in the country.

Gilbert married Margaret Vincentia Money-Kyrle of Whetham, Calne, Wiltshire, in 1915 and they had three children. Their eldest son was killed in action in 1940. Gilbert died on 19th July 1960 at Bishopstone Lodge, near Hereford.