Sunday, 6 July 2014

P. A. D. Hollom

P. A. D. Hollom (1912 - 2014) - As a snotty nosed, bird mad village kid growing up in the 60`s I can remember taking the bus into town with mum once a week (along with bro and sis) so`s she could renew her library books - historical romances, as I recall. Anyhow, while mum was going through the Mill`s & Boon I used to head for the natural history shelves and remember coming across this book, A Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe, by a load of very important sounding blokes, one of whom was grandly named P. A. D. Hollom. Even back then I realised this tome was in a different class to my only other bird book - The Observer`s Book of Birds.
Now, my dear old mum was nothing if not astute and after greasing Santa`s palm with 30 bob (for you youngsters out there that`s £1.50 in new money) the revised and enlarged 10th impression of what became universally known simply as, `Peterson`, was mine on Christmas Day 1966 - I was one happy 11 year old I can tell you, and that book remains with me today, and is still in use, if a little dog-eared, as testified by the pic below!

                                       Quite probably the best bird book ever published

It was, of course, a seminal, ground breaking field guide, the like of which had not been seen before with plates by the celebrated American bird artist Roger Tory Peterson, descriptive text by Guy Mountfort, plus maps and distribution notes by P. A. D. Hollom. The latter author was also responsible for another of my childhood reference books, The Popular Handbook of  British Birds, which had a superb text that still stands up well today.
Without wishing to name drop (ok then, just this once...) I met P. A. D. H. on the East Bank at Cley where he was nattering to R. A. Richardson on the finer points of godwit identification, which Richard was sketching at the time (name dropping now over).
Anyhow, I`m sure many kind and appreciative words will be penned over the coming weeks on the passing of P. A. D. Hollom at the grand old age of 102, but for many birdwatchers (there were no `birders` back then) of my generation he will be forever remembered as one of a trio of great bird men that gave us our first `proper` field guide. Thanks for the memory Phil.

                                Adult Mediterranean Gull, Lade

                                Aberrant Common Gull, Lade

                               Black-headed & Mediterranean Gulls, Lade

Lade - 1500hrs - This morning was a washout with the rain eventually relenting from the west by early afternoon, thus allowing a couple of hours birding over the local gravel pits where three Med Gulls were noted amongst hundreds of Black-headed Gulls. On the water an aberrant Common Gull with a white wing bar was of note, while a Little Ringed Plover fussed over a brood of well-grown chicks along the waters edge, along with broods of Oystercatcher and Shelduck.

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