Tuesday 9 November 2021

Ian Wallace

DIM Wallace - With the passing of Ian Wallace last week a generation of birders lost a titan of the British birding scene who was rarely out of the news in the second half of the 20th Century. His involvement as chairman of the British Birds Rarities Committee often saw him clash with popular opinion, but he loved the cut and thrust of a heated debate and certainly never minced his words. His numerous papers and letters in that august journal were eagerly received before the internet age, all of which were wonderfully crafted, opinionated and often controversial. He was also a brilliant artist as testified by his involvement in the epic BWP volumes, and a legendary speaker - I engaged him once to talk at a Bedfordshire Bird Conference back in the 90`s and he brought the house down with tales of rarity finding - and massively overrun his slot, but that`s another story! Charismatic, and never dull, I would often see him in the field from Norfolk to Scilly and latterly at the Rutland Bird Fair sporting his trademark tam-o-shanta (actually, a "Kilmarnock Bonnet" as he once corrected me!) and tartan garb.

For me though his greatest legacy will be two books: Birdwatching in the Seventies and Discover Birds, both of which have survived the many purges of my book shelves down the years! I can open the pages anywhere in the first book and be transported back to my formative and favourite decade when David Bowie and Queens Park Rangers were in their pomp, Willow Tits and Tree Sparrows were two a penny, but you had to go to Minsmere to see a Marsh Harrier! Discover Birds is a treasure trove of anecdotes and artwork from around Britain and simply a joy to behold; I must`ve re-read it a dozen times or more and if you`ve ever lost your birding mo-jo, then this is the book to rekindle the fire! A heartfelt thank you then to the legendary bird man behind the initials - DIMW.

Scotney - A morning visit in fine drizzle delivered thousands of feral geese, Cormorants, common ducks and gulls to the lakes and fields beside the cycle track. A Golden Plover flock held a small, greyish individual that looked `interesting` but proved elusive to pin down due to the flighty nature of the flock and poor light. Also noted on the sward: Redshank, Dunlin and Curlew, four Brent Geese, plus a Black-necked Grebe at the Sussex end, three Ravens over and several distant Marsh Harriers and Buzzards. From Cockles Bridge an adult Whooper Swan (found earlier by MC) was still present on the fields towards the airfield alongside 30 Mutes.

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