Many birders posting on the internet have been reflecting on the loss of Ray Turley. What is at once apparent is that he was liked, he was respected and that he left behind a legacy. That legacy was to pass on to others his burning passion for birding, not just the pure thrill and excitement of observation, but also the need to care for their welfare and habitats. How many of us will have been able to achieve that when our time finally comes?

I think that it is a good time to evaluate the way in which we go about our natural history study. Is it enough to blindly carry on observing without thinking about how we can put something back into it? One of Ray’s skills was to impart his enthusiasm onto others by sharing and showing what was on offer. This he did without thinking about it and he passed this on to total strangers as much as he did to those that he knew. He also did this without seeking out thanks or recognition – in fact I’m sure that he would have been bemused by the show of warmth that has been apparent over the past 24 hours. He was a modest man.

We now have one less birder to share their knowledge and show the way. All of us are in need of such kindness, particularly when we are finding our way in an interest or visiting an area for the first time. We ought to ask ourselves if we are in a position to be of help to others, to show them a bird, share the secrets of a patch or impart our joy of shared interests. It need only take a small act of kindness or giving up five minutes of our time to make a big difference to someone within our orbit. This is something that I will continue to reflect upon.

As Lou Reed says “You’re going to reap just what you sow”


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