Thanks for the memories Ray
I have just heard the sad news that Ray Turley, avid Dungeness birder, has died whilst on holiday in Goa. If you didn't know him you might well have seen him - flowing grey hair, scrubby beard, dressed in camouflage during the winter and baggy shorts when it was summer. He recently spent a lot of time on the RSPB reserve, helping out with the visitors, last summer to be found taking out hopeful punters to observe the breeding Purple Herons.
I first met Ray at Dungeness in 1976. I was on my first visit to the shingle and was sea-watching when an exotic looking man turned up on a motorbike. He lay out on the beach alongside and sea watched with a passion and dedication that was at that time unknown to me. Another thing that singled him out from the rest was that he spoke into a small tape recorder, to keep note of his observations (although I don't think that I ever saw him use one again). Here was a birder that I wanted to be like - a free spirit and not conforming to the stereotypical birdwatcher.
I got to know him (and his lovely wife Janet) very well over the next few years and stayed with them in their Greatstone bungalow on quite a few occasions. They moved down from London to their beloved part of Kent in the late 1980s where he developed his artistic skills to become a highly proficient sculptor.
But Ray's habitat was the open shingle. To me, he will always be striding away in the distance, scope and tripod dangling from a strap by his side, looking up into the sky and sniffing for birds. Thanks for the memories Ray - there are plenty of us that have them.