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Friday, 12 December 2014

Long-standing DEVON birder bows out.....

It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Exeter birder JOHN WOODLAND who died at the age of 86 following a long illness on 30th November. John was to be found with his beloved wife Jean on every outing, the two of them spanning a birding career of over 45 years and often incorporating the Reverend Robert Kempster into their travels and midst. I first met the couple, along with the legendary 'Shrubkins' (aka Dave Hopkins) in the very early 70's in West Cornwall, when visits to St Ives Island were an essential part of the annual birding agenda. John was very unassuming, quiet and extremely appreciative of help and always was so happy, never having a bad word to say about anyone! The two of them never learnt to drive so birding was always done on foot, with over 40 years worth of Exe Estuary wildfowl & wader counts being executed in this way, but with him working for the railways, transport was not too much of a problem, annual holidays being spent birding on Fair Isle, the Isles of Scilly or North Norfolk. It was on the former that John connected with a real 'blocker' - a White-crowned Sparrow in May 1977 - but better than that, for him at least, was the finding of a Myrtle Warbler there at the same time. The pair were well into their butterflies too - finding more than just a few High Brown Fritillary sites during their ramblings - and supported Devon Birds for over six decades. It was on the Isles of Scilly pilgrimages that I go to know them best, spending many hundreds of hours in the field in search of rare migrants. John was just so keen, regardless of weather - and would trampse back with me to Watermill or Deep Point if anything was found late in the day even after we had finished a hard day's birding on the archipelago. He will be very sorely missed.
 
For those of you that knew John and Jean and would like to pay your respects, the funeral service is to be held at Exeter Crematorium at 1345 hours on Wednesday 17th December
 

Lee G R Evans