Monthly Archives: April 2016

‘xanthophrys‘ / ‘superciliaris‘ Yellow Wagtail, Neot Smadar, S Negev, Israel, March 2016

Mixed Yellow Wagtails

Israel in spring is a great place to study Yellow Wagtail subspecies. There is a good mix of western and eastern forms, and the males are obviously very good looking in spring. Among the more distinct forms, such as nominate flava or the almost-full-species feldegg (ask the Dutch), there are some interesting ‘mixed’ birds. In late March, quite a few males that look similar to feldegg but have a supercilium are seen. Some have nice clean white supercilium:

Male ‘superciliaris‘ Yellow Wagtail, Eilat, March 2011

Male ‘superciliaris‘ Yellow Wagtail, Eilat, March 2011

Note also the prominent lower eye-ring. This bird is what I would expect a mix between feldegg and flava to look like. These birds normally give a sweet ‘western-type’ call. I would expect the female to look like this:

Female ‘superciliaris‘ Yellow Wagtail, Eilat, Israel, March 2008

Female ‘superciliaris‘ Yellow Wagtail, Eilat, Israel, March 2008

I call these birds ‘superciliaris‘ with quotation marks because the consensus is that it is not a real subspecies, but rather a ‘fluid’ mix from E of the Balkans.

During the recent Champions of the Flyway race day in late March, I found this stunning bird at Neot Smadar sewage farm. This tiny gem of a site in the desert held a couple hundred Yellow Wagtails, mainly feldegg and flava. I had very little time so couldn’t study it properly and just fired off a few images. I did hear it call – it gave a western call. But it looks very much like what I would expect from ‘xanthophrys‘ – another dodgy mix thing. This bird has a vivid yellow supercilium and dark green – blackish crown and ear coverts.

‘xanthophrys‘ / ‘superciliaris‘ Yellow Wagtail, Neot Smadar, S Negev, Israel, March 2016

‘xanthophrys‘ / ‘superciliaris‘ Yellow Wagtail, Neot Smadar, S Negev, Israel, March 2016

‘xanthophrys‘ / ‘superciliaris‘ Yellow Wagtail, Neot Smadar, S Negev, Israel, March 2016

‘xanthophrys‘ / ‘superciliaris‘ Yellow Wagtail, Neot Smadar, S Negev, Israel, March 2016

It superficially resembles taivana, which belongs to the Eastern Yellow Wagtail group, but is separated by having too much black on the crown and ear coverts (taivana is greener) and also mantle is too dark green. taivana has a vivid green-yellow mantle, and lacks a prominent lower white eyering. Check stunning images here. And of course the call of the Eastern Yellow Wagtail group is distinctive, closer to Citrine Wagtail – check here.

This individual was seen by other birders as well and did attract some attention, because xanthophrys types are not commonly seen in Israel. I was slightly disappointed to hear its western call. xanthophrys should have rasping eastern calls, similar to feldegg and lutea that are the supposed ancestors of this mix. So what is this bird? I am not sure, probably superciliaris too. But because both forms superciliaris and xanthophrys are mixed anyway, I am not sure whether there is a real distinction between them or are they just two ends of a cline between birds with white supercilium in the west and yellow supercilium in the east?

Another mix-type that is seen in Israel in pretty good numbers is dombrowski that breeds in Romania. dombrowski is another type of mix between flava and feldegg or beema and feldegg:

‘dombrowski’ Yellow Wagtail, Eilat, March 2012

‘dombrowski’ Yellow Wagtail, Eilat, March 2012

It looks more like a very dark flava, rather than an eye-browed feldegg. Some individuals can be slightly paler and bluer than this, but they typically are dark and dull on the head and lack a pale ear coverts patch.

And here are some of the ancestors. Male Black-headed Yellow Wagtails are really unmistakable, and cracking too…

Black-headed Yellow Wagtails (feldegg), Yotvata,Israel, March 2016

Black-headed Yellow Wagtails (feldegg), Yotvata,Israel, March 2016

Female feldegg typically have a short yellow or sometimes whitish supercilium behind the eye:

female feldegg Yellow Wagtail, Bet Kama, N Negev, Israel, September 2013

female feldegg Yellow Wagtail, Bet Kama, N Negev, Israel, September 2013

flava Yellow Wagtails are pretty variable in Israel. Some are rather dark, deep blue-headed like this one and lack almost any pale on the ear coverts:

flava yellow Wagtail, Arava Valley, March 2013

flava yellow Wagtail, Arava Valley, March 2013

Some are a bit drabber, paler-headed with more pale on the ear coverts. This is a young male (2cy) – check the obvious moult contrast in the greater coverts:

flava Yellow Wagtail, 2cy male, Neot Smadar, May 2012

flava Yellow Wagtail, 2cy male, Neot Smadar, May 2012

beema Yellow wagtails are very pale headed, and typically have a large pale patch on the ear coverts. They have an eastern call.

beema Yellow Wagtail, Eilat, April 2014

beema Yellow Wagtail, Eilat, April 2014

lutea is a striking bird. Not dissimilar to the British Yellow Wagtails. Some have slightly greener ear coverts and crown. They have an eastern call as well. They are uncommon in Israel, but they are one of the dominant forms seen in East Africa in winter.

lutea Yellow Wagtail, Chem-Chem Lake, Kenya, December 2010

lutea Yellow Wagtail, Chem-Chem Lake, Kenya, December 2010

2013-07-17 Eurasian Cuckoo2

The Beijing Cuckoo Project

By Terry

We are excited to announce the launch of The Beijing Cuckoo Project, a new initiative that has the potential to make a huge difference to conservation in China whilst, at the same time, making ground breaking scientific discoveries.

Following the hugely successful, and ongoing, citizen science project to track the Beijing Swift, over the last few months we have been working with partners in the UK and China to replicate the BTO’s Cuckoo Tracking Project in China’s capital.

The Cuckoo – famous for laying its eggs in the nests of other, often smaller, birds – is a popular and well-known bird in Beijing.  The life of the Cuckoo, including a wonderful account of the ongoing evolutionary battle between the Cuckoo and its hosts, was covered eloquently by Nick Davies in his award-winning book – Cuckoo: Cheating By Nature.

Cuckoo and Reed Parrotbill

In China, one of the host species of Eurasian Cuckoo is Reed Parrotbill!

The Beijing Cuckoo Project has the potential to deliver two incredibly exciting outcomes. The first is to engage the public in China, on an unprecedented scale, about the wonders of bird migration. The second is to discover the currently unknown wintering grounds, and migration routes, of Eurasian Cuckoos breeding in East Asia – vital if conservationists are to understand how best to protect the Cuckoo and similar migratory species.

As in the UK, we plan to deploy ultra-lightweight satellite tags onto as many as 10 cuckoos in the Beijing area. Drawing on the BTO’s expertise and experience, Chris Hewson, a leading scientist from the UK, will travel to Beijing to train local volunteers and lead the catching and fitting of the tags.

Local schoolchildren will name the cuckoos and follow their progress as part of a specially designed “environmental curriculum”.

13th middle school

Students from Beijing’s 13th Middle School recently received their certificates as the first graduates of the “Environmental Curriculum” and will follow the progress of the Beijing Cuckoos as part of their ongoing studies.

National and local media will cover the project via their print and online publications. A special APP will allow members of the public to follow their progress, too, providing information about cuckoos, maps showing their latest positions and the routes taken, as well as background about the project.

We are delighted that around 75% of the funding has been raised through generous donations from the Zoological Society of London, Oriental Bird Club, the British Birds Charitable Trust and Beijing Forestry University. We are also fortunate to enjoy in kind support from the British Trust for Ornithology, the China Birdwatching Society and the many volunteers who will be involved.

However, given the costs of “satellite services”, the costs associated with accessing the data transmitted by the tags, and the costs of maintaining the dedicated APP, we still need to raise another GBP 10,000 over the next 12 months.

That is why we have set up a new, dedicated JustGiving page to allow anyone wishing to be part of this project to contribute. The page can be found here: https://www.justgiving.com/BeijingCuckooProject

Everyone involved with the Beijing Cuckoo project is excited about the potential and all donors, with their permission, will be recognised on the interpretation material that will be erected at the catching sites in Beijing.

Please join us in being part of an incredible and worthwhile project!

Martin in Shetland

From the Birding Frontiers team

Birding Frontiers was launched in autumn 2010, and has since become one of the most popular birding blogs in Britain and beyond. It was the brainchild of Martin Garner, and its style and character perfectly reflected his continuous quest for new discoveries and for learning. Martin’s irrepressible enthusiasm was the rocket fuel that powered this particular spacecraft. Boooom!

Once the blog had taken off and become properly airborne, Martin enlisted the help of various other people, who were cajoled and persuaded to write for Birding Frontiers. It became more of a team effort after that although Martin remained firmly anchored at the heart of the project: his expertise, his vision and above all his communication skills were critical.

Martin died in late January 2016, after a battle with cancer that lasted more than two years. His death leaves a gaping hole in the birding scene; he was a larger-than-life character who inspired everyone who met him and spent time with him in the field. Now that Sharon has posted her own tribute, we, the team members, wish to pay our respects and record our thanks to Martin; send our deepest condolences to Sharon, Abigail and Emily; and acknowledge that life without Martin will not be the same.

It is unbelievably sad to think that Martin is no longer with us. He touched so many people with his enthusiasm, curiosity and positivity. I am one of them. I started following his Birding Frontiers blog soon after its launch in 2010, just a year after moving to Varanger. I had moved to a new place full of expectations and a desire to make difference, all based on my passion for birding. In Martin’s blog I found a voice that inspired my own birding and sense of discovery. It was a voice with that rare combination of the expertly skilled birder but at the same time it was humble and open. Moving to Varanger was a big choice for me, and my family. We wanted to make birding and nature a key part of our lives.

It did not take long before I had an opportunity to contact Martin. Sometimes, I guess, that is how a friendship can start – with a guy in Arctic Norway sending some photos of an odd-looking Bean Goose to a guy in Sheffield. That was the start of a longer correspondence, with eye-opening and inspirational input from Martin. Soon after that, I found an opportunity to invite Martin to Varanger. In 2011 he joined a trip I led, and that was the start of a good friendship based on our shared passion for birding.

Martin was the most generous person I have ever met. We talked birds and birding, and Martin’s sharp thinking was already predicting new birds in Varanger, birds that surely had to be found if we only we looked for them! Glaucous-winged Gull, Stejneger’s Scoter and Pacific Eiders are well documented now, as Martin expected them to be. But our passion for birds also included people. Since our first tour in Varanger we have shared so many great experiences both on tour in the UK and on several events in Varanger.

Thinking of Martin now I am left with so many great memories. For that I am very thankful. Our crazy busy and buzzing ‘Pushing the Boundaries Tour’ around the UK was one of the highlights of my birding life. It was everything we set to do: enjoy great birding, meet inspirational people and to share our passion for birding with others. Martin will be dearly missed as a key influence in my life. Thank you, Martin.

Tormod Amundsen

Martin and Ian Lewington enjoying ´the King Eider vortex´ in Vardø, during Gullfest 2013. An amazing day of birding, in the best company.

Martin and Ian Lewington enjoying ´the King Eider vortex´ in Vardø, during Gullfest 2013. An amazing day of birding, in the best company.

In every profession, in every walk of life, there are those that stand out from the crowd, those that push boundaries, those that set the bar for the rest of us to aim at. Martin was one of those people. With boundless energy, big inquisitive eyes and an ear-to-ear smile Martin pushed our understanding of bird ID, and how we should look at bird ID, further in a decade than had been done in the previous half century.

My involvement with Birding Frontiers started at the Hula Valley Bird Festival – where better. Martins enthusiasm for my and Richard Moores’ interest in mammals was amazing and he soon invited me to contribute to the Birding Frontiers website. Throughout the time I knew him, his enthusiasm never faltered and he was always keen to hear any thoughts I might have had on mammals or birds in a never-ending quest to learn more about the subject we are all most passionate about. His legacy, as well as happy memories and informative pages to turn, will be the way we approach identification, with open minds and without the fear of being wrong. If nothing else Martin taught us that being wrong is absolutely fine, why else do we fall if not to learn?

Dan Brown

I have been aware of Martin’s papers since I was a little lad, a very young birder !  I remember reading all his papers with great admiration as I could get the feeling that I could find in his work my own way of life: CURIOSITY! PASSION! LOVE! And that the main target was to pose questions and to study more… not necessarily to solve problems definitively or to give the (presumed) final word on something. That was how it was for me, that is like it still is. At the time I had several ‘heroes’, including Killian Mullarney, Richard Porter, DIM Wallace, Lars Jonsson, Hans Larsson and MARTIN GARNER! Among the bird artists my heroes were and still are John Gerard Keulemans, K. De Mees, John Smith (for reptiles), Lorenzo Starnini, Ian Lewington,  Brian J Small, Lars Jonsson and Hans Larsson. Over the course of many years, I have met and become a friend of most of these (apart from the artists of the 1800s of course!).

I first met Martin in Linosa island, a paradise for Italian birders. I invited Martin and he came straightaway! Typical of his true enthusiasm for life, for descovering, for SHARING! He then invited me to join BF team. When I, and the rest of my birding team MISC met him, we discovered that he was not only a great birder, that’s too easy; he was a great MAN as well, and that’s really hard !  Martin was like a luminescent person, one of those person you met once and they shine light on you. I AM MISSING HIM! That’s it… no other words !

Andrea Corso

I first met Martin on Shetland, in September 2011. I was birding in Unst, when a minibus came whizzing up the road and pulled up alongside my car. I instantly recognised Martin, and the look of excitement on his face. It was the start of a short but great friendship.

‘Hi guys, I’ve found a really interesting Lesser Whitethroat and I’d like a few others to see it!’ Very soon we were watching that Lesser Whitethroat, at close quarters, feeding in a lines of rose bushes. Martin quickly began to point out the interesting features of this ‘eastern’ bird and his attention to detail was amazing. It soon became clear to me and the rest of the group watching the bird, that it was not a normal Lesser Whitethroat.

This was Martin in his element, ‘frontier birding’ in real life. Martin’s enthusiasm for birding was there for all to see and this has had a massive impact on me, as it has on many other people. I feel so very privileged to have had Martin as a friend, if only for a short period of time.

I was very flattered, in fact amazed, when he asked me to join his BF team. At the time I didn’t really know why. Who am I to be asked to join such a distinguished group? I questioned Martin and in his amicable way he said: ‘Don’t worry Tony: enjoy, become part of the learning, there is so much more out there to be discovered.’ He put those words into my two Challenge Series Books, at the birdfair last year and I’ll treasure them always.

So, many thanks Martin, for your enthusiasm, spirit and belief and for pushing the boundaries of birding in such a unique way. Au revoir.

Tony Davison

Martin in Shetland

Martin in Shetland

I’d often heard of Martin Garner and when I asked him to give a lecture at a birders’ meeting on Helgoland, I was very happy when he agreed. When I met him here on my tiny home island, I realized that he was not only an excellent birder, but also a great person! On the meeting as well as later in many discussions by email he was full of new questions, mainly concerning the recognition of difficult-to-identify species. When he invited me to the Birding Frontiers team, I felt honoured, although I could not contribute as much as I would have wanted. I was really shocked when I heard of Martin’s illness, and when finally the news of his death got through to me (I was in a remote part of north-east India), I was very sad. I will miss the many discussions with him and would have liked to meet him more often than just once!

Jochen Dierschke

Martin on Helgoland

Martin on Helgoland

Martin’s work was a great inspiration, not only for British birdwatchers, but also reaching out to the rest of Europe and beyond. More than anything, I think that his greatest contribution to the birding society was getting people to talk to each other and think together; ignoring prestige and instead focusing on the increase of our collective knowledge. And always with a smile.

Magnus Hellström

Unlike others here, it is with great sadness that I have to admit that I never met Martin. Like all others here, however, all I have is positive memories from many excited phone conversations and correspondence over the last few years. Thus, it is with some apprehension that I write this, in the knowledge that many others knew him far better than myself and that I can’t do it the justice I wish I could.

Martin and I began corresponding a few years ago due to some of the work I am involved in, primarily in the tropics, where often even the most basic information on species is completely unknown. I vividly remember our first chat on the phone, his famed enthusiasm oozing through the airwaves as we talked on and on about how very much there is to learn, both at home as much as the remotest mountains in the unbirded regions of the word. It was as clear to me then as much as it is now that Martin was a master of the trade, not only in the field, but also in connecting people, motivating ideas and removing the stigmas that birding and ornithological circles can sometimes generate. Naturally, I was flattered when Martin asked if I’d be interested in getting involved in his new vision for Birding Frontiers. It became apparent to me, however, that it was never about pedestals, it was his way of getting people to look deeper, learn more and get excited, all with the idea that if you’re doing it with a smile on your face, you’re doing it right- what a legacy to be remembered by.

Sam Jones

Martin Garner was a truly admirable person, and one who has inspired countless birders, including me. His deep enthusiasm and willingness to discover, ask questions about everything, and especially share his findings with others, definitely led many of us to becoming better birders – and people. I will always be grateful to him for that. I first had contact with Martin regarding my local Yellow-legged Gulls, a subject he was really passionate about, and ever since then we have had constant email exchange, about all sorts of things. After meeting him for the first time at Gull Fest, and attending one of his lectures (which was truly inspirational) I then had the opportunity to invite him to come  along to Lanzarote, to experience our pelagic trips. We were fortunate in having Martin with us a couple of times, spending a lot of time with him out in the field, and thankfully I got to know him better. He was, above all, a great guy, always trying to help, and none of us will ever forget him and his attitude. Rest in peace my friend.

Dani López-Velasco

 

 

Dani and Martin at Gullfest, April 2012

Dani and Martin at Gullfest, April 2012

In November 2013 Martin visited me in Israel. We birded in the Negev and saw this female Siberian Stonechat. In the field it showed no white on the tail bases at all. I was convinced it was a female hemprichii. Martin didn’t believe me. We set a net up and in a few minutes it was in the hand. One blow on the uppertail coverts, and boom! White bases to tail feathers! Martin couldn’t stop laughing for a long time!

Yoav Perlman

Yoav

I feel very lucky to have known Martin Garner as a friend and as a birder. Martin devoted his life to care, encouragement and inspiration of others. He inspired and guided me in my personal life and also with my birding; encouraging me to believe in myself and to never be afraid to ask questions (even if there were no answers)! I was lucky enough to spend time birding with Martin during trips abroad, where his infectious enthusiasm, wealth of knowledge and willingness to teach (and be taught) made for an incredibly rich experience. The photograph below was taken by Jonathan Meyrav during our trip to the Hula Bird Festival. Martin is stood with me in front of a tree containing a Great Spotted Eagle and an Eastern Imperial Eagle. This is one of many fantastic memories I have of my time spent with Martin.

It is so sad and unfair to have lost such a wonderful and beautiful human being. I feel very privileged to have known him.

Tristan Reid

Tristan

Martin first came to Shetland in 2009, on the first of many successful tours with Shetland Nature. The photo below sums him up: at the centre of a rare-bird discovery in the most unpromising of circumstances, and an integral part of the team event that unfolded that afternoon. And with a great big smile on his face.

Roger Riddington

From left: Brydon Thomason, RR, Fiona Barclay, Mike Weedon, Martin and Dominic Mitchell, in the Fetlar ‘Taiga Fly garden’.

From left: Brydon Thomason, RR, Fiona Barclay, Mike Weedon, Martin and Dominic Mitchell, in the Fetlar ‘Taiga Fly garden’.

Even though I met Martin only once, I will miss him as if he was a family member. He was, and will continue to be, an inspiration to me as he has been to countless others. This photo is of Martin receiving a book – The Natural History of Selbourne, by Gilbert White – a gift from Beijing birders in recognition of the value of the Challenge Series to east Asian birders. It has been a huge honour to be associated with Martin through the Birding Frontiers website and the Challenge Series and his spirit will live on!

Terry Townshend

Terry

I first met Martin during one of the annual Dutch Birding days, where he was the main speaker, I guess around seven years ago. His talks blow me away – and not only me…! We had some email contact before about ID issues but wooow, this man was not just a great birder and nice guy, but a fabulous speaker too! At the end of the day we came to talk about Steppe Buzzard ID and a friendship was born. A few years later we did two days birding around the north of Holland, together with my friends Diederik Kok en Jeroen de Bruyn. It was an extreme cold period and even the Waddensea towards Texel was largely frozen.

Over the last five years we have discussed many ID issues, and even until this day, every time an ID issue comes across, I think, I wonder… what would Martin think about this? The loss is just starting to sink in, but the inspiration he gave me and so many others will live much longer.

Nils van Duivendijk

Martin on Texel in February 2012. Martin, who else, had just found a very good candidate adult Russian Common Gull (heinei). Here, I am positioning my scope for Martin to digiscope it.

Martin on Texel in February 2012. Martin, who else, had just found a very good candidate adult Russian Common Gull (heinei). Here, Nils is positioning his scope for Martin to digiscope it.

A Personal Tribute to My Amazing Man by Sharon Garner

207928_18173785448_7469_n Here goes…

Firstly huge thanks to you – the amazing birding community!  Because of you there has been an overwhelming amount of beautiful things written, spoken and posted about Martin since he died in January this year. Here’s my humble offering. But how do you summarize a person’s life in a few short paragraphs? I’m not going to attempt to do that. Instead I just want to share a few thoughts in tribute to the amazing man that was Martin Garner.

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18th August 1990

 

 

I met Martin back in 1987 when he came to chat to my 6th form. (Yes – our eyes really did meet across a crowded room). Long story short we were engaged after 6 months and later married. We celebrated our 25th last year and I would have happily been married to him another 25!

 

 

 

Perhaps I’d failed to pick up Martin’s love for ornithology early on, or he’d failed to mention it…

Either way I was first introduced to it during a visit to his hometown of Frodsham, where he suggested we have a day trip to Anglesey…sounds fun I thought. What’s at Anglesey? ‘A bridled Tern?’… sorry a what? (The only bridle I’d had contact with was one you put on a horse). This was going to be interesting. So off we went with another birder, to see a Bridled Tern. When we got back apparently other birders were frustrated that they’d ‘dipped’ the bird and that we’d ‘gripped them off’!

We went on many ‘stop-starts’ together…

Yes, these for non-birders are walks. The difference when you go for a walk with a birder lies in the fact that a) it’s imperative to carry binoculars at ALL times and b) you may not get to actually walk that far. You just stop and start. Lots. And sometimes you just stop. Walking really isn’t the focus – but then you all know that.

As time went on it amazed me that not only did Martin have what seemed to be an encyclopedic knowledge of birds, but he could also remember specific dates, times, probably what he’d eaten, when he’d seen something special. There didn’t seem to be a place that we could visit where Martin wouldn’t say ‘I came here in 19… and saw a ……’ He had endless stories of how he’d slept under hedges, hitched lifts just to see a bird and I learnt that this was called ‘twitching’.

 

I remember very clearly when Martin toyed with the idea of writing the blog…

Sea-watching at the caravan at Spurn – a lot of dreaming happened here.

We’d been spending quite a bit of time at Spurn. It may come as a surprise to some of you but he initially thought a blog would be a crazy idea and didn’t think for a minute that anyone else would want to read it. Having learnt SO much from him it was a no-brainer to me – but somehow Martin just didn’t quite get how good he was. It was with a lot of encouragement that he began. He settled in his mind that he would do it for himself and have fun writing about one of his passions – in his words ‘download what’s in my head’. And if anyone wanted to read it, great – and if they didn’t, great. He never for a moment thought it would become as popular as it did.

We’d had the opportunity to live in many diverse places…

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Flamborough Lighthouse.

 

 

 

But we’d dreamed of living by the sea most of our married life. So when our girls had finally both finished school I left my job, we sold our house in Sheffield, and moved to Flamborough.  Birding Frontiers was now more than just a blog. Martin began to travel and guide and I landed the job of personal PA – let the fun begin!

         And then the worst happened…

We hadn’t been in our new home long when we received the revelation of something sinister that would alter our path forever. A path that nobody would choose, but sadly many have to travel. The big C – A terminal diagnosis. What a blow. Not the dream by the sea we’d imagined. Nor the next season of newfound freedom with children flown and adventures ahead – just the two of us. We’d faced many obstacles and battles in life but this was to be by far the most terrifying and challenging.

 

But Martin did NOT let that stop him!

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Book signing of his Autumn book, Birdfair 2015

 

 

The guiding had to end but it meant the Challenge Series was born. Most of what you’ve read in these books was written when Martin was in hospital. It became the ‘in joke’ when I used to visit with the latest list of books and journals he’d requested. The nurses would ask ‘had I made an appointment to see Mr Garner in his office today?’ And there he would be, laptop on the bed, chatting to someone on the phone. Inspiration just doesn’t quite say it.

 

Martin was…

…my husband, best friend, soul mate and an awesome Dad to our two girls. Life with Martin could only be lived in high definition with dolby stereo. One of his favourite phrases was ‘Carpe Diem’ – every day was a gift to be seized and lived! He didn’t just have a zest for life, he WAS the zest in life. I recall with a smile his frequent bursts through the door, excited by the latest find, whether found by him or somebody else made no real difference – it was all about the discovery.

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August 2015 – Beckie Egan Photography

But cancer has shaken us like an earthquake…

The landscape for my girls and I has changed forever and it’s as though the very ground beneath our feet now lies in ruins. We find ourselves in the rubble, searching round and wondering how to piece it all back together again. But it won’t go back the way it was – that option isn’t open to us. For as much as the birding world has lost a bright star, we have lost our champion. And life can never be the same. But Martin repeatedly said that there was a much bigger picture to all of this and to this we hold. One day we hope to see it in all it’s beauty.

 

So is this the final Birding Frontiers BOOM!?

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That’s been the big question for us here – what should happen to Birding Frontiers?   Well there is the potential of the next book in the challenge series, which we hope to publish. Martin was still working on this in the days and weeks before he died. And my main aim at this stage is for the blog to continue its identity as a place of sharing, encouragement and discovery. This in itself would be such a fitting tribute.

 

But I know if Martin were writing this, he would want to tag on the end to get out there, get discovering and be the best you, that you can be!

And in the end he’s demonstrated in the way he lived and died that there really are no boundaries, only frontiers!

So have that adventure, follow that passion and find theGold’ in every day. For it is there to be found, you just may need to sift through the rubble first. This is my promise to myself – especially on the tougher days.  As this I think, could be the truest and most fitting tribute to him of all.

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Martin Garner 9th Jan. 1964 to 29th Jan. 2016

…and if you’ve got a few minutes – here’s the video montage his girls put together and played at his funeral – actually a lot of fun (just so he has the final word!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rnHOX8UXxY