I last saw Dave in early September just before we left to go back to Montreal. He was suffering from considerable back and leg pain and was having trouble breathing. In the last few weeks he was using a walker instead of a cane which made him largely house-bound.
I first met Dave when he and Julie moved to PCS in 2004. Perhaps the deal was sealed by an email I sent via John Wells to post on nf.birds with the results of my 2003 birding season. Dave contacted me right away. He wanted to know more about south shore birding and our experience buying a house. In 2003, fog for me was a big issue. I warned him about the Cove. When he and Julie came out in the fall of 2003 the best house they found was in the Cove so they bought it.
As everyone knows Dave was obsessed with birds and bird vagrancy. His interest was peaked in youth when he joined the school bird club and never wavered throughout his life. He graduated from Cambridge with a PhD in chemistry then worked for Shell for 11 years in Oman. His life-long passion eventually overcame his career and all other interests. His life-time great friend and birding buddy Dave Brewer had previously emigrated to Ontario. Dave took the plunge and joined him. He put his bird-banding skills to work at the Long Point Bird Observatory. Later, he was tasked with founding the Thunder Cape Bird Observatory. Over the years he made a lot of friends in the Ontario birding community. He also mentored and encouraged other British birders to come to Canada. He counted among his friends immensely talented British born and Ontario birder-naturalists, David Beadle and Paul Pryor.
Dave met and married Julie who was working at the time as an Interpreter at Guelph Lake. Tired of the noise, pollution and environmental degradation overtaking Ontario they decided to retire to a place where there were plenty of vagrants and the pace of life slower. Presumably at Long Point Dave met Bruce which likely factored into his decision to choose Newfoundland.
We birded together extensively over the first ten years or so, until his health issues restricted his ability to walk any distance. He encouraged locals to observe the birds and report their findings to him. Perhaps one of his greatest legacies was encouraging Cliff Doran to take up bird photography. Coffee and cake with Cliff at the vagrant magnet, Cape Race, is now an established tradition in the birding community.
Dave was an admirable companion, hugely knowledgeable about many aspects of bird ecology. He was full of stories of his birding adventures in Britain, Oman and Ontario. Many probably remember his many posts especially when he shared his rare bird finds. It would be hard to forget his sign-off handle “TB” for Tight Bins an illusion to keeping the line taunt while fly fishing at which I can attest he was equally proficient.
The Newfoundland birding community, full of interesting personalities, has lost one of its most colourful.