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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

.......And more

I only met Ray Turley on a few occasions, mostly at Dunge of course and although he didn't know me from Adam he was instantly approachable, extremely helpful, contagiously enthusiastic and of course exceptionally knowledgeable.

I have two memories of him; once at Walland Marsh where he went out of his way (some 40 minutes!) to find me some Tree Sparrows simply because I commented I was interested in seeing some that day, and on the last occasion when we tried to relocate Glossy Ibis near the ARC pit. On this occasion Ray took me on a wondrously winding route across shingle and scrub, through brambles and even across the sleepers of the railway line, all the time commenting how overgrown it had become since his last visit! We never did find the birds but it didn't matter somehow, Ray was so at ease that day and made such pleasant and entertaining company I couldn't have asked for a better afternoon (Adam Whitehouse, Kent)

Sveta and I were in Goa leading a tour and Ray & Janet were in the same block as us at the Biera Mar. They were in Goa for 5 weeks and we regularly met and exchanged quite a bit of information before saying our goodbyes as we headed to Backwoods Camp. Just before we left, Ray had been unwell but seemed to be on the road to recovery so I was totally shocked to hear this devastating news. Having known Ray & Janet for nearly 30 years and enjoyed their company on Scilly in the 80's, this is a huge loss to the birding fraternity in the UK and my thoughts are with Janet at this difficult time (Vaughan & Svetlana Ashby, Birdfinders)

Lee, we were shocked to read your posting last night. Tony originally knew Ray from the 1960s Dungeness days. Over the years we had some lively chats with him when we were all on the Isles of Scilly. We last saw him at Dungeness when we went down for the Crested Lark.

Could you please pass on our sincerest condolences to Janet (Elizabeth & Tony Smith, Holt, Norfolk)

Tremendously sad and surprising news at such a young age. I will also remember his skill as an artist (I am fortunate to have a couple of his 'model' birds), his infectious sense of humour, his bottomless pitof enthusiasm and endless patience with novices, his tremendous effort to completely transform my garden (which as a result attracts many more birds than it used to) but above all his miraculous fieldcraft (on one occasion accurately identifying a rarity from the back seat of my car from a brief glimpse through the sun roof). He will be sadly missed.

Condolences to Janet who now has to deal with a difficult situation in a foreign land. I hope all that goes as smoothly as possible (Stan Kirk, Kent).

I first met Ray down at Dungeness over 10 years ago while on a visit with mine and Ray's good friend Bob Harris and was almost immediately in awe of Ray and his birding and seawatching talent when he picked out a couple of very distant white blobs and said Little Terns! Almost every visit down there i'd see his distictive light green VW Polo and even if I was on my own he would remember me and ask how my son was and if i'd seen Bob recently. I had the pleasure of spending a day with him on Tresco while on my first visit to Scilly in 2002 and again I was in awe when he heard a bird call and said Yellow-Browed Warbler (i'd only seen my first a couple of days before) and then showed me a Woodlark which other Scilly regulars had not seen on the islands before and were a tad jealous of! I last saw him on a windy day last year while watching the Purple Herons on Denge Marsh and he was telling us of his trip to Goa later in the year. I was shocked to hear of his passing and my heart goes out to his wonderful wife Janet who shared his wicked sense of humour. (Ian Bennell, Watford)

Dear Lee. I was saddened to read the news of Ray Turley’s passing – I was leaning on a gate with him on St. Agnes whilst debating over the final ID of the Yellow-browed Bunting – what a day that was!!! I will always remember my day on St. Agnes and the mayhem that followed when he put the news out over the CB !!!! His meticulous attention to detail with his models never ceased to amaze me..

With sympathy –
Tony Davison –

Hi Lee, Just thought I had to share my condolences at the death of Ray via your site as you asked...

I was much saddened to hear of Ray’s sudden death… I couldn’t believe it at first. Although I haven’t seen him for a good few years since I stopped visiting the Isles of Scilly in October I remember with much fondness selling my artwork on tables next to him and his sculptures in the ‘cressa etc, with him enlivening proceedings with his excellent sense of humour. One thing I regret is never actually getting round to purchasing one of the sculptures! I regarded his talent for sculpting with awe and not a little envy. I remember very well those days on Scilly, and through his kindness, seeing several excellent birds through his ‘scope (including I seem to remember the St Agnes Whites Thrush……)!

I remember him as a warm, kind and enthusiastic man, he was a fabulous birder, character and gentleman and I extend my condolences to Janet at this difficult time (Stephanie Thorpe (Hicking). Derbyshire)

Please send all of your tributes to Ray to me at - many, many thanks, Lee (I shall announce the funeral arrangements and details as soon as I have them