Sunday, 8 January 2017


When I first moved to Pembrokeshire in 1988,I spent many hours at Strumble sea watching with Graham,he helped improve my knowledge of seabird identification,at the time I was quite a novice were seabirds were concerned coming from London,I will always be grateful to Graham for sharing his experience and knowledge of seabirds with me.

Steve Berry


Graham thanks for your company and for finding so many good birds. Strumble in the eighties was great fun and a wonderful place for two fledgling seawatchers.

Peter and Simon Murray


The contribution Graham has made to birdwatching in Pembrokeshire, including the Pembrokeshire Bird Group, cannot be overstated.  Most memorable has been his contribution to monitoring seabird passage at Strumble Head, a location that was his 2nd home for many years - I often wonder how many chairs he has gone through over the years!

David Astins


My memories of Graham are almost exclusively from seawatching at Strumble. Over about 10 years  from 1998 I spent many hours alongside him in the observatory at Strumble. I learnt more than I could have ever imagined.  I thought that he was an ex teacher because when I asked a question or for an opinion, instead of giving me an immediate answer he would ask me about what I saw etc. and to my mind this was a great way  of retaining knowledge. Many visiting birders benefited from his knowledge too.
         During quiet moments he would tell me of incidents over the years such as dead cows floating by, crazy people in boats with more money than sense and of course the more rare seawatching sightings.
           During those years, Graham became aware that I helped out with some fieldwork at WWT Slimbridge. He had a long standing friend who lived in Gloucestershire and who worked at WWT. After retirement, he frequented the hides almost everyday, and he, like Graham was extremely knowledgeable. His name was Pete Alder. Sadly Pete passed away last year and although I knew Graham and Pete were great friends over many many years, it appears that Pete was partly responsible for Graham getting into the world of seawatching. This information was gathered at the funeral.  Thus, I was lucky enough to learn from two people who were experts with the best part of 100 years experience between them. In any walk of life, experience counts for a lot in my book. I must thank Graham for all the knowledge that I was able to glean from him.
         On the more amusing side, I was picked up on my use of English. For example, when describing what a bird was doing, I might say that it had landed on the sea. Now Graham would point out that they only land on land or structures but they alight on the sea! Another was describing the ferry docking. That was an Americanism and the ferry actually berthed.
          Strumble vocabulary. When a pebble set in the roof of the observatory occasionally pinged out on hot days and ricocheted around the interior, Graham coined the word, Strumblosion!  When the tide  turned and the circular upwelling of water produced boiling lily pads, that was a Strumbolism.

            I expect that you knew much of what I have written but here are my thought of Graham and seawatching at Strumble

Colin Butters

I can add little to what has already been said about Graham – a kind, knowledgeable and generous friend of over 30 years.  But I can give an example of Graham’s delightfully mischievous sense of humour which, in a gentle contradiction to Red’s assertion, involved plants.  On one quiet afternoon at Strumble the wind was blowing parachute seeds from right to left past the Lookout  Being Graham, he had already investigated and found that the seeds were from a patch of rosebay willow herb out of sight round the headland.  Following a quiet discussion it was agreed that I would “call” the sighting: “seeds at 2 o’clock moving west just inside the tide race”.  Graham, after a pause, confidently stated “rosebay willow herb”.  The hitherto amused expressions of the visiting bird watchers turned to amazement: identification had, before their eyes, been elevated to a whole new level!

Ray Wilkinson