Blog Site by Appointment to His Regal Majesty the Maalie King

He who would be a Leader, let him be a Bridge

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The story so far...

I was born towards the end of the Second World War in Northlands Salvation Army home on the banks of the River Taff in Cardiff. By all accounts, that makes me a genuine "Taff". I was soon whisked off for a few years as a baby to the seaside resort of Clacton-on-Sea, from whence my parents bought a sub-post office and general stores in Lexden, Colchester. So I was brought up in a sweet shop.

In was here during my formative years, among the surrounding countryside and creeks and saltings of the Essex marshes, that I developed my life-long passion for wiIdlife, in particular, birds. I also learned something of the skills of boating with my father, and coarse fishing as a member of the Colchester Angling Preservation Society and spent most of the school holidays at the gravel pits near Layer de la Haye.

In my teenage years I became captivated by classical music and the seeds were sown of my love of ballet, with visits to Covent Garden to see Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev and many others. I lived in Lexden until leaving Colchester Royal Grammar School in 1955 to commence a six-year stint at Cardiff University where degrees of BSc and PhD in Biochemistry were the rewards.

As the first of three Dr Fowlers, I took up a lectureship at Leicester Polytechnic, married in 1969 and moved out to New Zealand in 1970 as an inspector of Technical Education, based in Wellington. Son No. 1, Alun, was born in Upper Hutt in January 1971. My post involved considerable travelling around New Zealand and I became an expert on the road between the airport and technical institute in most of the big towns. Holidays involved Stewart Island to the South and trips around the North and South Islands.

In 1972 I was fortunate to be offered a seconded post as Leader of Vanda Station in the Ross Dependency, Antarctica, for a summer season. I still rate this as one of the highlights of my life and on my return to the admin job in the Education Department it was obvious to me why Apsley Cherry Garrard got into such a neurotic state after getting back from Antarctica after his epic expeditions with Scott and Shackleton. Finding myself going the same way, I couldn't face the prospect of a career in the civil service and returned to England in 1974 and accepted a post of lecturer in environmental biology in my former department at Leicester Polytechnic (later De Montfort University) where there was a prospect of developing some fieldwork programme of my own. Second son, Carwyn, turned up in March 1975.

In the years which followed I became a licensed bird-ringer and so began the backbone of my research career in ornithology, the focus of which was 27 consecutive years leading expeditions of students to Shetland to carry out environmental monitoring around the islands and sounds near the North Sea Oil Terminal at Sullom Voe.

In 1984 the family took up residence right by the sea at Borth in central Wales. This was ideal for birdwatching and, with the sea literally on the back doorstep the resurrection of my old fishing skills was inevitable. This time it was beach-casting, with the real prospect of catching something to eat. The picture below looks out over Borth village. In 1997 elder son graduated with a PhD in Microbiology at Leeds, Dr Fowler No. 2.

It became clear that, despite the attractions of living next to the sea, the time away from home and all the commuting was putting a strain on relationships and I moved out of my home in Borth in September 2001, immediately after returning from an overland safari trip to Kenya and Tanzania with Exodus. Within 5 weeks I had purchased and moved into my new home, a modest terraced property in Askam-in-Furnace, Cumbria, with the beautiful Duddon Estuary just 90 seconds walk from my front door, with the Coniston hills in view up the valley. In 2004 younger son graduated with a PhD in Politics at Cardiff and became Dr Fowler No. 3.

The picture is the view from the end of my street in Askam.

Still commuting from Leicester at weekends and holidays I have developed a bird-ringing research study focussed on Marsh Tits in Cumbria, supplemented by birding at Walney Bird Observatory, fishing and hill walking.

Study of mangrove swamps in the Florida Everglades, May 2004


I propose to use this Blog to keep a personal record of my travels, birding and fishing exploits.
You are welcome to browse.