This blog entry is not really about birds or birding, but is a tribute to a great friend who we met through birding, and the CBBC.
The news that our friend, Dave, had died in Elche Hospital on the 17th May, was both shocking and tragic. Even more so for his wonderful wife, Linda.
Dave was a man who was full of life, interested in everything, proud of his family and extremely kind and thoughtful, traits he shared with Linda.
We first met in a bird hide in the Clot and later went on CBBC field trips where we all got to know each other better and soon became firm friends.
Visits to the Clot were a regular thing along with lovely lunches at Pena Grande in Santa Pola and La Tahona at Urbanova.
One time in the Clot, Dave was first to spot a Purple Heron and he even got a photo of it. He was very pleased with that! Another time at San Felipe he was the one who found a juvenile Night Heron skulking in a water channel on the way to the hide. A very good spot.
We all enjoyed regular visits to Finca Bonelli’s Eagle for Colin and Jane’s excellent meals. Seeing the Bonelli’s Eagles around the nest was always a joy. For a few year’s a group of us from Gran Alacant, enjoyed an annual pre-Xmas meal at the Finca with Bryan and Trish, and Paul and Greta making up a party of eight, plus Jane and Colin. This was always a fun day out, with a few birds thrown in for good measure.
On one CBBC field trip we visited Elche Reservoir. The road to it was atrocious and as we returned to the main road we ended up with a puncture. Not to worry, a ‘dream team’ formed consisting of John and Trevor changing the wheel, Paul directing the traffic and Dave supervising!
We all shared a desire to see more of Spain and soon went on our first modest adventure to stay a few nights in Valencia. Dave really loved the Oceanografic there and we all had a great time.
Other excursions followed, to Santiago de Compostela, The Pyrenees, Extremadura, Mojacar along with many exciting day trips. I remember when we all shared the great experience of seeing a Lammergeier flying over our heads at the Arbajan Gorge.
Another good trip away was to Cortijo Rosa Blanca in Los Teatinos in Jaen province. This small guest house was run by Mel and Wendy, a lovely couple of birders from Yorkshire. Bryan and Trish were also on this trip and we had a fantastic time.
One of our favourite trips away was to Hotel Santa Eulalia on the edge of the Sierra Espuna, where we went a few times. This is a lovely hotel in an old monastery in a beautiful mountain setting. The birding in Sierra Espuna usually found us looking at Crossbill and Crested Tit, sometimes seen while eating our picnic. One time we even saw Wild Boar as they came to feed on scraps near one of the cafes there. A local gorge near Aledo was good for Red-billed Chough which we all enjoyed seeing.
We had some of our best times in Spain with Dave and Linda, but we also met up many times in the UK. They visited us in Staffordshire when we had our caravan in Brewood and we visited our local nature reserve along with RAF Cosford Museum. With his engineering background Dave loved this, but I did wonder at his determination to read every information board!
After we moved to Northumberland Dave and Linda introduced us to Saltholme RSPB where we all enjoyed seeing our first Short-eared Owl, flying in daylight. Saltburn was another place we discovered as it was very near to their home. In Seaton Carew, ‘The Almighty Cod’ fish and chip cafe (great name!) was always a good choice for lunch when we were in that area.
Another good chippy we visited was the Harbour View in Seaton Sluice where Dave insisted he wanted a large fish despite John and I warning him it would be massive! Needless to say he didn’t finish it. He did take some away in a doggy bag though!
Travelling further afield, we all went on a Baltic cruise sailing out of Newcastle in 2017 which was a brilliant experience and it was great to have Dave and Linda’s company.
We still had lots of plans for things to do together and it’s so sad Dave won’t now get to do them. We have lost a great friend who will be very much missed by all who knew him.
The last photo I took of Dave was at Guardarmar earlier this year. The first time we had all been together in Spain for quite a while and a very happy time. The last photo below is my favourite picture of Dave and Linda taken at one of our pub lunches in Tudhoe.
RIP David Lawrence