At his funeral today I bid farewell to John Bateman.
John is the second of two of my best birding friends I've lost. John Leedal - who was my mentor and good friend - died in April 2005, with John Bateman dying in the same month of April 2013, and both having the same forename is something of a coincidence. It was also something of a coincidence and a sad fact that both of these men ended their days virtually unable to get out of the car on account of their poor health on their birding days with me to pursue the birds they loved. In the case of John Bateman the worst case of his inability to 'get about' came the day he waited in the car until I wandered off to check out Plover Scar at Cockersands for me to find a Kentish Plover on 3 May 2011. In the case of John Leedal the same situation arose when I went off and found a Black Redstart at Fluke Hall on 24 March 2005. All very sad, but both of them have left me with many memories almost all of which carry birds with them.
Common Sandpiper. John Bateman.
One of these memories came back to me last Tuesday when I had a days birding in the Forest of Bowland, but like any other location I will visit in the future John will surely have visited with me a dozen times and more. When I arrived at Marshaw to find the Common Sandpiper back here again this summer there would have been no way I could have avoided remembering the times John and I had encountered this wader up here, and when I found this years birds again it was a time to remember. Johns photograph above is of a Common Sandpiper at the very location I'm talking about here at Marshaw. I don't know whether this bird has just landed, is about to take off, or is just exercising its wings, but John caught and froze it on film for all time.
Wheatear. John Bateman.
Its quite interesting really, that I can clearly remember the Common Sandpiper at Marshaw, yet where John took this one of the Wheatear I have no idea. John was never known as the best photographer in the world and he would never have claimed to be, but he gained a great deal of enjoyment from it. He accumulated hundreds of pictures over the years, all as records and memories of the day. This particular example of Johns photography I probably played around with in 'Picasa' a photo-shop on my computer - sorry John - and I actually like the way it ended up looking like a pretty good watercolour.
Snipe. John Bateman.
I had forgotten I still had this image and was pleased to find it again. This is probably the best image John ever gave me, and I think this sighting was one of the best of its kind for us both, we were fortunate to stumble on these two very young Snipe. Again we were in Bowland and we came across these two tiny creatures with no adult in sight, and I remember John took a quick shot and we left so as to cause no unnecessary disturbance to them in the hope a parent bird would return to them soon. The memories attached to this image of up to ten years ago are so vivid that today I could point to the precise spot we found them....Halcyon days.
Till we meet again John....Farewell.