Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Barry Porter 18th Sept 1946 to 27th Apr 2011

(Photo Crystelle Wilson)

Barry as we'll all remember him,
soaking up the wonders of the big outdoors.
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

A memorial service was held for Barry at 10.00am on Monday 2nd May 2011 at the Port Shepstone Country Club.
Dress attire casual (as Barry would've liked).
A request for no flowers has come from his family.
His son feels it fitting that donations be made to Birdlife Trogons Bird Club in lieu of flowers. Account details are:-

Name: Birdlife Trogons
Branch: 46 Aiken St, Port Shepstone
A/C Number:  90 5599 6671
Account type:  Active Savings

**Please comment deposits 'Barry' with your name and contact number also.


Born 18th Sept 1946. Passed away 27th April 2011

Friend Colleague Confidant Gentleman

Born in Johannesburg into a family steeped in South Coast history.
Educated at St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown and immensely proud of it.
Reserved, scientific and tempered with technical ability.
Environmentally possessed.
Concluded his education at Natal University with a BSc Agri Degree and commenced a farming career.
His knowledge of environmental issues was unsurpassed and covered everything from birds to frogs - from trees to grasses to game – from common names to scientific names to even Zulu names in which language he was fluent.

The use of this language in regard to Zulu tree names often led to very interesting and vigorous debates between ourselves and our Zulu speaking compatriots. To disagree with him was a complete waste of time, he would just quietly walk away, leaving one to wonder why did we even try and realising that we had not obtained an ‘A’ in that subject.

His knowledge of birds was unsurpassed and he studied avian issues with an undisclosed passion. He was a dedicated member of the Bird Rarity Committee and was always ready to give a fair judgement on all requests. As Chairman of Trogons Bird Club for a numbers of years (under duress) he never appreciated his ability being noticed and he led the club to be one of the most active and productive in Natal (if not the country) and he had the ability to motivate his committee to perform above expectations to the benefit of its members. He served on many Avian orientated committees where his knowledge was highly regarded.

Apart from his scientific knowledge, his technical ability was quite fascinating and he was adept at repairing and studying all aspects of modern engineering.
He was very computer literate and enjoyed all the advantages of its intricacies to the extreme .

The loss of his wife, Lyn, some six months ago left him tragically scarred – a scar that he bore bravely and undisclosed and no doubt had a bearing on his tragic demise.
His passing will leave a void that will be difficult to fill as there are very few people with his reserved manner and willingness to impart their knowledge to others available in this world today.

May he rest in peace.

Your civility and reservedness which endeared you to so many will not be forgotten.


I have sad news to report. One of the stalwarts of SABAP2, Barry Porter, passed away on Wednesday after a short spell in hospital. Barry's contribution to the BirdLife Trogons Bird Club was also legendary. A memorial service will be held at 10h00 on Monday 2 May 2011 at the Port Shepstone Country Club.
An email sent to me by one of his friends, Carol Bosman, includes this paragraph which helps to sum up all our feelings: "Barry lived for birds and whenever I stayed with him he would take me out to record the various pentads for the Bird Atlas Project. His wife Lyn passed away only five months ago. What saddens me the most, I guess, is the loss of a 'fountain' of information as Barry was so well read in so many subjects. Your project has lost an incredibly knowledgeable observer and participant."
Barry submitted a total of 261 checklists for 77 pentads, mostly in southern KwaZulu-Natal, but extending further afield as well. His first checklist was made on 19 August 2007, right at the outset of SABAP2, and the most recent was on 27 March this year, a month ago. Over this whole period there were very few months in which Barry did not submit a checklist.
He was a regular contributor of interesting comments on fora such as SABirdnet. On 14 June last year during the World Cup he wrote this email, with the subject line "Soccer Birds": "I went birding yesterday in the normally tranquil rural tribal lands inland from Hibberdene. I struggled to fill my atlas card, very difficult to hear birds voices – 'the hills are alive with the sound of vuvuzelas!'"
The birding community and SABAP2 are poorer with the passing away of this passionate citizen scientist.


  1. Andy Ruffle says

    Barry, you gave so much and took nothing in return.
    Rest in peace sir.

  2. What sad news . I had the pleasure only once or twice of personally meeting Barry but his news emails over the years certainly kept me entertained with his wonderful sense of humor and it goes without saying that he leaves a legacy as the “Bird Man”. Please convey our condolences to his family and friends of whom there are many and especially to all at the Trogons Birdclub.

    Warm regards

    Terry Doveton

    Vuna Valley - Umtamvuna

  3. I am so very sad to hear about Barry. What a wealth of knowledge we have lost! I held him in such high esteem and always loved to correspond or chat to him. He was a fascinating person, highly intelligent and so funny as well.

    Judi Davis

  4. With tears running down my face, all day since I received a sms from his sister in law Ingrid, I’m just so sad, I’ll miss Barry SO much, much knowledge gone with him. Ingrid has been keeping me updated about Barry, but this morning I just could not believe that he had passed away.

    Trish Strachen

  5. 'we were shocked and unbelievably saddened to hear the news. Barry was utterly unique'
    'and will be most sorely missed.'

    Lennart & Evelyn

  6. Thank you for letting us know it is very sad and a great loss.

    Lorraine & Gordon Duncan

  7. I have known him since I was a child as I grew up in Richmond. This is a great loss. He was so knowledgeable, especially on herps and bird. Please send my condolences to his family and the Trogons

    Colleen Downs

  8. Sad news indeed; my sympathy to his family and all in the club which meant so much to him.


    Nick (Baglow)

  9. This is sad news indeed.

    Barry was one of KZN's most committed birders. His recent and sustained contribution to SABAP2 was only the most recent proof of this.

    He will indeed be missed.

    Regards - David (Allan)

  10. I am very sorry to hear about Barry's passing. I did not know Barry personally, but understand that he was a great man and a very knowledgeable bird-watcher. Condolences from all of us at BirdLife South Africa.

    Mark Anderson

  11. We are very saddened to hear about Barry's death.
    I was very privileged to have spent considerable time with him wandering through the bush on our outings and was always impressed with his amazing knowledge and love of nature.
    Unfortunately,apart from his family and friends,losing a guy like Barry is a huge loss to nature in itself as finding someone with his passion and dedication is rare.
    To Warren,John and the rest of his family we send our condolences.
    To Barry,rest in peace,

    Best regards,

    Allan & Ursula Ward.

    Port Owen.
    Cape West Coast.

  12. Very sad. We will miss your wealth of knowledge and your great sense of humour. Rest in peace.

    Pete & Margie Williamson

  13. As Chairman of the KZN Midlands Club I would like to express sadness of Barry's death. He was a stalwart for Birdlife and for Trogons.


    Drummond Densham

  14. Please pass on our condolences to his family.

    From NPC management and staff

  15. It is with deep sadness we learnt that Barry had passed away. Please pass on our deepest sympathies to his family.

    We will always remember Barry for his infectious passion for our birds and plants, and his gentle patience when sharing his extensive knowledge, as well as the many hours we enjoyed in beautiful surroundings in Barry’s company during the Trogons’ outings.

    We will miss him so much.

    Cheryl & Lester van Groeningen (China)

  16. Hi Darren, Hi Warren

    I just wanted to let you know that although i only knew your Father for a short period of time, through my parents ( Ron and Elaine Whitham), i thoroughly enjoyed the time i spent with him, particularly in Namibia and Botswana and not only for reasons of birding. My boyfriend at the time and i just gravitated towards him. A total individual.

    I am so very sorry for your loss of your Dad and for the loss of your Mom not so long ago.

    Your Dad was great and just wanted to let you know.

    Kind Regards
    Heather Whitham

  17. On behalf of the BirdLife KZN Chairs' Forum, I would like to send our
    deepest condolences on Barry's passing. He shall be greatly missed as his
    contributions to Forum were invaluable. Kindly pass on our thoughts and
    prayers to his family and to BirdLife Trogons.

    Warm regards
    Lesley Frescura
    Chair of the Chairs' Forum

  18. What a heartwarming farewell to such a character! I'm glad to be part of the 'family'

    With love, Sandy Olver

  19. I was away on leave when I heard of this extremely unfortunate news. Barry will be sorely missed.

    Martin Taylor

  20. Just to inform you that a deposit of R500 was made today in Barry's memory to BirdLife Trogons, from BirdLife Port Natal.

    Best regards
    Lesley Frescura

  21. Barry and Lyn, I miss you so much. You were a very special "family" to me starting from Hella Hella. Memories of campimg in Cape, early morning wlaks to Highover to look at birds, flowers, trees and everything else. Barry, I will especially miss your constant teasing. It was an honour to know you both.