Thursday, February 5, 2015

Writing About Birds

I was recently looking at some old news clippings that were written by George Thomas McKeough. McKeough was a doctor in Chatham who studied birds as well.  He was born in 1855 in the city of Chatham and studied to be a doctor.  Initially he was a surgeon in London, England and later moved back to his place of birth. He was a scholarly individual, obtaining many degrees.

In the 1920's, he wrote about birds in the area, with a weekly column on birds of the area.  I have a few of these from 1923.  I do not remember how I obtained them, but they are interesting to read.

One paper  McKeough published in 1924 was titled Some Remarks on Birds with a list of the birds of Kent County.  It was included in the Kent Historical Society Papers and Addresses of the time.  (I have a reprint of this edition.)
He does a thorough job of describing the birds of Kent County, both migrant and resident.  At the end of the work, he lists all the known birds.  It is interesting to look through the list and note birds that were once common in the area, but rarely seen now.  Names have changed as well.

In recent times, there have been several people writing columns on birds. When I started birding, I always read Tom Hayman's column in the London Free Press.  It was long before internet and it was a good way to find out what was around.  I used it many times to go and see certain birds!  In those days we relied on phone calls about rare birds, but Tom's column was useful in getting some birds on your list.
Hayman mentioned my name on many occasions and friends and relatives always got a kick out of seeing my name in print and what I had recently found.
Tom wrote for decades until ill health forced his retirement from writing.

A few years ago a new column arose in the London Free Press written by Paul Nicholson.  Paul does a thorough job in covering subjects and writing about local birds.  I admire his efforts in seeking out individuals for interviews in order to write about a certain subject.  Nicholson does a lot of work talking to individuals either by phone or email.  His column appears on Saturday's in the LFP or other newspapers such as the Chatham Daily News.  Of course, you can also read it on the web at:

Another that comes to mind is the late Peter Whelan who wrote for the Globe and Mail. His column appeared on Saturdays and was something to look forward to as well. Peter spent a lot of time at Point Pelee and knew many people.  I recall one column he dedicated to Dennis Rupert, a good friend.  It was well-written and rather touching to read, as Dennis was one I looked up to way back when.
Peter called me on one occasion after I found the Sage Thrasher here in Wallaceburg.  I do not know how he got my number, but it was a nice conversation in any case!

1 comment:

  1. It is always nice to look back from time to time. There were some excellent columns in the last few decades. Historical articles from several decades or even a century or more ago are enlightening as well.