Monday, 20 February 2017

Sad news for botanists and birders

Both the birding and botanical worlds are saddened to hear of the sudden and shocking death of Eric Meek. 

Eric Meek and Poa alpina on Ward Hill
Image: Ian Denholm
Eric served for many years as the RSPB’s area manager on Orkney, where he conducted pioneering research on the nature and causes of declines in seabird populations. He was also a highly proficient botanist and a fount of knowledge on the Orkney flora. He and John Crossley (BSBI’s County Recorder for Orkney) co-led a BSBI visit to the islands in 2010, attended by former BSBI President Ian Denholm among others. 

Ian recalls that "one day was earmarked for a visit to the island of Hoy. Despite utterly dismal weather and thick mist, Eric led half the group at a brisk pace over challenging terrain to the summit of Ward Hill, the highest point in the Orkney Islands. 

"Once at the top with scarcely any visibility, he proceeded to cross a small chasm and climb to the top of an isolated pinnacle to check on the status of Orkney’s only known clump of Alpine Meadow-grass, Poa alpina". 

As Ian’s photo attests, no-one was tempted to follow in Eric's footsteps!

We extend sincere condolences to Eric’s widow Aileen and other family members. He will be hugely missed.