Monday January 23rd
News that our friend Wal J Eley aka Wal J Egmont had passed away became known over the weekend.
Steve Pick spent many an hour with him counting the Little Egret roost and perhaps knew him rather better than most of us. Steve has kindly sent over the following words and pictures.
|RIP Wal (taken in 1968)|
Some people might say he was a cantankerous, eccentric communist but when you got to know him you realised how passionate he was about the environment, fauna & flora, politics, sport, photography and of all things, ballet. He was a wealth of knowledge and had an unbelievable memory for facts and figures although couldn’t remember that he had told you that story a hundred times before.
Broomey Croft car park and SKAN hide was his home but he would also spend many an evening looking for Owls on the path to SITA hide where in recent times he’s had large counts of Little Egrets and Oystercatcher. I first came across him in the early noughties when with his old mate Barry he would spend hours listening and looking for Groppers in Richards Meadow. If it hadn’t been for him I would still think they were Dunnocks and I’d got an acute case of tinnitus.
He believed in equality and saw the good in everyone, even if they were a waste of space, it was a failing of the system and not the person in his eyes. You either loved or hated his political views but I wouldn’t let myself be drawn in and steered the conversation towards two of his other passions, football and cricket. I think he played for the colliery teams at a very high level in both and would often recount his batting averages and how he turned the keeper inside out or kicked him with the ball into the back of the net.
One of his other hobbies was photography and he would blind me with terminology such as ISO and f numbers which are still alien today. The Broomey Croft foxes were one of his favourite subjects and he would lure them with food to the car park barrier security light for that better shot. He didn’t want to dazzle them with a flash and in the end he had them eating out of his hands. I often think they ate better than him. He was particularly proud of his white winged crow shot which got lost when PC World wiped his hard drive and one evening I found him fuming in the car park that it was gone, never to be seen again. Luckily he had emailed it to me a year before. Also when you talk about passion and memory then he was still very passionate about his Spoonbill sighting some 17 years down the line and wanted the F-ing word “putative” removing from the WMBC record of 2000.
|The famous White-winged Crow by Wal|
Wal will be sadly missed by all of us that had the pleasure of his company down at Kingsbury Water Park. We now have no excuse when we are late home for tea as “I got Wally’d” is no longer an option.
A date for the funeral is yet to be announced but we will post this on The Blog.