Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Bob Anderson

Bob Anderson - RIP

It is with sadness that we have to report the passing of Bob on 9th July. He was a founder member  and good friend of the observatory, also chairman for a short time in the early 1980s. The following are reflections from Barry Barnacal recalling Bob's connection with the observatory.

'Bob went to school with Geoff Pass and they both became members of the school natural history society under the guidance of W.T.C."Daddy" Rankin. He took the group on various field trips, including to Hilbre Island.

The two boys started to visit Hilbre independently and met John Gittins, Tony Bell, George Richards and Prof. Craggs. March 13th 1957 was a memorable day for the group as it was decided to form Hilbre Bird Observatory.

Bob (RAA) trained as a ringer under John Gittins and this experience was a great help as Bob became an annual Brathay Expedition leader to Foula where he ringed many Bonxies and other sea birds.
On Hilbre, friday nights became a feature for Pete Williams, Geoff, Bob and myself which was hugely fun but lots of effort was put in mist netting and dazzling for waders, our prize target being Purple Sandpipers.

We hatched out a plan to clap net waders on the west side on big tides, so we constructed our first effort using a broom handle, garden netting, catapult elastic and 3 lengths of washing line. These were very successful and great sport.

Pete and I decided to invest £40 in a Standard 8, our first Hilbre vehicle apart from John's old Liverpool University Landrover. Bob and Geoff wanted in on this luxury and each coughed up £10. Unfortunately, neither got to ride in the 'Bullet' as Pete Bailey, the island keeper, used it without asking and got it stuck on the west side of Middle Eye, and it was lost to the tide. The approach road in the 1960s was on the west side but very unpredictable.

Bob was also part of our cannon netting team, sadly in his later years arthritis in his hands made it impossible to handle small birds.

RAA also enjoyed being part of our R.S.P.B. Wirral bird race team. Always the ornithological pessimist, he never thought we would win. One year we had seen most of our target species and still had time on our hands. As we were at New Brighton, Bob suggested as we had no chance of winning we should go on the dodgem cars at the fairground and have candy floss....... we still managed to win.

Talking about winning, Bob was a red hot Liverpool F.C. supporter. One year Pete, Bob and I dashed off the island to watch the reds play in a cup final. We watched the game at Bob's elderly parents house in Storeton, where his folks were shocked by two young kopites and their son singing and chanting in their sitting room. YNWA Bob.'

Left to right, Bob Anderson, Pete Williams and Prof. Craggs

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