Explorer and Independent Biologist

Thursday, 12 May 2011

All good things...

It is with great sadness that I have to bring to a close this remarkable record of outstanding achievement.

Jim Fowler passed away on Thursday 12th May 2011 while doing what he had recently come to love best - kayak fishing on Coniston Water in the English Lake District. He leaves behind his two sons Alun and Carwyn, his sister Jill and his two adoring grandchildren, Jimmy and Heledd.

Gone but not forgotten, he will continue to be an inspiration to all who knew him.

Many thanks for the interest, support and stimulation you've provided through these pages; it is a comfort to know our loss is shared by so many wonderful friends.



  1. Alun, I send my deepest sympathy to you and your family for your sad loss. Jim enriched all our lives and is greatly missed. I so enjoyed reading about his travels and love of nature, he was such a free spirit and didn't waste a moment of his life. He was a delightful person, even at his most runcible!
    Rest in peace Jim. x

  2. Alun, deepest sympathy and condolences from a member of the Maalie Court (1981 & 1982)
    Martin Lawder

  3. Deepest sympathy to you all. My parents Carl & Jean ran Linkshouse Stores in Mid Yell during those summers when 'the Birdy Folk' were in residence in Da Herra. Jim is remembered very fondly by so many in Yell, and throughout Shetland. He brought so many smiles to so many faces. The Blind Hoe competition lives on in his honour. Rest well Maalie King, and thank you for bringing a special sparkle to Yell summers for those 27 years.
    Lynda Anderson, Shetland.

  4. Alun- nothing more to say mate. It was an honour for me to share his last official expedition to Yell in 2002 and to shre our experiences around the world. It was an honour to have him spend the last 4 weeks of his life here with us, or in the outback, or looking for albatross, and to share those moments. My family are in shock and distress. He leaves such a large hole in our hearts.


  5. We haven't heard the word 'runcible' in a while. Alun, deepest sympathy to you all at this time. We, like so many others, have many wonderful memories of Jim and the Herra Hall. Have a many photographs if you are interested including the Mid Yell raft Race where Jim put his teeth through his chin during a minor skirmish. he is still smiling though.
    Stig & Sue Crawford

  6. Deepest sympathies to you all Alun. Jim was an inspiration to us all and I have to admit it was me who pushed him off of that raft in Mid Yell, as we say here in Aotearoa a mighty totara has fallen
    arohanui Doug Clark the invincible crabman

  7. Great memories of Jim and all the gang at the Herra hall. Many a happy "hoolie" there dancing until morning. He will live with us through all the happy memories of great times.
    Carl & Jean Anderson, Mid Yell.

  8. Ah yes the Herra hall, I am the last member of the rumble club btw.. what an honour!

  9. My thoughts are with Jim’s family at this sad time. I too am a daughter of Carl and Jean Anderson, who ran Linkshouse Stores in Mid Yell. I spent my summer holidays in Yell, working in the shop and we always looked forward to the arrival of Jim and the “Birdie Folk”. I have a lot of happy memories of their times in Yell. They were great days, with many laughs. The “Herra Hoolie” was an excellent night and enjoyed by all. I was very glad to have met Jim and his students and often think it’s not the same in the summer without them around. I spoke to him during his last visit to Yell and was glad to see he still had the same enthusiasm for the place and the people!! He will be sadly missed.
    Anne Smith, Mid Yell.

  10. I bought Ling from you in 2002 Anne! Boiled it up to try and eat it. Followed stricked instructions... ;o)

  11. I have tears in my eyes as I read such moving tributes. Jim was a very good friend to me and I shall miss him very, very much. I'm sure that, among this year's brood in Yell, there will be a Maalie with a runcible twinkle in its eye.

  12. Jim and I were in regular touch about our shared interests... Vienna, the ballet, all sorts. I will miss checking in on this site and seeing the lively and vibrant life he lead. Clearly a wonderful Man. R.I.P.

  13. I loved reading about his birds, boat trips, ballet love and numerous travels ...

    Sometimes I'd say to my husband: if we don't find out which bird that was, I am going to check Maalie's blog or maybe even ask him.

    I've grown so used to his presence as a blogger (since I didn't know him personally) that I am seriously going to miss him now.

    May he rest in peace and may you all find consolation in nice memories ...

  14. Inga Williamson18 May 2011 at 10:58

    Dear Alun and Carwyn, I first met your dad sometime around the late nineties, after we moved to stay in da Herra. When he discovered I was a marine biologist that was it - off we went zooming around Yell Sound in the peerie boat wi the big flags and scuttling around the various small islands doing rocky shore transects. I too am a member of the Rumble club - one of the elite. I like to think the beachwork was a fine change from the "birdie work," although I suspect it was more like the bit that helped pay for the fun stuff. It was always a hoot with Jim - many parties and social events - but lots of long serious sessions too, often into the night. He became a firm friend and the bairns just loved him. We were very privileged to be asked to attend a special sitting of the Maalie court, which turned out to be a banquet, complete with piltocks and pink fluff, specially prepared by the king himself. We spent the rest of the day sitting out in the sun at da Herra hall, dressed like savages and drinking like fish until bedtime - good times!I'm so glad we had managed to catch up with him again in recent months and only sorry it was only for a short time. There's a lot of Maalies in Shetland but there will only ever be one Maalie King and you can be proud that he was your dad,
    with our deepest sympathy - the Williamsons

  15. My deepest sympathy to you all.It was a great privilege to have known Jim, I was on the Herra team at the blind hoe for many years with him. He will certainly never be forgotten. Alan Arthur

  16. My sincere condolances to all of Jim's family. What a shock for you and us, his large band of mates.

    I am one of what must now be thousands of students that had the privilege to have been educated, trained and, most of all, inspired by Jim. His professional legacy is truely immense - hundreds of well trained and highly motivated students now working as environmental professionals (I know quite a few of them), hundreds of well-trained bird ringers merrily plying their trade, hundreds of volumes of scientific journals full of clearly presented data (many written with Jim's help by amateur ringers), tens of thousands of students who now understand statistics through reading one of Jim's excellent books (still a standard undergrad text in many universities), and surely tens of thousands of ringed birds many of them still flying around today.

    Jim was without doubt the most inspirational teacher I have ever known, and inspirational teachers are a rare and precious commodity.

    Unlike the Cumbrian pike, I shall miss Jim terribly. That runcible twinkle in his eye, before he springs one his pranks or surprises on you. Gone but not forgotten - Jim's amazing legacy lives on.

    Will (Peach)
    Former post-grad student

  17. Alun, so sorry to hear about Jim. I was a member of the Maalie Court 82-84 and it was a truely great experience. I looked through some old photos last night and there was Jim in full regalia as well as doing the dishes in a skirt! Alas I haven't kept in touch but saw him on Autumn watch a couple of years ago and pleased to see him doing what he loved so much. A nice man, with a good sence of humour and cheaky grin. My condolences again.
    Graham Taylor

  18. I first met Jim in 1996 at De Montfort University I was a student on the course he taught and we realised we had a mutual interest in nature, birdwatching and drinking the occasional red can. I had the privilege of being a member of the 1997, 1998, and 1999 Shetland Expeditions. I am an honoured member of the Rumble Club and the only female member of the Underpants Club (of which I am very proud). One of my favourite memories of Jim and Shetland was the annual Blind Hoe finishing competition between the Herra and Mid-Yell. It was always a day of fierce competition and one met with great enthusiasm by the locals and non-locals alike. Jim’s pride was at stake as the Herra hadn’t won for a number of years but in 1997 he wanted this to change. I was given the honour of going out in a boat with Jim in Yell sound. I am not sure why I was given this prestigious position but Jim must have seen something in me as not long into our fishing expedition I managed to haul in a good sized fish. Jim was duly impressed and with excitement we headed back to the yell boating club for the weigh in. Points were scored for the number of species caught and overall weight of catch. With my large catch weighed in it became clear 1997 was the year that we would be crowned champions. I received a trophy, from a very proud Jim, for the biggest fish caught on the day and from that day on Jim would lovingly call me ‘skate’. I knew then that this would be the start of a very special friendship.
    Jim was an inspirational mentor to me and his teaching and support enabled me to successfully attain a PhD and to make a career in ecology possible and for that I am truly grateful.

    Thanks Jim for all the great memories, you will never be forgotten.

    Kate Vincent

  19. Alun, Jill et al - I will miss Maalie's runcible nature. Love to all.
    xx Ju's Little Sister xx

  20. I er... I couldn't let this particular word verification go without comment since I think both Jim would have enjoyed it.
    Ahem, 'wooters'

  21. I am so, so sorry to hear of your terrible loss, and feel quite numb having just heard the sad news. Jim and I never met in person, tho' on a clear day we waved many times across the water (he from Cumbria, myself from the Isle of Man). I first came to know of him as Maalie, but later, via many exchanged emails, as my dear friend, Jim. If ever anyone lived every day to the full it was your wonderful father. The world is certainly a sadder place for his loss, but he also leaves it much enriched by the people he has touched, and the legacy that lives on. My thoughts are with you and yours at this very sad time.

    Shrinky (aka Carol)

  22. Perhaps I may belatedly add a reminiscence about Jim from a different perspective?

    From 1990-95 he was Editor of the British Trust for Ornithology’s journal Ringing & Migration, which had been established to encourage amateur ringers to analyse their data and publish their findings. He recruited me to his small editorial panel and I was able to experience his approach at first hand.

    Some of the submitted manuscripts were not in great shape, but Jim always tried to see what could be done with them. Of course, as Editor, he wanted to maintain (and raise) the standard of the journal, and I don’t think that we accepted anything that wasn’t up to the mark. But I know that he spent many hours working on some submissions, sometimes re-doing the analysis and even re-writing the text to help authors with no scientific backgrounds or statistical knowledge to get their work into a suitable state for publication.

    Two of his PhD students have written (above) about Jim’s inspirational teaching, but the authors of these papers were often ringers whom he had never met. He still took quiet satisfaction from helping them make a contribution to science.

    David Norman
    Merseyside Ringing Group

  23. Dave spot on , and in simple terms.. made me a better bird watcher as a result.. if in doubt,go back and have another look... and i do.

  24. Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear this! I will keep you all in my thoughts. *hug*

  25. "I do not know which to prefer,
    The beauty of inflections
    Or the beauty of innuendoes,
    The blackbird whistling
    Or just after."

  26. Cecilia

    The title translates from the Italian as "Never was a shade". It is sung by the main character, Xerxes I of Persia, admiring the shade of a plane tree.

    Frondi tenere e belle
    del mio platano amato
    per voi risplenda il fato.
    Tuoni, lampi, e procelle
    non v'oltraggino mai la cara pace,
    nè giunga a profanarvi austro rapace.

    Ombra mai fu
    di vegetabile,
    cara ed amabile,
    soave più.

    Tender and beautiful fronds
    of my beloved plane tree,
    let Fate smile upon you.
    May thunder, lightning, and storms
    never bother your dear peace,
    nor may you by blowing winds be profaned.

    A shade there never was,
    of any plant,
    dearer and more lovely,
    or more sweet.

    - Wikipedia -

  27. Very shocked and sad to read this news. Only yesterday I thought it had been a while since I'd visited Jim's blog and here I am today checking in to read this.

    So long Maalie, it was such a pleasure to know you through the blogosphere and I'd like to hope that you're now as free as the birds you loved so well. Enjoy the flight.

  28. When I heard this evening that this energetic bright spark of a person had passed I was saddened indeed. To all his friends and family my sympathies and to all his blog mates past and present I know we will miss his wit and great views from all over the world.
    Bon Voyage and thank you.

  29. When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d

    When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
    And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
    I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

    Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
    Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
    And thought of him I love.

  30. Eyes that last I saw in tears
    Through division
    Here in death's dream kingdom
    The golden vision reappears
    I see the eyes but not the tears
    This is my affliction

    This is my affliction
    Eyes I shall not see again
    Eyes of decision
    Eyes I shall not see unless
    At the door of death's other kingdom
    Where, as in this,
    The eyes outlast a little while
    A little while outlast the tears
    And hold us in derision.

    Thomas Stearns Eliot

  31. So, we'll go no more a-roving
    So late into the night,
    Though the heart be still as loving
    And the moon be still as bright.

    For the sword outwears its sheath
    And the soul wears out the breast
    And a heart must pause to breathe
    And love itself have rest.

    Though the night was made for loving
    And the day returns too soon,
    Yet, we'll go no more a-roving
    By the light of the moon.

    Lord Byron

  32. To all of Jims family & friends..I want to wish you all a very special Christmas. A time to reflect, a time to express love and joy for all those around you. and a time to remember good friendships, past and present. I shall raise a toast to my dear friend the Maalie King and to those of you I know!

  33. Simon,
    thank you! xoxox

  34. Thank you Simon. A toast to Jim, to you and all Jim's friends and family : may 2012 be filled with love xxx

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  36. This sad day, our thoughts are with Jim's family. We certainly miss him.

  37. Jim, I want you to know we all miss you !

  38. yes we do! mate- just did a trip outback and got a few great new species! I am sure you would have like red-necked advocete!

  39. "Hope" is the thing with feathers—
    That perches in the soul—
    And sings the tune without the words—
    And never stops—at all—


  40. Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
    Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
    Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
    And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
    Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
    And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
    And every fair from fair sometime declines,
    By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
    But thy eternal summer shall not fade
    Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
    Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
    When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
    So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
    So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

  41. O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
    Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
    Tasting of Flora and the country green,

    That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
    And with thee fade away into the forest dim

  42. Wow! it is awesome post. This post is only for them who has great idea. Go on with. We want this kinds of post regularly for our best.

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  43. And fare thee well, my only love, And fare thee well, a while!
    And I will come again, my love, Tho’ it were ten thousand mile.

    1. Beautiful.... Did Jim finally Find love before he left us?

  44. thank you for keeping this blog on-line !

  45. Missed by so many

  46. Gone but not forgotten

  47. I've so much to tell you, my friend !

  48. Not forgotten indeed!

    I wonder who might have ringed this one -


    I am really pleased that Jim's blog is kept available. It is such a pleasure to be able to dip in and enjoy his articles.


    Jon of the Hill

  49. Many thoughts go out to you today, Jim !
    Happy B-day !
    We miss you x

  50. Happy birthday Maalie xx Favourite lecturer, ringing trainer, mentor , best friend. We all miss you xx

  51. Hey mate, I read your last post dated 2011…. in 2014 we are gripped by drought again.. you may remember 2003 and your first visit.. well, its as bad… the bird life? Emus dropping dead after a short run.. I am sure you would have really analysed such contrast.

    We think of you often as well as the many friends we made. Ken, Carolyn, Big Dave, Pam , Merisi, Badger, Alun and Carwyn.. not to forget B.I.L. Peter and Sister Lorenzothe lama! lol!

    Wish I was in the Maalie court and having a pint at the Black dog.


  52. But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
    All losses are restor'd, and sorrows end.

  53. watching a 'bird ballet' .... you're so often in my mind !

  54. Thinking of you on your birthday x

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  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

  57. I still miss you you miserable bastard.

  58. Dr Jim Fowler was a fantastic and witty bloke, he probably still is somewhere in dimensions as yet undetected. Knew him as a student in the early 1980s at Leicester Poly, he was very young then, a great lecturer and teacher. So sorry for the terrible loss his loved ones and friends have suffered. He will always be remembered fondly by generations of students.

  59. May 2011, all those years of missing a dear friend. Glad your blog is still online... a happy escape from time to time.

  60. Still unforgotten.

  61. Thinking about you on your birthday. So many things remind me of the wonderful times we had together

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  63. The years may pass, but you live on.

  64. Dear Alun; Please allow me to introduce myself as the Publisher for Health Science books at Wiley- I believe your father wrote a book a number of years back, and we're trying to get in touch with his estate to sort out the royalties. If you were able to drop me a line mastyles@wiley.com, I'd be very grateful. Kind regards, Magenta Styles.

  65. Never forgotten, what treasures we shared

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