It is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of Martin Garner.
Martin was familiar to many birders in Ireland during his years spent living in Lisburn and he was one of the most talented birders ever to live on this island. In his time here he not only found many rare and scarce birds but he opened everyone's eyes to common birds. He will be remembered (amongst many things) for his work in gulls (jointly finding Thayers, many Kumliens, American Herring Gull and bringing the vagaries of Yellow-legged and Caspian Gulls to those keen to learn), finding the Tyrella Shorelark (or was it a Horned Lark?) during a bird race, Lesser Scaups, enhancing our knowledge of the Brent Geese, Eiders, Scoters, American Wigeon or simply studying continental Robins or Song Thrushes. His birding skills were immense and have been sadly missed from this island in recent years.
However Martin not only possessed brilliant birding skills. He possessed social and communication skills that meant he could communicate with anyone, no matter their level of experience or interests. He was great company to be with and was always imparting knowledge and left you full of enthusiasm. He was humble and encouraged everyone to learn - even if they (or he) made mistakes. In the last few years he has helped guide the NIBARC with many identification challenges and always provided sound advice, even when this was from his hospital bed!
Martin was also a person of considerable faith and his ministry in areas of NI (including prisons) was no doubt challenging but he always went about this with a smile. In the last few years, Martin has fought cancer and yesterday he lost that fight. The world is a lot worse off without Martin and at this time, our thoughts and prayers are with Sharon, Abi and Emily.