Professor Phil Hockey.

  • Doug
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5 years 3 weeks ago #84369 by Doug
Doug created the topic: Professor Phil Hockey.
For those that have not heard the sad news, Professor Phil Hockey passed away.

I am many of us will appreciate what a loss this is to both the birding and scientific community.

Condolences to his family and close friends.

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5 years 3 weeks ago #84399 by docandy
docandy replied the topic: Re: Professor Phil Hockey.
Yesterday, one of the giants of the SA birding world left us and the world became a poorer place because of it...

Few have had such an instantly recognisable name amongst those that share the same passion for birds and few have been as passionate about it either.

Prof. P. A. R. Hockey, Director of the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology, renowned ornithologist, scientist, biologist, conservationist, etc. will be a name that will be known to many people that are in some way linked to the birding world in Southern Africa. Our shelves will be decorated with many of his contributions to our pastime – Roberts Birds of Southern Africa Edition Vll, Sasol Birds of Southern Africa, Waders of Southern Africa, hundreds of papers in scientific journals and articles in popular press, etc. The list seems endless. But, to many of us, he was just so much more than that, he was our friend, he was just good ol’ Phil...

Phil’s driving passion was birds – he loved them! He was one of the few professional ornithologists that was a true field birder as well, and an excellent one at that. His passion extended to listing and twitching as well, a combination not often found in academics, but there was little that excited Phil more than the prospect of chasing another mega. I shall miss the phone calls between us uttering just a short line which have happened so many times over the years that we have been friends, “Get your ass here now!” and then, equally, the high 5’s when enjoying a new rare bird together.

He was a down-to-earth man and felt more at home in shorts and barefoot than being dressed up to the nines. His sense of humour was legendary and he loved a good laugh. But I suppose the traits that many will remember Phil for were his friendliness and encouragement. Even although he was a highly respected scientist, he was quite happy to talk to someone who had just recently developed an interest in birds and did everything in his power to encourage them to build on their interest. He was never too high and mighty to talk to anyone, no matter who they might be and what their standing in life was, and I think many a young birder was encouraged and inspired through his efforts.

I was fortunate to be able to call Phil a good friend and, over the years, have shared many special occasions with him – birthday parties, bachelor parties, weddings, social get-togethers, weekends away, etc. We also shared another passion in that we were both avid collectors of natural history books. I shall miss having him around to phone me when he is scrounging through some old book shop and comes across an absolute gem and checks whether he should get me a copy of it. I shall miss having him around to celebrate various occasions with. But, most of all, I shall miss having him around to talk birds to... even just very recently, when he was obviously struggling with his illness, his passion shone through and all he was interested in was what the birding was like in Colombia.

Our condolences go out to his family and, especially to his wife, Samantha (or Sam as we know her). There is nothing that we can say to make this better, but just know that Phil will always be with us in spirit. We will miss him terribly.

There are a few people that will recognise this line as they were amongst a group of friends that shared a very special birding occasion a number of years ago and it will be one of my ever-lasting memories of Phil which conveyed his absolute unbridled excitement at seeing a new bird, “WHAT A CORKER...!”

Good-bye my friend, I hope you are now resting peacefully.


Cape Town, South Africa

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10 months 1 day ago #87411 by Lejint
Lejint replied the topic: Re: Professor Phil Hockey.
Very sad, thank you to tell us.

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