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An­other stand­out mo­ment was stand­ing in the still, rose- coloured dawn in the Negev Desert with Martin, Itai Shanni (Alae­mon Bird­ing) and Laura Kam­mer­meier (Na­ture Travel Net­work) scan­ning the sands for Hoopoe Lark. Itai showed us a trail of fresh lark foot­prints, but we didn’t see any ac­tual birds. Usu­ally, my ‘glass-half- empty’ at­ti­tude would have made me dis­ap­pointed to have dipped, but Martin’s ‘glas­sal­ways-full’ showed me that some­times it is the ex­pe­ri­ence and com­pany that is im­por­tant. The thing I took most from my time in Is­rael with Martin was his never-end­ing ques­tion­ing! “Oooh, those Sand Mar­tins look small, don’t they Neil?” “Have you looked at th­ese Swifts, Neil? I think they could be pekinen­sis”. “HEY NEIL! Look at that in­ter­est­ing Col­lared Prat­in­cole! It could be a new sub­species for the Western Palearc­tic!” And that sums up Martin Garner in a nut­shell: al­ways ask­ing ques­tions; al­ways in­clu­sive; al­ways en­cour­ag­ing; al­ways dis­cov­er­ing and en­tic­ing oth­ers to go with him on that jour­ney of dis­cov­ery. A year later, I re­ceived a phone call out of the blue. “Hi Neil, it’s Martin Garner. I’m in a meet­ing in the Rose and Crown at Kilnsea and we have de­cided to or­ga­nize Bri­tain’s first Mi­gra­tion Fes­ti­val. We need some­one to write an ar­ti­cle to pub­li­cise it and I thought of you! Where are you now?” And here’s the thing: Martin Garner’s life has been punc­tu­ated by happy coin­ci­dences, be­ing in the right place at the right time for good things to hap­pen. He put this firmly down to di­vine in­ter­ven­tion – and it just so hap­pened that I was step­ping out of the car at Spurn to see a va­grant Rock Thrush. I lit­er­ally had to walk a hun­dred yards to meet the ex­cited, smil­ing face of Mr G! Peo­ple talk about leav­ing a legacy. Martin Garner has left many le­ga­cies to many dif­fer­ing peo­ple in his all-too-short life, but The Spurn Mi­gra­tion Fes­ti­val surely stands as a tes­ta­ment to all he stood for. The ‘Mig Fest’, as it is fondly known, wel­comes bird­ers of all ages and abil­i­ties and in­stils in them a sense of won­der at the mir­a­cle of bird mi­gra­tion. My fi­nal mem­ory of MG I’d like to share came at Mig Fest. Martin had found a po­ten­tial blythi Lesser Whitethroat in the pub car park. When I ar­rived, he was ex­plain­ing to a small crowd why he thought it was one. In that crowd was a keen teenage bird­watcher. Af­ter the bird had shown again and pho­tos had been taken, I in­tro­duced the young birder to Martin. I left them por­ing over pho­tos they had taken, dis­cussing the ID: al­ways ask­ing ques­tions, al­ways in­clu­sive, al­ways en­cour­ag­ing, al­ways on a jour­ney. So a fond farewell, my friend; you have left a huge Martin Garner-shaped hole in the bird­ing world and, like the phan­tom Hoopoe Lark that left foot­prints in the Negev sands, you left an in­deli­ble foot­print on the bird­ing land­scape. You will be missed. Martin leaves be­hind a lov­ing wife, Sharon, and two daugh­ters, Abi and Emily. Martin was a driv­ing force be­hind the fes­ti­val that cel­e­brates Spurn’s amaz­ing mi­gra­tion spec­ta­cles Martin cel­e­brates an­other bird­ing find Martin meet­ing the win­ners of the first Young Birder of the Year com­pe­ti­tion at Spurn Mi­gra­tion Fes­ti­val, 2015

Martin was al­ways ask­ing ques­tions; al­ways in­clu­sive; al­ways en­cour­ag­ing; al­ways dis­cov­er­ing

MIG FEST BOOM!

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