Working for birds in Africa

Dr David Pearson, 1941-2017.

Date posted: 
Friday, September 22, 2017

Personal tribute from ABC Chairman Dr. Richard Charles

David Pearson with Lesser Whitethroat, Suffolk, UK

Photo © Nick Eade

Dr. David Pearson 1941-2017

It is with sadness that we report the death of David John Pearson who passed away peacefully aged 76, after several months illness, on 20th September 2017. 

A humble man who eschewed the limelight, he was indeed a quiet giant in East African ornithology. Whilst holding academic posts in biochemistry at Makere University College in Kampala and Nairobi University for over 20 years, he became a pioneer of ringing and migration studies of waders and passerines in the region, chairing the East African Records Committee for 14 years. He published many papers and articles,  and co-authored books, notably Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania (1996) with Dale Zimmerman and Don Turner, and Reed and Bush Warblers (2010) with Peter Kennerley which remain standard reference sources. In the 1970s, with Graeme Backhurst, he established the unique Ngulia Palearctic migrant ringing projectwhich continues actively to this day. 

To sit with David, studying a bird in the hand, was an educational joy and a privilege, whether in Suffolk or Africa. David's mind was clear and incisive to the last, and he will be sorely missed by all who had the good fortune to know and love him. A full obituary will appear in the Bulletin of the African Bird Club (25.1) in March 2018.

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