06 Feb 2013

The Return of Richard ffrench

News of Asa Wright

The ffrench family in the Jade Vine Arbor. Photos by Mark Hedden/Caligo Ventures.


Richard ffrench’s A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago is the principal reference guide for all birders visiting our islands. The first edition was published under the auspices of the Asa Wright Nature Centre, in 1972. The second edition was presented in 1991, and the third edition, after Richard’s passing in May 2010.
This recent and updated edition was launched at the Centre’s Jade Vine Arbor on Friday 9th November, in the presence of the author’s widow, the gracious Margaret ffrench, daughter Julie, son Jonny, and their spouses Tim and Juliet who stayed with us for over a week. Some of Richard’s surviving colleagues who had helped to found the Asa Wright Nature Centre in 1967, like Professor Julian Duncan and Ian Lambie, were also present.
The ffrench family and other guests were welcomed by Chairperson Dr. Judi Gobin. Then former Chair Dr. Carol
James gave a brief history of Richard ffrench’s association with the Centre and the efforts to have his work published. His daughter Julie Baker described the life of the children of Richard ffrench, growing up literally in their father’s footsteps in T&T, exploring forests and swamps and savannahs. As Julie concluded her tales, and told us that they had brought Richard’s ashes with them to be scattered in the forest on the hills above Blanchisseuse, a Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl (G.b.phaloenoides) began calling through the dusk. Was this “Jumbie bird” speaking for Richard?
Richard’s ashes are scattered at Las Lapas, along the main ridge of the Northern Range where he used temporarily to capture birds for study and description before releasing them. We are pleased to note that Richard has returned to the forests he loved, and which we preserve for him.

Asa Wright Chair Dr. Judi Gobin and Richard ffrench son-in-law Tim Baker display the first copy of the new edition.


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