BeKZN remembers Derek Spencer

Saturday 20th May 2023 was a glorious day and just right to commemorate the placing of a bench to the memory of one of our much loved and admired members, Derek Spencer.  

The bench sits under a tree near the sundial, there is a great view of the grassland, a Halleria lucida which is prolific when in bloom and acts as a bird magnet is on the left and the gentle babbling of the stream in the riverine bush behind – it is in an idyllic place. 

The bench in the shade of a tree 

The event was attended by about 35 people and we were honored to have Hylton Spencer, Derek’s son and Nola Spencer, Derek’s sister-in-law with us.  

Steve Davis the BeKZN Honorary President gave a short address on behalf of Nicolette Forbes, BeKZN chairperson, as work pressures prevented her from being present. Steve read a personal dedication from Nicolette which is included below.

Thereafter memories of Derek were shared among those present and it was obvious that Derek inspired and entertained many birders over the years.   What came through very strongly was Derek’s humbleness and dedication for wildlife and his fellow man and we as BeKZN were proud to memorialize him with the placing of this bench.

A minutes silence was observed.

Hylton Spencer having a moments reflection

Refreshments were served with the capable assistance of the Hillcrest Conservancy ladies without whom it would not have been possible and BeKZN is most grateful for this assistance and the wonderful relationship we share with them.

Remembering Derek Spencer from Nicolette Forbes currently chair of BirdLife eThekwini KZN (formerly the Natal Bird Club)

Derek became a bird club member in 1983 and was a dedicated and loyal member for almost 40 years. 

Aside from building his bird list to over 800 species (putting him in the upper echelons of birdwatchers) Derek was a mentor to many new birdwatchers.  He gave of his knowledge generously and with great modesty. His services to the club and bird conservation with his atlas activities resulted in him being awarded an Honorary Life Membership of the club in 2013.

Derek loved his birds. One of my pleasures when I had to stop by Derek’s to deliver something were all the stories and anecdotes that he regaled me with of what he had seen last. On a personal note for me Derek was an incredible background support in my efforts for the club when I took over as club chair – he was one of those rare breeds of people that encouraged me to implement changes that I felt were necessary and wasn’t scared to go along with the changes remaining steadfastly loyal.

Derek we know you are flying with the birds you love and you will be missed by many of all ages. Hylton and family I am pleased that the bench which was mooted at Derek’s memorial by BeKZN has come to fruition and something commemorating Derek is now a part of Springside Nature Reserve which he loved.

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