Diplomacy is the art of telling someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip.
The man that introduced me to that concept was Clive Minton. Sadly he died the other day in a motor car accident in Dunkeld on the Glenelg Highway, Victoria. The car he was driving hit a truck head on. His wife and a friend were injured but are recovering in hospital.
If you lived on planet Earth and had a passionate interest in birds you bumped into Clive in any number of ways. For me it was through the Victorian Wader Studies Group. Dr Minton got his PhD from Cambridge in metallurgy. Studying birds was his hobby. He was the founding member of the Wash Wader Studies Group and played a major part in developing cannon netting as a means of catching large numbers of birds so that they could be banded and released. Once a bird is a marked individual its movements and life expectancy can be tracked. The shorebirds that he studied make remarkable movements and enjoy relatively long lives.
Clive came to Australia as managing director of Imperial Metal Industries and wasted no time introducing cannon netting to his new home country. He headed up a vigorous campaign in Victoria and led an expedition to north-west Australia every year. One of those expeditions was my introduction to Broome and a number of friends that I hold very dear.
Clive was a giant of a character. He had an enormous intellect, extraordinary energy and charisma by the bucket load. He could be diplomatic and was much of the time. What he could not be was denied. He would have been extremely successful as a Roman General. He made an enormous contribution to ornithology and leaves a million stories in his wake. They will be retold many times when birders congregate for many years to come.
There have been times when I’ve wished that I’d had a father like him and times when I was glad that I didn’t.
Clive, you will be missed.