This blog post is in honour of Philip Ridsdale, a friend of mine from Sheffield who tragically passed away recently, long before his time. He visited Bardsey last summer and wrote an article about his time here.
A link below will take you to his post on the Sorby Breck website. Even if you don’t know him, if you are into birds in Britain, it’s highly likely that you know someone who does. Hopefully, friends of Phil, as well as regulars to BBFO will enjoy reading his article.
Phil's Bardsey write-up here.
The news came in so fast that many of us hardly had time to even begin to process what was happening. Phil was announced missing just yesterday (28/03/20), soon after the announcement, a huge number of people and organisations spread their love and support all over social media platforms in an attempt to have him found. It was only hours later that a statement by South Yorkshire Police was released, stating that a body had been found that they believed to be that of Philip Ridsdale.
The news was seriously heart-shattering. Many of us, I’m sure, just stared in shock at our devices thinking that surely it was just a horrible dream, surely this can’t actually be happening… Phil was as kind as a person gets and I have spent the last 24 hours feeling hollow, confused and just so, so sad. He was sweet and giggly and supportive and knowledgeable and humble.
He was interested in all areas of natural history, be it fish, wildflowers, insects or birds. He loved his blackbirds as much as he loved his bluethroats, and he always took the time to answer any of my wildlife questions, despite the fact that he was likely to be getting questions from dozens of other people too. He liked birding in many areas in and around Sheffield, but it’s no secret that Phil had a love of Spurn Bird Observatory, by the sound of it for the people as much as the birds! Unfortunately, my plans to visit SBO with him last winter never panned out for one reason or another, as it would have been nice to see him in his element there.
He was in charge of a Facebook group called ‘European Bird Identification’, an inclusive group that’s main aim was to answer identification questions with friendly, helpful advice.
In Phil’s own words on the group’s guidelines: “Please be civil and considerate when commenting on people’s posts, some people are very new to birding and might not know some of the more common species which others will feel are very easily identified. We are all learning and have different levels of knowledge so try to be as helpful and explanatory as possible when responding.”
He was incredibly knowledgeable, on identification as well as the habits and movements of birds, but he was also as modest as they come. Since the news of his passing there has been an outpouring of love and adoration for him that has brought tears to my eyes all day. It’s amazing to see the number of lives he has touched, but when you’re as big-hearted as he was, it’s hardly that amazing, I suppose. It’s my hope that his family knows just how loved their Phil was by all who knew him.
You’re going to be missed, Phil. So, so much.
Phil (middle) with (from left to right) Emma Hughes, Steve Samworth,
Dean Rea and Amy Donnison. Making their way to Bardsey in July 2019