Dec 3 2019
Dr Clive Dudley Thomas Minton, AM, (7/10/1934 – 6/11/2019)
A reflective Clive Minton in ‘formal’ attire, on the shore of Delaware Bay in 2006 (Chung Yu Chiang photo)
Dr Clive Minton, described as a father figure in global wader studies, was killed in a car crash on 6 November 2019 at Dunkeld in Victoria, Australia. His wife Pat and a family friend were travelling with him at the time and were seriously injured although now in recovery. They were all returning from a short holiday on Kangaroo Island in South Australia.
Clive was a British and Australian metallurgist, administrator, management consultant and amateur ornithologist. Born in England, he attended Oundle School and went on to complete a degree in Metallurgy and a PhD at the University of Cambridge.
Clive was fascinated by birds since his early childhood. He quickly developed into an outstanding amateur ornithologist with an international reputation. Although involved in studies of various species of birds, his main focus became the migratory. He became the founding chairman of the Wash Wader Ringing Group (founded in 1959) and was associated with development of cannon-netting, especially as a means of catching large numbers of waders for banding and demographic studies. The Group’s first catch using the cannon net was in 1967.
Clive Minton moved to Australia as managing director of Imperial Metal Industries Australia in Melbourne, Victoria. There, he revitalised wader studies, in large part through the introduction of cannon-netting to the Victorian Wader Study Group (VWSG), which became one of the most active banding groups in the world. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Broome Bird Observatory and was an active member of the Royal Australasian Ornithologists’ Union, serving on its Research Committee 1980–1988 and as vice-president of the RAOU from 1989–1995.
In 1980-81 the Australian Wader Studies Group was formed as a special interest group of the then Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union (now BirdLife Australia) and Clive was elected as the inaugural Chair. Clive continued in this role into the 1990s when he convinced the late Mark Barter to take on the role of Chair. Clive continued to be a key Committee member and actively contributed to the work of the AWSG Committee for 39 years!
Clive Minton has been one of the great movers and shakers of shorebird research in the East Asian – Australasian Flyway (EAAF) and in other flyways over many decades. His interests were diverse; he was a champion of shorebird monitoring, for example leading the first complete counts of shorebirds in north-western Australia and co-leading the monitoring of Corner Inlet (Victoria’s premier shorebird site) for nearly 40 years. But he is best remembered for studies involving the capture, banding and release of shorebirds. Clive was the key initiator of the North-west Australia Shorebird Expeditions and, from the early 1980s, Clive led regular, almost annual, wader study expeditions to north-west Australia to catch and study the waders that migrate to and through the coastal strip between Roebuck Bay near Broome, Eighty Mile Beach and Port Hedland in the southern section of the East Asian – Australasian Flyway.
The field work from these expeditions dramatically increased knowledge of the importance of Roebuck Bay and Eighty Mile Beach as key non-breeding habitat of many species of migratory shorebirds. These expeditions, along with data collected in south-eastern Australia by the VWSG, have led to major governmental conservation initiatives through the Flyway, including the Japan Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (JAMBA), the China Australia Migratory Bird Agreement (CAMBA) and as a Site of International Importance in the EAAF network of sites.
This work has continued annually or biannually for over 35 years and, through Clive’s active encouragement, has involved many people from Asia and Europe. It provided inspiration to young shorebird conservationists in Australasia and from across the EAA Flyway. It has led to the development of the largest morphometric and movement data set for migratory shorebirds in the EAA Flyway. This work led to the establishment of Broome Bird Observatory and continues to be a legacy to the passion Clive had for migratory shorebirds. Clive was also involved in several international wader study expeditions in North America, South America and Russia.
Clive’s work was recognised through many distinguished awards, including:
In 2003, British ornithologist Andrew Whittaker commemorated Clive Minton in the species epithet of the Cryptic Forest Falcon (Micrastur mintoni).
Even these awards do not fully demonstrate Clive’s impact. He published or co-authored many scientific publications, an even larger number of less formal reports and newsletter articles to share knowledge with the teams and volunteers he loved to work with, and probably even more emails and letters hounding people into action! His memory was extraordinary, and it is impossible to list all the projects that benefitted from Clive’s advice and ability to recall related research or workers that could be helpful. Above all he inspired multiple generations to take up ‘shorebirding’ as their passion or their career. His impact on shorebird research and conservation worldwide defies measurement.
Clive will always be remembered as a larger than life presence, generous with sharing his knowledge and passion for migratory waders and support for the many volunteers and researchers participating in banding and colour flagging of migratory waders.
He will be greatly missed by all who knew and valued him as he was a most warm and wonderful human being.
Alison Russell-French, Secretary and Acting Chair, AWSG
Tributes continue to pour in from around the world for Clive Minton, founding father of the International Wader Studies Group, via the IWSG attributes and remembrance page for Clive Minton https://www.waderstudygroup.org/news/tributes-and-remembrances-page-for-clive-minton/
A private funeral was held in Melbourne and this will be followed by a memorial service of Clive’s life on 11 December 2019 at the Sandringham Yacht Club, Jetty Rd, Sandringham, south east of Melbourne. Please RSVP and for more details or directions contact Roger Standen: firstname.lastname@example.org
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