The word ‘legend’ gets bandied about a bit too readily in all contexts these days, but nothing else will do to describe Donald Ian Mackenzie Wallace, (known to all as Ian or ‘DIM’ Wallace, after the signature he used on his artwork).
He passed away in his sleep on November 4, aged 88, after more than half a century as one of the leading figures in British birdwatching.
Renowned as an artist, a writer (in Bird Watching Magazine, British Birds and countless books, including Birds of the Western Palearctic), he had a huge influence on just about anybody who has taken up a pair of binoculars in the last 50 years. Go and check the field guides and other bird books on your shelves, and see just how many of them he had a hand in.
First and foremost, he was a birdwatcher who knew the subject as a result of close observation in the field, and who was always happy to share his knowledge with great enthusiasm and passion. Many birders will have bumped into him at Birdfair (where he was always unmistakeable in the crowd in his kilt and tartan bonnet), and those that have will recall that, while his opinions were strong and highly individual, he was always ready to listen to others, and you always left his company invigorated by his sheer positivity.
He served on committees including the British Birds Rarities Committee, and at bird observatories, the RSPB, BTO and BOU.
He will be very sadly missed – for a full appreciation of his life, see the January issue of Bird Watching.