A fond farewell to our warden Eddie Maguire

Eddie Maguire.

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On Sunday July 11 our warden at the Machrihanish Seabird Observatory (MSBO) sadly passed away peacefully at home in Longrow.

Eddie Maguire was a ‘larger than life’ character, well known in Campbeltown and throughout Kintyre particularly for his ‘encyclopedic knowledge’ of birds, especially seabirds.

Eddie was born in Glasgow, where he began his intimate love of birds that stayed with him throughout his life.

He told me that as a youngster he learned the birds’ scientific names and unlike most children he not only studied the pictures in bird books but read the associated text that detailed habitats and distinguishing features that aided identification of species.

This attention to detail helped him to record his observations before digital photography was available.

Eddie travelled to many places in the UK ringing and recording birds, before settling down on the Mull of Kintyre.

The earliest record of him here that I could find was a photograph of Eddie with Rab Morton and Cameron McLean on Sanda in 1976.

After several years recording migrating birds at Uisaed Point Machrihanish, where the only shelter was two small, concrete block walls  – built by Eddie – Eddie and his great friend John McGlynn secured funding and permission to erect an observatory there in 1993.

During the past 28 years Eddie manned the observatory virtually every day during the season March-November providing invaluable information on bird numbers and movements as well as recording rare species, many of which were ‘firsts’ for Argyll or Kintyre.

He never lost his enthusiasm. He was also interviewed by Dougie Vipond for the Landward TV series as well as contributing articles to the Courier, the last being on June 30 2017 when he recorded the first Sooty Tern seen in Argyll.

Eddie also contributed scientific papers on Pomarine Skuas, Red Necked Phalarope, Leach’s Storm petrels and Balearic Shearwaters.

He also completed a well-received paper on the movement and increase in Magpie population in Kintyre which, sadly, he did not live long enough to see in print.

We first met Eddie in 2011 and immediately took to his ‘irascible Scot’ persona and spent a total of three seasons learning skills from him as well as teaching him to use a digital camera.

I remember many weekends when we kept him company in the Obs, taking part in the Kintyre radio quiz.

When we left at the end of 2013 we kept in touch with him during the period we
worked away from Kintyre and met him several times in England where he used to spend part of the winter.

In 2018 following a visit here we told him of our intention to move back to Campbeltown and he wrote asking us to volunteer as assistant wardens.

Eddie’s legacy to Kintyre will be the sea bird observatory, the knowledge he passed on will hopefully endure and develop, his unique and wonderful personality will be long remembered and many a dram will be hoisted in his memory.

David Millward and Jo Goudie, Assistant Wardens MSBO.