Obituary: John Duncan Wood (1910-2006)

Published on 01 July 2006 in Obituaries

Duncan Wood was born on 10th November 1910 into a staunchly Quaker family, his parents being wardens in the early 1900s of the Quaker College, Woodbrooke, on the Bristol Road at Bournville, Birmingham. Duncan was educated at The Downs School, Colwall, Malvern, and at Leighton Park, the Quaker boarding school in Reading. At The Downs he developed an interest in birdwatching, which, on meeting my father, Ralph Barlow, was enhanced to their mutual benefit, and they both went on to play an active role in the Natural History Society at Leighton Park School. Their keenness on birds was greatly heightened by the help and friendship of Horace Alexander (HGA) who, aside from being one of the leading ornithologists of his age, was himself a Quaker. As a result of HGA’s tuition, Duncan kept detailed records and his name appeared in the Birmingham Bird Club (started in 1929 by W. E. Groves) reports as a contributor until his departure abroad in 1952. In 1931, in The Art of Birdwatching, Max Nicholson had called for a national society of birdwatchers. Inspired by this, Duncan, together with J. F. Wynne, wrote to Max suggesting that this might be formed as a federation of bird clubs and that a commission should be set up to do some background preparation. History does not reveal what then happened, but by the following autumn Max Nicholson had organised a preinaugural meeting of an embryonic BTO Council. After Leighton Park, Duncan went on to Queen’s College, Oxford, where

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