Many of our Chartered clients long to record their life stories or tell others of their life’s passion. Many are daunted, doubtful that what they have to say would be of value or interest to others. A few clients have taken hold of the opportunity and put pen to paper … and been delightedly surprised at the result. Pierre du Toit is one such person, and here is the account of his journey to publishing a book.
Pierre du Toit recalls how his fascination with birds began. “As a young boy I reared a squab Laughing Dove to adulthood. This was followed by a bulbul, a thrush and more doves.”
This childhood hobby triggered a lifetime spent in the wide outdoors, hiking, fishing and looking for rare species of birds. “I guess you could call me an adventurer. My love of fishing, the veld, our history and birds has taken me all over this wonderful country,” says Pierre, now aged 77.
Pierre is a highly accomplished artist and over the years has created paintings of many of the birds he has so enjoyed watching and photographing. He also painted scenes where had had first spotted the birds: forests, grasslands, mountains, lakes and even a bush hut or two.
A few years ago, his family suggested that he compile a book of his favourite paintings, together with brief explanatory texts. “I collected thirty of these bird paintings, representing both a diversity of species and also special memories of many years of bird-watching. Some of these paintings are accompanied by a brief story of where and how I saw the bird, as well as a painting or photograph of the actual place. I published it myself, just a few copies for my family.”
It is an exquisite book. The paintings are nothing short of brilliant – wonderful detail of colouring and anatomy, certainly on a par with any bird drawings available in commercial bird books. Most paintings is superimposed on a scene – painted or photographed – of where the bird was found. On each page is a brief story of an encounter with the bird.
It is a little gem, radiating Pierre’s love of the outdoors and his special affinity for birds. Only one with a deep love for birds could have created such a book. His explanations are brief, but vivid:
Chorister Robin Chat: “In the Pongola Bush Reserve … I first enjoyed this fearless little bird that hung around the ranger’s hut, enjoying the dabs of butter I smeared on a … log.”
Black-fronted Bush Shrike: “In the cool mountain forests of the Zoutpansberg the ‘who-heee’ call and the rare flit of a silhouetted shape advertised this secretive bird.”
Little Bee-eater: “Six tiny twittering birds snuggled together against the chill on a twig over the Okavango River.”
Red-billed Hornbill: “In the Timbavati I found this bird offering food to noisy chicks cemented into a hole in a tree.”
Pierre’s adventuring life continues unabated. He explored Uganda in 2015 and travels to the Western Cape flowers regularly. What’s next for him? “I plan to put together another book with some more memories and some map drawings.”
We cannot wait for another little gem – provided Pierre finds time to do it in between all his adventuring. To order a copy of his book, email Pierre at firstname.lastname@example.org.