On 26th July 2018 members of the River Conservation Society, Wildflower Society and Toodyay Naturalist Club gathered for a farewell afternoon tea for Joy Fleay. Joy was moving to Perth to live with her brother, she would miss her home and lovely bush garden but its maintenance had become a challenge.
Joy was a founding member of both the River Conservation Society and the York Branch of the Wildflower Society and has always been an active participant. Recently she has supported RCS fundraising activities and could still be found helping with the weeding and planting in the York Wildflower Society’s Bushland Garden.
For over fifty years Joy has donated time, energy, money and expertise to the preservation of Australian flora and fauna. Her special interest has been with birds and she has been a member of hundreds of birding expeditions. As a member of the R.C.S. she compiled monthly bird lists for the Nature Reserves in York and conducted surveys to record the presence of species. Joy was involved with the Birds on Farms project, which surveyed and monitored the presence of birds in specific areas. Joy and Adelphie King helped produce the booklet, Birdwatching Around York. Joy Fleay has been awarded a Life Membership to Birds Australia. She has rightly been recognised for her contribution to an understanding of birds and her hard work in the conservation of biodiversity in the Avon Region.
Joy has seen many changes in the bird populations of the Avon Valley. She said it was sad to see many species declining in numbers, particularly the raptors and the three species of robins, which once could be seen in the York area. It was also unfortunate that numbers of corellas and pink and grey galahs were migrating from other areas and causing competition for bird resources.
One of Joy’s special projects was to preserve the small Gilgering Church and its graveyard, which forms so much of her family heritage.
A sumptuous afternoon tea was provided by the members of all the societies during which many reminisces were exchanged. Pat McGregor gave a heartfelt speech and presented Joy with a gift, a book on birds, of course. She thanked Joy for her friendship and all her hard work in so many conservation projects in the Shire of York, especially in the Bushland Garden. She described how on a summer’s morning she found Joy sitting on a stool, watering some newly planted specimens, such was her determination to keep our flora and fauna alive and well.
All of us send our very best wishes to Joy. We will miss her, but we look forward to seeing her return to York on important occasions.