Dr James Cobb, a zoologist who battled the elements to create bird habitat at Fife Ness, has died aged 79.
He was also a regular on the Radio 4 science-based panel game The Litmus Test which ran between 1989 and 1992.
Dr Cobb’s love of bees, a passion he shared with his wife Calla, saw them feature on a BBC television programme filmed at their Kingsbarns home.
In 1989, Dr Cobb published the book Meconopsis, about the blue poppy which can grow in ideal conditions in Scotland.
Meconopsis plants did not thrive in the dry conditions of Dr Cobb’s Fife garden but he sent samples to his daughters in Wick and Cumbria, who cultivated them in the damper soil there.
Dr Cobb spent most of his career lecturing in zoology at St Andrews University. He took early retirement aged 55 but returned to lecture part-time for three years.
James Leslie Stiles Cobb was born in Haywards Heath, Sussex, in 1941 to Joan and John Cobb.
His father had served with the East Sussex Yeomanry during the Second World War.
A move to Wales
While he was still young, the family moved to Brecon, Wales, and James completed his education at Christ College.
It was while at school in Brecon that James met his future wife, Calla, who was a pupil at Brecon Girls’ Grammar School.
James was accepted to study science at St Andrews University and his first year was spent at Dundee, then part of St Andrews University.
He studied biology and zoology and graduated with first class honours in 1964. He was also awarded the D’Arcy Thompson Medal that year.
In the same year, James began his PhD studies into the nervous system of starfish, which he completed in 1967.
Now, Dr Cobb, James and Calla, who had married in 1965, spent two years in Australia when James was awarded a Queen Elizabeth Fellowship to undertake zoology research in Melbourne.
The couple went on to have three daughters, Emily, Caroline and Victoria.
After their return to the UK, the couple lived first in Crail before their move to Kingsbarns.
James had always been a keen bird ringer, gardener, fisherman and beekeeper.
He bought a plot of land for the Scottish Wildlife Trust at Fife Ness which was planted with trees to provide shelter for birds.
The area was exposed to the wind and sea so they first planted shrubs to give cover to the saplings.
Very gradually, sycamores and pine began to grow. Many of these trees began life in the couple’s own nursery which they developed by buying some garden ground behind the pub in Kingsbarns.
Dr Cobb was heavily involved in the Junior Hortus Society at St Andrews Botanical Gardens, was a past chairman of Kingsbarns flower show and did voluntary work at Kingsbarns Primary School.