Walter Ayres, naturalist, was a brother of the well known field ornithologist Thomas Ayres*, and a son of John Ayres, mayor of Hereford, England. The family emigrated to Natal in 1850 and settled in the vicinity of Durban. In 1868 Walter showed a collection of birds at one of the earliest meetings of the Natural History Association of Natal. He collected birds in the Transvaal, as well as in an area in Mozambique immediately east of the Lebombo Mountains, adjacent to the present Kruger National Park. His finds were described in 1887 by the English ornithologist J.H. Gurney* in The Ibis under the title "A list of birds collected by Mr. Walter Ayres in Transvaal and Umzeilla's Country ... with notes by the collector".
At the time of his death Ayres was a customs officer in the South African Republic (Transvaal) and was stationed at Buffelsdrif on the Botswana border. He was survived by his wife Maria, whom he had married at Potchefstroom in January 1873, and several children.