Part of a campaign to save Woodhall Quarries, Bradford, from redevelopment as car park and land fill.

 

Tutsan Woodhall Quarry
Above: The Tutsan plant on the quarry floor Above: Woodhall Quarries from The Blue Pig direction

 

17th August, 2003

Dear Susan,

On a cold, overcast day in early January of this year (2003) we decided to visit Woodhall Quarry. We were prospecting possible sites in the Bradford area that might suit the Grayling which is only just beginning to make an appearance in West Yorks (Storrs Hill in Ossett, Healey Mills marshalling yards). By the time we arrived at the quarry snow was falling, yet despite the cold we noted the quarry was palpably warmer than the surrounding lanes and fields. We moved closer to the rocky face of the quarry, which was warmer still, and there I espied a plant in a thicket of bare Goat Willows which I was convinced must be Tutsan.

I resolved to go back in mid summer, when the plant would be in bloom and on the off chance I might find the Grayling, for the conditions in the quarry were ideal for the butterfly.

So on a lack lustre day (July 10th 2003 to be precise), for want of something better to do, I returned to the quarry. On the path leading from the Blue Pig pub to the entrance of the quarry my attention was caught by a butterfly flitting nervously around a bramble bush. By its flight I "knew" it was a Ringlet but until it settled I could not be 100% sure. But settle it would not. And so I gave up for the moment and entered the quarry instead to look for the Tutsan. I crossed the stony quarry floor to the grassed over hillocks at the far side and it was here that I noticed my second Ringlet. This time there was no doubting it. I had unexpectedly stumbled upon a colony of Ringlet butterflies.

I was nonplussed. However had the butterfly got here? I had, over the past few days been searching for the Ringlet along the banks of the Aire on the approach to Shipley upstream from Leeds. I duly found a few (and I mean a few, numbering six at most) and all were within 3 metres of the riverbank. I knew these to be the scouts of the southern invaders slowly but surely advancing up the Aire as they have done up the Wharfe. Once established they then tend to fan out and will migrate across fields, colonising field margins and lanes some distance from flowing water. We first became aware of this pattern some years ago at Wetherby where the butterfly could be found in lanes and hedge backs two fields distance from the Wharfe. However the further we went upstream the narrower the habitable area became and the more the butterfly tended to hug the water margin. Watching the butterfly fly upstream against the current we came to the conclusion the river was the main highway to further colonisation.

Nothing we have observed since has caused us to change our initial conjecture. By mid July of this year we realised the butterfly had conclusively arrived in Shipley (we saw one lone insect on the Denso Marston reserve). But we were left pondering the question how long would it be before the butterfly managed to overfly Shipley? We had been here before some years back, asking the self-same question when we found the "new" Ringlets in some numbers east of Otley but none to the west. Between the Denso Marston reserve and the first congenial stretch of territory at Saltaire alongside of the playing fields on the banks of the Aire, there lies at least a mile of very hostile terrain to the Ringlet. In fact it is not all that pleasant to us humans and includes new and old factories, mounds of rubbish tipped carelessly down the bankside, heaps of gritting salt, retail parks, a builders merchants, fitness clubs, car parks. plazas bedecked with Heineken parasols, three bridges and the busy Otley Rd. In our opinion, and baring a freak occurrence, numbers will really have to build up before there is even a remote possibility of the butterfly chancing it across this no-fly zone.

We had long known about the unique colony of Ringlets at Ben Rhydding gravel pits and my first photos of them in the early 90s' clearly show the remarkable range of variation going from the arete to the caeca (almost "blind" form). We also knew about the efforts to find the "other" colony that in our minds took on almost mythic proportions. We felt there just had to be another within the vicinity but all our efforts, and those of others, to locate it were in vain. We were also alert to the slightest variation amongst the new arrivals. But of the many hundreds we scrutinised we only found one where one of the spots on the hind wings was slightly pear shape, a characteristic of var lanceolata. This was fairly late one evening midway between Poole and Otley and confirmed our suspicions that the new arrivals had pushed up the country from the south. According to Thomas, the var lanceolata is more likely to be found in the south whilst the arete and caeca are generally restricted to the north. The co-authors (Heath/Emmett) of "Butterflies of the British Isles" also claim the Ringlets in the north are lighter and fractionally smaller adding "also there is an increased frequency in the north of forms with reduced occelli with ab arete and ab caeca occurring commonly". Imagine then my huge delight when on taking a closer look at the Woodhall quarry population I began to notice the presence of the arete and caeca forms of the Ringlet. Then like a flash it occurred to me that this was the second colony, the one we and others had been looking for all along. And here it was in the most unlikely spot imaginable, high on the hills overlooking Shipley close to Bradford Moor and the choking fumes of Leeds Rd. Returning up Woodhall lane, which comes out onto the Leeds Rd. and just past the old demolished railway bridge on the Leeds/Eccleshill line (where I had noticed a Ringlet though I had ceased to look for them) I turned to look back. There, directly opposite, in the blue distance was the confluence of the river Washburn and the Wharfe. Some three years ago the existence of the Ringlet in Lindley woods in the valley of the Washburn had been established by David Howson who on receiving a report of a likely sighting had promptly taken a look for himself. Though I have not found time to take a look myself, I do know it is a variable Ringlet population. What the ratio of variable to normal forms is I cannot say. At a rough guess I would hazard it is, at Woodhall Quarry, around 20%, though I was so excited I never once thought of counting. What mattered, above all else, was to take photos of them: good, bad or indifferent it did not matter for the time being. Just so long as I had some sort of proof because it was becoming evident to me this was a significant find. I cannot say how big the population is but everywhere I looked in and around the quarry I found Ringlets. It is my conviction it has been there for years, longer even than the Ben Rhydding colony that goes back to 1987 on a site much visited by naturalists.

 

Ringlets Woodhall Quarry


I had a degree of familiarity with the Ringlet prior to visiting the site at Ben Rhydding on an annual basis in the 1990s'. But we were immediately struck by the behavioural peculiarities of this colony. We began to employ subjective terms like "inward looking"- even "neurotic"- to best characterise these unusual traits. An invisible boundary as transparent and as impenetrable as glass seemed to hem the colony in. The butterflies would, for instance, never go anywhere near the busy "Highway to the Lakes" between Burley and Ilkley. In the south to find Ringlets on roadside verges is not that uncommon particularly where there are ditches. However it seems to me if the ancestral colony of the Ben Rhydding and Woodhall Quarry colonies are the same (i.e. Lindley Wood in the Washburn valley) then the Woodhall Quarry colony has been able to overcome the "self-imposed restrictions" of the Ben Rhydding colony in ways which have yet to be determined more precisely. (It is for one thing much more able to adapt to drier conditions: to walk from the roadway to the centre of the Ben Rhydding colony can sometimes feel like suddenly passing from a desert into a mangrove swamp so appreciable is the increase in humidity on a hot day. Likewise the Woodhall Quarry Ringlets are not that fazed by the tormenting presence of dirt track riders and their infernal machines. However an underground spring issues from the quarry floor and it is often very damp under foot, conditions which suit the Ringlet perfectly).

In late spring 2001, a very interesting article appeared in 'The Naturalist 'published by the Yorkshire Naturalists Union (issue number 1037. Volume 1260). It was called "A Century and A Half of Change in the Butterfly Fauna of the Huddersfield area of Yorkshire" and written by Geoffrey Fryer and Ms Jill Lucas. Apart from anything else the historical details are very good, particularly as the survey is not restricted to Huddersfield but includes Bradford as well. There is a fascinating entry on the Ringlet in the Bradford area. "The Ringlet was also reported from Great Park, Low Moor, by W. Barraclough in 1949, the single individual being described as "almost v. obsoleta" (Dearing 1950). On the relevant NYU card Hewson noted that this was only seen and not taken, and C.R. Haxby regarded it as highly suspect (Bradford NS). The reason is unclear as Barraclough as an experienced lepidopterist, must have noted the reduction of the under-surface ocelli, and would hardly confuse even a variant Ringlet with any species". We would concur with Fryer and Lucas on this. Interestingly, sometime in the autumn of 2000, we had noted the same card when leafing through lepidoptera records in Cliffe Castle Museum in Keighley whilst engaged on research for a forthcoming book on Yorkshire butterflies. We were likewise puzzled by Haxby's comment who was a distinguished lepidopterist from Great Horton, Bradford. Perhaps what Barraclough saw was a v. obsoleta escapee from the Woodhall Quarry Ringlet population which had been blown by the wind across to Low Moor some two miles away' The case can never be proven but the likelihood that Barraclough did see an extreme variant of the Ringlet is now more probable than before. Remember also that an interest in butterflies in 1949, particularly in a heavily industrialised city like Bradford was, in comparison to today, an esoteric preoccupation so the chances of a colony of Ringlets remaining undetected is therefore higher.

We are entering a plea that every effort is made to preserve Woodhall Quarry. Apart from the Tutsan, the Early Marsh Orchids and a colony of Gatekeeper butterflies the real clincher must be the Ringlets. We have reason to believe that it forms part of the original Ringlet population, which existed in Northern England and the Scottish Lowlands prior to the industrial revolution. According to some authorities (e.g. Heath/Emmett) it was either forced out of, or destroyed, in industrial districts to lead a fugitive existence elsewhere. The following remarks by the co-authors of "Butterflies of the British Isles" are of considerable interest. "There is a scarcity of records from the Midlands and northern England; evidence indicates that it was formerly widespread in these areas (Harrison, 1959) and together with the retraction around London and in central Scotland, points to declines mainly in industrial areas (Heath et al, 1984)". Richard South in one of his classic volumes (1906) on British lepidoptera claims it "seems to have disappeared from districts in Lancashire and Yorkshire where it was once formerly common". South was indefatigable in his pursuit of local records and very much in line with the tradition first laid down by Edward Newman in the mid 19th Century. The Woodhall Quarry colony is, we maintain, a relic population from the pre-industrial era and one that has yet to be diluted by the influx from the south. It is the sole remaining pristine survivor from this era and therefore its value is inestimable. The same cannot now be said of the Ben Rhydding and Lindley Woods colonies. In the former the ratio of variable to normal forms has drastically declined. Four years ago we estimated the variation to be as high as 70% to 80% which is extraordinary by any standards. This may sound as if the tendency towards variation was increasing over the years and unfortunately the statistical proof is lacking. Our own recording was far from rigorous and looking back we can only kick ourselves for being so lazy and blind to the impending threat from outside. This golden opportunity has now become a lost opportunity. In our opinion the Ben Rhydding population was unique: it came as a surprise to learn that the Fords, father and son, put the percentage of variation within a graded series going from the arete to the caeca at only 5%. This was in a colony they kept under observation in Cumbria throughout the 1920s'. In the Tolson Museum in Huddersfield in the Porritt/Morley collection there is also a similar graded series all caught, it appears, around Castle Howard. We do not know if either Porritt or Morley left any relevant notes as to the incidence of these varieties and if the task of amassing this graded series proved to be a hard one. But they were, for certain, all caught in the 19th Century. Further research is needed to establish if these old populations in northern England and the Lowlands were subject to variation. And did these variation arise because the colonies were (or became) isolated over time and therefore favoured random genetic drift as distinct from the more rigorous selection pressures of larger populations? Or it may turn out it was the variations that were selected for in the majority of these discrete colonies, which would severely dent the argument supporting random genetic drift. Thus once more we find ourselves on the field of battle with, on the one side, the geneticists armed with equations ultimately derived from Mendelian laws of inheritance and, on the other side, field naturalists who come in peace armed only with the needles of close observation. We can say that a couple of years ago inspecting the Ben Rhydding population we noted that the variants tended to be more dished than the normal forms. Maybe there was some sort of hidden selection pressure at work manifesting itself in different emergence times and leading eventually to sympatric speciation. If this were the case then the chances of the variants mating with one another to produce a pure strain would be greatly increased. On the other hand it may only indicate that the "relic survivors" are more adjusted to the local climate. E B Ford thought the genetic factors controlling the arete/caeca gradient were fundamentally different to that of the var lanceolata because the "various mixtures" between the arete and normal forms is "quite in accord with the supposition that the reduction of spots in the Ringlet is controlled on a multi-factorial basis" (see the chapter "Genetic Interactions" from "Butterflies"). The contrast with the genetics of var lanceolata is particularly striking. Here the number in the second filial generation brackets out into a fairly typical Mendelian quantity. The multi-factorial nature of the arete (and presumably caeca form) could mean there are significant alterations in other aspects of the insects physiology which enable it to adapt to local conditions. I can remember occasions when the Wharfe in late winter, would violently overflow its banks at Ben Rhydding gravel pits even reaching the roadway. The young larva approaching their third moult would have been submerged under the turbulent water until such times as the flood receded. Have they the means to trap air allowing them to breathe as from a natural bell jar? The caterpillar is not hairy so the chances of them trapping bubbles of air in much the same way as fur does under water, is non-existent. Is it possible the spiracles have evolved in the direction of gills allowing the caterpillar to breathe under water?

Possibly the answers to these questions will never be known. If for instance the two populations are timed to emerge at different intervals it may only mean a line of possible evolutionary development amongst many others, has been discontinued - one that was specifically adjusted to conditions that prevailed prior to the warming that has undoubtedly been a factor in the spread of the Ringlet from the south into the north. Such "theorising" will forever remain on the level of speculation but of a kind that cannot just be dismissed as belonging on the wilder shores of speculation like the alleged existence of the Unicorn or Griffin. (The possibility of a balanced polymorphism cannot be discounted but to say why a balance might be advantageous as distinct from outright dominance of one form or the other is, in our present state of ignorance, impossible to demonstrate) However the discovery of the Woodhall Quarry population means if we are on the right track lepidopterists have been granted a final chance to study a colony that in all probability has its origins in pre-industrial times. It will be several years before the southern invaders, present in only ones' and twos' in the Aire valley directly below, will be able to scale the heights to Woodhall Quarry. For that reason it is imperative to do everything possible to preserve the quarry just as it is.

I did eventually find my hopeful Tutsan. It was flowering deep in a shady grove of Goat Willows. A garden escape quite possibly, but I have yet to see the plant in a Bradford garden. In the late afternoon I left a message on my brother's answering machine: "I have found a large colony of Ringlets at Woodhall Quarry that contains the arete and caeca form. I have also found a colony of early Gatekeepers. And it was Tutsan after all. Beat that if you can!"


                                                                                                              Cheers,
                                                                                                           Stuart Wise

 

Obsoleta Woodhall Woodhall Ringlet
Obsoleta Ringlet, Woodhall Quarries, Bradford, 11th July 2003  Possible obsoleta Ringlet in the long grass.
Woodhall Quarries. 11th July 2003

 

Woodhall Ringlet  Woodhall Quarry
Above: Minor Ringlet lanceolata Above: Woodhall Quarries, Fagley, Bradford. 2004


(Next Letter)

22nd July 2004


Dear Susan,


    In view of the on-going fight to retain Woodhall Quarry we think it exceedingly timely to raise the possibility of the site hosting a colony of Grayling in the not too distant future. We know of no other place in and around Bradford that is so eminently suited to eventual colonisation.

   As you well know apart from the Pearl Bordered Fritillary, the Grayling is the rarest Yorkshire butterfly. Only four years ago (or thereabouts) this large and beautiful butterfly was almost officially pronounced extinct in Yorkshire. In fact the funeral service to mark its passing had hardly been announced when a miracle happened. It had arisen from the dead and was flapping its wings over the graveyards of smoke stack industry. News came that the Grayling had been found in the old marshalling yards around Haverton Hill between Middlesborough and Stockton. 40 years ago the place was an industrial desert of red oxide dust, choking fumes and blackness and at night the blast furnaces could be seen glowing in the night sky like beacons from hell. It was both horrible and awesome, as though all life roundabouts had been either burnt by fire or suffocated in soot.

    Close on this discovery the butterfly was found on Storrs Hill, a disused quarry on the outskirts of Ossett, West Yorkshire. The next year (2003) following a hunch we discovered a huge colony in Healey Mills marshalling yards just below Storrs Hill. Again our minds went back to what the place was like well over forty years ago. Though not quite in the same league as Cargo Fleet and Haverton Hill for sheer awfulness, it was enough to deter industrial urchins like ourselves and other kids. Not only was the place inhospitable and unyielding to childhood games, we also felt it was dangerous and if we stayed there too long we would all end up with a terrible disease.

   This site is pretty much off-limits and an exhaustive study of the distribution of the butterfly in the yard will not come easy. Nonetheless we were able to establish that in some areas of the yard, like close to the bridge on Storrs Hill Road, the butterfly is to be found in considerable numbers. Despite visiting the colony on two successive days we failed to establish the perimeter of the colony. But we have every reason to think that it may well extend westward into Wakefield following the railway lines to Wakefield Kirkgate and the banks of the River Calder where the terrain is very suitable, due largely to the mounds of bare earth left by a sand and gravel extraction plant. Further west between Dewsbury and Huddersfield there are similar workings close to Ravensthorpe and Mirfield railway stations.

   Other potential sites also exist. We could mention the disused quarries at Soothill, Batley which, unfortunately have now been turned into heartbreaking landfill (see enclosed letter to Sam Ellis, Northern Butterfly Conservation Officer for Durham and Northumberland). For those with an eye for local geography in the near distance lies Storrs Hill, a similar disused quarry, though not on the scale of Soothill.

     Where next? Why, Woodhall Quarry! It is close to both Storrs Hill and the marshalling yards as the crow flies and the Grayling is a large butterfly (the female has a wingspan of 60mm) and capable of powerful flight. The various grasses on which the larvae can feed, the rock faces, the bare earth and stony floor make it an ideal location. Though fairly high up and very visible from certain vantage points in Bradford like Fagley, Eccleshill, Ravenscliffe etc, the quarry is a sun trap possessed of a micro climate. On a cold winter's day the difference in temperature once inside the quarry, especially close to the rock face, is very noticeable.

    Up to now the Grayling has tended to be a butterfly of the southern heaths or coastal margins elsewhere with a marked preference for sand dunes, cliff faces and the like. These recent changes in its location and habitat are of great importance. The Grayling is also a variable butterfly, a fact that was noted way back in the mid 19th Century by E Newman in his epoch making 'Natural History of Butterflies and Moths'. Interested though Newman was in the geographical distribution of lepidoptera, it only later became apparent that there were several distinct sub-species of Grayling in these islands. These variations have been called, rightly we believe, 'eco-phenotypic' reflecting in various ways the difference in habitats, even if the whys and wherefores are still awaiting elucidation. By the 1900s it was recognised that the lighter forms of the Grayling were to be found on chalk, whilst darker forms tended to be restricted to acidic soils. But since then a more complex picture has emerged. There are now 5 distinct sub-species beginning in order of time with sub-sp. Scota 1911 (Northern Scotland), then Thyone 1944 (N.Wales), Atlantica 1946 (Hebrides) Clarensis 1952 (Co Clare), and finally Hibernica 1971 (Co Kerry). To which, one day, a sixth may be added, Industrialis (W Yorkshire)! However if phenotypic change is already occurring, it is made all the harder to detect by the obstinate refusal of the butterfly to ever open its wings.

     Particularly in South and West Yorkshire we are witnessing several striking example of eco-morphing. With the Dingy Skipper, the Grayling has become a butterfly of industrial dereliction which, are very different to typical sites like that of Morecambe Bay. But in the meantime railway sidings have changed, large parts of them falling into disuse as road transport has increasingly replaced that of rail. Unlike colliery spoil heaps in the wake of Aberfan, no attempt was made to prettify or, where possible, obliterate them as happened in Durham and Northumberland. Today, just as in Healey Mills marshalling yards, wagons lie abandoned on broken track  with young birches thrusting up between couplings and bramble twining around rusting wheels. On a hot day the place burns like an oven with Grayling gliding between the petrified rolling stock, hopping as if in a dream from old wooden sleepers oozing molten tar, to briefly settling on a thistle. For this is perfection to this reborn 'industrial' butterfly.

    Last year on a pre-arranged wild life walk along the Aire canal near Shipley we got talking to someone who had seen the Grayling in sand and gravel pits close to Doncaster in the 1970s'. They then disappeared. We then asked him if there were any railway sidings nearby. There were and we all wondered if they would be found somewhere in that massive confluence of sidings that surrounds Doncaster railway station. Earlier in the day one of us had visited the railway sidings at Raw Nook near Cleckheaton and within the Bradford municipal boundaries in the hope of finding the Grayling there. In fact it was too late in the season - a season which had been dominated by  very high temperatures.

   The Wakefield lepidopterist Roy Bedford also believes the railways are playing a major role in the expansion of the Grayling in West Yorkshire. We personally believe that the epicentre of this truly remarkable expansion was the old coal marshalling yard at Wath on  Dearne near Barnsley. Evidently they were once the biggest in Europe. From here - we would suggest - the Grayling went on to Worsborough between Wath and Barnsley and from there to Healey Mills - with how many stops on the way still awaiting to be discovered?

    When we lived in Ossett there were many railway lines in use then than now. As we criss-cross the countryside we mentally note where the old lines used to be and speculate on the potential wild life on the overgrown embankments and cuttings wherever these are visible. The line from Wakefield to Bradford that once passed through Ossett is all but untraceable thanks to the M1 and the acres upon hideous acres of suburban sprawl. But the line from Dewsbury that connects directly with Healey Mills and runs through the Spen Valley is still clearly visible for long stretches of the way. And this corridor may one day be used by the Grayling. Daily we become more convinced that in time it will eventually make it to Woodhall Quarry.  Butterflies have little understood powers of discernment and recognition and once wafted off course by a strong breeze what happens next is not mere chance even if the butterfly is not by any means fully in control of where they set down. A tarmac quarry bottom (the future for Woodhall?) with rows of parked cars gleaming in the sunshine will not from the air be a welcoming spectacle to our butterfly.

    Further research into the Woodhall Quarry Ringlets this year has strengthened our conviction that it once was the hub of an isolated pre-industrial colony that had retreated into a warm, damp, sheltered spot on high ground as far above the industrial pollution as possible. We maintain it is an historic colony and for that reason (never mind the incoming Grayling) it should remain just as it is. Forensic science is becoming an ever more subtle tool and what it is now able to tell us about the past was unthinkable even 20 years ago Who nowadays would be prepared to categorically deny that such conjectures as we have put forward will never be proven?

    The closer one gets to the quarry, the greater the incidence of variation. We do not know the reason for this, only that it is an observable fact. Examining the many and varied European Ringlet populations we noticed that the reduction and elimination of hind wing spotting characteristic of the caeca and obsoleta form of 'our' hyperantus Ringlet was a feature of montane species. And where the hind wings were similar to the hyperantus form like in the Dewy Eyed Ringlet and the Dalmatian Ringlet we read that these butterflies are to be found on lowland pasture and along coastlines. Which seems to imply the absence or presence of hind wing spotting is there for a purpose and is the product of natural selection.

    The turning over to 'productive use' of these derelict sites has been termed by some the 'new enclosures'. And the same arguments though suitably modified in their favour still apply as they once did to the old enclosing. The land lies fallow and though some of the former pit spoil heaps became agricultural land (one can see this at Dinnington and Cutsyke in Yorkshire, Markham in Derbyshire and a number of other places) dereliction generally implies no one is making any brass out of this potentially very lucrative muck. Not only are these sites an eyesore but an unexploited asset as well and therefore a running sore of criminal waste and neglect in an age in which money has become the only necessity. But take heart, salvation is at hand in the form of a chocolate box aesthetic of a pseudo-downs landscape, sanitised mock Tudor estates, manicured lawns, the commonplace 'exotic' of garden centre horticulture, car ports and entrepreneurship.

    A growing proportion of these sites have tended to become informal commons in which one is free to roam and even graze an animal. This is now the custom, whatever the law may claim to the contrary, and local people increasingly resent their further enclosure by housing estates, factory units and the like. For they then become closed off or 'hedged-in', to use a time honoured expression that has its origin in the original agricultural enclosures and then spread throughout society to denote an  imprisonment without bars because that was and still is the final outcome. Once these places have fallen into disuse they tend to become recreational and play areas and how many children in large urban areas like Bradford owe their awakening interest in nature to places such as these? Forget the dirt-track riders and their infernal machines for they are easily beaten back, despite their posture of aggression. We have noticed how on warm spring days Woodhall Quarry is used as a picnic area with towels spread out on the rock floor like on a beach. And sun bathers will climb the precipitous rock faces to find a sheltered ledge on which they will doze for hours occasionally raising themselves to look around, their eyes opened as never before to the beauty of the place. Bands of children also are to be seen exploring the quarry floor rock pools and carrying dime-store nylon fishing nets and jam-jars with handles made of string fastened around the rim. It is a very touching sight and gives one hope for the future all is not lost. For it was in just such a place that our interest in butterflies and moths was first stimulated at the age of ten on Storrs Hill in Ossett, now home to the Grayling.



 POSTSCRIPT:                
   We have been so impressed by the bio-diversity of brownfield sites that bit by bit and almost  accidentally we found ourselves with the makings of a video on the subject. It began with footage on the Dingy Skipper and then went on to include other butterflies like the Common Blue, the Brown Argus (yes!) and the increasingly threatened Wall. Our aim eventually is to make a nature film with a difference. Having long maintained there is too much nature in nature films we deliberately set out to give prominence to the actual habitat, the encroaching suburban glaciation, passing trains, motorway traffic, bikers and so on. We want a fidelity that is altogether lacking in modern nature films even if the final result is hard on the eyes and ears, For we want an end to comfortable viewing and narrative film making in which all the tricks of the trade from rigged sequences to endings  in which all the separate threads of the plot are securely tied up to be relegated to a shelf out of harms way, are taken from the past of literature. In this final triumph of fiction it is as if Aldous has come to prevail over Julian Huxley, Lawrence over Gerard Durrell and most importantly of all, Dickie over David Attenborough. For in no other country in the world were the seeming polarities of 'art' and 'science' so closely united in families as here. And finally with such devastating effect as the history of 'virtual' nature films for TV audiences demonstrates.

 
                                                                                                             Yours sincerely,

                                                                                                           David & Stuart Wise