Note Books & Day Trips
  The following pages are largely extracts from personal diaries kept as records of field trips and where possible photographs taken on these rarely fruitless days are included. They are as follows:

  • The Grayling Colony in Healey Mills Marshalling Yards
  • The Brown Argus Puzzle in Yorkshire
  • Purple Emperors
  • Oleander Hawk
  • Yorkshire Marble Whites
  • The Silver Studded Blue
  • (see below for a more informed description of content)

         On these field trips the years frequently slip away and we are taken back to our childhood and early youth when, out doing the same, a glory would follow us wherever we went. Freud's definition of happiness comes to mind: 'Happiness is a subsequent fulfillment of a childhood wish and that's why money never brought happiness because it was never a childhood wish.' Sadly it is no longer true as money, to an ever increasing extent, invades childhood, destroying all hope of happiness. And this is why children are now rarely interested in nature because it is insufficiently monetarised.  With the advent of consumer capitalism nature is, for today's children, no longer a storehouse of dreams  and so therefore,  as adults, they are unlikely to experience that profound pleasure in saving nature which also awakens the shattering, and for that reason, suppressed memory of childhood. The conservation movement would greatly benefit if it were to take Freud's profound comment as utterly relevant to its concerns.


    The Silver Studded Blue:  2003. Photos and notebook from Fairmile Common near Oxshott in north Surrey - the only 'London' site of the butterfly.

    The Brown Argus Puzzle in Yorkshire : On the appearance/disappearance of the Brown Argus on semi-derelict industrial sites in South & West Yorkshire, 2003-4. Letters and photographs between ourselves and Bill Smyllie, the world's leading expert on the Brown Argus/Northern Brown Argus.

    Yorkshire Marble Whites : Photographs and commentary on Yorkshire Marbled Whites at Little Stones, South Yorks and Brockadale, West Yorks. Though Marble Whites are an indigenous Yorkshire species both colonies are introductions.

    The Grayling Colony in Healey Mills Marshalling Yards : In August 2003 we discovered a large Grayling colony numbering several hundred in these  semi-abandoned railway sidings in West Yorks. Land locked and far from coastal sand dunes it is undoubtedly the most unusual Grayling colony in the UK. This has led to speculation it  is an introduction. If the Grayling were to be found in other railway sidings far from the coast, like the extensive ones at Doncaster, York and Leeds, it would go a long way to settling the matter once and for all.

    Purple Emperors : Photos taken one summer day in 1997 on Ashtead Common, south London, on an old oak of very great age, The sap was still however rising and several  Purple Emperors had gathered to nectar on this champagne of sap bleeds. At some time over the past centuries most of the old oaks on Ashstead Commom have been struck by lightening and are like huge upended splinters of wood, their bark turned to charcoal in places and, in others, bleached white by the sun and centuries of frosts.  So many Purps? gathered in this unlikely spot was an incongruous sight as normally they are photographed alone resting on oak leaves. This desolate habitat seemed, particularly when we first looked at the photographs, to sum up the bleak future of butterflies when, to quote Rimbaud's  marvellous line, 'even the last butterflies are thirsty', or else the photos unintentionally ended up looking like a moment in the formation of German Expressionism with more than a hint of the icy, dead landscape of a painting by Casper David Friedrich.

     Oleander Hawk :This fake photo prefaces a section on butterflies and moths in which extraneous features we don't normally associate with wild life are emphasized The photographs must be allowed to speak for themselves as in the case of the safari Lion surrounded by a Piccadilly Circus of tyre tracks. Yet this fake photograph could also be real. If interested press to find out more.