In The Beginning
My interest in wildlife goes back to when I was a child. I became more aware of plants and animals I encountered while out walking with my parents and granddad. In particular, it was my time spent with my grandad walking the wild lanes near his home in Hinckley, Leicestershire which increased my enthusiasm. Every Sunday, my parents would take my brother and I to visit grandma and grandad and when the weather was fine we would take a walk 'up the lanes'. Its here where I would hunt for caterpillars. Sadly, these same once wildlife rich green, country lanes are now under an industrial estate, a Morrisons Supermarket and a McDonalds.
My interest in wildlife stopped almost completely in my later teens being more interested in playing Saturday and Sunday league football and hockey. Also.. it would not have been the coolest thing to tell your friends you were interested in butterflies at school and college!! I studied art and design at college before going on to study archaeology at Bradford University. After my graduation, I worked as an archaeological illustrator for the Museum of London, and later Oxford Archaeology... having little time or interest in wildlife.
A Renewed Interest
With the advent of digital cameras, things changed, I could record my sightings and before long my childhood interest in wildlife and in particular butterflies re-surfaced. Since 2001, my interest has grown, to such an extent that almost every weekend, my time is spent with my wife Debbie visiting some place or other searching for butterflies and other wildlife. Every holiday tends to coincide with a particular butterfly species and we are both actively involved in the committee of Warwickshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation as their joint newsletter editors and as their web site manager. In 2009, Debbie took up the role of membership secretary for the branch. Debbie is also an essential part of the development of this web site proof reading the text and pointing out my grammar and spelling mistakes.
Above: Debbie and I with the snow-capped peak of Mulhacen, the highest mountain in Spain (Sierra Nevada) in the distance. Our interest in Butterflies takes us to some of the most beautiful places in the UK and beyond and its an activity which certainly keeps you fit. While most butterflies tend to fly away as I approach, the complete opposite is true for Debbie who regularly has much closer encounters with these wonderful creatures. We often bump into like minded people who are interested in nature... and it seems that certain people (Lepidopterists... 'Leppers' for short) seem to know that we are looking for butterflies... with the inevitable introductory question... 'seen anything interesting yet??' I think we must have that 'certain look' about us! To stop and chat to these people helps us to learn more about the places we visit while passing on our own experiences and sightings.
myself and Keith Warmington set up a partnership so that we could undertake contract work for various wildlife habitat maintenance works in Warwickshire and beyond. Our strengths are our understanding of wildlife requirements and we take great care and consideration when working on sites of wildlife importance. We are both Chainsaw qualified (City and Guilds NPTC - CS30/31) and own our own PPE and Chainsaws. You can find out more about Satyrium on our web site at: http://www.satyrium.co.uk.
Above: Heather and Keith Warmington and myself at Stockton Cutting SSSI, Warwickshire working as Satyrium in 2010.British Butterflies 2011
In the spring of 2011, a revamped www.britishbutterflies.co.uk was launched. Despite a huge amount of work, there is still a great deal of content still to be added to the web site and this will continue over the coming years.
My interest, apart from the sheer beauty of these fragile insects, is fuelled by the clear and compelling evidence that butterflies are key indicators of the state of our wild environment. Our butterflies have suffered from our general greed in a country dominated by roads and excessive road building schemes, industrial warehouses which blot our landscape and towns and cities expanding into green-belt land. Even today, somewhere in the UK an important wildlife site, designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is probably threatened by some form of 'development'. Sometimes I really do wonder how anything can survive in this country... and I certainly fear for our butterflies.
Even modern farming practices threaten our wildlife. From pesticides to hedgerow flailing, our wildlife suffers as farmers strive to make a living and our country struggles to feed our ever increasing human population.