One of my earliest memories, from when I was about 6 or 7 years old, is of finding a strange insect, which fascinated me. At the time, we lived in the depths of Norfolk, and wildlife was my main pastime. My father suggested we should take my find to the Castle Museum in Norwich. I was shown into an office where that great naturalist Ted Ellis was in charge of natural history. He looked at my offering, and identified it as the nymph of a species of shield bug.
|Death’s Head Hawkmoth, a preserved specimen|
|Death’s Head Hawkmoth, the caterpillar|
Another early memory was of rolling back faded grey cloth coverings to reveal the insect collections beneath at Ipswich Museum.
|The Natural History Museum, Dublin|
Four full time taxidermists worked to increase the collection of birds and mammals. Throughout Leicestershire, members of the public kept their eyes open for road casualties, and it was with these that the collections were enlarged. Oh yes, the days of what’s hit is history and what’s missed is mystery were very much a thing of the past. However, the collections continued to increase in size and importance. While I was there, an aquatic warbler killed by accident, possibly by a cat, was added to the collections. No one can be an effective ecological consultant without a working knowledge of the fauna and flora in the sites to be studied, and the specimens housed in museums are a goldmine for anyone learning their way around the complexities of Britain’s wildlife.
|Military Orchid, photographed in France|
|Specimen of Tornabea scutellifera (now re-named) in |
Bolton Museum. This species is now extinct in Britain
This situation is particularly tricky and I am not proposing answers. I would be very interested to hear of any thoughts or ideas that you may have....