Susan Stead  1941 - 2022

  Susan has been a stalwart of the Yorkshire branch for more than 30 years. She was active and very influential in galvanising local conservation action around Keighley & Bradford. She fought campaigns against unsympathetic planning proposals which would impact or destroy the butterflies and natural history around Bradford & Keighley. She was instrumental in preserving areas such as Bingley North and South Bog - the latter which became a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) - which were at risk during the building of the Bingley bypass, the creation of Boar’s Well Urban Wildlife Reserve and the classifying of Trench Meadows below Shipley Glen as an SSSI. At Shipley Station she helped prevent the building over an extensive riparian open space and informal park which enabled the firm establishment of the Marble White (The Yorkshire butterflies symbol) in the middle of an urban area. She was restricted in her activities by not driving and not being computer literate but accomplished an awful lot due to her people skills with a wide circle of friends and her gentle single minded ruthlessness which was her trade mark.  

She died peacefully after a short illness in hospital on Boxing Day age 81

Thank You Susan you will be much missed but leaves a lasting legacy at Shipley Station meadow.  

More on Susan's life HERE

Pauline Popely 1955-2022

We are sad to announce that Pauline passed away after a long illness and  all our thoughts are with her husband, Ian and family

 Her contributions were immense  and she will be very much missed.     

Allan Rodda has written a tribute  which he has kindly agreed for us to publish:                           

"You always had to watch your step when out with Pauline.  I can hear her now warning me to take care where my feet were placed due to unseen plants etc.    Pauline was a person who loved nature, loved her village and was so proud of her family. 

If there was a survey needed to be done the first name on the list was Pauline's , Turtle Doves at 4 am, Newts at lunch time and then a Moth or Bat survey deep into the evening. When Pauline and Ian attended the conservation sites they always came with a home baked cake for all to share.

 Pauline was a highly respected botanist who was a major part of the Dark Bordered Beauty program , growing at home their food plant Creeping Willow.

 In the last few months the conservation team from Butterfly Conservation joined forces with Scarborough Field Nats.,  Whitby Field Nats., The Carstairs Trust  and local villagers working to clear an old quarry site near Pauline's home.  A site where in the summer months Pauline would walk a Butterfly transect recording many species; her favourite  being White letter Hairstreak.  Pauline even found and photographed the Butterfly in its pupae stage, something  she was so proud of.

 From us all who are members of this site Rest in Peace it was a pleasure to have worked, laughed, cursed and share time with you."         

Major Tony Crease 1948-2020

A Scotsman by birth, after joining the Army at the age of 15, through hard work and dedication he gradually worked his way up through the ranks.  On his return from Iraq in 1992, after the first Gulf War, Major Crease was posted to Catterick Garrison. Looking for somewhere to exercise his two border collies, he came across part of the training area fenced off during the 1970s, and had an idea that was to be his long-lasting legacy. Hitting on the idea of a nature reserve, he applied to the Ministry of Defence for permission to use the area, and was initially given 28 acres. 

Right from the start, it was clear to Major Crease that the public should be allowed access. A management group was quickly established and statutory designation followed, the first in the UK to receive this legal protection. 

He explained: “It was an absolute wilderness – we had to fight our way in and you couldn’t walk through it. We actually used tanks and a light armoured vehicle to clear a space.”  Foxglove Covert now covers 100 acres and has been intentionally developed as a rare mix of 12 different habitats. Its woodland, wetland, and moorland is amongst the top three bird-ringing sites in the country.  On retirement from the Army, Major Crease continued to work full time for the MoD as the deputy commander for the Military Training Estate. This role allowed him to continue to oversee matters at Foxglove.  Passionate about conservation, he also led the team for Operation AUK, an annual assessment of seabird levels at Cape Wrath. However it was for Foxglove he will be most remembered. More than 500,000 people have visited since that opening day. His warm personality charmed guests, be they the Prince of Wales, politicians, community or youth groups. He was always the same – passionate and knowledgeable. Never one to let things slide or stand still, Major Crease's enormous energy and enthusiasm ensured that the reserve was properly staffed, funded and constantly moving forwards.

In recent months, he became increasingly ill and was forced to stop working in his job and at Foxglove.

Major Tony Crease MBE BEM died peacefully at his home in North Yorkshire on January 4, aged 73.

Martin White releasing Mazarine Blues he bred himself into the wild. 

Martin White  1959-2020

Martin dedicated every minute of his life to conserving butterflies his own way, breeding and releasing scarse or even extinct species. Patrick Barkham  has written a touching tribute to Martin, his methods , the man and his achievements many of which are not acknowledged in polite company see below.   Only History will judge his lasting impact  but one day we might well appreciate how he helped save Yorkshire's rarest species.

How maverick rewilders are trying to turn back the tide of extinction.pdf

Peter Robinson  1935-2019

A local naturalist whose work monitoring butterflies in Dalby Forest gained world renown has died at the age of 83. Peter Robinson returned to his roots in the Scarborough area after a career teaching science in the south west to pursue his passion for geology and the whole natural world. Butterfly Conservation regional officer Dave Wainwright, said of him: “Peter was the first person in Yorkshire to monitor butterflies in a systematic way. His transects at Ellerburn Bank, Deepdaleand Pexton were among the first to be recorded in this country and by extension the world." One of Peter's earliest interests was for geology. He spent many weekends exploring the North Yorkshire coast and surrounding areas with likeminded enthusiasts forming valued lifelong friendships. Favourite haunts were Whitby, Ravenscar and Speeton. He was so inspired by the renowned Scarborough "father of geology" William Smith he wrote a booklet," Walking in the Footsteps of William Smith " and a geology trail for Scarborough. He also wrote one for the Forge Valley area at the request of Natural England. For outstanding contributions in the field he was awarded the Yorkshire Geological Society's Moore Medal. "As a volunteer Peter worked for the Forestry Commission on geological and wildlife surveys. His expert recordings and studies would be sent to universities and relevant conservation bodies so that his fieldwork was invaluable to other scientists " said Brian Walker, retired Forestry Commission Wildlife Officer who, like Peter, is a long serving member of Scarborough Field Naturalists. The complex nature of orchids fascinated Peter and he was involved with orchid conservation work in the area of the North Bay in Scarborough. Along with professor David Read, he was also noted for his study of a plant called Yellow Bird’s-nest, a scarce plant of deep shade "Peter carried out a very detailed base line survey of meadow and marsh in Deepdale, Dalby Forest. As a tribute to Peter we are going to re-survey that area during 2019. I told him this before he died and he was delighted, “said Brian.

Jim Bone 1937-2019

Jim’s love of nature began with childhood walks and talks with his father, primarily about birds and their habits. In time, birds gave way to butterflies and moths. 1996 saw York experience the Painted Lady irruption. Spring was joyous, a delight of orange, black and white fliers. Our summer was a revelation, with so many of these glorious insects walking was impossible, shuffling the only way to prevent harming them as they landed on the ground but of course we lacked the cameras we now take for granted, so there are no photographs from that amazing season.

In the summer of 2003, Jim photographed a butterfly on Walmgate Stray. It was only two years later, on a butterfly walk at York Cemetery, that we learnt it was actually a Brown Argus, possibly the first recorded in York for far too long. Thank you Dave O’Brien. I wonder who remembers the 1500+ Speckled Wood also at the Cemetery. I didn’t believe Jim when he told me he’d seen some, they didn’t live in York! I’m sure Roy Bedford recalled his own excitement of that day. As walking became more difficult, Jim spent time in the garden or sitting in his car while I wandered off. Usually he saw more than I did! He saw several of Strensall Common’s precious Dark Bordered Beauty in July 2006 while I joined the count walk – and saw none!

He was overjoyed when we successfully raised and released 500 Peacocks. What a thrill as they flew from the breeding cage into the sun.  One summer we had three highly predictable Humming Bird Hawk moths visiting for more than a week. Jim was able to photograph them in the garden. He loved Thixendale, the easiest butterfly watching possible with hundreds of Marbled White just inches from the car, so he was able to get out and photograph them. But I must save his greatest treat for last. We’d been to Askham Bog, Sept 17th 2006 and came home to find something very, very special feeding on OUR Buddleia in OUR garden. For several astonishing minutes we watched and photographed a Camberwell Beauty. This lovely image is Jim’s finest and one I envy. Jim was a keen and avid supporter of Butterfly Conservation, doing all he could to help secure a future for Yorkshire’s lepidoptera. Rest in peace, Jim, surrounded by buttermoths and dogs.                                                                 Jesika Bone

We are very lucky that Jessika continues his passion with her amazing photography that steals the show in every medium. His legacy is in safe hands

Roy Bedford 193* - 2019

We are saddened to report the death of Roy Bedford on June 17th 2019.

Roy was in his early 80's and had been fighting cancer for several years. 

We offer our sincere condolences to his wife Margaret and his family 

Roy walked the Walton Nature Park transect for 21 years until 2016 and was one of our longest running transects.

David Baker (a past Chairman of Yorkshire Branch) writes: I first met Roy whilst we were both working at the Wakefield Area Offices of the Yorkshire Electricity Board in 1981 when we looked after customers rather than shareholders. Our employment, however, was in different departments and during my eleven months at Wakefield our meetings were more likely to be in the canteen rather than work related. He was very much an outdoors man, very keen on natural history in his hometown area where he pursued his interest in butterflies. His love of the outdoors led him to organise an attempt on the Lyke Wake Walk in 1977. He led members of the YEB Wakefield Social Club on the route from Osmotherly, near Northallerton, to Ravenscar on the Yorkshire coast. This entailed tramping over 40 miles of extremely rough heather moorland within 24 hours. Roy accomplished the walk twice and supported two further expeditions in the following years. My next meetings with Roy were at Butterfly Conservation events during the late 1990s when he tried his best to encourage me to join the Yorkshire Branch Committee. We had both retired from the now privatised YE, but I was still sufficiently occupied and was not tempted to take up the offer until 2005 when I took over the Chair for eight years. However, by 2003, after his eight years at the helm, Roy had stepped down from the Chair but remained on the Committee for a further ten years, several as Minutes Secretary and/or Secretary until finally stepping down altogether in 2013. Over many years Roy gave up a lot of his time to act as a Species Co-ordinator, Vice- County 63 Butterfly Recorder and Weather Statistics Co-ordinator, providing his excellent reports on both butterflies and weather of our annual Lepidoptera Reports. 

Howard Frost (past County Butterfly Recorder and holder of various Committee posts since becoming associated with Yorkshire Branch in 1980) writes: I shall miss Roy as both a friend and a colleague, and someone who has worked amazingly hard to help develop and create the Yorkshire Branch we see today. On retirement in the early 1990s Roy decided to add a new interest to his life by joining the Yorkshire Branch of Butterfly Conservation. He was already a very keen mountaineer and artist with several books to his name illustrated with his own paintings. From 1993 he was writing articles for our newsletters and producing some excellent sketches. In those days we were limited to a black and white production produced on a spirit duplicator, so sketches were the main means of adding illustration. How times have changed! In 1995 Roy responded to an appeal for more Committee Members and by the end of the year had become Vice-Chairman, followed by a quick step up to Chairman the following year, a post he then held for 8 years. And as if that were not enough, he also became VC63 Records Co-ordinator when we launched a new recording system aimed at producing our first Annual Report covering the year 1996. That job he kept going until 2013 as well as writing various species reports. If ever we were stuck for a sketch or an article, a phone call to Roy would produce the desired material within a day or two. So, at a time in the 1990s when the Yorkshire Branch was suffering growing pains due to a surge in membership and a changeover of Committee personnel, Roy brought an important degree of stability and calm. He was the epitome of a reliable, hard-working executive!

Another of Roy's special interests was the weather. As a mountaineer, that probablybecomes second nature, but Roy took it a lot further and produced a valuable book highlighting exceptional weather in the British Isles over recorded time. So not surprisingthat he helped Yorkshire weatherman Paul Hudson with some of his activities and rose to the occasion to help produce the weather reports for our Annual Reports which he kept up for some 21 years. You can read his latest and sadly his very last contribution in the recently published 2018 Report. He was also a great supporter of our efforts to produce a book on the Butterflies of Yorkshire and his chapter covering 200 years of Yorkshire Weather with its season by season analysis in chart form was one of the special contributions which helped to make our regional book rather different from most others and earn us an accolade as the then best-ever regional butterfly guide as assessed by

David Dunbar in his 'British Butterflies a History in Books' published by the British Library

in 2010.

Peter Dunn  -2020

Sadly Pete died on 15th May following a battle with cancer and Corvid 19. 

Pete was one of those people who's passion was work and play. An outstanding former Police Wildlife Liaison Officer who when he retired from the force used his birding passion to guide tours across the globe. It is his work at the Filey Bird Observatory and Filey Dams Reserve for  which many people will remember him.  Pete was not only an outstanding ornithologist and lepidopterist he was a good friend, helper and teacher to many. 

 (Brian Walker:  Scarborough Field Naturalists)

Peter Dunn in South Georgia

Peter was a wizard with a Moth net. Peter's records from his garden were second to none. He would telephone me and say 'Bedstraw Hawk Moth'.. 'Do you want  photo'? 

 He will be missed by so many  (Allan Rodda)

He was recently interviewed by Sara Frost

When and how did your interest in wildlife begin?

“My fascination with wildlife started at a very early age. Like most boys, I collected anything I could find – be it pond life, feathers, butterflies or birds’ eggs. The latter was a particular passion; one day aged eight, I didn’t go home after school, and instead went ‘egging’ with some older boys. We collected along the River Swale, in Yorkshire, finding nests of Yellowhammer and Linnet. My school cap stuffed full (and feeling very pleased with myself), I was on my way home when I was suddenly confronted by a huge policeman – my parents had reported me missing! Once home, I was given a terrible telling-off, though my parents seemed angrier about the egg-collecting than about my disappearance. However, my father felt guilty, as he had previously bought me ‘The Observer’s Book of Birds’ Eggs’. The policeman suggested that I be given the book on the birds themselves instead, and I never looked back; I soon had keen birdwatching friends, and my hobby gradually morphed into an obsession which has grown with me. I still have both books, and while I love watching all wildlife, I retain a dark sense of guilt about my early egging days!”

What was your ‘day job’?

“I retired in 2000 after 25 years with the North Yorkshire Police, where I had various roles; I spent eight years in Scenes of Crime (now known as CSI), and completed several attachments to drugs, traffic and tasks forces, before ending up as a sergeant at a small station outside Scarborough. In the late 1980s I became a Wildlife Liaison Officer, progressing to overseeing wildlife investigations, liaising with NGOs and sitting on the PAW (Partnership for Action against Wildlife Crime) publicity committee. 

What other interests do you have outside of wildlife?

“I dabble in technology (computers and software) but photography in all its forms has been my other great love in life. I started back in the days of prints and transparency films, and was lucky that my Scenes of Crime training included a 10-week photography and fingerprinting course, during which I learnt all about f-stops, shutter speeds, lighting and depth of field. In those days we still used huge 8x4 inch plate cameras to photograph footprints and twin-lens reflex cameras for other work. We had to develop and print all our own black and white films (colour was only done at HQ), and that experience helped enormously with my wildlife subjects. I have also ventured into wedding photography for my colleagues (amongst the most stressful of jobs), done studio work with my local photographic club, and recently taken baby portraits of my grandkids. Wildlife photography is a different challenge – animals move a lot, unlike my previous subjects, which often had a chalk line around them – but with digital cameras the results are instantaneous!”

What current conservation projects or issues most interest or concern you?

“Habitat loss and changes are always a contentious issue. Locally, I have spent the last 40+ years helping to put Filey and (since 1998) its bird observatory on the map. I am keen to see it grow, protecting as much habitat as possible for future generations, and I am proud of what has been achieved. However, with age and the amount of time I am away, I have decided to take a back seat from this year, and allow younger members to take over the bulk of the work.”

Which three people would you invite to dinner?