I recently found this map of various walks around Menston in Yorkshire which John had annotated with delicate drawings of the different species of birds he saw. The family estimate that this was drawn up in the mid 1940’s when John was a teenager. In his book Land Marks and Sea Wings he wrote this about his childhood in the Yorkshire dales…
“My early desire to be an artist grew from a passionate love of landscape. I was brought up in the dales of Yorkshire just before and during World War II. This landscape shaped my thoughts in childhood almost as much as parents, teachers and world events did, and from it grew my early understanding of form and life, and one’s place in the larger scheme of nature.
I loved to explore and follow streams to their sources, to cycle the twisting roads of Wharfedale which were empty of traffic in wartime, to be curious and learn about nature, and to draw. Twenty minutes walk from our home in Menston took me up through fields and on to Burley Moor, the haunt of curlews, grouse, and in my young days, short-eared owls, merlins and nightjars.”
John joined the Wharfedale Naturalists’ Society at its inception in 1945 and in the early days they were particularly interested in noting all the species of birds, insects and plants that they could find. It is possible that this map was drawn up to illustrate a talk or other contribution John gave to the Society.
If you would like a copy of the map (A2 – £25, or A3 – £20) posted in the UK, please see the shop page