Thursday 23 April 2020

Birthdays and Butterflies

Today, St George's Day, is the putative birthday (in 1564) of William Shakespeare, a poetic and dramatic universe in himself – can anything more be usefully said about him, or asked of him? An awestruck silence is perhaps the most appropriate response – that and continuing to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest his works. As Matthew Arnold put it, 'Others abide our question. Thou art free. / We ask and ask – thou smilest and art still, / Out-topping knowledge.' He dramatises everything and states nothing; he is hardly there.
  As it happens, today is also the birthday (in 1901) of the evolutionary geneticist and lepidopterist E.B. Ford, author of the first of Collins's great New Naturalist series – Butterflies. I've written about Ford – a most extraordinary characterbefore on this blog. Today I use his name as a shameless link to my latest Nature Notes update...
  Yesterday, then, I took my state-sanctioned constitutional on an area of local downland, and had the wonderful surprise of seeing two of the loveliest of spring butterflies – neither of which I expected to find, and neither of which I had seen there before. First, the tiny, moth-like Grizzled Skipper, and then the beautiful Green Hairstreak with its emerald underwing (both are pictured in this post from last year). This has been a very good April for butterflies (and moths – I saw another early Hummingbird Hawk the other day) – and it's not over yet.


  1. I'm so ashamed to be reading a blog that highlights St George's Day, Shakespeare's putative birthday & the birthday of EB Ford but doesn't mention the start of Ramadan (runs away, stifling what some might take for sarcastic laughter but, as I have just watched the BBC London News, full of Ramadan, but entirely omitting St George & Shakespeare - although possibly the omission of Ford was almost forgiveable - I can tell you it was actually the sound of someone grieving for the England of their childhood).

  2. Oh dear me yes – I so agree, Zoe.