The Amateur Naturalist

(This section is still evolving)

Butterflies & Moths                                                             
Pond and Streams
Dr Theodore Stephanides
Glow-Fungi Algae Worms and Fireflies
The Microscope                                      

"So, on still afternoons deafened by cicadas the two of them set off into the olive groves that descended towards the sea "sallying forth" as  Theodore phrased  it, after a light lunch, their  goal  a pond or lagoon not far from the villa. Each was armed with a dipping net of their own design, a cone of fine muslin ending in a small glass tube at the point of a long stick. Swept through the water, the muslin trapped the tiny creatures, which then slithered into the tube, to be identified with a magnifying glass and recorded in a notebook. Over their shoulders hung knapsacks filled with the boxes, bottles and bags to take specimens home for further observations. A few large canvas bags were included for bulkier items like pond tortoises or water snakes and smaller containers packed with damp moss for frogs and lizards. These also served to return previous captures to their habitats after sufficient study. On rare occasions they brought a butterfly net. "But both Gerald and I", Theodore told me, "were more interested in studying live creatures and kept our collection of preserved specimens to a minimum. We also carried with us a bottle of fresh lemonade and a supply of biscuits or sandwiches for the inner man."

The scene then shifted surreptitiously to the villa, where additions to the menagerie could be sure of a cool welcome. Proceedings began, Theodore said, with a commando raid on Mrs Durrell's kitchen, where they requisitioned every soup plate in sight, "often making ourselves somewhat unpopular with that good lady". Then the specimens were sorted out with a battery of teaspoons (also "borrowed") and glass pipettes (their own). At this point, microscopes in the vanguard of the attack, the creatures were accommodated in "a whole army corps of aquaria" from jam jars to the plump bottles in sweet shops."



Gerald Durrell "sallying forth".

Roger "that indefatigable student of natural history, would always be with me ..."


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