Born in 1938 in Barnsley, Yorkshire, John Richardson moved to Cumbria when his father retired in 1953 and attended Keswick School. He took to exploring the local lakes and fells with enthusiasm and developed a keen interest in the wildlife, especially the birds.
He recalls kayaking adventures on Derwentwater, camping on the shores of Bassenthwaite and exploring the disused mines in the nearby hills. John tells of the disappearance of species such as the yellow wagtail, red grouse and the green plover. He remembers the devastating effect that early pesticides had on the native raptor species. He also notes the increase of some birds, such as the Great crested Grebe and a number of types of Geese as well as the growing population of otters.
He comments on the effects that changing farming practises have had on wildlife and birds, but also points out effectiveness of conservation measures taken by organisations such as the RSPB.
“…Yellow wagtails again they’ve gone – in fact they’ve almost disappeared from Cumbria and yet I remember taking my father down to see yellow wagtails - he said ‘They’re just like canaries’, I said ‘They are, they’re beautiful birds.’”