Pump Up Your Book Chats With Author Christopher WilsonAuthor Interviews, Featured — By Tracee Gleichner on March 14, 2012 at 10:12 am
About Christopher Wilson
Christopher J. Wilson Dip Eco (Cork), FZS is the great nephew of Dr Edward A. Wilson, who died with Captain Scott and his party on their return from the South Pole in 1912. He is widely travelled, having spent time on all the continents of the world and has completed eight full seasons in Antarctica having first travelled to that Continent in 1999 on the Antarctic Circumnavigation. Born in the UK, he was educated in both UK and Africa, was a London policeman for 16 years and moved to Ireland in 1981. He completed a Field Ecology Diploma at University College Cork in the mid 1990s. Currently he is self employed as an Environmental Consultant based in County Wexford, Ireland specialising in field survey work (particularly birds).
A highly respected ornithologist with over thirty-five years of bird ringing experience, in Ireland, UK and Australia, he includes in his scientific accolades the organisation of staff and volunteers in numerous ornithological surveys of national and international importance. Before taking early retirement in 2007, Christopher worked for the National Parks and Wildlife Service, for 16 years, serving as warden of Ireland’s premier wildfowl reserve, ‘Wexford Wildfowl Reserve’. In 2000, Christopher spent a year working for the Wildlife Service in South Australia where his expertise in Goose Management, Bird Ringing (including Cannon Netting experience) Bird and Butterfly Survey work were useful attributes to the job he was involved in. Christopher currently has his only weekly newspaper column and a regular slot on local radio. He regularly contributes to a wide number of wildlife magazines, makes radio and television programs and featured in a half-hour television wildlife documentary on his work as a wildlife warden. He has two web pages, the first www.snowysheathbill.com relates to his Antarctic wildlife work and the second www.wildside.ie relates to local news, views, comment, opinion and wildlife sightings in his home County, Co. Wexford.
He is an accomplished photographer contributing to numerous wildlife books. His own publications include: ‘High Skies – Low Lands, An Anthology of The Wexford Slobs and Harbour’ (1996); ‘Wildfile – A Guide to Irish Wildlife’ (1997); ‘Wildlife Quiz and Amazing Facts Book’ (1999) – with a second edition (2002); ‘Edward Wilson’s Nature Notebooks’ – published in November 2004;’The Lepidoptera of County Wexford’ (2009) and ‘Edward Wilson’s Antarctic Notebooks’ (2011). Christopher lectures extensively on birds and wildlife and is the current chair of the Wexford Naturalists’ Field Club. He states that his personal motto of “Birds are my Passion, Wildlife my Nature” actively describes his interest, love and passion for our environment and its biodiversity.
To find out more about the author you can visit him at:
About Edward Wilson’s Antarctic Notebook
We are enraptured by the images captured by the camera lens for the BBC’s Frozen Planet. But when the nation’s imagination was first seized by polar exploration a century ago, Robert Falcon Scott’s team heading for the South Pole in 1911 had no means of recording colour images other than the skills of the chief of the scientific staff on the expedition, the self-taught artist Edward Wilson.
Wilson, who had also travelled with Scott on his earlier Antarctic expedition in 1901-04, was a gifted depictor of landscape and wildlife, and his images combine accuracy with humanity and humour, ensuring a record of the voyages that not only provides invaluable research material, but also a fascinating insight into the personalities involved and the challenges they faced.
To coincide with the centenary of Scott’s final expedition, Wilson’s great-nephews, David and Christopher Wilson, have brought together images and texts from the great southern expeditions in Edward Wilson’s Antarctic Notebooks (Reardon Publishing). Their ancestor died with his colleagues, but his legacy is the work that conveys, with timeless power, the challenges and rewards of polar exploration. Edward’s combination of record and interpretation is the epitome of expedition artwork.
Q: Can you tell us why you wrote your book?
A. Because this book is about one of the most amazing and very real human beings that ever lived – and I genuinely believe that. Edward Wilson of the Antarctic was a ‘very private person’, yet a rock of strength, incredible character, hugely self sacrificing, unassuming, down to earth, having a deep moral code, profoundly honest and deeply religious. He had a reputation as a mediator and peacemaker; came to care little for originality and greatly for TRUTH, whether scientific, artistic, spiritual or physical. He really was the ‘Rock of goodness and faith’ in the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration
Q: Does your book have an underlying message that readers should know about?
A. I think the story tells itself, but it is about one of the greatest men of the Heroic Antarctic Age and the story is particularly apt in that my Great Uncle – Edward Wilson of the Antarctic died 100 years ago – approximately 29th March 1912, with Captain Scott and Birdy Bowers, just 11 miles from the One Ton Depot – and safety – having travelled to the South Pole and almost totally back – and it was in an El Nino year – not known about in that ere and therefore a surprise that could never have been calculated into the meteorological travelling expectations of that period in time.
Q: Besides books, what else do you write? Do you write for publications?
A. Magazine and Newspaper articles – Local Newspaper weekly column, on my web page – www.wildside.ie and when away in Antarctica also write trip reports of what has been seen http://www.snowysheathbill.com/gaggle.php. I find I am constantly writing, but do actually enjoy sharing my (and others) wildlife experiences. I also enjoy lecturing and am always writing up lectures that I believe are important to share. .
Q: Would you like to tell us about your home life? Where you live? Family? Pets?
A. I live in Co. Wexford at a place called Curracloe, which has the most beautiful of beaches – you may remember the opening sequence of the film ‘Saving Private Ryan’ – well that was shot on Curracloe Beach. Our house is positioned on the north side of the North Slob (Slob meaning ‘mud or ooze or fleshy person’) down an unmade road. The bottom of my garden has the Fresh Water Canal that is the border of the main land and the reclaimed slob lands. Behind the 1000 hectares of the flat lands of the slobs is the Wexford Harbour and we watch the arrival and departure of ferries from Fishguard, Rosslare and various French ports as they arrive and depart Rosslare Harbour – also in our view. The light of the Tuskar Lighthouse flashes over the Raven Nature reserve on our eastern side. It is a picturesque setting and the house is open plan with ceiling going up to roof, covered in native knotty pine wood. We have an acre garden, which has Blackthorn hedges around the sides of the property. I have been married 44 years to my wife Ann – we have no children. My own family members are all based in the UK. My introduction to Ireland occurred in 1968 and I fell in love with the place. Introduction to Ireland – well Ann is from Co. Tipperary. It took a few years to persuade Ann to move back over to Ireland, which we did in 1981. We have no pets as my wildlife interests do not really fit in with our encouragement and study of the natural world. I do travel when the opportunity occurs and have been on all continents in recent years. Life is magic
Q: Where’s your favorite place to write at home?
A. ‘Upstairs in my den’ with my large windows looking out over a thousand hectares of land claimed from the sea adjacent to Wexford Harbour. The area known as the North Slob is the winter home to almost 40% of the world’s population of Greenland White-fronted Geese – as I write I can see and hear wildfowl, watch harbour life and be amazed at the natural world we live in – it is all ‘High Skies and Low Lands’.
Q: What do you do to get away from it all?
A. I head out to either of the two places that I adore – The North Slob – and it’s amazing wildlife – it actually comes into its own in winter and/or The Raven Nature Reserve (adjacent to the North Slob) where the birds and natural history species constantly keep me enthralled – and conveniently enough comes into its own in the summer – so all seasons are covered..
Q: If you had one wish, what would that be?
A. To get back to Antarctica as it is quite the most magical place – I have been on that Continent over eight different seasons – I ‘need’ and want to go again – so much more to share, enjoy and wonder at.
Q: If you could be anywhere in the world other than where you are right now, where would that place be?
A. Antarctica – but winter would be setting in so ‘please someone’ make sure I have the right equipment – I just loved the experience and can’t wait to go again.
Q: Your book has just been awarded a Pulitzer. Who would you thank?
A. My brother Dr. David Wilson, who did the book with me, Nicholas Reardon, my publisher and friend and my wife Ann for ever supporting me and being there through thick and thin – but then this is not the type of book that would win a Pulitzer, and to be honest the book stands on its own and needs no awards – it is an amazing story and if you have the time to read I seriously think you will not only enjoy, but be totally amazed by the character of Edward A. Wilson.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Christopher J Wilson. Do you have any final words?
A. I love to share my considerable experiences in birds and natural history and really enjoy lecturing. Subjects include Bird Ecology, Seabirds, Bird Ringing/Banding, Penguins, Butterflies, Dragonflies and the Fauna and Flora of many places around the world. Much of my experiences have been gained from working in the field as an ornithologist and survey organizer in Ireland, UK, Australia and in the Cruise Ship industry lecturing in Antarctica about natural history and also my Great-Uncle Edward Wilson of the Antarctic. If my lecturing skills are required, don’t hesitate to contact my agent Nicholas Reardon on firstname.lastname@example.org