A tribute to Peter Hope Jones

Wren - Andy Morffew

We were sad to hear in mid-July, of the death of one of our Vice Presidents, Peter Hope Jones, aged 85 after a long period of ill health. It marks the loss of someone who quietly made an outstanding contribution to Welsh ornithology and nature conservation, and who was highly respected by many.

Brought up in Prestatyn he studied Forestry in the University College of North Wales from 1953 where he joined Bangor Bird Group, and started wildfowl counts on Anglesey’s lakes and estuaries. His ornithological work then took him to the bird observatory on Fair Isle, and the Camargue before returning to North Wales where he became Nature Conservancy’s Warden Naturalist for Newborough Warren in 1960. Here he developed a friendship with the wildlife artist Charles Tunnicliffe, finding recently dead birds on the beaches for him to use for his illustrations and paintings.

Peter Hope Jones

Peter Hope Jones

A move to Meirionnydd saw him responsible for nine National Nature Reserves, where he also instigated our acquisition of Traeth Glaslyn nature reserve. He then spent time as a seabird ecologist, surveying from as far as Brittany to Orkney, including the impacts of the Amoco Cadiz and Christos Bitas wrecks. He carried his love for Bardsey through most of his life, editing the Bird Observatory’s Report for almost 30 years, and writing “The Natural History of Bardsey”, and “Between Sea and Sky”, (a collection of Peter’s island photographs each with a quotation from the poetry of his friend R.S. Thomas, Vicar of Aberdaron).

By the late 1980’s, ill health sadly curtailed his physical excursions, but in 1990 he submitted a Master’s thesis on the feasibility of creating a wildlife database for Wales. Through a new role with Nature Conservancy Council as Monitoring Ecologist he supported NWWT in establishing fixed-point photography monitoring on several of our nature reserves. Then, his productive retirement, saw him write a “Contribution to the Flora of Bardsey” with Ian Bonner, and “Birds of Anglesey, Adar Mon” with Paul Whalley. He left a very real legacy to North Wales Wildlife Trust where a generous donation enabled us to clear gorse from a recently acquired extension to Mariandyrys nature reserve, and many limestone heathland plants are now flourishing.

Further reading: Guardian obituary