It is with sadness to note the recent passing of Chris Wilson. Our deepest sympathy to family and friends and while he will be greatly missed, he will forever be fondly remembered. Below are tributes from Ken Bond and Michael O’Donnell.
I first got to know Chris Wilson when he was based in Co. Tipperary, and recording the Lepidoptera of Cappamurra Bog. Over the following years we exchanged many emails about moth identification, and I soon realised how wide his knowledge of wildlife ranged. When he later moved to live close to The Raven, Co. Wexford, he set up a weather station there, and we were then able to share our interest in meteorology too; this included the phenomenal rainfall in August 1997 that happened to peak around The Raven. I was able to visit Chris and Anne at their home in Ballinamorragh the previous month, providing an opportunity to trap moths there and to have a guided tour from Chris of The Raven. I still well remember this occasion, both because of his knowledge of the area, and the impression made on me by the diverse fauna of the area. I regret that I was unable to make an intended return visit. How perceptive of significant details he was is shown be the fact that Chris was probably the first person to mention to me that he noticed a decline in the Wall Brown butterfly and to comment on unusual features he noticed locally in what was then simply known as the “Wood White”. His reports on the fascinating journey to Antarctica showed another facet of his wide interests. He achieved a remarkable amount in the field of Irish natural history, and he will be sorely missed.
Chris moved to Co. Wexford in 1991 when he got the position of Warden at the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve where he remained for 16 years before taking early retirement to focus on his travels and set up his own environmental consultancy. His travels brought him to every continent but particularly to Antarctica where he lectured on cruise ships about the exploration and wildlife of that continent. Always active, he was involved in numerous projects including butterfly, bumblebee, bird, hedgerow and cetacean surveys. He was an active bird-ringer and was warden of the tern colony at Lady’s Island Lake for a number of years. He was instrumental in setting up the Wexford Naturalists’ Field Club in 2004 and enthusiastically promoted the wildlife of Wexford at every opportunity. Always approachable and always happy to share his knowledge, he led numerous field-trips and regularly gave lectures for WNFC. In recent years his enthusiasm for moths was rekindled. Knowing the importance of getting the identification correct so that the record could stand up to scrutiny, Chris was never afraid to ask for help if he was unsure of something. He was always delighted to see a new species, even if it was a common species that he had never seen before. In 2009 he co-authored the WNFC publication The Lepidoptera of County Wexford and also co-authored The Odonata of County Wexford in 2015. He was actively working on the next WNFC publication on the Shieldbugs and Ladybirds of County Wexford. Knowing that he did not have much time left, he wanted to make sure that all his records were up to date and had been submitted to the relevant recorders. MothsIreland received his final batch of records only two weeks before his death. A thorough professional in everything he did and an absolute gentleman, Chris will be deeply missed throughout the recording community.