In the icy tundra of an island in the Bering Sea lives a small Lemming with a link to Lapford! The Lemming, Lemus Harroldi, is named after Lapford-born Cyril Harrold who, in the 1920s, had a growing reputation as one of the most gifted ornithologists and field naturalists of the time. His selection for a prestigious research expedition to Madagascar was the stuff of his boyhood dreams. But a few days before he was due to sail, he contracted Meningitis and died. He was 33.
1. Overview Read More
CYRIL HARROLD (1896-1929)
Cyril is best known for his field work in the Arctic and near-Arctic regions of Canada and Alaska during in the 1920s. His research interests took him to some of North America’s wilderness regions, leading The New York Times to herald him as an ‘explorer’ when they announced his untimely death. Those who worked closely with him remembered him, foremost, as an extraordinarily talented ornithologist.
His most significant work came on a 6-month expedition to the remote Alaskan islands of the Bering Sea. He stayed on Nunivak Island for four months: sometimes living wild, sometimes communing with the indigenous Nuniwarmiut— a small, primitive Inuit community largely untouched by ‘white man’. Cyril initially communicated with sign language but quickly learnt about 70 words of Cup’ig.
During the expedition, he amassed a collection of 555 bird skins for the California Academy of Sciences, whose director called it ‘the finest collection of birds ever brought out of the Arctic by one man in a single season’.
Cyril’s enthusiasm kept him upon Nunivak Island dangerously late into the season. When ice suddenly swept down from the north, he lost all communication. He stayed alive eating bird carcasses resigned to the prospect of having to survive an arctic winter. By chance, the ice opened again for just long enough to enable an escape.
In 1928, Cyril was thrilled to learn that he had been selected for an international research expedition to Madagascar. His untimely death came only five days before he was due to sail. His contemporary and close friend, William Rowan, was amongst those who believed that Cyril’s career would have been influential at a global level; it was only just taking flight. Whilst Cyril was denied the opportunity to fulfill his potential, William Rowan went on to identify the cause of migratory behaviour in birds and achieved international standing as a scientist.
Cyril lived at a time when the conservation of wildlife was largely focussed on preserving gaming interests; and when mastery of shooting, drawing and Latin were part of the skill-set needed to be a good ornithologist. Cyril may not have been the modern ideal of a naturalist—these were different times—but he was amongst the early ‘bird men’ who transformed ornithology into a respected science and ‘bird-watching’ into a hobby now enjoyed by millions. From the specimen collections and meticulously recorded field notes of the early ornithologists, a baseline was created against which man’s impact on the environment could be monitored, ultimately leading to the creation of conservation organisations and the protection of bird habitats.
When his contacts with other ornithologists in Canada had extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific, there was not one of us, amateur or professional, who failed to recognise, that as a field ornithologist he was without a peer 1.
— B.W.Cartwright and A.G.Lawrence
2. A Boyhood Fascination Read More
Cyril was the son of Alfred and Ada Harrold. Alfred was a Lapford doctor in the mid-1890’s. The family home was at Highfield House. It was here that Cyril was born on 05 August 1896. Within a year the family were looking to move:
It was at Trent College that he developed an interest in natural history, greatly encouraged by the school’s Natural History master. He became an enthusiastic reader of works by pioneering Victorian naturalists.
Natural history research, at this time, was very much concerned with the collection and recording of specimens, in addition to field observation. Cyril learnt to shoot, skin and mount birds as a schoolboy pastime, adding his items to the school museum which he curated for three years. Through the school’s Officer Training Corps he became a skilled marksman and was part of the school team that won the Country Life Cup, a prestigious national snap-shooting competition between public schools held at the National Rifle Associations headquarters at Bisley Camp.
3. Emigration to Canada Read More
After leaving school, Cyril moved briefly to the village of Predock near the Malvern Hills. Then, on 23 April 1914, Cyril left Southampton onboard The Austonia bound for Montreal. For an eighteen-year old with a love of the outdoors, the wild expanse of Canada offered adventure as well as career prospects in farming. He settled in the small community of Copeland, between the Great Lakes of Hurun, Ontario and Erie, and 50 miles NW of the Niagara Falls.
Less than 3 month after his arrival, Britain declared war with Germany; as a Dominion, Canada declared war the same day. Cyril was not allowed to take part in active military service as he wore glasses– despite being a skilled observer and a crack marksman! Instead he took up a role manufacturing explosives.
He spent his free time observing birds but was refused a permit to collect specimens which handicapped his research interests.
In August 1919, keen to make his hobby into a career, Cyril moved to Winnipeg where he met other like-minded naturalists who quickly recognised his talents.
He worked as a taxidermist at the shop of Edward Darbey 5 on Main Street. The shop also served as a fur trading post where
Indians and trappers from the great hinterland of the Canadian west [came] to barter their season’s harvest. 6
In the days before museums, budding naturalists met in the shop to draw and paint the sale items, take anatomical notes and share experiences. Amongst the young naturalists who had used the shop as place of learning was William Rowan 7.
William and Cyril found they had much in common: they had both attended English public schools; both had experienced a boyhood fascination with natural science; both were keen hunters and artists; both were largely self-taught in their expert knowledge of birds; and both had arrived in Canada to pursue their hobby in the hope that it would become their career. They quickly became friends. Years later, Rowan wrote that their close friendship “remained unmarred to the end by a single unpleasant incident”.
Harold provided Rowan with the undemanding friendship he needed. The two understood each other without words. 8
Only a matter of months after meeting Cyril, William Rowan left Winnipeg for a position at the University of Alberta, Edmonton. Before he left he introduced Cyril to Mantoba’s wildlife with a canoeing trip on Indian Bay. It was the first of many shared experiences.
In 1924,Cyril formed Western Taxidermists in partnership with Horace Hatton. Their shop was in the city centre city at 183 Notre Dame. Cyril moved to the Deer Lodge area of the suburbs. Winnipeg remained his home, for the rest of his life.
4. Field Trips Read More
5. Specimen Collection Read More
Two years after moving to Winnipeg, Cyril was finally able to obtain a permit to collect specimens. He rapidly made up for lost time and spent several months every year away on collection and observation trips. He collected both privately and for museums.
The logging of migratory dates was a particular interest and springtime and autumn field trips were therefore particularly important. In the spring of 1922 he collected locally on Lake Winnipeg 9. A planned trip to Colorado that autumn had to be cancelled as he was debarred from entry and lost an appeal 10. He made his first field trip of distance to the snowy prairielands of Saskatchewan in spring 1923: three days at Last Mountain Lake and almost the whole of May at Lake Johnston. He recorded no less than 149 species including several species that were rare for the province and, in a few cases, never before recorded 11.
Specimens were generally collected by shooting them with ‘dust’ shot to prevent excessive damage to feathers. Each bird was skinned, cleaned and treated with arsenic as a preservative. Labels were used to record essential details of sex and measurement. More detailed analysis could then be performed later. Specimen collection was considered a great skill. Cyril had a reputation as an excellent bird marksman and a meticulous preparers of specimens. After a day of bird observation and collecting, the careful preparation of skins around a campfire regularly went on late into the night.
In the 1920s, there was relatively little debate on the ethics of bird collection. The primary purpose was always considered to be scientific but, like many collectors, Cyril may well have enjoyed an element of sport. With time, the practice of specimen collection became soiled as museums competed for the largest collection and individuals became motivated by field scores and completing personal collection sets. It was rumoured that licenced museum collectors were privately selling rarities at high prices on a black-market. Consequently, collection licences became more difficult to obtain. Thankfully, with advances in optical science, good quality photographic lenses became affordable and ornithology took off as a more observational interest. Birds could be ‘collected’ by ticking field lists and ‘shot’ through the lens of a camera.
He steadily forged ahead, adding to his laurels annually until he developed into the best field ornithologist in Canada.
—South Notts Echo, 08 June 1929
6. William Rowan & Beaverhills Read More
Cyril had remained in close contact with his friend William Rowan who had now starting a zoology department at the University of Alberta and was keen to build a specimen collection for it. For each of the next four years, 1923-1926, Cyril travelled to Alberta to collect at Beaverhills Lake where he was, for part of the time at least, accompanied by William. Conveniently, trips to the lake enabled Cyril to visit his brother who lived in Tofield, the lake’s nearest community. It was close enough to lodge but Cyril always took up residence under canvas by the lakeside.
William first joined Cyril at Beaverhills Lakes on 14 May 1923. 12 Over the next two weeks they listed and collected 31 species of wader. Their favourite camping spot was at Francis Point. For both men, these were some of their happiest times. William later wrote:
As a campmate he was unique. He believed that obstacles were made to be overcome and nothing could upset his serenity or damp his ardour.
William assisted Cyril with wildlife drawing and Cyril assisted William with his shooting. Most of their drawings and paintings have never been published. However, William’s drawing of Whooping Cranes, featured on a Canadian Postage Stamp.
Today, like many of the prairie lakes, Beaverhills Lake has shrunk dramatically, believed to be a natural cyclical effect; in some recent summers it has dried completely. But, in 1923, there were some 55 square miles of shallow wetland used as a staging area by hundreds of thousands of migrating birds travelling the ‘mid-continent flyway’. It was the ideal place to research migratory behaviour through the carefully analysis of the arrival and departure dates of various species.
Harold was slight and wiry, with prominent ears that were accentuated by the flat cloth cap he pulled over his forehead. He seemed good-natured. His grin was infectious and his eyes, behind steel-rimmed glasses,
sparkled with humour. 8
7. The Secret of Migration Read More
What causes birds to migrate? Both Cyril Harrold and William Rowan were fascinated by this age-old question. It probably formed the topic of a good many campfire discussions.
By the time the two men met at Beaverhills Lake in Autumn 1924, William had started migration experiments in a makeshift aviary in his back-garden. His work involved subjecting controlled groups of birds to different regimes of artificial light.
Cyril took a different scientific approach: he studied the feathers of snow bunting and explained how the bird changed its plumage without moulting through absorbed radiation triggering the development a breakline which caused the snapped of the tips of feathers. He found a link between this effect and migration patterns. In a scientific paper published in 1925, he concluded that migration was probably a physiological effect caused by differing seasonal levels of sunlight.
William Rowan also published a paper that year Relation of Light to Bird Migration and Developmental Changes 13. It was Rowan who eventually showed a link between day-length and the development of birds’ gonads. The secret of migration, he reasoned, was a gonadal hormone triggering an impulse to migrate. As well as achieving acclaim in the scientific community, his book The Riddle of Migration brought public fame.
8. Percy Taverner & the National Collection Read More
From 1924, Cyril collected for three successive springs at Whitewater Lake, a few miles north of the Turtle Mountains in southwestern Manitoba. The 1925-6 trips were for the national collection of the National Museum of Natural Sciences 14 in Ottowa. The museum’s seasoned ornithologist, Percy Taverner was a highly-respected expert who was writing the last of his seminal pair of reference books on The Birds of Canada. Taverner had been drawn to Cyril following his useful list of waders from his 1923 trip to Beaverhills. He called the list “a stunner” and, recognising Cyril as a young talent, took him under his wing.
The following is an except from a report written by Cyril Harrold on his observations of Snow Geese at Whitewater Lake during his spring 1926 visit. It portrays something of Cyril’s observational curiosity and the thrill that birds gave him.
Every morning at daylight I could tell almost to the minute when the first flock was about to leave for the stubble, by the steadily increasing volume of sound coming from the white mass of Geese in the lake. This increased to a certain pitch when there was silence for a second, then a roar of wings as the first flock of possibly several thousand birds left the lake, quickly spreading out in regular line formation. After several minutes, the Geese in the lake started to call again and the process described above was repeated until all had left the lake.
…On eight consecutive mornings, they passed right over my camp at only 50-100 feet from the ground, a remarkable experience. 15
Autumn 1925: life under canvas
In August 1925, Cyril arrived at Beaverhills for the start of an Autumn’s collecting season for the National Collection. He was pleased to meet up with his friend William Rowan. Like many early ornithologists, both men were used to spending weeks on end living in very basic conditions. When Percy Taverner joined them a few days later they were envious of his well-evolved camping arrangement 17. His tent not only had a stovepipe, a mouse-proof detachable ground sheet and weatherproof doors, but a bedstead and air-mattress! His collecting trays were fly protected and hung-up neatly from the ridgepole pole. Rowan wrote:
Nothing on earth necessary for a comfortable collecting experience appeared to have been forgotten. Harrold’s bed and mine were mere blankets on the ground, whatever it might happen to be; our tent was borrowed, complete with two major leaks …with an erstwhile coal-oil container for drinking water which came out of the lake or nearest slough. 18
Following Cyril’s third consecutive spring collection at Whitewater, he returned to Winnipeg where he met up with Taverner to travel together to their summer collecting base near Belvedere. On route they stopped in Edmonton to pick up Tarverner’s other prolific young collector, Hamilton Laing. During 1926 Laing would collect 413 bird skins; Cyril collected 465.
On 24 May, the men arrived at camp at the northern end of Lac La Noone, close to the farm of Archibald Henderson. Henderson’s career had involved ranching, hunting, trapping, fur trading and establishing trading posts, but in 1926 he was best known as egg collector. Contributions towards the science of oology and ornithology helped him avoid controversy despite amassing during his lifetime a private collection of 8000 eggs from 930 species. He wrote 48 research papers.
Rowan joined the party on 27 May having returned from an egg-hunt, a tradition he continued at Belvedere for 30 years.
The party enjoyed numerous days observing and collecting around the lake. They also spent a number of days at nearby Lake Majeau, and at a smaller lake which they named Lake Wharton (8-16 July). In all, specimens from 164 different species were collected. A further 41 species were observed. The work resulted in a published list of 205 species.
Cyril stayed at Belvedere until the end of September 19.
There was one break to the summer proceedings at Belvedere. Rowan was evermore keen to research migration and needed the help of his friends for a mass banding exercise on Franklin Gull chicks. The species was believed to be particularly well travelled.
Rowan had carefully observed the habits of the large population of Franklin’s Gulls for whom Beaverhills Lake was an annual nesting site. Given their known nesting location, he had calculated that a man could band 100 chicks/hour and that 20 men could band 10,000 chicks over a long-mornings work. Cyril agreed to make the 120 mile journey from Belvedere with with Taverner and Laing. They arrived at the campsite at Belvedere late on the evening of 23 Jul.
Thing did not go to plan. It was such a cold night that the 5am start had to be delayed for an hour, moreover several local men failed to show-up much to Rowan’s embarrassment. Extra strong bands had been ordered necessitating resource to preopen them on the shore and supply them in paper bags of fifty. Worst news was to come: the gulls had chosen not to nest as a compact population but across the 4-mile long lake and water levels had risen such that banders had to wade deeply in the muddy, cold waters. Moreover, disease was found to have killed hundreds of the chicks.
Despite these setbacks, the small team managed to band 3000 chicks between 6am and 9am, and by midday the total was a few hundred short of 5000. In an article on the exercise 20, Rowan wrote:
We were stiff, aching, completely exhausted, suffering from cramp and barely able to lift our own legs, even on terra firma.
Cyril, who had received particular praise for banding 600 chicks, agreed to stayed on with Laing and Taverner and the following day the total number of chicks banded reached over 5000. Rowan was disappointed that his plans had not come to fruition, but his exercise was enough to reveal that that the gulls could fly thousands of miles within weeks of birth. Banding grew in use as a research tool.
Cyril’s final summer collecting trip with Taverner for the National Collection came two years later (see section 10).
9. Nunivak Island Read More
Cyril’s most important single contribution to ornithology came during the summer and autumn 1927 with a 6-month research expedition to a number of Alaskan islands in the Bering Sea, principally the remote Island of Nunivak. The work was conducted for the Californian Academy of Sciences, but it was initiated by Cyril who was willing to donate his time and efforts for free in order to gain experience. The Academy funded his expenses and transport costs. He set out from Seattle on 10 May.
The first 6 weeks were spent exploring birdlife on the islands of the Aleutian archipelago before a long 9-day boat journey to Nunivak via Nome over the Bering sea.
Nome was something of a ghost town—its population had fallen from a gold-rush high of 20,000 people to just a few hundred people— but it was, nevertheless, a welcome place to stock up for the months ahead on Nunivak.
Cyril arrived at Nash Harbor, Nunivak on 28 June. He was greeted by the shore-line Inuit community of Kligachimiuny and set up base not far away on a lagoon just back from the sea shore.
Nunivak was home to the indigenous Nuniwarmiut, whose Inuit culture and centuries-old customs had yet to be influenced by the outside world. They wore fur or feather parkas and women were decorated with traditional lip-piercings of bead and walrus ivory. Homes were built into the natural tundra and covered with living grass roofs. Cyril witnessed the use of traditional skin-covered kayaks for the hunting of seal, whale and fish.
The community were welcoming and probably naïve to the devastating impact that Diphtheria had brought Inuit communities in recent years through contact with white man. Visitors had been received by the main communities on the island on a few previous occasions, but Cyril was the first ‘white man’ to be seen by some inhabitants in less populous parts of the island. He initially communicated with sign language but quickly learnt about 70 words of Cup’ig.
The 70-mile-long island was virtually treeless and its low, windswept tundra was ice-covered for several months of the year, yet it began to abound with wildlife as the annual melt began. Cyril collected 555 bird skins as well as a number of animal skins, each carefully prepared. In total, the collection amounted to hundreds of hours of labour in basic, and sometime inhospitable, conditions.
He was the first person to research the rich bird-life of the island. His observational and collection work included three species never previously recorded in North America 23, two species rediscovered after a lapse of over fifty years 24 and numerous other rarities 25. Cyril also researched mammal populations including the local Brown Lemming. Through his work a new species of the lemming was later confirmed and post-humously named Lemus Harroldi.
For an island that had rarely seen white men, it was peculiar that Cyril’s trip coincided with other researchers that summer.
Ethnologists Henry Collins and T. Dale Stewart had arrived at Nash Harbour to the cheers of local villagers a week before Cyril’s landing. The aim of their research was to study the population—making physiological observations and taking measurements—and to look for evidence of historic settlements. They took from the island hundreds of bones, skulls and historic artifacts for further study: now a controversial act. Decades later some of their takings were returned to the island.
Cyril appears to have assisted in some of the ethnology work. This may have been planned: in Collin’s account of the trip 26 he wrote that Cyril’s arrival brought the party up to three.
For a short time Cyril was accompanied on the island by a naturalist working for the Californian Academy of Sciences, Dr. George Haley. His interests were botanical. He is recorded as visiting the island on 3 Jul 1927 27. The extent of his visit or association with Cyril’s work is unclear.
Despite the presence of other researchers on the island, much of Cyril’s time was spent on solo trips to the island’s wildest habitats. His enthusiasm was unwaning and it kept him on the island dangerously late with winter fast approaching.
When a blanket of cold air quickly spread from the north it froze the sea. Cyril lost all communication and was resigned to the prospect of having to survive an arctic winter. He lived off bird carcasses.
By chance, the ice opened again for just long enough to enable the landing of a boat from Nome. Cyril left behind an island whose way of life would soon change forever.
EDWARD SHERRIFF CURTIS
The best known visitor whom Cyril would have met on the island was Edward Sherriff Curtis He was on Nunivak 10-28 Jul to complete his twenty volume set The American Indian. That summer Curtis captured some of the most historically important photographs of Inuit before their way of life was influenced by the world beyond.
The most memorable image he called Woman and Child, a baby clutching the backside of his serene-looking mother, both clad from head to toe in the soft loft of duck-skin parkas; it was just two faces in a joined bundle of avian hide.
— From Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Life and Immortal Photograpghs of Edward Curtis by Timothy Egan
His time on Nunivak was the culmination of years of work, recording the fast disappearing way of life of native Americans. The New York Herald called it ‘the most gigantic undertaking since the publication of the King James Edition of the Bible’.
Curtis made over 10,000 wax cylinder recordings of Native American language and music; took over 40,000 photographic images of members of over 80 tribes; and wrote in detail about tribal lore, history and ways of life. For many tribes, his material is the only written recorded history.
On Nunivak, Sherriff was delighted to find a people living naturally “on their own terms, from within their own cultural traditions, not on the terms of settlers or missionaries”. He wrote: “Should any misguided missionary start for this island, I trust the sea will do its duty”.
Whatever time Cyril got to spend with Curtis Sherrif must have been fascinating.
10. The Last Voyage Read More
After collecting cranes for the National Collection in the spring of 1928, Cyril joined Taverner for a 3 month summer trip to the North Coast of the Gulf of St Lawrence—the,Côte-Nord. It would be Cyril’s last field trip.
Their base was at Matamek on Copley Amory’s remote summer estate. Amory was from a wealthy Boston family, whose interests outside of commerce included art, natural science and exploration.
For than 1000 miles the Côte-Nord was accessible only by boat. Its many inlets, rivers and rapids could only easily be explored by canoe. There were a few small fishing settlements inhabited by aboriginal Innu. Amory’s estate was therefore something of a marvel: fitted with every modern convenience, yet wonderfully remote. Around the main house he had built numerous lodgings for guests, servants and naturalists. Researchers also had access to fully-kitted laboratories.
Cyril and Taverner based themselves on the upper floor of “The Factory”— once a trading post used by the Hudson Bay Company to secure supplies of fur from the Innu. Amory had converted it into a small boat building enterprise employing local aboriginal people.
Cyril was used to wild camping. It was a odd experience to be serviced with fresh towels by a French maid each day, especially as native Innu were still living primitively nearby.
The base couldn’t be more idyllic, set on the shore front some distance from the house were the wild Matamec river met the St Lawrence. Near Cyril’s room was a laboratory, although he did most of his bird skinning and research in a tent outside.
Within hours of arriving, he made the first recorded sighting of a Chimney Swift to the area. The omens for a successful summer were good.
The region was known for its seabirds but Cyril and Taverner focused on little researched land birds, necessitating canoe trips, sometimes several miles long.
326 birds and 61 mammals would be collected for the National Collection 29 .
Between 13 July and 07 August, the main base was left behind during a 25-day trip exploring the coastline, its wild inlets and the seabird nesting sites of Anticosti Island. The waters were inhospitable and three days were spent in Fox Bay due to poor weather conditions.
Cyril returned to Matamek with Taverner on 08 August to enjoy a few more days bird watching and fishing as guests of Copely Amory (who owned the fishing rights on the Matamek River, one of the most abundant wild salmon rivers in the world). A number of well-known American ornithologists were gathered at Amory’s estate 30. Taverner called the period 08-18 August the “Mametek meeting”, a purely informal get together of like minded men sharing stories at the end of their long summer adeventures.
One of the guests, Glover Allen, opened Cyril’s eyes to the travel possibilities available through well-funded American Universities. He lectured at Harvard University and had returned the previous year from an expedition from the west to the east coasts of Africa via Liberia and the Belgium Congo.
Cyril impressed Glover and a matter of weeks later he found himself with a job offer for a role at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard. He happily accepted.
11. Clipped Wings — an unexpected death Read More
Shortly after accepting the offer of a position at Havard, Cyril resigned from it. He had been approached by the American Museum of Natural History to accompany their Madagascan expedition as a lead ornithologist. The expedition was a joint venture with the British Museum and Paris Museum. It was the expedition of his dreams and too great an opportunity to turn down!
He moved to Manhattan and devoted himself to studying Madagascan ornithology from available literature and specimens. A checklist of Madagascan birds was completed with notes on their habitat which he translated from French text.
While studying he contracted influenza which inflamed his left ear. On 1 Feb 1929, he was operated on for mastoiditis but it was discovered that he had also contracted meningitis. Cyril died in Manhattan at 2.15am on 04 February, just five days before the expedition was due to sail.
Cyril had always been seen as a fit man, easily withstanding the hardships of life in the wilds. His friends and wider scientific community were quite unprepared for the tragic news of his death. For many it was deeply shocking, not least because he was on the cusp of a career defining expedition; something he had longed for since his school days.
Cyril’s ashes were returned to England and on 05 June, four months after his death, they were finally interred in the grave of his parents at Breaston. During the church service Rev Warner, who had been Cyril’s House Master at Trent College, gave a glowing tribute.
12. Cyril Remembered Read More
Several of Cyril’s friends and peers wrote obituaries. Today, these serve to demonstrate the high regard in which he was held as a naturalist, and particularly as an ornithologist. Moreover, they provide an incite into the nature of Cyril: the friend, joker and campmate.
They portray Cyril as shy and reserved, usually keeping himself in the background, but being the first to step forward when an obstacle needed to be overcome. He possessed the ability to stimulate and inspire with his quiet enthusiasm.
His infectious wry smile went with a great sense of humour, entering into a practical joke with all the zest of a school-boy.
Cyril was more than a skilled collector and field note writer. His study of the pigmentation and structure of feathers in relation to bird distribution contributed to the debate on the ‘mystery of migration’, taken forward by his close friend William Rowan. He was also an advocate of systematic ornithology. His flair for languages at school had stood him in good stead and he regularly used his knowledge of Latin, French and German in his cataloguing work.
He was generous, always willing to pass on his knowledge to others, yet few could begin to comprehend his unusual powers of observation — his ability to spot a rare bird from within a flock by a slight quirk of its flight; his identification of birds from a single note; or his prediction of bird behaviour from a nuance in their calls. His observational skills were a constant source of admiration. One tribute referred to it as Cyril’s “field wizardry” !
As an ornithologist, he had that within him which would have made him pre-eminent; as a man, he was all that is encompassed by the word Gentleman
… this is the word most frequently used to describe him.
We cannot conclude this tribute more fittingly—
Cyril Guy Harrold was an ornithologist and a gentleman.
— B.W.Cartwright and A.G.Lawrence 31
THE FIELD WIZARD
The following story recounts an example of Cyril’s observational skills during a field trip to Whitewater Lake in 1925. 32
We were just sitting down to lunch when Harrold jumped to his feet and said
“There is a Peregrine coming!”
The camp was surrounded by trees and the lake shore was not visible. All I had heard was the call of a Red-winged Black-bird from some 400 yards away. This was quickly followed by a growling caw of a crow.
“Yes, it’s a Peregrine all right,” he said, and then I saw through the trees, the flashing form of the hawk. Catching sight of our tent, it swung towards it and was promptly collected by Harrold.
“How did you know the Peregrine was coming?” I enquired.
“The Redwing told me and the crow confirmed it,” he replied.
I found he could interpret the meaning of fifteen different calls of the crow and many other incidents could be related showing the remarkable powers of reading the meaning of sound or behaviour which he possessed.
Tall and powerful in build, he was tireless in the field. I Have seem him wade the marshes and roam the prairie from daylight to dark and then prepare specimens all night. This would not be just an occasional spell, but a regular programme two or three times a week when migration was at its height.
- Obituary by B.W.Cartwright and A.G.Lawrence, Canadian Field Naturalist, volume 43, page 132, September 1929
- The Cottage , Gotham
- The Old Manor House, Breaston, from about 1904
- Funeral sermon as reported by West Bridgford Times & Echo, Friday 07 June 1929
- Edward Darbey was the official Taxidermist to the Manitoba Government
- Darbey’s obituary, Manitoba Free Press, 26 August 1922
- William Rowan arrived back in Winnipeg in Oct 1919 after university studies and marriage in England. He had become friends with Darbey after frequenting his shop 1908-1911 and had remained in contact
- Restless Energy, The Biography of William Rowan (1891-1957), Marianne Gosztonyi Ainley
- noted collections were Old Squaw Duck (02 May), Hudson Curlew (21 May) and Scarlet Tanager (30 May).
- St. Albans District manifest records of aliens arriving from foreign contiguous territory: arrivals at Canadian border ports from 1895-1954, vol 594-595, Sep 1921
- Cyril made the first record in Saskatchewan of: Duck Hawk (02 May), Townsend’s Solitaire (10 May) and Grasshopper Sparrow. Other rarities included Stilt Sandpiper, Buff- breasted Sandpiper, Brewer’s Sparrow, Black- headed Grosbeak and Blackburnian Warbler—Notes on the Birds Found at Lake Johnston and Last Mountain Lake, Saskatchewan, During April and May, 1922, C. G. Harrold, Wilson Bulletin, Jan-Mar 1933, pages16-26
- They were accompanied by William’s “lab boy” Robert Lister
- William Rowan, Nature, volume 115, 494–495 (1925)
- Now the Canadian Museum of Nature
- Notes on the Lesser Snow and Blue Geese Observed at Whitewater Lake, Manitoba, C.G.Harrold, The Auk, Volume 45, Issue 3, 1 July 1928, Pages 290–292
- Charles Sternberg’s son George was, like Taverner, closely associated with The National Museum as well as being a bird collector. This had led to Taverner collecting in the Red Deer Valley and visiting the excavation site on a similar trip in 1917
- Rowan and Taverner had been corresponding for some years and had been keen to meet
- Jack Cranmer-Byng (1996) “A Life With Birds: Percy A. Taverner, Canadian Ornithologist” The Canadian Field-Naturalist 110(1)
- Taverner left 26 July; Laing stayed to 26 October– Ornithological Investigations near Belvedere, Alberta, P. A. Taverner, Annual Report of the Canadian National Museum for 1926, pp. 84-104.
- Banding Franklin’s Gulls in Alberta, William Rowan, The Wilson Bulletin (1927), pp44-49
- Photographed by T. Dale Stewart, Explorations and Field-work of the Smithsonian Institution in 1927, p154
- Credit: Hatchwell, B. from Birds of the World, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA
- the Japanese Pipit, Middendorff’s Grasshopper Warbler and Prunella montanella
- the Mongolian Plover and Cassin’s Bullfinch
- Birds of Nunivak Island, Alaska, Harry S. Swarth, Pacific Coast Avifauna (22), 1934, pp1-65
- Explorations and Field-work of the Smithsonian Institution in 1927, pp149-156
- History of Botanical Exploration in Alaska, Eric Hulton, p330
- Negative 4905, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, appeared in The Shield & Diamond, Official Publication of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, Vol XXXVII (5), June 1928
- Bulletin of the National Museum of Canada, no.62 (1929), p12
- Dr. Harry Oberholser, Dr. Glover Allen, Francis Allen and Frank Kennard
- Obituary, Canadian Field Naturalist, volume 43, page 132, September 1929.
- Obituary by B.W.Cartwright and A.G.Lawrence, Canadian Field Naturalist, volume 43, page 132, September 1929