As a boy scout, Maxwell Knight was influenced by Robert Baden-Powell’s teachings, which insisted that the study of living things was one of the single most important features of everyday scout life. He was trained to be highly observant and the foundations of a great amateur-naturalist were firmly established.

He learned with varying degrees of success how to combine his childhood nature detection “hobby” with woodcraft, carpentry, drawing and painting.

“How often have I myself wished that I could sketch and paint,” he wrote in Scouts as Naturalists (undated), “and how much more good I would get out of my researches into animal life if only I could draw even a rough picture of the many things I observe in a year’s work.”

One of his proudest scouting achievements was the moment he received his naturalist badge, when he was just twelve years old. “I can still remember how thrilled I was, ” he lamented in the 1960’s, “when I sewed it on to my shirt – yes, I said “sewed”. I may not be able to draw,  but I can sew!”