St Mary’s – more landscapes and birds

Another day on St Mary’s

At Peninnis

Looking back to Porthcressa

A Scillonian post-agricultural landscape


A  cormorant

An Oystercatcher

Brightly marked starling

Herring gull

Iceland gull with herring gulls

The Iceland gull


A peregrine


Falcons- Collins New Naturalist 132

I have recently bought a copy of the latest Collins New Naturalist book entitled Falcons by Richard Sale. I am not attempting to review the book here because I haven’t read it! I have just dipped into it here and there to get a feel for it.

As ever a fabulous cover by Robert Gillmor – with a Peregrine and a Kestrel on the front

falcons2The spine features the Merlin and a Hobby

These four species are the subject of the book. I remember in the early 1980s reading Leslie Brown’s classic British Birds of Prey (first published in 1976). I read the book from cover to cover and got so interested in birds of prey I then acquired Derek Ratcliffe’s classic on the Peregrine (first published in 1980) and Ian Newton’s book on the Population Ecology of Raptors(published in 1979). Later I also read Andrew village’s monograph on the Kestrel (1990).

Whilst many papers have been written about the Merlin and the Hobby as far as I know I don’t think there is a monograph on either – I might be wrong though.

Richard Sale’s book therefore brings together all the published work on these four species. It is a long book – just short of 600 pages and is packed full of tables, graphs, illustrations and photographs. I suspect this book will also become a classic and I am sure it will sell well. Like many New Naturalist books you don’t have to read them cover to cover – they can be read as reference books or you can read the specific chapters that interest you.

Richard Sale is an interesting person – he has a PhD in astrophysics and is currently studying for another PhD on the ecology of the Merlin! His other book is the Poyser volume on the Gyrfalcon which he wrote with Eugene Potapov.

Definitely worth getting if you are into birds of prey – retail price is £65 but with a bit of Googling you can get it much cheaper than that.

Tweet of the Day with Carry Akroyd

A book written by Brett Westwood and Stephen Moss has just been published to celebrate the cult Radio 4 programme ‘Tweet of the Day’. To get a feel for the radio programme listen here to Bill Oddie talking about the ring ouzel.

The book ‘ Tweet of the Day’ is well written and contains lots of interesting anecdotes but for me it is made by the illustrations by Carry Akroyd – she has done 248 ‘pied vignettes’ and 36 colour pages. Here are a couple of ‘Dartmoor’ examples from the book.

Tweet of the day The cover of the book

Tweet of the day MarchThe peregrine pages – a pied vignette and a colour page

Tweet of the day WheatearThe wheatear


Tweet of the day Red grouseThe red grouse

In my opinion it is worth buying ‘Tweet of the Day’ simply for the illustrations!

Wicken Fen

I have been a big fan of Carry for years and when I left Wicken Fen for Dartmoor my colleagues asked Carry to paint a Wicken Fen landscape for me
– it is one of my most treasured possessions.

Nature's powersIf you like Carry’s work I can also recommend her book ‘Natures powers and spells’ – full of her paintings