Eagle Days by Stuart Rae and the Peregrine Falcon by Patrick Stirling-Aird, these are two books which you should have in your collection.
Eagle Days is a breath of fresh air. This is also the start of a new series by Langford press called ‘Birds and People’ making such a hard act to follow but there are some well known names coming up along with some not so well known all with their feet in the field on their chosen birds. Eagle Days makes you realise that we still have some great field workers out there and they are not just running around chasing rarities!
In contrast the peregrine is the third book in a series which is hoped to run and run for New Holland. The big draw is of course the 80 excellent colour pictures some never seen before in print like the male tiercel mounting the female with talons tucked back by Terry Pickford and Stig Frode Olsen’s female in snow. The author, Patrick Stirling-Aird is well known on both sides of the border as secretary for the Scottish Raptor Study Group as well as on the council for the RSPB. He was also a member of the UK Government Raptor Working Group which sat from 1995 to 2000. His 35 years watching and studying Peregrines in Scotland comes out well in the text.
With so much persecution going on these days of our raptors sometimes you feel that it may be time to put off the lights and shut the door and walk away from all these problems but read these books and you will know why the mountains and hills of Scotland would not be the same without these iconic bird flying over them.
The peregrine falcon is straight forward in the way it is written covering all the main aspects like family, breeding, food, behaviour and persecution. Two areas missed include a world distribution map with family groups and the chapter on Peregrine watching is encouraging visits to the uplands and the coastal cliffs at breeding time but missing out on encouraging readers to visit the birds in winter around wetlands, estuaries or Starling roosts where spectacular scenes of mass birds and peregrines can often be seen. In all a great book to look at again and again.
Stuart Rae has spent over 30 years trampling these glens, mountains and moorlands in search of this bird and to study the breeding behaviour, the social behaviour and the food the bird eats. This is not a book on land management but exactly what Stuart found over all these years. Every wet sock, every snow storm, every eagle he saw the experience takes you right in there. From January to December and back again along with some magnificent photos of landscape and birds themselves. You even have the chance to count people at the nest in the eye of an eaglet!!
Both books are reasonably priced at £18.00 for Stuart’s book and £14.99 for Patrick’s book.