Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Boredom and Books

Its getting a struggle at the moment to find anything new and recordable on the reserve at the moment and as a result I've been walking out into the farmland a bit more and the RSPB fields alongside the reserve.
Driving along the Harty Road yesterday morning the Barn Owl above got up from alongside the road and, ignoring a nice fence post to perch on, chose instead this telegraph pole tensioning wire. It stayed there just long for me to glide to a halt alongside and quickly take this photo through the open car window.

The weather is forecast to warm up considerably on Sunday and the beginning of next week, let's hope so, and all those people who complained when we had the earlier hot and sunny weather, and who are now complaining about the wet and windy weather, can return to complaining about it being too warm!

On the subject of the weather, while it was raining this afternoon I began to dust my many book shelves and found out the real reason for the word dust jackets, there was plenty of it! Anyway, as you do, I started to reappraise some of them and to trace where some of my interest in the great outside began and put a few together as below.
Obvious from many of my previous blogs is my love for the one book that I first read as a child and still read at regular intervals now - The Wind in the Willows. For me there is no equal to that book and when I feel like an injection of nostaglia for a particular season then out comes the book and I read the relevant chapter. The chapter "Wayfarers All" where Ratty is struggling to let go of summer, despite autumn happening all around him, is something many of us must experience at times, or in my case most years.
The next great book that I first read when I was probably only around 12-13 was Peter Scott's autobiography of his life from birth to 1960. That man's early life was a fabulous tale of so many different adventures, all connected to wildlife and so inspirational to me. Many years later I also bought the book by Elspeth Huxley which cronicled his whole life and was once again a fascinating read.
Not far behind Peter Scott in terms of making great strides in respect of the conservation of wildfowl was Jeffrey Harrison. Possibly not everybody's cup of tea because of his passion for wildfowling but boy did he give plenty back to conservation and was intrumental in setting up the Sevenoaks Wildfowl Trust.

Who else, oh yes, Gavin Maxwell and his "Ring of Bright Water" about his otters in Scotland. If you haven't read it, his life story by Douglas Botting is hard to put down and you will read about a complex man who, like Peter Scott, had many diverse adventures as he meandered through life before Mijbil and Edal entered his life as young otters.
There is also my battered old copy of "A Field Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe" by Peterson, Mountfort and Hollom. A book surely, on most serious birdwatcher's shelves and even today one that is very hard to beat. It must of been sensational when it first came out in 1954.

And finally, although many more led me along my path, there is the truly wonderful " Wildings - The Secret Garden of Eileen Soper". This beautiful and touching book is illustrated throughout by her superb water colours of wildlife in and around her huge and overgrown garden. And if you don't know who Eileen Soper is, well she illustrated amongst many others, all of Enid Blyton's Famous Five books, which if you scroll down, you will see I have the whole 21 of, all in their dust jackets - they really do hark back to an age of innocence in the countryside that only us old'ns can truly remember.
The dusting? - it never actually got finished.


  1. I'm very envious of that Barn Owl sighting and the photo Derek!! I clicked and enlarged it and it really is beautiful.

    Another absorbing read, I love seeing what other people have on their bookshelves and of course thanks to you I have the Eileen Soper book on my shelf too :)

  2. Thanks Jan,
    Somehow the photo makes it look as tho the Owl hasn't a tail, which wasn't the case.
    Books are a vital part of life and for me, nothing can replace them.

  3. I watched the film of Ring of Bright water Derek, very sad it was too )-:

    As for the weather, well it's one extreme to the other, from wet and windy, to hot and humid, niether is conducive for being out and about ''wildlifing'' All we want is 21C and no wind is that too much to ask for - for gods sake!!!

  4. Warren,

    Its not too much too ask for but its too much too expect to get - you don't like the cold and you don't like the hot, as you always make obvious, but the bit in the middle doesn't happen on a permanent basis.