A look at the natural year in the Highlands

‘Nature writers are supposed to be able to summon from the literary ether the precise words to describe their subjects or the feelings they evince,’ writes John Lister-Kaye in Gods of the Morning.

‘Sometimes the Muse attends, but by no means on demand.’

Well, for Gods of the Morning: A Bird’s Eye View of a Highland Year, the Muse was quite clearly in attendance.

Lister-Kaye describes the jubilant song of the blackcap, the mono-syllabic bassoon chatter of the stags and the cawing of the rooks in stunning detail.

His descriptions of ‘fidgets’ of swallows gathering on telegraph lines ‘like chattering clothes pegs’, woodcocks ‘slinking’ into woods and pink-footed geese ‘winking-winking’ into the dusk capture exactly the beauty of the wildlife in his beloved Aigas.

Lister-Kaye OBE has been running the world famous field centre near Inverness for more than 30 years. His familiarity with the landscape makes for an intimate portrait.

He also writes about the threats to his beloved Highlands, describing how climate change already seems to be altering nature on the ground, and urging field sports to manage the land for the sake of us all – not just game.

Gods of the Morning proves what a haven for wildlife Lister-Kaye has created and the joy that can be evoked from understanding nature so closely.

Gods of the Morning, by John Lister-Kaye, published by Canongate, £14.99

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