Jim Crumley has been described as ‘the best nature writer working in Britain today,’ and this work on the return to Scotland of the magnificent white-tailed eagle – or sea eagle – certainly proves that point.
Crumley’s beautiful, descriptive prose paints a magnificent picture of these most graceful and majestic creatures.
Crumley has spent years observing both golden and sea eagles in Scotland and is well placed to write this captivating account of how these two great species of eagle are learning to share the Scottish skies.
There was no sustained sea eagle presence in Scotland between 1918 and 1975, when they were reintroduced to the Isle of Rum. The latest birds, all the way from Norway, have been released in the east, in the Tay estuary.
This has created a kind of eagle highway between east and west, a thoroughfare that runs across the country and seems to indicate that the birds on one side are aware of the presence of the birds on the other. Crumley believes that much of this is down to instinct.
Despite the lengthy absence of the sea eagle from our shores, the birds have some inkling of the landscape, which is built into their very beings. They have an awareness of these most ancient flyways.
Crumley takes us on an bird’s-eye tour of eagle habitat’s in Scotland; from Mull, where golden and sea eagles co-exist, to the fairways of St Fillans, and the variety of great places to view eagles from the most remote wilderness to charming cottage gardens.
We also learn much about the nature of these great symbols of the wilderness from a man who has observed them for 25 years.
His love of these birds is infectious and readers should expect to be transported to the glens with eyes set firmly on the skies by the enthusiastic and, in places, almost poetic stories of sightings and encounters with eagles.
The photography within the book by Laurie Campbell is stunning, but almost superfluous, so expressive is the text.
Crumley often asks the question ‘What next for Scotland’s eagles?’ and for Scotland’s wild land in general. The reintroduction of sea eagles may be controversial and the birds certainly have their sceptics, but will it and the beaver trial
pave the way for similar projects for wolves or even bears in the future?
As long as we have Jim Crumley here to write about it, then I have no doubt that – at the very least – the tales of their return would provide fantastic entertainment for wildlife lovers across the country.
The Eagle’s Way, by Jim Crumley, published by Saraband, £12.99.