Book Reviews: Three books on nature and wildlife

On the run up to the festive season there are so many books being published that would make great gifts for gardeners and nature lovers.  I thought I would have a look at some of the more special ones that are on the market.

I have not been paid to write about these books but I have not paid for them.  My words and opinions are my own.

Ashley Jackson's Watercolour Sketches  published by White Owl imprint, Pen and Sword Books.
I am offered books to review quite frequently and I turn down ones that I am not interested in and/or I do not think fit with what I want this blog to be about.  This book of watercolour sketches I accepted and I admit to a bit of self-indulgence in doing so (my blog my rules!).  This is the most beautiful book of watercolour sketches and it called to me in particular as some of the areas of the country featured are ones that are very dear to me.  I love the landscapes from the North Yorkshire coastlines of Staithes and Runswick Bay to Wensleydale and Heptonstall.  All places I have visited and loved.  Other locations are not ones I have visited yet now I need to add to the list.  Each sketch has a short description with it that places it in time and location and I found myself wistfully turning the pages.  I loved this book, it is the perfect gift for people who know the areas and for those who do not but should.

Iain Graham: Birds, Bees and Butterflies, Daws Hall, a very special nature reserve and garden.  Published by Unicorn Publishing.
This totally charming book is the story of their creation of a nature reserve at their home and garden, Daws Hall.  The story of Major Grahame starts just before World War Two and continues through his army career.  All the milestones through his personal history lead to the purchase of Daws Hall in 1965 and the start of the creation of the gardens and Wildfowl Farm, the origins of the nature reserve and educational centre it was to become.  Major Grahame is a man whose passion for nature sings out from this book.  The book is full of photographs that demonstrate the beauty of this place.  There is a real passion for connecting young people with nature and this is the raison d'etre of the charitable trust that the Grahame's have set up.  I read this book and wanted to visit, immediately.  It is now very firmly on the list.  This book shows how the personal is bigger than just one person and how we can use what we have and care about to benefit many.  I loved this book.

James D Fair  100 Great Wildlife Experiences, what to see and where  published by White Owl imprint, Pen and Sword Books.
I admit to wanting to review this book mainly on the basis of the picture of the red squirrel on the front cover.  Whilst I have many squirrels (many) in my garden, none of them are red and I would love to see one in reality one day.  Page 200 gives a good list of places where they may be seen.

Suitably happy at my quest for a red squirrel was answered, I moved on to look at the 99 other wildlife experiences covered.  What a great list it is: from glow worms to beavers to Booming Bitterns and snowdrops.  What I like very much about the book is that each listed experience comes with a rating of: family friendly, budget friendly, amateur friendly, best time of year and whether they have toilets or not.  All very important criteria for a day out.  So if you decide to go hunting Orcas it does warn you that you need to be patient and that you might be disappointed.   I enjoyed this book, it has handy map to show you where things can be found.  I was thinking this would be a great book to take with me on a long weekend or trip away.  It is not a comprehensive encyclopedia and it should not be seen as such, it is a nicely laid out guide.  It would make a good gift.