Lapland – A Natural History by Derek Ratcliffe


Published by Poyser  2005 Hard back Pages 352















When reviewing books should they all be newly published? You hope that new books tell the new story so out date the old ones but then comes a book like this which is only 11 years old and what has changed to help the book move on and sadly the answer is ‘not a lot’. This is because the book shows the damage done by too many grazers in a foreign land. Sounds like the same in the UK in so many upland areas, we have sheep and Lapland has reindeer. The first thing that goes missing is the amazing vole/ lemming cycle with too little cover for the rodents to expand due to general predation. This leads to no eruption of Long tailed Skuas, Snowy owls and Great Grey owls etc. This lack of cover also leads to more predation of ground nesting birds with the Lapland Bunting seeing dramatic falls in numbers. Again less birds means less food for predators with Rough legged Buzzard laying fewer eggs. The large number of breeding species show a gradual decline and when you see the 14 years put into creating this book, with amazing pictures of birds plants and landscapes making you envious of the chance of walking this great part of the planet. Derek was given credit for writing more nest record cards than any of the local naturalists. Sadly he passed away the same year this book came out. The book is still the best book to read even if you never set foot on the place, and will take some beating! You can read a tribute to this great man here -