Jewels Beyond the Plough
Text by Richard Jefferson Illustrated by John Davis
Forward by Chris Packham
Isbn – 978-1-904078-41-8
Published by Langford Press, Hardback 168 pages, Published in 2012, Price £38
As a celebration of Britain’s grasslands you may think that the book should not be reviewed in a bird watching magazine but when you see the grasslands with their classic birds you can see why preserving the habitat is also helping the birds that live on them. Where would our lapwing and redshank be without real grassland compared to the silage fields cutting them up before they have chance to breed. Each painting tells a story with Richard giving details about the habitat. You can find anything from the Choughs on the Great Orme in Wales to Black Grouse in Teesdale, County Durham not forgetting the Machair up in the Isles with its Golden plover and Dunlin.
Richard is a real grassland guru working for Natural England as their senior grasslands specialist. He is an all round naturalist and has also worked on a book ‘Grasslands in Europe of High Nature Value’. John, on the other hand, has spent ‘hours scribbling’! Well this work is not scribbling and he has certainly gone on from there to win ‘the fine arts award’ in 1987 from the RSPB. He has been in the magazine ‘British Wildlife’ and has also been in BBC Wildlife and the RSPB magazine.
So this book is not just art but a learning book about one of our rarest habitats with a 90% loss since 1945 and only 2% covered by protection today. The bird species are often found on other habitats but meadow ants need this grassland to feed Green Woodpeckers and the Stone Curlew on Weeting Heath, Norfolk need lowland calcareous grassland. It is not a book with just flowers and birds but with many mammals, butterflies, moths and grasshoppers as well. With wet grassland you have Berwick Swans and a female Hen Harrier so there is plenty to look for and if you still do not want to go to Conistone old pasture to see a field of Rock Rose after this book there will be some thing wrong with you!