John is a lucky lad having been in the right place at the right time to see the reintroduction of the Sea Eagle right from the beginning. It was the voluntary work at Loch Garten which saw him contact with people like Roy Dennis and George Waterson. Then he was off to Fair Isle for the first reintroduction which most people think of a failure but it was a learning curve for the later Rum reintroduction. What John described as a short stint on Rum actually lasted 10 years! Arriving with a rucksack he finally came away with a boat full of belongings as well as a wife! Funding from several sauces kept the project going with several phases making sure there were sufficient eagles brought in from Norway. John even spent time in Norway with experts such as Harald Misund visiting many breeding eagles.
John is no stranger to writing having written 8 books before this one. The Return of the Sea Eagle in 1993 was the first thoughts on this programme so it is not surprising that he felt it was time for the more up to date version of a book which is now out of print. Other books on penguins and Sea Otters may seem out of place but given the quality of this book I am sure they will have been well researched.
The history of the decline of the Sea Eagle is well studied by John and the continuous persecution by the natives often makes grime reading. Happier days are had on Rum with the release of the first batch of birds and the work to monitor their movements. Full information is found on diet of the birds even though many crofters still think that is mainly lambs! The breeding history is well documented with even myself seeing that first pair on Mull after a ringing Golden Eagles session nearby. The value to the local economy has been well presented with both Mull and Skye benefiting enormously.
One missing feature which I am sure ‘us down here’ would like to have been told about is the famous failure of the East Anglian reintroduction even though piglets were mentioned in the book. Also why Wales seemed to have a better right to a reintroduction rather than Cumbria where historically more birds used to breed!
John’s sheer number of colour pictures taken ‘on the job’, make the book full of reasons to keep flicking through the book even after reading it and I am sure it will be well received by the birding world as are most of Whittles excellent bird and wildlife publications.