New book: The Hen Harrier – In the Shadow of Slemish by Don Scott

12. February 2011

The Hen Harrier - In the Shadow of Slemish by Don Scott

The new Hen Harrier book by Don Scottt

I am happy to announce the recent publication of a new book on Hen Harriers. It is written by Don Scott, one of the leading experts on the species. I had the great pleasure to do an interview with Don about Hen Harriers for europeanraptors.org.

The book will be of great interest for everyone who cares about Hen Harriers or raptors in general. Below is the information from the press release of the publisher:

The hen harrier is one of the iconic species of the bird world and its history is a mix of controversy, persecution, and recent patchy recovery. This book, a dedicated study of the bird in N. Ireland for over two decades, provides a detailed account of the life, habits and prospects for the bird. The author presents much new information about the harrier in its continuing struggle to re-establish its hold despite high levels of persecution from man or predation by other species.
Having spent thousands of hours over many years studying these birds, he was rewarded by the discovery that this ground-nesting species was nesting in tall conifers in the forests of County Antrim the only country throughout their vast European range where this occurs annually. Other significant finds soon became apparent as did the discovery that red kites were nesting for the first time and marsh harriers had returned to nest for the first time in almost 200 years.
The author’s passion for the bird is obvious as he shares moments of excitement and sadness, and he speaks frankly about the maltreatment and mismanagement of this elegant raptor over the years.

More information:
Publishers Press Release (PDF)

Publishers website for the book

My review of the book

The new book “The Hen Harrier: In the Shadow of Slemish” is another great read in a serious of raptor books published by Whittles Publishing (they also have great books on Ospreys, Golden Eagles or the Common Kestrel).

In this book, Don Scott, Hen Harrier expert from Nothern Ireland describes the biology, behaviour and conservation of this magnificent raptor
with a focus on Northern Ireland. But he also mentions observations from other places and other researchers and also draws comparison to other harrier species (he has observed all harrier species around the world).

The topics in the book include:
– range of the Hen Harrier
– breeding biology
– diet in Antrim
– communal roosting
– tree nesting
– threats
– conservation and outlook to the future of Hen Harriers in Northern Ireland

The largest part of the book are the descriptions of the author’s studies and observations in Antrim in Northern Ireland where he spend over two decades studying Hen Harriers.

Of particular interest are Don’s observations about tree nesting Hen Harriers, which is a rare behaviour and has rarely been observerd outside of Northern Ireland.

This is not a scientific monograph but a lively description of the author’s adventures and experiences with Hen Harries, but many details about the bird’s live and ecology can be found this book.

The book is easy to read and hard to put down.

Don Scott’s book is a great read for anyone interested raptors in general or harriers in particular. Recommended.

Let’s hope that the publisher continues this series of great raptors books. I would especially like to see a book about Northern Goshawks and White-tailed Eagles.