… a life less ordinary than most
Running Wild By Mike Tomkies | Whittles Publishing | Softback | May 2014 | 192 Pages | 16 Colour Illustrations | ISBN: 9781849951234
• The concluding part of Mike’s eagle studies
• Unparalleled observations of the complicated behaviour of hunting and nesting Golden Eagles
• Interwoven in the story is Mike’s obsessive quest to find his own ‘small wild paradise’
The Publisher’s View:
ou thought he was retired, even dead? No, he is back! At the age of 86, Mike Tomkies is back doing what he does best observing our rarest and most dramatic wildlife, unsuspected and from close quarters, and writing about it with the kind of intimate detail that has earned high acclaim from critics and conservationists.
Within days of arriving back from five years of studying bears,â€¨wolves and lynxes in Spain, he is up a wild cliff in Cornwallâ€¨watching three peregrine falcon chicks from hatching to flyingâ€¨stage. We can follow his astounding adventures over the next tenâ€¨years as he obsessively searches all through Britain for that elusiveâ€¨’small wild paradise’ so many of us would also like to find. He livesâ€¨in, but finally loses, no less than six new homes in that time and the complications and reasons why are both hilarious and sad. Evenâ€¨more fascinating is his continual obsessive quest to get up close andâ€¨personal with nesting goshawks, buzzards and ospreys, as well asâ€¨mammals like fishing otters, a fox family and he even feeds wild badgers by hand.
At one remote farmhouse in the Borders, he learns how to handle a bulldozer, digs out his own 70-yard lake and stocks it with trout. Over three years there he raises ten barn owl chicks and establishes three breeding pairs in areas where they had long been absent. It was the most successful barn owl release at the time. There are many amusing anecdotes such as when he dreaded taking some of Prince Harry’s classmates to ‘otter bay’ and then saw far more otters than when he had gone there on his own!
Transcending all are his new studies and descriptions of hunting and nesting golden eagles, during which he passed his 3,050 hour in one of his home-made ‘invisible’ hides, and a huge female allowed him to bring much-needed meat to her chicks in their eyrie. The book ends with triumphant filming of the magnificent white-tailed sea eagles on Mull, hunting and sailing into their high nest with prey and feeding their chicks. Mike also achieved valuable publicity for the pioneering public sea eagle hide project on Mull.
The Author: Mike Tomkies is a well-known naturalist, writer and film maker and has lived for many years in remote and wild places in the Scottish Highlands, Canada and Spain. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland. His other acclaimed books include Moobli, Alone in the Wilderness, A Last Wild Place, Between Earth and Paradise, Out of the Wild, Golden Eagle Years, On Wing and Wild Water, My Wicked First Life, Backwoods Mates and Hollywood’s Greats, Rare, Wild and Free and Wildcat Haven.
Readership: this is a real must for anyone interested in wild nature, and the profound experiences of a leading naturalist with rare major species. It will also be a magnet for all Mike Tomkies’ loyal fans.
Fatbirder View: Its hard to know what to say about this book. No doubt the author has a large and loyal following and has led an incredible and interesting life. However, it might be that I’m having an off day, or it could be that interesting lives do not always make interesting reading, but I somehow found it hard to engage with the book. I have no particular criticism its not really poorly written and the photos are excellent, it may just not be for me. Perhaps I’m like a teacher who has just read thirty-four ‘What I did in the holidays’ essays and am either looking for something shockingly different in content or something outstandingly well written. This does not startle in either respect.
However, I am sure very many people will enjoy reading about a life less ordinary than most and what it can sometimes take to entertain us with wonderful wildlife documentaries.