Authored by nature writer Keith Broomfield, and published by Tippermuir Books, A Scottish Wildlife Odyssey is a five-month voyage of nature discovery that includes familiar and lesser-known wildlife locations.
It is a personal journey about Keith’s journey to find Scotland’s more unusual creatures, including those found under the sea.
Keith’s previous book, If Rivers Could Sing, which chronicled a wildlife year on a Scottish river, was shortlisted for the New Book of 2021 in the Saltire Awards.
In his chapter on the Moffat Hills and the River Tweed, Keith writes: “The ground beneath our feet was soft, yielding and pock-marked with little burrows. There, on a small patch of grassland in the East End of Glasgow, surrounded by houses and with the constant hum of the M8 motorway nearby, we stood upon something extraordinary.
“The burrows, which were not immediately obvious to the eye, belonged to water voles, yet there was no ditch, pond nor burn nearby. In an anomaly of nature, water voles in the East End of Glasgow have shunned water and instead prosper in grasslands, living much of their lives in underground burrows. This behaviour is not uncommon among water voles in Continental Europe but is rarely recorded in Britain.
“Water vole burrows in grassland are not immediately obvious to the eye but I was fortunate to be accompanied by Cath Scott, natural environment officer for Glasgow City Council, who was taking me on a tour of some of their sites, of which there are many in this part of Glasgow and North Lanarkshire. Our first stop was Avenue End Primary School where voles were inhabiting a nearby grassy bank. The school children adore the voles, which are often the subject of projects.
“Underground living (fossorial) water voles were first discovered in Glasgow’s east end in 2008. They are the same species as wetland dwelling water voles but make their home in parks, road verges, vacant land, gardens and wherever else they find long grass and can burrow. According to Cath, their origin is a mystery.”
Commenting on his new book, Keith said: “The book is a wildlife travel journey through Scotland, starting in the south-west and then zig-zagging my way across and up through Scotland, alternating between west and east, heading northwards all the while, until the trip end in Shetland.
“This five-month journey was a snapshot of Scottish nature and a random dip into its deep riches. I hope it will open readers eyes to what a wonderful country we live in. It is easy to take our nature and landscape for granted, which is something we should never do.
“I also hope it inspires, and if the book leads to even a handful of people becoming more interested and active in nature conservation, then I would be delighted with that end-result. Whilst the book is a celebration of Scottish nature, it also highlights the very difficult environmental challenges we face to ensure we can live a more sustainable future, where both nature and humanity can prosper.”
A Scottish Wildlife Odyssey can be purchased from www.tippermuirbooks.co.uk and from Amazon, other online sellers and bookshops across the UK.