Running Wild by Mike Tomkies is a tremendous book by a naturalist with many decades of first-hand experience of wildlife. In particular, the author must be as knowledgeable on the ways of the golden eagle as anyone in the UK. There is action right from page one of the book, when Mike follows the fortunes of a nesting pair of peregrines in Cornwall. It is interesting that he observes that they seem to leave fulmars alone that are nesting close-by, and also appear to disregard a young gull that is a nearby neighbour and would clearly make an easy meal. The author is a master of detail and description, and writing of the young peregrines on the nest scrape bounce-flapping and run-flapping makes the reader think that he or she, too, is in the hide witnessing this private behaviour.
From watching peregrine chicks and their parental care, the author moves to goshawks, buzzards and golden eagles. He demonstrates incredible affinity with wildlife, ensuring that any action he takes to watch nesting birds does not disturb them. He describes a golden eagle caring for its chick during the night, and a pair of golden eagles working in tandem to deal with a raven.
A thread throughout the book is the author looking for the perfect home that has privacy, wildness yet some of the facilities most of us take for granted, such as running water and electricity. He drives thousands of miles in his trusty Volkswagen caravanette settling in various homes in the south of England and in Scotland, but in a short time he realises that each has at least one of the necessary elements missing. He eventually decides on a house in Hawick in the Scottish Borders but I can’t help wondering if he is still there…..
Running Wild is a must for anyone with an interest in wildlife, especially in birds of prey. I have read the books of many nature writers, but Mike Tomkies has truly lived alongside his subject.