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The Natural History Diaries

of Willoughby Verner. 

                                                             Willoughby Verner is undoubtedly

                                                             known for his classic work "My Life

                                                             Among the wild Birds in Spain."  which

                                                             was published in 1909. He enjoyed the

                                                             reputation of being a committed

 "                                                           hunter-naturalist" as well as a hardened

                                                             soldier, achieving the rank of Colonel in

                                                             the Rifel Brigade and experiencing at

                                                             first hand active service in Africa.

                                                             Indeed, he was severely wounded at

                                                             Graspan in South Africa, the effect of

                                                             which was to be long lasting. but his

                                                             association with the Rifle Brigade

                                                             continued long after he formally retired

                                                             from the regiment in 1904. For part of each year he subsequently took up residence in Spain, where he died in 1922 and was interred in Gibralter.

 

Born in 1852, the diaries of which this book is comprised cover the period 1867 - 1890 and take one back to his early years, when as a youth  he collected birds' eggs and ornithological specimens along the southern coast of England, primarily in Sussex. Family connections in Ireland also provided opportunities for shooting wildfowl over bogs and rough country.

 

On joining the Rifle Brigade in 1874, his military career took him to Gibraltar on several occasions, where his interest in collecting  and shooting - for "the pot" as well as taxonomy - blossomed.

 

Periods of winter leave were spent wildfowling on Tiree in the Western Isles of Scotland, his shooting companion on occasion being Howard Irby, author of "The Ornithology of The Straits of Gibraltar". He also came to know the Dungeness area of Kent intimately, where in spring he sought the nests of common and little terns breeding on the extensive shingle beds. Of particular interest are his accounts of Kentish plovers' nests at Dungeness, as are his references to the populations of stone curlew (the "great plover") in the same area.

 

Whereas his attitude to "the gun" may not be in keeping with present

day perceptions, it must be

borne in mind that Willoughby

Verner was a man of his time

- and, indeed , some of his

specimens were at the behest

of the British Museum.

Attitudes in the 19th century

tended to revolve around the

conviction that "What is hit is

history, what is missed is

mystery!"

 

Some of Verner's nomenclature

differs from that in current use

(e.g. he refers to the "bernicle"

goose rather than the "barnacle"

goose etc.) However, in order

to preserve the authenticity of

the diaries, Verner's

interpretation has been

retained.

The Natural History Diaries

of Willoughby Verner. 

 

Available in hardback for £38.00.

 

250 copies with 4 col. dust jacket.

 

Contact Waltersgill to

order your copy today.

 

P&P £4.50 U.K. P&P £6.30 Europe

Please contact Waltersgill for R.O.W. prices.

 

T.P.S. 240 mm x 170 mm

200 pp.

B&W drawings, photos & text.

All images and text © .

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