Sunday book review – Wild Mull by Stephen Littlewood and Martin Jones

This is a very attractive book which deals with a very attractive place which is rich in wildlife. If you are a naturalist visiting Mull then you should read this book, luxuriate in the images, imagine you’ll see all the wildlife and plan your trip ahead of setting off, and take the book with you for your visit. For this is a very good guide to Mull, for those naturally inclined.

Unsurprisingly, there is a White-tailed Eagle on the cover and seeing those birds is a big reason for a trip to Mull, and as a result they are a big boost to the local economy (year round), but there is far more to see on the island from fascist fungi (see page 183) to Otters, and from ferns to moths. This book will tell you a lot about what is there to be seen, and a little about where to see it, but it is less a guide to where to go but more a ‘now you’re here, keep your eyes open for these’, and I liked that.

Also, this book puts the wildlife in the context of land use and human history, not in a preachy way but in a very accessible and interesting way. You will understand Mull’s richness of wildlife better because of the approach that the authors have taken. There is also a chapter, at the end, about the future for wildlife here.

It’s a very good book and a good, but challenging, model for other books about other places. I can imagine a series of similar books about other wildlife-rich areas. How about the New Forest? Dorset Heathlands? Orkney? I can imagine such a series, but I wonder whether there are enough authors with the wider interest in the landscape as a whole, and its human inhabitants, to produce a series. They have to be a mixture of John Gooders and Nikolaus Pevsner.

Mark Cocker’s Foreword, which I read last, after reading the book itself, sums it up very well. Mark clearly likes the book, and the place, for the same reasons I do.

The cover? What’s not to like and it is the obvious choice of species for the book. I’ll give it a 9/10.

Wild Mull: a natural history of the island and its people by Stephen Littlewood and Martin Jones is published by Pelagic Publishing.