Thursday, June 19, 2014

Robert Dunn's 1834 An Ornithologist's Guide to Orkney and Shetland - excerpts

From An Ornithologist's Guide to Orkney and Shetland, by Robert Dunn, 'Animal Preserver' of Hull, published in 1834.

 In the book he complains that after his visits, local landlords blamed him for threatening entire populations of especially bonxies (Great Skuas), which were apparently much prized for defending sheep against sea eagles. He blamed parties of hooligan southern sportsmen and the officers from warships. It's a fantastic and sometimes very funny read. I'm hoping to publish a limited edition for Christmas.

"At certain times the voe (Ronas) abounds with seals; during my first visit I shot 26. Likewise Crested Shags, Red Breasted Mergansers, Large Black Backed Gulls, Black Guillemots, Lesser Black Backed Gulls, Herring Gulls &C. I never saw more than three Edier Ducks, two of which I shot."

"As soon as our cavalcade arrived (at Stenness) all work instantly ceased that they might have an opportunity of scrutinising the strangers, or asking questions with an impertinent curiousity peculiar to the Shetland peasantry."

"To the admirer of the wild and grand scenes of nature, Northmaven will afford high gratification and sufficient employment for both pen and pencil."

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