80 pages, 14 photos, 50 colour illustrations
It is the spring of 1953 and artist and naturalist James Alder is spending a lot of time in the unlikely setting of Walker Naval Yard on the Tyne – a pair of kestrels has stolen a wire nest from rooks on the towering jib of a giant crane and they are raising a family. Over several weeks James photographs and records the kestrels' progress and his account soon appears in Newcastle Evening Chronicle. His subsequent rescue of a fledgling that has the misfortune to fall into a bucket of oil leads him to a close understanding of the young bird, which he later successfully returns to the wild.
When James Alder died in 2007, his son Rod Alder discovered among his father's papers the unfinished dramatic account of the young kestrel's adventures. Rod completed the story and illustrated it with his own, and his father's, fine drawings and paintings. The Kestrel in the Crane is the result. A vivid, unforgettable and unsentimental tale of the teeming wildlife that flourished on the banks of the industrial Tyne in the early 1950s, and still flourishes there today.
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Rod Alder is an artist and wildlife enthusiast who lives near Newcastle upon Tyne. His father, James Alder, who died in 2007, was an artist and natural history writer.