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James McCallum's latest book The Long, Wild Shore explores the seasons on the North Norfolk coast. It uses the famous landmark of Blakeney Point as its focus – a place steeped in history and renowned for its colonies of seals and nesting birds. Individual chapters explore the lives of common and grey seals and well-known breeding birds such as little and sandwich terns, oystercatchers and ringed plovers.
"Blakeney Point is an iconic feature of the north Norfolk coastline. To many birders, it represents a long trudge along an unforgiving beach in search of waifs and strays. To the National Trust, who have nurtured it for 100 years, it is one of their most important nature reserves. To James McCallum, it has been the inspirational source for his seventh book. Over the years, he has built up a mass of information, acquiring an intimate knowledge of the area, achievable only through numerous visits and stints as a seasonal warden.
By way of his field paintings and diaries, he shares with us his secret world of nesting terns, waders and seals. Seasons are recorded, exciting falls of migrants described (including some very rare vagrants) and bracing seawatches endured. However, The Long, Wild Shore is more than this, it showcases wildlife field-painting of the highest quality. James has a deceptively easy-looking style with an economy of line and washes used, but do not be lulled into underestimating its simplicity (it is what you leave out that counts). The cover painting of fishing terns, gulls and loafing seals illustrates this skill perfectly, a complex subject, which could easily have been murdered by over painting in certain hands, is treated with a lightness of touch that keeps it alive and totally believable. My favourite images are those where he has captured a quirkiness of the light, which transforms a scene from the humdrum into something more special. The spring light on the water on page 12, the back-lit gulls on page 20 and the courting terns on page 35 are my highlights of this approach.
Measuring 28 x 24 cm, the format gives breathing room to the paintings, allows for a lightness of design to the layout and also represents good value for hard-earned pennies. So, if you have never visited Blakeney Point, this evocative tome will surely whet your appetite for an eight-mile round trek from Cley. If you have made the journey, I’m certain you will recognise much of what is shown within the pages and have the sore shins to prove it."
- Dan Powell, www.britishbirds.co.uk, 11-03-2013