Books by John Lister-Kaye

The Dun Cow Rib, A Very Natural Childhood, published in August 2017.

John Lister-Kaye has spent a lifetime exploring, protecting and celebrating the British landscape and its wildlife.  His memoir The Dun Cow Rib is the story of a boy's awakening to the wonders of the natural world.

Lister-Kaye's joyous childhood holidays - spent scrambling through hedges and ditches after birds and small beasts, keeping pigeons in the loft and tracking foxes around the edge of the garden - were the perfect apprenticeship for his two lifelong passions:  exploring the wonders of nature, and writing about them.  Threaded through his adventures - from moving to the Scottish Highlands to work with Gavin Maxwell, to founding the famous Aigas Field Centre, is an elegy to his remarkable mother, and a wise and affectionate celebration of Britain's natural landscape.

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Gods of the Morning - A Bird's Eye view of a Highland Year was published by Canongate in March 2015, and published by Pegasus in the USA in June 2015.

For more than three decades, John Lister-Kaye has been enraptured by the spectacular seasonal metamorphosis at Aigas, the world-renowned Highlands field centre. Over the years, the glen’s wildlife has come to infiltrate his soul, whether it is a warbling blackcap’s cascading refrains, whooper swans hauling winter along with them, pine martens causing havoc in the hen run, loyal resident tawny owls defending their territory from adolescents, or a regal roe buck strutting in the broom and gorse, suddenly gilded by a fiery ray of sunlight.

John Lister-Kaye has come to understand intimately the movements of these beloved creatures, but increasingly unpredictable weather patterns have caused sometimes subtle, sometimes seismic shifts in their behaviour. Gods of the Morning follows a year through the turning of the seasons at Aigas, exploring the habits of the Highland animals, and in particular the birds – his gods of the morning, for whom he has nourished a lifelong passion.

Gods of the Morning is an affectionate and wise celebration of the British landscape and the birds that come and go through the year, a lyrical reminder of the relationship we have lost with the seasons and a call to look afresh at the natural world around us.

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At the Water’s Edge - A Walk in the Wild

(Canongate Books 2010 hardback, 2011 paperback)

Another contribution to the nature writing genre.  A circular walk at Aigas exploring the many different habitats and species through the eyes of a naturalist.

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at the water's edge, by john lister-kaye

Nature’s Child -  Encounters with Wonders of the Natural World

(Little, Brown 2004, Abacus 2005)

The sequel to Song of the Rolling Earth.  For twelve years I thought I was teaching my youngest daughter, Hermione, about natural history and wildlife.  We travelled the world together from the Arctic pack ice to the Kalahari Desert, to the Shetland Isles and the sea caves of Malta. I was wrong. I wasn’t teaching her, she was taking me back to my childhood to rediscover the wonders of nature seen through the eyes of a child.

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nature's child, by john lister-kaye

Song of the Rolling Earth -  A Highland Odyssey

(Time Warner 2003) now in its 10th reprint.

The autobiographical story of Aigas Field Centre and a historical reconstruction of the Aigas place from the Bronze Age to the present day.  My first attempt at lyrical nature writing, this book has proved to be very popular and continues to sell strongly around the world.

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song of the rolling earth, by john lister-kaye

Ill Fares The Land

(Barail 1994, SNH 1994)

This booklet was written for and published by Scottish Natural Heritage in their Occasional Papers series. It seeks to explain the complicated historical story of Highland land use and proposes restoration ecology as a solution to the degradation of the soils.

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ill fares the land, by john lister-kaye

One for Sorrow

(Balnain Books, 1994)

A novel based on a real life story which took place a few miles north of Aigas.  It also attempts to explain the complicated issues over land ownership, land use and nature conservation in the Highlands, all wrapped up in a gripping murder drama.

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one for sorrow, by john lister-kaye

The Seeing Eye – Notes of a Highland Naturalist

( Allan Lane 1979), (Aigas 1994)

This book was my first attempt to write about a new and exciting life in the Highlands and also covers the beginnings of what would become Aigas Field Centre.

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the seeing eye, by john lister-kaye

The Seal Cull

(Penguin 1979) - A Penguin Special commission

The book records the events of the failed seal cull in Orkney, instigated by the Labour Government, and which caused a long-running political row.  It explores the conservation arguments for and against culling grey seals and interviews leading conservationists of the day.

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seal cull, by john lister-kaye

The White Island

(Longman 1972), (Penguin 1976)

The end of the ‘Ring of Bright Water’, Gavin Maxwell otter saga, an autobiographical account of the famous author’s death and the immediate aftermath, set on his last island home, Eilean Ban.

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the white island, by john lister-kaye


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