The opening of this quotation had me asking how we ‘colour the country we inhabit’?  I also like the following description of this great bird being bothered by small fry, or fly, as an old dog is bothered by gnats.

‘Eagles colour the country they inhabit, but it is a glimpsed presence not a displayed one …. a symbol of grandeur, distance, acuity and imperium.   … I can see the eagle’s head moving, never still, surveying the country, to and fro across us, across the map of the house and shore and the abandoned fields.  The bird is taking us in, calmly, circlingly, from its ever higher position of distant knowledge.  Analyst, examiner, assessor-king.’

‘He sits there being bothered by these birds like gnats around him.  His stillness makes the ravens look small.  As they dive and pirouette around him, he ducks his head like a half-tolerant old dog, just dropping it down into his neck as the ravens make their pass.  You have to love the eagle for that, the old bastard being swatted by the nagging kids.’

See also the quote rich mosaic review of this magnificent, entrancing book: a love letter to islands and a paean to the sea. 


Source: Adam Nicolson, Sea Room: An Island Life (London: Harper Collins, 2013 (2002)), p. 200-201

Photo credit: Eamonn Maguire at


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