“Beak, Tooth and Claw” by Mary Colwell – A Book Review

It’s not often that I write a book review. But every now and then I come across a book that I really wish everybody I know would read. In my podcast, the subject of our difficult coexistence with wildlife is featured in many episodes. By far the most complex and difficult issue is our coexistence with predators. Since the dawn of time, our species has lived in danger of being preyed upon, while at the same time competing for prey. With the development of farming, this conflict continued as we protected farm animals from predation. This created a deeply rooted aversion to predators and, as a result, today almost all of their populations are severely depleted.

Nowadays, we are becoming acutely aware of our impact on the environment and that it is not always something to be proud of. A complex picture emerges. We are torn between the old animosity towards predators and the new urge to preserve them or even rebuild their populations. In her book “Beak, Tooth and Claw”, Mary Colwell goes deep into this complicated topic, carefully examining our past and present relationships with predators living in Britain. And although the book is focused on Britain I believe it is equally relevant to Ireland or any other country. It is about the human relationship with predators in general. 

After the introduction to what a predator is (we don’t tend to think about badgers or tits as predators), Mary dedicated a chapter to each species. Foxes, badgers, eagles, corvids, lynx, wolves and so on. From these chapters, the reader can absorb many interesting scientific facts. What makes this book stand out is that it presents and acknowledges arguments from people on both sides of the spectrum. Those who want to kill and control predators and those who oppose such practices. In this regard, Mary does an excellent job! Never once did I feel like she was arguing from a moral high ground and telling the reader what to think.

What struck me while reading this book is the same thing that I noticed during the conversation, on my podcast, with environmentalist and photographer, Peter Cairns. The presence or notion of reintroduction of any predator species is always controversial and makes some group unhappy. Whether birds or mammals, if they’re causing any inconvenience to humans, we want them gone. Or at least pretty close to gone. And while that is too extreme, because humans have modified the natural balance between species, some lethal control measures are required and even well justified.

I would really thoroughly recommend this book for anyone interested in nature, conservation, hunting, farming or rewilding. If you approach it with an open mind and without prejudice, it will serve some serious food for thought. It might be your springboard to a deeper understanding of these complex problems.

If and when the opportunity arises, I would love to chat with Mary on my podcast. Until then, do yourself a favour and order a copy of “Beak, Tooth and Claw”. You won’t be disappointed. 

Answering Your QUESTIONS About the GARMIN INSTINCT

Almost 10 months ago I posted my long-term review of the Garmin Instinct outdoors watch. It is by far the most popular video on my channel. To this day I’m still getting a lot of questions about issues that were not covered in the original video. So in this one, I’m going to answer your most popular and interesting questions.

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Irish Deer Hunter Training – SYLLABUS Review | Tommy Says…

The National Parks & Wildlife Service in Ireland introduced mandatory training and certification for first-time applicants for deer hunting licenses for the 2021/2022 season. In this video, you will find a detailed review of the syllabus and my comments.
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Hunting Knife Sharpening with Lansky Sharpening System

This video is not a review of the Lansky Controlled Angle Sharpening System. You can find a ton of videos on YouTube that review it in great detail and discuss all the different variations of it. My intention with this video is simply to show you the sharpening process of my heavy hunting knife after I put it to good use during this past deer hunting season. Somewhat surprisingly, I have found that this type of real-life content is often very popular and even preferred to formal reviews. As always, like, share, comment and subscribe if you haven’t already.

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Garmin Instinct – One Year Later | A Long-Term use Review

Over a year ago I reviewed a Garmin Instinct rugged GPS watch. In fact, I made that video shortly after I got my hands on it. It was a new release from Garmin at the time and so I couldn’t tell you anything about its durability and long term performance. Fast forward 14 months of heavy outdoor use and here’s how it holds up. Also a few things you might want to know before you buy it.

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Canon PowerShotSX70 HS vs Panasonic Lumix FZ80/FZ82

A few weeks ago I reviewed two compact superzoom cameras. A PowerShot SX70 HS from Canon and a Lumix FZ82 from Panasonic. This video is a direct comparison of both cameras with sample photos from each.

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Panasonic Lumix FZ80/FZ82 Camera Review

This is yet another review of a compact super-zoom camera. This time we take a look at the Panasonic Lumix FZ80/FZ82. I have used this camera for a number of days and in this video, I will share my observations with you. What’s good, what’s bad and ultimately – is it worth buying? Watch this video and decide for yourself.

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Canon PowerShot SX70 HS Camera Review

This is a no-nonsense review of the Canon PowerShot SX70 HS super-zoom compact camera done from the perspective of outdoors use. Are the features and real-life performance of the camera on par with its price? Watch this video to find out.

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Swarovski Optik

Before we start, this is not sponsored content. I am not being paid by Swarovski in any way or form. I simply want to share my thoughts after having had an opportunity to try a variety of Swarovski binoculars and scopes in the field.

Swarovski might seem like very expensive gear, but it represents something that is scarce these days and what I like to call “the old-days quality”. Way too often, we get conditioned to the disposability and the poor manufacturing and material quality of the devices we are using in our daily lives.

When we buy a Swarovski product, we are most likely buying it for life. Quite likely, the device will last beyond our own lifetime and will be passed on to our children and grandchildren. So you might be spending €1000 instead of €300 or €400, but the unit you are purchasing will last decades. In most cases, this makes the initial cost of purchase much more justifiable. It is worth mentioning, as well, that Swarovski’s support team pride themselves in taking good care of their products after sale. They will support their customers if they need their optics to be serviced, refurbished or, on rare occasions, fixed.

All of the above makes for low depreciacion in value over time, meaning that a pair of Swarovski binoculars, for example, can be sold after a long time very close to its original purchase value. In fact, there is a substantial market for used and refurbished Swarovski optics. All of the above paints a picture of a unique and high quality product brand.

To learn more about Swarovski products, listen to episode 9 of Tommy’s Outdoors podcast. If you like it, please rate us and subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or any other platform where you aggregate your podcasts.