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Huddersfield Birdwatchers’ Club brings to life
rare 100 year-old book on the birds of Huddersfield
“An account of the Birds of the Huddersfield District” was written in 1915 by Huddersfield man Seth Lister Mosley and is one of the most important books in the history of local and national ornithology. However, it is very rare and little known outside specialist circles, but is full of interest for a present day public. Now Huddersfield Birdwatchers’ Club brings it to life again in digital form for the benefit of a modern day audience. And it is available to download free of charge as an ‘ebook’.
Seth Lister Mosley (1847 - 1929) published his Account of the Birds of the Huddersfield District in 1915, during his time as curator of the museum at Huddersfield Technical College. After devoting himself to the study of natural history for over 60 years, he had become an expert on many of its aspects. He must have been a remarkable character, incredibly industrious and passionate about instilling an interest in natural history in the people of Huddersfield. He was also a very active contributor to the study of natural history in Yorkshire and nationally.
Originally, the ‘book’ was issued in 20 instalments costing 6d each to subscribers. It is thought as few as 40 complete sets were made, of which only about 25 still exist, largely in museums and universities, with a few in private collections. As a result, copies can command thousands of pounds.
It is a remarkable book and its author Mosley was ahead of his time:
•It covers all 186 species known to have occurred in the area at the time.
•It is thought to be the first local avifauna anywhere to include maps of their distribution across an area. The next serious local avifauna to include such maps was not until the 1950s and for Huddersfield not until 2000 (by Huddersfield Birdwatchers’ Club).
•It includes many hand-coloured illustrations of birds by Mosley himself, on which he comments: “if anyone should consider these commendable and wish to know the secret it is no flesh, no intoxicants and no tobacco”.
•He was damning of the fact that so much study was of birds that had been shot and wrote: “I regret that the book is a record of murder and plunder from beginning to end. I do hope the time will come when men will respect bird life…” Surely, he would be as critical now of the dreadful persecution of many of our birds of prey in much of our countryside.
•It also sheds light on a local landmark, as Mosley says “There is a large stone with a pointed top between West Nab and the Isle of Skye road, on which a cock grouse is said to perch every morning to crow; it is known as the Cock-crowing-stone.” A hundred years later this stone has been painted with those very words.
Huddersfield Birdwatchers’ Club’s digital reproduction of the book is enhanced by:
•An entertaining and insightful Foreword by Dr Tim Melling, one of Britain’s leading ornithologists, a Senior Conservation Officer with the RSPB and twice winner of the ‘Bird Brain of Britain’ quiz. Tim said: “I think that it is a real credit to Huddersfield Birdwatchers’ Club that they have managed to bring this extremely rare, valuable and sought-after book into the hands of anyone interested in birds, and without cost. I don’t know what Seth Mosley would have made of this digital age technology, but I’d bet he’d be pleased that his book was still widely available more than a century after he published it.”
•A fascinating Introduction by Club member Michael Pinder, describing the background to and importance of the book and of Mosley himself.
Simply click on the image opposite
to bring up the book in PDF format.
As a pdf file this book is ideal to download and read on your Kindle, on your tablet via the Kindle app or as an iBook on your Apple device