Published titles > Photography > Fragile
Fragile cover image
UK £40.00
US $60.00
Hardback with jacket
240 pages
250 colour illustrations
24.5 x 29 cm (9.75 x 11.5 in)
ISBN: 978-1-8589-4688-7
Birds, Eggs and Habitats

Colin Prior

Essays by Des Thompson and Bob McGowan

Birds' eggs are true wonders of the natural world: they are strong enough to protect the embryo as it develops, yet sufficiently fragile to allow the chick to hatch. Little wonder that the enormous diversity of avian eggs – the amazing range of shapes, sizes, colours and patterns – has long fascinated us. This stunning new book presents remarkable images of birds' eggs by the well-known landscape photographer Colin Prior side by side with his dramatic photographs of the birds' natural habitats. At a time when many human activities are having an adverse impact on the environment, these habitats are equally fragile and vulnerable to change. Loss of habitat is, in turn, a major factor in the decline of wild bird populations. The featured eggs were mostly collected during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and now belong to National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh, which holds one of the world's largest collections of birds' eggs. Each photograph is a composite of between 40 and 80 separate exposures that were blended into a single image using specialist software. The result is an almost three-dimensional rendition of the egg, pin-sharp from the front to the back. The caption beneath each egg details the common and scientific names of the bird, the date the egg was collected, the size of the clutch, and the egg's dimensions. Each egg is shown in a diptych with a photograph of the bird's habitat, painstakingly captured at a time of year when the dominant colours of the landscape most closely resemble those of the egg. An essay by the environmentalist Professor Des Thompson reflects on the state of nature and the threat to habitats and biodiversity, while the curator Bob McGowan writes about the significance of museum egg collections. Fragile not only showcases the inherent beauty of birds' eggs, but also serves as a powerful reminder to protect the birds' natural habitats and thereby the birds themselves.

A unique, exquisite album documenting birds’ eggs and bird habitats by the renowned landscape photographer Colin Prior

Each egg is shown in incredible detail, made possible through the use of the latest digital technology
Promotes a strong conservation message, with essays by experts on biodiversity and ornithology


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Author Profiles

Colin Prior is an acclaimed landscape photographer with almost four decades of experience. He seeks out patterns in the landscape and the hidden links between reality and the imagination. His images capturing sublime moments of light and land are the result of meticulous planning, and often take years to achieve. His previous books include Living Tribes (2003), The World’s Wild Places (2006) and Scotland’s Finest Landscapes (2014). Among Prior’s awards are the National Adventure Awards, Business Category Winner (2015), and the Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture (2020). He has been the subject of three BBC documentaries entitled Mountain Man.

Professor Des Thompson is the Principal Adviser on Science and Biodiversity with the government agency NatureScot. He has specialist interests in arctic-alpine landscapes, habitats and birds. He has written widely on nature and has authored more than fifteen books, among them Nature’s Conscience: The Life and Legacy of Derek Ratcliffe (as co-editor, 2015) and Curious about Nature: A Passion for Fieldwork (as co-editor, 2020)He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a former Chair of the Field Studies Council, and chairs the UN Convention on Migratory Species Technical Advisory Group developing action plans for African and Eurasian birds of prey.

Bob McGowan is a Senior Curator in the Department of Natural Sciences at National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh, where he has worked on the bird collections for more than forty years. He has a particular interest in the history of bird collecting and birds’ eggs, and has published a number of articles on these and other ornithological topics. He has been museum consultant to the Scottish Birds Records Committee since 1990 and was a member of the British Ornithologists’ Union Records Committee from 2001 to 2010, and Chairman from 2006. He was co-editor of and a contributor to The Birds of Scotland, published in 2007.

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This is not only a celebration of the beauty and fragility of eggs, but also a reflection on the current environment. This beautifully printed hardback photo book not only makes for a wonderful gift for any bird enthusiast, but also has a wonderful story to tell.

Wild Planet Photo Magazine

This stunning book is a gorgeous celebration of the beauty of birds’ eggs

RSPB Nature's Home Magazine

Photographer Colin Prior is best known for his stunning panoramic landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, but his latest project sees him focussing on something much smaller in scale but equally delicate: wild birds’ eggs.

BBC Countryfile Magazine

As a work of art Fragile represents a meticulous labour of love… making a worthy addition to any collection

British Trust for Ornithology

Beautifully crafted pictures

Amateur Photographer

These landscape shots are monumental, painterly, reflective of their author’s deeply patient method and filled with love for his Scottish homeland

New Statesman
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