The Amazing Story of Montagu’s Harrier


Author: Elvira Werkman
Language: English
Original Dutch title: De man op de dijk, KNNV Uitgeverij

Translation: Giles Brodie, Groenlingua
Editor: Laurel Avery
Cover design: Michel Poppen Vormgeving
Illustrations: Gaudia Landman
Photographs: Ben Koks
Druk: 1, 2021
Pages: 250
Format: 14 x 21 cm
Uitvoering: paperback | zwart wit uitgave
ISBN 978-90-9034857-5
Piranha Publishers

The Amazing Story of Montagu’s Harrier – How birds show us the way to agriculture and nature in harmony

A true story that starts with one man and one nest. Written in a lucid style that immediately draws the reader into a compelling reflection on this endangered bird of prey.

Also available as e-book, please go to your local Amazon website to buy and download -> to

reviews *****, David Campbell, June 2022
“It’s not often that a book arrives at home and stands out as a true trailblazer in nature writing. […] the seamless way that Werkman, an environmental journalist, blends together rich journalistic writing with truly elegant prose. It struck me how powerful this skill is. The author succeeded in teaching me more than I ever thought I’d know about Montagu’s Harriers and their conservation.”

African Birdlife, February-March 2022
“Originally written in Dutch, the title is quite appropriately De Man op de Dijk. It has been fluently translated and makes for a most enjoyable read. This is a story about birds needing people, but subtly stitched into it is a thread about human frailty, even tragedy, that gives cause for reflection. Maybe it’s actually people who need birds.”

British Birds, February 2022
“This is an interesting and well-structured book, with much of relevance to the UK where so many of our birds, including harriers, make use of arable farmland.”

Beatriz Arroyo, researcher, ornithologist – Spain, August 2021
“The Amazing Story of Montagu’s Harrier tells us the marvellous story of the connectedness between humans and wildlife, how nature conservation is based on developing people’s relationships and how individual actions have global impacts. I see it as a message of hope for nature, and humankind within it, in the twenty-first century.”

Ian Carter, naturalist, author – UK, August 2021
“A great story, brilliantly told, of pioneering work on Montagu Harriers. It includes everything from working with farmers, nest-protection, and tracking tagged birds to remote parts of the Sahel. Pallid Harrier also gets a chapter. Highly recommended.”

Mark Avery,  writer, blogger and environmental campaigner – Sunday book review, September 12, 2021
“This is a fine book which I have enjoyed reading on my travels over the last few weeks. I knew I’d find it interesting because it deals with a couple of subjects which are really interesting scientifically and in terms of nature conservation; how wildlife fits in with modern agriculture and which part of a migratory species’s annual cycle is really the pinchpoint in its population dynamics? And it explores them through the lens of harriers, mostly Montagu’s Harriers but other harriers, most interestingly Pallid Harriers, but Hen and Marsh Harriers get plenty of mentions too.”

In this book, Elvira Werkman combines valuable and sometimes emotional nature conservation stories with hard facts about the state of agriculture and nature. The book follows harrier conservationist Ben Koks from the Netherlands to West Africa —seeing through his eyes and flying along with Montagu’s harrier.

Montagu’s harrier had almost disappeared from the Netherlands. Then, in 1990, a single nest discovered in a field was the starting point of what subsequently became an international movement. The Amazing Story of Montagu’s Harrier relates the highs and lows of almost 30 years of harrier conservation — a success story in which agriculture and nature go hand-in-hand.

This story clearly highlights the degree of connection between all living beings, from the UK to Senegal and the rest of our planet. A must-read for anyone who loves the countryside, birds and people.

About the author

Writer and nature journalist Elvira Werkman lives and works in the Netherlands. She grew up in the north, surrounded by fields and nature, which gave her a lifelong love of wide expanses. Her previous publications include books on birds, urban nature and cultural history.