Ajay’s new book, Wetland Diaries – Ranger Life and Rewilding on Wicken Fen, is out on 2 May – preorder here

Tucked away in the flat lands of rural East Anglia lies Wicken Fen, loved for its big skies and tiny creatures, boasting over 9,000 recorded species. For 125 years, this wildlife sanctuary has been cared for by the National Trust. A dedicated team look after this precious wetland of international importance, working with herds of free-roaming horses and cattle, weathering the elements to cope creatively with the dramas of a life outdoors at the cutting edge of conservation.

Wetland Diaries is a seasonal account of ranger life on Wicken Fen, restoring a once widespread landscape and the spectrum of emotions experienced. Ajay shares the spirit and atmosphere of the Fens, offering an insight into the privileges and pressures of managing semi-wild animals in one of the country’s first wetland restoration projects, creating precious breathing space for nature and people alike.

Praise for Wetland Diaries
“Ajay’s passion for conservation and his encyclopaedic knowledge of Wicken Fen ooze out of every single page.”
Iolo Williams, wildlife TV presenter, naturalist, author

“Ajay Tegala’s vivid words and illustrations capture life as a ranger in one of Europe’s most important nature reserves. Wetland Diaries has the pace and energy of a thriller as it reveals the evolving relationships of wetland plants, birds and grazing animals in an age of potentially disastrous climate change.”
Francis Pryor, archeologist, TV presenter, author of The Fens

“A wonderful celebration of fenland history and wildlife by an inspiring ranger working at the forefront of wetland conservation.”
– Prof Nick Davies, field naturalist and zoologist, author of Cuckoo: Cheating by Nature

“Aloe vera for the soul. I fell willingly headfirst into this glorious volume about the beauties of nature written with all the respect and sensitivity one expects from Ajay.”
Milly Johnson, award-winning, bestselling author

“A wonderfully evocative account of life as a ranger on one of Britain’s oldest and best-loved nature reserves, packed with delightful stories of the people and wildlife, and written by one of our brightest young naturalists.”
Stephen Moss, naturalist, bestselling author, TV producer

“In a dizzying, disquieting world, Ajay has the rare gift of remaining quietly steadfast and true to his mission and passion. A wonderful book, and the next best thing to being there oneself.”
Gillian Burke, wildlife TV presenter

“You had me at the first page – and the wonderful witch’s flour tin – those strange and particular ways into place; brilliant and different! An absolute privilege to have read this; what a job, what experience and knowledge, what a sense of place and belonging you conjure – the love for it all shines off the page like the sun on a reedbed. As varied and vibrant as the mosaic habitat of Wicken Fen itself, Wetland Diaries is lively, fresh and focussed with a dazzling delight that manages to take in everything at once, yet convey the vivid specifics of familiarity with undiminished wonder. This vibrant love letter to the National Trust’s oldest nature reserve, from its people to managing its wetland habitat, wildlife and semi-wild livestock, is illuminating, wry and utterly joyful.  Concerteenering and dipping in and out of history and time, it exudes Ajay’s working, reflective knowledge, exuberance and warmth.”
Nicola Chester, nature writer, columnist, author of On Gallows Down

“A wonderfully deep dive into a fascinating and important part of the country. The book is full of practical insights and a pleasure to read.”
Tristan Gooley, award-winning, bestselling author, natural navigator

“Ajay’s deep connection to Wicken and its wildlife shines through in this gentle deep-dive into the soggy, boggy, reed-rustling world of the Fens. Wetland Diaries offers a unique and highly knowledgeable insight into a life dedicated to protecting nature.”
Leif Bersweden, botanist, author of Where the Wild Flowers Grow

“A deep connection to home, filled with love for place and nature. Ajay’s peaceful, gentle diaries made me smile, taught me lots, and made me keen to visit a very special place myself.”
Lucy Lapwing (Hodson), wildlife communicator

“A hugely enjoyable behind the scenes look at the reality of a life given over to the restoration of nature. Ajay’s vivid portrayal of his work at Wicken Fen is written with great honesty and humility, bringing one of the UK’s most treasured nature reserves to life in all its tangled, waterlogged glory.”
Lee Schofield, conservationist, author of Wild Fell

“This is a tantalising glimpse of a bright new future, reminiscent of the past.”
Hannah Bourne-Taylor, author of Fledgling, wildlife campaigner

“Ajay reminds us eloquently of the crucial importance of nature recovery and of how the lessons learned at Wicken will help nature in wetlands everywhere.”
– Foreword by Dame Fiona Reynolds, Director-General of the National Trust (2001–2012)

“This book is a gentle unfolding of the life of a ranger in the natural jewel that is Wicken Fen. I truly loved slipping into Ajay’s life as he did his daily rounds across the National Trust’s first nature reserve. His evocative, measured tone holds you as he guides you through tasks both great and small. You are by his side as he cares for livestock, jumps for joy at rare birds, grubs out scrub or says goodbye to old friends as a vet sees them through their final hours. This is a truly lovely read, non-sensational and deeply loving; it comes from a heart that is utterly in tune with the wild-life of the Fen and what it takes to protect it. A book to hold close, a soft down-duvet of a book that will stay by you whenever you need a nature-loving friend.”
Mary Colwell, environmentalist, multi-award winning producer, author of Curlew Moon

“I had the privilege of writing about the 100th anniversary of Wicken Fen in the National Trust magazine, so I’m delighted to see this new book for the reserve’s 125th anniversary by ranger and wildlife presenter Ajay Tegala. The first National Trust wildlife reserve, internationally important wetland, I really love Wicken and have made a number of TV films there over the years, which is why I’m envious of Ajay working there seeing its delights on a daily basis. It’s his intimate knowledge and experience of the place that makes this a ‘must have’ book on this outstanding wetland. From the original 2 acre purchase Wicken grew to retain existing habitat, and more recently drained Fen that had become farmland has been reclaimed for rewilding. Ajay reveals that management by grazing of semi-wild early horses and cattle is dramatically taking wetland restoration forward.”
Roger Tabor, biologist, broadcaster, author and president of the British Naturalists’ Association

“Ajay’s love of Wicken Fen and his admiration for the people working to keep it special shines through the pages of this book.”
David Lindo, The Urban Birder

Wetland Diaries is a triumph. It’s engaging. It’s educational. It’s entertaining. It is also the kind of book that makes the reader feel as if the world has not gone to Hell in a handcart after all, but rather is filled with a varied and important natural world and wonderful people – like the author –  who care about it. I found Wetland Diaries uplifting, hopeful, witty and warm. I loved it.”
Linda Hill, book blogger (full review here)



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