Article published on June 7, 2017.
Birds are one of the wild animals that we can see every day without even putting any effort in to look. Some are so ubiquitous, like the pigeon that we barely notice them. Others, like the robin, have a special place in our hearts, which is why it was voted our nation’s favourite bird. You will often hear the song of a blackbird, see starlings and sparrows charging about everywhere and if you are lucky, glimpse a kestrel as you race past on the motorway. However, if you are to pause a little longer, and look at little harder you might just see birds that you never thought you’d come across.
Merritt is advocating taking those few extra moments to really look at what is happening. Small birds flying around a larger one are probably mobbing a buzzard if there are agitated pigeons in a city the look for a streak of a Peregrine. A bird on a pyracantha when you’re putting your shopping in the back of the car could be a waxwing and not just a blackbird. But if you really want to see the magnificent murmurations of starlings, huge flocks of wading birds or hear the din from a rookery or the sweet note of a nightingale then this book would be a good place to start.
Merritt will captivate you with his infectious enthusiasm for our feathered friends. He has used his craft as a poet to make this a fluently written book. It is full of details and keen observations of his subject, but then you’d expect that as he is well qualified to write this too as he is editor of Bird Watching Magazine. Definitely, a book worth reading and will hopefully give people some pointers on where to look for these natural miracles.
Paul Cheney 3.5
A Sky Full of Birds by Matt Merritt
Rider, 9781846044793, hbk Apr 2016
Longlisted for the Wainwright Book Prize 2017 – find out more and read an extract