Owl Sense by Miriam Darlington

Review published on February 22, 2018.

Owls have fascinated and terrified people for thousands of years. These raptors, most of whom hunt at night or at the witching hour of dusk, have been seen as the harbingers of doom or symbols of wisdom. Nowadays, science has explained just how specialised these beautiful birds are. They use their wise-looking faces to focus the minutest sound into their binaural hearing, how their feathers have evolved to ensure that they are utterly silent when flying.

She could hear owls calling from her bedroom window and wanted to see if she could spot them as they went looking for food each night, and discovering her local owls sparked something inside her. Initially, Darlington was intending to head out onto the moors and woods to find the five species of owl in Britain, which are the Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, Little Owl and the Short and Long-Eared Owls, but like with the otters in her previous book these elusive birds became an obsession too.

This fascination with the owls of the UK takes a step up when she finds herself booking a flight to Kikinda in Serbia to see the thousands of Long-Eared Owls that visit the town. Now Darlington is completely hooked and trips to southern Spain, France and Finland are arranged to see the Pygmy Owls and Snowy Owls.

Like a lot of natural history books at the moment, there is a personal element too, and this is no different as she tries to balance work and family life and they find out that her son Benji has a condition that affects the decisions that he can make with his life. It is full of fascinating details and facts and is a touching book about those most elusive and silent of raptors and the way that Darlington becomes besotted by them; if you liked Otter Country then this should be on your reading list.

Paul Cheney 4/3

Owl Sense by Miriam Darlington
Faber & Faber 9781783350742 hbk Feb 2018

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