Review published on May 14, 2018.
At the very south of Europe, spring begins around early February, and often on San Blas Day, you will hear the clattering as the first storks arrive back on the continent. These are the first of many migrants that will appear over the next couple of months, escaping the heat of Africa and heading to their summer breeding grounds. There seems to be a reverse logic to all of this as some of the smallest birds undertake the longest journeys around our planet twice every year.
Beginning at the Straits of Gibraltar at the latitude of 35 degrees, Rose with follows these feathered migrants through Spain, into France and onto the UK. From there he heads to Scandinavia, to visit Sweden, Finland and Norway where his journey ends in May at Finnmark. His impressive journey visiting places where these migrants fly land is assisted by the latest technologies that mean he can track them in real time from his phone maximising the number and variety of birds he sees. He notes that the dates that these arrive are getting earlier year on year and there are now birds who now can overwinter as climate change grips our planet. Rightly so, he gets angry at some of the nature reserves and sanctuaries as an ideal place to shoot the birds that have a tough enough journey as it is around our planet.
Journey’s end is 35 degrees further north, where the long winter flips briefly into spring before the short summer. It is close to the dawn of the 24 hour day on the very edge of the Arctic Circle. Rose has written an interesting book about following the advent of spring from the very south of Europe to the furthest north as life returns as the days lengthen and the sun warms the land again. He has an eye for detail as the book is full of facts and details of the birds and creatures that he saw and stories of the people he meets and places that he visits. Even though he tries bear spotting and there are snippets of information about other animals, it is very much bird centric, which is fair enough given Rose’s background at the RSPA. The writing didn’t sparkle for me, but it still makes for interesting reading and it is a good companion volume to Walking Through Spring by Graham Hoyland.
Paul Cheney 3/3
The Long Spring: Tracking the Arrival of Spring Through Europe by Laurence Rose
Bloomsbury Natural History 9781472936677 hbk Mar 2018