Monday, 19 March 2018

Review ~ A Sweet, Wild Note by Richard Smyth

Elliot & Thompson
1 March 2018

When I was twelve I joined the Young Ornithologist's Club and so began my life long love of wild birds. There's nothing more relaxing,than listening, in the early morning, to the birds as they chirrup and tweet and go about their business, or to sit outdoors and listen to the steady chatter of busy sparrows, or the cheerful soaring of a blackbird in fine voice. I don't claim to be knowledgeable about birds, I just love them for joy they bring to my world.

A Sweet, Wild Note is a delightful book which allows a privileged glimpse into the complicated world of birdsong. From the reasons why birds sing the way they do, through to the association of birds in literature, drama, music and science, there is something very precious in what they share with us. I can still remember with great clarity the eeriness of the 1999 solar eclipse when all the birds went silent for a few minutes and I realised then just what a strange and unearthly world we would have if we had no birdsong.

The author writes very knowledgeably and shares his own personal stories and anecdotes alongside facts and figures which makes the book so easily readable. I really enjoyed dipping in and out of the chapters, picking up snippets of information that I never knew I needed to know about birdsong but which collectively enhance my understanding of what makes birdsong, and its connection to us, so very, very, precious.

The glorious book cover enhances what's inside to perfection and if you're a bird enthusiast I am sure that you will enjoy this book for its factual information, but it's also equally fascinating for those of us who just love the simple pleasure of listening to the daily soundtrack of the beautiful birds who inhabit our gardens, woodlands and landscapes. 

Richard Smyth writes about nature, history, books, philosophy, art, sport and anything else that occurs to him. His latest book, 'A Sweet, Wild Note: What We Hear When The Birds Sing', is an acclaimed cultural history of birdsong.

Twitter @RSmithFreelance

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