Books

Bird Watching (UK) - - Contents -

Chris Pack­ham’s new book is re­viewed, plus make sav­ings in the Bird Watch­ing Book­shop

Chris Pack­ham Ebury Press, HB, £20 BW Book­shop £14.99 (quote BW-103)

“A lit­tle bang of lu­mi­nous blue, a pulse of sil­ver and a flop­ping thwack marked the end of my pocket uni­verse - fol­lowed by a tin­kle as the glass splin­tered around the base of the post. Thanks to that chance event the spec­tac­u­lar fis­sion fed life to the wa­ter in the form of thirty or forty lit­tle fishes, which were al­ready gone as I stum­bled into a black­ened hole and felt the shiver of the stream on my knees, my clammy sleeves stuck to my arms, the net pole jud­der­ing in the surge. All that life van­ished in a sin­gle mo­ment of vi­o­lence and all that re­mained was a mas­sive shock­ing vac­uum that no one else on earth would ever ex­pe­ri­ence or un­der­stand.”

This is not a story about a fa­mous house­hold name; in­stead, it is an ex­tremely mov­ing mem­oir of a small boy that didn’t fit in any­where growing up. A boy iso­lated from his peers, with a Kestrel for a best friend, be­cause they couldn’t let you down like a hu­man could. We see in this raw en­counter the jour­ney of an awk­ward child, one that made plas­ticine T. rexs and ob­sessed with wildlife, and how he grew up and be­came the public fig­ure we see to­day, fronting cam­paigns and pre­sent­ing na­tion’s favourites like Spring­watch. The passion, en­thu­si­asm and ob­ses­sive per­son­al­ity come though with a re­sound­ing strength, so you can’t help but feel slightly happy when a young Chris fi­nally sees his first Ot­ter! It’s a cap­ti­vat­ing read that has you on the edge of your chair, and slightly tense with ev­ery turn of the page. Ul­ti­mately, it’s a com­fort to know that, through­out the strug­gles of life, col­lect­ing end­less things in jam jars worked out, lead­ing to a life­time spend­ing his days sur­rounded by na­ture and ed­u­cat­ing oth­ers in the world that sur­rounds us and which ul­ti­mately saved him. Katie Wilkin­son

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