Sunday book review – Claxton by Mark Cocker

9781448191994This is a lovely book. It has appeared in lots of lists of nature books of the year over the last few weeks as it was published in 2014, but I’ve only just been reading it over Christmas and the New Year and so, for me, it is a book of 2015.

Day by day through the year, Mark Cocker explores the parish where he lives, and occasionally he sallies forth.

The writing, as one would expect, is beautiful. The observation, as one would expect, is accurate. The remarks, as one would expect, are thoughtful and provoke more thought in the reader (at least in this one).

I could go on, but this is a lovely book which I enjoyed very much.

Claxton: field notes from a small planet by Mark Cocker is published by Jonathan Cape.


A Message from Martha by Mark Avery is published by Bloomsbury.


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9 Replies to “Sunday book review – Claxton by Mark Cocker”

  1. I'm about to read the same sample, but it occurred to me to ask you Mark if you've read or reviewed Helen MacDonald's 'H is for Hawk'? I did have a quick look before Christmas and found no mention. I'd be interested in what you think of it, I enjoyed it never expecting to, never thought I'd read a book about training a wild bird to hunt, but the several levels of the book make it worth while.

    1. Linda - it's on my list but I haven't bought it yet. It's won lots of prizes and I've heard many good things about it, but some not so good too.

  2. An enchanting and stimulating read. Make sure you buy a full copy M Parry!

    The chronology is fascinating, moving daily through the year but jumping from year to year 2010-2007- 2006-2012 etc. A quote that resonated with me was this:

    Why are we so complacent about the loss of our wildlife? What price should we put on the song thrush's priceless song? How dare we not make that song a political issue? Yet I doubt that the subject of regional wildlife extinction in Britain will even be mentioned at the forthcoming general election.

    The date? 29 March 2004. plus ça change!

    1. "Yet I doubt that the subject of regional wildlife extinction in Britain will even be mentioned at the forthcoming general election".

      It's up to us to mention it!

      1. That's why we went on the Rally for Nature. The response from my MP indicated that he hadn't much of a clue and still recites the mantra 'this is the greenest government ever'!! We do try but in a safe tory seat it's an uphill struggle.

        1. "Rally for Nature" and some more of please as we begin the countdown to the wish we could all vote Green but have only a two and a half donkey derby to partake in in areas of long standing 'tradition'.

          Do we hear that the greenest Government ever are going to bring their case for 'continuity' to Yorkshire?

          Somerset floods, there were more properties damaged in Hull but perhaps not those of influential and affluent landowners, establishment types? That'll be an interesting debate to observe? Cameron or Osborne, have either got the real bottle? Selective well policed areas maybe, in the footsteps of 'mad Maggie'?

          I'd throw down the gauntlet for them to dare to visit places like the Thorne area and explain how their policies have helped and will help ....

          'They' encourage the park keepers to transform two of the largest lowland raised mires to country theme parks with erstwhile guardians behaving like Nero? Key species being lost as statutory agencies and authorities have failed to undertake a robust monitoring programme since 2004 when they took responsibility post peat extraction.

          122 days, bring it on? "None of the above", not worth the waste of paper with two and a half donkies in the derby? Forgone conclusion here but I'll still turn out despite the farce masquerading as democracy.

  3. A friend put me onto this book and at first glance you have not to be put off by the cover which is a hawk of sorts but does not reflect the writing inside. May be not a normal birders read but Helen Macdonald pours her heart out on a Goshawk which she trains to catch rabbits and pheasants. Even I was moved by this story which gives you a big insight into the understanding of how this hawk ticks. Every wood I see now I am looking for this elusive bird in our countryside. Sadly more Goshawks are killed in this country than Hen Harriers.
    Helen reflects on a former book on this species by T I White. The contrast of the two birds being trained make them come alive even more. The use of the landscape being leant by Helen and her bird she called Mabel may be beyond most birders as they do not have to hunt for food. Knowing a hedgerow for what it could provide seems to have gone out with the supermarket. The patience of even training such a bird and the scars the bird left behind would put off most people.
    Helen is knowledgeable about wildlife which comes out well with the passing of the seasons and the many hours spent walking the clay covered fields of Cambridgeshire where she lives. She certainly does not want to poach any game and when the Goshawk goes hay wire into a pheasant release pen many of you will be glad it came out with not one but two pheasants! This is such a close up encounter with such a magnificent bird many of you will only dream of seeing in the wild so read the book and fill a void.

  4. 'Claxton Field Notes From A Small Planet' by Mark Cocker. It took a little while for me to read this wonderful book, having waited for it to come back into my local library. Two bedrock things vital to people's quality of life: nature and libraries. What treasures to be found amongst the library shelves; what magic nature offers every moment. Straight from my library this book full of superb descriptive sentences touching the very crux of nature. ''Like rain, willow warbler song is soft enough to split rock and to soothe the human heart.'' Glorious. The tragic bottom line, however, is that both nature and libraries are disappearing.


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