This is a book about owls and owl sounds – it’s a Sound Approach Guide after all.
It’s a very smart-looking and well-written book. And I found myself surprised by how much it gripped my interest.
The description of the discovery of the new species, the Omani Owl, is a very good read – and a testament to the industry and skill of the authors. There are tantalising suggestions that there are other undiscovered owls out there – maybe lots of them.
But for many of us, including me, most owls are rather mysterious creatures. I don’t know owl calls very well – every year I tell myself that I ought to get out at night more and listen for owls. The fact that it is ‘every year’ shows that I’m not very good at doing it! But this book brings the calls and songs of relatively familiar and totally unfamiliar owls into our mind through our eyes (there are numerous sonograms in the book) and our ears (four CDs accompany the book). The CDs are excellent.
There’s a lot in here about owl sounds, owl behaviour and the behaviour of those who track down owls to record their calls and try to watch their behaviour. Much of it is really fascinating.
I have one small complaint. Although the Introduction is engaging and charming, it doesn’t, and nothing else does either, actually tell you what this book is and what’s in it. But the time you get to the end then you know the answer, but personally I’d have liked a bit more of it sign-posted upfront.
This book is different and good, and not just for those who like owls.
Undiscovered Owls by Magnus Robb and The Sound Approach is published by The Sound Approach.
Inglorious: conflict in the uplands by Mark Avery will be published by Bloomsbury at the end of July.