This is a book about bird gatherings from seabird colonies to winter roosts. Having spent a frustrating evening recently looking for a Pied Wagtail roost that wasn’t there I enjoyed hearing of Matt Merritt’s successes.
A huge flock of birds is a sight to be seen – and sometimes a sound to be heard and a smell to be sniffed too. This is the tale of UK avian wildlife spectacles. I’ve visited many of the places that are in the book and Merritt’s writing took me back to them and to what I saw or didn’t see there.
But actually it was the personal tales that sprinkle the book that endeared it to me. I can well imagine dropping my shopping under similar circumstances in a supermarket car park, feeling the same and choosing the same solution as did Matt Merritt. But I have never dreamed of birds in the way that Merritt tells us he does. Now I think of it, it seems odd that I don’t remember any similar dreams. I certainly haven’t dreamed of a half dozen Mediterranean passerines being joined in a garden by an Arctic mammal either.
As well as being about the birds, this book is about the places where the author sees them and about what goes on in his head while looking through his binoculars. It’s a comforting, pleasant read.
A Sky Full of Birds: in search of murders, murmurations and Britain’s great bird gatherings by Matt Merritt is published by Rider.
Remarkable Birds by Mark Avery is published by Thames and Hudson.
I have a few hardback copies of A Message from Martha left to sell at paperback prices – but not many.