Liverpool, last week

I spent a few days in Liverpool last week where I added Oystercatcher to my Aintree bird list and several hundred pounds to my bank balance.  I spent some great time with some close friends and it was kind of them to set it up as a birthday treat for me.

But I also took the opportunity to pop back into Liverpool Central Library’s Oak Room to see one of the most valuable books in the world, and to see on which page it was open.

The last time I was in that room was, I remember it well (and see A Message from Martha pages 282-84), Sunday 1 September 2013 which was the 99th anniversary of the very day (and to the very hour if we ignore the time difference between Liverpool and Cincinnati, Ohio) of the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon.  That day the library had been kind enough to open the double-elephant folio pages of Audubon’s Birds of America to plate 62, the Passenger Pigeon page.

Last Wednesday the book was open at this page…

…that of the Great Crested Flycatcher, a species I have seen in Washington DC but also further west to the Missouri River.  It’s a striking bird and in John James Audubon’s portrait he showes one male having attacked another and relieved him of some of his tail feathers which he seems to be dropping rather provocatively in front of his eyes.  I’ve never seen that!

If you are in Liverpool do go and visit the Oak Room in the Central Library – it’s less than 10 minutes walk from Lime Street station.



8 Replies to “Liverpool, last week”

  1. Excellent! Next time I am in Liverpool…

    Talking of (really) iconic bird (wildlife) artists…

    I once worked for a short while (on secondment) at the Goddard Space Flight Centre, which allowed me to visit the Smithsonian in Washington, where I could see many of Audubon’s paintings..

    My US colleagues were intrigued to learn I had chosen that over the National Air and Space Museum… 🙂

    I have also seen the (Happy Birthday) Edward Lear exhibition at the Ashmolean (his landscapes are stunning, too), and – to complete my three all-time favourite bird artists – some of Ian Lewington’s breathtaking works (who also happens to be our local Recorder. His brother Richard is brilliant, too)…

    As far as I am concerned, all four are all geniuses.

  2. A fabulous book (Mr Audubon’s), my gaffer has a copy.
    I remember in my youth, it was on display usually open at Roseate Spoonbill, I used to nip in the house for a look, after I had been birdnesting in the gardens.
    In late 1995, me and a couple of the lads asked if we could have a look at it.
    Volume one was brought up to the kitchen, a sheet laid on the scrubbed wooden table, and the duchess left us with it, can you believe that ?.
    It was a sad time, and she probably thought we needed a bit of cheering up, things got sadder,
    and we never got round to viewing the Second volume.
    Some things you just never forget.

  3. Thank you for the tip, Mark. Another superb place for me to visit – I’m seeing a great deal of Liverpool these days as my son is lucky enough to be studying there!

  4. I was there over Easter and it was a real treat to see the Audubon book. The new part of the library is also impressive, but for me the Picton Reading Room is an absolute gem. I hadn’t been in for many years and it was even more stunning than I remembered.

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