Sunday book review – Elegy for a River by Tom Moorhouse.

This book was published last year but I missed it, and it is now, since Thursday, out in paperback so that’s my excuse to review it. I like it.

It’s a book about Water Voles and their conservation and recovery, and about a biologist, the author, who has worked on that task for over a decade. I don’t see Water Voles very often these days but in my youth they were common and we all took them for granted.

This book is jokingly honest about the thrills and frustrations of fieldwork – it’s honest but not heavy. Those of us who have properly studied wild animals know that it is hard work even if it looks a little bit as though you are out birdwatching – the author gets that across very well. I think he gets many things across well; how cute Water Voles are, how frustrating when your equipment goes wrong, the elation when studies and conservation projects go well. He also describes bumping off American Mink in a way that is moving and authentic.

If, like me, you missed this book last year then grab a paperback copy now and treat yourself to a good read.

The cover? Yep, that’s a river, looks quite an attractive one and it clearly has some wildlife, I like it. I’d give it 8/10.

Elegy for a River: whiskers, claws and conservtion’s last, wild hope by Tom Moorhouse is published by Penguin.


1 Reply to “Sunday book review – Elegy for a River by Tom Moorhouse.”

  1. This short review rang several bells with me. Now in my eighth decade I remember water voles as a very common mammal in local streams and rivers and mourn their loss.
    On an early morning duty as a volunteer warden on a local RSPB Reserve, some ten plus years ago, there was one other car in the carpark. A gentleman equipped with the correct gear: bins, waterproofs, sensible boots and a notebook and pencil, was waiting for others to join him in half an hour or so. We spent a very pleasant time talking about the reserve, which he hadn’t visited before, and I gave him my laminated copy of the reserve map.
    He had come to cover the release of radio tagged water voles. His scientist friends arrived with the animals and other gear and I bade them a good day. Unfortunately, within a very short period, all the voles were consumed by mink, probably including the radio tags which were never found.
    It was only on reading an item in the environmental pages of The Independent that I realised I had been talking to the charming and highly regarded, Mike McCarthy, journalist, environmentalist and author of The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy (among other excellent books).

    ps Has anyone ever been awarded the £5,000 prize offered by The Independent for identifying the decline of the House sparrow?

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