Why do birds.......?

By Lev Parikian

Lev Parikian is a conductor, writer and hopeless birdwatcher. His most prized sightings are a golden oriole in the Alpujarras and a black redstart at Dungeness Power Station. Lev’s new book, Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear?, is published on May 17th with Unbound. Lev has picked some of his favourite nature books for Lounge Books.

A day-by-day guide to the joys and surprises of the natural world in Britain, this delightful book (from the authors of Tweet of the Day) gives you a daily treat, from black redstart to mistletoe and all the stops in between. Moss and Westwood’s profound love and knowledge of all aspects of the natural world ooze from every word of these beautifully written short essays, and positively impel you to get out there and look at the natural world for yourself. A treasure trove.

Described by its author as ‘not quite a nature book, not quite a humour book, not quite a family memoir, not quite folklore, not quite social history, not quite a collection of essays, but a bit of all seven’, 21st-Century Yokel lives up to its claim – a proper smack in the face for anyone who buys their books by category. Cox turns this potential weakness into a strength, writing with wit and pathos about things like scarecrows, jackdaws, ghosts, long walks, otters and his LOUD SHOUTY DAD. Much more than just another nature book.

Last Chance To See
By Douglas Adams, Mark Carwardine

“We put a big map of the world on a wall, Douglas stuck a pin in everywhere he fancied going, I stuck a pin in where all the endangered animals were, and we made a journey out of every place that had two pins.”

If that seems a flippant way to approach a pressing concern – the impending extinction of vulnerable species –it masks the serious intent of this warm, funny and prescient book. Even more relevant now, nearly thirty years after it was first published.

The Genius of Birds
By Jennifer Ackerman

A properly scientific book that remains accessible and informative throughout. If it doesn’t convert you to the utter brilliance of birds, well, I’m not sure I want to know you.

When I returned to  birdwatching after a gap of thirty-five years, I was intimidated by the apparently effortless expertise of everyone I met. So when I saw this title, I pounced. Not only is Simon Barnes one of my favourite sports writers, but the title matched my aspirations exactly. I wanted to be a birdwatcher, yes, but the reality was that for a long time I would have to be content with being a bad one. And here was a book telling me how to do exactly that. It takes as its premise the idea that participation is the main thing, regardless of competence. It’s great for sparking enthusiasm and making you feel ok about your inadequacies.

The fashionable choice in the ‘one man and his bird of prey’ category would be J A Baker’s The Peregrine, and that is indeed a quite remarkable book – a 224-page poetic elegy to a single bird. But if I’m honest, I find White’s book even more interesting. While The Peregrine is a work of startling density and poetry, The Goshawk is somehow more personal – the story, as Helen MacDonald puts it in her excellent introduction, ‘of two desperate and confused souls operating at dreadful cross-purposes’.


Lev has an annotated and doodled special edition of Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear? to giveaway. You can enter here.