Wednesday, April 26, 2017
1) Lockhart, James Macdonald. Raptor: A Journey through Birds. 2017. University Of Chicago Press. Hardbound: 376 pages. Price: $29.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: From the merlin to the golden eagle, the goshawk to the honey buzzard, James Macdonald Lockhart’s stunning debut is a quest of beak, talon, wing, and sky. On its surface, Raptor is a journey across the British Isles in search of fifteen species of birds of prey, but as Lockhart seeks out these elusive predators, his quest becomes so much more: an incomparably elegant elegy on the beauty of the British landscape and, through the birds, a journey toward understanding an awesome power at the heart of the natural world—a power that is majestic and frightening in its strength, but also fragile.
Taking as his guide the nineteenth-century Scottish naturalist and artist William MacGillivray, Lockhart loosely follows the historical trail forged by MacGillivray as he ventured from Aberdeen to London filling his pockets with plants and writing and illustrating the canonical A History of British Birds. Linking his journey to that of his muse, Lockhart shares his own encounters with raptors ranging from the scarce osprey to the successfully reintroduced red kite, a species once protected by medieval royal statute, revealing with poetic immediacy the extraordinary behaviors of these birds and the extreme environments they call home.
Creatures both worshipped and reviled, raptors have a talon-hold on the human heart and imagination. With his book, Lockhart unravels these complicated ties in a work by turns reverent and euphoric—an interweaving of history, travel, and nature writing at its best. A hymn to wanderers, to the land and to the sky, and especially to the birds, Raptor soars.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in British raptors.
2) Lynch, Patrick J.. A Field Guide to Long Island Sound: Coastal Habitats, Plant Life, Fish, Seabirds, Marine Mammals, and Other Wildlife. 2017. Yale University Press. Flexibound: 399 pages. Price: $27.50 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A lavishly illustrated and long-overdue guidebook to the rich natural history of Long Island Sound and its coastlines, a region beloved by millions of people.
Long Island Sound consists of a diverse collection of unique marine, estuarine, and terrestrial ecosystems located in one of the most densely populated regions in the United States. The Sound and its coastlines are home not only to myriad species of plants and animals—from shorebirds and turtles to whales, seals, and fish—but also to more than twenty million people.
Until now there has been no one-stop reference for those interested in exploring the Sound’s rich natural history. Author, photographer, and scientific illustrator Patrick Lynch has filled this gap. Brimming with maps, photographs, and drawings, Lynch’s guide introduces readers to the full breadth of the Sound’s environs from shorelines to deepest waters. With coastal areas at particular risk from climate change and pollution, his timing couldn’t be better. Whether readers are interested in the area’s geology and meteorology, its history of human intervention, or simply locating nature reserves and bird sanctuaries, they’re sure to find Lynch’s compendium indispensable.
RECOMMENDATION: A nice overview on the natural history of the region.