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A Sparrowhawk’s Lament:
How British Breeding Birds of Prey Are Faring
David Cobham with Bruce Pearson
With a foreword by Chris Packham

Hardcover | 2014 | $35.00 / £24.95 | ISBN: 9780691157641
256 pp. | 6 x 8 1/2 | 80 line illus.| SHOPPING CART

eBook | ISBN: 9781400850211 |
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Reviews | Table of Contents
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Britain is home to fifteen species of breeding birds of prey, from the hedgerow-hopping Sparrowhawk to the breathtaking White-tailed Eagle. In this handsomely illustrated book, acclaimed British filmmaker and naturalist David Cobham offers unique and deeply personal insights into Britain’s birds of prey and how they are faring today. He delves into the history of these marvelous birds and talks in depth with the scientists and conservationists who are striving to safeguard them. In doing so, he profiles the writers, poets, and filmmakers who have done so much to change the public’s perception of birds of prey. Thanks to popular television programs, the Victorian myth that any bird with a hooked beak is evil has been dispelled. However, although there are success stories--five birds of prey that were extinct have become reestablished with viable populations--persecution is still rife: so much so that one bird of prey, the Hen Harrier, became extinct in England as a breeding bird in 2013.

Featuring drawings by famed wildlife artist Bruce Pearson, this book reveals why we must cherish and celebrate our birds of prey, and why we neglect them at our peril. In A Sparrowhawk’s Lament, you will learn how the perfection of the double-barreled shotgun sounded a death knell for British birds of prey in the nineteenth century, how the conscription of gamekeepers during two world wars gave them a temporary reprieve, how their fortunes changed yet again with the introduction of agricultural pesticides in the 1950s, why birds of prey are vital to Britain’s ecosystems and cultural heritage – and much more.

David Cobham is a renowned British film and television producer and director, notable for such films as The Goshawk, The Vanishing Hedgerows, and Tarka the Otter. He is a vice president of the Hawk and Owl Trust. Bruce Pearson is one of Britain’s best-known wildlife artists. His books include Troubled Waters: Trailing the Albatross, an Artist’s Journey; Birdscape; and An Artist on Migration.

Review:

"The real strength of the book is the sheer detail that Cobham gets into his writing. . . . Engrossing, entertaining and covering a vast range of subjects, this is a highly recommended read."--Matt Merritt, Birdwatching Magazine

"Engaging reading. The book will remain a firm favourite with those, like me, for whom these are special birds."--Mike Toms, BBC Wildlife Magazine

"Marvellous and touching."--Trevor Heaton, Eastern Daily Press (Weekend)

"From the beginning I was struck with the detail and sheer readability of the text and finished the first 40 pages of the Introduction, The Sparrowhawk and The Osprey without a break. . . . A Sparrowhawk's Lament is a desirable little volume which I thoroughly enjoyed, and one I can recommend to blog readers for the next rainy, non-birding day."--Phil Slade, Another Bird Blog

"Each of these stories (and others) is addressed in detail, providing a comprehensive and important historical record. Indeed the book's major achievement is its thoroughness--Cobham has spared no pains in his travelling, in his research and in his collaborations. . . . This is a thorough and comprehensive account of Britain’s birds of prey and our long and complex relationship with them."--Andy Stoddart, AndyStoddart.weebly.com

"A thoughtful and deeply personal book by someone who has spent a lifetime indulging his keen interest in Britain's 15 breeding birds of prey."--Ian Carter, British Birds

"Rich in cultural detail, descriptive illustrations, and personal recollections, A Sparrowhawk's Lament: How British Breeding Birds of Prey Are Faring paints a canvas demonstrating how cultural perceptions can be changed to improve conservation outcomes."--Gabriel Thoumi, Mongabay.com

"The book is an uplifting tale of wonderful birds, some great places and a lot of gifted raptor enthusiasts."--Mark Avery, Birdwatch

More reviews

Table of Contents:

Foreword 5
Introduction 6
The Sparrowhawk 9
The Osprey 26
The Honey Buzzard 42
The Red Kite 59
The White-tailed Eagle 77
The Marsh Harrier 95
The Hen Harrier 112
The Montagu's Harrier 131
The Goshawk 148
The Common Buzzard 165
The Golden Eagle 183
The Kestrel 203
The Merlin 218
The Hobby 237
The Peregrine Falcon 253
Conclusion 269
Further reading 270
Acknowledgements 271

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Sparrowhawk
Sparrowhawk
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Osprey
Osprey
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Red Kite
Red Kite
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      File created: 12/18/2014

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