Sunday, 21 December 2014

Review: "Ospreys in Wales" by Emyr Evans

This is not your average bird book. Ospreys in Wales – the First Ten Years by Emyr Evans recounts a remarkable conservation success story – but it is far more than that. At its very core, this is a book about faith and inspiration, and about how the combination of these rather abstract concepts brought about the re-establishment in Wales of these rare and charismatic birds of prey.

It is at once a history, a memoir - and a thriller, with all the attributes required: excitement, jeopardy, sex and violence, rivalry, betrayal, tragedy - and flounders. (Though not necessarily in that order.) After an erudite - and lavishly illustrated - introduction has set the scene, Evans expands and develops the story. He writes in an easy, conversational style that seamlessly draws the various locations and events together. Eventually the birds themselves take centre stage, as larger-than-life characters in their own dynastic saga – the englynion of ospreys.

There is plenty here to delight the enthusiast, but the casual reader too is in safe hands. Evans successfully avoids the twin pitfalls of anthropomorphism on the one hand, and dry ascetics on the other. Instead, we are treated to a narrative that carries us along into the fascinating world of ospreys. Details and anecdotes abound, to be sure, but they are presented lightly and with the author's own passion for his subject shining through. Nor is his sense of humour (familiar to all of us who know him) absent, though here it is suitably reined in.

Emyr Evans is a behavioural ecologist by training, but he is also a photographer of rare skill with a sure eye for composition and effect. Ospreys in Wales would be significant for its text alone but the crowning glory of this hardback edition is the stunning collection of colour plates that adorn and inform every page. Drawing on his own library - as well as contributions from professional Andy Rouse and others - Evans shows us why tens of thousands of people around the world now follow every move that these birds make.

This is a true expert's story, expertly and compellingly told. Highly recommended.

"Ospreys in Wales - the First Ten Years" E. Evans (2014) ISBN: 0993099009



1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review. I didn't know about this book.