Wintering by Stephen Rutt [7/10]

Among birders, I’m surely not alone in barely noticing geese. I sound them out—”honk honk”—to my grandchildren but in parks all I do is register their existence as a tick on the day’s bird count. Stephen Rutt began observing Pink-footed Geese as migratory arrivals in Dumfries, Scotland, when he moved there, and that sparked a winter season of paying close attention to that species and five others. “Wintering: A Season with Geese,” a slim volume, is the result and it’s a lyrical pleasure in a minor key. Rutt is a melancholy, interested observer and his prose celebrates the existence of geese in British skies and bird reserves, at the same time delving into their characteristics and Anthropocene era prospects. From Scotland he ventures back south to conscript his father into goose searches; I enjoyed their relaxed camaraderie. A palette of greys and murk, days of rain and mist, interesting histories and facts … he brings all six species to life. All in all, Wintering is a dose of mentorship in close observance of birding nature, and a welcome dose at that.

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