In Search of One Last Song by Patrick Galbraith [6/10]

Those fighting to save Earth’s species come in many different shapes and shades, and “In Search of One Last Song: Britain’s Disappearing Birds and the People Trying to Save Them” represents the author’s dedicated travels all over United Kingdom to talk to such frustrated souls. Ten chapters cover ten birds hovering on the edge of disappearing. Some of those species at risk are in fact species hunted by shooters on game reserves, such as Capercaillie and Black Grouse. For me, the more intriguing birds were those like the cliff settling Kittiwake, the elusive Bittern, the mythical Nightingale, and the wheeling Hen Harrier. Intriguingly, Lapwing, a prolific species here in Australia, is a chapter. The people tracked down by Galbraith turn out to be a rather offbeat, sometimes eccentric group of conservationists, gamekeepers, activists, and poets. A fascinating aspect is that in the United Kingdom, where there is essentially no real wilderness left, oftentimes the issues encountered come down to environmental and local politics, pitching bird lovers against fans of deer or badgers, for example. The author is a sedate, evocative stylist, and I have to admit I found the half of the book devoted to his own traveling experience to be frustratingly off the point, but In Search of One Last Song is a valuable, thought-provoking collective cry of anguish in this Anthropocene Era.

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