"At this time of year, blackbirds never simply fly: instead, like reluctantly retired officers, they're always 'on manoeuvres', and it's easy to see from their constant agitation that for them every flower bed is a bunker, every shed a redoubt and every hedge-bottom a potential place of ambush"
As the world went silent in lockdown, something else happened; for the first time, many of us started becoming more aware of the spring sounds of the birds around us. Birdsong in a Time of Silence is a lyrical, uplifting reflection on these sounds and what they mean to us.
From a portrait of the blackbird - most prominent and articulate of the early spring singers - to explorations of how birds sing, the science behind their choice of song and nest-sites, and the varied meanings that people have brought to and taken from birdsong, this book ultimately shows that natural history and human history cannot be separated. It is the story of a collective reawakening brought on by the strangest of springs.
This was a wonderfully relaxing and insightful book, as the author looks back at a strange old year - 2020! - and how it affected the way we interacted with birds and wildlife given that so many of us had more time at home, and more hours to notice the sounds coming from our gardens, parks and woodland areas.
For the author, the sound of birdsong evoked many happy childhood memories and I could totally relate to that. Even as I read the book, I sat out in my garden listening to the many varieties of birds that visit the very well stocked bird tables I provide! And it's that connection with birds that I enjoyed so much about this book. It explores different types, their characteristics and the amazing stories about migration and their battles for survival.
In lockdown the world was a much quieter place - oh to have that back! - with less traffic on the roads, no planes in the sky and the author picks up on each season through the last year and how that affected the wildlife around us and how we interacted with it, given that we were exploring local areas more and spending more time noticing the little things in life we took for granted and often ignored!
It also touches on climate change and how that is affecting the various species, along with the destruction of local habitats - as I read the book, I could hear a neighbour hacking back a shrub much loved by a large group of sparrows - and it really shows how important our actions impact on that of the bird populations.
I have learned so much from this book and it has also helped me appreciate visits from our feathered friends and to do more to make sure they continue coming! It also brilliantly sums up the experiences of the past year and how that has made more of us connect with nature and our surroundings. I just hope that many don't forget about the joys that our gardens and wildlife have bought us over the past year and that they will start changing their ways to help wildlife a little more - I have my doubts but there is hope!
The author has a beautiful way with words and it was just a pleasure to read from start to finish!
I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.