In search of owls

In Owl Sense by Miriam Darlington the wildlife author decides to track down and see all the species of owls that inhabit the UK. This task becomes expanded by circumstances and she also ends up travelling to Serbia, Finland, Spain and even the Arctic to see European owls. She tells the story with one chapter for each type of owl and also includes details about her family and about an illness which her son had at this time and how that impacted her journeys and discovery.

I didn’t know a huge amount about owls before I read this book and I would have woefully underestimated the number of species native to the UK if asked to guess. As part of the book the author talks about how different each species is from the others as well as their habitat and nesting and how changes to these endanger the owls that we have living around us. We learn about what owls eat, how they mate, how they hunt, their unique anatomy and where they can be found as well as conservation schemes. I found this a lot more interesting than I thought I would when I started the book and I am now much more fascinated by these birds than I expected to be.

The book is well written and easy to understand for the non-birder like myself and by using the author’s attempts to see these birds where they live it reads more like a biography or travel book but with added owls. The blurb for this book emphasises the journey that the family also had to go on with the illness of her son. I am sure that this was a major life event for the author but sadly it does read like another story inserted into the wildlife book and it didn’t always feel like a comfortable fit to me. It could have done with more detail (obviously an issue when this is someone’s personal life) or maybe just mentioning in passing as I don’t think that its inclusion adds anything to the book.

Worth a read even if you don’t know anything about owls – you will when you have finished !

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