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review 2018-06-15 08:57
The Birds & Other Stories - Daphne du Maurier

Birds are gathering, in the sea, in the trees, in the countryside and in the cities. Then they begin to attack, murders of crows, swarms of starlings, a gunning down by gulls. Why are birds attacking and what can be done to stop them? A conclave high in the mountains is said to offer immortality but at what price? An apple tree seems to haunt a widower who is not mourning the loss of his wife. A photographer steps out from behind the camera with unforseen consequences for him and his subject, a trip to the cinema takes an unexpected turn and a father discovers that three is a crowd.

 

The Birds, immortalised in Hitchcock’s legendary film, is the opening story in this short story collection, the theme tying them together being the magical control the natural world can have on human nature.

 

The Birds is juxtaposed with the final story in the collection, The Old Man, a cleverly told tale of a jealous father who feels that three is definitely a crowd. Both of these were the stand out stories for me.

 

Unusually for me, there was not one story in this book that I didn’t like. All are strong, well written, enthralling tales. There is a hint of the supernatural in some, a more than hint of malice in all.  The Birds is perhaps one of the most famous of Daphne du Maurier’s stories but the rest are all there on merit too. There is sadness, revenge, madness, love and loss wrapped up in these pages. The reader is left with an unsettled feeling, a hint of unease that needs to be shrugged off.

 

The art of short story telling is choosing the right words to give a complete story without the reader feeling short-changed. Here the reader feels as if they have been privy to five mini novels, so complete are the stories. The skill here is that du Maurier often leaves lots unsaid. The unease is created by what is not revealed on the page but what is revealed in the reader’s imagination.

 

A strong, intelligent, immersive, engaging collection. You’ll lift your head up from the book and view the everyday in a new light. And have slightly healthy respect and wariness for the sparrows in your garden.

 

Highly recommended.

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text 2018-06-10 13:49
Puffins!
RSPB Birds of Britain and Europe - Rob Hume

Have just got back home after visiting friends and family back in the UK. We had a great time catching up with everyone and celebrating my Dad's 86th birthday, but one of the highlights of our trip was the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs in North Yorkshire.

 

We saw gannets, razorbills, guillemots (or murres as they're known in the US), kittiwakes, fulmars, and shags. But none of them are as cute as a puffin.

 

Gannets

 

Razorbill

 

Puffin (seriously, can you get any cuter than this?)

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review 2018-05-30 11:53
Corvus: A Life with Birds
Corvus: A Life with Birds - Esther Woolfson

A memoir, of sorts, with threads of hard science, poetry, mythology and philosophy interwoven through tales of the corvids (and a couple of parrot-family birds) that have shared the author's life and home.

 

The book was both hard to put down; engrossing, and at times a tiny bit tedious as Woolfson would sometimes go eyeball deep into exposition or poetic descriptions.  The anecdotes about Chicken (a rook), Spike (a European magpie) and at the end, Ziki (a crow) are the best parts of the book; her love, care and concern for these birds is front and center and I found myself in total sympathy with her angst about her birds' welfare.  I understand and share her concerns about whether her birds lives are unfulfilled, if healthier, and I also know my choices would ultimate be the same choices she's made, for better or worse.

 

A few questions came immediately to my mind as I started reading, and she addresses them about mid-way through the book.  They all center around hygiene and the threatened lack of it when allowing birds, especially birds the size of corvids, to roam free.  Here she gains even more admiration from me, because no way could I do it.  The cleaning she does ... i can't stand the idea of birds in cages, but neither am I a domestic goddess, so all in all, it's best that I have restricted my avian feather-family to chickens, who are by all appearances happy and healthy in their outdoor (but secure) taj ma-chook.

 

Even so, corvids fascinate me; I wouldn't be at all averse to making friends with the ones that come through my garden now and again.  

 

A great book for bird lovers and really, anyone who can appreciate that emotive intelligence is not restricted to just primates.

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quote 2018-05-11 14:21
Birds woke me. I didn't know what species they were, other than annoying.
The Walk - Richard Paul Evans

Chapter 24, page 163

 

I love this and I can so relate!  In Alaska during the summer months the days are so long the birds will party all night.  Most people don't have air conditioning because most of the time it isn't needed.  During the summers, the windows usually stay open and sometimes it is hard to go to sleep with all the birds chirping and mosquitoes buzzing, which are about the same size.

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text 2018-04-09 10:44
Avian Dayspa

Looked out my window today to find one of our resident turtle-doves hanging out in the bath:

 

Soaking in the bathtub ... with a water lettuce.

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