Swifts live in perpetual summer. They inhabit the air like nothing on the planet. They watched the continents shuffle to their present places and the mammals evolve.
They are not ours, though we like to claim them. They defy all our categories, and present no passports as they surf the winds across the worlds. They sleep in the high thin air – their wings controlled by an alert half-brain.
This is a radical new look at the Common Swift – a numerous but profoundly un-common bird – by Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast.
Foster follows the swifts throughout the world, manically, lyrically, yet scientifically. The poetry of swifts is in their facts, and this book, in Little Toller’s monograph series, draws deeply on the latest extraordinary discoveries.
PUBLISHED BY Little Toller Books
This is an ode to swifts! And what a bird they are! You can’t help but fall in love with them after reading this book, from the stunningly beautiful cover, to the lyrical words and prose inside. This is a beautiful book that follows the travels of the swifts and looks into all aspects of their lives, alongside the thoughts and travels of the author as he watches them along the way.
Charles Foster admits he’s obssessed with swifts and that comes across loud and clear throughout this book! He goes into staggering detail as he covers the staggering miles flown by these birds each year, and he’s there to witness them at different stages of their journey as they are creatures of habit and there is still no definitive answer as to how these birds know where to go, or when! But every year they set out on the journey from Africa to Oxford (his home) and it’s the highlight of his year when he watches them return once more.
This is a book that mixes the history, geography and biology surrounding these amazing creatures and I just kept finding myself staring at the skies at regular intervals whilst reading in the hope that maybe I’d spot a swift in the sky overhead! Not spotted one yet this year but hopefully soon!
It also looks at how humans have impacted on the birds, in relation to nesting sites and the use of pesticides on the insects they feed on and you just wonder how this will impact on them in the years to come unless we stop some of our ways.
It’s a beautifully illustrated book and full of so many wonderful observations on these birds and their ways and you just can’t help but be impressed by them! I will keep looking up and hoping to share some of the authors’ joy when they’ve made their way back to UK shores for the Summer!
My thanks to the team at Little Toller Books for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.