My tuned in daughter bought  me a stand out book titled "while flocks last" by Charlie Elder. Never heard of Charlie or this book, but it is a wonderful read, the author is a journalist and he sets out on a year long hunt for the UK's red list bird species. This pursuit is written with informative humour. you get to know the reason or not if it's unknown, for the birds decline into the red list or whether it has always be there due to being on it's northern limit (Cirl Bunting) or being endemic (Scottish Crossbill), the journeys are often guilt ridden being away from home and are also full of the highs and lows of birdwatching. Charlie's journey is also one of returning to birdwatching from his childhood pursuits so he is no expert and that is entreating for few of us are. Surely there are latent tendencies of twitching in most bird watchers and the author brings this out in experienced readers when he struggles to "tick" off a red lister when all the time your inner voice says "I've seen that one". The message is serious and delivered in a most readable fashion, and it reinforces my opposition to farmers and landowners (not all) when they blithely state we are the guardians of the countryside. They are the guardians of it but not as it should be, they are the guardians of it the way they economically want it. Say goodbye to the yellowhammer.

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