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Goshawk Summer (cover)

Publisher: Elliot & Thompson, London

Publication Year: 2021

Binding: Hardback

Page Count: 234

ISBN Number: 9781783966127

Price: £ 14.99

Goshawk Summer: A New Forest Season Unlike Any Other

Award-winning documentary film-maker James Aldred spent the spring and summer of 2020 filming Goshawks in the New Forest, his childhood home. This book, presented in an extended diary form, catalogues the author’s time with the Goshawks and many of the Forest’s other inhabitants. The text is punchy, with short, sometimes staccato sentences and delivers a very personal take on these magnificent birds, and much else besides. The diary format means that the text jumps around a bit, presenting the reader with short accounts of other encounters – a swan on the A36, an active Buzzard nest down the slope from where he is filming – so don’t expect a developing central narrative. Having said that, this is still an interesting read, full of closely observed detail of Goshawk behaviour and the world of the wildlife film-maker.

This detail reveals an intimacy, formed between the photographer and his subject, which comes across in the text and transports the reader to the hide and the unfolding drama of this Goshawk breeding attempt. This intimacy is perhaps most evident in a passage describing how the author exits the hide at the end of a filming session. Aided by a colleague who walks in below, he has to judge the sitting bird’s response and you can feel the tension growing as he plans his exit under the bird’s fierce glare. It is a wonderful moment, and one of many throughout this engaging book.

Book reviewed by Mike Toms

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