Wherever we are, there are birds. And wherever there are birds, there is birdsong. It's always a pleasure (and a relief) to hear sounds which prove the world's still spinning: whether it's the sighing of migrating redwings on a damp October night, the twitter of swallows fresh in from South Africa in April or the call of the cuckoo in May.
Based on the scripts of BBC Radio 4's beloved year-long series, and distilling two lifetimes' knowledge, insight and enthusiasm into these pages, Brett Westwood and Stephen Moss take you month by month through the year, and the changing lives of our favourite birds. From peregrines swapping sea-cliffs for skyscrapers to swifts spending almost their entire lives on the wing; from charms of goldfinches to murmurations of starlings; from ptarmigans thriving in the Highland snow to the bright green parakeets thronging London's parks; this book is packed full of extraordinary insights and memorable facts. Tweet of the Day is a book for everyone who loves Britain's birds.
Please note that this product does not include any audio recordings.
Please note: the difference between the £13.50 and £10.99 paperback version is that the former is a trade paperback, whereas the latter is a mass-market paperback (also see this entry on Wikipedia for the difference between the two). The mass-market paperback only features black-and-white illustrations and has a page count of 440 pages.
"Delightfully varied and quirky, full of cultural and ornithological facts [...] A wonderful companion, this is an eye- and ear-opening book"
- The Times
"Tweet of the Day: great idea, great title. Why didn't I think of it?"
- Bill Oddie
"A pleasure to read"
- Mark Avery
"Lovely [...] a perfect introduction to British birdsong, informative and hugely enjoyable"
- Chris Packham
"I must admit, I missed all the daily 'tweets' which Radio 4 has been playing at six in the morning, nearly every morning, for the past year. But early birds who heard them will know that the basic idea was to produce a mini-portrait of a particular bird, complete with songs and calls, in 90 seconds. The scripts were skilfully written by Brett Westwood. Over the year they got through 250 British birds, each one introduced by a celeb, starting with David Attenborough. [...] These 90-second tweets have now been turned into a book, and what a beautiful book it is. All the illustrations – all 250 of them, including the jacket – are by Carry Akroyd in her distinctive style: half screen-print, half woodcut. [...] And now my only serious criticism. The contribution of artists to books like this is as great as that of the writers yet they are all too often relegated to the acknowledgements. Ironically, the jacket designed by Carry Akroyd mentions her name only as a tiny formal copyright on the back flap. She deserves, and should have been offered, full co-authorship. Pray look to it, John Murray."
- Peter Marren, British Wildlife 25(5), June 2014
If you have ever tried to persuade the BBC to feature an item about birds you will know that it is a challenging task. So it was with amazement that in May last year I realised that they had decided to broadcast a series on Radio 4 called Tweet of the Day. Each programme was to be just 90 seconds long, but there were to be 265 of them. Each programme started with the call or song of a different British bird, followed by an account of why this bird is interesting, read by a well-known wildlife presenter.
The series of mini-programmes was a huge success and I am sure that all of us as birders have heard about it even if we’re not radio listeners. There was an actual and digital audience of over a million people, plus a huge number of people downloaded the podcasts.
Some of the species were featured more than once in the series, so this book takes all 225 of them and provides a text of around 300-400 words on each. In many cases this is close to what was actually used in the narration. It covers what the birds look like, sound like and where and when you can see them – but is also packed full of folklore, poetry and ornithological observation.
Award-winning naturalist Brett Westwood and bestselling author Stephen Moss have distilled a lifetime's knowledge, insights and enthusiasm into these pages. It is also a beautiful book, elegantly designed and full of atmospheric illustrations by Carry Ackoyd.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was that the book did not come with a CD of the songs. Of course that would have increased the cost, but to have a book about a radio series without the actual bird sounds played on air seems a bit odd. Anyway you can download the sounds from the BBC iPlayer, so all is not lost.
The birds are divided into months from May through to April, with each one allocated to the month that makes the most sense. It does make sense – although October seems to be better month than I usually experience, with Bobolink and Mourning Dove being listed!
At £25 this book is quite a lot more than I would have expected. However the series has given huge pleasure to a nation of would-be birdwatchers, so I am sure it will be a success.
Brett Westwood is an award-winning producer, presenter and naturalist. He is the BBC's expert on birds for Springwatch and regularly presents episodes of The Living World and Nature.
Stephen Moss is a TV presenter and best-selling author whose books include The Bumper Book of Nature.