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Good Reads  Natural History  Regional Natural History  Natural History of Europe

Call of the Kingfisher Bright Sights and Birdsong in a Year by the River

Nature Writing Coming Soon
By: Nick Penny(Author)
248 pages
Call of the Kingfisher
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  • Call of the Kingfisher ISBN: 9781804691113 Paperback Jul 2023 Available for pre-order
Price: £9.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

Call of the Kingfisher is the enchanting debut from composer and wildlife recordist, Nick Penny. This love letter to a short stretch of Northamptonshire's River Nene celebrates all the wild things that live there, especially the kingfishers. Uniquely, it comes with bonus audio content to complement the text, accessed via QR codes. Nick has walked beside the river at Oundle for four decades. But for a whole year he gave the waterway all the time it asked for. The more attention he gave it, the more he saw the kingfishers and heard their high whistling calls.

Set in a lovely but little-known part of England, Call of the Kingfisher relates a year by the river, the author's experiences there and the different people he meets. Other strands are woven around the elusive feathered protagonist: explorations of local history and landscape, from Roman and Bronze Age sites to watermills and centuries-old stone churches; visits at different times and to different places in the valley; homages to naturalists who lived nearby; forest dawns and dusks listening to the precious song of nightingales. But the background tapestry is the sights and sounds, and greens and browns, of the riverbank, shot through with the blue and orange threads of a kingfisher's glowing feathers. As a composer and wildlife recordist, Nick has a deep interest in sounds in the natural environment. He both uses the local landscape and wildlife sounds as inspiration, and brings fresh insights into the sounds of the countryside. The book includes access to a number of high-quality birdsong recordings made alongside the River Nene – audio soundbites of nature's riches, from kingfishers and nightingales to owls and cuckoos.

This is a book about the things that can be seen and heard when we approach nature with patience and curiosity. It celebrates people who have used that focus to help preserve wildlife and pass on their knowledge to future generations. Above all, Call of the Kingfisher serves as a call to appreciate what we've got, wherever we are, and to use our ears as much as our eyes when we experience the natural world.


Chapter 1 January
Chapter 2 February
Chapter 3 March
Chapter 4 April
Chapter 5 May
Chapter 6 June
Chapter 7 July
Chapter 8 August
Chapter 9 September
Chapter 10 October
Chapter 11 November
Chapter 12 December

Customer Reviews


Nick Penny grew up in many different parts of the world before doing an arts degree at Oxford University. He then set up his own workshop making musical instruments, as well as writing and playing the Paraguayan harp. After moving to rural Northamptonshire four decades ago, he became fascinated by the birdsong in his local woods, starting to record it and use the sounds in his own music. He also began to watch and photograph the kingfishers on the River Nene close to his home – experiences captured in his nature-writing debut, Bradt's Call of the Kingfisher. Although not a trained naturalist, Nick is an inspiring speaker about wildlife and birdsong, and writes with a deep passion and concern for his subject. Always curious, always with his musician's ear to the ground, Nick is keen to learn about nature – and delights in passing that knowledge on to others.

Nature Writing Coming Soon
By: Nick Penny(Author)
248 pages
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