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Looking for the Goshawk traces Conor Jameson's travels in search of the Goshawk, a magnificent yet rarely seen (in Britain at least) raptor. Each episode of the narrative arises from personal experience, investigation, and the unearthing of information from research, exploration and conversations.
The journey takes him from an encounter with a stuffed Goshawk in a glass case, through travels into supposed Goshawk territories in Britain, to Berlin – where he finds the bird at ease in the city. Why, he wants to know, is the bird so rarely seen in Britain? He explores the politics of birdwatching, the sport of falconry and the impact of persecution on the recent history of the bird in Britain and travels the length of Britain, through central Europe and the USA in search of answers to the goshawk mystery. Throughout his journey he is inspired by the writings of T.H. White who told of his attempts to tame a Goshawk in his much-loved book.
It's a gripping tale on the trail of a most mysterious and charismatic bird.
Conor Jameson works for the RSPB and has contributed to numerous wildlife magazines including the RSPB's Birds magazine and BBC Wildlife. In 2010 he won the BBC Wildlife Nature Writer of the Year award with his article, Phantom about an encounter with a Goshawk in Berlin. His first book Silent Spring Revisited was published by Bloomsbury in spring 2012.
"I liked Conor's previous book, but I like this one even more. Whereas in Silent Spring Revisited Conor lived through the events described but seemed, to me, to be a little detached from them, this is a book where he describes what he did, and where he went, to get to grips better with a magnificent but elusive bird. He takes us to Berlin, Cornell, Bedfordshire, the Peak District and many other places on the trail of goshawks and those who admire, watch and protect this bird. We are accompanied, on parts of the journey, by T.H. White, William Henry Hudson, William Shakespeare and Winston Churchill, and many other famous and erudite folk, but also by a bunch of Conor's colleagues at the RSPB (where he works). I've rarely seen a goshawk. That's not an unusual experience – or lack of an experience. They are not that common, but even where they are present they show themselves with more discretion than do, say, kites or buzzards. There may be goshawks near you but you may not realise they are there. As far as this book is concerned, you don't need to have seen a goshawk to enjoy it. You don't even need to want to see a goshawk to enjoy it. Conor's cultured writing and enthusiasm for the natural world and the people, like him, who care about it, will carry you along through the chapters."
– Mark Avery
"It's a gripping tale on the trail of a most mysterious and charismatic bird."
– Ian Paulsen, Birdbooker Report
"an interesting, throught-provoking and well-written book about this mysterious raptor."
– The Guide
"A great read, especially for those of you who like the Roger Deakin/ Richard Mabey school of narrative."
– Peregrine, magazine of the Hawk and Owl Trust
"Conor Jameson's new book looks at man's role in first eliminating the Goshawk from the landscape, and then reintroducing it, and at what this says about our relationship with the natural world [...] The very uncertainty inherent in the search for the bird makes it a thoroughly engrossing, sometimes even tense, read, with his travels around the UK being mixed with disappointments and surprises in equal measure [...] Jameson brings the same personal slant to the subject that he used in the excellent Silent Spring Revisited, but it's mixed with plenty of hard science too [...] I read the book just days before flying to Berlin, so the chapter on the city, whose parks hold a thriving population of Goshawks, was a particular favourite, but it's a great book to dip into for inspiration any time your own personal Goshawk quest starts to feel like a lost cause."
– Matt Merritt, Editor, Birdwatch
"This timely book is a satisfying mix of page-turning action and thoughtful speculation [...] It is also a fine meditation on what its presence means to us."
– BBC Wildlife reviews
"While reading the highs and lows of searching for Goshawks I felt as though I had accompanied a friend on a mission."
– British Birds reviews
"I have read this book with immense pleasure. Perhaps it may trigger people to really observe birds, rather than tick them and put them on a list. Then what rewards!"
– Rob Bijlsma, Netherlands
"The challenges that birds of prey face are laid bare, but this is an upbeat book, one to lift the heart and give hope for the future."
– RSPB magazine
"Jameson ended up with much more than a glimpse of the bird, he came away with a better understanding of [...] Readers of Looking for the Goshawk will do the same, which is reason enough to recommend the book [...] Looking for the Goshawk provides an inspiration, no matter where you are, to get out and really look."
– Conor Mark James, BirdersLibrary.com
" [...] a rich body of work. [...] provides a solid foundation which encourages us to look up."
– Times Literary Supplement
"This book establishes Jameson as a nature writer of the first rank. I defy anyone not to enjoy it."
– Scottish Birds
"a thoroughly engrossing, sometimes even tense, read [...] a great book to dip into for inspiration"
– Bird Watching
"This is a fascinating account of the author’s devouring obsession with one species, the Goshawk Accipiter gentilis. It is cast in the form of a diary, during which we follow his wanderings to many places [...] The reader is easily caught up in the author’s excitement and eagerly follows his successes and sympathizes with his frustrations. It was wise to provide a good index, without which one might have difFIculty in tracing topics within the diversity of the diary form."
- D.K.B., Ibis 156, 2014
"Equally stirring as his Silent Spring Revisited [...] a passionate detective story [...] descriptive, at times poetic prose [...] "
- Peter Goodfellow, Devon Birds
"[...] At one point, Jameson tells another birder that “You can waste a lot of time looking for Goshawks.” He may have spent years, off and on, looking for them, but it was definitely not wasted time. Not with a result like Looking for the Goshawk. Jameson ended up with much more than a glimpse of the bird, he came away with a better understanding of it – its habits, history, and threats still faced today. Readers of Looking for the Goshawk will do the same, which is reason enough to recommend the book. But what the author discovers in the course of his search goes well beyond a single species of bird: “Looking for the Goshawk has given me a fresh perspective on landscapes and woodland interiors, and helped me notice a lot of things I would otherwise have missed.” Looking for the Goshawk provides an inspiration, no matter where you are, to get out and really look."
- Grant McCreary (15-09-2013), read the full review at The Birder's Library