Ten weeks into its life, a Manx shearwater chick will emerge from its burrow and fly 8,000 miles from the west coast of the British Isles to the South Atlantic. It will be unlikely to touch land again for four years.
Part memoir, part homage to wilderness, Shearwater traces the author's 50-year obsession with one of nature's supreme travellers. In the finest tradition of nature writing, Roger Morgan-Grenville unpicks the science behind its incredible journey; and into the story of a year in the shearwater's life, he threads the inspirational influence of his Hebridean grandmother who instilled in him a love of wild places and wild animals.
Full of lightly-worn knowledge, acute human observation and self-deprecating humour, Shearwater brings to life a truly mysterious and charismatic bird.
Roger Morgan-Grenville was a soldier from 1978–86 and later helped to set up the charity Help for Heroes, acting as its first head fundraiser. He is also the author of Liquid Gold: Bees and the Pursuit of Midlife Honey (Icon, 2020).
"Charming and impassioned [...] a rich tribute to an extraordinary bird."
– Horatio Clare, author of A Single Swallow and Heavy Light
"A truly lovely book."
– Mary Colwell, author of Curlew Moon
"This is wonderful: written with light and love. A tonic for these times."
– Stephen Rutt, author of The Seafarers: A Journey Among Birds
"A delightful account of a lifelong passion for seabirds."
– Stephen Moss, naturalist and author of The Swallow: A Biography
"A memoir lit by wry humour and vivid prose."
– Brian Jackman, author of Wild About Britain
"This is a book that birders will enjoy because it is stitched together around a fairly amazing bird, but if you've never heard of shearwaters you will still get a lot out of this book if you are interested in nature, in adventures, in foreign parts, in landscapes or in people [...] a very good read."
– Mark Avery
"A great read"
"[A] lovely blend of natural history and memoir [...] Morgan-Grenville beautifully blends science, memories, and wonder in this striking homage to an amazing bird."
"Shearwater is sheer delight, a luminous portrait of a magical seabird which spans the watery globe"
– Daily Mail
"A captivating mix of memoir, travel and ornithological obsession [...] A book not just for seabirders or island-addicts, but for all who have ever gazed longingly out to sea and pondered vast possibilities and connections."
– BBC Wildlife magazine
"[A] pleasant mixture of facts and an imagined narrative of the shearwater [...] readers will enjoy relaxing into the story."
– Library Journal
"A book that delights, informs, amuses and concerns you page by page"
– Winchester Today