Exploring the wildlife, places, traditions, culture and personalities associated with spring throughout Europe, and introducing readers to cultural, scientific and historical research and his recollections of 30 years of continental travel, Laurence Rose paints a vivid picture of one of the world's most significant and beautiful natural phenomena: spring. Laurence begins his journey in the first week of February, arriving in southern Spain with the storks that herald the beginning of Europe's spring on San Blas Day. Swallows, cranes and, later on, wild swans are his constant companions as he journeys his way north through Spain, France and the UK, eventually crossing over to Sweden, Finland and Norway before finally reaching the Arctic Circle four months later.
While on the road, Laurence follows live data from satellites tracking birds as well as other indicators of spring. Throughout his travels, he meets people living closely with nature. He also encounters new behaviours, such as cranes wintering in France, and explores how they link to climate change. The further north he travels, the more unpredictable the events of spring become. At the end of his journey, Laurence reflects on what he has learned, as the long Arctic days stretch out into 24 hours of daylight.
Laurence Rose has worked as a wildlife conservation professional for over 30 years, working both at ground level and in the boardroom. He was the head of the RSPB's European Programme for ten years.
"I recommend this book. It is a good read and would not sit uncomfortably alongside the classic works of its genre."
– Barry Gray, Ibis 162(2), April 2020
"No book has made me want to sprout wings and fly quite like Laurence Rose's modern classic as it chronicles nature's progress from winter slumber to verdant awakening in language so beautiful it sings."
– Stuart Winter, Sunday Express
"As a detailed primer to the world above our heads, The Long Spring makes for an inspiring, eye-opening read. And Rose is as affable and informed a guide as you could hope for."
– Oliver Balch, The Spectator
"Rose is excellent on the science that informs our understanding [...] His ear for the sounds of birds is exceptional, while his ability to render their spring songs in precise language is among the foremost pleasures of the book. Impressive."
– Mark Cocker, New Statesman
"I will dip into The Long Spring for years to come, to sit with the author in some out of the way edgeland in Europe, marvelling at the many delights that fill the air, and learning more about this quirky, richly rewarding continent."
– Mary Colwell
"Intelligent and thoughtful, and a very good read."
– Mark Avery
"Uplifting, especially if our own spring is slow in arriving"
– Sue Price, Saga
"In this glorious celebration of spring, Laurence Rose makes a journey from the Mediterranean shores of Morocco to the tundra of Arctic Scandinavia. In between, he entertains us with his immense love, knowledge and wisdom about birds, as well as the clamour from two billion pairs of wings."
– Mark Cocker
" [...] an enthralling, informed but personalised account of seasonal change."
– Antoinette M. Mannion, BES Bulletin 49(2), June 2018