355 pages, b/w illustrations
Written by a beginner-birdwatcher with the freshness and passion of a convert, Waiting for the Albino Dunnock explores the world of birds through the seasons of a single year. It describes encounters with particular birds in the landscapes of East Anglia where the author is rooted. Occasional journeys farther afield take the reader to truly wild places in the Outer Hebrides and Eastern Europe. Yet the ordinary experience of birdwatching is also far more than just that. The beauty of birds has the power to change lives, as it did the author's, and as in the case of the all-but-legendary snow leopard, it is more about the search than the result.
Personal and elegiac in tone, the writing is an unusual combination of prose poems based on the actual experience of seeing a specific bird for the first time, woven with elements of science and wisdom traditions, ornithology (and its punning counterpart ornitheology), mythology and philosophy, taxonomy and history, literature and folklore, conveying the wider picture of what it means to be human in relationship to nature. Waiting for the Albino Dunnock explores the degree to which wildness is embedded in the human psyche and how beauty is central to our mental and emotional wellbeing, while highlighting the careless damage we are inflicting on the natural world.
"A beautiful book"
– Tim Birkhead, author of Bird Sense
"Glorious, beautifully written pilgrimage into the soaring world of birds [...] The prose is sublime, and so is the intelligence behind it"
– Bel Mooney, Daily Mail
"Rare, charming and unforgettable [...] Her prose has the clarity, poise, precision and transcendent beauty of someone who was brought up reading the classics and knows the joy of finding the right words. Every sentence is perfect"
– Richard Davenport-Hines, The Oldie
– Choice magazine
"[Richardson] writes [...] with a poetic lyricism"
– Eithne Farry, Sunday Express
"This exquisite depiction of bird-watching as personal pilgrimage is written with passion, poetry and the freshness of a newcomer: 'the real voyage of discovery consists in [...] seeing with new eyes"
– The Lady
"Richardson is both a looker and a see-er and her open-eyed delight in the beauty around her has an infectious quality enhanced by exquisite writing"
– Sara Maitland, BBC Countryfile
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Rosamond Richardson is the author of several books about the countryside, including the international bestseller Country Wisdom. She writes regularly for Britain's biggest-selling bird magazine Bird Watching, and for several years has been a contributor to The Countryman. Familiar to many as author of the Penguin Classic Hedgerow Cookery and co-presenter of BBC Two's Discovering Hedgerows, she also writes for Landscape and Countryside magazines. She lives in a small village in East Anglia.