A worrying number of Britain's birds are in population freefall. We have lost a staggering 60 per cent of our familiar house sparrows and starlings over the last 25 years; songbirds haven't much to sing about these days; and many birds of woodlands, wetlands and uplands are now living on a wing and a prayer. Too many birds are in real trouble, and the number of species on the critical list both at home and abroad keeps on increasing. Birds are key indicators of the health of our countryside. When they are in trouble, we are all in trouble. Considering a pair of great tits can get through 8,000 caterpillars in three weeks, life without such pest control experts would become decidedly uncomfortable. In short, we can't afford to do without birds.
Armed with a decent pair of binoculars and a biological safety suit (in case of a bird flu outbreak), Charlie Elder travels the length and breadth of the British Isles over the coming months to see our 40 key species in decline - the RSPB's 'Red List' of birds of greatest conservation concern. He looks at why their numbers have fallen, the efforts to encourage their recoveries and meets with experts and enthusiasts working to make a difference. He also examines the benefits birds bring, the importance of looking after them and rise of the birdwatcher - one species that is certainly not in decline.
"Elder is a stylish writer, and his ornithological travelogue takes him on entertaining adventures to some of Britain's most remote bird sites" - Stephen Moss, The Guardian
Charlie Elder is a journalist. For the last nineteen years he has worked for papers ranging from the Times of Tonga in the South Pacific to the Telegraph and the Evening Standard. He is now chief sub-editor on the Evening Herald in Plymouth. He lives with his wife and two daughters on the edge of Dartmoor.
A joy to read... An uplifting book, not a depressing one RSPB Elder is a stylish writer and his ornithological travelogue takes him on entertaining adventures to some of Britain's most remote bird sites Guardian Joyous...totally compelling... very funny... This book is a classic of its kind Sunday Telegraph A funny, enduring chronicle of a man who has rediscovered a childhood passion for birds. Countryfile A gently humorous and accessible look at a serious subject ... above all an entertaining read. Birdwatching As he delights in each new discovery, so do we. Metro Scotland [This] joyous account will delight twitchers and novices alike Telegraph