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A Sparrowhawk's Lament: How British Breeding Birds of Prey Are Faring (Wildguides) Hardcover – 6 Jun 2014


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (6 Jun 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691157642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691157641
  • Product Dimensions: 22.5 x 15.7 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"The real strength of the book is the sheer detail that Cobham gets into his writing. . . . Engrossing, entertaining and covering a vast range of subjects, this is a highly recommended read."--Matt Merritt, Birdwatching Magazine

"Engaging reading. The book will remain a firm favourite with those, like me, for whom these are special birds."--Mike Toms, BBC Wildlife Magazine

"Marvellous and touching."--Trevor Heaton, Eastern Daily Press (Weekend)

"From the beginning I was struck with the detail and sheer readability of the text and finished the first 40 pages of the Introduction, The Sparrowhawk and The Osprey without a break. . . . A Sparrowhawk's Lament is a desirable little volume which I thoroughly enjoyed, and one I can recommend to blog readers for the next rainy, non-birding day."--Phil Slade, Another Bird Blog

"Each of these stories (and others) is addressed in detail, providing a comprehensive and important historical record. Indeed the book's major achievement is its thoroughness--Cobham has spared no pains in his travelling, in his research and in his collaborations. . . . This is a thorough and comprehensive account of Britain's birds of prey and our long and complex relationship with them."--Andy Stoddart, AndyStoddart.weebly.com

"A thoughtful and deeply personal book by someone who has spent a lifetime indulging his keen interest in Britain's 15 breeding birds of prey."--Ian Carter, British Birds

"Rich in cultural detail, descriptive illustrations, and personal recollections, A Sparrowhawk's Lament: How British Breeding Birds of Prey Are Faring paints a canvas demonstrating how cultural perceptions can be changed to improve conservation outcomes."--Gabriel Thoumi, Mongabay.com

"The book is an uplifting tale of wonderful birds, some great places and a lot of gifted raptor enthusiasts."--Mark Avery, Birdwatch

"[T]he book pulls no punches and is one of the best books about birds of prey I have read."--RC, Highland News

"A book to be read right through or dipped into at leisure, A Sparrowhawk's Lament is a fitting tribute to our birds of prey and those who work to conserve them. Whether beginner or specialist, everyone will learn something about our formidable, yet vulnerable diurnal raptors."--Curious Naturalist Blog

"Engrossing and enjoyable to read."--David Lewis, Birds from Behind

"David Cobham has written a very understandable biology and history of birds of prey. It was a pleasure to read the words, but the content was, of necessity, sometimes disturbing. I would recommend this book to all who like birds, particularly raptors. British birders and those who visit (like me) will gain a lot of valuable information. It would make a great present to anyone studying hawks."--Roy John, Canadian Field Naturalist

About the Author

David Cobham is a renowned British film and television producer and director, notable for such films as "The Goshawk", "The Vanishing Hedgerows", and" Tarka the Otter". He is a vice president of the Hawk and Owl Trust. Bruce Pearson is one of Britain's best-known wildlife artists. His books include "Troubled Waters: Trailing the Albatross, an Artist's Journey"; "Birdscape"; and "An Artist on Migration".

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Christopher J. Sharpe on 16 Aug 2014
Format: Hardcover
I am half way through A Sparrowhawk's Lament. This is a WILDGuides publication, but quite different to their usual photographic field guides. It is a personal look at the status of the UK's 15 breeding diurnal raptors, written by someone who has a long history of involvement in their conservation. The writing is a little quirky and takes some getting used to, but the passion and experience shine through to make this a rewarding and thought-provoking read.

Most of the UK's species follow the same sad trajectory of abundance before the industrial age, persecution and near extinction or extinction in the 19th and 20th centuries at the hands of gamekeepers (combined with egg-collectors and subsequently organochloride pesticides), and resurgence in contemporary times as a result of conservation programmes. The Kestrel and Merlin have, unfortunately, not turned around. But the glaring exception is the Hen Harrier, still illegally poisoned and shot by the managers of grouse moors and teetering on the brink of extinction in England. With outrage about continuing illegal persecution of raptors fast becoming a political issue, this is quite a topical read. The author takes great pains to make this a celebration of these birds, rather than a tirade against their persecutors and, although he does not shy away from the facts, this is an uplifting read.

A book for the layperson as well as the expert: everyone will gain some new appreciation of our formidable, yet vulnerable birds of prey. A Sparrowhawk's Lament is a fitting tribute to our breeding raptors and those who work to conserve them.

Chris Sharpe, 16 August 2014. ISBN: 9780691157641
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By S. Jewry on 14 Jun 2014
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful look at birds of prey today and an essential for anyone with an interest or passion for wildlife, conservation and/or birds of prey. David Cobham injects his decades of experience into the very fabric of the book and his life-long fascination and relationship with wildlife jumps off the pages. A very readable book that will give you a better understanding of the birds and their habitats.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BG on 22 July 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone with a real interest in diurnal raptors will learn something from this book; if you think you know a few species well, here's a shortcut to the rest. Nicely written in proper English, packed full of information, but also a very engaging read and further enlivened by many of Bruce Pearson's paintings (which typically capture the bird and the setting to perfection). This is not a 'quick & dirty' desk study using sources on the internet but a reflection of decades of the author's engagement with his subject and of contact with like-minded observers and activists. Taking each breeding species in turn, the author gives an overview of their historical and recent status, based in part on key published sources but primarily on notes from his own long and varied experience, both observing, and learning from specialists involved in field studies, reintroduction projects or other conservation work. The emphasis is always on the fascination, beauty and excitement of encounters with raptors, but the book also surveys aspects of breeding biology, the theats they face, reviews recent conservation projects, and gives some insight into raptor conservation politics. To my mind this is now the third key multi-species work on British birds of prey, joining Dick Orton's "The Hawkwatcher" and Leslie Brown's now somewhat dated volume in the New Naturalist series. Definitely rates five stars because of the scope and depth of coverage, and the authority it derives from the author's long practical involvement. But not perfect: it would have been great to have at least one illustration per chapter in colour (I know, too costly) and the detailed passages describing plumage don't work well without supporting illustrations.Read more ›
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By chris tuohy on 7 Nov 2014
Format: Hardcover
Excellent book on the ups and downs of birds of prey.
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