Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo Paperback – 4 Mar 2010
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A beautiful and important book (Simon Barnes, author of HOW TO BE A BAD BIRDWATCHER)
'We owe a debt to a writer like McCarthy, who paints so well the portrait of natural riches we think our birthright ... McCarthy paints a portrait of a magical bird universe' (Daily Mail)
'This is a joyful book' (Daily Express)
'Michael McCarthy is one of the best environmental journalists there is' (Sunday Telegraph)
'This is a valuable guide to what we'll soon miss' (Geographical Magazine)
'This is the most important book I have read for a long time ... it boils with enthusiasm ... many will greatly enjoy the rich and informative prose ... to not read this book is a crime against conservation and the cost is almost beyond comprehension' (BBC Countryfile Magazine)
A stark picture of the fate of migratory birds (BBC Country File Magazine)
'This book could easily have been a grim litany of despair ... instead Michael McCarthy has taken the opportunity to celebrate our summer migrants ... this book reminds us of what we stand to lose and why we cannot afford to take the cuckoo for granted' (BBC Wildlife)
'An impassioned hymn to the wonder of the annual display of migrating birds and a robust warning' (Metro)
'A rich ornithological tapestry ... buy this book, enjoy it' (Ian Wallace, British Birds)
'One of my heroes - writer Mike McCarthy - paints an all too harrowing picture of a landscape robbed of this iconic sound in his new tour de force Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo' (Sunday Express)
'McCarthy spent the spring of 2008 following the "spring-bringers" . . . and celebrates them so eloquently here you will never see or hear them in the same way again . . . cherish them now' (Evening Standard)
'A timely report from the edge of the natural world that is being eroded by ignorance and carelessness' (The Times)
'An interesting book . . . Quirky observations, laced with historical and literary references, enliven the text' (Irish Examiner)
'The titles sounds like an elegy, but the tone, until near the end, is upbeat and celebratory . . . he tells the story . . . with a light touch and wide open eyes' (Independent)
'An environmental warning' (Terry Sutton, Dover Express & Folkestone Herald)
'McCarthy builds up the magic ... rightly McCarthy is out to warn' (The Tablet)
'This timely book by Michael McCarthy, one of the country's leading writers on the environment, is a celebration of these migratory birds and a call to arms to help preserve them' (National Trust Magazine)
As well as raising the alarm, Michael McCarthy writes lyrically in praise of the songsters (Choice Magazine)
'Lovely but heart-tugging book ... McCarthy's theme is twofold: to give us a vivid picture of what we have learned scientifically about birds themselves, but then beautifully to interweave it with the "human response'" (Spectator)
'We have been warned' (Northern Echo)
'Wake-up call to all those concerned with the UK's environment, calling for action before it's too late' (Your Birding Monthly)
'The book does not just raise the alarm about the astonishing declines. It clebrates the migrant birds as a group, stressing the enormous cultural resonance they have across Europe' (Best of British)
'Courageously, McCarthy's book is a celebration as much as a warning' (Tribune)
'You must have and read this book' (Highland News & North Star)
A celebration of the migrant birds that herald spring and a stark warning that they may be fast disappearingSee all Product description
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Top customer reviews
Unfortunately however, as the author then describes his dozen or so favourite migrants, I found myself getting quite disappointed and even losing interest in the book. Why? I just couldn’t connect with Mr. McCarthy’s highly erudite and literary descriptions.
For example, when I watch swifts as they scream around the tower of my local church they remind me of a gang of loud teenagers on Red Bull. So I was a bit nonplussed to find that swifts reminded the author of characters from something called The Bacchae of Euripides!
When writing about swallows, he describes – in detail – the work of a Greek vase painter called Euphronios from 500 BC. The chapter on turtle dove gets bogged down in Pliny the Elder and Chaucer. Shakespeare appears regularly, as does King Solomon and Jeremiah.
He does have an important message to communicate – the extremely worrying declines in numbers of migrants. Yet here too he lost me – not with ancient literature but with statistics, which at times seemed like a Microsoft Excel report.
Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo is a book that needed to be written, and needs to be read. Unfortunately I found it hard-going to the point of sometimes becoming totally inaccessible. Maybe you will have the opposite experience.
Anyone who enjoys birdwatching will find something in this book that he did not know before.
Whether you are an urban or rural dweller, this beautifully written little book highlights the population crashes, particularly since 2007, of many of those birds that we have always taken for granted that migrate from Africa to our country in springtime. Where are they now? Stop, look and listen. Do you hear them; have you seen them recently? Have you heard the cuckoo? Where are the swifts? Well researched and engagingly written. More than a wake up call, the findings are unnerving.Pre-occupied with our electronic world, deafened by our man made noise, we may fail to note what is missing. This book deserves to be widely read.
The book examines a number of species of summer migrants - the so called "spring bringers" and seeks to explain why each species is important - initially not in an ecological sense, but why they are important to us as people. The ecological importance of the birds comes later. Here the famous lines of Ted Hughes are to the fore - the swifts are back, so the worlds still working.
The summer migrants form an important part of the soundscape of the British country side - they form a good part of the river of sound that runs through it. The central question posed by this book is this : What will happen it that river runs dry?
This is an important and highly recommended book. Read it yourself, buy it for others and talk to your friends about it - the songs of our remembered and future summers depend on the birds that fill the pages of this book.
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