Call of the Kingfisher is the enchanting debut from composer and wildlife recordist, Nick Penny. This love letter to a short stretch of Northamptonshire’s River Nene celebrates all the wild things that live there, especially the kingfishers. Uniquely, it comes with bonus audio content to complement the text, accessed via QR codes.
Nick has walked beside the river at Oundle for four decades. But for a whole year he gave the waterway all the time it asked for. The more attention he gave it, the more he saw the kingfishers and heard their high whistling calls.
Set in a lovely but little-known part of England, Call of the Kingfisher relates a year by the river, the author’s experiences there and the different people he meets. Other strands are woven around the elusive feathered protagonist: explorations of local history and landscape, from Roman and Bronze Age sites to watermills and centuries-old stone churches; visits at different times and to different places in the valley; homages to naturalists who lived nearby; forest dawns and dusks listening to the precious song of nightingales. But the background tapestry is the sights and sounds, and greens and browns, of the riverbank, shot through with the blue and orange threads of a kingfisher’s glowing feathers.
As a composer and wildlife recordist, Nick has a deep interest in sounds in the natural environment. He both uses the local landscape and wildlife sounds as inspiration, and brings fresh insights into the sounds of the countryside. The book includes access to a number of high-quality birdsong recordings made alongside the River Nene – audio soundbites of nature’s riches, from kingfishers and nightingales to owls and cuckoos.
This is a book about the things that can be seen and heard when we approach nature with patience and curiosity. It celebrates people who have used that focus to help preserve wildlife and pass on their knowledge to future generations. Above all, Call of the Kingfisher serves as a call to appreciate what we’ve got, wherever we are, and to use our ears as much as our eyes when we experience the natural world.
Why We Loved It:
Call of the Kingfisher by Nick Penny is a unique and uplifting book. At a time when we are surrounded by noise in the media, the immersive and inspiring way that Nick chronicles his visits into the countryside is a joy and delight.
Although essentially it is a book about a year by the river and Nick’s experiences while passing through it, it is so much more. Although the title refers to a kingfisher, he equally pays attention to the song of the nightingale and other birds.
Open any page and escape to the world that Nick shares so lyrically. His descriptions of the nature that he discovers are exquisite and he shares the work and stories of naturalists and nature writers as well as describing encounters with people that he meets on his journey.
This delightful book is the result of the commitment by a dedicated nature lover who not only has taken the time to share his reflections, but also to add bonus access to high quality wildlife recordings so that the reader can share in the experience and listen while reading.
An utterly delightful, uplifting invitation to escape to a wonderful world of nature! Highly Recommended!
Call of the Kingfisher by Nick Penny is published by Bradt Guides Ltd
Photograph of the Kingfisher credit Nick Penny
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