Pheasant by Julian Bhalerao

Featherings: True Stories in Search of Birds

Vernon R L Head

The southernmost tip of Africa is home to a vast and shifting population of birds whose soaring movements and flocks are closely followed by a human flock: the entranced and captivated ornithologists, birdwatchers and seekers of wilderness.

If the bird writings of Le Vaillant turned a generation of young European readers into ornithologists this remarkable collection of birding curiosities written by some of our most intrepid bird observers will convert a new generation of readers.

They write of being enthralled: tales of a trip on the wild side of Borneo, the stories behind feathers in a glass vase, mysteries of owls hidden in caves, they journey across the mesas and buttes of the Karoo and the rolling red dunes of the Kalahari, through vast swathes of broad-leafed woodland to the Upper Guinea Rainforests and on to the Kitugala Forest Reserve.

Birds and their names sing from the pages; owls, shoebills, sandgrouse, hooded pittas, rhinoceros hornbills, brown kiwis, rock doves, Cape eagle owls, greater flameback woodpeckers, inaccessible island rail, superb and beautiful sunbird, violet turaco and the African crowned eagle.

Enter gently and quietly into this world of birds, absorb these stories told by those who have been watching and listening, who can tell their bishops from their butchers. There is a story here for everyone.

Contributors include Vernon Head, Mel Tripp, Peter Sullivan, Morne du Plessis, Claire Spottiswood, Raymond Rampolokeng, John Maytham, Ross Wanless, David Letsoalo, Alan Kemp, Mark Brown, Peter Sullivan, Peter Steyn, Rob Little, Peter Ryan, Richard Dean, Warwick Tarbortan, Mark Anderson, Susie Cunningham, Dave Allen, Callum Cohen and Adam Riley.

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