| by Bryan Benn | Publisher Bryan Benn | 2021 | Hardback | 430 Pages | Colour Photos Throughout | ISBN: 9781838480004 | £35.00p |
The Publisher’s View:
Author Bryan Benn was, in February 2011 a non-birder when, with a friend, he visited the Isle of Sheppey and saw a Short-eared Owl for the first time; immediately being captivated by it. With no detailed books available, Bryan started a still continuing journey to find out as much as possible about these enigmatic birds, and documents all of that in the book he has now published.
And what a journey it has been, so far covering 68 locations from Kent to the Outer Hebrides, and from Land’s End to the Orkney mainland. With extensive observations revealing that these owls were mainly nocturnally active; had a wide, and at times, very noisy range of calls; and, when needed, could hunt successfully in wind and rain when most other creatures had taken cover. Making it an owl that, when studied in great detail, defies a number of the labels often attached to Short-eareds.
After chapters setting the scene with a description of the owls; their locations and movements; and their habitat, the book moves on to cover hearing, vision and voice. Always, as throughout the entire book, with extensive photographic support of the detailed text. With those photographs, wherever possible, showing the owls the text relates to. That feature of the book becoming more obvious as the scene setting in those early chapters moves onto chapters covering food and hunting, and then breeding. That latter chapter being the longest in the book and very much reflecting the author’s dislike of consigning data to appendices; but with relevant photos often alongside that data.
As the book continues, a daily life chapter covers such as the incredible flying skills of these owls, then moves on to cover several years of extensive observations of a large over-winter roost in Kent. A chapter then covers the dangers and early demise these owls face at times, but also touches, more positively, on conservation efforts being made for the species. Finally, as a celebration of the wide coverage of Short-eared Owls in Britain in the book, a mainly photographic chapter featuring some of the locations visited during the ten-year study. That chapter, and the book, concludes with descriptions and photographic coverage of some of many very close encounters enjoyed with the owls.
The book comprises 432 pages at a little under A4 size, and is hard covered.
It has 11 varied chapters; circa 116,000 words; 31 tables; nine diagrams; seven charts; five maps; and five appendices.
There are 360 colour photos (almost all by the author) with 55 at/close to full page, and 18 double/ part double page. They include very close up Short-eared Owl photos in the wild, ranging to distant views of the owls in their habitat. The photos complement the text and are mostly owls whose behaviour is detailed in the book; sometimes over weeks or even months.
The book includes extensive coverage of the breeding and over-winter communal roosting seasons.
Design, editing and printing was in Britain by professionals.
I’ve never been one for monographs… but I can easily make an exception for one of my favourite birds.
Owls have been feared and loved by different ages and cultures but never ignored. They are simply magical… perhaps it’s having a forward facing ‘face’, or the silent hunting or proximity often allowing excellent views… owls are just so damn photogenic as Bryan demonstrates with his many admirable pictures.
When you are in love you want to know everything there is to know about your heart’s desire, and it’s no different with these superb birds. For most of us in the UK they are a winter treat. All along our coasts over wintering birds hunt during the day and allow us to enjoy their flights and feeding forays. For lucky uplanders in northern Britain where they breed they give views all day and simmer dim long and for the most to be envied they are all year companions.
Bryan paints a picture with words and his camera to bring us facts a plenty, all grist to the owl lover’s mill.
On behalf of all his readers to come… thanks mate, I know more and enjoyed every page viewed!
More details of the book and how to purchase it, including online, are at https://www.kentyeti.co.uk//
NB The book is available over the counter in the Barn Cafe at Elmley NNR at a price of £30 per copy. Elmley plan to put their share of net income from sales of this book to a further conservation project on the reserve. It is important to note that Friends and day visitors will only be able to make such purchases during the hours they have normal access to the reserve.
Or From the author by post to buyers within the UK
Please email Yeti.firstname.lastname@example.org with your full postal address and he will provide details of how to make the payment of £35 per book (including post and packing) to his PayPal account.