– A Thousand Miles in Search of Home
| By Nick Acheson | Chelsea Green | 2023 | Hardback | 230 pages, no illustrations | ISBN: 9781915294098 | £17.99p |
The Publisher’s View:
The Meaning of Geese is the story of Nick Acheson’s love for the land in which he was born and raised and for the wild geese that fill it with sound and spectacle every winter.
During a time when many of us faced the prospect of little work or human contact, renowned naturalist Nick Acheson found a sense of peace and purpose in his pursuit of the wild geese that filled the Norfolk skies on their seasonal visits from Iceland and Siberia. In The Meaning of Geese Nick recounts these adventures, starting with the dramatic arrival of the pinkfeet and brent geese as they land in the thousands in Britain each autumn.
Over seven months he cycles 1,200 miles – the exact length of the pinkfeet’s migration to Iceland, while encountering rarer geese, including Russian white-fronts, barnacle geese and an extremely unusual grey-bellied brant, a bird he had dreamt of seeing since thumbing his mother’s copy of Peter Scott’s field guide as a child. Nick keeps a diary of his sightings as well as the stories he discovers through the community of people, past and present, who love the geese and are working to protect their future.
Nick Acheson is a naturalist, conservationist and environmentalist who lives on the bank of the River Wensum in North Norfolk, UK. He spent his childhood on the bank of the River Stiffkey, just four miles away. Here – cycling and wandering far and wide – he learned about plants, birds and mammals, and fell giddily in love with the natural world.
During his first degree he spent a year in southern France, on the bank of the Rhône, where greater flamingos, little bustards and pin-tailed sandgrouse became his friends. As he finished his MSc, he went to Bolivia to volunteer for three months on a study of migrant birds. He came home ten years later, having worked in conservation, sustainable development and ecotourism the length and breadth of Bolivia, across South America, and in Australia and India.
Since returning to Norfolk, Nick has continued working in conservation, with a range of NGOs. He is well known as a writer, presenter, teacher and campaigner on nature and the environment.
‘A magisterial diary for bird lovers.’ Observer
‘Reading The Meaning of Geese may inspire you [to descend on north Norfolk this winter yourself].’ Rated 4 stars by The Telegraph
I was nearly put off by the seemingly non-sensical title, but I’m glad I read on.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this tale is that it is as much about the highs and lows of the author’s own personal journey, as it is about his using lockdown to follow the birds he fell in love with as a child.
There is plenty of accurate observation from the naturalist but above all his deep love of nature in general and wild geese in particular comes through a gentle and accessible style. It is prose at its best, not florid and fancy but concise and poetic for all that.
Most enjoyable on any level!