“Where Song Began: Australia’s birds and how they changed the world” by Tim Low

Who’d have thought a non-fiction book on birds would be a page-turner! Turns out this one is. Tim Low has a pacy style of writing, and he’s not shy about putting forward his opinions. It’s great to find serious non-fiction with a popular pull. The last book I read like this was The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohleben, a best-seller around the world but with a definite Northern Hemisphere focus. Putting Australian birds at the centre of the bird world might not be popular in the Northern Hemisphere, but for a fellow antipodean this was refreshing. I loved the scope of this book, starting with the intriguing business of sugar feeding birds, the book spanned bird evolution, ecology, and conservation issues. I was left gasping for breath at the end.  There are plenty of mentions of New Zealand birds and those interested in finding out more would find a good companion read in be recently revised Ghosts of Gondwana by George Gibbs.  There are a few photos in the book but those not familiar with Australian birds might be disappointed there aren’t more. Still it’s easy to look up birds in a field guide or App as you read along. I’ll definitely be packing this book on my next trip to Australia, it’ll be a perfect re-read while I’m listening to raucous cockatoos and honeyeaters.

The Fly Trap by Frederick Sjoberg

Lent to me by a friend, this pleasant read is proof even hover flies can be interesting. It seems insect collectors are contemplative people noticers and what better place than a Swedish island. His contemplations about local encounters of people and hover flies are interspersed with some literary reflections and a biography of sorts of Malaise, a Swedish entomologist. Malaise invented an insect trap, hence the title of the book. A delightful read for those who enjoy nature writing.

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