Book Review: Looking for the Goshawk, by Conor Mark Jameson

Review by Stephen J. Bodio
From the Autumn 2014 issue of Living Bird magazine.
October 15, 2014
Looking for the goshawk, by Conor Mark Jameson

It is a bit unfair to review Looking for the Goshawk side by side with H is for Hawk. The books are so different. Conor Mark Jameson is an intelligent young birder and a good writer who spends most of his book trying to observe Britain’s most elusive raptor, with indiffer – ent success. In Eastern Europe and Russia, goshawks nest in city parks. In England, every sighting—never mind nesting—is disputed and debated on the Internet. There, goshawks are stealthily reoccupy – ing habitat where they were eradicated; they hide in tiny, inaccessible patches of woodland. It is hard for Americans to realize how manmade Britain’s landscape is; Conor travels from Boston to New York on a train “bowled over by the scale of the wildness.” It would be a mistake for inhabitants of larger ecosystems to dismiss such a work. Jameson’s unrelent – ing search, his joy at quick glimpses and commitment to expanding the habitat in these pocket wilds, are admirable, and his prose celebrates these quick encounters rather than lamenting their rarity. Perhaps as the Joni Mitchell song says, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” If we read books like Jameson’s, perhaps we will preserve these things rather than have to look for them.

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