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The Meaning of Geese: A Thousand Miles in Search of Home

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Greeted by tuts and sarcastic eye-rolls, he set the bar a little higher and off we went to gawp at feathered friends through binoculars.

This book is so much more though than just about Norfolk and about geese; it is a beautiful personal journey for the reader.As the Covid lockdowns started, like so many people, his relationship with nature further changed and as everybody became isolated he explored the countryside looking for and learning about geese. The company publishes authors who bring in-depth, practical knowledge to life and give readers hands-on information related to organic farming and gardening, ecology and the environment, healthy food, sustainable economics, progressive politics and most recently, integrative health and wellness. He then explains how during COVID he decided to follow Norfolk’s geese on his bike over the 2020-2021 winter. Still, I admire Acheson’s fervour: “I watch birds not to add them to a list of species seen; nor to sneer at birds which are not truly wild. Mainly written as a diary of Acheson’s daily discoveries and sightings during 2020-2021 this format worked really well.

Nick has through his knowledge, passion and detailed descriptions put a winter visit firmly back onto the agenda. He meticulously details the geese's arrival, observing what they mean to his beloved Norfolk and the role they play in local people's lives—and what role the birds could play in our changing world. Nick has contributed to New Networks for Nature, Norwich Science Festival, British Bird and Wildlife Fair, Self-Isolating Bird Club, The Tree Council's Hedge Harmonies, and Oxford Real Farming Conference.During his life in Bolivia he contributed to numerous studies of birds and to management plans for several protected areas. His journal also has much to say about what mother nature, whose every changing detail he records, can do for a person’s mental wellbeing. For WWF and other conservation NGOs, he worked with indigenous communities and national parks to develop ecotourism and sustainability projects. The Meaning of Geese is a book of thrilling encounters with wildlife, of tired legs, punctured tyres and inhospitable weather.

Born and raised in Norfolk, Nick has a life-long love for wildlife and particularly the wild geese that arrive there in their thousands every year. As an adult he migrated away to Bolivia to work in conservation for a decade until on a trip back he saw a brent and took it as a sign to continue the good work at home. in environmental change and management, both at the University of Oxford, Nick travelled to Bolivia for three months, to participate in a study of austral migrant birds. There are several interesting themes running through the book - the impact of climate change, hunting, geese in the creative imagination, conservation - but the diary format prevents these from being developed. To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average.Birds continue to arrive in the UK from more northerly regions to spend the next few months here in our warmer winters, before. Whether on his own or with friends and experts, and in fair weather or foul, he became obsessed with spending as much time observing geese as he could – even six hours at a stretch.

Pink-footed geese descend on the Holkham Estate in their thousands, but there were smaller flocks and rarer types as well: from Canada and greylag to white-fronted and snow geese. During a time when many people faced the prospect of little work or human contact, Nick followed the pinkfeet and brent geese that filled the Norfolk skies and landscape as they flew in from Iceland and Siberia. This was indeed to be a low-carbon initiative, undertaken on his mother’s 40-year-old red bicycle and spanning September 2021 to the start of the following spring. It is a quiet book that celebrates these winter visitors and, at the same time, reveals something of the author and his approach to watching nature. A beautifully crafted journey and for any lover of the natural world this should be high on the to be read list.

His passion for the wild geese of Norfolk and the people that share their spaces shines through each page. Equally evident from the text is Nick’s depth of knowledge, of the geese and the other wildlife portrayed in this book, but also of the landscape in which he was born and raised.

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