The Peregrine is an anomaly and in today’s profit driven world you can’t imagine a publisher taking a risk on a book in which one anti-social man obsessively follows and documents the everyday life of a bird through a bleak winter. It’s not exactly ‘high concept.’ Thank God though that someone did take the risk as The Peregrine is undoubtedly a masterpiece of nature writing full of vivid descriptions and rich detail which will stay with you long after you have finished.
From the opening pages, The Peregrine describes a landscape known only too well to anyone who dwells by a river estuary. Even though the book is set in Essex(England) the world of mud and water and reflected light will be familiar to many, while the author’s devotional hours of bird watching open the door to reveal the fight for survival that is going on among the birds that inhabit our landscapes.
Unlike many modern nature writers whose books sometimes seem to be more about the writer than the wildlife, the author is conspicuous by his absence. There is no mention of Baker’s outside the birds and this invisibility draws you in. Who exactly was this man who stood for hours everyday in all weathers watching peregrines? Didn’t he have a job? A family? A life? One of the few known facts about Baker is that he was diagnosed with a serious illness just before taking up his mission to pursue peregrines.
The Peregrine is a book which will give readers a new appreciation of the beauty of the estuary landscape and the creatures that live there.