The Secret Life of the Owl by John Lewis-Stempel
I was delighted to have been invited to the Wainwright Prize award in August at Blenheim Palace and seeing John Lewis-Stempel collect the award for the Where Poppies Blow. This was the second time the John has won the award and it was great to meet him after the ceremony and talk about his book. John is one of this country’s greatest nature writers and he returns with his next book The Secret Life of the Owl
The Secret Life of the Owl is may only be short at 96 pages but this is a unique look at the Owls of Britain in both word and verse. No other bird has captivated us more than Owls both is legend and also in mythical terms.
Here John talks about all the species of Owl that make this country their home including Eagle Owl and a winter visitor the Snowy Owl also a few of the rarer species of Owl that have come to Britain. There are some incredible facts that even this life-long bird watcher did not know, for instance it was once known that if you touched or ate an Owl it would cure drunkenness, though I am not sure I would eat an Owl. There is also Poetry that makes the pages which as a lover of poetry I enjoyed. At the start of the book there is a Prologue and at the end an Epilogue John talks about ‘Old Brown’ the Tawny Owl he knows so well in Three Acre Wood both are really worth reading and enjoying John Lewis-Stempel’s words as he talks about his wood and ‘Old Brown’.
As a keen birdwatcher back in my younger days, I would go out on to the marsh were I knew there was a pair of Barn Owls and look for Owl pellets and then taken them home to study what the Barn Owls were taking as prey and here in The Secret Life of Owls John, does indeed take a look at Owl pellets.
I am lucky to have a Tawny Owl that visits the tree during the autumn and winter evenings and there is nothing better than hearing the call of a Tawny Owl during the dark hours, and even early of a morning while standing in the garden I know there is a pair of eyes watching every move I make. Over the years I have manged to see every Owl that makes Britain its home from the Tawny Owl through to the Snowy Owl these have been some of my most magical experiences in watching and studying birds.
This is a wonderful little book for anyone who want to know a little more of some of our most secret of birds and ones that should be celebrated. I have already bought a few copies to give as gifts this Christmas to friends who enjoy our cherished Owls.
Thank you to Sophie Christopher at Transworld Publishers for the review copy of The Secret Life of the Owl.
The Secret Life of the Owl by John Lewis-Stempel is published by Doubleday and was published on 19th October 2017 and is available through Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookshops.