Goshawk Summer: A New Forest Season Unlike Any Other by James Aldred
In early 2020, wildlife cameraman James Aldred was commissioned to film the lives of a family of Goshawks in the New Forest, his childhood home. He began to plan a treetop hide in a remote site that would allow him to film the Gos nest, the newly hatched chicks and the lives of these elusive and enchanting birds.
Then lockdown. And as the world retreated, something remarkable happened. The noise of our everyday stilled. No more cars, no more off-roaders, no more airplanes roaring in the skies, no one in the Goshawk woods – except James.
At this unique moment, James was granted a once in a lifetime opportunity to keep filming. And so, over Spring and into Summer, he began to record his experiences in a place empty of people but filled with birdsong and new life.
Amidst the fragility and the fear, there was silver moonlight, tumbling fox cubs, calling curlew and, of course, the soaring Goshawks – shining like fire through one of our darkest times. A Goshawk summer unlike any other.
James Aldred is an Emmy award-winning wildlife cameraman and has worked alongside Sir David Attenborough on many projects. Recently released is his latest book Goshawk Summer: A New Forest Season Unlike Any Other (Elliott & Thompson) Which tells the story of how James was commissioned to film a family of Goshawks in the New Forest during the countries first Covid lockdown. Goshawks are incredible birds of prey. I have only ever seen one in my life and was left in awe at its power.
When James Aldred was given permission to film a pair of Goshawks deep in the New Forest the country was in lockdown, the forest was quiet, even the sky was free from the noise of aircraft. It felt like James had the entire forest to himself. This was a rare opportunity to film without disturbance. A treetop hide gave incredible views of the nest during the spring months as the pair began to raise their family.
Rarely seen as they are silent hunters of the forest James will have just seconds as he will hear the call as one of the Goshawks approaches the nest from deep within the forest. Through the spring the forest is awakening from its winter sleep and life is returning the forest is full of birdsong, but this is a springtime unlike any other we have known. As James filmed, he also kept a written diary, and this is how Goshawk Summer is set out. James writes so beautifully you are almost there with him. We all may have been locked down at home, but nature came into its own and as spring turned into early summer the forest came alive.
As much as this is a book about a family of Goshawks what James also brings us is the story of how the New Forest burst into life with birds and animals. This indeed was a very special moment and a rare moment even for the experienced James Aldred. The year 2020 was a dreadful year and one we will never forget but at the same time what James brings us here is something rather special as you join him doing what he loves in a special place that is close to his heart. Goshawk Summer is a very special book and one I treasured reading.
My thanks to Alison Menzies and Elliott & Thompson Books for the review copy of Goshawk Summer by James Aldred.
Goshawk Summer by James Aldred is published by Elliott & Thompson Books on 29 July 2021 and is now available through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org