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

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His passion for the wild geese of Norfolk and the people that share their spaces shines through each page. Add Acheson’s reflections on a changing environment and his fleeting interactions with like-minded bird lovers and The Meaning of Geese is mournful and magisterial. You can change your choices at any time by visiting Cookie preferences, as described in the Cookie notice.

He is a committed campaigner on the environment, living as sustainably as is possible and contributing to a number of environmental initiatives, including Low Carbon Birding. Pinks” do their summer moulting and breeding in Iceland and Greenland then head a thousand miles south to places likes Holkham, which they use as a coastal base for inland sorties to feed in beet fields – that is, if farmers have left anything for them. What emerges is a sense of shared passion, and a shared responsibility for the future of these birds. To honour the geese’s great athletic migrations, Nick kept a diary of his sightings as well as the stories he discovered through the community of people, past and present, who loved them, too.This diary of that time is quite beautiful in its detail of the pink-foot, brent and snow geese he watches from the edge of fields. 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. Passionately committed to wildlife since childhood, Nick has worked his entire life in biodiversity and landscape conservation. The Meaning of Geese is a book of thrilling encounters with wildlife, of tired legs, punctured tyres and inhospitable weather. 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.

In their flocks, Nick encountered rarer geese, including Russian white-fronts, barnacle geese and an extremely unusual grey-bellied brant, a bird he had dreamt of seeing since thumbing his mother’s copy of Peter Scott’s field guide as a child. By the time the geese fly north in spring, he’s pedalled a thousand often wet and miserable miles of his own, all to count and identify the resident flocks and share his findings on the goose web. A beautifully crafted journey and for any lover of the natural world this should be high on the to be read list. Many of us took up hobbies during the lockdowns - reading, gardening, DIY, baking sourdough and banana bread - but for Naturalist Nick Acheson, the pandemic inspired an epic adventure.

He has an essay in Low Carbon Birding published by Pelagic, which was chosen as British Birds Best Bird Book of the Year 2022. I'm thrilled to be sharing my native Norfolk (and other sites around the UK) with Wildlife Worldwide clients again. Birds continue to arrive in the UK from more northerly regions to spend the next few months here in our warmer winters, before. By November he has started to think like geese, to feel their overhead chatter vibrate in his chest.

This resonance is particularly strong for those birdwatchers, and others, who are rooted within the landscapes touched by these birds on their long migratory journeys.In the UK he has worked on a huge range of projects for Norfolk Wildlife Trust, The Wildlife Trusts, Pensthorpe and others. Over seven months, Nick cycles over 1,200 miles—the exact length of the pinkfeet's migration to Iceland. Tundra bean, taiga bean, brent … I don’t think I’ve seen any of these species – not even pinkfeet, to my recollection – so wished for black-and-white drawings or colour photographs in the book. Amazingly, greylag pairs who keep losing chicks will foster their young out to more successful parents, who are willing to adopt as it improves the odds on their own chicks’ survival. 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 their flocks, Nick encountered rarer geese, including Russian white-fronts, barnacle geese, and an extremely unusual grey-bellied brant, a bird he had dreamt of seeing since thumbing his mother's copy of Peter Scott's field guide as a child. Now he mostly stays close to home in North Norfolk, where he grew up and where generations of his family have lived and farmed, working for Norfolk Wildlife Trust and appreciating the flora and fauna on his doorstep. None outstays its welcome – most of the 100 chapters are two pages or less – allowing the Argentinian novelist to interrogate colonialism, exploitation, even Shakespeare. The Meaning of Geese is the story of how he found purpose in a seven-month, 1,200 mile cycle journey (the exact length of the pink-footed geese’s migration).Well-known for the breadth of his knowledge on nature and the environment, and the wit and ease with which he explains complex ideas, Nick is an experienced broadcaster with a wide range of credits. Unfortunately my only encounter with geese was a clan of Brent's flying over at dusk, but it romanticised my time away.

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