The TimesNature Book of the Year of 2020 is a thrills and spills ride through Russia's remote far eastern forests in a conservation effort to document and save the worlds largest owl. Ornithologist Jon Slaught's quest to understand and ultimately save the fish owl was inspired by a chance startling of this colossus creature he describes more like an encounter with a goblin or a flying bear.
The owl's numbers have dwindled to only 400 breeding pairs globally. In a world where an extinction crisis rages, passion and commitment are required and Jon has this in spades. The adventure is wonderfully written, as pleasurable as a fiction read with larger than life characters battling the hazards of a hostile wilderness environment. Visually this is a breathtakingly beautiful corner of the globe and a magnificent backdrop to the tale. If gorgeous remote wilderness, eccentric Russian hermits and a truly wondrous giant owl are subjects that tickle your fancy, then you will definitely enjoy this book.
The forests near to where Russia, China and North Korea meet in a tangle of barbed wire are the only place on earth where brown bears, leopards and tigers co-exist. They are also home to one of nature's rarest birds, the Blakiston's fish owl. A chance encounter with this huge, strange bird was to change wildlife researcher Jonathan Slaght's life beyond measure. During the following two decades, Slaght's quest to safeguard the elusive owl from extinction took him over thousands of miles of forbidding and threatened terrain. Thrilling and inspiring, his book is a beautifully crafted meditation on the natural world and what it means to devote one's career to a single pursuit.