Declan Murphy’s first encounter with a kingfisher as a young boy was unforgettable. Returning to the rivers years later, he embarks on a quest to study this most brightly-coloured bird during its nesting season, a seemingly straightforward challenge. But the river is slow to reveal the habits and secrets of its residents.
In this work of rare calibre in the mould of the great contemporary nature writers Robert Macfarlane, Helen MacDonald and Tim Robinson, the author’s retreat into the natural world is not simply for the sake of knowledge: nature is his remedy for managing the world around him. Since childhood, nature has provided balance, solace and direction.
Writing with hallucinatory clarity and singular powers of observation, he brings the beauty and mystery of the animal kingdom to light. His quest becomes the reader’s in the unfolding drama of his search for harmony and knowledge, from mythography to an acute awareness of people’s fragility.
The book has received significant praise from BAFTA lifetime achievement recipient John Boorman who called it ‘wonderful and beautifully written’ and director Alan Gilsenan who comments that the reader is ‘lulled by the beauty and serenity of the river as much as by crystalline prose and singular focus’.
Declan Murphy has ‘birded’ across Ireland, Australia, North America, Asia and Africa. He has worked with BirdWatch Ireland, the country’s largest conservation charity, and has been published extensively in The Irish Wildlife Trust, The Native Woodland Trust, BirdWatch Ireland and The Sherkin Comment.