This book is a history of one man’s passion in bird watching which allowed him to move into working for conservation organisations as well. The book tells the life story of Derek starting as a young boy brought up in Suffolk and for most of his life hardly leaving the county especially in work while birding allowed him to cross that hollowed line to see birds further afield. Not everything was birding in the early days with music a way out of the real world. Derek was part of a band that moved to soul music and became famous in the area so much so that they supported/backing big bands like the Kinks and The Who. The music dried up but the birding became more serious with Derek joining many bird groups and even volunteering at reserves like Minsmere.
This gave him the first taste of wildlife and habitat management which he loved under the watchful eye of Bert Axell, the then warden of the reserve. More trips away took him to sites like the Scillies where he add many species to his list but it was back home where the work really had to start in earnest with book publishers the winners with his services. One job took him out of the county to next door Essex and later it was work in the Felixstowe docks. His bird watching contacts encouraged him to apply for the Directors job at the later to be called Suffolk Wildlife Trust which gave the job of the lifetime and powered him onto to great things in conservation.
His trips abroad are well documented with work and pleasure even as a tour leader including the move to Wales after a long carrier with the Suffolk Wildlife Trust and later the conservation director for the Wildlife Trusts as one. But some of my favourite bits were his meeting with a teacher who took him out birding alone! [ something which could not happen today due to the thought of it being wrong!]. The description of the 1965 autumn migration fall with a cricket match gaining birds like Bluethroat, Wryneck and Ortolan Bunting while feeding on the boundary not to mention 15 Pied Flycatchers in his garden! And a trip to Abberton Reservoir only for a friend to have left his expecting wife in the car so he could ‘tick’ a Red rumped Swallow! The book is full of his history in picture as well as his bird photography.
The rest you will have to read for yourself especially the final pages where Derek lets himself go about our future and what we should be doing. With someone who climbed up the ranks with no real qualifications this book should inspire others to try for themselves to make that effort to make a difference. As someone who does not know him I do now. Go out and get it.